Vincent, the White Dog, and the real life mad science of John C. Lilly

vincent with dead arm in his mouth

There wasn’t a whole lot of new occult stuff to chew on in the season premiere. But the last “Missing Pieces” clip reminds of me of an interesting occult reference Trevor Blake pointed out:

In 1875 Madame Blavatsky founded the Theosophical Society, a proto-New Age occult organization that would have been quite an influence on The DHARMA Initiative. The “New Age” movement that the DHARMA Initiative invokes has its origins in Theosophy.

According to the White Dog Cafe web site:

While living on Sansom Street, Madame Blavatsky became ill with an infected leg. During her illness, she underwent a transformation which inspired her to found the Theosophical Society. In a letter dated June 12, 1875, Madame Blavatsky described her recovery, explaining that she dismissed the doctors and surgeons who threatened amputation, (“Fancy my leg going to the spirit land before me!”) and had a white dog sleep across her leg by night, curing all in no time.

Vincent is a yellow lab of a very light, mostly white color. The role of yellow labs and their possibly mystic role is expanding upon in the Lost Experience, particularly through the character Dr. Vincent Wally Bole. From Lostpedia:

“His life was a hellish nightmare of neglectful parents, and a near fatal accident until a kindly yellow lab pranced into his life and change him… forever.”

The nickname Wally comes from the family’s trusted Labrador Retriever who saved his life when, as a child, he fell into an abandoned well on the family estate. After this incident and because he had less-than attentive parents (his father was a near-famous neurosurgeon, his mother a saucier and the co-host of a little-watched TV show) he came to look to the dog as his surrogate parent.

The bond that developed between them and a chance encounter with The Hanso Foundation CEO and founder, Alvar Hanso, at a life-extension workshop in Rangoon would inspire Dr. Bolé to expand his research and eventually create the Retrievers Of Truth Institute for the Advancement and Research into the Mental Abilities of Yellow Labrador Retrievers.

It’s also noteworthy that Bole’s yellow lab research is in some ways reminiscent of the real life mad scientist John C. Lilly‘s dolphin communication experiments. Lilly’s other work, particularly Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human Biocomputer has had a lasting impact on occultists, including Robert Anton Wilson, who Damon Lindelof has acknowledged as an influence.

Also, in Further Instructions Charlie makes a reference to the movie Altered States (“I’m going to stand out here in case you devolve into a monkey”), a movie inspired by Lilly’s work.


  1. Lab = laboratory.

    Theosophy is _the_ source for the New Age. I think it even coined the phrase.

    Portland has an active Theosophy building. Can’t imagine there are many left.

    Dharma Initiative did experiment with dolphins and sharks.

    The instructions CS gives Vincent in ‘So it Begins’ are impossibly complex: go find a person I am only identifying by name that you have never met before.

  2. Lab’s are really frindly. I have a yellow lab. And he is sweet!

  3. Dharma=god of righteousness.
    Accompanies King Yudisthira to heaven’s gate … in the form of a dog. The king won’t abandon the dog even if heaven is to be denied him as a result.
    Vincent is lying beside Jack at the end. Jack is at one with himself and others because he does not turn away.

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