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Subway Map Exposed

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So….. the Subway map.

As I had hoped, this thing is really reaching far on the interwebs, and that’s been nice to see. It’d be disingenuous of me not to admit being a little bummed seeing the Tumblr staff feature a tiny version of the map on someone else’s Tumblelog… without even link credit or a high rez version. Not so much because I wanted the reblogs or the traffic, but I guess because it made me a little disillusioned with the Tumblr folks. I didn’t think they did that. I mean, there aren’t that many Radar posts in rotation. They couldn’t have done a quick search to see if it was duplicate content?

Ah well, never the less, I’m really happy to see so many of you enjoying it. And I have to admit, I’m also having fun with some of the placement criticisms.

When I first came up with the idea a couple weeks ago, I thought it might be a good way to refresh myself, not just on the geography of the series, but on the events that have passed. It would force me to take a sort of crash course on what we’ve seen so far. I also thought it might be a good way to get to know the Island a little better.

Of course, there was also a part of me that thought, “What am I getting myself into?” I’ve learned that when you blog about a show like Lost you have to be prepared to be called an a$$hat by a DJ from time to time. Fact is, there are so many Losties who don’t like you messing with their with the seriousness of their show. If you don’t get something absolutely right, it doesn’t matter how clever the idea… you’re an a$$hat.

So in deciding to actually dedicate time to this (I put in a few hours a day for about a week), I knew I’d be watching a lot of episodes over, reading a lot of blogs, and spending a fair amount of time on lostpedia. A great way to get myself back in shape for the season, sure… however, it wasn’t so much to get everything perfect, but instead to have plenty to talk about after I finished the map.

I mentioned this a lot last season. My favorite part of the show is not in the show at all. It’s in the after of the show. It’s in talking to you, fellow fans. Discussing theories, finding those “aha!” moments… even the bickering is fun, the occasional lording one’s theories above the rest only for it to tumble the following week. It’s social. It’s community. And I’ll brave any hardcore theorist to enjoy it. I hope you’ll do the same with me here.

So why did I place some of the things where I did? Well, in the Subway post, I mentioned that this was, for me, a balance between design and mythology. On the one hand, I really wanted to figure this Island out… what one commenter referred to as “a nightmare puzzle”, but on the other hand… it’s a subway map. I mean, who am I kidding? This thing isn’t gonna be a definitive guide to the Lost universe. I’m happy to know that a few people are using it as their desktop background.

But it wasn’t just arbitrary placement. I promise you that. Every major local has some justification that began with the mythology. Then in order to fit into the functional design of a subway map, I had to ease things into new spots. But the easing never puts something vastly out of the area I thought worked well for the Island in the first place.

A good example of this is The Cockpit. @paulinehess, a frequenter here and bad ass (not a$$hat) theorist, commented that it wasn’t in a spot that seemed right to her. And that’s true. I’ve placed the cockpit to the left of the fuselage. But it’s likely to the right, and not nearly as far.

I originally had it placed there actually. But if you remember, Season 4 had all the survivors meeting at the cockpit before separating into two groups. For the purposes of my subway map, that means the Cockpit stop has to cross two lines. So I nudged the cockpit to the left so that it could. Of course, I knew fans would notice, my hope was that they’d forgive. I mean, I didn’t send it to the other side of the Island… just a bit to the left.

And I did this all over. So if you see things slightly out of line, it’s cause I just thought it worked better there. Either it needed to cross a certain season’s train line or I just liked the composition better. Vague events like Hurley hearing the bird say his name, or Gale’s balloon were most helpful to me in this way.

Now, if you see things completely out of line… well in those cases, we may just have differing opinions on where things are. And that’s okay… because you probably have plenty of evidence as to why you’re correct. The show’s given you a lot.

But the show’s given me a lot too.

And in some cases, the show has actually given us contradictory evidence. Events, topography, maps, directions, that seem totally off from what they showed us earlier. Are they doing it on purpose? Is there some strange riddle of inconsistency here? Or is it just the nature of television production? That you kind of have to make changes based on the current circumstances of your show.

The mythology may require the characters to walk eastward towards something that’s already hinted at being in the east. But if shooting them walking to the west will yield a more interesting or, in some cases, actually achievable shot based on a variety of shooting factors (the location of the sun, the actors’ sight lines, environment, composition, etc) … you just have to hope your fans will forgive and/or forget.

I know for a lot of Lost fans, the latter is not an option. And rather than forgive, many of us would simply rather justify. But there are some things you can’t justify. They just don’t make sense at all, no matter how much you to believe the show has a master plan.

Take a look at these two pictures. This is one of several oddities I noticed while working on the map.

The first is of the Losties setting off for the radio tower at the end of season 3. The ocean is on their right.

To the Radio Tower 1

The second is a scene just after the commercial break with our same Losties still on their trek to the tower. This time, however, the ocean in on their left.

To the Radio Tower 2

So we either forgive this mistake…. we forget this mistake…. or we justify. We say, “Jack got about a mile up the beach and then realized they were going the wrong way and turned around. There! Answered!” Who cares that Sayid explicitly demanded that Jack “not turn back for anything,” fact is, the only way for someone to be walking with the ocean on their right side for a while and then eventually find it on their left… is if they stopped and turned around………. or maybe made a figure 8 through the Island?

The point is, there are so many of these inconsistencies that it’s hard to come up with a hard fast theory for where many of the big things are. And maybe that’s what the creators want. A puzzle that looks slightly different to each of us. So that we talk about it, argue, try to jam our puzzle pieces into whatever slot we find… and ultimately watch the show to see who’s right.

So if you have any major problems with where I placed things… like, “dude, you’re out of your mind! The Hydra is at the north of the Island!” or “no WAY is the Four Toed Statue there!”… this is the post to let me know. Just write me a comment, and I’ll try to explain exactly why I placed it there. If you let me know where you would have placed it, I can tell you if it was a spot I considered placing it but chose against… and why. I looked at a lot of fan maps, so I think I know most of the possible/theorized spots for things.

The only landmark I won’t be commenting on here is “The Barracks”. And that’s because I’ve given that landmark it’s very own post. Wow! Two posts for the price of one!

This next post details exactly why I chose to put it smack in the middle of the Island. So if you have any questions, comments, or problems with it’s placement, please click the link below, take a read, and if you’re still not convinced, berate me in the comments there…

Otherton / Dharmaville / The Barracks

One Comment

  1. Aw shucks J. And oddly, this flush of color on my cheeks is rendering me much less verbose than usual. But thanks for the shout out.

    Also, I would like to point out that the @PMHess link points to what appears to be the twitter account of a bot. 😮

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