Playing Those Mind Games
Published on Saturday, May 15, 2010 - 11:48am
Of late, I have been completely obsessed with watching back episodes of LOST. To be honest, I hadn't really been into the show until fairly recently (last on a bandwagon), so when I got hooked I had to catch up fast to make it to the series finale. But as much as the story lines, and all the twisty-turny unexplainedness pulled me in, there was one scene in particular that was the absolute clincher for me. In Season 4, Locke has Ben held captive in Ben's own basement. He brings him a plate of breakfast and a book. But what book gets chosen? VALIS by Philip K. Dick.
Now, I've written about a lot of Philip K. Dick novels on here. You can just look back a few entries to the Are You Living Underground post, as well as the Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep post. But I hadn't touched on VALIS before. Why not? Because VALIS is the head trippiest book I have probably read in my entire life, and to even begin talking about VALIS means that you're going down the rabbit hole into the land of the ultra-surreal.
The main narrator of the book is Horselover Fat, and VALIS is the story of Fat's slow revelation that the world he lives in is not the world that truly is. To compare it to the Matrix would be fair, but a vast understatement. See, the folks in the Matrix get to see the reality behind the curtain. The characters in VALIS know that there is a deeper, different reality behind what's seen, experienced and known, and the story is about the dawning realization of this unseen realm, the interconnectedness of everything and the hints that point us toward the "real" world. You're also probably wondering why I keep capitalizing VALIS. It's because it's an acronym, but I'll leave you to find out what it stands for.
Needless to say when I saw this scene in LOST it reaffirmed that the show is firmly rooted in the realms of the bizarre, and that's a place I love to go.
If you're looking for something to blow your mind here are a few additional recommendations.
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
One Flew Over the Cukoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
Ring / Spiral by Koji Suzuki
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut