I cannot imagine how any writers who have followed the Lost series to its conclusion could fail to have found it a stimulating learning experience. While viewers debate the meaning behind the Scriptural names, the river of light, the plug in the hole, the various realities, the ancient mythological themes, the time travel and shifting relationships (who loves whom? Should he or she love someone else?), and Connie ( hat off to you, Friend) admires the depth to each character and how each one changes hues, prism-like, with our further scrutiny (ah how like real life, real people), what struck me most, overall, was the use of analogy.
When I say analogy I want to rope in every synonym: allegory, metaphor, variation, symbolism, etc. Call it any one or more of those things; it is one of the greatest of writer’s trick. (Why I don’t remember to use it myself more often beats the hell out of me.)
It is also the most easily forgotten secret. And such a valuable one, too. A writer using symbolism can give meaning even when he or she isn’t sure what that meaning really is. The power is shared between writer and viewer.
Plato knew that when he wrote “The Allegory of the Cave.” (Granted, It might have helped generations of students, perhaps, if a few of the people chained in the cave had fallen in love with each other.) Kafka knew that when he wrote “The Metamorphosis.” (That cockroach can symbolize every teen’s worst phobia, the fear humans have of becoming unrecognizable in extreme old age, or . . . whatever you can think of. ) Allegory/ symbolism, etc. lend themselves to the use of strong imagery, which stays in the memory–and then the story does too. How clever is that?
In my opinion, Lost could have gone on virtually forever. While survival was always the main theme, the second theme was the characters finding themselves—nothing like the perfect title to remind you what you’re writing about (or help you decide). Obviously the Lost screenwriters had to come to some sort of agreement on an analogy they could use for the “other” reality—firm enough, anyway, so that viewers would see that there was an attempt to explain life and death and tie things up. But if the writers had not been forced to make some meaning clear in the conclusion, I see no reason why the series could not have gone on for several more seasons. (Part of me wishes really badly that it had.)
Thanks, writers of Lost.