The Meta-LOST-Narrative

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What story fragments make up your own story?

As “post-modern” has become a dirty word and a threat to all morality, the term “meta-narrative” has ventured out of narrative theory circles and has seen an increase in popular usage. People outside of literary circles have come to see narrative theory as important (whether they know it or not) not just for discussions of Charles Dickens’ novels, but as important for how we view our own stories and see our own lives.

In hanging out with young people (mostly college and high school age), I’ve been able to look on as they attempt to fit into and/or create their own meta-narrative. Take a look at almost any of college or high schooler’s facebook profile and you will notice the variety, and seeming disjunction, in the quote section. This seems to be a pretty good picture of how we go about creating ourselves from the number of narratives that we’re bombarded with everyday and that from outside might seem irreconcilable.

Here at rednoW a number of us have come to appreciate the show LOST for a number of reasons. But the main reason might be that LOST can flat out tell a story… and an intricate story at that. What might be most impressive, and for myself most attractive, about how LOST tells a story is that the “meta-narrative” of LOST is a collection of hundreds (even thousands?) of fragmented narratives that are being pieced together as one. (For the super-LOST fans you might even note that the forming of all these fragmented narratives into one master narrative seems in some way to be “destined” by a larger force (or the island?).)

These narratives that are being pieced together come from inside as well as outside the show itself. In a small step in collecting and examining some of the outside narratives that play a role in creating LOST’s meta-narrative, ABC has created The LOST Book Club on their website. This feature is anything but exhaustive, though it is a good start and more than that a small look at how intricate and extensive the creation of a meta-narrative is in the show.

What are the fragments of narrative that create your own meta-narrative? If you were to make a list of books, TV shows, experiences, quotes, stories, etc. that make up your own meta-narrative what would that list look like? My guess is that whether we write it out on our facebook profile or not, most of the fragments of narratives that we are using to create a meta-narrative in our lives look as incongruent as a 11th grader’s facebook profile, and as incongruent as seamlessly blending both The Brothers Karamazov and Bonjour, Babar into your hit television show.

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Also check out the LOST Book Club message board for more indepth discussion of specific books and themes and a letter from LOST producers about the Book Club.