Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Rules

The first rule of The Rules is that we don't speak of The Rules.

That rule has been broken by the following individuals: Ben Linus, Charles Widmore, the Man in Black, and forest boy of undisclosed origin. Are they all talking about the same rulebook?

I believe they are not. Ben and Charles are discussing a set of guidelines that have their origin in the related-by-Richard missives of Jacob. Over Richard's time on the Island (and I sincerely wish we could see more of that era) Jacob's wishes have gently shaped the Others. As biblical as Jacob's name and lifestyle are, I like to consider his political philosophy as a sibling of the spirit underlying the U.S. constitution's Bill of Rights, the original charter of negative liberties. The Bill of Rights doesn't say an American has the right to a house. It just says that if an American does have a house, the 3rd amendment protects her from having to house soldiers within it.

On 'Lost', Jacob will bring you to the Island, but once there, you have no explicit right to knowledge of what you should do. Yet, Jacob does offer protection from the influence of your past life, so that when you get to the Island, your past 'doesn't matter'. Jacob is a bit trickier than the founding fathers though, because unlike acquiring a house, knowledge of what you should do on the Island is (to mix my political metaphors)an unknown unknown.

Ben, Widmore, and other Others likely had to pay attention to a few other similarly formulated edicts, perhaps: 'None of you have any right to be the Leader, but if you do, you are under my protection', or 'I force no obligation on you to do anything in particular on this Island, but if you leave you may not return'. I believe its a rule of this type that Ben accuses Widmore of breaking in 'The Shape of Things to Come'.

The rules that jungle boy reminds Man in Black of in 'The Substitute'? They exist on an entirely different level. I believe Jacob and the MiB have rules, and are thus motivated to search for loopholes to avoid those rules, because the order of the Island/World/Universe is sensitive to the dynamics of both entitites. For it to survive, their conflict must be bound by law and executed by proxy.

Jacob and MiB's rules = Speed of Light
Ben and Widmores rules = Speed Limits

The puzzling aspect of all this to me is that the MiB obviously believes that at some crucial point in the distant past, Jacob deceived him. Now, MiB seems like a somewhat arrogant individual. If his opponent tricked him, what stopped him from considering the 'Rules' broken at that point? Why did he respect and follow them for so long that it took the Lockean loophole to accomplish his long sought Jacobean homicide?


1. What is the origin of Ben and Widmore's rules? Which rule did Ben accuse Charles of breaking?

2. What is the origin of Jacob and MiB's rules? Why does MiB follow them, even after Jacob deceived him?

3. Are there consequences for breaking Jacob and MiB's rules? Who determines/doles out the punishments?
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