I was on the radio today – BBC Ulster suffered a plague of Wexfordmen, with Colm Toibin on talking about Truman Capote, and Anthony Cronin and I on talking about the connection between the TV series Lost and Flann O’Brien’s novel The Third Policeman.
Blather.net’s Barry had already brought to our attention the connection between Lost and the Third Policeman – our discussion of it has brought blather.net to the top of Google searches on the connection.
As is usual with fast-paced radio, I didn’t get to blather on about half of what I wanted to. Lacking a fag-packet, I scribbled some notes in the studio beforehand, and never used them, I’ll stick them em here instead.
From the Centre for Book Culture: :
- Craig Wright, a Lost scriptwriter and producer, said in the Chicago Tribune article that “The Third Policeman will be prominently featured in a key moment” of this season’s third episode. He went on to say that the book “was chosen for very specifically for a reason.”
- And, even more pointedly, he said, “Whoever goes out and buys the book will have a lot more ammunition in their back pocket as they theorize about the show. They will have a lot more to speculate aboutâ€”and, no small thing, they will have read a really great book.”
Connections that spring to mind, especially to the episode ‘Orientation‘:
- The ‘hero’ of The Third Policeman has commited a crime, is now dead, but doesn’t know it, and is trapped in his own weird circular version of hell – albeit a weird one with surreal policemen. The ‘heroes’ of Lost are trapped in the ‘hell’ of a tropical island. They’ve all done questionable things before arriving there. But are they dead?
- In the The Third Policeman, Eternity is accessed by its managers – the policemen by a lift. It’s hidden in a forest, in a ‘bunker’. Whatever happens there involves a series of numbers: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42 – as does much of the plot. In The Third Policeman, the policemen take down a series of readings from the machines that run Eternity. They’re mentioned in the book – mostly decimals, in the form of:
- Pilot reading: 10.2
- Reading on beam: 4.9
- Reading on lever: 1.25
- Nature of fall (if any) with time: Light 4.15
- In Eternity, thereâ€™s an infinite labyrinth of rooms – including one room with oven-like doors where you can get whatever you want, but you canâ€™t take it back up with you.
- In the Lost numbers, there’s a 42. In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, 42 is the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. Unfortunately, nobody knows the answer. The Lost numbers also include 23 – and blather.net has covered the whole 23 Enigma. In the The Third Policeman, Fox goes mad and disappears on a certain June 23rd, after having spent a whole hour alone in a private room with Policeman McCruiskeen and “has never spoken to anyone since that day and he is as crazy as tuppence-half-penny and as cranky as thruppence”.
- There’s a theory that the numbers refer to the first word on pages 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42 of The Third Policeman. The first word on page 4 of my copy is ‘Flamingo’ – it’s the copyright page, not actually content, and Flamingo was the publisher of my copy – I believe it’s a different publisher in the USA. The rest of the words are: songs, we, commonplace, military and townload. Read into that what you will. According to some people, that connection is a hoax.
- Update 21/2/06: Now that I’ve watched that episode, Orientation – I can say more. When Desmond (Scottish guy) flees the bunker, there’s a glimpse of a Dalkey Archive copy of The Third Policeman on his bed.
- The characters in the bunker – like Desmond, etc. are destined to spending their time fulfilling a Pavlovian task – filling in 4,8.15, 16, 23 and 42 and pressing the execute on an old computer button every 108 minutes. In The Third Policeman have a ‘duty’ to maintain the machinery of Eternity.
I’m sure more astute students of Lost can help us out with more connections…
Update 22/02/06, 11:47am I was just on the Orla Barry Show on Newstalk 106 (Dublin), talking about Lost and The Third Policeman.
Download an MP3 of the BBC show »
Earlier on Blather.net – Lost and the Third Policeman »
hellshaw.com Flann O’Brien page »
Flann O’Brien, Comic Genius »
The No Bicycle Page »
Third Policeman Review »
Lostpedia entry on The Third Policeman »
The Third Policeman » (Amazon.com)
Lost – The Complete First Season (2004) » (amazon.com)
The Lost Chronicles : The Official Companion Book » (amazon.com)
The Third Policeman » (amazon.co.uk)
Lost: Season 1 – Part 1 » (amazon.co.uk)
The Lost Chronicles : The Official Companion Book » (amazon.co.uk)