Robert W. Dillon, Ph.D.
Star Trek : The Book (the Literary Tradition)-TOS and Beyond
© 1982-2008 © R. W. Dillon
(Dedicated to Gene Roddenberry and to Bob Justman, the dreamers and the dream...)
Chapter One: The Problem to be Resolved: Opposites/Contraries
“Without Contraries in no Progression.”—William Blake
“For every Action there is an Equal and Opposite Reaction.”—Sir Isaac Newton
“We are two.”—Gene Roddenberry
Chapter I: The Problem: Opposites
In 1790, in a work entitled The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, William Blake posited this statement:
Without Contraries is no
progression. Attraction and Repulsion, Reason
and Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to Human Existence.
Blake applies a
principle of Newtonian physics and applies it to psychology and to theology.
Man, as created, is situated between
the extremes of heaven and hell. Traditional Christianity had always taught man that heaven is “up there” and that hell is “down there.”
Both were places where man went after his life on earth was ended. Heaven was the very opposite of hell in its physical makeup,
in its physical qualities, in its inhabitants and in its role as reward for the good just as hell was punishment for the evil.
God was Satan’s opposite; the brilliant whiteness of heaven was the opposite of hell’s fire and torment: one was eternal good for
the good; one was eternal evil for the evil. Neither heaven nor hell ever met nor were they ever to be discussed in the same
theological context. Christian theology preached a doctrine of dualism—all was either good or evil. There was no gray thinking in
between the polarities. The theory of dualism extended into man himself. Caught between the extreme opposites of heaven and hell,
man was left alone on earth to live amid the thorns and aridity of post-lapsarian existence. Man had fallen:
…..Once meek, and in a perilous path,
…..The just man kept his course along
The vale of death.
Roses are planted where thorns
And on the barren heath
Sing the honey bees….
And the just man rages in the wilds
Where lions roam.
(Wm. Blake, “The Argument” from The Marriage of Heaven
and Hell, 1790).
opposites, man had to create life out of death. Caught between the opposites of
heaven and hell, man too consisted
of contraries both physically and spiritually. Man is physically schizophrenic. He has almost TWO of everything: two feet, two arms,
two genitals, two lungs, two ears, two eyes. Even man’s brain has two distinct hemispheres which, when working together, can create,
causing what Blake calls progression. Man is also morally schizophrenic. Orthodox Christianity pictures man as having a body
distinct from his soul; he is half matter, half spirit; half devil, half God. Man is never seen as one, but as a system of distinct,
conflicting opposites—all somehow created in the image and likeness of God. It is in disagreeing with the ethic that “Man has two real
existing principles; Viz: a Body & a Soul” that Blake foretells Roddenberry’s theory of man. Blake asserts that “Man has no
Body distinct from his Soul.” He is one integrated body/soul/man. Man and his world are, therefore, constructed on a pattern
of unending dialectics. Man, to progress, must use these contraries to breed progression, to grow, to build, to overcome adversity.
The tendency of modern man in reacting to increasing scientific technology is to see his traditional dualistic faith at odds with science.
The ensuing terror breeds a naked, raw fear of any change at all. This dialectic creates stasis through fear. Do-nothingness
becomes the real evil in a technological society. Roddenberry, along with Blake and
spiritualistic thinkers, sees moral and psychical stagnation as the greatest
barrier to human progress. Modern civilization
plus traditional orthodox dualism have crushed the human spirit's will to change, to grow, and to move forward. To overcome this fear
of what is within and of what is without is the five year mission of the Enterprise. To Blake and to Roddenberry, hell is a state of mind
within man; heaven is a state of mind within man. Man creates these states and they exist within the self. It is the supreme function of the
imagination of man to take hold of the traditional opposites and to use those opposites to create; man must build using the opposites
that exist in an unending series of tensions that which, used in a constructive way, create newness. Out of negativity man builds positivity.
Man is at his best when he makes the best of adverse conditions and situations. Using the dualities within and the dualities without,
man can and will change. Blake and Roddenberry could both have said, “He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence.”
It is upon this incredible theory, “Without Contraries is no progression” that Star Trek is built. Man rages for order in a world of
unending dialectics, between opposites. This is the metaphysical world of Roddenberry’s Star Trek. Blake mentions
“Attraction and Repulsion” as being “necessary to Human existence.” This is an elementary principle of Newtonian physics.
It is the basic law of gravity itself. Our planet’s gravity, and hence all human activity, is caused by a push-pull effect between
the earth and the moon. Opposites are essential to maintain human life as we know it. This attraction-repulsion exists between worlds,
between galaxies, between stars: it exists between man and his fellow man, between man and his adversaries; they also exist within
man himself. This “binary” thinking is an explicit aspect of all the Star Trek episodes. From twoness,
man must create
oneness; from difference, from diversity, man must “marry” opposites into a
unity—unity within and unity without.
For example, one who watches Star Trek carefully becomes quickly aware of the need for “power.” How many times has Captain Kirk
asked Mr. Scott for more power from the ship’s engines? The concepts of sublight and warp drive are at the very core of the Enterprise
and its journey. Movement through time and space requires power. Where does it come from? What is its nature? The engines of the
Enterprise are driven by a matter/antimatter propulsion system. The very heart of Star Trek, its engines, is based on Blake’s theory of
contraries that create progression. The two opposites of matter and antimatter are the matrix of Roddenberry’s theory of man, time,
space and energy. Without antimatter, there can be no matter. The two, existing side by side, the same but different, are placed in proximity
zone to one another. The two opposites in controlled proximity create something new—energy. Energy creates change, and change is the
essence of life itself. The very engines of the Enterprise are a symbol of the overall human journey of man through space and time.
Three of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek episodes—“The Immunity Syndrome,” “The Alternative Factor,” and
“Is there in Truth No Beauty?” (second, first, and third seasons respectively: episodes 48, 20 and 62) form the basis of Roddenberry’s
theory of modern man in a technological society. The entire series has its main thesis embodied in these three episodes which traverse
the three seasons of the original television series (TOS).
“The Immunity Syndrome”
Immunity Syndrome” (episode 48), a single-celled creature is invading the galaxy
like a virus. It is an unknown but destructive
entity that must be destroyed before it reproduces by mitosis and absorbs the galaxy with its millions of planets and their billions of inhabitants.
In man’s galaxy the creature is antimatter to man’s matter; from the opposite point of view, everything outside the creature is antimatter
to its matter. This single-celled creature is the microcosm of all life. It is the most basic and the most primitive form of sentient animal life,
consisting only of the basic building blocks of matter: protoplasm and a nucleus. What is normally visible to man only through a microscope
suddenly becomes Brobdingnagian—an ironic of big vs. small is the key to understanding the virus. Both McCoy and Spock are baffled
because unmanned probes and ship’s sensors give little scientific information. The answer is so simple that it eludes the trained scientific mind.
Simplicity itself, given hyperbolic size, becomes baffling simplicity. The technological mind of modern man as depicted in Star Trek is
perplexed by the obviousness of the primordial and of the basically elementary. Size does not necessarily denote invincibility or incomprehensibility,
according to Roddenberry’s view of man and his technology.The duality of polarity is the key to the logic/illogic of “The Immunity Syndrome.”
Scotty states the keynote: “Everything is acting backwards.” This statement refers to the ship’s condition vis-à-vis the virus and to the crew’s
biologically based illness. In a dramatic scene, while watching through the ship’s sensor console, Spock almost collapses as he staggers
in a state of shock. Reason: “The Intrepid…just died.” The four
aboard the ship are dead. When asked later what the Vulcans aboard felt, Spock
says “astonishment,” a most illogical
reaction for logical Vulcans. It is the Vulcanian inability to deal with the polarity reversal—illogic that contributes in part to the destruction
of the Intrepid’s crew. Because everything is working in reverse, the solution involves a change in the very application of navigational and
physical logic. Of the Intrepid, Spock says, “I sensed it die. Call it a deep understanding of the way things happen to Vulcans.”
McCoy strikes a logical counterpoint by telling Spock that “Not even a Vulcan could FEEL a starship die.” Spock does feel, sense intuitively,
the death of four hundred of his kind. The Vulcans die because they had not been conquered in Vulcan collective memory and because
their “own logic would never have permitted them to believe they were being killed.” The Vulcans’ “own logical approach” to a
reversed logical situation destroyed them. Spock remarks that, “None on board knew what killed them or would have understood
had they known.”
Commander Scott says, “Everything is acting backwards.” It begins to dawn on
Ct. Kirk that the dilemma of the Enterprise
lies in understanding the why behind the fate of the Intrepid. He begins to understand “how illogical this situation is.” Kirk applies the
logic of illogic and realizes that the Intrepid “may not have done all the things” that the Enterprise is doing to negate absorption by the virus.
obsession is ironically one—“survival” as McCoy states. The crew cannot escape.
The “one giant forward thrust” does
not work, and the one major attempt to survive fails. Scotty and Kirk insist on maintaining “thrust” against the “pull.” This is illogical
simply because everything is “acting backwards.” The concept of reversed polarity drains the ship’s crew and its power.
To maintain “thrust” just to “hold our
not the illogical (anti-logical) solution that eventually saves the Enterprise.
Captain Kirk is obsessed with giving a logical name,
based on scientific precedent, to the unknown phenomenon. Kirk says, “Looks like a hole in space.” Spock’s first definition is that of
“a dark zone.” The need for empirical identification wracks the bridge crew. Each time Kirk asks, “What is THAT?” Spock retorts,
“Insufficient data” or “Unable to analyze.” As Uhura becomes dizzy and the crew becomes “nervous, weak, irritable” (McCoy),
Kirk again says, “Give me an update of the dark area ahead.” Spock retorts, “No analysis due to insufficient information.”
Kirk, irritated by the vacuity of Spock’s scientific analyses, helps state the polarization theme when he quips, insufficient data is not sufficient….
Mr. Spock, you’re the science officer. You’re supposed to have sufficient data all the time.” Spock: “The computers contain nothing on
this phenomenon. It is beyond our experience.” The bridge crew still have not comprehended the “push-pull” paradox of their situation.
The crew begin to grope toward a solution by using REVERSE logic in defining “that” by defining what “that” is not. It is not a hole
in space; it is not just a dark area; it is not a coal sack. Soon all traditional reference points disappear as Chekov observes, “The stars
are gone!” Kirk states, “What happened to the stars?” To which Spock replies, “Unknown, Captain.” The dialogue intensifies with
an increase of reverse logic. Kirk insists on an engine-power compensation for the power drain. Kirk (to McCoy) states: “Do you
have any answers?” McCoy returns, “When there is NOTHING, what do you want me to say?” Kirk: “A possible paralysis.”
Spock: “A zone of energy…incompatible with our living and mechanical processes.” McCoy, quoting the
indicators, says, “We’re dying, we’re all dying.” As Scotty insists on applying
thrust against the pull, Spock's human half aids his Vulcan
half with the first clear (but reverse-logic) definitions, i.e., that the zone is a magnetic energy field.” Wrong solution: “Maintain thrust.”
Spock’s negative definitions continue. It is an ‘unknown form of life invading our galaxy like a virus.” This quote, viewed in the context
of the entire episode, will prove to be the anti-key to the anti-logical push/pull dilemma of the Enterprise. It is Dr. McCoy’s usual seepage
of human emotion that helps to coalesce the nature of the dilemma. McCoy states, “The entire anti-life matter that that thing puts out can
someday encompass the entire galaxy.” It is at this point that the jealousy feud between McCoy and Spock climaxes when Spock assumes
the controls of the shuttlecraft and enters the one-celled creature, slowly making its way towards the chromosomal bodies of the nucleus.
The Spock-McCoy feud is itself a play-within-the-play of the “push-pill” dialectic that begets the entire “Immunity Syndrome” episode.
Two men, both trained scientists, vie over the solution. Spock’s Vulcan physiology enables him to survive within the organism with almost
zero life support, but it is McCoy’s anti-logic which, ironically joined with Spock’ logic while within the organism, produces a scientific
synthesis. The result will be an anti-solution: Spock: "believe sufficient charge of…will destroy the organism.” The key word is lost in
transmission. McCoy, the virulent, illogical scientist, prods Captain Kirk’s mind to the anagnorisis that saves the Enterprise and mankind.
McCoy: “A virus invading the galaxy.” Kirk: "When it grows into millions, WE'LL be the virus invading its body.”
McCoy: "Here we are, anti-bodies of our own galaxy attacking an invading germ.” Kirk reaches the anagnorisis:
“Antibodies…anti-bod-ies.” Herein lies the anti-
solution to the
anti-dilemma, the final realization hinted at by Scotty—“everything is acting
backwards.” The immediate decision is made to
NOT maintain thrust against the pull, but to cut thrust to zero and to enter the body of the organism—a decision which is exactly the reverse
of the early survival decision, i.e., to get away from the organism. The solution now clearly lies in pulling, not in thrusting. Instead of going
against, man now moves toward the problem—a keystone in Gene Roddenberry’s concept of man and his confrontation with the “last
frontier.” Scotty states, “twenty-six percent (26%) power reserves after entry….We can’t use the power to destroy it.” Kirk replies,
“anti-power,” the use of a negative energy charge is the answer because, as Kirk now realizes, everything indeed seems to work in reverse.
Kirk shouts, “Antimatter!” and the full significance of the episode’s title begins to take shape. Thus was obviously the word that failed to
transmit in Spock’s scientific conclusion—antimatter is necessary to destroy matter. The organism is destroyed in an antimatter/matter
explosion and the Enterprise and its shuttlecraft (in a tractor-beam) are blown clear. Just as the power levels die and Kirk says, “You may
have just written our epitaph, Mr. Scott,” the ship is saved. Ironically, as mechanical death (lack of power) occurs, rebirth from death
occurs. The stars return and the power comes back.
In classical Roddenberry style, on board the Enterprise one sees a return to normalcy after the destruction of abnormalcy. Spock
calls the doctor “Captain McCoy” and the good-natured repartee returns between the logical Spock and the frequently illogical “Bones.”
It is old-fashioned human emotion coupled with excellent inductive logic that saves mankind. The episode, “The Immunity Syndrome,”
ends on the exact same line with which it had begun. Kirk returns to a course for Starbase Six and says, “I’m still
looking forward to a nice period of rest and relaxation on some lovely…planet,” as he watches his yeoman go by.
Immunity Syndrome” is a consummate, well-written, symmetrical masterpiece based
on the value of “Im,” which
means “no” or “not” munity. Gene Roddenberry has applied Louis Pasteur’s classical doctrine of immunology to man’s
conquest of the unknown diseases that are an inherent and necessary part of man’s everyday life. Without disease, there
would be no cure, no necessity for man to overcome the negativity in his environment, both internal and external. The principle
of immunology is based on the matter/antimatter, push/pull archetype. The episode has been Roddenberry’s journey into
Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness.” The cure to the disease is the disease itself. The only source of antitoxin
is toxin. Toxin is at the heart of antitoxin. Therefore, from evil come good and the constant necessity to overcome
point-counterpoint-harmony and restoration of balance according to immunology
and the matter/antimatter
dialectic, one understands “A” by understanding “Z”; one understands a given point by understanding its counterpoint;
one understands a problem, overcomes that problem, by understanding its opposite. Antimatter and reverse logic are the
cures to viral matter and the seemingly illogical. The principle of polarity is a metaphor for the entire episode, and the polarity
switch—thrust to pull, pull to thrust—is both the symptom of the disease and the cure for that very disease. The nineteenth
century philosopher, Thomas Carlyle, best summarizes Roddenberry’s immunity dialectic:
…your ‘America is here or nowhere’ …Yes here, in this poor, miserable,
hampered, despicable Actual, wherein thou even now standest, here or
nowhere is thy Ideal: work it out therefrom; and working, believe,
live, be free. Fool! The ideal is
in thyself, the impediment too is in thyself; thy
condition is but the stuff thou art to shape that same Ideal out of….
Everlasting Yea, ”Sartor Resartus , 1833).
“The Alternative Factor”
Lazarus, come forth’—John XII, 43
I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all.
T. S. Eliot, “Prufrock” 1917
But what of Lazarus?”
Star Trek, “The Alternative Factor”
Love and Hate are necessary to Human Existence.
Wm. Blake, MHH.
In The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, the prophetic William Blake speaks of the two “portions” or types of being on this earth:
Thus one portion of being is the prolific, the other, the Devour-/ing: to the
devourer it seems as it the producer was in his chains;/ but it is not so, he only
takes the whole.
But the prolific would cease to be Prolific unless the Devourer/ as a sea
received the excess of his delights.
Some will say, ‘Is not God alone the prolific?’ I answer, ‘God/ only Acts
and Is, in existing being or Men.’
These two classes of men are always upon earth, & they should/
be enemies; whoever tries to reconcile them seeks to destroy existence.
Roddenberry has said, “We are two.” Blake picks up the Cartesian dichotomy and
defines existence as a mutual
dependency. Existence is a constructive balance between the contraries of Prolific and the Devourer, which are absolute
opposites; yet both ironically need each other—one gives while the other takes; one takes while the other gives; one is
consumer, the other is producer. Both work together in a symbiotic, dual relationship. There can be no reconciliation
between the two or else all existence would cease to be. The maintenance of balance between opposite states of being
is essential, because “Without Contraries is no progression.” Roddenberry’s episode, “The
Factor,” written by Gerd Oswald, is a natural embodiment of Blake’s theory of
tensional dualism, the need to
maintain a balance between opposites that hate each other on the one hand, but that need each other both for the continued
existence of the opposites themselves and for the existence of all existences. This literary theory of Blake is the basis of
the two Lazaruses—the one Prolific, the other Devourer.
alternative universe posits the necessity of opposites for creation itself. If
there is matter, there must be antimatter;
if there is a universe consisting of matter, logic posits the existence of a parallel universe, co-existing in the same time,
in the same place, different but the same, consisting of antimatter. The two Lazaruses are a human projection of these
two opposite states of being. If there is a Lazarus/matter, there must ipso facto be a coexisting, identical but different,
Lazarus/antimatter, a Lazarus/matter of the prolific. Both are identical in form, in appearance
(with the exception of the laceration on the forehead of Lazarus/matter—the main distinguishing feature), but opposite
in internal personality. The twoness in oneness and the oneness of twoness are a keystone in Roddenberry’s theory
of man. Everything has its alternative. There MUST be an alternative factor for everything and for every person or else
nothing and no one would exist in the first place. There MUST be that choice that gives us no choice. In this
psychological sense, every man is Lazarus. WE are Lazarus—two in one. Existence is Lazarus—two in one.
of the Lazaruses is cosmic. As Blake says, “Whoever tries to reconcile them
seeks to destroy existence.”
But what if Lazarus tries to destroy the other? In doing so, he would be destroying a part of himself, his alter-ego, as well
as all time, perhaps even destroying eternity as well. This is the real horror of the thesis of man in “The
Factor,” that man, in his neurotic hatred of himself, is really hating all
existence. In seeking to destroy that “thing,”
that malignant “devil,” he is really destroying himself and all mankind as well. Such is the definition of madness in the
art of Gene Roddenberry. Solipsism, mental myopia is not confined to the temporal shell of one mere man. The individual
and all creation are inextricably linked in a chain of symbiotic give and take, push and pull, devourer and prolific.
Time and eternity meet in Lazarus.
possible exists, then it is logical to assume that the impossible exists. This
is the thematic note on which “The
Alternative Factor” opens. Spock states, “Everything seemed on the verge of winking out….The entire magnetic field
of the solar system simply blinked.” The Enterprise is confronted with the impossible, “zero gravity” or “non-existence.”
A “life object” exists on the planet below where no one existed before the first winking out phenomenon—an impossibility.
Captain Kirk quips (to Spock), “I want facts, not poetry.” Ironically, Kirk falls upon a human stereotype, i,e., that what
the imagination produces is impossible (mere fancy), while what the senses and man’s empirical understanding produce
is not mere possibility, not mere probability, not mere feasibility, but pure, palpable fact. And so Plato banned poets
from his Republic because poets were liars. In “The Alternative Factor,” poetry is fact’s alternative factor, its opposite.
Poetry and the impossible (imagination) do become fact (understanding) in this episode based on the continuing use of
dialectics in Roddenberry’s Star Trek. Kirk asks Spock, “Could this being (Lazarus) present any danger to the ship?"
Spock’s answer, “Possible—very possible.” The theme of the opposites of possible and impossible are in the very
opening words of this dramatic episode. In between the surging
opposite factors stands the Enterprise, the “bait” in what Starfleet fears is a “prelude to invasion.”
The planet beneath the Enterprise becomes the arena of a cosmic conflict that
has degenerated into a personal grudge.
Lazarus/matter says,“You came…I need your help….Pursuing the devil’s own spawn. A thing I’ve chased across the
universe. He’s humanoid outside, but inside he’s a hideous, murdering monster. I’ll get him….” Lazarus/matter insists
that his counterpart is “not man…a thing,” That “he is death, anti-life. He lives to destroy.” Lazarus/matter, because he
lives only for himself, sees himself as a modern day crusader, a time-traveler, who is following this Saracen, “my hold cause.”
His madness lies in his obsession with life as only his experience. He has polarized life into “a field all white and
black…empty…a terrible emptiness.” Of Lazarus/antimatter, he says, He’ll kill us all,” and yet Lazarus/matter hysterically
wails, “Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill!” The dual character of Lazarus is a perfect example of modern man’s psychical and moral
schizophrenia. Lazarus is Gene Roddenberry’s prototype of all human nature. Lazarus/matter says, after Lazarus/antimatter
has stolen dilithium crystals, “Find my enemy, find the beast, and you’ll find the crystals.” Yet this same Lazarus saves the
captain’s life as rocks fall nearby.
Lazarus/matter is a man driven by an obsession within regarding a “thing” that
is without. Dr. McCoy says that Lazarus/matter
is in a lot of pain. Kirk’s rejoinder says much toward explaining Roddenberry’s theory of modern man: “Sometimes pain can drive
a man harder than pleasure.” It is extreme pain, both within and without, that drives the insane Lazarus/matter to say ironically, “I
need help, not censure: freedom, not captivity for being a madman. I was afraid that’s what you would call me if I told you
Like Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown, every man has what Joseph Conrad calls
“The Secret Sharer” who is
really a heretofore unrecognized aspect of an existing man’s own personality that he carries within, that he confronts without.
The truth is often insanity because man chooses not to know the truths of his existence; he does not evolve. Every man may say,
like Lazarus, that “My spaceship…is a timechamber, a timeship and I’m…I’m a time-traveler.” What man seeks is what he is,
a “pilgrim o’er Eternity”—a term used by Percy Shelley to describe the dynamic poet, Lord Byron. Kirk states, “And this thing
you search for is a time-traveler too?” Lazarus/matter answers, “Yes…all the empty years to a dead future.”
briefing room scene, Kirk asks Spock, “What is your analysis of the mental state
of Lazarus?” Spock proceeds to describe
schizophrenia in one man or “almost as if he were…two men.” The dialogue continues:
Kirk: One minute on the point of death, another strong as a bull.
Spock: (regarding the cut on the forehead) First he has it, then he doesn’t.
Kirk: Physically impossible for ONE man.
Spock: Unquestionably, there are TWO of him.
Kirk: What’s going on…What’s the purpose?
Spock: Jim, madness has no purpose or reason, but it may have a goal….
he must be stopped, held, destroyed if necessary.
The truth and
the purveyors of truth in man’s world are considered insane simply because man,
often afraid of himself, refuses
to hear from others what he hears to utter to himself.
Lazarus/antimatter, although the same in physical appearance, is outwardly
calm, self-assured (not paranoid) and above all,
altruistic, not obsessively and insanely solipsistic. His first words after Captain Kirk enters the threshold, goes through the corridor,
winks into the world of antimatter, are “Welcome, Captain.” Lazarus/antimatter is a Christ figure, very Biblical—a man who is
willing to give his own life to attain the salvation and
existence of all mankind—“The end of everything. Civilization, existence…all
gone. I tried to stop him.” If
Lazarus/matter comes through the corridor at a time of his own choosing, then two exact particles of matter and antimatter
will converge. As with Blake’s theory, the convergence of both is a reconciliation and the destruction of all existence. Matter
and antimatter, Roddenberry’s archetypal opposites must remain separate. What separates them is “an alternative warp.”
Lazarus/antimatter calmly explains, “a sort of a negative magnetic corridor where the two parallel universes meet. It’s sort of
a safety valve. It keeps eternity from blowing up.” This concept, whose frightening alternative—complete annihilation—
was first put into literary and moral perspective by the poet William Blake in 1790, when he realized, as does Roddenberry,
that time and eternity, like parallel universes, coexist, and that the one is necessary to the very existence of the other
because time and eternity are tensional, creational opposites that must be kept apart by a “safety valve.” As Lazarus/
antimatter calmly explains, the corridor between matter and antimatter causes the winking-out phenomenon “not because
of its existence. Because my foe entered. The corridor is like a prison with explosives at the door. Open the door and
the explosives might go off. Stay inside…” Kirk concludes “And the universe is saved.” To which Lazarus/antimatter adds,
“Both universes. Yours and mine.” Lazarus/matter is mad because he cannot mentally cope with the theme that opens this
episode—the impossible that becomes factual truth. The very discovery of the parallel universe was “too much for him.” In
being obsessed with the destruction of Lazarus/antimatter, he will destroy himself and will destroy all existence because he
refuses to accept the simple truth of the impossible. Kirk states, “So you’re the terrible thing, the murdering monster, the creature.”
Lazarus/antimatter replies, “Yes, Captain, or
he is. Depends
on your point of view.” When Lazarus/matter is forced by Kirk into the corridor
at a time not of his choosing,
Lazarus/antimatter is watching for his opposite/complement. The two will struggle forever, or as the poet Matthew Arnold says:
Wandering between two worlds, one dead,
The other powerless to be born.
With nowhere yet to rest my head…
(“Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse,” 1852).
Modern man, in
being obsessed with the truth of his mirror image, hates that image, pursues
that image, and hates himself for the
truth he sees in himself—the devil’s spawn that coexists with God’s spawn. Always in extremis, man’s rage becomes, not a rage
for order, just pure rage. The insanity lies in not seeking and acting harmoniously in a universe of dualities, in not utilizing opposites
to build and to grow. Man’s isolation from himself and from his world has created an eternal groaning to be delivered from the
hell of the self. For Gene Roddenberry, as with Blake, Arnold, T. S. Eliot and many other brilliant post-industrial writers,
…well nigh change his own identity—
That it might keep from his capricious play
His genuine self, and force him to obey
Even in his own despite his being’s law,
Bade through the deep recesses of your breast
The unregarded river of our life…
(Matthew Arnold, “The Buried Life,” 1852).
Alternative Factor” is perhaps Gene Roddenberry’s most abstractly metaphysical
episode and is perhaps his most
terrifying. Percy Shelley once said, “The deep truth is imageless” (Prometheus Unbound, 1818-19). Algernon Charles
Swinburne says of modern, industrialized man:
In his heart is a blind desire,
In his eyes foreknowledge of death;
He weaves, and is clothed with derision;
Sows and he shall not reap;
His life is a watch or a vision
Between a sleep and a sleep.
(“Atlanta in Calydon,” 1865).
revolution has made man frenetic and scared. Eliot’s Prufrock says it all: “And
in short I was afraid.” Lazarus
/matter is modern man raging without constructive activity. Oscar Wilde, in the “Preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray”
The Nineteenth century dislike of Realism is
The rage of Caliban/seeing his own face in a glass.
The Nineteenth-century dislike of Romanticism is
The rage of Caliban/ not seeing his own face in a glass.
Modern man must
be both Realist and Romanticist; he must both seek and accept change; he must
have the vision to SEEK his
own face, to use his imagination as well as his reason. Lazarus is much like Caliban because Caliban is modern man—half beast,
Kirk: Yes. Two men. Different, but identical. And a hole
In the universe. No, not a hole, a door…
Spock: Through which these two beings are somehow enabled to pass…
Unquestionable there are two of him.
Kirk: If they meet…
Spock: Annihilation…total, complete annihilation.
Modern man does
not have the benefits of the Biblical Lazarus, brother of Mary and Martha, i.e.,
a Biblical miracle-maker
who says, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, he shall not die.” (John XI: 25).
It is technological man who either shutters at his own shadow afraid of any change or who rages ruthlessly without any orderly
harmony in his deeds. Modern man must, like
Lazarus/antimatter, be ready to act in terms of the whole of creation, if
necessary in an act of selbsttödtung to achieve the
higher reality of unity with the wholistic all. Man must be, not the created, but the creator and must rise unlike the Biblical
Lazarus, from the dead by sheer will. He must use adversity as constructional opposites to breed progression, for “Without
Contraries is no progression.”
O, yet we trust that somehow good
Will be the final good of ill.
To pangs of nature, sins of will,
Defects of doubt, and taints of blood;
That nothing walks with aimless feet;
That not one life shall be destroyed,
Or cast as rubbish to the void,
Where God hath made the pile complete;
Tennyson, In Memoriam A.H.H., 1850).
For Roddenberry, in the midst of the time corridor lies man—us—Lazarus/us:
Kirk: There is, of course, no escape. How would it be,
Trapped forever with a raging madman at your throat
Until time itself comes to a stop? For eternity?
How would it be?
Spock: Captain, the universe is saved.
Kirk: For you and me. But what of Lazarus?
What of Lazarus?
“Is There In Truth No Beauty?”
Love and Hate are necessary to human existence.
(Wm. Blake, MHH).
Beauty is truth, truth beauty/ that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
(John Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” 1819).
I am one with Kollos.
(Dr. Miranda Jones)
and last episode of this introductory triad to Gene Roddenberry’s theory of
modern man is also based on the
western dualism that has been both a cause of and the effect of the industrial revolution and the concomitant rise of science
after the middle of the eighteenth century in western Europe, Because the industrial revolution helped to spawn the Romantic
movement, especially in Great Britain, it is not illogical to see in the poetry of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries
a Britain that comes to grips with what Wordsworth and his contemporaries(including Blake, Shelley, Byron and Keats) saw
as the loss of beauty in the natural world. As railroads bellowed smoke over the English countryside, as miners worked eighteen
hour days, as child labor ran rampant, a school of writers tried to return to the primordial, simple beauty
of God’s green earth—the return to nature of Romanticism:
One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.
(W. Wordsworth, “The Tables Turned,” 1798).
the destruction of man’s rural and innocent way of life, the destruction of the
beauty in nature, became so visibly
evident that truth was hard to find in beauty; the truth was that little beauty was left. It was virtually left to the human imagination
to create beauty in the mind where beauty did not in fact exist to the senses. The result was an increasing disparity between
mind and matter, between man and nature. Man found himself alone to contemplate the burgeoning hideousness of his own
anxiety-ridden mind. Man turned inward, and truth was no longer beauty; and so in remains the case today. The title,
“Is There In Truth No Beauty?” is based on the universal experiences of technological man who now sees beauty and truth
as unfortunate opposites in an increasingly dualistic society. The German philosopher, Fichte, broke existence down into
two vying entities: Das Ich und das Ich-Nicht: the ME and the NOT-ME. In In Memoriam, Tennyson describes “Nature
red in tooth and claw,” a view to be held well through the twentieth century and beyond. Beauty and truth were at war,
between man and himself, between nature and man, between man and his fellow man, and between man and himself.
The struggle was both physical (external) and metaphysical (spiritual and internal).
Jean Lisette Aroeste‘s
(a former reference librarian at UCLA) episode (#63 of 80) is often viewed as
season boring fiasco. Students give it yawns, even after reading Keats. It is partly based on George Herbert’s “Jordan”
line 2 (“is there in truth no beauty?”) for the literal title as Memory Alpha notes. But the episode is more exploratory of
the Keatsian conflicts of truth and beauty. Though flawed in some technical aspects, the dialectics of beauty and truth
drew the late Robert H. Justman’s attention to the story. It is replete with literary lines and literary theory (aesthetics). An
editor on Memory Alpha mentions “I do not
understand this episode,” a reaction mirrored by many viewers. It also contains
some of Star Trek’s most memorable lines.
This episode “Is There In Truth No beauty?”
is a question to be asked by every living, thinking person. The answer to the
above question is frequently a somber “no”; however, the episode demonstrates the archetypal determination to reach the
Keatsian maxim that “Beauty is truth; Truth Beauty.” This is the unifying theme of the episode that is brilliantly written
(though metaphysical) and is a triumph of Romantic art. Dr. Miranda Jones (her name is a paradox: Miranda means to
marvel at; Jones is commonplace and plain) embodies beauty in form (the most beautiful woman “ever to grace a starship”),
but ugliness in her jealous heart. On the surface, she has turned physical blindness, a deficit, into a physical asset
through the help of her “tailor” and her sensor web garments. She desperately tries to compensate for her blindness by
tauntingly withholding her physical beauty by not involving herself in the sensory world and its “pity” which she so abhors.
She has withdrawn from the NOT-ME into the ME, a retreat into her shell protected by four years of studying Vulcan mind
techniques. She is well-fortified, so she thinks, against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, including the arrows of
Cupid. She is an iron maiden in her technological chastity belt, but is deeply disturbed within the defiant fortress of her external
beauty (hence her name, Miranda). Inside beauty is the truth, and the truth is her beast within vying with her beauty
without. Dr. Miranda Jones, a psychologist, is a casebook example of the schizophrenia of the modern, western mind. She is
always in extremis, raging within, often placid without. The study of how truth, the beast within, almost destroys beauty—
Miranda herself—is the key to understanding this brilliant Star Trek episode.
After Spock exchanges greetings with
Ambassador Kollos, Miranda asks hissingly, “What is it that he sees when he
at you? I must know.” Kollos, the Medusan Ambassador, is pure spirit, immaterial, non-matter. The Medusans have achieved
the most “sublime thoughts” in the galaxy, yet to the human eye, the Medusans are “ugly,” and, when seen, produce irrevocable
insanity. Kollos is truth without beauty until he mindlinks with beauty—a corporeal link between Kollos and Miranda who
will become Kollos’ sensory link to the sensory world—his voice, his image, his thoughts. Until Miranda says
(at the episode’s conclusion), “I am one with Kollos,” truth is not beauty. Kollos is truth without beauty; Miranda is
beauty without truth. Both Miranda and Kollos need each other because they are contraries, opposites which, if working
together, can breed harmony and Blake’s “progression.” Through Miranda Jones and Ambassador Kollos, Roddenberry
embodies in symbols the dialectical dualism that is the disease of modern, technological man. It is this episode’s rendition of
the matter/antimatter dialectic of “The Alternative Factor” and the body/antibody dialectic of “The Immunity Syndrome.”
However, in this episode, Roddenberry’s modern man aspires to higher, aesthetic peaks—
to the aesthetically harmonized world of ideal beauty, to the Olympian height of the Hellenic concept of ideal beauty and of
ideal truth as one—“I am one with Kollos.”
Although Miranda and Kollos are center
stage, the network of character interrelationships is extremely complex and
well-integrated. Figuring in the beauty/truth theme is one Larry Marvick, a scientist by trade, and one of the original designers
of the Enterprise. While Scotty tries to wager Marvick with a bottle of Scotch, Marvick is leading a modern “buried life.”
Seemingly calm outside at dinner, Marvick’s love for
Miranda has turned him inward to the point where
he eventually attempts to murder Kollos and, in seeing the Medusan,
is driven insane. But Marvick’s insanity existed before he beheld the “ugliness “of Kollos. “There’s somebody nearby
thinking of murder.” Why she does not know that the someone is Marvick is ironic, given her telepathy, Vulcan training
and her knowledge of Marvick’s feelings towards her. This is not the first instance where, in great Sophoclean fashion,
the physically blind woman is also blind to the world around as well as to the world within her. When Larry Marvick
knocks at her quarter’s door, she asks “Who is it?”—an ironic question for a telepath who should have known the answer
to her question before she asked it. Miranda had blinded herself to love in any worldly sense, and in that sense Larry
Marvick is a prolific and she is a devourer:
Marvick: I thought the sinner was never going to end.
Miranda: I rather enjoyed it.
Marvick: Don’t go with Kollos.
Kollos will never be able
to give you anything like this” (Kisses her frenetically).
Larry Marvick sees Miranda as wasting her
physical beauty on a non-physical, non-reciprocating Kollos who can neither
give nor enjoy human sensory emotion. Marvick sees Kollos as a competitive lover, as an ugly beast in a physical, sensory way.
However, like Miranda, Marvick is also blind in his sensory distortion effected by an overwrought imagination and by unfulfilled
physical passion in Miranda’s beauty. Marvick’s insanity is the obsessive physical passion without fulfillment and without any
mental control. He becomes mindless passion to Miranda’s passionless mind. Being unfulfilled and uncomplemented, Marvick
needs little Medusan contact to effect total insanity: Miranda says. “I’ve been honest with you. I simply cannot love you the
way you want me to.” In Areoste’s episode, as in Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn” (the main literary source of the
episode’s theme), love’s forms are individual, a
matter of the projection of one’s imagination upon the external world. Marvick
is living a love fantasy that yields “sensory distortion.” One cannot mold the self to another’s preconception of the self because,
in creating an image, he becomes his own sense of distinct reality, i.e., his distinct identity. Keats is attracted to the Grecian urn
because it “teases” him out of thought, because, as a work of art, it symbolizes immortality and the eternal existence of the past
in the present and into the future: “Thou, silent form, doth tease is out of thought/As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!” The narrator
in Keats’ poem begins to meld with the aesthetically beautiful object, achieving total identity with it for a moment; but unlike
Marvick who loses his identity and his sanity in romantic fantasy, Keats backs away, augmenting and re-attaining aesthetic
distance from the object of beauty. This takes the form of a return to realism of perspective. Marvick is sucked into the void,
just as he drives the Enterprise into the celestial void of uncharted space:
Marvick: So now you want to help me. Now I know what a
mere mortal man has to do to get a reaction out of
you. Make you think he’s a patient. You’re a
psychologist. Why don’t you try being a woman
for a change?
It is after this statement of truth that Marvick tries to murder Kollos; he drives the Enterprise into the void symbolic of his own
void within, and goes completely insane because he is too human and because Miranda is too inhuman. Both Marvick and
the ship he helped to design are in the same state—“You mustn’t sleep. They come in your dreams. That’s the worse.
They suffocate in your dreams.” In engineering, Marvick, at first becalmed by Miranda’s attempt to play doctor, soon
realizes that truth is beauty:
Miranda: Liar! Liar! …You’re not alone.
You brought it with you. It’s here,
here. You brought it with you.
Liar! Liar! Liar! (words
later used by Miranda toward Kirk when he confronts her with truth while Miranda
permits Spock’s life to ebb out
to her own blindness to the truth).
Marvick: Don’t love her! Don’t love her! She’ll kill you
if you love her! (calm)…I love you, Miranda.
Marvick then collapses and dies. Dr. McCoy
says, “He’s dead, Jim” and the terrifying scene ends as Kirk looks long and hard
obviously beginning to see that truth in beauty is not beautiful. The truth is a woman devoid of human compassion. There is a temporary
answer, as this scene closes, to the title question, “Is There In Truth No Beauty?” The truth is a hideous insanity in a void where a man dies
without love. McCoy’s autopsy report on Marvick:
Heart action stopped. Cause unknown.
Respiration stopped. Cause unknown.
Brain activity stopped. Cause unknown.
Shall I go on?
Kirk: You mean he just simply died?
McCoy: I mean he evidently could not live
with what he saw.
Kirk: Or what he FELT.
What Marvick saw was the ugly truth in beauty, a
jealousy of a loveless woman that is more ugly than Kollos ever was or could be,
a jealousy that almost makes Kollos beauty in contrast.
McCoy: I don’t think she’ll want anyone to intrude
on the kind of rapport she has with Kollos.
Spock: In some ways, she is still most human, particularly
in the depth of her jealousy.
These lines are in reaction to Spock’s
suggestion of a mind-meld with Kollos, but they show an irony—Miranda still has
not achieved the
rapport with Kollos which she wants,
certainly not the rapport which Kollos, the sublime-minded, ocularly-ugly
Medusan, demands until beauty (Miranda) achieves rapport with
truth (Miranda’s self), there can be no oneness between Miranda and Kollos. A dialectic exists between opposites with the individual herself,
and this dialectic is destructive: “I agree with the Vulcans. Violent emotion is a kind of insanity.’ The dialectic is between sanity and insanity,
between men and within the individual. In defining insanity, Miranda is defining herself—the truth of sanity lies within the truth of beauty.
For Roddenberry, sanity requires a balance or at least a constructive tension between the opposites of the senses and the mind. Mind without
sensory feeling is as much a disease, an insanity, as sensory feeling without mind. To be whole, the person must balance both contraries.
It is during this mental drama that a
larger cosmic drama is unfolding. A new dialectic, a macrocosm of the Miranda
is unfolding—the dialectic between direction and “sensory distortion.” The Enterprise is lost in the void beyond the known galaxy. The ship
itself and her crew are experiencing “sensory distortion” :
Kirk: Where are we?
Spock: We are evidently far outside our own galaxy,
Judging from the lack of traceable reference points (a problem experienced in the “no stars” of “The Immunity Syndrome”)…
When we exceeded warp 9.5, we entered a space-time
The ship’s position is “impossible to calculate
because it experiences “extreme sensory distortion.” The link between Kollos and
dilemma now becomes apparent. Man, even with his sensory perception, is blind in the void. “We lack reference points in which to plot a
return course," :iterates Spock, The “Medusan sensory system” is the key to navigating the void of modern life. Chekov’s quip, “A madman
got us into this, and it’s beginning to look as if only a madman can get us out,” is frightening and accurate.
The insanity of Marvick can only be counteracted
and corrected by a sensory system which is an unknown insanity of its own.
Two evils can cancel each other out, thereby producing a good, just as two minuses create a positive polarity. Hence, Spock
says that, “Perhaps for the purpose of this emergency, I might become Kollos.” The cure to unproductive dualism is another form
of dualism. As in “The Immunity Syndrome,” the cure (anti-toxin) is found in the disease itself (toxin). Spock suggests “a fusion…
a mind-link to create a double entity.” Kollos and Spock would enjoy the “knowledge and sensory capabilities of both.” The two
“will function as one being.” The twoness in oneness is clearly an established Roddenberry motif. As in Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian
Urn,” Spock, like Keats, will attempt to link the ME and the NOT-Me, facing the risk of possible loss of separate identities.
Over Miranda’s possessive protests, Kollos’ will prevails. She says (after her scream in Kollos’ quarters),
“It seems I have no choice but to obey you.” To a ship without direction, to human spirits without direction, the skills of the
Medusan ambassador are the only hope. Kollos becomes a main player in the drama.
The theme of human
blindness has already been pointed out. All are suffering from some form of
“sensory distortion,” i.e., all
lack direction in their lives. If they have the will to guide themselves, they lack the “sensory perception” of the alien to guide them.
What has not been clear to this point is the plight of Kollos himself and his point of view. He too is blind. Whereas the key human
characters possess the sensory perception, the sight to see and to feel, they lack the ability to navigate. Miranda's blindness
disqualifies her as a “pilot” for the Enterprise. Kollos has the navigational skills, but lacks the human sensory perception to pilot
the ship. Hence, Kollos’ Medusan perception, which is pure intellect without body, needs man’s sensory system in order to
translate innate ability into physical,
multidimensional action. Therefore, the unity of opposites, Spock’s memory
system and Kollos’
sensory system, the mind-link so sought after by Miranda, becomes a necessary but unexplored phenomenon. Kollos’ blindness
is visible only through his presence in Spock. Kollos: “This is delightful. I know you. All of you.” He sees Kirk “of long
acquaintance.” Kollos’ knowledge seems timeless, yet his timelessness is visible only after he perceives others and himself
through Spock’s sensory system:
Kollos: Uhura, whose name means freedom, ‘She walks in
Beauty like the night.’ (Byron)…..Ah Miranda no brave
new world has such creatures in it. (Shakespeare).
Miranda: ‘Tis new to thee.
first time, Kollos sees Miranda as beauty; he enjoys her sensory beauty with the
five human senses. He sees the world
as man sees it—not from the outside, but from the inside out. The sublime Medusan of truth experiences beauty, all made
possible by the mind-meld. He sees what man sees, feels what man feels. For a few brief moments, he is human (and Vulcan).
The Medusan is blind no more because now he possesses the physical senses whereby the expression of physical sensation is reality.
Kollos is now complete in his knowledge of truth, especially in seeing Miranda, because he experiences it as beauty. Hence,
for Kollos, as for Keats, beauty is truth, truth beauty. The two have become one, as on the face of the urn. The mind-meld means
zero aesthetic distance, a complete at-oneness of Kollos’ ME with the human NOT-ME. For Keats, this is the unity of
synaesthesic and total empathy. “Is There In Truth No Beauty?” is the ideal Romantic work of art, the epitome of the Romantic
theory of art—a point to be explained later. Before dissolving the mind-meld, Kollos/Spock feels his body:
Kollos: How compact your
bodies are, and what a
variety of SENSES you have. This thing
you call language…most remarkable. You
depend on it very much. But is any of
you really its master?
Kollos/Spock changes facial expressions and
injects the opposite of delight—a note of sadness, of what it really means to be
His description is that if every modern man isolated in a technological society where we understand so little and suffer so much:
Kollos: But most of all…the aloneness. You are so alone.
You live out your lives in this shell of flesh,
self-contained, separate. How lonely you are!
How terribly lonely.
These lines state the advantages and
disadvantages of being human. Man has infinite capabilities, but he is finite
and very much alone
because he is “self-contained.” The price of spiritual individuality (the opposite of Kollos non-containment) is human alienation,
especially modern man’s isolation from love. He has the tools, but will he love? In a consummate statement on modern man in
an industrialized, scientific society, Matthew Arnold sounds the same chord as does Kollos the Medusan:
Yes! In the sea of life enisled,
With echoing straits between us thrown,
Dotting the shoreless watery world,
We mortal millions live ALONE.
(“To Marguerite—Continued,” 1849).
the human condition with its joys and sorrows, in Roddenberry’s Star Trek. Such
is the truth in its limited beauty.
All truth is not beauty. It is often too hideous to see. By looking into ourselves only sometimes, we see neither truth nor beauty,
On the bridge, Kollos unifies the opposites, if only for that one, fleeting moment. Time stands still and eternity becomes a tease.
With the breaking of the mind-link and the
visor mishap, Spock sees Kollos directly—just the opposite of Kollos’ previous
experience. The truth of ugliness returns as insanity in Spock’s human half. The disease of modern man has always been an
insane turning inward, a self—consciousness that breeds nagging doubt and moral stasis. The British philosopher, Thomas
Carlyle, puts it well when he says “Know what thou canst work at.”—
Between vague wavering Capability
And fixed indubitable Performance,
What a difference! A certain in-
articulate Self-consciousness dwells
dimly in us; which only our Works
can render articulate and des-
cisively discernable. Our works are
the mirror wherein the spirit first
sees its natural linements.
(Sartor Resartus, 1833).
Carlyle’s challenge is now Miranda’s challenge:
McCoy: Unless Miranda can look down
Into his mind and turn it OUTWARD
…we will lose Spock.
Vulcan mind techniques are the only hope to save
Spock’s mind and his life. A dialectic between inwardness and outwardness
is a recognized symptom of the dualistic disease of technological man. The use of science split mankind in two, split his world in
two, isolating him from himself and from his world. Almost defensively, man has turned inward to contemplate his own mind,
as Carlyle says, “listening to itself.” The cure is an active turning outward, a reaching out, a positive deed performed in contact
with a reality OUTSIDE the inwardly turned insanity of modern living. This is Miranda’s challenge. Will she shun the truth to
retain a false and injured beauty? Or will she reach out, saving herself by saving another like herself? As Kirk says:
She tried to help Marvick. Marvick is dead….
And Spock is her rival….Even Spock felt the
Violence of her jealousy.
Now Miranda must decide whether she will listen to herself or accept change and the truth behind her beauty:
In change…there is nothing terrible, nothing
Supernatural: on the contrary, it lies in
The very essence of our lot and life
In this world….Change, indeed,
Is painful; yet very needful;
(Thomas Carlyle, “Characteristics,” 1831).
with Spock in sickbay, is caught blind, really blind by Kirk as he barges in to
confront her by making Miranda confront
the truth in herself. Miranda, blind without her techno-dress, asks again “Who’s there?” Kirk, like the spiritualistic philosophers
of Victorian England, asks: “What are you DOING about it?” –
Miranda: Why, what I can, of course.
Kirk: Which doesn’t seem to be much.
Miranda: No doubt you think I can wake him with a kiss.
Kirk: It’s worth a try, isn’t it? After all, he’s not a machine.
Miranda: But he’s a Vulcan.
Kirk: Only half. The other half is human, far more
human than you, apparently.
Captain Kirk insists that Miranda act. As Carlyle says:
Hence, too, the folly of that impossible
Precept, KNOW THYSELF, ‘til it be
Translated into this partially possible
One, KNOW WHAT THOU CANST WORK AT.
(Sartor Resartus, 1833).
Beauty and truth collide in a showdown to learn the nature of each other:
Kirk: With my words I’ll make you hear such
Ugliness that Spock saw when he looked
At Kollos with his naked eyes.
The ugliness is within you.
Miranda: That’s a lie, a lie…filthy liar.
Kirk: …hatred. The stench of jealousy permeates you.
Why didn’t you strangle him while he lies there?
Kollos knows what’s in your heart. You can lie
To yourself, but you can’t lie to Kollos.
This confrontation awakens “sleeping beauty”
with an ironic kiss in the form of a verbal right cross. Kirk’s own guilt melds
with Miranda’s anagnorisis to produce action. Miranda probably caused Spock to forget the visor on the bridge, thereby causing
the insanity and his impending death. In not reacting constructively now to offset the destructive action on the bridge, she will
be a murderess. In a line that helps to explain the episode’s title, Kirk says to McCoy:
She was blind, really blind. Really in the dark.
What if he dies? If he dies, how will I know I
Didn’t kill him? How do I know that she can
Stand to hear THE TRUTH?
Miranda has overheard this chat and finally acts
to save Spock’s life, not to take it. “Now Spock. This is to the death or to
for both of us.” Vulcan-mind-to-Vulcan-mind saves two minds—reaching inward, drawing the insanity outward by melding with
it. A rebirth occurs as a new Miranda stirs through the marriage of minds. Spock is also born again to life and to sanity.
Both parties have attained good by confronting the evil within the self. McCoy chirps to Spock, “You look like you’ve paid a
visit to the devil himself.” He has indeed; he has undertaken a journey into beauty’s truth and, like Orpheus seeking Euridice,
comes out of hell alive with mission completed. Only through her unity between the opposites within herself, only when beauty
slays the beast and attains truth, is truth beauty, and beauty truth. Only after this unity within can Miranda achieve
her unity with Kollos—which is another unity between truth and beauty—“I am one with Kollos….Your words enabled
me TO SEE.” Her blindness, the real blindness, is no
more. She sees the truth within, and this achieves oneness with Kollos—the truth without. She (they) are one.
At the end of the dinner
given in honor of Dr. Jones, Captain Kirk picks up Miranda’s red rose. The
symbol of the rose, which
appears at the beginning, middle and end of the episode, embodies an entire concept of man and mythology. Just before the end
of the dinner, after Miranda leaves, Dr. McCoy says, “She seems very vulnerable…there is something very disturbing about her.”
During the dinner, Kirk says, “Yes, she is something special, very special,” a line that explains why Kirk whistfully smells the red
rose left alone on the table. The rose (as in the arboretum) is the enigma of Miranda; it is she and the symbol of love’s ambiguities.
Beauty is a wonder to behold, but she is not all she appears to be. In the middle of the drama, in order to distract the telepathic
Miranda from Spock’s plot to mind-meld with Kollos, Kirk escorts Miranda to hydroponics, a room appropriately filled with
flowers, especially roses. Not too subtly, Kirk notes, “Here we are among the roses, a very romantic setting.” Miranda
chooses a rose for its scent and in touching it, pricks her finger on what Kirk whimsically calls “just a thorn.” The room replete
with flowers provides the symbolic setting of beauty amid the beautiful roses—the ultimate symbol of human love and fruition:
Kirk: Someday, you’ll want human love and companionship.
Miranda: Shall I tell you what human companionship means
to me? A struggle, a defense against the emotions
of others. At times, the emotions burst in on me.
Hatred, desire, envy, pity! Pity is the worst of all!
I agree with the Vulcans. Violent emotion is a kind
Kirk chides Miranda for avoiding human emotion through choosing life with the Medusans:
Kirk: Sooner or later, no matter how beautiful their
minds, you’re going to yearn for someone that
looks like yourself, someone who isn’t…ugly.
Miranda: Ugly? What is ugly? Who is to say whether
Kollos is too ugly to bear or too beautiful
The drama of the rose is a
play-within-the-play—all about the nature of love and beauty. Beauty is
relative and is defined only
by unity of differences .It is a question of perception. Miranda says to McCoy, “Joy can be many things.” Or as Keats says
in the poem, “Endymion,”—“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” Beauty can be as unbearable as ugliness. Too much of any
good can be an evil. At the conclusion of the episode, in the transporter room, Kirk hands Miranda a beautiful red rose:
Miranda: I suppose it has thorns.
Kirk: I never met a rose that
The rose is the symbol of Miranda herself and of the dualistic nature of human love in Star Trek. One cannot have love without
pain. For every ecstasy there is a concomitant and opposite agony. William Blake says, in the “Proverbs of Hell,” that “Joys
impregnate; Sorrows bring forth.” Real joy, real beauty, is best manifested, indeed only given life, by the principle of sorrow.
Beauty is not beauty without ugliness, just as the rose is not a rose without its thorns. Beauty must pay the price of truth because
truth, like sorrow, brings forth beauty into the world just as a mother’s agonizing cry of childbirth is rewarded by the birth of
a new life. Robert Burns, the Scottish Romantic bard, equates the rose and the thorn:
Wi’ lightsome heart I pu’d a rose
Frae aff its thorny tree;
But my fause luver staw my rose,
And left the thorn wi’ me.
Wi’ lightsome heart I pu’d a rose
Upon a morn in June;
And sae I flourished on the morn,
And sae was pu’d ere noon.
(“Ye Flowery Banks,” 1792).
Love is, as Burns describes in a more famous
poem, “like a red, red rose/That’s newly sprung in June,” but one purchases love
only with a price—a pearl of great price. Lord Byron, whose “She Walks in Beauty” is quoted by Spock/Kollos during the
mind-meld, also descanted mournfully on the dual nature of love as beauty and truth—a rose with fatal or painful consequences:
Oh Love! What is it in this world of ours
Which makes it fatal to be loved?
Alas! The love of women! It is known
To be a lovely and a beautiful thing….
And their revenge is as a tiger’s spring,
Deadly, and quick, and crushing; yet, as real
Torture is theirs, what they inflict they feel.
(Don Juan: Canto III, St. 2; Canto II, St. 199).
This third episode in this introduction to TOS, “:Is There In Truth No Beauty?” summarizes much of Gene Roddenberry’s
concept of man in a technological society. This episode, based on the writings of British Romantic poets, is a triumph of the
Romantic theory of art and man. In the oneness between Miranda and Kollos, Roddenberry achieves that Hellenic ideal of
perfect beauty and truth. It is the function of the Romantic imagination to unify, to marry opposites into a new and greater
synthesis. William Wordsworth talked of such a marriage as a reciprocal, co-creative relationship:
…while my voice proclaims
How exquisitely the individual mind…
To the external world
The external world is fitted to the mind;
And the creation…which they with blended might
Accomplish—this is our high argument.
(“Prospectus” to The Recluse, 1798-1814).
Samuel Taylor Coleridge also speaks of this imagination:
It dissolves, diffuses, dissipates, in
Order to recreate…it struggles to idealize
And to unify.
(Biographia Literaria, Ch. XIII, 1815).
…imagination…put in action by the will and
understanding…reveals itself in the balance or
reconciliation of opposite or discordant qualities:
of sameness, with differences; of the general, with the
concrete; the idea, with the image; the individual,
with the representative…a more than usual state of
emotion, with more than usual order….
(Biographia Literaria, Ch. XIV, 1815).
Percy Shelley defines imagination as the
“principle of synthesis” as opposed to reason, the “principle of analysis.”
respects not the differences, but the “similitudes of things.” Miranda’s plight as beauty comes to mind when Shelley equates
imagination with love:
The great secret of morals is Love; or a
Going out of our own nature, as an identification
Of ourselves with the beautiful which exists
In thought, action, or person, not our own….
The greatest instrument of moral good is the imagination.
(A Defence of Poetry, 1821).
The “going out” of our nature is comparable to
Miranda’s going out beyond herself to save Spock, a person “not our own.”
Above all, imagination, to use Blake’s term, is best symbolized as a unity of opposites, as a “marriage.” Shelley says it best:
Poetry thus makes immortal all that is best and most
Beautiful in the world….Poetry turns all things
To loveliness; it exalts the beauty of that which is
Most beautiful, and adds beauty to that which is most
Deformed; it marries exultation and horror, grief and
Pleasure, eternity and change; it subdues to union
Under its light yoke all irreconcilable things.
(A Defence of Poetry, 1821).
The above quotation summarizes the main thesis
in “Is There In truth No Beauty?” It also summarizes the unifying terms and
structure of all of Star Trek. The Romantic imagination is the archetype in Gene Roddenberry’s vision of man who, in a world
of ugly truth, seeks beauty through unity of opposites and differences—the Federation, in political terms. Although controversial
at the time, this unity is symbolized on the seal of IDIC—Infinite Diversity in its infinite Combinations:
Miranda: I understand, Mr. Spock, the glory of creation
Is in its infinite diversity…
Spock: And the ways our differences combine to create
Meaning and Beauty.
the human imagination, through the marriage of diverse minds, of contraries, one
sees that, as Blake says, “Without
Contraries is no progression. Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to Human existence.”
Differences combine to create truth and beauty by the wholistic marriage of diversity into a corporate comprehension, into
a confluence of differences and into the concomitant rebirth of knowledge:
‘Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty,’ that’s all
Ye know on earth, and all
ye need to know.
--(John Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” 1819).
The symbols of beauty and truth are symbolized
by the incorporated bonds in the Vulcan greeting of “Peace and long life,” and
“Live long and prosper.” They are equivalent to the Hebrew “shalom” which means, not merely hello and good-bye, but peace.
CHAPTER II: GOD AND MAN
"Your eyes shall be opened and ye shall be as gods, knowing good
and evil." Genesis 3:5.
In the new
humanism, the disappearance of God is concomitant with the emergence of man.
disappearance of God is a problem when it is the disappearance of man as acting principle of all being. God
is a civilizing necessity in Exodus because man is in a childlike moral condition. However, as prophets emerge,
man is free to obey or not to obey. Free will emerges because man must come to grips with this world.
He is the "just man" who works under an open system whereby he is free to develop. The negativity of adversity
can create a reintegration through imagination and his own effort in this world, between heaven and hell.
Religion, as institutionalized dogma, becomes mechanical and Marx' opiate of the people. It breeds what
Pope calls knee-crooking knaves. In Trek, man cannot be limited because God is living;
therefore, man has love of life. In rejecting Apollo, man rejects stagnation and death. Man has eaten the fruit of the
knowledge of good and evil, the tree of life; therefore, man is now God's potential rival. Indeed. he has become a god,
and therefore must be expelled from Eden and Olympus. In You Shall Be As Gods, Erich Fromm states: "the history
of mankind up to the present is primarily the history of idol worship" (37). Idol worship is really man's enslavement
because man worships himself without the substance that makes him man. Fromm calls idol worship the "love of death"
because the idol is lifeless. God is living and changing historically. Man should do right because he is inwardly active,
not as Fromm says, "because he enjoys doing what is right" (46) often because doing what is right is not
always enjoyable. Kirk and the crew often reject the right, creating suffering and death of a whole theistic
way of life. Man is now the freely-willed maker of his own history; it is no longer God's role to interfere with
or to change the nature of man or the will of man. Man's heart remains his own and intact. There can be no
paradise regained. The "fall" is a felix culpa, and man has become a stranger in his own world. Part of living
is getting to know the enemy within, and "he ceased to be the enemy, because he is I" (45). Alienation and
suffering must be experienced to achieve any new harmony. The insistence is not on metaphysics, but on Carlylean
action in Trek. As Spock often says, there are always alternatives. The concept of messiah is linked to man's
own development, his process to be better, to be what Fromm calls more fully human.
Godliness is linked to manliness; "to boldly go where no man has gone before" is not a vague theology,
but a living in and through adversity. Man acts in imitatione Dei when he acts secundum hominem.
The danger in a technologized society is a technologized man. Man's stasis is the greatest evil.
He must act. No bowing to law givers. We are archons (builders), not feeders of Vaal. The moral disease of
modern man is his unwillingness to act in accordance with his God-given potential.
Man's first freedom may be his freedom to say "no'; his last freedom may be his freedom to say nothing
and to do nothing,. A "hollow man, stuffed with straw" is no man (Nemos). Ye shall be as gods is the
serpent's temptation to Eve, but it means human growth (bildung), what Thomas Carlyle calls palingenesis--
the doctrine of many births. The catalyst for unity amid diversity (for good and for evil) is the human imagination.
Man embodies the "creator" principle. As T. S. Eliot says, it is "time to murder and create.
" The death of the old is in pangs of travail with the new--"to seek out new life forms."
As Gene Roddenberry writes, "The human adventure is just beginning."
"Who Mourns for Adonais?"
Mourns for Adonais?" man's freedom to deny and to reject being takes on
ominous tones. The episode is
Roddenberry's paean to Die Gotterdamerung. Man creates the twilight of the gods by destroying a being
who is, in an historical sense, man's creator. Man the created becomes man the destroyer of other creators.
The key to this solemn episode is the title, "Who Mourns for Adonais?" The story is told from the god's point of view.
The god who welcomes man after 5000 years of waiting becomes first a god of mercy, then a god of justice. But most
importantly, Apollo cries in the final scene because he has been rejected by his “Children” once more--not only rejected,
but destroyed totally. Noone mourns for Adonais, and that is the core of the problem. God cries and then dies.
In contrast, the crew of the "Enterprise," partly through willful ignorance, are sadistic killers of a highly intelligent and
Hellenically beautiful life form. It is difficult not to mourn for Adonais as he cries to Carolyn, "I loved you...
I've shown you my open heart. See what you've done to me!" Yes, just look at what man has done and undone!
The dualism between man and god is never bridged in this story, and it makes its first appearance during the
episode's first scene. In mapping the planet Pollux Four, Spock says of the planet, "In all respects, quite ordinary."
The lack of observable life forms seems illogical to Lt. Carolyn Palomas when she notes, "A strange lack of intelligent life ....
It bucks the percentages." Lt. Palomas is quickly perceived as a dual character. The first half of her statement is cold and
scientific (she is the Archaeology and Anthropology officer) while the comment "bucks the percentages" is emotional
and flippant. Commander Scott's idealization of and attraction for Carolyn, plus Kirk's suppressed admiration of her
Hellenic beauty, leads the viewer to see her role both as a Grecian love goddess (Aphrodite) transcendent
and as a trained scientist (immanent and human). The tension is between attraction and repulsion, between
the suprahuman and the empirical. As McCoy quips, "She's a woman -- all woman!" The stage is set for the
dualistic confrontation between
man and Olympian godhood. Man acknowledges her human beauty, but does he see
its symbolic significance?
When Apollo's giant hand first appears, McCoy, in a Freudian slip says, "What in the name of ...?" The missing word can be
filled in by any viewer. The missing word is just what is missing and being misconceived by technological man--God.
The greatest irony of the opening scene of this episode is man’s inability and probable unwillingness to see the obvious.
Man actually mentally negates the data provided by his own senses. The appearance of Apollo's face, laurel leaves
around his temples, should be obvious to intelligent observers. It is ironic that noone aboard the "Enterprise" recognizes Apollo.
The God ironically hints as to who he is, yet noone chooses to see. The fact that Apollo has to say "I am Apollo"
shows the irony of man's willful ignorance. Even after Apollo identifies himself, man simply refuses to acknowledge
the truth of the physically and mentally obvious. Even at twelve feet or at eighteen feet or higher, Apollo still does not
dent man's blindness to the truth of history, no less of theology. In a state of technological myopia, the
crew tries to understand what is holding the Enterprise motionless:
Spock: Not living tissue… not a projection ...
Sulu: We can't seem to get away from it.
How tragically ironic
that man's first confrontation with a physical, palpable god is one of
avoidance and attempted escape! .
Right away, Apollo becomes the stranger, the enemy. Apollo's initial greetings and benignity
are met with thick-skinned animosity. The god will not manifest himself, except in an alter-form (the hand)
which shows negative intent and creates negative impact on man. Man's moral myopia, his obsession with scientific
minutia borders on farce:
Kirk: "Status ?"
... It resembles a conventional force field, but
on unusual wavelengths. Despite its appearance--
that of a human appendage--it is definitely not
living tissue. It is energy.
Apollo has changed little, but modern man, even after five thousand years, has not changed at all:
Have you learned no patience in that time? ...
You have the same
How like your fathers
you are. Agamemnon, Hector, Odysseus.
increases man’s resentment against the god, but Apollo still
insists, after pressuring the ship's hull,
Apollo: No sad faces. This is a time to rejoice, not
to fear. You are returning home.
Modern man once
again faces the Greek anthropomorphic god, a god very similar to the
Mosaic God of the Book of Exodus
in the Old Testament. Apollo misses earth and his children, but these children do not miss a God whose mercy is often offset
by divine wrath. Man remains stiff- necked. He will neither be patronized nor punished; he rejects both love and wrath at
the same time from the same god.
Chekov: I never met a god before.
Kirk: And you haven’t yet …
McCoy: Simple humanoid, captain.
Kirk: Apparently not so simple.
If modern man sees
Apollo's miraculous feats as mere "Tricks," how can
the invisible when he will not acknowledge the visible? "Who Mourns
for Adonais?" is like paradise
re-visited and man re-fallen. Apollo has human wisdom to see that man has not changed fundamentally, and so Apollo reacts
to Captain Kirk's defiance.
Kirk: If you want to play God and call yourself Apollo,
that's your business. You're no God to us, mister.
Apollo: Let the lesson begin!" As he assumes giant,
Brobdingnagian proportions and says "Welcome to
Olympus, Captain Kirk." As Kirk asks, "What if he
really is Apollo?"
Kirk still refuses
to see the obviousness of a God as he is immersed in a context of
technological inquiry. Man's absorption
with minutia is his blindness to the obvious. How can God or any god exist if man refuses him or spurns him? The crew begins
its obsession with pulling Apollo's plug, with thoughtlessly ascertaining the source of his power. The terms "power" and “energy"
are used dozens of times as man gets smaller and the god gets lost in man's small-mindedness. Man's obsession is with
scientifically ascertainable power as if Apollo were an electrical device, a thing. The episode literally becomes a power struggle
between two different powers that go unreconciled. Man cannot contend with an authoritarian god, and he refuses to "learn
the discipline of the temple." Man cannot accept either the Hellenic beauty of Apollo or the discipline it takes to
accept theological obviousness.
McCoy: You saw how capricious he is. Benevolent
one minute, angry the next...
Scotty doesn't believe in gods.
Kirk: Apollo's no god, but he could have been taken
for one though ,once, say 5000 years ago.
The tease is the
Erich Van Donnegan tease--the theory that our western
civilization was formed
the intrusion of a
space-travelers who may have landed on earth around the Mediterranean.
The secret to
these Olympian dwellers was power -- the power to awe "simple
shepherds and tribesmen of early Greece.
" But man has demythologized these gods because their power is now comprehensible by technological man. The simplistic key
to god is its ability to use power and to alter matter at will and "command great energy"--again the thematic emphasis is on power.
This power makes man god's equal; power is the equalizer, thereby destroying the hierarchical distinction between god and man.
A prerequisite for
the existence of a god is the existence of man.
For god and
man to coexist, a reciprocal, symbiotic
relationship must exist even if the basis of this working relationship is simple mutual need. When man ceases to need a god, that
god simply "disappears." A god cannot exist without dependent worhsippers, but modern man has made it possible, through
science, to live without a god in any traditional, orthodox sense of the term; hence, the mutual dependence is broken and man
emerges as autonomous and free to choose or to deny as he sees fit. The disappearance of a god is concomitant with the
emergence of man. The two cannot coexist in an age of scientific inquiry that has demythologized god, thereby destroying
the mystery that is so essential for faith in a god:
But the earth changed. Your fathers changed. They
turned away until we were only memories. God cannot
survive as a memory. We need love, admiration, worship
as you need food.
Carolyn: You really think you're a god?"
In a real sense, we were gods. We had the power
of life and death ... We had no wish to destroy, so
we came home again. It's an empty place without
worshippers ... so we waited, all of us, through the
"Who Mourns for Adonais?" is a Grecian story of an idealistic Adonais,
a rejected god who waited alone for 5000 years for his "children" to return "home" to their real origin--space, the cosmos.
The brave, bickering human beings returned, but in ignorance and anger. God's children turn on their father; they are as
a result, "Lost lonely children, Haughty, naughty children." God cannot afford to be like man, for it is his flaw; man cannot
afford to be like unto god because he misuses the power. Apollo says of Hera, Artemis, and the Olympian
gods, "We were gods of passion and
love," but in showing human passion to Carolyn, Apollo makes
vulnerable. Being dualistic--half mortal, half immortal--Apollo falls from power because, like man, he loses the perspective
of reason in the vortex of consuming passion. He is undone as man takes advantage of a god's love and turns it into hate :
Alright, mister. You wanted worshipped.
You’ve got enemies. You want us to bow down ....
Kirk's tongue is
silenced as Apollo takes away his voice. Man succeeds in draining the power
of the god, and Apollo, tired
and weary, disappears like the "Cheshire cat," but in pain. But man insists that Apollo is scientifically normal, not a god:
Apollo has no difficulty forming. He taps that energy,
Mr. Scott. He taps a flow of energy and channels it
through his body ... but where is the source of that power?
McCoy: Despite his bag of tricks, he comes up essentially
normal ... however, there's an extra organ in his chest that
I can't even make a guess about."
So Apollo is
reduced to simple, anatomical data. It is a simple equation: the gods expend
energy and therefore require rest
after expending energy. The simple solution is to drain his energy. Spock's detailed logic on board the ship reflects the detailed
reason of the landing party. Spock sees only energy as a key to negating energy:
Spock: ... a problem of negating the force field
in selected areas ... that might be done by
generating a strong pinpoint charge of M-
rays on some of these selected wavelengths
and tying them in with the combined output
of all our engines. It
In the following
scene, after Spock's disquisition of logic, Apollo reappears saying the
opposite: "I try to be compassionate toward your kind.
You know nothing about our kind.
You know only our remote ancestors who
trembled before your tricks. Your
tricks don't frighten us. Neither do you.
We've come a long way in 5000 years."
But you're still of the same nature ...
I can give life or death. What else does
mankind demand of its gods?"
Kirk: "Mankind has no need for gods."
Carolyn saves the
landing party by insisting that a "father doesn't destroy his children,"
but the irony of man and god in Star Trek is that children can and do destroy their father.
Lieutenant Palamos' loyalty as a creature of duty not of beauty effects Apollo's death.
Man will destroy before he will herd goats. The key to Roddenberry's god/man relationship
is that man thinks that he has progressed, but he has not. In progressing technologically,
man has forgotten "those things which gave life meaning." Man has denied the old order of
things, but has not replaced his destruction with construction. What is left
is man alone, loveless and morally lifeless in having destroyed a part of his past.
Give me your hand to Carolyn. Your hand.
Now feel that. Human flesh against human
flesh. We're the same. We share the same
history, the same heritage, the same lives.
We're tied together beyond any untying...
McCoy who said Apollo was normal, simply humanoid? In destroying Apollo,
man is severing the idol worship that has been his history. "And the only thing that's truly
yours is the rest
of humanity. That's where our duty lies," Kirk says to Carolyn.
Duty to man precedes faith in a god. Orders and duty have replaced theology--one form of
slavery replaces another form of slavery. In freeing himself from a god, man has further
enchained himself to himself. Technologized man and autocratic Apollo are both slaves to
their mutual myopias and empty rituals.
Carolyn: I must get on with my work
I am a scientist ... surely you know I've
only been studying you.
Apollo: You love me.
Carolyn: Love you? Be logical .. I could no
longer love you than I could love a
new species of ... bacteria."
Compassion and love spurned beget passion and violence as man spites himself. The
"Enterprise" runs full phasers against Apollo's temple (his power source). Apollo retaliates
by concentrating his power (thunderbolts) against the "Enterprise." Power up, power down,
both mutually destructive. If the scene were not so tragic, it would look like a family feud.
Apollo's temple and power source are destroyed. But who is left alone, the real loser in the
mortal/immortal power struggle?
We've outgrown you. You asked for something we
can no longer give.
Apollo: Carolyn, I loved you. I would have made a
goddess of you. I've shown you my open heart.
See what you've done to me? Zeus! Hermes! Hera! Aphrodite!
You were right. Athena! You were right. The
time is passed. There is no room for gods.
Forgive me, my old friends. Take me. Take me.
And Apollo, hands in outstretched crucifixion, gives himself up to the
winds of time.
Left done is man, foolish men who have destroyed a part of their culture,
then civilization and of themselves. With
the death of Apollo, man dies a little too, but noone mourns for Adonais.
wish we hadn't had to do this."
Kirk: So do I. They gave us so much ...
the Golden Age. Would it have hurt us, I
wonder, just to have gathered a few laurel
A vain sense of
transcient regret creates a consciousness of the vacuum created
by Apollo's absence. "Who
Mourns for Adonais?"
is Star Trek's Die Gotterdammerung. Only after Apollo is destroyed does man wish to somehow recreate him, his presence.
Only the death of a god can evoke the presence of that god and its meaning for man -- such is the pity oftechnological man's myopia.
Apollo is only one in a select list of gods destroyed by man simply because man refused to believe what he saw, thereby negating
his very human processes and his essence as man. Even miracles have become commonplace and nothing prods man's
incredulity and willful blindness to what is most obvious--the divine infinity within and the divine infinity without:
there than you, that crowning barren Death as lord of all,
Deem this over-tragic drama's closing curtain is the pall! ...
Gone the cry of Forward, Forward, lost within a growing gloom;
Lost, or only heard in silence from the silence of a tomb ....
Have we grown at last beyond the passions of the primal clan?
‘Kill your enemy, for you hate him,’ still, ‘Your enemy’ was a man.
(Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “Locksley Hall Sixty Years Later,” 1886).
“Where No Man Has Gone Before”
In "Where No Man Has Gone Before" and in "Return to Tomorrow," the
theme of God and man goes from the God without
to the God within. Roddenberry's series now confronts, not the anthropomorphic gods, but the anthropocentric concept of god.
Problem: Is man God or a god? Has humanism replaced theism? Is man now the creator in the absence of the Creator?
Roddenberry's interest throughout the Star Trek series is on man as "creator," not an other-creator. Star Trek is clearly in the
Romantic tradition in its approach to its theories of God, man, and the universe. Post-biblical man's position is that of facing the
facts of alternatives. Man's will is free and God does not create man as either good or evil. It is the infinite expansiveness of man's
free will that makes Star Trek at once a tempting challenge and a terror because man must choose. Man possesses desire and
so may choose his path; he is given this power without coercion. God in no way interferes with the natural processes. Man, as Erich
Fromm suggests, has the fundamental choice between growth and non-growth regression. The greatest evil for man is to be a
walking biped, to stop growing. Stasis, passivity, is evil; movement, change, is the true good. Man must live life with dignity
and zeal, and to do so is a religious experience. God is a concept; living is an experience, religious and holy in nature, because
in confronting his alternatives, man must aim at his own awakening. Action is the key and a spiritual Darwinism as
the process of achievement. Man's freedom includes a freedom from God, if man so chooses. Erich Fromm mentions the
Yiddish term "hatia” which means "to miss." To sin is to miss the road, to perform the wrong action or to apply one's will to
an ill-conceived end. “The task of man is to live and to act in the right manner, and thus to become like God"
(E. Fromm, You Shall Be As Gods, 1966). This is the trial of man as seen in the character of Gary Mitchell in "Where No
Man Has Gone Before." The episode is an example of the fact that man cannot become like God if is not free within himself.
Man cannot be "fully human" if he is a slave to man or to his human
passions. Gary grows inhuman and has, therefore, no sense of the
right path for
his free will to follow. Through characters like
Gary Mitchell and Elizabeth Dehner, man sees the ramifications of the serpent's premise, Ye shall be as unto gods.
Is man God? Or a god? Has Roddenberry agreed with the aesthetic existentialists and replaced god with man, to see god
only as man? If Mitchell and Dehner are examples, the answer is no. Man still yearns for godhood, but his human nature
can be a bane and a boon to him. In these two episodes, man must possess the will to control. Contentually, Gary Mitchell is
a devastating statement that man, in his evolution, is a long way from achieving godhood because, for Mitchell,
godhood is equated with only one element: power. Man has the power to create and to destroy. Man is creator, preserver
and destroyer (The Hindu trinity).
The U.S.S. Valiant was destroyed by man f s necessary and immanent free will. Given the power generated in the confrontation
with the barrier at the end of thegalaxy, Mitchell's innate abilities, especially his high 'Esper" rating, are merely
accentuated. ESP is not a logical, rational power; however, it can be channeled and used constructively under the aegis
and the control of reason. Man's innate freedom of choice requires a balance between the opposite states of intuition and logic.
Gary Mitchell's first appearance shows he is a balanced man, one who has won Kirk's admiration and friendship. Mitchell is
also a man with healthy passion, as his eye for the ladies shows. His summary of Dr. Elizabeth Dehner as a "walking freezer unit"
shows passion and good humor. Dr. Dehner suppresses her femininity and, therefore, lacks balance
between her role as scientist and her role as woman. Of the two characters, Mitchell
is the healthier emotionally and rationally. The entire episode deals with the theme of power and the dialectical relationship
between intuition and reason as they cause and are affected by power. The early scenes show an impotency motif, a complete
powerlessness. After confrontation with the barrier, the Enterprise is on emergency power cells. Kirk and Mitchell find that
two men cannot be captain and friend at the same time. Kirk's almost fatal flaw as a young captain is his unwillingness to put
friendship. His emotional attachment to Mitchell almost destroys the
Enterprise. He feels too much. Mitchell calls
Kirk "captain-friend." The two do not meld. Emotion blinds man to the realities both inside and outside man.
Our subject is not Gary Mitchell.
Our concern is rather what he's
Kirk (to Dr. Dehner): "It is my duty whether pleasant or
unpleasant to listen to the reports, observations,
even speculations on any subject that might affect
the safety of this vessel, and it's my science
officer's duty to see that I'm provided with that.
emotional blindness refuses to permit her scientific self to admit the truth
of Mitchell's telekinetic powers.
Spock's dispassionate logic acts as a foil and cure for Dehner's sexual attraction for Mitchell and for Dehner's scientific
interest in a "superior man" without foresight into what this superiority involves. Spock also counteracts Kirk's emotional
friendship towards Mitchell. Spock's logic and Sulu's warning of Mitchell's geometric power growth are keys to man
becoming more "fully human" by achieving selfhood against insurmountable odds. Kirk has freedom, has alternatives, but
only one duty.
Recommendation one: Delta Vega’s lithium
cracking station ... You have only one other
choice: kill Mitchell while you still can.
Kirk: Get out of here.
Spock: It is your only other choice.
Kirk: Will you try for one moment to feel?
At least act like you've got a heart.
We’re talking about Gary ....
Spock: The Captain of the Valiant probably felt the
same way and he waited too long to make his
Kirk: Set course for Delta Vega.
Kirk must choose
between marooning Mitchell on Delta Vega or killing him now.
Kirk must maroon a man he has known
for fifteen years: Kirk grows during the nightmare of Gary Mitchell's powers; he becomes more "fully human" by becoming less
fully emotional and more fully dutiful. To be as unto God is to grow inside and this involves confrontations with evil outside
and weaknesses inside. The captain's duty is a choice between two types of murder--all for the benefit of the social whole--
the ship and its crew. Kirk learns to handle his choices and alternatives; to control himself is the first step in commanding a
starship. Duty involves selflessness and self-annihilation. Kirk has the power, but above all, the power to control power.
is also presented with the freedom of alternatives, with the freedom
given him by newly-found power.
Apollo's godhood was based on power. So the same is true of Mitchell who myopically equates godhood with power and the
will to use it as he sees fit. His reaction to power exaggerates his innate human telepathic powers. A superior man can, as
Dr. Dehner notes, be a great event, but it can also create exaggeration of the norm, thereby creating a monster.
Mitchell: It's like a man who's been blind all of his
life suddenly being given sight. Sometimes
I feel there's nothing I couldn't do in due
time. Some people think that makes me a
Kirk: What would you do in my place?
Mitchell: Probably just what Mr. Spock was thinking now--
kill me -- while you can.
godhood is the misuse of reason, of mind over matter. Godhood involves,
as it did with Apollo, whimsical use and
misuse of power. A god can create at will; a god can destroy at will. In both cases, man is free to choose his actions, to choose
the path--whether right or wrong.
Mitchell: I'm not sure yet just what kind of a world I
Dr. Dehner: Use?
Mitchell: I don't understand it all yet, but if I keep
growing, getting stronger where the things I
could do…….. like ... like maybe a god could do.
Mitchell strikes a
note that is the theme of this pilot/episode:
"Command and compassion is a fool's mixture."
Mitchell's correctness and admits it is "my fault Mitchell got as far as he did." There is the potential within every man
to achieve the heretofore unattainable--this is the significance of the title, "Where No Man Has Gone Before." It is the journey
into the unknown that presses on man from without, but it is also the journey into the unknown within man's subconscious that
seeks externalization. This is the "creator" principle that has become a password among all followers of Star Trek -- the "creator"
is always a man. Mitchell is one such creator and creators have the power to destroy themselves and their own creations--
all in accordance with the free will that makes man himself and a superself, a god. Man must be given the choice
to rise or to fall on the basis of his own autonomy. For Mitchell, man's
ability to transform energy into matter and matter into energy (zapping Kirk, creating flowers, water fruits on a sterile Delta
Vega) is a miracle. Mitchell's autonomy has no regard for social ramifications.
Mitchell: (to Elizabeth Dehner): You'll soon share
this feeling, Elizabeth. Be like god. To
have the power to make the world anything
you want it to be.
ironically, is the goal of every idealistic, thinking man to reshape the
world according to his will and to have
the power to apply this will, but it cannot be at the expense of the autonomy of one's fellow man. One of the puzzling phenomena of
Star Trek is the apparent absence of god or God as traditionally viewed. This is due largely to a very logical phenomenon:
the absence of a fully regenerated, fully controlled, fully-developed man. Until man attains his full selfhood, a god is a mute point.
Mitchell states, "You'll enjoy being a god, Elizabeth. Blasphemy? Let there be food." This power of a god's fiat is deceptive--
a mere transporter principle /scrambler of matter into energy, into matter again and so reunited. Mitchell’s powers
also present the
"Enterprise" with another Apollo syndrome: man feels threatened
by anyone more powerful than he.
If that power emanates from someone, that someone must be destroyed. Mitchell is deified within, but is also deified from
without by his own kind. When one man wants to squash others like insects, those insects are threatened. Man the creator
becomes man the destroyer, becomes man the destroyed--all the result of human limitations and inabilities to cope
with unknown or
The salvation of mankind from mankind is a key theme in Star Trek's concept of God and man. Erich Fromm makes its clear that
man is not fully human if he is not freed from man. Slavery to one's fellow man is more immediate than man's slavery to a biblical God
or to an Egyptian Pharoah. What one does with his power and his desire to be like unto god must be right for him and for his fellow
man. While man is slave to himself, there is no God:
Dehner: What he's doing is right. .. for him and me.
Kirk: And for humanity?
(Cf., Kirk's appeal to Lt. Palamos-her duty to others
is the key to dissolving ego inflation).
You're still human ... you are! You wouldn't be
here talking to me.
Dr. Dehner: Earth is really unimportant. Before long
we will be where it would have taken mankind
millions of years of learning to reach.
Kirk: And what will Mitchell learn on getting there?
Will he know what to do with his power? Will he
acquire the wisdom? Did you hear him joke about
compassion? Above all else a god needs compassion.
By appealing to Elizabeth Dehner's humanity and to her duty as a scientist, Kirk is able to turn god against god, thereby manipulating
Dehner and Mitchell into a power battle wherein Kirk, as the third party, can manipulate the gods into destroying one another, thereby
using human animal cunning to save himself and mankind from man himself: Mitchell is a symbol in this episode of what Kirk calls all
the "ugly things we all keep buried that none of us dare expose." But a god does not have to care to save mankind; Kirk must murder
in order to preserve--a tragic statement on the plight of impotent man who wants power and perfection, but who cannot create perfection
because of his own contingency and mutability. The viewer of this forceful episode notes that as Gary Mitchell grows more powerful
and more godlike, the hair about his temples grows grayer and grayer. Mitchell is literally burning himself up by his inability to control
his power within and the circumstances around him.
Mitchell: Time to pray, Captain. Pray time.
Kirk: They'll be only one of you in the end. One jealous
god if all this makes a god or does it make you some-
thing else? Absolute power corrupting absolutely.
The battle becomes
a mundane fist fight, a Neanderthal brawl between two desperate
men--Kirk and Mitchell. Kirk's
compassion ("Gary, forgive me") almost gets him killed again. To be a god, man must often be an animal. Neither man is a
god or a Titan. Blood begets blood and does either man a god really make? Compassion must be counterbalanced
by duty almost as
the devil must be counterbalanced by God--all with a very small man
who has gone where no man has gone
before. Man is the maker of his own history and God does not change man's nature-- he is still free to choose as man. Oedipus
Rex so chose also--once long ago.
In his self-device, in his human weakness, in his brute prowess, in his technological genius, man neither is God nor does
he need a Creator. All throughout Star Trek, one sees the created in search of the “creator,” objects seeking their
almost Freudian subject in a trice. Man needs and wants to know his source, his past, his place in time and in space. The God
of the Bible, the God of the scholastic philosophers (especially Aquinas) does not exist in Star Trek, and for that matter, does
not exist for man after the Industrial Revolution because man has not the need for this Creator. Instead we have man (Ich) as
the "creator" or creative principle,
a dot on the landscape of his infinite universe (Nicht-Ich) in search of harmony and synthesis, evolving but not fully evolved, seeking
definition and selfhood.
"Return To Tomorrow"
The God and man tragedy in Star Trek concludes with the episode, "Return to Tomorrow" where Gene Roddenberry's
characters find hope and happiness through unity and confrontations with infinity itself in the form of formless minds, pre-energy,
whose need for at-oneness becomes a paragon to mankind of how oneness is achieved, and how unity between body and soul,
matter and mind, can be achieved without discord, without destruction. "Return to Tomorrow" makes a critical point about the
relationship between God and man, i.e., that god needs man in order to be god, that pure spirit in all its powers, needs man
and man's temporal body for that god's completion within itself. Man helps to complement god, to fulfill god because man is
god's other missing half. The poet, William Blake, says, "Eternity is in love with the productions of time" ("Proverbs of Hell"
from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, 1790). God needs man just as much, if not more, than man needs god. God needs
man, but unlike Apollo and Gary Mitchell, the god makes not a demand but a request, a plea, an invitation to further
the experiences of both god and man. The "Enterprise" landing party is receptive and positive in attitude and behavior. In lieu
of the will to destroy, in Sargon there is a will to serve and be served, to help and be helped -- a sense of openness hitherto
wanting in other god/man Star Trek episodes. Instead of the chasm of mistrust and misunderstanding
between superior and inferior beings,there is a sensed empathy in Sargon,
the wisdom that comes from the misuse of man's power. Sargon, unlike
his counterpart Henock, has turned knowledge and
power into a transcendental, godly wisdom. Sargon is eternity and mankind are his "children," always "my children," a
reciprocal, genuine love for others who, as he explains, may really be his descendents. Sargon comes closest of all Star Trek's
creatures to the scholastic and biblical view of God as the other, pure spirit, bodiless, just and understanding. Time and experience
have tempered his powers into mercy, wisdom and genuine love for mankind, his children. These qualities make "Return
to Tomorrow" a real and a constructive confrontation between the finite (man) and the infinite (Sargon). Sargon is eternity, and
he is in love with his opposite, time, mortality as seen in the temporal body of modern man’s crew. Without a freely-willed
reciprocity between time and eternity, between man and god, there can be no "fully human" man and no fully god/god.
"Return to Tomorrow" is a masterful presentation of the perfect relationship that at once makes man evolve and grow, that
makes god evolve and grow through a marriage between body and soul, between time and eternity. Eternity hungers for time.
Through the transference between body and spirit, a unity occurs, and yet both parties retain their distinct identities while
sharing each other’s knowledge, each other’s beings. Essence and existence become one for just a few moments in time.
Unlike Gary Mitchell whose constructive powers destroyed others and himself, Sargon has learned, from the destruction
of his planet by war, the shortcomings and improper uses of man’s power. Evolution from form to formlessness
has effected a
concomitant evolution from knowledge to the wisdom to use power for
the good and for the maintenance of
peace and order for all. Sargon exists to help others -- probably the greatest quality man can ask of an infinite entity--that he
give his life for others as
Sargon vanishes into oblivion rather than hurt or destroy others.
Truer love than this hath no man
or no god. Sargon, as a god-figure, is accepted by man because, unlike Apollo or Mitchell, he insists on leaving man with
the choice and the free will to choose and to change:
Sargon: I am Sargon ... the choice is yours ....
I am as dead as my planet…. lf you
let what is left of me perish, then
all of you, my children, all of mankind
must perish too .... Please come to rescue
us from oblivion.
Sargon, as pure energy, is incomplete as pure energy. He needs man and man's body to permit him to complete himself, to
perpetuate himself. Man may, if he so chooses, share his being with a creator! God is in hell without the human half he has
lost in giving his form to others. The creator needs his created creatures as a father needs his children to fulfill his essence.
Love is a two-way business, and to be "Pure energy, Matter without form" is to be only half alive. The greater infinity of pure
mind needs the bodies of its children to perpetuate itself, to serve as its hands to build android bodies to help mankind in
its time of need. Like Apollo and the Olympian gods, Sargon's ancestors seeded the galaxy.
Sargon: Six thousand centuries ago our vessels
were colonizing this galaxy just as your
own starships have now begun to explore
that vastness. As you now leave your own
seed on distant planets, so we left our
own seed behind us. Perhaps your own legends
of an Adam and an Eve were two of our travelers.
As in the previous two episodes, the so-called god based his godhood on the possession of and use of power.
One day our minds became so powerful we
dared think of ourselves as gods.
In the evolutionary process from primitivism to pure spirit, man has experienced the loss of the correct use of reason and hence
the loss of his human identity through his obsession with the ME and the neglect of the NOT-ME. But in "Return to Tomorrow" the
man/god has suffered a loss of part of his existence. In a sense, he does not and cannot exist without the NOT-ME -- mankind; in
contrary, man too does not and cannot exist without the NOT-ME -- his sense of God.
(in Kirk's body): "Lungs filled with air again.
To see again. Heart pumping arteries, surging
blood again, to be again.
Spock: What is it you want of us?
Sargon: We require your bodies ... so we may live again ...
to build humanoid robots.
process of exchanging pure mind and human body, man and pure
spirit cross for a
and time meet and pass, both learning about each other by contact with their opposites. In terms of modern man in a
technological society, spiritualistic thinkers have feared man's neglect of his soul as he pampers his materiality in the new
inventions and conveniences of
science. As man progresses physically, his wisdom lingers; as he grows technologically, he weakens morally, spiritually. The God
without and the God within are
in man's obsession with the body and with mammonism. Sargon fulfills modern
craving for spiritual revitilization; he effects a rebalancing between man's body and man's soul. Thinkers such as Blake, Tennyson,
Fromm, T. S. Eliot were aghast
at man's loss of godliness in a sea of materialism. Much of our modern
1750 to the present is an attempt to prod man into awakening his soul, into breaking the ancient Platonic curse that caused man
to believe that his body is distinct from his soul -- the
Cartesian dichotomy of mind and matter. Modern thinkers since
striven to show man, as Blake says, "Man has no Body distinct from his Soul" (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, 1790).
Yes. Sargon borrowed my body.
I was floating in time ... space. I
remember. When Sargon and I exchanged
as we passed each other ... for an
instant we were one. I know now. I
know what he is and what he wants and
I don ' t fear him.
The episode, especially Kirk and Sargon, repeats the phrases, "I know," "I understand ." A unity of minds takes place and yet
separate identity is maintained. In the unity between Sargon and Kirk, we have the unity of opposites that is the aesthetic goal of the
Romantic theory of man and art and religion. For Romantic artists (such as Blake and Wordsworth), the creation of God lay in the
unity between opposite or heterogenous elements, in the marriage of opposites -- here between Sargon (infinite mind) and Kirk (body
and human mind). God is the Third created in the unity between the First and the Second, between the Ich and the Nicht-Ich, between
mind and matter. It is only through selfless reciprocity that man grows more "fully human," more fully like unto God. From eternity's
(Sargon's) point of view, eternity learns about itself through its transference with finity; from finity's point of view, finity learns
more about itself through its transferences with infinity. Herein lies God; therein lies the religion of man growing as God grows -- all
the while maintaining human choice and free will.
"What if we should decide against you?"
Sargon: "Then you may go as free as you came.
To be God is to be lonely throughout time and eternity because a god cannot change, cannot be born, cannot die. God,
in a sense, envies man for, of all things, his mutability. The poet Shelley once said, "Nought may endure but mutability," i.e., the
only thing that never changes is change itself.
I'd forgotten what it felt like
even to breathe again ... so long, so
very long." (Kisses Sargon.).
The unity of
Sargon's mind with Kirk's body touches the unity of Thalassa's mind
with Ann Mulhall's body and it demonstrates the
necessity of matter to complete mind because "that call'd Body is a portion of Soul discerned by the five Senses, the chief inlets of
Soul in this age .... Energy is the only life, and is from the Body" (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, 1790). Man's vitalism stems
from his body. One cannot discern soul except through the five senses, and soul can grow and learn only in and through the
five senses. Sargon, Thalassa, and Henock are the eternal, incorporeal complements to
Kirk, Ann, and Spock--the finite and corporeal complements. In
this crucial Star Trek episode, western civilization is being
reminded of the fallacy of dualistic dichotomies, of twoness where there was once oneness, that division and dualism are the stains
and moral by-products fostered by the Industrial Revolution and the need to reduce all existence to the scientific method, i.e., if
something cannot be proved empirically, it does not exist; and God and the soul, because they transcend the scientific method, do
not therefore exist. Sargon and Kirk as two distinct entities symbolize what happens when faith is reduced to reason and becomes
dogma--religion listening to itself, faith transformed into empty mechanical "thou-shalt-not's." The dualism, the separateness between
Sargon as mind and Kirk as matter, symbolizes Carlyle’s disease playing God and man in a garden of a technological society.
In "Return to Tomorrow,” the traditional arch rivals -- religion and science -- meet on the same plane. Newtonian physics
postulates the separation of fact from belief, faith from mechanics. Star Trek is in the mainstream of our western culture by
recreating the conflict between science and religion, but it also goes a step further in showing that religion and science are different
paths that lead to the same goal, that the two are complements not rivals in man's image for faith and fact. The choice of
transference offered to Kirk, Mulhall and Spock is a scientific experiment as well as a religious experience.
It is scientifically fascinating.
Spock: With their knowledge, man can leap
ahead 10,000 years ...
Mulhall: I'm willing to host Thalassa's mind.
It is, ironically,
McCoy who objects vehemently to the experiment as obscene and
"indecent." McCoy, a scientist, rings the
warning knell of caution and reminds the others of the potential calamity that such an experiment may induce. McCoy's objections
are an interesting combination of scientific caution, old-fashioned parochialism, and prudery. McCoy reminds the human
race of the potential Gary Mitchell's and Apollo's of godhood: power can destroy.
They're giants and we're insects.
(Mitchell's term when he threatens to
squash man as insects).
McCoy reminds the
world of science of man's fear of his own Lilliputianism, his paranoic
fear of his own smallness and
insignificance. It was this insecurity that killed Apollo and Mitchell.
Bones, you could stop all this by
saying no .... It must be unanimous.
McCoy: Why? Not a list of possible miracles.
But a simple, basic, understandable WHY?
Let's not kid ourselves that there is no
potential danger in this.
McCoy's warning is
a clarion sounded time after time in Star Trek-- the dialectic
between the need to know and the fear of the
negative consequences to such knowledge. It is within this element that man must grow--all knowledge, all human growth, all
rebirth entails RISK. In every good there exists the likelihood of a concomitant evil, and man must choose his alternative and
accept the consequence (good and/or evil) of his freely-willed choice. Where good exists, evil
exists. Without evil there can be no good and evil frequently
produces good. This system of contraries that breed progression
(William Blake's theory) is an inherent part of mankind's bildung and wanderlahre. The RISK is a necessary step to the
possible growth of the individual psyche. To be static is to be subhuman; to act is to be human, and the only certainty, the
only cure for modern man's doubts lies in action and in RISK. In the case of the mortals, there is a risk; in the case of the
immortals, there is also a risk -- the risk is individual, collective, and reciprocal.
For man, the risk entails physical damage and possible death
from the transference. The RISK also entails the potential loss of the
identities of the people involved. It is an essential axiom in Roddenberry's concept of man that the need to know and the need to
grow outweigh the negative consequences. All growth involves risk. For man to be man, to evolve, to be "fully human," he must
face his doubts and uncertainties and act knowing the risks involved. Growth is worth dying for, if necessary, because stasis is
death itself. In one of the most impassioned scenes in all of Star Trek, Kirk states that risk, going where no man has gone before,
is the very essence of the human phenomenon and is the very essence of the "Enterprise" and her mission -- to seek out new life.
Kirk answers McCoy's “Why” by stating Roddenberry's vision of why man exists:
Kirk: They used to say if man could fly he'd
have wings. But he did fly. He discovered
he had to. Do you (to McCoy) wish that the
first Apollo mission hadn't reached the moon?
That we hadn't gone to Mars, then to the
nearest star? That's like saying you wish
that you still operated with scalpels and
sewed your patients up with catgut .... I
could order this, but I'm not because Dr.
McCoy is right in pointing out the enormous
danger potential in any contact with life
and intelligences as fantastically advanced
as this, but I must point out the possibilities
and potential for knowledge and advancement
are equally great. RISK! RISK is our business.
That's what this starship is all about.
Greater unity within every self ME is attainable by risking the unity with the unknown and greater NOT-ME.
The risk is also a two-edged sword. Sargon, Thalassa, and Henock are risks to themselves as well as risks to mankind because
in unleashing Henock, Spock's body is unleashing the devil behind the god. Henock has remained unchanged by the cataclysm he helped
to unleash on his planet. He represents an old Manichean view of a god of evil as well as a god of good. He is eternal, unchanged
evil as pure spirit--probably as close as Roddenberry's works come in
stating the existence of an autonomous
prince of evil, the devil himself rendered corporeally convincing in Spock's body. This is not the first time that Spock's ears give him
the air of an anti- Christ (cf., "The Omega Glory"). Through transference, Henock becomes the Serpent principle and tempts
Thalassa, appealing to the newly- rediscovered delights of the human senses of Ann Mulhall's beautiful body, tempting her to retain
Mulhall's body, pointing to the android
body, calling it "a thousand year prison, Thalassa.” Humanity becomes a temptation for immortality, just as immortality (in
the earlier two episodes) becomes a temptation for mortality an ironic inversion. To assume human form is to risk losing
immortality and eternal identity. Thalassa falls (just like Adam's Eve) to Henock's temptation as she says to her husband,
Sargon, "Can two minds press close like this? Can robot lips do this (kiss)?" As Sargon apparently dies in Kirk's body,
Henock continues to goad Thalassa with the temptation to become what she once was. For one terrifying scene, she unleashes her
telekinetic powers on McCoy, sounding like Mitchell and Apollo:
This body pleases me. I intend to
keep it .... I wish only to exist in
peace as a living woman. I'll require
only your (McCoy's) silence. Doctor,
we can take what we wish.
McCoy: I will not peddle flesh. I'm a physician.
Thalassa: A physician? In contrast to what we are,
you are ... a savage, medicine man. You
dare me. You should be on your knees
worshipping. I could destroy you with
a single thought.
Stop! Sargon was right. The temptations
within a living body are too great. Forgive me.
Sargon: I am pleased, my beloved.
Sargon is not
dead; he has placed his consciousness into the vessel, saying, "I have
power even Henock does not suspect." Therefore,
RISK exists in both ends of the spectrum of creation: the temptation of immortality for mortals and the temptation of mortality for
immortals. Both must accept the risk in order to evolve, to be reborn of the flesh and of the spirit.
Sargon saves Spock and destroys Henock who is caught, like Iago, in his own web of evil.
At the end of
this thoughtful episode, "Return to Tomorrow," each of the
opposites separates again and the dualism of body
versus soul resumes, but not until after each component of the dialectic comes away richer and wiser for the unity, for the marriage
between man and god. Man and spirit go their separate ways because each cannot exist permanently in the world of the other.
Sargon: We now know that we
cannot permit ourselves to
exist in your world, my children. Thalassa and
I must now also depart into oblivion.
Kirk: Is there any way we can help you, Sargon?
Sargon: Let Thalassa and I share your bodies again, a
last moment together.
Thalassa: Together forever.
Sargon: Forever, beloved, forever.
In their union with the bodies of Kirk and Mulhall, Sargon and Thalassa become husband and wife in the flesh for a brief joining
in and through humanity. Man has fulfilled these gods by lending them the mortal tools whereby to give eternity its forever-- male
and female, body and spirit, soul and soul, god and god become one forever.
In "Return to Tomorrow," western man sees his future by experiencing his possible creators who are and who were his past.
He experiences his past and his future in the generative seedfield of the present. Man has made god more fully god; god has
made man more "fully human," --an eternal gift. Nurse Chapel, watching eternal love in a mortal kiss, sums it up lightly: “It was
CONCLUSION: TO CHAPTER II
Man is responsible for his own destiny; he creates his own historicity; he can blame no god or God for his brilliance and
for his ineptitude, for his strengths and for his weaknesses. Too much death has been done for "the honor and glory of God,"
when it was for the honor and disgrace of man. The traditional God of the Talmud, of the Old and New Testaments leaves man free
to choose his paths and, hence, the consequences -- glorious or tragic-- of his free will.
Man has the
power once attributed to God or gods, and by such power gods have
always been identified and worshipped.
Man has only worshipped what he cannot understand, what he cannot control, what he cannot outwit, what he cannot destroy.
Now that man possesses (or thinks he possesses) the power, the understanding, the control, the cunning, there is no longer a
transcendent unity worth man's idol worship. God or gods are also a threat to man--a threat to his freedom, a threat to his
autonomy, a threat to his power. When a god appears , as in Dostoevsky’s story, "The Grand Inquisitor .”that god is challenged
as an interfering antagonist who obtrusively threatens the haunts of man as "king of the hill." Dostoyevsky's
cardinal incarcerates the visiting Christ, and he is found guilty before the inquisition as a heretic. Instead of burning Christ at the
stake, the cardinal (who also represents modern man and the need to burn heretics) orders the God to return to heaven and to
leave man to rule his domain and its ignorant masses -- the many ruled by the priests of the church. In Star Trek, man kills Apollo,
kills the usurper (Mitchell) because they jeopardize man's ego and his autonomy. Man has the power to be like unto god and this
includes the power to destroy God or gods that interpose themselves between man and his attainment of scientific or moral growth.
But if a god approaches man (even if that creature/god possesses the power over life and death) and asks man's freely willed
cooperation, man's paranoia abates and his reason prevails because such interaction is mutually beneficial to man and to the more
God cannot exist without man. When there is no need, there is no need for god; there is no god or God. As Carlyle says,
the Divinity has withdrawn from the earth, but this is for the benefit of man and is in no way detrimental to man or to the traditional
God as the Creator. God has imbued man with the will, the intellect, the body and (most critically) the imagination to walk the
perilous path, to plant roses "where thorns grow/ And on the barren heath/ Sing the honeybees" (William Blake, Marriage
of Heaven and Hell, 1790). Man exists as the modern "creator" in Star Trek because he has the power over life and death,
because in his primary imagination is the living power and prime agent of all human perception, and as a repetition in
the finite mind of the eternal act of creation of the infinite I AM (Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Ch. XIII, Biographia Literaria, 1815).
William Blake once said, “Where man is not nature is barren" (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, 1790) and that
"Every thing that
lives is Holy." Star Trek is not interested in the theological
concept of God (abstract metaphysics), but
in the experiential living out in this world of God by man as experienced values. There are no miracles because all life is in itself
a miracle: “To create a little flower is the labour of ages." (William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, 1790).
to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.
(William Wordsworth, "Ode: Intimations of Immortality,"
Star Trek is in the Romantic theory of man, god and art -- a theory brought about in part as a spiritual reaction to the materialism
of the Industrial Revolution. Gene Roddenberry would not argue too much with the poet laureate of British Romanticism:
Not Chaos, not
The darkest pit of lowest Erebus ...
As fall upon us often when we look
Into our Minds, into the Mind of Man--
My haunt, and the main region of my song ...
How exquisitely the individual Mind ... to the external World
Is fitted--and how exquisitely, too--
Theme this but little heard of among men--
The external World is fitted to the Mind.
(William Wordsworth, The Recluse, 1814).
In his existential insistence of man's actional existence in this world, Roddenberry spans the seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth,
and twentieth centuries from Descartes, to Kant, to Hegel, from Goethe to Sartre, in insisting on the need for the unity between
the noumenal ME/subject and the phenomenal NOT-ME/object. In
the creative tension between contraries, god is a forceful reality created in and through man's need to become fully human. Man is
best in being what Sartre called "Etre-pour-soi" (being-for-itself) never "Etre-en-soi" (being-in-itself) i.e., man is immir wird, nie ist,
never is, always is a-becoming. God is Being-in-itself, hence there can be no God in the finitude in which man makes himself because
if man is inwardly dependent on God, then he is not free, not autonomous, not an independent. Man must effect change, and is
therefore not the Immutable.
This chapter will fittingly end on the ideas spurred by Erich Fromm in his many works dealing with man and God. Fromm summarizes
what has come about in human dramas/literatures like Star Trek:
authoritarian ruler, becomes God the
constitutional monarch, who is himself bound by
the principles he has announced .... Man the
obedient servant, becomes the free man who makes
his own history, free from God's interference...
The aim is the liberation and awakening of man .
that love impels us to understand the other better
than he understands himself ... Both will know that
they are united in their common goal, which can be
discovered more from their actions than from
(Erich Fromm, Ye Shall Be As Gods, 1966).
In the issue of God and man, Star Trek's primary concern is not for the absence or presence of an orthodox deity, but is for the absence,
indeed for the death, of technological man--his loss of his own humanity amid the travails of scientific knowledge.
Man is dead
... seems to be the central
problem of man in twentieth-century industrial
society. He is in danger of becoming a thing,
of being more and more alienated, of losing
sight of the real problems of human existence....
If man continues in their direction, he will
himself be dead, and the problem of God….
will not be a problem any more. (Erich Fromm)
Star Trek is a living experience of a living religion of man seeking synthesis in trying to become completely the master
of his ME and of his NOT-ME, to give birth and rebirth to himself and to all creation. He strives, sometimes failing,
succeeding--to attain the challenge of the serpent, that ye shall be
as unto God himself. Roddenberry's modern
man has a point of view about himself and his world and a God, but the priority goes to the need to live, not just to exist, to live
intensely and with dignity amid a threatening and challenging cosmic infinitude of eternal possibilities, of eternal rebirth.
In a recent book,
the theologian Hans Kung quotes the contemporary philosopher,
Ludwig Wittgenstein, whose voice is
redolent of God and man in Star Trek and in its view of western man:
I know about God and the purpose of life?
I know that this world exists.
That I am placed in it like my eye in its visual field.
That something about it is problematic, which we call its/
That this meaning does not lie in it but outside it.
That life is the world.
That my will penetrates the world.
That my will is good or evil.
Therefore that good and evil are somehow connected with the
meaning of the world.
The meaning of life, i.e., the meaning of the world, we
can call God.
And connect with this the comparison of God to a father.
To pray is to think about the meaning of life....
To believe in a god means to see that the facts of the world
are not the end of the matter.
To believe in God means that life has a meaning.
(Hans Kung, Does God Exist: An Answer for Today, 1980).
(END of Chapters I and II)