The End.

Exactly!Everything that has a beginning has an ending.

As it has been written, and promised, and prophesied, so it is, and so it has come to pass: This is the last post for Counterforce. I’m going to try to avoid any melodramatics or perceived grief or anything like that because I’ve sure done enough with it in the past, and hey, it’s just a fucking blog on the internet, right?

But I’ll miss it. And I’ll miss you, and doing blog shit with the people I did blog shit with here.

The end is not near, its here.

I think Counterforce was fun, but flawed. I don’t think it ever reached its potential, and I think it’s safe to say that the blame for that lays entirely with me. So, to that I would say: Sorry, everybody.

But also thanks. There were some good times and fun things to read/look at. Thanks, Benjamin Light. Thanks, Peanut St. Cosmo. Thanks, Occam Razor. Thanks, August Bravo. And thanks, Maria, whom we stuck with the name Lollipop Gomez. I hope you guys had some fun too.

Anyway. It’s the end, but not totally. Benjamin Light do two podcasts which are very much in the spirit of Counterforce, and which you’ve probably heard of on here before: Time Travel Murder Mystery and Greedo Shot First.

Listen to our fucking podcasts! Plz.

Right now TTMM is on a brief hiatus, and could return as early as next week, though it will certainly be back sometime in the next few weeks. Greedo Shot First just posted its latest episode today, in which we rewatch one of our favorite movies ever, The Empire Strikes Back, so go check it out in iTunes.

The corridor of lights

And we’ll follow that next week or the week after with an episode about rewatching Return Of The Jedi.

It’s kind of sad that I won’t be able to plug our podcasts here anymore. Or talk about any of the other things I had planned to ramble on about it, but… oh well. Tomorrow, like today, is another day in a brand new year. I’m sure there’ll be more opportunities. And other spaces, other places.

We’ll meet again. Don’t know how, don’t know when…

One last thing and then I’ll shut up for, well, a while (at least here): I’m going to go rewatch the last episode of Lost right after I hit “Post” on this post. I feel like our love for that show so strongly informed this blog and we bounced back and forth between it so much. I don’t mind telling you that the day we did our post on the last episode of the show, that was the day we got the most hits ever on this blog. So I guess a lot of people’s hearts were either filled or burst along with the passing of the last truly great television show too. It just feels right to go watch that after this, at least to me.

Oh well.

Thanks again. For everything. I’m glad the blog is over, because it mattered to me, and I’m glad to start something else. Hopefully we’ll see you there at the beginning of that.

-Marco Sparks

VLUU L210  / Samsung L210

13 bak’tun.

Tomorrow is the first day of the end of your life.

from here.

Tomorrow is the end of the world as we know it.

Only, you know, it’s not.

I have somewhat of a New Age streak to me, but a lot of this 13 bak’tun, Nibiru, and “galactic synchronization beam” shit, the works of Terrence McKenna, and any of the panicked reports on the Long Calendar you hear about on the internet is just silly. Interesting, but silly. It’s fun, when it’s tongue in cheek, but still silly. It’s your average modern confusion. It’s fun to joke about, to make funny macros of, but it’s as important to our lives as cat memes.

Cat memes like Colonel Meow:

I want Colonel Meow to replace Xenu in the hierarchy of cosmic nogoodniks.

Today a girl I know came into my job. I like her because she’s a bit silly and we can talk about goofy science things sometimes, but I’ve been growing increasingly worried because she’s deadly serious about being terrified about 12/21. She’s been telling me for weeks how she’s been meditating continuously, trying to affect global consciousness shifts for the better. She’s memorizing maps of ley lines and trying to save up good karma to release into the atmosphere. She told me that she’s bought plenty of cat food and is taking tomorrow off of work and that she plans to spend the whole day meditating.

I hear meditation and I keep thinking masturbation.

Could I meditate for a whole day? Well, the manly bragging side of me says sure, that I could certainly give it a try, but honestly, I think I’d run out of material after a while. After a while it’d be just vapors…

Anyway.

Its all about me-ow.

I like the think of the world in terms of chess, or more appropriately, abstract chess metaphors. It’s all about analysis, experience, knowledge, imagination, and movement. Progressions. There is a board, a set pattern, but also, there’s a field that stretches out. The moves we make exist before we make them and they continue to exist after they have occurred. The game has ended before it’s even started, and by the time you’ve played it out and finished the game, another one has already started.

The wave harmonics of history, fuck yeah!

That sounds like a endorsement of reincarnation of some kind of psuedo-Buddhist notions. I have none such. To me, metaphysics and God are exactly the same: I am curious about them, but I do not believe in them. Except for the “mysterious ways” in which they work that can all be boiled down to simply physics and scientific understandings of the world.

I’m obsessed with time. Just the same as you, just the same as anyone. People still wear watches. The time readout is a huge part of most cell phone dashboards. We look at calendars, we read our morning horoscopes in the newspapers, and we make plans (and we make God laugh). We can both travel in time and change the past when we use our memories.

The end is the beginning, and vice versa.

To borrow from The Invisibles: Time is the soil in which we grow.

Get comfortable in your Fiction suits.

I believe that everything is possible. Or, everything is permitted (and nothing is possible), as Hassan-i Sabbah said, but all is determined under one strict criteria: Perspective.

Creation is the same as destruction, and one follows the other, and always has, at least if you look at it in the right light. Anything can happen (and similarly, can not happen), but it all depends on your scope. The sky is the limit, but only if you let it be.

The end of the world makes for good TV. It makes a bad joke a more often told joke. It probably translates into pageviews right before Christmastime. It turns small minds into bemused minds into fearful minds, and stupidity abounds.

Sing it, Randy.

Prophecies are a cool idea, the same as foreshadowing in stories, but they only come true when they’re made to come true. There is no difference between fate and free will. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, whether we’re talking about the end of the world, the perception of the web of time around us, or even the end of this very blog: Mektoub.

It’s fascinating to look back at ancient cultures and see how they perceived time, how they built up Gods and Demons and explained the world to themselves in stories. I find all of that history of yesteryear interesting, but I’m not afraid of it. I’m more terrified of where the cultures of today go next. Times are hard, paychecks don’t last as long, and we really need to start worrying about where our next LOL will come from.

We should look forward to the moments in which we outgrow our fairy tales, but never forget how important they were to us, especially since they lead us to this…

Probably not.

Whatever this is.

Oh well. Tomorrow is another day.

I’m quite curious about the end of the world, and how things get dismantled over time. I think about that kind of thing especially as this blog draws to a close, as the song slowly fades to its inevitable conclusion, and we put the chairs up and flip off the lights before we go. Let’s leave it with the sage wisdom of the distant past: Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end…

Countdown.

The end is where we start.

from here.

Don’t let the lack of activity here fool you… I’m going to miss this blog when it’s gone. But I am looking forward to a new year and to starting the all important question of, “What’s next?”

We’re not even remotely near the 1000 posts that I had assumed would be the final number presented here, but… Oh well. On one hand, the blog could stretch into next year, and reach those 1000 posts, but then again, ending it in 2012 sounds nice and feels right. It’s just a blog, of course. It’s not like the world is going to end just because the blog ends…

To be continued.

Either way, it’ll all be okay. The end is where we begin.

This is my next tweet.

I was really bored earlier.

It’s an old fad, but somehow something on the internet got me to click over to That Can Be My Next Tweet! and I put in a few usernames of people  I follow and laughed at the results, and then, of course, I put in my own name.

The year is ending, and this blog is ending, and looking at some of these are funny. They’ve aggregated a pretty good simulacrum of the kind of things I’ve tweeted about in the last 6 to 12 months.

Maybe I should be worried about that.

Past Prologue: October, 2010.

The end looms large, but it still a ways away and down the road a bit. But I kind of wanted to look back a little, month by month, at this blog. Maybe not every single month, but most, if I can. I guess I’m getting reacquainted with what I’m saying goodbye to? Or maybe in the back of my mind I’m always remembering that you have to put the chairs up before you turn the lights off and go home…

Previously: September, 2009 in parts one and two.

And…

01.

10/02/10: And Then…” by one Marco Sparks: Pictures and Borges and links to previous Counterforce posts… Sigh. The more things change, the more they don’t seem to matter, right?

02.

10/04/10:Tongues Of Flame by yours truly: Pictures of girls in some sort of relationship with the water, and the horizon, and the poetry of T. S. Eliot. Well… Who knows what I was thinking or where I was coming from back then. I mean, I could tell you, but who cares?

It seems like the hipsters are all shit talking Eliot now, but I don’t care. I still like him. Whenever I’m at my most lost, there’s usually a few lines from Eliot that can perfectly describe where I am, what I’m feeling, and sometimes that’s enough. Also, this poem was quoted in The Magus, which was a notoriously bad movie.

03.

10/04/10: The End Of The Story Is Unwritten by myself: I really like Harlan Ellison, though it is sometimes to do so. I think at this point, when I was writing this post, I had yet to see the documentary about him, Dreams With Sharp Teeth, which is a fine film.

I’ll always be a science fiction nut – maybe you’ve noticed? – but once or twice or thrice a year I really get back into it, and Ellison is one of those writers I go back to. To me, he’s the ur-Neil Gaiman, but less magical and twee. I respect that Ellison doesn’t suffer fools well, that he’s serious about his craft and those who practice it. In many ways, it would appear that he is not a human at all, but a new creature, one best described in works of his favorite genre: all sharp edges and protected, wounded heart and acid and witty talent.

04.

10/06/10: Powers And Responsibilities/Up, Up, And Away We Go by myself: Spider-Man and Superman! Perhaps some day I’ll write a book about super heroes, and how they’re trapped in our world and in desperate need of being given life beyond it, and just get it all out of my fucking system, you know?

Also, it’s not like I need a reason to do a post with copious amounts of Emma Stone pictures. Seriously. And: Jon Hamm really should be playing Superman/Clark Kent.

05.

10/06/10: Crucifixes by myself: I like Richard Pryor and I don’t like religion. In fact, if I remember correctly, I shit talk about it a little on the latest episode of our podcast. But that’s a whole other story, and one for another time.

If I were to get into the nuts and bolts, a post like this comes about like so many others that exist out there in the internet: I saw it somewhere and I liked it. Someone shared it with the world and I was one of those folks in the world who saw it and wanted to pass it along to the rest of my own little corner of the internetting world. I came, I saw, I reblogged.

06.

10/08/10: Animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others,” by myself: Pictures by Dave Eggers, quotes by George Orwell and Voltaire, links from the internet. What a bizarre mixture.

07.

10/09/10:Nobody told me there’d be days like these,” by myself: People who have problems with authority always gravitate towards John, don’t they? Lennon is the favorite Beatle of the perpetually disenfranchised and the smart, smug assholes. I look back at some of these posts and want to delve into a little of the making of them, but… I don’t know. Sometimes it’s all right there in the post, you know? I wanted to do a post about my favorite Beatle, and maybe I was itching for a little Instant Karma.

08.

10/09/10: Vendettas by myself: Tom Gauld!

09.

10/12/10: Running by myself: This is just another thing I saw online and thought was funny. Also, it’s October, the month of Halloween, the time for goblins and things that are a bit ghoulish and macabre, right?

10.

10/12/10: Who Is Natalie Portman Fucking These Days?” by myself: One of my favorite posts on this site, actually. If we talked about solely about celebs, then… Well, I imagine it’ll be something like that. Of course now this post is severely dated… Black Swan has come and gone and we all know who Natalie Portman is fucking these days, and thankfully it’s not John Mayer.

Thankfully.

11.

10/14/10: Video Killed The Internet Star,” by myself: Videos and links about movies and shit I found on the internet. You know… whatever. And a picture of Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly.

12.

10/14/10: Meditations by myself: “Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.” That sounds about right.

Some of the things you notice already about this month: Too many posts by me, which is boring. Lots of doubling up on days, with two posts a day for some reason. Lots of just little things from around the internet. The blog was the pin board for things I found interesting from around the web. Well, I guess in a lot of ways that’s what it always was.

13.

10/16/10: Chaos Reigns by myself: Ahhhh, YouTube comments. They are frequently a treat. I don’t even understand why people bother to engage in “intelligent” discourse there.

In fact… most conversation on the internet is flawed. Severely. Nobody wins an internet argument. Like the famous webcomic says, you can spend your whole life standing vigilant, the sentinel against the raping of the truth, strong against the fact that Someone On The Internet Is Wrong, but there are no winners. You’ll never best someone with your logic. Your insults and your put downs will never be properly scored. All people will see is that you were in an Internet Argument and everyone will be pronounced “Loser.” State your case, and move on. Also, fix your typos.

14.

10/16/10: The Patient Labyrinth,” by myself: Again, I was mesmerized by Borges and the ideas of puzzles and mazes of our own design during October of 2010. That was the theme running around somewhere in my head back then, I guess, and it was weakly explored, for sure.

(Also, you’ll notice another picture of a young woman who has a curious relationship or proximity to the ocean…)

Again, I apologize that all these posts are just me. The difference between myself and my co-authors, I believe, was that they wrote when they had something to say and the energy to say it. I always had something to say on this blog, and usually pursued that impulse even when I didn’t have the energy to do it right, or as coherently as it should’ve been. I think it’s fair to say that I deserve the lion’s share of credit for any failings of this blog. A lot of my favorite posts on Counterforce were those written by the others.

15.

10/18/10: Red Dawn by myself: Ahhh, Laura Leighton. Proto-Emma Stone, perhaps? Perhaps not.

16.

10/18/10: Bad Things by myself: True Blood! Looking at this, I’m just reminded of how weird the finale of the latest season of the show was.

17.

10/19/10: I Got You Babe by August Bravo and myself: This is us talking about Mad Men‘s fourth season finale, “Tomorrowland.” Just so weird to see us looking over the episode and being curious and confused and pondering where the show would go next.

And now, two years later, we’ve seen the season that followed it and saw where things went from there and we’re still left wondering, What’s Next?

18.

10/20/10: The Fate Of The Blogger by myself. I’ll be brief on this one: I like Eddie Campbell. Also, it’s two years later and I’m still pondering the fate of the blogger.

19.

10/21/10: What a man is is an arrow into the future and what a woman is is the place the arrow shoots off from,” by myself: Ha ha. A mash up between Sylvia Plath and Saved By The Bell.

20.

10/22/10: I Walked With A Zombie,” by myself: Links and funny pictures, but there’s something else here too… Something that I sense and feel now, but perhaps didn’t notice at the time, a kind of darkness. Beyond the seasonal darkness, I mean. I guess that would make sense. The second half of The Year We Make Made Contact was especially hard on me.

21.

10/23/10: The Boob Tube by myself: This is me ranting about what’s wrong with popular TV and how it could be fixed/saved. And now Benjamin Light and I do a podcast about this. We’re on a mission to civilize! But, anyway, a lot of these notes still make sense and feel relevant, and desperately need to be read and followed by the people running some of these shows. Now more than ever, perhaps. The thoughts about The Office and Community, especially. But thankfully The Office is (finally) ending after this season, and Community is most likely ending this year (if they ever decide to air the new season at all). Why? Because NBC is dumb as shit and they’re not afraid to show it.

22.

10/23/10: The Year Of The Depend Adult Undergarment by myself: David Foster Wallace!

23.

10/24/10: Nintendo Power yours truly: The idea of the “friend zone” is total bullshit but I just thought this image was funny and wanted to share it. Thanks, Mario, but…

24.

10/25/10: All Things Truly Wicked by myself: Ernest Hemingway! Paper Hemingway was a mean, messed up old bastard, but I still like him, despite all his flaws. And I feel that every time I start to accumulate those flaws, just the obvious ones, and add them up… Well, then I’ll see one of his quotes out of the blue and it’ll just fit into something missing puzzle piece in my brain at that moment and I’m flashing back to what a great writer he was. Also, it’s funny, but we still get a decent number of hits to this particular post from an old BuzzFeed post from a year ago that’s nothing but pictures of Ernest Hemingway partying like a maniac.

25.

10/25/10: This Is Still True by myself: Again, more authors and pictures and quotes. This time, it’s Vonnegut. I hope the kids these days are still reading Vonnegut. His was such a delicate balance of moral righteousness and self loathing, but married together so charmingly.

26.

10/27/10: Which Came First by myself: I don’t know what to say about this post, though it’s weird to look at these almost a full two years later.

27.

10/27/10: Ma-Sheen Manby myself: From pictures of and quotes by famous authors to… this. I regret blogging about Charlie Sheen. About Charlie Sheen and so many other things.

28.

10/27/10: You were an island and I passed you by,” by yours truly: Not the greatest post, but one of my favorites by myself here on the site. Roger Ebert has a great quote in his recent Cloud Atlas review: “Any explanation of a work of art must be found in it, not taken to it.” I agree with that wholeheartedly, but I keep thinking about the questions and the digressions of thought that come out of the works of art. I keep thinking about the way works of art can act as explanations for ourselves, for our lives, for the way we live and exist and make our way through the complicated cosmic murals we’re all sloshing around in.

Anyway. If you know me or not, illustrated in this post about Lost is basically a diagram for how my own personal thought processes tend to work, bouncing from thing to thing, riding along the little connections, going from medium to medium and then essentially looking back at where I started from. As you’ve seen, it’s a convoluted process, and one that doesn’t always yield the most fruitful results, but hopefully it’s been fun at times for you. It certainly has for me.

29.

10/29/10: Vampire Sluts by myself: Kate Beaton! I really like Hark! A Vagrant. I like it a lot.

30.

10/29/10: The risk of going too farby myself: Pictures and links and words by T. S. Eliot. Too far is never far enough, right? Or something.

31.

10/31/10: Samhain by myself: I like how this post starts “Another year, another Halloween.” It’s said with such weariness, or, at least, that’s how I perceive it now. That’s how I feel now, anyway. Another year, another Halloween, and a little more of the magic is gone. The masks are getting heavy, folks. Also interesting that the second line is about how once Halloween arrives you have to accept the inevitable: the year is fading away. The same can be said for now, just as it was back in the year we made contact, only when this year fades away, so does this blog.

Edited to add: I meant to post this at the tail end of October and obviously that did not happen. Sorry. Real life shit got in the way.

32.

10/31/10: Las Ruinas Circulares by myself: This is one of my favorite stories by Borges. Fitting for the time of the year, perhaps. I’ve always felt that there’s a tenuous connection between dreams and the dreamer of those dreamers, something akin to the chicken and the egg. That may be a little too heavy.

from here.

33.

10/31/10: Season Of The Witch by myself: Ha ha. Christine O’Donnell. Ha ha.

The odyssey of the Republican party in the last ten years or so has only gotten more sad and tragic, and Christine O’Donnell is just another one of their sad war stories, I think. Ignoring her for the most part, or this Gawker story about some guy’s claims of having had a one night stand with her, what I really was interested in was the comments section on that post. Internet comments are, of course, terrible. Trolls begetting trolls, all hiding under their bridges and flinging out their shit and hate upon the world with no consequences. And I guess that’s what fascinated me: the way people weigh in on things when there’s no rules, no consequences.

34.

10/31/10: Paradise Circus by myself: I first heard this song in an episode of True Blood‘s third season and it just floored me. A few years ago, during a particularly hard time I was going through, this song was my summer jam, which kind of tells you what that summer was like for me, I think.

It was during that summer that I first started watching the cop show, Luther, a British show starring Idris Elba as the titular detective, and “Paradise Circus” was the theme song for the show, which instantly tells you that it’s going to be unlike any other kind of cop show that you can imagine. Luther is a fun show, a bit silly at times, but darkly interesting and all the actors on the show do very interesting work, Idris Elba especially. I’m glad that he backed out of playing Alex Cross to keep doing (other) movies and eventually a third series of Luther.

And Ruth Wilson, who is exceptional on the show as his sociopathic ally of sorts, is rumored to be in the next Avengers movie. I kind of doubt that will happen, but I’d really like to see it.

But anyway, that’s another thing for another time. Again, in a less interesting way, this post was similar to the one about Lost from a few days earlier… Just a glimpse into the way a thing will pop up into your life and spawn legs and connect to other things. And those things, be it songs or TV shows or whatever, will just find you. Claim you, when you think you’re claiming them. It couldn’t been tackled in a much more interesting or succinct way, definitely, but that stuff still fascinates me.

And that’s how the month of October, 2010 ends. Maybe we didn’t create the blog. Maybe it created us?

* * *

I enjoyed doing this, so I think I’m going to do a few more retrospectives of other months in the history of this blog before it becomes permanently just that: History. Again, I don’t think I have the time, space, nor total desire to do every single month, but at least a few more, if I can help, and quite a few more, if the universe is kind. Any suggestions for which month to look back on next?

Sequential art/literature.

More from the genius that is Tom Gauld:

and

and

and

and last but not least…

from here, here, here, here, and here.

And previously: go here, here, here, here, and here.

The end of the story is unwritten.

Saw a quote from this old curmudgeon today and it put a nice little smile upon my face:

My wife has instructions that the instant I die, she has to burn all the unfinished stories. And there may be a hundred unfinished stories in this house, maybe more than that. There’s three quarters of a novel. No, these things are not to be finished by other writers, no matter how good they are. It could be Paul Di Filippo, who is just about the best writer in America, as far as I’m concerned. Or God forbid, James Patterson or Judith Krantz should get a hold of The Man Who Looked for Sweetness, which is sitting up on my desk, and try to finish it, anticipating what Ellison was thinking — no! Goddammit. If Fred Pohl wants to finish all of C.M. Kornbluth’s stories, that’s his business. If somebody wants to take the unfinished Edgar Allan Poe story, which has now gone into the public domain, and write an ending that is not as good as Poe would have written, let ‘em do whatever they want! But not with my shit, Jack. When I’m gone, that’s it. What’s down on the paper, it says ‘The End,’ that’s it. ‘Cause right now I’m busy writing the end of the longest story I’ve ever written, which is me.

-Harlan Ellison, who’s of seriously ailing health, on what he would like to see happen to his unfinished works when he passes.

Before anything else, I’ll just say that you can find Ellison’s classic story “I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream” right here. Another of his classic stories, “Jeffy Is Five,” can be found here.

I haven’t always liked the things Ellison’s written or said, and the man has certainly said a lot over his many years, but I’ve always admired him. He’s tenacious and venomous and full of vitriol, a writer with sharp teeth and sharpened claws and an even sharper mind. He’s won many awards, has been ripped off (for example: The Terminator) and pissed off numerous times, and is incredibly litigious.You can’t help but credit his extreme passion for the beauty of storytelling even if he was a bastard more often than not. Sometimes I feel like the real goal of speculative and science fiction should be keeping monsters like him alive and kicking on this rock.

“This is the place that you all made together.”

All good things must come to an end.

That’s the one thing you really need to take away from last night’s finale of Lost, super appropriately entitled “The End.” Your favorite TV show is going to end some day (and it was probably yesterday), but not just that, your friendships may end some day. Your relationships. Your circumstances will change. You will have amazing journeys in your life, but even that, some day, will come to an end.

And then…

To me, what the finale did was, in a lot of ways, a truly amazing feat. It gave everyone resolution, not just all the characters, but the audience as well. Everyone got what they wanted, whether they realized they wanted it or not. And they definitely got what they needed. And creators/showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse were certainly honest about something heading into this last episode about what you should be expecting from it, and that was an answer to just one question: “What is the Sideways world?”

More on that in a second.

Cause this seems to be an episode that, if initial internet reaction is to be believed, has been just about 90% hated. I’m okay with that, but also… not. It only confirms for me further that Lost is our Seinfeld this decade, so of course the ending was despised (and, in that regard, were the 90s about “nothing” and the 00s about “everything?”). But I think it’s a shame that people didn’t like and/or didn’t get the ending. One person on twitter said something to the effect last night of “the finale made me feel like the previous six years were nothing but rape now.” I think that’s a bit strong, but there’s also a meta-answer to that in there somewhere. More on that in a second too.

First things first: This was a wacky, crazy, amazing, beautiful, tragic, mystifying sci fi show about polar bears on a magical island, time travel, synchronicity, esoteric theorizing, faith and hope and both the depths and heights of the human condition. But it was first a show about the characters. I’m sure the producers would have loved to have tackled time travel and paradox theories in the first season, but they couldn’t. No one would’ve watched it, so they got smart and they put the characters first. The show didn’t always succeed, there were some pacing issues here and there, and of course some answers we’d still love to possess (like who was shooting at our heroes on those outriggers in season 5?), but has any show ever came and succeeded as hard as this one?

From episode to episode, you weren’t just watching the show to see answers to questions, you were watching the show to see where the characters went next, and what would happen to them. You cared about that. Sure, the crazy shit going on the island was wonderful, and really, it was a mystery show. But a mystery show with characters at it’s heart. And the mystery aspects only strengthened the human element to all of this.

But for the people who say, “but this is just a TV show!” perhaps don’t understand why we tell ourselves stories. Or why we do TV, or how rare it is for it to actually work out this well. And a mystery is nothing but a story, and that’s what Lost was: a TV show about stories. And it’s a show that asks you to do a little bit of thinking.

On Island last night: Jack is the new Jacob. He’s got to find Desmond, who’s the key to everything, either sinking the Island or it’s salvation. The Locke-ness Monster is also after Desmond, firmly believing that he’ll be the key to putting this Island on the bottom of the ocean. Desmond’s been rescued by Rose and Bernard, and he’s all too happy to go with Locke (to save Rose and Bernard).

On their way to the Source, Locke, Ben, and Desmond encounter Jack, Hurley, Sawyer, and Kate. Jack and Locke have a truly sassy showdown and, classically, have a difference of opinion. They both want to go to the Source, and both want to lower Desmond into it to do what he has to. They just think the other’s wrong.

I think there’s an interesting message here potentially: Regardless of right and wrong, good and evil are the same. They’re just words.

I’m not going to go recap every single moment here, but eventually Locke and Jack work together to lower Desmond down into the cavernous room below the waterfall which is the Source of the Light. The Man In Black seems so eager, in some ways, to be Locke, to fit into a dichotomy with Jack like Locke, and Jack puts him in his place. And at the bottom of the waterfall, Desmond finds what is essentially a cork and when he pulls it out, the Light goes away. The “goodness” seeps away and is replaced by something darker, more red…

And the Island begins to self destruct.

And I’ve said this before, but one of the things I’ve always loved about Lost is that there are answers for everything. You may never get them, but it’s there somewhere. When you look at the room where the Source was, it’s so clearly designed by someone. And all of those skeletons! Memento mori, yes, but… There’s a story there. Probably quite a few, in fact. You’ll never know what it is. That’s up to you. You decide what it is. And if you don’t want to think up some heavy, almost scientific and fantastical reasoning, then the show never really stops you from saying…

From there we get some truly great moments: The Man In Black is corporeal again, a real human. Jack was wrong, and the Man In Black makes a move for the cliffs by where Jacob’s cave was and where the Man In Black has a boat waiting. And that’ll be the scene of Jack and Locke’s final battle there, in the rain, with Jack orchestrating a truly impressive flying punch, and getting his ass handed to him. It wouldn’t be any kind of finale to this show if Jack wasn’t having the stuffing beat out of both his body and his spirit. The Man In Black’s knife finds Jack’s gut and later nicks his neck and we see those same scars and cuts that have been plaguing Jack in the Sideways universe…

Meanwhile, Richard Alpert and Miles are making their way to Hyrda Island, still thinking they need to blow up the Ajira plane and along the way, they find something we’ve all wanted to see again: FRANK LAPIDUS.

And eventually the Man In Black finds what all humans eventually find: death. At the hands of Kate, no less. And now Sawyer and Kate have to get moving, to get to the Hydra island to meet Lapidus and Miles and Richard Alpert (who may start aging and live out the rest of his life?) and take off while there’s still ground to take off from. But first… Kate has to say goodbye to Jack.

And then, back at what used to be the Source, Jack has to transfer his powers and duties and responsibilities. And as much as Hurley believed in Jack, so does Jack believe in Hurley. And as much as Jack being the protector of the Island made sense, it makes even more sense for Hurleybro to have this job. And for Jack to do something else for the Island: to become it’s fixer, because after what Desmond has done, what the Island needs now is a Doctor.

Just look at that one more time:

from here.

And Jack goes down into that cave and he pulls up Desmond – I kept wanting him to say “You’ve got to lift it up,” but he didn’t, and it was okay – and tells him to go home and be with his wife and kid and live his life. And Jack put the cork back into the Island (was that Hell leaking out, as Jacob originally said?). And it took everything out of him. And watching it took everything out of me.

It was amazing seeing Jack be wrong again, then finally being right in a way that really mattered. And now the Island has  new God/messianic figure, one with a proclivity for saying “Dude,” and who makes copious references to Star Wars.

But let’s go back to the Sideways world… It was brilliant in a lot of ways, which I find myself so surprised saying because it was one of the things I looked forward to the least this past season. It kept seeming like the “Wouldn’t it be nice?” world and it was. Everyone went to the concert and then everyone found their true love or their true purpose and in doing so, they remembered who they were.

All except Jack, who resisted because… well, there’s a lot of interpretations there. For a man who spent most of this past season trying to kill himself in some way, shape, or form, perhaps he’s the man who most clung to life?

All of those beautiful moments: Locke’s rebirth after his legs worked again. Sawyer and Juliet at the vending machine and their lovely call back to “LA X” with “Want to get coffee some time?” Hell, just the fact that Juliet was back at all was amazing to me, as she literally lit up my TV screen, easily glowing as bright as the light at the heart of the Island. And Kate finding Jack, remembering who she was because of him. “That’s not how you know me.” I like that Jack was probably Kate’s true love, but she wasn’t his (something we’ve been saying here for a while now). No, Jack probably couldn’t have allowed himself to really feel that, not when he was so tightly wound, so strong lost in his own past…

And then there’s the very end and Jack finds his father. He’s not in the coffin. He’s there, standing before, with love in his eye, and he explains. And Jack understands. He’s dead. Everyone in the Sideways world is dead. It’s a kind of purgatory, or rather, a sort of limbo, a holding place, if you will, that they’ve all created together in their collective unconscious, united by the amazing things they did on the Island, and a place for them to maybe work on their karma and to find a balance missing in their lives before they move into the afterlife.

I mentioned before how similar Lost was to The Invisibles, and this is exactly how The Invisibles ends: At the end of the world, no one dies, but instead enters the Supercontext, a place created by their collective unconscious in which they can find a balance and be happy. It also puts forth the notion that the ultimate ending, the one that is more possibly than we usually realize, is one in which everyone gets exactly what they want. We love Buddhist ideas here in the West. We also love An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge and The Third Policeman and Jacob’s Ladder, yes.

It’s kind of funny to watch the internet reaction in that regard. “It’s a rip off of Jacob’s Ladder!” some cry out. Or, “They totally stole that from An Occurence At Owl Creek Bridge!” I love seeing the way people skew there. Those who know of Jacob’s Ladder don’t know of The Third Policeman or haven’t ever heard the name Ambrose Bierce. Or Alan Moore’s Superman tale, “For The Man Who Has Everything.” But… It all fits. It all works. It’s all beautiful, and just another piece in the puzzle.

And I said that the ending to this episode was perfect for everyone, right? Cause it is. On one hand, for those of you who wouldn’t want to see your characters get an amazing resolution in the Sideways universe, you have real Island endings: Jack dies. Hurley and Ben will now run the Island. They won’t do things the same, they won’t continue the patterns they’ve inherited. Kate and Sawyer and Claire and Miles and Richard Alpert and Frank Lapidus will fly away to safety. Jack will go to his resting place, to the spot between the bamboo trees where he first awoke on the Island and he’ll watch his friends’ plane fly away overhead and Vincent will come and keep him company in his last resting place…

And the Sideways world negates none of that. Not a single thing, nor does it betray the interest you’ve developed in this show over the years, and it shouldn’t harm the connection you’ve made with it. It just shouldn’t.

from here.

As Christian (loved Kate’s line: “Christian Shephard? Really?”) said, “Everyone dies.” Some of the people in that church died before Jack and some died after. And it makes clear that everything was real. Whatever happened, happened. But they came back together at the end, and remember how we were talking about how time didn’t seem to make sense in the Sideways world? Well, that’s because, there is no time there. There is no now. And when they’re ready and they’ve accepted who they are and who they were, they’ll move on. And those who aren’t ready yet, like Ben or Faraday or Ana Lucia, they won’t go yet. They’ll stay behind and work out what they need to and then, as Lord Of The Rings put it, then they can “sail west.” They can go to the Gray Havens.

In fact, they really should’ve filmed that Jimmy Kimmel special in a church just to echo those last moments with everyone together. I don’t really like Jimmy Kimmel, but the special was interesting, especially watching it pretty near after the beautiful, almost immaculate ending of the episode, when you’re still in shock, still coping.

Right after the end of the episode I went back to watch the beginning of “LA X” and… it works nicely, in my opinion. Jack looks out the window of Oceanic 815 and then looks around the interior of the plane almost as if he’s startled to be back there, struggling to recognize something. The plane hits turbulence and he clings to the arm rest for dear life and it’s broken by Rose’s gentle voice, telling him it’s okay, and that “you can let go now.” It’s so pointed and beautiful when you watch it with new eyes.

And of course the Island is sunk in the Sideways world because in that existence, it’s out of everyone’s mind. They’ve sunk together.

And we can argue about when the happy Sideways reality begins, of course. It’s Jack’s story, of course, so it probably ends the moment Jack closes his eye and that Ajira 316 plane flying overhead could also be metaphorically his Oceanic 815 of his dreams, and Jack’s closing his eyes, going to his final sleep, perchance to dream, a dream of flying. But it all depends on your read: Maybe the Sideways world really did start when Juliet beat the hell out of Jughead at the bottom of that shaft. Or maybe that explosion just used the electromagnetic time travel energy of the Island to send them back to the present. Maybe in your view, Oceanic 815 crashed and everyone died and… Maybe the Sideways world only existed in Jack’s head alone, his final dream of a better life… Whatever way you look at it, you choose your own level of meaning and understanding.

“We should get coffee sometime.” Michael Giacchino. Jack Bender. The actors, every single one of them, not just in the finale but always. “I may not believe in a lot of things, but I believe in duct tape.” The fact that we got as little Boone as possible. How Kate looked in that dress. The idea of Hurley and Ben running the Island together. The fact that the Source is fed from two different streams. That flying punch! The weird shots of the castaways’ beach on the Island, featuring the wreckage of Oceanic 815, (an insert by the good folks at the American Broadcast Network) but devoid of people, reminiscent of the ending of Antonioni’s L’Eclisse. “In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m a pilot.” All those amazing awakenings and FLASHBACKgasms. The fact that you even have to relook at the episode titles of this past season with new meaning (“LA X” no longer refers to just another universe, but a crossroads of sorts). All of the episodes really, referenced tonight (“The Long Con”) or not (Just think about “Enter 77″ now). The idea of Aaron with two moms (that’s a spin off that is literally dying to happen). Hurley saying to Sayid, “You can’t let other people tell you who you are,” because, well, we all play parts and roles. “I’ll see you in another life, brotha!” There’s so many things that we could be talking about, so many great things…

Watching the finale last night, I kept my eye half on twitter during the commercials and it was interesting seeing people saying a lot about how the finale was a love letter to itself and spent a lot of time self referencing. And I agree. And I think it worked beautifully. For a sci fi show about characters and people, I think the end is about us. We’ve all got to come together on this one, and accept it and appreciate it, and then it’s time to move on…

And in that vein, because I don’t want to philosophize on Lost alone (nor would I want to push that button alone), so I asked some of my fellow Counterforcers to weigh in and I want to share with you what they had to say, and then, despite everything happened in “The End,” the very last thing I want to say about this show is exactly the same, not changed at all, and I’ll share that with you, but first…

Benjamin Light: In a nutshell, I can sum up my thoughts on LOST with a text I sent to Marco as the episode ended. I wrote: “This episode feels like falling in love, over and over and over again.”

I could have watched a dozen more “awakening” moments in the sideways world, they were just perfect TV.

It dawned on me at about the 2 hour mark that, rather than wait for a big explosive end to explain everything, the writers instead were just going to willfully ignore some of the big mysteries. And I wasn’t annoyed at all. One of my favorite things about the show is speculating on the mysteries. Having those long, quasi-scientific conversations with friends about even random strangers about what something might mean on the show was half the fun. Lindelof and Cuse decided not to take that away from the fans. Sure, they could have just told us the island is a spaceship from the future and the smoke monster is evil nanotechnology, but why bother? If that’s your theory, it still holds water. This was a show that was famous for its fans’ speculation and debate; the way they left certain mysteries open to interpretation feels very much in keeping with its history.

Conrad Noir: I still don’t know what to think. I’m content with what happened but I don’t know what to feel at all. Maybe nothing, maybe so many things. What I do know was that was the most dragged out event in TV history. Did it really have to go to 11:30?

Oh yes. I believe I read somewhere that the finale was exactly 103 minutes. I would’ve killed for just an extra five more, if you know what I mean, but apparently there’s going to be an extended cut on the DVDs with 20 more minutes.

Benjamin: After the episode ended, I got up to take a leak. After that, I walked down the hall and suddenly started crying. I wasn’t happy or sad. It was like someone had reached inside me and turned all my emotional knobs up to 11. I was like Daniel Faraday, crying at the news of Flight 815 being found and not knowing why.

That’s how good the finale was.

Take a bow, Lost cast and crew, you did it.

Lola: Sometime ago I wrote a post asking whether or not I really wanted answers from LOST. I guess that Lindelof or Cuse are regular readers of Lovely Entropy because the finale contained next to no “answers.”

I watched the finale with my dad and when it ended, I turned to him and said: “What just happened?”

“What is the Dharma Initiative?” he asked me.

“I don’t know!” I yelled. “Where was Walt? WAAAALT!!!”

I think we all felt like that little necked kid in the Tootsie Roll Pop ad:

“What was up with the Hurley Bird? The world may never know.”

I was annoyed at first so I did what I always do when I’m annoyed by LOST: called my brother to complain while searching the internet for answers. As I was searching and complaining something dawned on me: everyone was confused and everybody wanted to talk about it. People were posting theories, they were cracking jokes or they were just outright complaining to people in the room with them, friends over the phone or outright strangers on the internet. Sure, there are people who are going to be annoyed no matter what happens, but the more I think about it the more I kind of liked the finale. It’s open-endedness gives it’s nerdy fanbase enough food for thought to last us until Terry O’Quinn & Michael Emerson’s pilot gets picked up. And not only that, but it saves us all from having to sit through anymore of the writer’s awful, half-assed answers (the whispers were dead people? Seriously LOST?). The finale, in my opinion, was genius in its laziness. The writers are happy because they don’t have to try to find answers that would appeal to everyone. The nerds are happy because they can keep talking about the show they love and ABC is happy because they made a boatload of money last night.

So, anyone have any idea what that church was about?

It’s about everything. And everyone. It’s a story about stories and all stories end.

They can be reread time and again though, revisited, and relived. Just like your favorite song. Just like a game, if you want. It’s adaptive. You can make up your own versions for where the story ends, if you want, your own back stories, your own ideas for what happens to your favorite and least favorite characters after it fades to black.

But you know what else you can do when the story and the song and the game ends? You can start it over, you can return and begin again. You’ll see all the connections you missed, and the little moments will resonate even stronger with you…

So, with that in mind, mektoub, let me just say…

KATE!

WE HAVE TO GO BACK!

Progress.

And so here we are.

Take a deep breath. There’s this heavy fin de siècle vibe hanging over the air. A circle closing, all it so deep and meaningful and exciting and… Lost ends tonight. With a two hour clip show, then a two and a half hour finale, and then after the news, some kind of retrospective/after party with the cast and crew on Jimmy Kimmel.

Last night I was having a deep text message conversation with my friend, Lia, who thinks she never gets mentioned here, and we were talking about how meaningful it is for this show to end because, unlike real life, the ending of your favorite show gives you an experience, a journey, and then closure and resolution at the end of it.

Fictional characters are so much kinder to us in that regard. They give us what we need because, if nothing else, they simply reflect back whatever level of meaning we bring to the experience.

Earlier in the evening yesterday, another friend called me, apparently having just seen their calendar, and then deciding to wake me up (what was I sleeping at this point, who can say). “OMG!” she squealed so loud that my ears are still vibrating, “I just realized what the date is! Tonight’s the last episode, right?” Yes, it is, I told her and I walked outside as we started talking. Looking up, I noticed that it was dark, probably because of the weather here yesterday, but I couldn’t see the stars. I mentioned that and we started talking about how the stars you see out there in the sky are all dead, and their long burnt out light is still transmitting towards us. As we pondered whether or not that was a romantic notion, I started thinking about tonight’s finale, which the writers have surely been thinking about for many, many years now, and the episode was written probably months ago, probably finished filming a month and some change ago, and has been edited and done for a few weeks. And it’s only now transmitting to us. Just like the stars sending us their light, and we’re philosophizing about what it all means long after it was sent.

Mektoub. It is written. That’s basically what I said to her then.

I have just about an hour before the clip show starts. I need to go and get ready and do whatever I need to do before that. It could be an emotional rollercoaster, this night. But that’s okay. It’s okay to get hung up over a TV show sometimes. Especially when you know that you’ll probably never get something like this again. And if it’s an experience you’ll never have again, find your own level of enjoyment in it. Get ready for your own drinking game that goes with it, if you want. The important thing is to have fun and to enjoy yourself. This kind of thing only ends once, and all of this progress has lead us to the here and now.

from here.

Anyway, here at Counterforce, we only really got into writing about individual episodes somewhere last season. It was something I really grew to enjoy and something that always surprised me with how much it informed on other things that I’d like to be talking about or, at least, writing about. I’ll let you discover last season’s write ups on your own, if you want, plus all those links yesterday, but today I’ll leave you with links to this past season, the sixth and final one of Lost

01. “LA X.”

02. “What Kate Does.”

03. “The Substitute.”

04. “The Lighthouse.”

05. “Sundown.”

06. “Dr. Linus.”

07. “Recon.”

08. “Ab Aeterno.”

09. “The Package.”

10. “Happily Ever After.”

11. “Everybody Loves Hugo.”

12. “The Last Recruit

13. “The Candidate.”

14. “Across The Sea.”

15. “What They Died For.”

And tomorrow we’ll be writing about the very last episode, “The End.” Who knows what we’ll have to say, but I feel like it’ll be the very last time we really write about Lost here on Counterforce. At least, the real last time for me, I think. Maybe I’ll blag (blag = my typo combination of “blog” and “blab”) on about the 23 enigma or the law of fives, but it’s like the show itself, you choose your own level of involvement, and you get back what you give to it (and more).

It’s kind of funny to think that, regardless of where we go tonight and wherever we end up on the other side of this show, I already know what the last sentence of my last write up about the show will be. Mektoub. “It is written.” See you then.

Destiny found.

IN THE BEGINNING was the word, and it was the most important thing there was, from the Alpha to the Omega, but that word was also something else, something equally important to all that came after it. That word which begat all else was also the answer to a question, a choice made when a decision was presented.

And that was only a small part of last night’s penultimate word of Lost, the appropriately and devastatingly titled “What They Died For.” And much in the same vein as last week, but vastly more important, let’s tackle 23 stray observations about last night’s episode…

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