For a distanced reflection on much of this material, one has to look beyond the parameters of these reels to the more mature strategies of Reminiscences, where the voice has clearly found both its style and its subject. Here Mekas is more interested in letting the past speak for itself, without either the benefits or the distorting strictures of after-thoughts.
“Lost Lost Lost” is my favorite of Mr. Mekas’s films, in part because of the powerfully ambivalent way it tells an archetypal American story, namely that of an immigrant’s rebirth in the New World. It’s striking how analogous Mr. Mekas’s footage of the Lithuanian exile community is to that found in “Walden” — a mix of weddings, children at play, political demonstrations, snowy streets, afternoons in the park and trips to Times Square.
Since the images don't unfold at 24 frames per second, what emerges can, in no way, be stated as a presentation of the real. This seems Mekas's precise point, suggesting all art resides within the apparatus and its focus on either an event or, as it were, a fraction of said event. These ideas accumulate to extraordinary ends in Lost Lost Lost, so that a brief segment entitled “Rabbit Shit Haikus” has Mekas repeating “the road the road the road” and “the childhood the childhood the childhood.”