Omphaloskepsis a word in the fictitious 1950 review of Ship of Theseus in McKay’s Magazine. A copy of the review was tweeted by author Doug Dorst on December 19th. Omphaloskepsis is the last word in the review on page 42 before it breaks and continues on page 94. Directly below the word omphaloskepsis is a tilted image of the cover of Ship of Theseus.
The word means to examine one’s navel – or navel gazing. The connotations of the word typically lean toward a meditative self-examination, a major theme of S.
The placement of this word at the point of the break on 42 above the titled image of the cover of the book seem important somehow. Is the ship on the cover in the center of those mobius-like swirls a navel for us to examine closely?
Omphaloskepsis is often considered equivalent to the term axis mundi, the navel of the world – a sacred space where the earth and the divine connect. Eric uses this term on the marginalia on p278 in reference to Straka’s description of Obsidian Island, and its apparent pre-use in Coriolis in reference to a black mountain. And, if that isn’t enough, the obsidian pieces are mentioned in conjunction with holystones in the book S on page (wait for it) 42.
For we LOST fans, the term omphaloskepsis was used by Sawyer (albeit in English) in Season One. He says to Kate in Whatever the Case May Be, “You some sort of navel-gazing, no-fun, mopey type?” In that Kate-centric episode, Kate experiences has a very intense “case” of self-examination. In that same episode Sayid is also undergoing deep self-examination while studying Rousseau’s mysterious map – the map that contains the number series 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42 repeated several times and centers itself around The Black Rock.
Where does all of this lead? Too soon to tell for sure, but the journey of self-examination and S-examination are sure worth it. Those two journeys, I sense, are one and the same.