The Spanish station Cuatro, which ran the hauntingly beautiful chess-themed LOST Season 6 promo, announced a contest earlier today based on that promo.
Here’s my translation of what Cuatro posted on its site, done with my semi-remembered high school/college Spanish, with a lot of help from Google Translate. It may not be 100% accurate, but I think it’s close enough:
Carlton Cuse, the creator and writer of LOST, just sent a Twitter message saying that the promo Cuatro made for the final season of the series is the best LOST promo he has seen.
We propose a game based on the promo. The original text was not written by Cuatro. Can you tell us who the author is and what work it is from? Answer the question here, and get a photo signed by the stars of the series. The first person with the correct answer will get the prize.
To participate in the contest, you must be registered on the Cuatro site with your full name, address, phone, and email.
At the time I saw this post on the Cuatro site, there were already 11 pages of answers! It’s too late to win, but if you are playing along at home, the answer is below:
It’s an adaptation of a verse from the Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam.
Here are two translations of the Rubaiyat verse. The first is by Edward Henry Whinfield:
We are but chessmen, destined, it is plain,
That great chess-player, Heaven, to entertain;
It moves us on life’s chess-board to and fro,
And then in death’s dark box shuts up again.
The second is by Edward FitzGerald :
‘Tis all a Chequer-board of Nights and Days
Where Destiny with Men for Pieces plays:
Hither and thither moves, and mates, and slays,
And one by one back in the Closet lays.
Jorge Luis Borges wrote a poem, Chess, that comments on the verse above:
Faint-hearted king, sly bishop, ruthless queen,
Straightforward castle, and deceitful pawn -
Over the checkered black and white terrain
They seek out and begin their armed campaign.
They do not know it is the player’s hand
That dominates and guides their destiny.
They do not know an adamantine fate
Controls their will and lays the battle plan.
The player too is captive of caprice
(The words are Omar’s) on another ground
Where black nights alternate with whiter days.
God moves the players, he in turn the piece.
But what god beyond God begins the round
Of dust and time and sleep and agonies?
That last verse in the Borges poem may have a particularly strong connection to LOST. When I watched the scene in the Season 5 finale with Jacob and the Man in Black (unofficially dubbed “Esau”), I thought about the possibility of there being unseen god-like powers beyond the god-like powers we had already seen. Here’s what I wrote on this blog back in May:
When we saw Ben and Widmore last season, they were the most powerful forces we had seen up to that point, appearing to control, between the two of them, almost everything that happened on the Island.
This season, it was as if a camera had pulled back and given us a wider shot, showing us the forces behind Ben and Widmore, forces even more powerful than they are. Jacob and Esau are now the most powerful people we have ever seen on the show.
But even Jacob and Esau cannot do everything they want. So there is someone or something powerful enough to make and enforce the rules that limit what Jacob and Esau can do. It may be a law of nature, it may be a person or group of people, it may be a supernatural force or being.
Perhaps next season, after we find out who or what it is, we will discover that it’s just another intermediate layer, and the camera will pull back yet again, to reveal the power behind the power behind the power
And so we head into Season 6, soon to find the answers to the great LOST questions. For the LOST-ies, is free will an illusion? If an unseen hand is moving them around the chessboard of time and place, what is that hand, and who or what, in turn, moves the hand that moves the LOST-ies across the board? And who or what moves the mover of the hand?