There’s a lot going on beneath the surface of the ABC television series Lost. Lost is sprinkled with references and allusions to the occult and esoteric secrets. Perhaps the most explicit reference is the use of the number 23. Since the release of the Jim Carrey movie,the significance of that number has become widely known.
But Lindelof and company started sprinkling the number throughout the first season, over 2 years before the movie. The number comes from Robert Anton Wilson, as Lindelof has confirmed at various times, including in this Entertainment Weekly interview:
My father was into the Illuminati and the number 23, so he was a big reader of Robert Anton Wilson. So there was some intentionality behind it, but we had no idea, no grand design behind the Numbers. But suddenly, the No. 1 question stopped being ”What is the Monster?” and went to being ”What do the Numbers mean?” This isn’t to say that the Numbers don’t mean anything. We just had no idea it had this potential to get totally out of control.
And also on this Maybe Logic Academy page, quoting from the Chicago Tribune:
But for Damon Lindelof, co-creator and executive producer of the ABC drama Lost, “It is a good lucky number. The first thing I do when I get to Las Vegas, every time I go, is I drop $50 on the number 23. It hasn’t hit yet, but one of these days…”
Lindelof has been fascinated by the 23 enigma since his childhood and has made the number part of the mysteries on Lost.Jack Shepard’s seat on doomed Oceanic Flight 815 was in Row 23. Twenty-three passengers from the tail section of the plane survived the crash. And the number is among Hurley’s winning lottery numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42 that end up bringing him and the other survivors bad luck.
Though Lindelof said the number 23 is often purposely used on Lost, he sometimes is just as surprised as some fans when it pops up. Conspiracy or coincidence? It’s a perfect illustration of the 23 enigma.
Who was Robert Anton Wilson? And why is the number 23 significant?
Robert Anton Wilson was an author who researched and wrote about, amongst many other things, the occult and secret societies. He is perhaps most famous for his Illuminatus novels and his non-fiction Cosmic Trigger series. I think any fan of Lost would especially enjoy reading the first Cosmic Trigger book, Wilson’s autobiographical detailing his “stranger than fiction” life.
One of Wilson’s fascinations was the number 23. He discovered it by way of two other writers: James Joyce and William S. Burroughs. Wilson claimed Joyce was fascinated by the date April 23: the day Shakespeare was born, and the day he died. Burroughs became obsessed with the number after the following bizarre incident:
In the early ’60’s in Tangiers, William Burroughs knew a certain “Captain Clark” who ran a ferry from Tangiers to Spain. One day, Clark said to Burroughs that he’d been running the ferry 23 years without an accident. That very day the ferry sank, killing Clark and everyone aboard. In the evening, Burroughs was thinking about this when he turned on the radio. The first newscast headlined the crash of an airline plane on the New York-Miami route. The pilot was another Captain Clark and the flight was listed as Flight 23.
Wilson, and later his readers, began compiling more and more 23 synchronicities. Here are a few from Fusion Anomoly:
W is the 23 letter of this alphabet. The symbol for that letter is two points down and three points up.
The human biorhythm cycle is generally 23 days. One measures a circle beginning anywhere.
It takes 23 seconds for blood to circulate through the human body.
The human body has 46 chromosomes, which are paired, in somatic cells. Generative cells have half this number, 23, which is the number of chromosomes each parents gives to human
23 Axioms in Euclid’s Geometry.
The Knights Templars had only 23 Grandmasters. Jacques de Molay was the 23rd and last of the Templar Grandmasters.
23 is the first prime number in which both digits are prime numbers and add up to another prime number.
There are many, many others. Here’s another lengthy list. And here’s a list to uses of 23 in the show.
And 23 is just scratching the surface. We’ll be looking at Lost’s references to the occult, secret societies, conspiracies, utopian engineering, mad science, underground culture, numerology, geomancy, alchemy and more. Keep watching this site, or subscribe by RSS, for more occult secrets!