Saturday, January 14, 2006

Tension Paper

I am a big fan of Lost. I really thought that it was a great show in its first season. It generated a great amount of tension, really did a superb job of drawing the viewer into the characters, and gave one a lot to think about, in terms of where they were going. Well written television, in my opinion.

Which is what lead me to doing a little bit of thinking about why Lost sucks this season.

The last four episodes of the first season were one long, tension-increasing build-up to...something - opening the hatch, showdown with the others, something, anything, sharing a coke with the polar bears, I don't know. What we end up with on the start of the second season was just a rapid deflation of the tension.

So, psychologically, we were kind of left with a sense of "what the fuck just happened here?". The first season actually started out with a surprising amount of tension ("Hey, we just crashed on a deserted island. OMG, we're fucked."). That's what grabbed hold of me, anyway. It's like the first chapter of a NY Times best seller: there's usually a really great first chapter that grabs your attention from page one. If not, you probably wouldn't read the book (this is true of most good books, actually - unless you know the author and know that they're going to get you somewhere really cool).

So this season, they decided to kind of drop the tension and start from scratch of creating a whole new set of tension, while leaving the first seasons set of tensions rather disappointingly unresolved. That's what my whole theory here boils down to: we're all still waiting for season one's tension resolution.

I think that's why I still hold out a little hope for the series. If they can do a good job of getting back to resolving some of those other problems, the show will get back on track. They have enough open ended things. The really should have stuck with closing those, neatly, maybe with a double stich.

Sunday, January 08, 2006


We are a product of our times. In today's modern times we spend so much of our time wanting more things, needed more money, bigger houses, more, more, more. What happened to the pursuit of intellect, or honor or justice, even? When were they lost?

When one reads about the great men and women of the past, they have one thing in common: most were voracious readers. The devoured knowledge, absorbed it. Look at the likes of Hamilton, Roosevelt, Churchill. These men were great intellects, as well as great leaders.

Are the great men and woman today of equal caliber? I'd say no. Those in power are not the type who have mastered these talents. They all are men of opportunity and staying power. The wait for their reward through years of loyalty, not talent. It's toadyism at it's worst.

The[1] difference between the times probably has everything to do with it. Intellectualism was of great importance. People read more wrote more, self-entertained more, discussed ideas in an open manner. Many of the great men since the Age of Enlightenment were great due to this extensive interest in knowledge.

Then again, are those of us who watch TV and enjoy the entertainments of this modern age merely the plebians, the groundlings, the unwashed masses of the day? What does that do for our significance in the world? There was certainly the fair share of people in the days of greats who were much less intellectually capable.

These were the sorts of people that the masters of the French or Russian revolutions grabbed onto, using the mob mentality to satisfy their own designs. For a more recent example, we can look at the post-9/11 America. Fear of terrorism on such a grand scale was used to railroad some very sketchy legislation through.

How do we combat this use of the mob? Education. Information. Not through the media, but through teachers, parents, and mentors. Given the way that TV seems to affect the brain, we really should start to try and remove it. Or perhaps change it. Due to the rise of Tivo, advertisement driven TV may be on the way out. It'll have to be more subtle, but perhaps that will allow some of the dumbing down of the populace to be removed.

This is more of a rant[2] than I usually go for, but I'm generally bothered by the course of government in the US these days. I think what bothers me more is the general apathy of the populace. We need to become more active in how our country is run, and the best way to do that is through education, information, and open dialogues.

Happily, it's a midterm election year. I think people are starting to get angry enough to enact some change.

[1] Funny how one can get stuck mid-sentence. Actually, this isn't really mid-sentence, is it? It's more of the first word. But it is a word that implies start to anything. The rest of the sentence needs to be formed in the mind before is placed to keyboard. Even in free-writing (and free-writing in my sense of the concept is simply writing about a topic and trying to stay on topic - which I'm obviously not doing) each sentence may only be thought of right after the completion of the last one. Anyway, back to that sentence...

[2] So as you can see, this is much less coherent than usual. Sometimes, you just gotta rant...