After Prometheus came out, Film Crit Hulk wrote a terrific critique of Damon Lindelof’s work, specifically his obsession with the unfairness of the knowable. These are fascinating, important questions, but Hulk argues that his preoccupation with the gap between what can be known and can’t is crippling his work:
AND LINDELOF STRIKES HULK AS A WRITER WHO FEELS PARALYZED WHEN ATTEMPTING TO DO JUST THAT. SOME WRITERS ARE SO PREOCCUPIED WITH THE REALITY OF THE DARKNESS THAT THEY ENGAGE ART AND ESSENTIALLY GET SUCKED RIGHT BACK INTO OUR FIRST ESSENTIAL / OBVIOUS QUAGMIRE. LINDELOF LOOKS AT THE UNIVERSE AND ONLY CAN SEEM TO REFLECT THAT LACK OF CONTROL. HE MAKES THE DUALITY AND CONSEQUENCE OF “UNKNOWING” FEEL SO FIXED AND ANGRY. HE ONLY SEEMS TO REPLICATE HIS FRUSTRATION WITH “GOD” IN A REFLECTIVE WAY IN HIS ART. HE STRIKES HULK AS SOMEONE WHO FEELS LIKE THAT HE ONLY REFLECT THAT MOST BASIC, TERRIBLE REALITY AND IS THUS AFRAID TO GO BEYOND THAT AND FIND THE OTHER FORMS OF TRUTH IN THE WORLD (WHICH ARE THE ONES WE ACTUALLY NEED).
The fact that Lindelof’s next project will be an HBO adaptation of Tom Perotta’s The Leftovers, about the people who remain on earth after the Rapture. Vulture spoke to Lindelof, who explains that he’s riding the mystery train again:
One of the main mysteries of The Leftovers is just where all the “disappeared” folks went. Lindelof doesn’t want to spoil how the book tackles (or doesn’t tackle) this question, but he did say the puzzle will be a key part of the show. During their talks, Lindelof and Perrotta agreed the answer to the question “did matter and [viewers] needed to know.” Of course, the fact that Lindelof is working on another show with a mystery center is likely to send portions of the Internet into crisis mode today. “I told Tom to brace himself for people asking [about the rapture mystery] as the first question,” he says. “And then I told him, ‘I don’t know if you know this, but I sort of have a reputation for not answering things.’” Lindelof fully admits he’s walking into another buzzsaw, but he actually seems to relish the possible backlash. “I guess I can’t help myself,” he quips. “I’m sure there’s a certain subset of viewers who watched Lost until the bitter end and will say, ‘I’m just not going to put myself through that again.’ But I’m so incredibly magnetized to this concept and the people in this story. It’s firing all my creative pistons in a way they haven’t been fired since Lost.”
I also wonder if Lindelof might have less of a problem if he was better at writing faith and wonder. The one moment in Prometheus that really achieved that for me was David’s activation of the bridge of Engineers’ ship, which did precisely the opposite of what the movie as a whole did: rendered the entire universe in a comprehensible schema. The wonder came from comprehension and understanding, not from mystery.