Is “S” on a Fugue Walkabout?

Posted: January 22, 2014 in S, Ship of Theseus, Who Is Straka
Tags: , , , , , ,

Walkabout is the title of the fourth episode of LOST.  Here we see the first episode that focuses on the character John Locke – whom we later discover is the man behind the number 4 in the series 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42. In that episode, John Locke explains to his skeptical boss…

 A Walkabout is a journey of spiritual renewal,
where one derives strength from the earth.
And becomes inseparable from it.

John Locke gets his walkabout, but not in the Australian Outback as he hoped. He gets his spiritual renewal on a mysterious island – and he becomes inseparable from it.

This emphasis on the walkabout and the number four were foundational to LOST, and I believe that J.J. Abrams carried that same substance forward in Ship of Theseus. 

The Opening Act of Ship of Theseus – the Journey Begins
What do we see S. doing when our story opens? He is walking about…

A man in a dark gray overcoat walks the Quarter’s streets.

The word walks happens to be the 19th word of the book.

As shown previously, there is a heavy emphasis on the number four in that opening sequence.

S. walks about, in an apparent fugue state, turning corner after corner, until he reaches the tavern, where he sees the symbol S. for the first time and meets Sola for the first time.

The Return to the Ship after The Winter City
After S. spends an unknown length of time in the Winter City, Sola meets him and then leads him on a very long walk on water – across the ice from the shores of the city and back to his ship. On p393, we see that the distance must walk is miles. At first he is terrified that he will fall through the ice, but by the journey’s end, he wishes he could take the same walk again.

The Climax
In the climactic scene, we find S. about to confront Vevoda, walking through the labyrinthian tunnels in the wine cellar.

He passes a barrel on which no mark is visible, as its contents have leaked through a split stave and blackened the wood below. He can still see an outline of the spill across the earthen floor. He kneels down and touches a finger to it, and all at once, the mad chorus of voices in his head goes silent. Silent. Settled. Returned to the earth and settled. Voices and narratives, re-absorbed into the ground           on which we walk.

And this is the key, he realizes…

In the moment that S. places a single finger into the spilt wine that has re-absorbed into the ground on which we walk, his life his changed. His spirit is changed. He has discovered the key. His hate and murderous intent for Vevoda vanish in that instant.

If you go back to the insert The Daily Pronghorn (p32-33) you will see that most if not every article in some way alludes to the ground (ground beef, Wenke’s groundbreaking work, the boathouse looks like an old water mill where grinding takes place, the worst damage in Standefer hall occurred on the ground floor, etc.).

The Songlines
In an Australian walkabout, the aborigines would leave their homes and enter the Australian Outback to follow the songlines. Singing the songlines allows the singer to navigate otherwise complex routes across the land by calling to mind landmarks, water holes, glyphs, and other visible indicators. The song, repeated at the proper pace, is a musical map. We have already seen the importance of Australia in “S.” Now we are seeing the importance of a walkabout through its lands.

On S.‘s ship, we have whistling crewmen. The whistles indicate changes to direction of the boat or the sighting of land. Inside the tunnels of the wine vineyard, S. and Sola navigate the tunnels by whistling back and forth to each other to help each other find their way. The interlude of Ship of Theseus is entitled Toccata and Fugue in Free Time. This chapter sends us on a journey through S.‘s complex journey of agent assassinations. We also appear to have an unsolved cipher based on Fn5.

And there are a host of other musical connections in “S.

S.’s journey is a walkabout, and whether he or we realize it, he is following one or more songlines – which we must somehow discover in order to find our way through the otherwise unnavigable challenge we have before us of understanding “S.

The story of “S.” is a mysterious synthesis of music, philosophy, mathematics, love, literature, and more. The songlines, I believe, are the key. We just have to find them.

This line of thinking has lead me to Bach’s Art of the Fugue

Bach was one of four distinguished dedicatees of Mizler’s 1734 doctoral dissertation on Music as part of a Philosophical Education. Mizler founded the Korrespondierenden Sozietät der Musikalischen Wissenschaften (Corresponding Society of Musical Sciences) in 1738, which Bach joined in June 1747, and of which Handel and Telemann were also members. The society was concerned with the union of music, philosophy, mathematics and science in Pythagorean theory, and required each member to contribute a practical work in demonstration of this approach…

This astounding work by Bach has 19 parts, with one missing page that has since been lost, referred to as Fragment X. Is S., once called Agent X in Chapter 4, the missing fragment to this puzzle? Is Bach’s Art of the Fugue, which depends heavily on counterpoint like its literary counterpart The Glass Bead Game, the songline we are to follow? Or is there another?

  1. Captain says:

    Bach, “Badinerie”, “Chromatic Fantasy” the walking bass line and the greatest master of his day. Understand Bach vive le mystere and you understand the others but not this person S I think.

    • Captain says:

      Let me explain.
      The connection to Toccata and Fugue in Free time on page 299 and the number 4 in Lost seems like a fit but. I do not think Abrams or Dorst would risk the S. project on direct information from LOST. The book S is just too unique. It has to stand on its own. It seems that these connections exit but I think they are red herrings. There were many mistakes in Lost that Abrams worked to correct in FRINGE. One is the association of objects. I must admit that the page 12 green text note about Summersby tape and its youtube video is troubling.
      The Art of Fugue by Bach is a last will and testament, it was never finished. Bach is the master of music; you could never hear all his music. Bach is fractal geometry via music. It can be played on any instrument even ukulele… see (Jake Shinabukuro) you will enjoy. Bach was all about improvisation. It was perfection that was not created like the rest of us do it was envisioned. Like Einstein envisioned. You can’t fake Bach you can’t make it up or create it. IT IS. No one can hear Bach (if played correctly) and not enjoy it or stop and listen. That is how well connected Bach was to the human mind. Some how I don’t see Straka as this perfect so what is the underline message of this chapter and its message?

  2. jillaggie1 says:

    Love it! Your analysis/path makes me feel like I need to enter Douglas Hofstadter into the discussion. I see, now that I have the language for it, that his book _Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid_ is a fantastic example of a Glass Bead Game. One of the few books I have multiple copies of (office, home office, nightstand), it’s one I return to again and again — always finding something new to explore. Rife with paradox, wordplay, self-reference and recursion, puzzles, connections, ciphers.

    “Hofstadter has emphasized that GEB is not about mathematics, art, and music but rather about how cognition and thinking emerge from well-hidden neurological mechanisms. In the book, he presents an analogy about how the individual neurons of the brain coordinate to create a unified sense of a coherent mind by comparing it to the social organization displayed in a colony of ants.”,_Escher,_Bach

    • Captain says:

      Excellent connection here. “I think therefore I am” define I. Isomorphism was a point in GEB like Agent #4 to Toccata and Fugue in Free Time,what is the connection? Another bead another tile.

  3. Jillaggie says:

    Oh, Captain…I’m not sure what to make of you. I must confess that i have not yet finished S. – like geekyzen, I have been pulled out of the tome and into the interwebs, chasing squirrels (following rabbits?). I skipped a few pages ahead and read The Interlude. So familiar. . . Of course, GEB.

    My attempt at drawing a connection to 4 and X and Bach and the unfinished fugue (as posted above by Mystimus) and cipher/code/…:

    From my brain and marginalia and rememberings:
    In GEB (pp.79-81, oddly enough), Hofstadter (through dialogue between Achilles and Tortoise) discusses the final Contrapunctus of Bach’s The Art of Fugue. It was unfinished. Bach’s name is hidden (in plain sight) in it (“B-A-C-H is the last theme of the fugue.”).

    It’s thought by some that the AoF was to be a quadruple fugue, but the 4th theme remained unfinished.

    A note for the code-finding-and-cracking-savvy:

    On p.81, Tortoise refers to double-decker acrostics – “an acrostic on top of an acrostic” (sound like a palimpsest?) – and contracrostics – “where the initial letters, taken in reverse order, form a message.” In fact, the entire dialogue contains/is an acrostic.

    From Wikipedia:
    Theory 1:
    “A book entitled “Bach: Essays on His Life and Music” includes an article about the unfinished fugue, stating that Bach never intended to write the rest of the fugue on the last sheet of music paper used for the fugue because of the unalignment of the bottom staves. It also says that because of the above-mentioned reason, Bach wrote the rest of the fugue on another sheet of music paper, called “fragment x” that would have completed, or almost completed, the fugue. However, even if there is a fragment x, it has been lost.”

    Theory 2:
    “In 2007, New Zealand organist and conductor Indra Hughes completed a doctoral thesis about the unfinished ending of Contrapunctus XIV, proposing that the work was left unfinished not because Bach died, but as a deliberate choice by Bach to encourage independent efforts at a completion.”

    • Captain says:

      Speaking musically: The Art of the Fugue is a visionary mater piece that is conceptually unique. Its Bach’s last will and testament to musicians. When you play that final B flat Bach the composer dies and you the musician become the beneficiary of his work. Its Bach’s way of continuing the music duel that was common in his day. Once he was challenged, I forget by whom, but once the challenger hears Bach warm up he runs out and never comes back. Bach then went on to play for 6 hour of continuous improvisation. If he were alive today he would be the lead in the group like “Dream Theater.” you the musician are responsible to continue the master piece, for the master can no longer contribute. (Sound anything like a Magister Lundi).
      In ch Interlude Fn5 mentions 4 music modes I’ll let you connect the dots there. The ch sub title is Toccata and Fugue in Free time… then again Agent #4. These 2 objects are isomorphism’s, a source and target. Like in the glass bead game objects are beads and tiles. If you do not make the isomorphism work as demonstrated in GEB then you violate Gödel’s theorem. The game no long works. Unlike a TV show like Lost where you can just rewrite the next episode to fix things, in a book you have to get it right the first time.
      Therefore I conclude that each object of information has to form a complete isomorphism. The Summersby tape on page 12 seems to have violated Gödel’s theorem. Therefore it must have been a mistake to omit the “object” or a difference in opinions. Perplexing don’t you think?
      Mystery is more important than information but the information in each object must make a link. Just my thoughts here.🙂

  4. Fromödel,_Escher,_Bach

    The book is filled with puzzles. An example of this is the chapter titled “Contracrostipunctus”, which combines the words acrostic and contrapunctus (counterpoint). In a dialogue between Achilles and the Tortoise, the author hints that there is a contrapunctal acrostic in the chapter that refers both to the author (Hofstadter) and Bach. This can be found by taking the first word of each paragraph, to reveal: Hofstadter’s Contracrostipunctus Acrostically Backwards Spells ‘J. S. Bach’. The second acrostic is found by taking the first letters of the first (in bold) and reading them backwards to get “J. S. Bach” (just as the first acrostic claims).

  5. […] Is “S” on a Fugue Walkabout? […]

  6. Captain says:

    404 error code

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