Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Truth is in Here

I've been reading through the J.J. Abrams' edited issue of WIRED magazine the last few weeks. If you are an Abrams fan, an aficionado of brain teasers, like to read about mysterious codes, or want to realize (like me) that you live remarkably close to American Stonehenge, then enjoy.

But what I really want to talk about today is the small article about puzzle games and the role of the Internet (or collective cheats) to solve the games.

Writer Clive Thompson begins by issuing a plea from a game designer who wants all those lazy gamers to quit relying on message board forums and cheat codes to figure out what the games are all about. To use these artificial methods is to deny oneself the chance to stretch, to circumvent the original intent of the game design. In short, it is lazy. But Thompson goes on to say that while this view might be true in some circumstances, it isn't always a bad thing to turn to the wisdom of others for help. He uses LOST as an example--possibly NOT unintentionally, since co-creator/exec. producer Abrams is the guest editor. Thompson says that LOST has always featured a very complex plot structure and the writers have a fondness for presenting information from a hidden angle to add to the confusion. (LOST detractors will, no doubt, say that I am being charitable in my description here. Instead, they might claim that the slow in needlessly confusing and artificially complex to draw out suspense where none need exist. To these opinions I can only say . . . "Psah!")

ANYWAY . . . Thompson says that many LOST fans--I included--have turned to the Internet, podcasts, forums, and whatever else to gain perspective and theory to attempt to tie together loose threads and begin envisioning a rug before the weaving is complete (or even before you know all of the yarn colors yet).

This is how I have delved into LOST podcasts and Web sites over the years. I am not searching out spoilers, but turning to others who spend the time to freeze their DVRs to grab that screen image of the mysterious hieroglyphs--and then went to the trouble of trying to translate them. I don't have the equipment or the time and opportunity to delve that deeply on my own time. But I want to know the deeper layers that are put there--even if every layer and Easter Egg doesn't necessarily lead to the ultimate meaning of everything. It's just a fun nod to the fans of that level of involvement . . . because they have the technology and the time to give it to them. 

(For an example out of extremely left field--and one that is a MASSIVE NERD ALERT--there is a scene in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace where the Galactic Senate is discussing some strategies on how to deal with the Trade Federation blockade's attack on Naboo. If you know when and where to look during the scene, you can pause the DVD and see among the many aliens represented in the Senate, a group of E.T.s.) Now, the presence of E.T.s among the Star Wars universe means absolutely nothing in the context of the movie's plot. But I'm glad I know they are there.)

So, I'm a fan of these sites--even though they can mess up your experience with spoilers if you aren't careful. I've also spent much time on Harry Potter Web sites over the years, to help fill the time in between book publications to enjoy the great amount of speculation on how the seven-book series would play out before we knew the answers. To have not enjoyed these sites would have prevented me from learning about the great (if remarkably untrue) theory that Albus Dumbledore and Ron Weasley were the same person joined through time travel.

I've written before about the crazy confusion of This is Not Tom and how I am not equipped to decipher all of this myself. But this seems like the exact kind of puzzle that demands a community working together to solve it. And there is one, or two, or three out there now clawing through it all. Again, I don't have time to figure it all out. I'll just read about it later.

And, yeah, supposedly there are hidden messages and larger clues to deeper understandings of the universe or LOST or Fringe, or whatever in the very design and display of the aforementioned WIRED magazine that I referenced at the top of this article. If I ever figure it out, it'll be because it came to me in a dream that came from having the magazine under my pillow while I slept.

If it happens, I'll let you know.

Right after I win the lottery by playing 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42. Heck, I might even throw in 47 just to make it super official.


Sven Golly said...


David said...

Here is yet another example of how Abrams (and his writing disciples) add layer upon layer of content.

Perhaps I (and the writer of the original piece I link to) are attributing layers where none exist. But I rather like the idea that it was done with a purpose.

If we are right, then the world is a much more complicated place . . . for some. If we are wrong, then God doesn't exist and the universe is simply a random collections of colliding atoms.