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While S. is in the Winter City, he passes much of the time by writing in the margins, between the lines, and even superimposing his written words on the printed words. As Straka writes, it is palimpsests atop palimpsests.

On page 380 we read this description of what S. has been writing…

It would be difficult to read what S. has written,
but a meticulous eye might notice,
amid the torrent of words,
mentions of the following:

This is followed by 24 scenes (note that 24x19 = 456, the #pages in “Ship of Theseus”)…

  • a taciturn sailor
  • children dying of snake-bites, trembling and feverish
  • a saint’s manifestation in an oil-slicked puddle
  • mass graves
  • a spinning bicycle wheel
  • a man with legendary mustaches
  • a love-struck adventurer with wings on his shoes
  • a factory fire
  • the lonesome death of the Spider Prince
  • soup lines
  • trenches
  • the smell of warm holiday cakes
  • bank notes passing between pink hands
  • a hanged man swinging from a yardarm
  • a panhandler’s homily
  • an archer whose arrows fly around the world and land at his feet
  • a tent-city aflame
  • railroad tracks that run through a mountain tunnel
  • a vanished tribe
  • a band of would-be revolutionaries
  • a young woman aboard a ship, shy about her accented English
  • an insane parade of monkeys
  • a driving rain of printed pages
  • infinite regret

This is bound to be a code or at least a clue, but how? Many of these scenes can be found explicitly within Ship of Theseus (e.g., a spinning bicycle wheel is on p103). However, many cannot – at least at face value (e.g., a hanged man swinging from a yardarm).

Perhaps this will help. There is a book entitled Torrent of Words. It is the biography of Leon Gellert, an Australian writer and poet who fought in World War I. Gellert was born in Walkerville – a suburb of Adelaide, South Australia.

In LOST, the episode Whatever the Case May Be from Season One has two subtle references to Adelaide.

  1. The name of the banker is Mark Hutton. There is a real-life Mark Hutton, born in Adelaide, who played baseball for the Cincinnati Reds.
  2. The number on the wing of Kate’s toy airplane: 5025. 5025 is the postal code for South Adelaide.

Also, to go deeper into the rabbit hole, the McKay’s Magazine review of Ship of Theseus uses a particularly long and interesting word, omphaloskepsis, that also has a connection to the same episode of LOST.

Adelaide, which borders Gulf St. Vincent, is the sight of a very important historic event in the discovery of Australia. It is where Matthew Flinders solved the mystery of the new continent of Australia, or as he called it, Terra Australis. It is, in my opinion, why Australia is the Key to the Whole Game for LOST. Perhaps a meticulous eye will see Australia’s relationship to the torrent of words on p380 as at least a very important key for “S.”?

@Sistertsion just posted a blog of possible influences for Doug Dorst’s characters and events in S. She mentions a strong candidate for inspiring the Santorini Man Murders. And it leads directly to Adelaide, Australia.