Update: Film link below no longer works, as the Hanso website is now all ugly and Flash-based. You can follow more of my “LOST” notes in the TV category.
Update: The Dharma Initiative Orientation film (SPOILERS!) is now up on the Hanso Foundation website. You’d think they would post a higher quality copy, that being the “official” website and all. Obviously polar bears got to the film reel and had a chew on it before they could do a capture and transfer to Flash.
At this moment, 9:26pm of 5 Oct 2005, there are exactly zero results on Google for “The Dharma Initiative.” That’s going to change starting in the next thirty minutes or so. I’m pleased to see that my “Lost” theory as of last episode was close, though not too close, but I knew the ba gua was significant. Possible spoilers follow; highlight the text to read.
My theory from before this episode, “Orientation”: [SPOILER]The ba gua, popularly a Chinese good luck emblem, is the logo of Dharma, a company involved in manipulating the fabric of chance and reality based on the thoughts and desires of its “customers.” The island is their testing ground, but something has gone wrong, and the experiment is pulling people to itself, stretching out tentacles of chance to anyone infected directly or indirectly, with The Numbers — a memetic pathogen which changes its victims’ luck, bending reality around them and ultimately drawing them to the island, where the experiment brings to life the thoughts and desires of the more “sensitive” survivors. The polar bear, the shark, the Monster, the anomalies and sicknesses, are all the result of Dharma Corp’s meddling in the fabric of reality, but ultimately have sprung from the tortured minds of the characters. Kind of like that “Shore Leave” episode of classic Star Trek.[/SPOILER]
Revealed on tonight’s episode of Lost: [SPOILER]The Dharma Initiative, a collective of 1980s scientists who conducted research in a variety of fields with the funding of a wealthy benefactor, refer to the island as a “station” with unique electromagnetic qualities. The Numbers are some kind of maintenance routine which resets Desmond’s counter and keeps something from happening. (A dimensional rift? The release of a world-threatening pandemic? Nothing at all?) It would seem that the various phenomena on the island are results of the scientists’ experiments from long ago. (But not too long ago; c’mon, Betamax was around by 1980. Dharma could have shot their instructional videos on tape. The “film” was so obviously an edited video with strobe and dust-and-scratches filters applied to it. Too much fancy graphics work and clarity for a simple 8mm or 16mm film.)[/SPOILER]
It’s kind of funny that the ba gua (or pa kwa, as I knew it growing up) is treated with such mystery in this series. I was surrounded by pa kwas in the Philippines, whose culture is strongly influenced by its significant Chinese heritage. (Both sides of my family are part Chinese.) Thousands of houses in Manila have the little red pa kwa mirror over their front doors to invite good luck and ward off evil spirits. I was not particularly fond of the emblem myself.
Updates: Also see The Hanso Foundation, and the same person seems to have registered TheDharmaInitiative.com. Collin vs. Blog has some background on Desmond’s choice of reading material. More on that, and references to the “black air,” from Mostly Muppet. Also note this reference to B. F. Skinner. Egoplex has some thoughts on The Numbers, 108, and solar rotations.
Ooohh, something that just occurred to me: when Michael’s ex (Walt’s mother) left to go to Europe with Walt, what was this huge, high-paying job she was going off to take? My theory is that it was something to do with the Dharma Initiative, which would explain Walt’s deeper involvement with the island’s goings-on. Maybe Walt has Polar Bear Summoning Powers or something.