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Manifesto of a Cultural Terrorist by Oscar Wallace

We highly recommend that you read the Manifesto of Peopolism

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The Netflix show Messiah has drawn a lot of attention to this document and the pseudo-fictional identity of Oscar Wallace. It’s one of those ‘this is a work of fiction’ moments that really isn’t. I’ll keep digging for it – so far this is what I have found – I will add more as I find more – please add any interesting bits you find in the comments and on Twitter. You will likely find these reflections on Sept 11, 2001, a regulated society, societal responsibility of the individual, and authority in an anarchist society of interest as well.

Update: We think it’s highly probable that Professor Wallace left several voicemarkers on the Iwahai voice map – among them the ones on the White House in Washington D.C, and Mar a Lago in Florida.

The Manifesto of a Cultural Terrorist by Oscar Wallace

The squeaky wheel gets the grease, or so it is said. Though, in some cases, the squeaky wheel inspires just enough annoyance and loss of sleep that it brings the victim to an epiphany – an idea that might not otherwise seem worthwhile, rational or possible. It may be that the role of violence and fear in terrorism has been vastly over rated by those who use it. Terrorism, after all, is simply a course of political action where no other means is available. Yes, violence is one means – but not a very good one because as the Buddha said – there is no cure for violence except an act of love – and in our world – acts of love are nearly never adjudicated, legislated, or ordered. So, violence, as we have seen countless times simply begets more violence – and those who have the most power usually have the ability to enact the greatest violence leading to spirals of genocide like we’ve seen burst out in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. Make no mistake – these are acts of genocide. The bombing and starving of a million Iraqi children is not ‘peace keeping’. We see that which you worship and we despise it.

There is no such thing as an absence of worshiping. Everybody worships. The atheist worships their life. The deist worships their god. The capitalist worships their power. The masses worship their masters. The only choice we get is what to worship. The most compelling reason for choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship is that anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. On one level, we all know this stuff already – it’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, bromides, epigrams, parables: the skeleton of every great story. The trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness. We believe that the sacred cows must be slaughtered.

However, our goal here is not to rationalize violent terrorism. Our goal is to present an alternative: Cultural Terrorism. I am a cultural terrorist and thus far – no one has died because of my acts – nor do I expect anyone to. I certainly hope that no life is lost in the pursuit of a better world.. Cultural Terrorism does not kill people, it simply confuses them and causes them to consider ideas that might not otherwise seem worthwhile, rational or possible.

A terrorist who hijacks an airplane or plants a bomb in a crowded shopping center apparently doesn’t care who gets hurt as long as they achieve their aim. That innocent people are turned into bloody corpses or maimed for life is not a concern. The cultural terrorist is no different. The cultural terrorist, an assassin of the future, an executioner of obscene morality. Cultural terrorism, an attitude, a state of mind – not a set of values to be dogmatically followed. Cultural terrorism is a celebration of the power of the individual to affect the future from the present.

Our aim is to pollute the minds of the public, to sow the seeds of sanity into an insane society. The victims are of all ages – everybody from the cradle to the grave – and we aim to liberate them. Man cannot bear too much reality and as a result of this the cultural terrorist is in the business of providing a reality attack. An over exposure of reality that brings down the curtain- the dirt behind the day dream. No subject is taboo, all must be exposed. No one is sacred. Everybody as well as everything should feel the wrath of the cultural terrorist. The object of cultural terrorism is to exploit situations and people in order to cause a change that no one sees coming. Our aim is to make war upon the concepts and foundations of civilization itself. We will tear into the heart of all that is considered normal but which is truly foul. We are the white blood cells that would painfully destroy bio-toxins even if it destroys our host culture. We are working to erase the conforming instinct. To prevent humanity from ever acting with a lemming’s will.

The cultural terrorist’s weapons are a digital media, film, video, audio cassettes, music, photocopiers, printed words, pictures – any media whatsoever is acceptable as long as it achieves the objective. We are little concerned how much our material appeals to the very lowest of emotions, or how much the material twists and pollutes controlled minds. We believe nothing is impossible, there is no god stopping us, there is no morality compelling us, so we manipulate our environment to its fullest extent. Plagiarism is not only acceptable it is preferred. We believe that you should not be afraid to steal from anyone and that property itself is an affront. Our way is that of the liar and trash receptor. We know that the bigger the lie the better the chance of people believing it but also know that small lies sometimes carry a heavy load. Undercover communication is the enemy of crime not politics.

Elaborate safeguards may be placed at airports to separate would-be terrorists from their weapons. But we, the cultural terrorists are free to distribute our soul confusing information to whom and where we choose. The cultural terrorist is neither benevolent nor evil. Pull the wool over your own eyes in a call to arms. We feel vehemently that an active role of participation should be taken in this struggle by people already interested in this form of warfare. The cultural terrorist is involved in every act of revolutionary suicide while protesting the conditions of an inhuman world. Cultural terrorism is the antidote to this society and our thought-bombs will tear open wounds that may never again heal. Tomorrow belongs to us. Confusion as a weapon. Confusion as the word.

Confusion sparks the need to question. Confusion calling the adrenaline to flow, the blood rush and the life force to sit up and take a break while the soul of present civilization floods. Confusion making us question everything in search of (un)sense. Everything deserves to be probed into. Indulging in whatever subjects we are attracted to. Making our lives more interesting while stripping false meaning from the lives of those surrounding us. No subject holds a taboo. Unrecognizable confusion superimposed on boring reality.

We stand everywhere and nowhere. We wade in cool rivers and do forced marches through waves of dogshit. We provide the tickets for a mindfuck to oblivion … A disjointed, chaotic and rapidly decaying globe is our target. Gladly we take our part in the ejaculation of war in a heedless way. Ours is a wide open mouth sucking the balls of a busty woman. Ours is a wide open gut-wound wrapped around a throbbing shaft of capitalism. Ours is the shitting of the junk food you line up to consume. This stink and defiance of dead unicorns wrapped in bloody blankets protesting too much free candy and not enough mescaline. We face backwards to fuck off from “peer group pressure”. No attempt is made to conform, no attempt to speak explanation or confront truth nor power in the manufactured words that decry consent. Their words and our actions. We fight against those who would control our minds and our bodies, we offer hope to those born into chattel information slavery, and we offer our bodies as the bullets that will destroy your mental infrastructure. In this our weapons are our very lives.

We smash and we run but only to smash and run. We leave the capitalist control systems unable to conduct business and yet uninjured but totally useless. We remain uninjured and leave the looting for those who don’t know any better, stuff is a burden we do not need for fulfillment.

other worlds

Long days online

I’m spending way too much time online. I’m really trying to figure out how folks make money on the internet and what I’m finding is that everything is for sale. It all revolves around pagerank, a ranking system that google came up with. The higher the pagerank, the better your chances of making any money. There are people selling everything online:
Want traffic to your site? You can buy 10K unique U.S. visitors for $10
Want links on pageranked sites? You can buy them.
Want comments on your blog? You can pay for them.
Want content? That’s for sale too.
Want site reviews? For sale.
Essentially it all comes down to me asking, what is real on the internet? The answer? Nothing. It’s just like everything else. A big illusion hidden behind a mask that pretends to be real but isn’t. Crazy stuff. Wow.

other worlds scary clowns The Fantastic Depression

Rethinking Narnia – The Obama Administration

We would like to offer the world an appropriate term for the Obama administration. Narnia. Just as the Kennedy administration was known as Camelot, we think that Narnia is a good term for Obamas. We have many reasons for this, mainly it is that what you think you are seeing is not what is really happening. We would like to suggest that perhaps what you are witnessing is a modern fairy tale and as such is not quite what you think it is.
A few examples might suffice to get you to think more about this:

The highest levels of the Obama administration are infested with members of a shadowy, elitist cabal intent on installing a one-world government that subverts the will of the American people.
It turns out that Sebelius – like top administration economists Timothy Geithner, Larry Summers and Paul Volcker, as well as leading Obama diplomats Richard Holbrooke and Dennis Ross – is a Bilderberger. That is, she is someone who has participated in the annual invitation-only conference held by an elite international organization known as the Bilderberg group.
The group, which takes its name from the Dutch hotel where it held its first meeting in 1954, exists solely to bring together between 100 and 150 titans of politics, finance, military, industry, academia and media from North America and Western Europe once a year to discuss world affairs. It doesn’t issue policy statements or resolutions, nor does it hold any events other than an annual meeting.
According to U.S. Representative Ron Paul “The one thing that concerns me is that the people who surround Obama or Bush generally come from the same philosophic viewpoint and they have their organizations – they have the Trilateral Commission, the CFR [Council on Foreign Relations] and the Bilderbergers, and they’ve been around a long time. And my biggest concern is what they preach: Keynesian economics and interventionism and world planning. And I don’t think it’s just Obama. Whether it’s the Republicans or the Democrats – Goldman Sachs generally has somebody in treasury. And the big banks generally have somebody in the Federal Reserve. And they’re international people, too. And they’re probably working very hard this weekend, with the G20. And they get involved in the IMF. But that is their stated goal.”

And look at what we see when we go to the day’s news:

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Goldman Sachs Group Inc and a parade of European banks were the major beneficiaries of $93 billion in payments from AIG — more than half of the U.S. taxpayer money spent to rescue the massive insurer.
The revelation on Sunday by American International Group Inc was another potential public relations nightmare, coming on the same weekend that the Obama administration expressed outrage over AIG’s plan to pay massive bonuses to the people in the very division that destroyed the company by issuing billions of dollars in derivatives insuring risky assets.
The fact that billions of dollars given to prop up giant insurer AIG were then transferred to European banks and Wall Street investment houses could raise new doubts about whether the rescue was really economically necessary.
Goldman Sachs, formerly led by Henry Paulson who was treasury secretary at the time of the original AIG bailout, said, as it has in the past, that its AIG positions were “collateralized and hedged.”

And suddenly, we have to wonder if we are seeing the world of muggles or the world of wizards, we know we are mixing our metaphors here…so we will say, which side of the wardrobe are we on, and is the woman who gives us Turkish Delight actually on our side? We found this from BoingBoing today and it is worth considering:

The Obama administration has undone a few of the Bush administration’s worst policies, true. Yet when it comes to Obama’s increasingly clear disdain for some core civil liberties and his administration’s penchant for secrecy despite cheerful rhetoric to the contrary, Salon’s Glenn Greenwald arrives at a dismal — but sadly, logical — conclusion:
After many years of anger and complaint and outrage directed at the Bush administration for its civil liberties assaults and executive power abuses, the last thing most people want to do is conclude that the Obama administration is continuing the core of that extremism. That was why the flurry of executive orders in the first week produced such praise: those who are devoted to civil liberties were, from the start, eager to believe that things would be different, and most want to do everything but conclude that the only improvements that will be made by Obama will be cosmetic ones.
But it’s becoming increasingly difficult for honest commentators to do anything else but conclude that. After all, these are the exact policies which, when embraced by Bush, produced such intense protest over the last eight years. Nobody is complaining because the Obama administration is acting too slowly in renouncing these policies. The opposite is true: they are rushing to actively embrace them. And while there are still opportunities to meaningfully depart from the extremism of the last eight years, the evidence appears more and more compelling that, at least in these areas, there is little or no real intent on the part of the Obama administration to do so.
Democrats in Congress and much of the political left have been silent or nearly so despite the evidence. You expect cowardice from Congress, which spent the Bush presidency in a perpetual bent-over posture. The Netroots folks who did so much to elect Obama should be screaming bloody murder by now. Too few are even slightly audible. A shame.

We, the Scary Arab Clowns, see that things are not quite what you think them to be, but the question is, do you?

other worlds scary clowns The Fantastic Depression Uncategorized

US Money, AIG, Israel, and China on the Moon

We, the scary arab clowns can’t believe you are falling for it as all your capital is taken from your country and fed into a dying multinational robber-corporation. The net result is that your tax dollars and hard earned incomes are going to prop up banks that have heavily invested in AIG- in foreign nations. We suspect it is primarily in China and Saudi Arabia that your money is going.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said AIG’s extensive relationships with banks around the globe presented the risk of “contagion” should the company fail, and said authorities were working hard to try to neutralize dangerous positions.
The U.S. government threw a fresh $30 billion lifeline to AIG on Monday, as part of a restructured bailout that had earlier swelled to about $150 billion.
Bernanke told the committee that restoring stability to the battered financial sector was a prerequisite to a recovery from the deep U.S. recession, and said a surge in U.S. government debt was unavoidable.
“We are better off moving aggressively today to solve our economic problems,” he said. “The alternative could be a prolonged episode of economic stagnation that would not only contribute to further deterioration in the fiscal situation, but would also imply lower output, employment and incomes for an extended period.”
In addition to the likelihood of a worsening jobs market, Bernanke said many businesses are burdened with excess inventories and are likely to cut production further in the months ahead.

Of course you still have plenty of money going to Israel but we applaud the Obama/Clinton administration for publically supporting an independent Palestinian state.

President Barack Obama has said it will be a priority and Clinton pledged to push on “many fronts” early on.
The United States is Israel’s chief ally. U.S. aid to Israel will amount to $2.55 billion in 2009.

And as to Vago…don’t worry too much about him. If you want to know what he is up to donate some cash to the website or promote it and tell us about it. We notice that he is starting to feel very at home even though he is a very strange man in a very strange land.
And now Whitey is not the only person with toys on the moon. The Chinese have dropped their lunar explorer to the surface of the moon. Soon we will have a scary clown prober on the moon too.

assignments other worlds Poor Vago

Agent 808 Alternate Reality

Agent 808 first made a stop in Portland to get some top secret new gadgets from Billionaire Paul Allen before heading to Sacramento to meet with the Governator about his new assignment. The airlines are no longer considered a viable alternative to travel since the 911 disasters and there are moves afoot to reinvigorate rail and make it the main means of transport for the next several centuries. Get ready for some radical changes in rail travel.
And from the true files:

Former KGB analyst Igor Panarin, dean of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s academy for future diplomats, has predicted that the U.S. will fall apart in 2010.
He based the forecast on classified data supplied to him by FAPSI analysts, he says. He predicts that economic, financial and demographic trends will provoke a political and social crisis in the U.S. When the going gets tough, he says, wealthier states will withhold funds from the federal government and effectively secede from the union. Social unrest up to and including a civil war will follow. The U.S. will then split along ethnic lines, and foreign powers will move in.
California will form the nucleus of what he calls “The Californian Republic,” and will be part of China or under Chinese influence. Texas will be the heart of “The Texas Republic,” a cluster of states that will go to Mexico or fall under Mexican influence. Washington, D.C., and New York will be part of an “Atlantic America” that may join the European Union. Canada will grab a group of Northern states Prof. Panarin calls “The Central North American Republic.” Hawaii, he suggests, will be a protectorate of Japan or China, and Alaska will be subsumed into Russia.

Agents of TOIL are setting traps every step of the way to keep this mission from being accomplished, but there is no stopping Agent 808.

Existensis other worlds

something to amuse and cause thought

Anthropology Existensis other worlds trip reports

World's oldest stash of weed found with blue eyed bastard

Thanks to Sky for pointing out this very cool story. On a blue eyed note, it appears that all people with blue eyes have a common ancestor. That must have been one randy bastard.

By Jennifer Viegas
Nearly two pounds of still-green plant material found in a 2,700-year-old grave in the Gobi Desert has just been identified as the world’s oldest marijuana stash, according to a paper in the latest issue of the Journal of Experimental Botany.
A barrage of tests proves the marijuana possessed potent psychoactive properties and casts doubt on the theory that the ancients only grew the plant for hemp in order to make clothing, rope and other objects.
They apparently were getting high too.
Lead author Ethan Russo told Discovery News that the marijuana “is quite similar” to what’s grown today.
“We know from both the chemical analysis and genetics that it could produce THC (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid synthase, the main psychoactive chemical in the plant),” he explained, adding that no one could feel its effects today, due to decomposition over the millennia.
Russo served as a visiting professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Botany while conducting the study. He and his international team analyzed the cannabis, which was excavated at the Yanghai Tombs near Turpan, China. It was found lightly pounded in a wooden bowl in a leather basket near the head of a blue-eyed Caucasian man who died when he was about 45.
“This individual was buried with an unusual number of high value, rare items,” Russo said, mentioning that the objects included a make-up bag, bridles, pots, archery equipment and a kongou harp. The researchers believe the individual was a shaman from the Gushi people, who spoke a now-extinct language called Tocharian that was similar to Celtic.
Scientists originally thought the plant material in the grave was coriander, but microscopic botanical analysis of the bowl contents, along with genetic testing, revealed that it was cannabis.
The size of seeds mixed in with the leaves, along with their color and other characteristics, indicate the marijuana came from a cultivated strain. Before the burial, someone had carefully picked out all of the male plant parts, which are less psychoactive, so Russo and his team believe there is little doubt as to why the cannabis was grown.
What is in question, however, is how the marijuana was administered, since no pipes or other objects associated with smoking were found in the grave.
“Perhaps it was ingested orally,” Russo said. “It might also have been fumigated, as the Scythian tribes to the north did subsequently.”
Although other cultures in the area used hemp to make various goods as early as 7,000 years ago, additional tomb finds indicate the Gushi fabricated their clothing from wool and made their rope out of reed fibers. The scientists are unsure if the marijuana was grown for more spiritual or medical purposes, but it’s evident that the blue-eyed man was buried with a lot of it.
“As with other grave goods, it was traditional to place items needed for the afterlife in the tomb with the departed,” Russo said.
The ancient marijuana stash is now housed at Turpan Museum in China. In the future, Russo hopes to conduct further research at the Yanghai site, which has 2,000 other tombs.

Anthropology other worlds Pirates scary clowns

Kingdom of Loathing

This is a great game. I wrote this paper last fall but I think it is still relevant. I have been too busy to play lately, but I look forward to getting back into it. One of the best parts is that it is free, can be played anywhere there is an internet connection, and doesn’t need software…just a browser.
Link to the Game.

Kingdom of Loathing: Virtual Society of the Spectacle
Kingdom of Loathing, located at, is a game that began as a joke. The joke requires some historical background in order to be understood. In 2003 online games were becoming increasingly sophisticated with 3-D type graphics, complex imaginary worlds, and sophisticated character creation systems and classes. At the same time the ‘hipster’ culture typified by such websites as ‘BoingBoing’, ‘WeMakeMoneyNotArt’, and ‘GrowABrain’ were reaching new highs in site visits and overall web popularity. Here is the joke: In 2003, a couple of hipsters created a sophisticated online game with stick figure 2-D graphics, ridiculous parody worlds that ridiculed popular culture, and ironically named character classes based on hipster culture and making fun of traditional RPG categories. This resulted in character classes such as ‘accordion thief’, ‘disco bandit’, ‘pastamancer’, and ‘saucerer’. The punch line is that despite all the ridiculous pop-culture and hipster references, Kingdom of Loathing is actually a well crafted game and has attracted more than a million players so far.

Anthropology big screen, little screen, ipod Games other worlds stranger than LOST

Lost in Transmediality: Architecting Contingency in TV's Lost

Lost , a show its producers once described as Survivor meets The X-Files premiered as a new series in 2004 on ABC television. In 2009, Lost will begin its fifth season. Lost will only run for six seasons. This is the amount of time the producers say they needed to tell the story. Since initially airing, Lost has become one of the most widely discussed programs ever shown on TV and a true cultural phenomenon. On the surface, Lost is the story of the survivors of Oceanic flight 77, a trans-pacific flight from Sydney, Australia to Los Angeles, California that crashed mid-flight on a remote tropical island. Below the surface, Lost is much more.
The most ardent fans of Lost are not just fans of the show; they are fans of everything that composes Lost. The architecture of Lost is trans-medial. Lost begins with the writers in L.A., crosses the Pacific to Hawaii where it is filmed and produced, gets broadcast to the world as television entertainment, enters the liminal space of the internet where it begins to blur the boundary between the created and the real, and then, sometimes, Lost enters into the real world. Those who follow the show most closely exist within a space where the fictional has seemingly become real and as such has become something they, as real world human beings, can touch, taste, and perhaps even contribute to.
In fact, Lost is a composite of technical forms which, through purposeful architectural design, manages to create contingency within the fan community. It is through this lens of uncertainty as to the actuality of what is happening within the fantasy world of Lost that fans are forced to sift in order to discover the answers to their many questions. To add further confusion to the issue, the producers also blur the lines between the worlds of fantasy and that of reality. This inter-textual and inter-world nature of Lost is representative of a contemporary discourse in which the entire range of media and products must be considered in order to understand why fans continue to speculate, argue, and wait anxiously for the next episode of the show to appear. The architecture of uncertainty built into Lost is as complex as it is compelling and in order to have an understanding of how the show has acquired such a dedicated fandom, one must look at what came before Lost.
At its most basic level, Lost is an island survival story in the tradition of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. Robinson Crusoe was published in 1719 and is considered by some to be the first novel written in the English language. The characters on Lost, like Crusoe before them, find themselves stranded on an island where they encounter a number of ‘others’ and are forced to come to terms with a variety of moral, religious, and economic decisions as a result of these encounters.
Lost though is more than a survival story, it is also the story of ‘the island’ and as such owes a large debt to Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island published in 1874. Like the castaways on Verne’s island, those on Lost, arrive from the sky and experience strange phenomenon. In addition, Verne’s story also has a dog, a submarine, a mysterious beacon from another castaway, and supplies which come from an unknown source. The creators of Lost have recently acknowledged The Mysterious Island as the starting point for the story of Lost.
In fact, Lost, owes a large debt to many in science fiction and fantasy. Many of the episode titles are in reference to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865). Numerous references are made to white rabbits and both a prominent location and an episode are named “The Looking Glass”. Like Alice, the castaways have gone down the rabbit hole and are now in a world which does not always make sense to them in terms of the world they have left. And, like the readers of Carroll’s works, the audience of Lost is left in a state of uncertainty as to what is going to happen next.
Lost uses multiple methods to create this uncertainty, among them, serialized formats similar to those of radio and film in the early 1900’s. While serials fell into many different genres such as science fiction, western, or detective stories; the common elements often included a recap of previous episodes and at the end of the episode a cliff-hanger ending and an ambiguous preview of the next episode. In Taking Soaps Seriously: The World of Guiding Light, Michael James Intintoli looked at soap operas from an anthropological perspective. His descriptions of soaps sound like a description of Lost:
… viewers cannot be sure of an outcome or the well being of any particular character during any particular program. (Intintoli. p.52)
One of the things that Lost fans have both complained and marveled at is that even the most popular characters can be killed off without any notice. Lost has earned a reputation for killing off characters just as they start to become interesting. Of course, sometimes they don’t stay dead, or perhaps they never died at all, or maybe the viewers were looking at the past or future of the characters, or maybe the idea of death isn’t quite the same on Lost as it is in the real life. Fans are rarely sure a character is dead or at least dead and gone. Unless the actor is dead, which hasn’t happened yet, but even that might be no guarantee.
Lost is a trigger to the imaginations of those who have become fans of the show. Unlike the confined two hours of a film narrative, Lost makes time an uncertainty as it progresses in a non-linear format which can move from past to present and from character to character while still maintaining a cohesive meta-arc due to the hyper-knowledge the fans have about the text. In the season three finale, Through the Looking Glass, the show broke with a tradition of using only flashbacks and also began to use flash forwards. This only became apparent at the end of the show. And yet some fans had already figured it out based on the appearance of a cell phone that would not have been available at the time of a flashback.
This hyper-knowledge of the minutest details serves fans as a social currency (Jenkins: 1992) which allows for participation at a higher level within the fan community. Like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and other cult television shows which preceded it, Lost has acquired a discriminating and productive audience which ranges from fans of the actors to fans who role-play as add-on characters within the greater narrative. These relationships between the fans, stars, producers, and the media have created an intricate web of connections which not only define the reaction to the show, but, according to many fans, determine the plot as well.
Charting the ecosystem of the world the show itself has created is not a simple task. While the show has only one ‘official’ website at, fans have created millions of websites devoted to the show. A Google search of the keywords “Lost Television Show” brings up over 8-million pages. One of the most comprehensive is a community created wiki which details everything from transcripts to pop-culture references. In addition there are the very popular fan message board sites at,, and with a combined total of more than 100,000 users. I should emphasize these are only three of the most popular and there are literally millions more websites.
Many of the websites are dedicated to discovering what the fans have dubbed ‘Easter Eggs’. Lost uses these hidden clues which are scattered throughout episodes, websites, and even the real world; to create a sense amongst watchers that there is a secret story that is hidden beneath the surface waiting to be found, however, many of the Easter eggs are so ambiguous that it becomes uncertain whether they are meaningful at all. One example of this is the books shown on the bookshelf of Ben, an evil-seeming character. Are the producers telling the fans where to find further clues or simply dressing the set with Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.
In some cases these clues reveal startling things about the meta-narrative and its characters motivations and in others they are simply a way of acknowledging those fans that are paying extra close attention. These nods became important to the fans after a season two episode where the logo of an in-story organization called ‘Dharma’ was seen printed on the side of shark for less than a second. Associate Producer, Noreen O’Toole told me the producers are continually amazed at the speed with which the fans unearth even the most obscure Easter Eggs.
The producers have embedded sub-audible whispers within the show, reversed speech hidden within the soundtrack, shown split second images, utilized historical meaning behind names, and even had billboards put up in real-life New York City advertising Oceanic Air which then led fans to a fake website positioned as if it were real, which in turn took them into an alternate reality game (ARG) based on the show but anchored within the real world. Navigating these multiple realities is not easy and some fans have speculated that they might be looking at alternate realities which may not even exist for the characters at all!
Trans-medial fans analyze the names of characters or in-show businesses to locate anagrams such as ‘Mittelos’ a bioscience company mentioned in the show during the third season which fans quickly descrambled into ‘Lost Time’. Fans also take part in the multiple alternate reality games which the show has created. The trans-medial fans require more than the past, present, and future presented in the course of the series narrative. Instead, they are treated to a meta-story which exists independently of the TV show itself.
The Lost Experience, an alternate reality game which took place between seasons two and three revealed the story behind the story of some of the characters on the show. The New York Times described it “a multimedia treasure hunt that makes use of e-mail messages, phone calls, commercials, billboards and fake Web sites that are made to seem real.” This was followed by alternate reality games titles “Find 815” between seasons three and four and “The DHARMA Initiative Recruiting Project” between seasons four and five which is still in development according to ABC. The Oceanic Air billboard mentioned earlier was a part of “Find 815”. The alternate reality games introduced new characters and storylines that the producers claimed would help unlock the many secrets of the island.
The producers have released at least one book which has brought about intense speculation. Lost Twin is a detective story, written by Gary Troup, a fictional passenger who died when Flight 77 crashed. Characters in the second season find, read, and then burn the manuscript which was salvaged from the flight. Later that year, in the real world, Hyperion Books, released the book complete with an account of how the author had disappeared on a flight from Sydney to Los Angeles. Troup figured prominently in The Lost Experience, the first alternate reality game associated with the show. This is but one example of how the lines between reality and fiction have become blurred on Lost.
Lost is a unique artifact of the early twenty-first century United States of America. In the words of Marshall McLuhan, “The media is the message,” and as such the totality of the ecosystem the media creates and encompasses is deserving of careful scrutiny. Lost is the nexus of a more modern sort of entertainment.
Lost fandom is a worldwide group connected by shared experience, the internet, common knowledge, and sometimes through meeting in person. They create a community, establish rules and norms within it, and at the same time are perhaps even convinced that they have the means to take a hand in shaping the source of the culture which they are participating in.
Fans of the show see Lost as the cutting edge of breaking down the wall between the production and consumption of entertainment. The producers of the show see Lost as a new way of telling stories. The truth is, Lost, is a means of interactive storytelling which spans multiple media and makes the fans think they might be contributing to the way that the story is told, but they don’t know. The writers and producers of the show create this sense of contingency within a complex global media.
Those who are most interested in the show find meaning in the tiniest details. Elaborate theories have been constructed to explain how and why the characters are on the island, heated debates rage as to the validity of these theories, and the ultimate conclusion is that even those with the best theories are forced to wait for the producers to reveal the plot or the spoilers to leak. Thus far all theories have been disproved or modified to fit new data.
Within minutes of an episode airing, fans have captured screenshots, magnified book titles from the background, played audio forward and backward, identified the most obscure use of previous plot, identified historical or literary references based on the names of characters, locations, or companies, and constructed philosophically deep theories as to the reasons these things have been included.
Lost attempts to cross the boundary from the fictional to the real. The production is architected to create contingency and thus draw the fans into speculation about what is real versus what is fantasy. While it is descended from island stories and serialized drama, Lost distorts time, death, and meaning in new ways. The show has millions of fans and the producers use Easter Eggs to reward dedicated fans with a deeper understanding of the show which can then be used as a form of social currency within the fan community. Lost architects contingency using a combination of old methods, such as literary devices and new methods such as alternate reality games and embedded audio. Through this combination of forms, Lost has become a new sort of entertainment which caters to a new form of fan. Lost is a television show, an online game, an obsession, a lifestyle, and to some extent, Lost is real.