Thursday, March 19, 2009

Time Travel 098, According to "Lost"

When I was in college, the course numbers that began with 0 were remedial classes that didn't directly count toward getting a degree, other than getting you to actual underclassmen undergraduate courses (100 and 200 levels), and eventually to upperclassmen undergraduate courses (300 and 400 levels).

Anyhow, there are people in various Internet forums that don't quite understand the simplicity of time travel in the show Lost. I don't know if these people are actually confused (lost, as it were) or merely trolls to anger the fanbase. Likely it is a mix of both categories, but which is the dominant category is unknown. So here's Remedial Fictional Television Time Travel, according (so far) to ABC's Lost:

As of last night's episode, the concept of a multiverse (alternate universes) is not part of the show. Whatever happens during the course of the Universe, happens and is supposed to happen. If there are any irregularities (Desmond preventing Charlie's death several times), the Universe will course-correct (Charlie dying).*

If your consciousness from 1996 travels forward to 2004, you can't access your memories from 1997-2004 (as well as the remaining days in 1996). If you were 25 in 1996, you're going to be the same 25 year old in 2004, and not the 33 year old you were before your 25 year old consciousness took over. To your 1996 mind, the life you're living in 2004 would be quite alien and scary.**

If your consciousness from 2004 travels back to 1996, you might be able to predict what happens between 1997-2004 (as well as 1996) if you can remember the details. Armed with knowledge of "the future," as well as the experience of age, your 2004 consciousness can potentially be quite savvy in 1996.

If both your mind and body from 2004 travel to 1974, you're still getting older and living life linearly. If you're 30 years old in 2004, you'll still be 30 years old when you travel to 1974. In 1977, you'll be 33 years old. Jin couldn't speak that much English in late 2004. That same Jin (body, mind, and English language skill set) traveled to 1974. In 1977, Jin spoke fluent English, being three years older with three years of English language immersion and use. There's no way that 30 year old Jin could have the same skill set as 33 year old Jin. A forum user on IMDb, didn't quite get that, and assumed that 2004 (Seasons 1-4) Jin would be fluent in English since 1977 (Season 5) Jin spoke fluent English.

If both your mind and body from 2004 travel to 2007, you skip over three years of time. If you were 48 in 2004, you would still be physically 48 in 2007. However, according to your birth certificate and identification card, the government and society will treat you as a 51-year old (if they don't know otherwise). In any case, you would have no direct memory of the days between your departure in 2004 and your arrival in 2007, and would need to catch up watching news clips, reading magazines, asking people, and going on Wikipedia. This principle is also applicable for those who are cryogenically frozen, stored, and revived in the future.***

If your body time travels without any mind, who would care? (Zombie time travel is beyond the scope of this course.) And that concludes Time Travel 098. Understand these concepts, and you'll be able to take Time Travel 101, which counts toward your B.S.F. degree (Bachelor of Science Fiction, naturally).

If you, the reader, still don't quite understand basic hypothetical time travel, I accept that reality. It doesn't reflect poorly on your intellect, as you probably have more productive, real-world problems and solutions to consider.

*Of course, maybe the Universe wanted Desmond to save Charlie a few times, in order for Charlie to be sick of being saved and finally sacrificing himself at the end of the third season. In that case, whatever happened was supposed to happen.

**If your 1996 consciousness grounds itself with a Constant, there's a good chance your memories from 1997-2004 will return, and you'll be whole again. But who knows?

***A 48 year old who skips three years can believably masquerade as a 51 year old (on paper), while still being 48 physically. A 48 year old who skips 20 years would raise suspicion as a 68 year old (on paper), and a 50 year leap would require the use of effects makeup to masquerade as a 98 year old (on paper). Forget about pretending to be 1048 years old after a 1000 year forward time travel. Virtually everyone would consider you to be a 48 year old time traveler in that scenario.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please note: Comments are open only for seven days after publication of each blog entry.