Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dream Archive 1: Tourist Trap

Last night I dreamed about... riding horses? I never ride horses.

Last week I dreamed about some kind of tour of a large mansion in Australia. It was apparently a tourist trap, but there was something else going on. All kinds of strange photos and artifacts from past decades. One of them was a map showing regions of the continent according to relative light or darkness. The darkest region was centered on Ayer's Rock, in the middle. There were tiny bright spots labeled things like "Reading under a tree" and "When we drew four spades in the card game."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

We hear every damn day about how fragile our country is—on the brink of catastrophe, torn by polarizing hate and how it’s a shame that we can’t work together to get things done. But the truth is we do. We work together to get things done every damn day. The only place we don’t [Gestures across the Mall and toward the Capitol.] is here or on cable TV. But Americans don’t live here or on cable TV. Where we live, our values and principles form the foundation that sustains us while we get things done—not the barriers that prevent us from getting things done. Most Americans don’t live their lives solely as DemocratsRepublicansliberals or conservatives. Americans live their lives more as people that are just a little bit late for something they have to do. Often something they do not want to do. But they do it. Impossible things, every day, that are only made possible through the little, reasonable compromises we all make.

⎯John Stewart

Saturday, November 20, 2010

"We can secure other people's approval if we do right and try hard; but our own is worth a hundred of it, and no way has been found out of securing that."

—Mark Twain

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Trying to get "The Devil at Lourdes" on LET'S GET LIGHT, attempt two

December, 1999. A young Michael Stipe takes time out of his busy schedule of spice shopping and reading haiku to ponder the release of his band's new album, Reveal. It is shaping up to be their most creative and experimental album to date, filled with strange angular rhythms and crazy distorted guitars. Stipe thinks, "Hmmm. People I trust have told me that they really like these songs. But I don't know. I'm thinking maybe I'm gonna rewrite the whole thing as a syrupy, poppy Beach-Boys-meets-Radiohead kinda thing. Yeah, that sounds good. The kids'll like that." Feeling a little warm, he removes his t-shirt, which reads BORN TO BONE, to reveal another t-shirt underneath, bearing the legend LIVIN' THE WILDE LIFE.

October, 2010. A young Andrew Livingston takes time out of his busy schedule of shopping for exercise equipment and reading Michael Stipe: An Illustrated Biography to ponder the release of his band's new album, Let's Get Light. It is shaping up to be their most creative and experimental album to date, filled with strange angular rhythms and crazy distorted guitars. Livingston thinks, "Hmmm. People I trust have told me that they really like "The Devil at Lourdes." But I don't know. I'm thinking maybe I'm gonna scrap the whole thing and rewrite the album as a tribute to Reveal, which is my favorite R.E.M. album by far. I really like the syrupy, poppy Beach-Boys-meets-Radiohead thing. Yeah, that sounds good. The kids'll like that." Feeling a little warm, he removes his t-shirt, which reads KING OF THE ROD, to reveal (heh.) another shirt underneath, bearing the legend FALL ON ME.

<3 JL

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Trying to get "The Devil at Lourdes" on LET'S GET LIGHT, attempt one

Jesse Livingston

 to Andrew
show details Oct 24 (3 days ago)
August, 1997. A young Jeff Mangum sits in the living room of Jim McIntyre's spacious home in Denver, Colorado (it has been dubbed "Pet Sounds Studios," and the name seems to stick). Mangum, a lanky man with a penchant for flannel and sweaters with colorful designs on them, sits brooding in the late afternoon light, smoking herbal cigarettes and listening to Bavarian folk music. He is thinking to himself, "Should I put 'Ghost' on the record? I don't know. It doesn't seem to fit. I feel like it never really lived up to its potential. I was into it at first, but now I just don't know. It seems to be lacking something. Not enough movement. Everyone else likes it, but I just don't know." He stubs out his cigarette and leans back in his chair, letting the sad strains of the Oom-pah band wash over him.

October, 2010. A young Andrew Livingston sits in the study of his spacious apartment in Ypsilanti, Michigan (it has been dubbed "Special Cat Studios," and the name seems to stick). Livingston, a portly gentleman with a penchant for jogging suits and pajamas, sits brooding in the late afternoon light, staring at a "Boys of the NYFD" calendar from 1992 which adorns his wall. The calendar is not open to the correct month, nor does it seem to have been marked with any important dates. He is thinking to himself, "Should I put 'The Devil at Llourdes' on the record? I don't know. It doesn't seem to fit. I feel like it never really lived up to its potential. I was into it at first, but now I just don't know. It seems to be lacking something. Not enough movement. Everyone else likes it, but I just don't know." He swats a drooling cat off his computer keyboard and leans back in his chair, letting the gaze of the hunky fireman on the wall, whose eyes seem to glimmer with a mischievous intent, wash over him.

Andrew Jozef Livingston

 to me
show details Oct 25 (2 days ago)
I hope you die SOON.

Jesse Livingston

 to Andrew
show details Oct 26 (1 day ago)
But do you get my point?

Andrew Jozef Livingston

 to me
show details 7:34 PM (20 hours ago)

I met a guy who was in Iraq and he taught me how to choke you out in 4 seconds.

Jesse Livingston

 to Andrew
show details 12:15 PM (3 hours ago)

That's not my point. I guess I'll have to try again.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Margaret Drabble sez:

"I confidently predict the collapse of capitalism and the beginning of history. Something will go wrong in the machinery that converts money into money, the banking system will collapse totally, and we will be left having to barter to stay alive. Those who can dig in their garden will have a better chance than the rest. I'll be all right; I've got a few veg."

"You learn to put your emotional luggage where it will do some good, instead of using it to shit on other people, or blow up aeroplanes."

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dear Katy,
I should probably let you know ahead of time that I'm planning to take the band in a new direction, just so you're not shocked. From now on, song lyrics will be limited to use of the word "meow." "Meow" will be the one word that is allowed in songs. It may be used multiple times in succession and in repeating patterns (e.g. "meow, meow" "meow-meow-meow" "meowmeow"). In limited cases, the words "mew," "maow," and "mow" may be used as well. However, use of the word "Mao" in reference to the Chinese political leader is right out. I really feel that this linguistic limitation will allow us to fully explore the emotional depth and passion of our music.


Dear Jesse,
I'm down. So long as it swings and it's gluten free.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tuesday, September 24, 2010

Andrew recently introduced me to the band The Protomen by sending me a link to one of their songs:

Here were my initial reactions to hearing it, in the order they occurred:


"This sounds familiar."

"Is this from the '80s or is it current?"

"Oh, dear lord, it's current."


"American kids will listen to anything."

"The only way to like this is ironically, and I don't believe in liking songs ironically."

"It's about Mega Man?"

"It's about MEGA MAN??????"

"What else could the graduates of the Middle Tennessee State University recording program have done with their time rather than compose and perform this music?"

"Probably nothing significant."

"Modern life is rubbish."

"I haven't had a cheesesteak in a while."

"So, it just keeps looping, then?"

"I could leave this playing, take an overdose of Flintstones chewable vitamins, and fade into a warm haze where nothing could ever hurt me again."

"It's actually oddly hypnotic."

"Certainly, some serious talent went into making this."

"It's good that some people realize what their purpose in life is and follow it unquestioningly."

"Well, so much for the rest of my day."

"Just no."

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

JESSE: Did I ever tell you how much I hated that book where they drop gold bars into R'lyeh? [1]


JESSE: I hated it so much. Thinking about it gives me the same itchy feeling I get when I listen to a Tori Amos song.


JESSE: Well, she HAS been around. Musically speaking.

ANDREW: That's true. She suckled a pig. [2]

JESSE: Now, let's be fair. That pig had lost its mother. Why else would she do something like that? I mean, WHY ELSE WOULD ANYONE DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT??

ANDREW: You're right. Any other reason would suggest that the living God is an insane abomination who created the world in His own perverse image.

JESSE: Actually, that might explain a few things. Like that Liars album about witches that has a song on it called "There's Always Room on the Broom." A record company paid them to make that. Or Stephen King's Dreamcatcher. [3]

ANDREW: Or Stephen King's Insomnia. I'm scared. [4]

JESSE: Also, racism.

ANDREW: Well, racism can be amusing in some cases.

JESSE: Like when Lenny Kravitz can't get a cab in New York? [5]


JESSE: He's a livin' joke.

ANDREW: A perverse God would also explain Gordon Downie. I'm going to make a compilation of all the inane lines from their songs.

JESSE: Is that the guy from Tragically Hip?

ANDREW: Yep. He's the poor "man" 's Stipe.

JESSE: Lol. Just lol.


JESSE: In some ways, I think Michael Stipe set a bad precedent. His lyrics didn't make rational sense, but they were still brilliant; however, his success made a lot of people think they could just mutter some bullshit and be a songwriter. Like Bruce McColloch said, if people are going to mutter, they shouldn't be allowed to mutter bullshit. [6]

ANDREW: They should mutter recipes and stock tips.

JESSE: Or exclusively the phrase "Nobody tells a Navy man when he's had enough to drink, because only a Navy man KNOWS when he's had enough to drink!" [7]


JESSE: "Rectum!? Damn near killed 'im!" [8]

ANDREW: Oh, Bill. Where are you now?

JESSE: At home.

ANDREW: That is accurate.

JESSE: Oh, you meant where's the guy who played Bill now.

ANDREW: Who did you think I meant?


ANDREW: Either way, your answer is still correct.

JESSE: I wonder whatever happened to that happy-go-lucky surfer dude who played Ted. I hope he didn't get caught up in the Hollywood machine and start taking himself too seriously.

ANDREW: I'm looking up the guy who played Bill. Apparently he hasn't done squat since his 1993 directorial debut Freaked.

JESSE: I especially hope the guy who played Ted didn't star in a trilogy of films about digital Jesus at a cave rave. [9]

ANDREW: That's the most concise and interesting possible summary of those movies. Wait, no, I'm wrong. The guy who played Bill recently appeared in something called Saul of the Mole Men. It's a weird cartoon on Adult Swim, apparently. But that's it.

JESSE: That's still a more impressive career than Keanu's.

ANDREW: You think so?

JESSE: Well, the guy who played Bill DIDN'T star in Point Break, for one.


JESSE: And he never tried to fake a British accent in a vampire film. [10]


JESSE: Even more impressive is the fact that he never uttered the words "I know kung fu" in earnest. [11]

ANDREW: To be fair, those words were true on many levels.

JESSE: But I think his triumph was not trying to date Sandra Bullock through a time-traveling mailbox. All in all, I'd say he's a far superior actor. [12]

ANDREW: I see your point. Especially in light of the above-mentioned Stargate: Mailbox. [13]

JESSE: LOL! Ancient Egyptian aliens would have made that movie SO much better!

ANDREW: Especially if they sneakily altered his mail in subtle ways.

JESSE: "What? I've been selected for jury duty in BELGIUM??"

ANDREW: Hahaha!!

JESSE: That movie wasn't a romantic comedy. It was a drama. I hope you realize that.

ANDREW: I never saw it.

JESSE: I did. It was awful. I bet I could count the number of good romantic dramas involving time travel on one finger. With a 
standard deviation of +/- 5.

ANDREW: Five fingers or five movies?

JESSE: Both. Meaning that there might actually be a negative number of good romantic dramas involving time travel.

ANDREW: I see.

JESSE: Meaning that if anyone ever did make a good one, there still might not be any good ones.

ANDREW: It was that bad, huh?

JESSE: Yes it was. In fact, watching it gave me that same itchy feeling I get when I think about that book where they dropped gold bars into R'lyeh.

1. I am referring to the book An Evil Guest, by Gene Wolf. The story is actually pretty interesting, but the dialogue is unbearable (it's written in the most annoying faux-noirstyle). The story also contains, for no acceptable reason, a sub-plot about an attempt to destroy the underwater city of R'lyeh, home of the sleeping squid god Cthulhu, by dropping gold bars into it one-at-a-time. The idea is that the slowly-growing pile of gold will attract the attention of the U.S. military who will then destroy the sunken city with depth charges. Anyone who is passingly familiar with H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos will realize how completely ridiculous this idea is. Cthulhu is an undead cosmic horror with the power to bring about the end of humanity just by dreaming about it. It's unlikely, to say the least, that He could be neutralized by depth charges. (Although, some would argue that, in light of the apparent tensile strength of His head as demonstrated in Lovecraft's own story "The Call of Cthulhu," this idea might not be so far-fetched after all. See Andrew's essay on the subject.)

2. He is referring to a photo in the sleeve of Boys for Pele in which Tori Amos is, in fact, breastfeeding a pig.

3. I haven't read the book, but I saw the movie. Lord, did I see the movie. I don't recommend subjecting yourself to either. Just read a review of it online.

4. Surely one of King's worst. And the thing about a bad Stephen King book is that  it's like three bad books by anyone else.

5. I am referring to the song "Hey, Mr. Cab Driver."

6. Bruce McColloch, from The Kids in the Hall, said this on his album Shame-Based Man.

7. A line from a Richard Jenny bit about schizophrenics secretly talking to each other via telepathy.

8. Cited as the most versatile punchline ever by Alex Winter, the guy who played Bill in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.

9. I am referring to the infamously ridiculous scene in the Matrix trilogy where the freedom fighters have a slow-motion dance-off in their underground hideout.

10. Bram Stoker's Dracula by Francis Ford Coppola. An excellent film, excluding certain performances by certain people who shall remain nameless, but both of whom also starred in A Scanner Darkly (also an excellent film if you don't pay close attention to the performances of these two people).

11. Another reference to The Matrix.

12. The time-traveling mailbox film was called The Lake House, and it's every bit as bad as it sounds.

13. Stargate was a decent sci-fi flick about time travel (well, technically space travel) and aliens pretending to be Egyptian gods. It spawned numerous television spinoffs, including Stargate: SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis, Stargate: Universe, and others.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Watching a documentary about a sad, insane man who walked between the Twin Towers on a wire in 1974. The truly horrifying part is that this dangerous lunatic is still free to walk the streets. This is just one of the many depraved things that happened in the 1970s, A.K.A. "History's Open Sewer."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I think woodchucks are having sex outside my window. Prolonged, intense bouts of squeaking in the middle of the night.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Jesse Livingston to Andrew Livingston, 8/26/07: 
Subject: dude 

i think we misjudged mr. train lead singer. he's a righteous rocknroller after all! check it out! 

"My Private Nation"
Why you gotta treat me like I'm a low down dirty
Climbin' up on thirty
Dress like a kid to make me feel young punk <----------SELF AWARE!
And talk junk
You musta fell out of your bunk
And smacked your head
Or your face or somethin'    <----------GENIUS!

I don't need nobody flyin' in my jet stream
Take the bus
Go on and get yourself your own dream <------------RIGHT ON, BROTHA!

This is my own life keepin' me down
Where I wanna be in my private nation
I'm alone all thinkin' life's a phone call
Here for just a while when in my private nation
You can ride or you can go     <----------------------SO TRUE!

Why you gonna step on shoes
When you don't know whose been in 'em <---------------METAPHOR!
Have you ever been more than a bump
On a rock that likes to roll  <-----------------WHOAH!
In the middle of a soup bowl in the sky <----------------UNEXPECTED!
Use your eyes
It's all you got till you die <---------------------DEEP, MAN, DEEP!

I don't need nobody flyin' in my jet stream
Take the bus
Go on and get yourself your own dream

You can ride on, it ain't free
Leave a light on, so you can see
How to get back when you go

How to get, how to give
How to make ends meet
How to lose, how to win
How to stay on the seat  <-------------------ALWAYS A PROBLEM!
How to use momentum to keep the two wheels straight
How to wait after it feels like you waited so long <-------------------------

Jesse Livingston to Andrew Livingston, 8/26/07:
Subject: another gem!

"Save The Day"
Ten pounds too much to the naked eye  <-------ACCEPTING OF IMPERFECTION!
I don't take the bus because she drives <------------MAKES SENSE TO ME!
Watermelon lipstick, and way too much
She got buttermilk smile and a thorny touch
Street smart, like a Courtney Love <----------THEY DON'T COME NO SMARTER!
Can't get enough Hollywood stories of
Anybody famous that can make her feel
Like they're all kinda friends in a way <---------PROFOUND!
No best friend, well one but she's crazy <---SHOULD HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT THAT LINE BEFORE HE  WROTE IT!
Grew up to end up a Professor of lazy <----ODD SORT OF COMPLIMENT!
The last of six kids that all left town
Seems nobody ever wanted them around
But she's cool like a soda can sittin' on ice <-----THAT'S COOL!
Always orders sushi, only eats the rice <-------THE ATTENTION TO DETAIL!
Talks about J Lo like they're best of friends <------WHO'S TO SAY THEY'RE NOT!
I think she loves me, but it all depends <----I IMAGINE SO!

Hey baby, I don't wanna be your Superman
I just wanna be your man and I'll be super, baby <----STUNNING!
You'll be standin' in the sun shine
I'll be standin' right here in the rain
You save me and I will save the day <-----IT'S A DEAL!

I got a sweet gig rakin' in the cash with karaoke <----THE WORLD-WEARINESS!
I get the crowd goin' when I sing the hokey pokey <------!!!!!
I shake it to the
left and then I shake it to the right <---------!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What's not to love, man I'm on tonight <---------SURE ARE!
I got the LA stylie with the New York trim <----WHAT DOES THAT REFER TO!
Keep my pants so low
It's like I'm goin' for a swim <--------------GAAAAAAAAA!
I got the Coppertone tan, like in Mexico
Well, not now, but when I go, yeah <-----ONCE AGAIN, THINK BEFORE YOU WRITE!

I know you don't see me like a movie star <------ACCEPTING OF IMPERFECTION!
And it can't help much that I don't have no car <-----NOR GRAMMAR!
But you're my favorite thing, by far
That's gotta count for something <------YOU'D THINK SO!

Friday, May 28, 2010

So many used copies of Train albums at the cd shop.

Friday, May 28, 2010

I work at Leopold Bros. Distillery. Here are some things Todd Leopold has said at work:

greeting someone: "So, that's your hair, huh?" 

being told we were doing a fundraiser for a local animal shelter: "Ah. Sad barky guys."

greeting someone else: "Wearing some clothes today?"

describing something difficult: "It's no pancake festival, Erich."

giving helpful advice: "If a redneck ever asks you why you want to visit the city, just tell them, 'Parts.' They'll be okay with that."

impersonating Radiohead: "Saaaaaaaaaaaad / Speeeeeeeeecial / Sad / Saaaaaaaaad / Fuckin' speciaaaaaaaal."

impersonating George W. Bush: "Right, so, you take Jesse and you fool him. So, he's been fooled. Then various other things occur and shame is assigned to one or more parties involved."

Monday, May 24, 2010

In ancient Egyptian religionAmmit (also spelt Ammut and Ahemait, meaning Devourer or Bone Eater) was a femaledemon with a body that was part lionhippopotamus and crocodile. A funerary deity, her titles included “Devourer of the Dead,” “Eater of Hearts,” and “Great of Death.” Ammit lived near the scales of justice in Duat, the Egyptian underworld. In the Hall of Two Truths, Anubis weighed the heart of a person against Ma'at, the goddess of truth, who was sometimes depicted symbolically as an ostrich feather. If the heart was judged to be not pure, Ammit would devour it, and the person undergoing judgement was not allowed to continue their voyage towards Osiris and immortality. Once Ammut swallowed the heart, the soul was believed to become restless forever; this was called "to die a second time". Ammit was also sometimes said to stand by a lake of fire. In some traditions, the unworthy hearts were cast into the fiery lake to be destroyed. Some scholars believe Ammit and the lake represent the same concept of destruction. Ammit was not worshipped, and was never regarded as a goddess; instead she embodied all that the Egyptians feared, threatening to bind them to eternal restlessness if they did not follow the principal of Ma'at. Ammit has been linked with the goddess Tawaret, who has a similar physical appearance and, as a companion of Bes, also protected others from evil.

In Egyptian mythologyTaweret (also spelled TaurtTuatTaueretTuartTa-weretTawaret, and Taueret, and inGreekΘουέρις "Thouéris" and Toeris) is the Egyptian Goddess of childbirth and fertility. The name "Taweret" means, "she who is great" or simply, "great one".[1] When paired with another deity, she became the demon-wife of Apep, the original god of evil. Early during the Old Kingdom, the Egyptians saw female hippopotami as less aggressive than the males, and began to view their aggression as only protecting their young--not territorial, as was male aggression. Consequently, Taweret became seen, very early in Egyptian history, as a deity of protection in pregnancy and childbirth. As a protector, she often was shown with one arm resting on the sa symbol, which symbolized protection, and on occasion she carried an ankh, the symbol of life, or a knife, which would be used to threaten evil spirits. As the hippopotamus was associated with the Nile, these more positive ideas of Taweret allowed her to be seen as a goddess of the annual flooding of the Nile and the bountiful harvest that it brought. Ultimately, although only a household deity, since she was still considered the consort of Apep, Taweret was seen as one who protected against evil by restraining it.

Apep formed part of the more complex cosmic system resulting from the identification of Ra as Atum, i.e. the creation of Atum-Ra, and the subsequent merging of the Ogdoad and Ennead systems. Consequently, since Atum-Ra, who was later referred to simply as Ra, was the solar deitybringer of light, and thus the upholder of Ma'at, Apep was viewed as the greatest enemy of Ra, and thus was given the title Enemy of Ra.

As the personification of all that was evil, Apep was seen as a giant snake/serpentcrocodile, or occasionally as a dragon in later years, leading to such titles as Serpent from the Nile and Evil Lizard. Some elaborations even said that he stretched 16yards in length and had a head made of flint. He is sometimes known as the “chaos snake.” Tales of Apep's battles against Ra were elaborated during the New Kingdom.[4] Since nearly everyone can see that the sun is not attacked by a giant snake during the day, every day, storytellers said that Apep must lie just below the horizon. This appropriately made him a part of theunderworld. In some stories Apep waited for Ra in a western mountain called Bakhu, where the sun set, and in others Apep lurked just before dawn, in the Tenth region of the Night. The wide range of Apep's possible location gained him the title World Encircler. It was thought that his terrifying roar would cause the underworld to rumble. Myths sometimes say that Apep was trapped there, because he had been the previous chief god and suffered a coup d'etat by Ra, or because he was evil and had been imprisoned.


The light is obviously some kind of essential energy of the earth which heals and renews life. The Island is the place which keeps life and death balanced. The ancient Egyptians found it at some point, so it was probably the origin of their legends of the underworld, because the souls of dead people are able to communicate with the living there. The Egyptians built the huge statue of the goddess Taweret, who was the goddess of motherhood and also the wife of Apep, the original god of evil. She was believed to protect the world by restraining Apep, who wanted to destroy it. The Egyptians must have seen the smoke monster and assumed that it was evil, creating the legend of Apep around it. In fact, it was merely chaotic, and it assumed the characteristics of the people it absorbed. The Egyptians probably built the cave and the pool/capstone, using the electromagnetic energy of the light/water to keep the smoke imprisoned. They did not understand the details of what they were doing, they just knew they had to protect the world from chaos. Since the light and darkness were probably in a natural balance when they found the Island, they may have inadvertently created an imbalance by tampering with it. By imprisoning the chaotic darkness, they caused it to build up like a pressure valve that has been blocked.

In later history, the crazy woman “Mother” came to the Island. She saw what was going on there, even though she didn’t fully understand it, and believed that she must protect the light at all costs. At some point, she was so entranced by the light that she went into the cave and entered the pool of water. She may even have removed the capstone and then replaced it. As a result, she died and was absorbed by the smoke monster. It took on parts of her personality, including her intense desire to protect the light from outsiders. When Jacob and his brother were born and “Mother” raised them as her adopted children, she was already dead. It was actually the smoke monster that raised them. The evidence of this is as follows: when Mother knocked out Jacob’s brother, she was somehow able to destroy the village, kill all the men, and fill in the well all by herself while he was unconscious. How else could she have done this unless she was the smoke monster? Also, she told Jacob never to go into the light because it was “a fate worse than death.” How could she have known what would happen unless she had seen it happen to someone else, specifically herself? When Jacob’s brother killed her, he stabbed her before she had a chance to speak to him; this is apparently the only way to kill the smoke monster when it is in human form. As a result, the smoke must have returned to the cave and been unable to roam around anymore. However, Jacob accidentally set it free again when he threw his brother into the cave.

This time, the smoke absorbed his brother’s personality, including his intense desire to leave the Island. It had probably never cared about leaving the Island before. Jacob saw this and dedicated his life to keeping his “brother” imprisoned, because he assumed (probably correctly) that the darkness was not meant to leave that place. If it did, the balance of life and death would be irrevocably destroyed and the whole world would die. (Interestingly, it was “Mother” who showed Jacob how to protect the light, which means the smoke monster was actually responsible for imprisoning itself. This is further proof that the darkness, being chaotic, did not have any inherent desires of its own. It merely took on the desires of people it absorbed. Since Mother wanted more than anything to protect the light, it showed Jacob how to do that.) Drinking the water that had been affected by the light gave Jacob near-immortality and a limited amount of power over the Island. Thus, he was able to make rules about what could and couldn’t happen there. The smoke monster was also able to make rules (remember “Mother” made it so Jacob and his brother couldn’t kill each other). So, they started their long game where Jacob tried to prove that people were inherently good and his “brother” tried to prove they weren’t. This was really just a continuation of the argument they had been having over the opinions given to them by “Mother.” The light and the darkness don’t actually care about good and evil; it was a construct imposed on them by Jacob and his brother.

Jacob brought all the candidates to the Island because he wanted a replacement. He was tired of the game. He didn’t know that he could have stopped it any time by entering the cave and becoming the smoke monster. Either that, or he did know but was afraid to. When Desmond removed the capstone, he did not die, and therefore he was not absorbed by the smoke. He thought that by removing the stone, he would open a bridge between the Island and the alternate reality which he could see parts of. What he didn’t realize was that the alternate reality was not actually real in the way he thought it was. It was a collective hallucination of all the dead souls who were waiting to move on. They all died at different times and in different places, but they all waited for each other in that dreamworld so that they could move on together. Clearly, Hugo, Ben, and the people who left the Island in the plane lived on long after Jack died in the bamboo grove. Hugo and Ben referred to the time they had spent together looking after the Island, saying “You were a great #2,” and “You were a great #1.” They must have lived for years after Jack’s death, as did the people who escaped in the plane (the same plane Jack saw fly over him as he was dying). The alternate reality was simply a waiting room where everyone gathered after their various individual deaths. It started out as a dream representation of Los Angeles and what would have happened if the plane hadn’t crashed. They were able to live there for a while and make the choices they should have made in life. However, after they all found each other, they remembered what really happened and how much they needed each other in order to let go and move on together. Some of them, like Ben and Anna Lucia and Michael, weren’t ready to move on, so they stayed behind to think about their lives some more. During their time in the dreamworld, they were able to appear on the Island in the real world in order to talk to those still living. This is because the Island acts as a gateway between life and death.
An interesting consequence of all this is that Jack most likely became the smoke monster after he died. However, he only “became” the smoke monster in the way that Jacob’s brother did. It’s more accurate to say that the smoke monster became him. It absorbed his personality and took on his characteristics. His physical body died and his soul moved on into the next world, but the construct of his personality merged with the smoke. This means that during Hugo and Ben’s time running the Island, the smoke monster was probably much nicer to people, much more reasonable, and much more caring. In fact, it was probably more of a smoke doctor.