Thursday, March 22, 2007

Lost Legs

My mother, who just turned 88, started to experience severe pain in one of her legs yesterday, and was unable to walk, so we took an ambulance to the Hackensack Medical Center Emergency Room (actually I drove on my own), where she eventually found out she had broke her hip, had surgery this evening, and is now in recovery. She went through some major physical problems two years ago, but was back on the road to (partial) recovery over the past year. And now it's once more unto the breach. It's become something of a cliche that my generation has found itself stuck between a rock of responsibility for our children and a hard place of having to take care of our aging parents. And we're stuck paying the bills for 3 generations, or not paying them as the case may be. HELLLLPPP!!!!!!

So, I started to write this post on my Palm Pilot at the hospital, but have discovered that it doesn't work all that well with blogger. That sucks!

It is something of a coincidence that this past Wednesday's episode of Lost featured the character of John Locke, and revealed how he had lost the use of his legs. Seems the guy was something of a sucker, having been abandoned by his no-good father, then much later in life being tricked into giving his father one of his kidneys, and finally in the course of discovering that his father was trying to con a rich widow into marrying him and trying to prevent that from happening, his father pushed him out of a 6th story window. Miraculously, he survived, but was confined to a wheelchair until the crash landing on the mysterious and miraculous island, at which point his legs began to function once more, miraculously.

Problematic relationships between fathers and sons is a theme that runs throughout Lost's many plots and subplots. So, we've got something of an Oedipal complex going on, but no obvious mother to fight over. Unless we look at the island itself as maternal, the survivors reborn as they emerged out of the ocean, from surf to shore. And if they are the collective "son" of the island, the Others are the collective father figure, a dark father (the meaning behind the Germanic designation Darth Vader) to be sure.

How will it all end? Will the threat of castration or violence force the survivors to give up on the goal of mastering the island? Seems unlikely. Will the survivors kill the fatherly Others and take over as husband to the maternal island? A distinct possibility, at least for some of them like John Locke. The island is a nurturing womb for him, a place to be cured and restored. But is this primal scene really all that healthy?

The problem that the Lost Boys are faced with is the need to grow up. It reflects a problem we are faced with in contemporary society: the disappearance of childhood also means the disappearance of adulthood (see Neil Postman's Disappearance of Childhood and Joshua Meyrowitz's No Sense of Place). We no longer have clear models of coherent mature selves, we no longer know how to conduct ourselves, and therefore construct ourselves as adults. And this means that we, collectively, are left without a leg to stand on.

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