Chapter 4B--"Gothicism," pp.4B: 001-080
Chapter 4C--"Children and Imagination," pp.4C: 001-058
ECCE Homo! IV: B001
A study of Star Trek and Romantic imagination creates Die Vernunft, what
Kant defined as Pure Reason, what
Goethe would interpret as the Romantic Imagination. Gothicism is one major manifestation of Romanticism in
Star Trek. Gothicism has its roots in the German tribes that the Romans called Goths and Visigoths, terms
denoting barbarism. Lack of civilized restraint and reason were considered Gothic by the Romans. The concept
of Gothicism has its better known basis in Christianity, specifically medieval Catholicism. The term was first
manifested as an architectural style embodied in the Gothic cathedrals which found their apogee in 13th century
western Europe. Gothicism is irretrievably linked to man's belief in God. It represented another very serious
manifestation of modern man’s crisis of faith. In the nineteenth century, writers like William Morris and John Ruskin
would return to and would eulogize medieval gothicism as the last age of belief before the intrusion of the age of reason.
A distinct tendency existed to idealize an age where life was envisioned as less complicated than an individual age.
But gothicism, as it took on literary form, was symbolic of the late 18th and early 19th centuries in western Europe.
The vision presented by Horace Walpole, Matthew Gregory Lewis, Ann Radcliffe, William Godwin, Mary Shelley,
Percy B. Shelley, and Lord Byron was less than utopian.
Five episodes of Star Trek deal directly with Romantic gothicism, thus again showing that Star Trek is well
embedded in an established literary tradition. A brief synopsis of gothicism would give the reader areas of application
by which he/she can better understand Star Trek and its deep analysis of human nature. Gothicism deals with what
Matthew Arnold called Hebraic man (Culture and Anarchy). Gothicism takes us one step
deeper, a darker look at la bête noire at the heart of intuitive man. It is an analysis of the Miltonic nightmare of
where Milton failed brilliantly to justify the ways of God to man. Gothicism
tells of man's acute
limitations and restrictions. It is the babbling after Babel, a vivid sense of Calvanistic damnation, a quest for solutions
with an acute sense of uncertainty (der angst).It is a post-lapsarian world of darkness. As Byron writes:
I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguished, and the stars
Did wander in the eternal space .•.
Morn came and went--and came, and brought no day ...
Famine had written Fiend. The world was void.
--(Lord Byron, "Darkness" 1816).
pain with the quest for redemption and perfection. It is the picture William
Blake images on the
introductory poem to The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, where "the just man rages in the wilds/Where lions roam."
As Percy Shelley pictures in Prometheus Unbound, it was an age of despair, tyranny and rebellion where the ancient
figure of Prometheus becomes "unbound"; whereas Aeschylus' Prometheus remains "bound" forever as punishment
for stealing fire from the gods and for giving fire to mankind. From Plato's time, Prometheus always symbolized
rebellion, but in Romanticism Prometheus is the good guy and Jupiter is the bad guy. Prometheus, in Christ-like
fashion, redeems himself by loving his enemy, thereby becoming a modern hero of Romanticism.
The major symbol for gothicism remains the gothic cathedral, with its flying buttresses symbolizing man's aspiration
from earth to the divine, remaining a reminder of man's precarious position, caught between heaven and hell. The
gothic cathedral became the embodiment of the dualism between the transcendental and the descendental. Its very
stones are rooted in
the earth. In the eighteenth century, an obsession existed with ruins, like
Abbey, and with
the decadence of the
past. As an emotional phenomenon, gothicism gave birth to stories of lust,
gargoyles and the
macabre. M. G. Lewis' Ambrosio in The Monk has caused many a reader to lose sleep. Gothicism presented the
duality of order vs. chaos, a more in-depth study of the enemy within, of the psychology of earthly death. The works
of Edgar Allen Poe attest to obsessions with tombs and walled-up corpses. Gothicism, at its extreme, combines
narcophobia with necrophilia. Star Trek studies the gothic world of how man confronts mortality. It is a study
of homo dormans--the
world of man sleeping and dreaming in the dark night of the soul. Gothicism
Trek's ongoing study of man's unterlebensgeist,a term more preferable to Jung's unconscious because the new term
specifies the spirit beneath man's life that often eludes waking consciousness. The traditional gothic cathedral
symbolizes the unity of pagan and Christian elements. Figures of Christ, the apostles, and the saints adorn rock and
glass; however, gargoyles stare from the high abutments to ward off demons. Satanic figures freely adorn the walls,
like so many Cerberi, to show the deeply entangled relationship between transcendental heaven and descendental
hell--all with man in the middle, uncertain of the ultimate truths of his own Christianity. Gothicism proves what Milton
explained in Paradise,i.e., the inseparability of God, man, and the Devil. The gothic cathedral symbolizes the
presence of superstition, of la mystère, in the continuing evolution of Hebraic man. The unter lingers by the uber in
western civilization. Our unwillingness to accept this marriage is at the root of civilized man's paranoia and anxiety.
Like with the artist Hieronymous Bosch, Star Trek continues the obsession with the grotesque, the unity of
heterogeneous elements on one living canvas.
A writer of the eighteenth century gothic romances, Mrs. Ann Radcliffe, studied
the concept of terror in pre-
Romantic literature. Star Trek will study terror and the supernaturel expliqué Every unknown in terror is shown to
a rational and
logical basis in fact. Horror, on the other hand, presents the supernatural evil
with no basis in
reason. In M. G. Lewis' The Monk (1891), Satan is present and acutely described. Edmund Burke, in his
Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1756), defined terror
as the causal basis of the sublime. For example, fear of damnation can bring one closer to heaven. One must
remember the extreme popularity of gothic literature from Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto (1764),
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Byron's Manfred, to Victorian gothicism in Tennyson ("Mariana"), in Dickens
(Oliver Twist), to the twentieth century's heavy interest in terror, in violence, in horror. Gothicism continues to
attract, so its explicit presence in five Trek episodes as the unifying motif is not surprising. Gene Roddenberry
continues to study the role of superstition, of ruins, of castles, of skeletons, of death and darkness. It is,
after all, only human. Star Trek studies modern man's inability to comprehend the shadow of the mind.
The so-called gothic "trappings" are quickly recognizable. There are mountain cliffs, storms, graveyards,
hauntings, spectres, cathedrals, mad monks, rusty hinges and, of course, witches and fog. Above all, the
gothic episodes are Roddenberry's study of the todensdantz, the dance of death. The life of homo incognitans
now continues in depth.
"Catspaw" is Robert Bloch and Dorothy Fontana's paean to Halloween and is best
known as the first episode of
the second season and as Chekov's debut. It is a flagrant study of trick or treat, of mumbo-jumbo. Halloween is what the
ancient Celts called All Hallow's Eve, preceding All Saints' Day in the ancient Catholic liturgy. The planet, Pyris VII,
a name based on the Greek root meaning fire, is a "dark, forbidding planet….a chunk of granite hurled into space…
no lightness anywhere about its surface," according to the producer's notes in the RFD of April 27, 1967. Darkness
is both a literal state of place and a state of mind that study dramatically the nature of what is and what is not real. On the
face of crewman Jackson, there is "no evidence of life," "no breath”; he should not be dead, but he is. In the teaser,
Spock indicates, "Our sensors indicate no life forms except our landing party." McCoy, baffled, says, “the man is
dead.” As Korob’s voice threatens, from Jackson's senseless mouth, the "curse" of death. The surface of Pyris VII in
Act I is reminiscent of Shakespeare's Macbeth, a "twilight world” where civilized man relies on scientific aid “rather
than mere manpower."
The Trekkers seek a logical cause for the death. The fog exists, yet Spock correctly indicates that the correct
conditions for fog do not exist. Fog has been used traditionally in western literature to indicate an unnatural state
that is neither air nor water, but both. It symbolizes intellectual lack of clarity, and suspension between two alternate
states of mind and space. Just what is real? Chekov, hovering over the instrument panel, shows the limits of
technology to detect and to explain reality: "As far as the instruments can make out there's nothing else down there
that's alive." Yet, soon the Captain, Spock, and McCoy will see the castle, Korab, and Sylvia. And
Jackson is very
dead. Death is no myth. In this teleplay by Robert Bloch
and Dorothy Fontana,
man studies the physical and metaphysical limits of ocularity and the senses,
gothicism's acute sense of painful doubt. The skepticism of Bishop Berkeley's esse est percipi (things are only as they
are perceived) rules the day. Just what is real? One man's image is not another's reality, as Laurence Sterne
satirized in Tristram Shandy.
Ironically, Macbeth put much credence in the prophecies of the three witches. The Trekkers do not do so until the
wind does rise, the fog does descend, and death is present. Spock notes, "What we have just seen is not real," but
reality is rejected in the direction of the castle. In a segment deleted from the RFD, Kirk states, "Curious, Bones, but
we already know they weren't real. The question is, "what is real?" This quote is the key to “Catspaw’s” gothicism.
When perceived fleshy and palpably, a strong wind is no illusion. But can the five senses be trusted? The reality of the
imagination supersedes the reality of the machine. Man is left naked to define the causal reality of a given situation.
DeSalle says, "Nobody just disappears." That is not true. Later, Kirk says, "You can't think a man to death." That is
not true. Welcome to the world of magic! Halloween exists. When the Enterprise is surrounded by a force field,
DeSalle hardens and
begins to adjust to the unknown in a primitive but realistic way. i,e ., "All right….but it's
and it's real." If it's real, it can be affected. Kirk, McCoy, and Spock find themselves in fetters and shackled with a skeleton
for company in a medieval cellar. Spock, rather unaffected and diffident, notes, "These things do exist. They are ... real."
Kirk quickly sees the world of Tam O'Shanter and the headless horseman, and sees a "human nightmare.”
As events with Korab and Sylvia evolve, Kirk and Spock vocalize, with no great subtlety, on the gothicism of
"Catspaw" as a study "in terror based on man's human instincts from the collective unconscious; "as if someone knew
what it was that terrifies man most on an instinctive level." As the narrator in Tennyson's "Locksley Hall" notes, "All
things here are out of joint." As Sylvia inflicts more and more damage, the play's gothicism is analyzed:
Spock: Jim, all these things that we have seen ….to an earthman
like yourself, they must seem quite familiar.
Kirk: Yes. Not rational.
Spock: Precisely. I refer you to the psychological theory of the
racial subconscious. The universal myths, symbols ...and castles.
And dungeons. And black cats… they all belong to the twilight
world of consciousness.
Kirk: They tried to tap our conscious mind.
Spock: And they missed. They reached basically only the subconscious.
Sylvia and Korab have an Achilles' heel in missing the reality of reason. They have inverted subconsciousness and
antagonists deal with altered and divided concepts of reality. The character
growth in this
episode lies in the anagnorises of these altered states. Sylvia and Korab discover consciousness at the price of their
lives. The Trekkers discover subconsciousness, thus building upon an incomplete or submerged knowledge of reality.
Both antagonists confront altered states of consciousness.
Consciousness, as explained earlier, is an extension of the Romantic poets' concern with identity. The episode is a
study in the problem of who and what, a study of reality vs. illusion. Sulu and Scotty are rendered either “mindless”
by Korab or they are "controlled.” In either case, they appear "inhuman" to Kirk as his crew behaves like zombies.
Control and power are aspects of gothicism's concern with terror and the sublime. One definition of a human being is
his ability to control himself and his environment. Korab and Sylvia view their identities in terms of their ability to
control the minds and bodies of other "creatures"--a term used to label the Trekkers. While Kirk sees Sulu and
as "mindless," Korab calls them “not mindless...these two are merely...controlled." Who is who becomes a game of
pain and control:
Korab: We know who you are. All of you. Don’t we, my precious?
Kirk: Who are you? Why did you bring us here? Why all the mumbo
Korab: Mumbo jumbo? Oh, oh no. I assure you it is not that, Captain.
Sylvia's perceptivity is less benign than Korab's, because "it is a simple matter for us to probe the minds of creatures
like yourself..” Spock, seeing the cat (Sylvia) , notes, "Earth legends about wizards and their ‘familiars'... demons in
animal form sent by Satan to serve the wizard." The question of "who are you?" is an adamant identity quest for both
worlds of antagonists. Spock is the pleasant, doubting Thomas whose skepticism leaves him as an intermediary figure
between reason and imagination:
Korab: You are the different one, Mr. Spock. You do not think like the
others; there are no colors to your patterns of logic. There
is only black and white. You see all this around you, and
yet you do not believe.
McCoy: He doesn't know about trick or treat.
Ironically, Spock's ears, as McCoy points out, make him a "natural" for trick or treat. As the episode "The Omega
Glory" implies, Spock's ears make him resemble many visions of Satan in human mythologies. Hardly an anti-Christ,
Spock presents a pleasant parody on the Satanic elements of the horror-gothic school. Dorothy Fontana and Robert
Block are careful to imbue terror with humor. Here Spock's ears present some comic relief, at Spock’s expense, of
course. This episode is best known for Spock's droll line, "Captain, a bit more alacrity if you please:" Although there
is terror present, terror can become foolish if it goes unrelieved by comedy. The presence of the inebriated
gatekeeper/porter in Macbeth affords comic relief from the bloody scenario of the play. "Catspaw" is fine drama, not
terribly un-Shakespearean, a bit corny and comical, however.
Korob and Sylvia begin as colleagues and end as opposite symbols of one alien culture. Korab feels guilt and true
remorse for Sylvia's wicked cat-and- mouse games (painful and deadly) with the Trekkers. His defense of the
Trekkers against Sylvia's predators is admirable, and his death at Sylvia's claws is tragic and morally noble. Korab's
identity shames him as he finds the human beings increasingly admirable. Korab also adapts his alien form and
thinking very well; whereas, Sylvia becomes drunken and “irrational" in her newly human female form, which
conflicts with her alien substance--a plight experienced by the Andromedans in "By Any Other Name." It is not the
first time in Star Trek that humanity, with its animal senses, has been an object of curiosity or of envy by alien life
forms that are free of corporeal substance. Sylvia is a moral lesson in sensual excessiveness, an interesting corollary to
the devil's proverb, "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom" (Wm. Blake, MHH).Whereas Korab grows
wiser, Sylvia runs amok. As the black cat at the opening of Act I, sitting in Korab's lap, Sylvia appears as nothing less
than Korab's colleague whose mewings are friendly reminders. All seems peaceful enough as the two aliens act as
one team. Their purpose is larger than their individualities. However, as aliens unaccustomed to senses and sensory
forms (as man knows it), there exists little sense of individual ego or separate identity. Human sensory form alters the
inherent sense of alien substance and essence. Whereas Korab remains undaunted to any great extent by his human
form, he is astounded by Sylvia's psychical machinations. Also, from a Jungian standpoint, Sylvia acts and behaves
like Korab's anima would. He, in turn, is Sylvia's animus--benign but firm. A sexual-psychical role reversal takes
place as Korab loses power and Sylvia gains power and the dominant role as she becomes obsessed with her form
as human female, but with masculine proclivities and propensities. Korab reasserts his supremacy in his attempted
freeing of Kirk and Spock, but is killed by his own kind. Thus, the acquiescence to or loss of identity is a key to the
roles played by Korab and Sylvia. In their own way, the aliens seem more human, less alien, to the audience. At the
beginning of Act IV, Sylvia begins her Brobdignaggian cat scenario. Korab forbids Kirk and Spock to act, stating
"No! She is one of my kind! It is my problem.” The use of “it,” if deliberate, is self-explanatory. But it is important
for Korab's reality that he remember through form to essence, that he see, through his own sensations, that he and
Sylvia are of one kind, not two in identity, despite Sylvia's menacing predations and bloodlust. Sylvia has created a
house divided against itself, a conflict between the two same realities. The gothicism is not merely in the cat (also used
in "Assignment: Earth"); it is in the dualism created by the fragmentation of one reality now drawn against itself. The
form and substance, what the philosopher Kant called the noumenal and phenomenal worlds, are no longer one. Sylvia
has turned into the ghost of incipient horror because she is sadistic, living by inflicting pain on the crew of the
Enterprise. She has no compassion, no love, only twisted hatred of herself as much as of others.
Sylvia is the Egyptian goddess Isis, one of whose earthly manifestations/symbols has always been the black cat. A
black cat has caused more than one Irishman to rue the day one such a quadruped crossed his path. As many myths
surround black cats as do Friday the thirteenth and broken mirrors. Mythologizers speak of the devil as darkness,
darkness as evil, black as a lack of color, not a color at all--except as an illusion. It is the opposite of white; it is
what T. S. Eliot refers to as the shadow that precedes a man in the morning and follows behind him as the day ebbs.
In most western cultures (European), black
is absolute evil, the color of night, the color of death, the color of tombs and graves. This point of view is not shared,
however, by most Eastern and African cultures. In Star Trek episodes, Roddenberry normally calls for greater
subtlety in delineating the metaphysics underlying the play. Normally, a black cat would be a self-explanatory trapping
for Halloween. However, Kirk, responding to Spock's “fascinating” asks, "Why a cat?" Spock responds quizzically,
"Racial memories. The cat is the most ruthless, most terrifying of animals. Back as far as the saber tooth tiger." One
must remember that this is a legend/myth that spans the millennia as far back (at least) as Egypt. Sylvia has lost her
substance in her form, thereby denoting the ghost of the death of her lost substance/identity. Like a Tarot card, the cat
is a dual symbol. It is a symbol of cleanliness, diligence, and freedom; it is also a symbol of one who is calculating,
fierce and proud. In ancient heraldry, the cat meant courage, liberty and vigilance. See, for example, the British
monarch's coat-of-arms. In China, the cat is called (onomatopoetically) mao. Whereas, Christian cultures dwell on
the cat's laziness, bad luck and lust, in ancient Egypt the cat was called mau from ma, meaning mother, denoting light.
It is in Europe that the cat was a legend that sucked out the breath of children; the cat was later transformed into the
vampire. Medieval superstition believed that Satan and witches assumed the form of a black cat. A black cat with a
gold piece was a medieval witch remedy or Hecate herself.
Sylvia's witchery is an ironic commentary on the credibility of sensory perception as a sole basis for knowledge.
The key in Sylvia's gothicism is the duality that fleshly sensations impose on her self-concept. Is she an illusion?
Are others an illusion to her? The internal anxiety created by Sylvia's self-doubt creates the pseudo-Satanic behavior.
The episode implies that a little witchery
is possible given the nature and sexuality of the being involved. Korob, although frightened, explains Sylvia's behavior
without the help of mumbo jumbo and voodoo:
Korob: She is irrational. The strain of adopting your form…. an
insatiable desire for sensation and experience. She is a great
danger. And it was not necessary. We could have entered your
galaxy in peace; she means to destroy us all.
Sylvia, a Latin term for forest or woods, has a "sylvan" appearance as a woman, a semi-Satanic appearance as a
black cat with the medallion of Hecate or Isis. She is a Lamia figure, the Incubus of gothic mythology. John Keats, in
his poem "Lamia," based in part on the story in Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy (162l), describes the lamia
whom the young Menippus Lycius takes by the hand into his house, seeing a phantasm in the habit of a fair
gentlewoman in Corinth. It is only Apollonius the philosopher who sees her as the serpent, a lamia. All her form was
an illusion; as described by Homer, all her furniture was, like Tantalus' gold, of no substance, mere illusion. Keats
She was gordian shape of dazzling hue,
Vermillion-spotted, golden, green, and blue-
Eyed like a peacock, and all crimson barr'd
And full of silver moons, that, as she breathed,
Dissolved, or brighter shone, or interwreathed
Their lustres with the gloomier tapestries--
So rainbow-sided, touch’d with miseries,
She seemed, at once, some penanced lady elf,
Some demon's mistress, or the demon's self.
Upon her crest she ,wore a wannish fire..
Her head was serpent….
Her throat was serpent.
--(J. Keats, "Lamia" Part I: .47-64: 1819).
As Sylvia reveals her essence in the cat's form, Lamia reveals her duplicity in the serpent's form. In both cases, the
true Lamia is first seen as beauty. In his letter to Benjamin Bailey of November 22, 1817, John Keats studies the
Romantic imagination, comparing it to Adam's dream in Genesis: “The Imagination
may be compared to Adam's dream--he awoke and found it truth."
Keats continues by noting that imagination and its "empyreal reflection is the same as human life and its spiritual
repetition." And so it is with Sylvia's feline gothicism. Keats also says, "0 for a life of Sensations rather than of
Thoughts," a wish from Sylvia's unterlebensgeist that now reflects human life. In taking new form, in bypassing the
human consciousness and in going to the human subconscious, Sylvia sees no difference between the noumenal
and the phenomenal worlds. The peacock becomes the serpent as the woman becomes the witch, the cat.
Sylvia comes from a world without sensation, a world without form beyond pipecleaner dimensions. She has no
sense of human senses, especially of the role of a sexually aroused human female, a cat with fangs, a giver of pain and
pleasure (cf., "Spock's Brain"). The mewing becomes a roar of lust. She cannot control the senses--too much, too
soon. The Blakean dialectic is tearing her apart and the Trekkers are in mortal danger from a creature of the ID, the
gothic Incubus in all her Medusan hideousness. The questions of superstition, of magic, are gone; the facts of blood,
pain and death coalesce in the black cat, as Korab and the Trekkers must now deal with a creature once unseen,
now seen and experienced. What Sylvia viewed as flaws in mankind are now flaws in herself/itself. "Catspaw" is an
example of terror, less of horror. As with the novels of Mrs. Radcliffe's gothicism, it is the supernaturel expliqué.
NBC, the old network, was very wary of the use of the occult in “Catspaw" and the censor, as Robert H. Justman
explains, demanded that the occult avoid Satanism (Interview: June 1982). Hence there is a deliberate vacillatory
quality. The aliens must have their existence explained by a mechanical device, the transmuter. Sylvia's gothicism is
only opaquely Satanic as explained in terms of two concepts: sensations and control. Even telepathy
is glanced over:
Sylvia: You like to think of yourselves as complex creatures •••
but you are flawed. One gains admittance to your minds
through many levels; you have too many to keep track of your-
selves...there are unguarded entrances to any human mind.
Sylvia: Not entirely, no. Telepathy does not imply control. And I
assure you I have full control of your friends.
Voodoo is downgraded to "sympathetic magic" as the supernatural takes on less occult terminology. Sylvia's
demonology is verbally downgraded to a problem of the confusion of the senses. At times, the episode's dialogue
belies, to some degree, that it is more visually and dramatically evident in the play, thus creating a tensional duality and
an ambiguity. Sylvia's irrationality is an obsession with her body, her senses:
Sylvia: To feel, to touch,to understand the idea of luxury, I like
it, and I don't intend to leave it.
Korob: We have a duty to the Old Ones.
Sylvia: What do they know of sensations?! This is a new world:
Korob: And you are cruel. We torture our specimens.
Sylvia: That, too, is a sensation. I find it stimulating.
In opting for a life of sensation, Sylvia omits thought, and her gothic witchery dwells on the Marquis De Sade. Pain
and blood are interiorized into an orgasmic, maniachal egoism. Her break with her colleague Korab is like a dialogue
of the mind with its altered spirit. Korab speaks of duty; Sylvia speaks of masochism and sadism. Korab's amina is in
control of nothing; Korab is in control of himself, but not of his colleague. The dialogue between Korab and Sylvia
resembles that between gothicism and reason. Sylvia is a travesty of literary gothicism, except in its Faustian form.
The woman, now liberated, cannot find peace within or without. In an agony and an ecstasy, Sylvia lives by her “own
decisions" and Korab is called a “weak fool” who has the power, but who is "afraid to use it.”
The game of power heightens in the argument between Korab and Sylvia, but reaches a more descendental and
human level in the catspaw game of power with Captain Kirk, as Kirk plays and taunts Sylvia for not being a woman:
"A woman should have compassion." Sylvia equates femininity with power. Kirk cuddles up to Lamia, playing the
game of reality and appearances:
Sylvia: I come from a world without sensation as you....and as I now
know it. It excites me.
Kirk: You seem to need us. Why?
Sylvia: Because you have knowledge which I lack. But were our abilities
put together….Tell me about power, captain. How does it
Sylvia is aroused, but she does not know why. She seeks the "joining," but knows nothing of love or of the creative
union of opposites denoted by pre-Romantic gothicism. Here terror never breeds the sublime, as Burke envisioned
gothic terror. The movement is downward, not upward, as symbolized in the spires of the gothic cathedral. Kirk now
jousts the white knight against the black queen. Hecate is in the most ancient of gambits:
Kirk: You're a very beautiful woman.
Sylvia: You find me beautiful. But I can be many women.
You like what you see, or do you prefer me as I was ... ?
Kirk: You have a knack for giving me difficult choices.
In the midst of Sylvia's solipsisms and attempted seduction, a mild sympathetic element enters while viewing Sylvia's
wild transformations from brunette to blond in different outfits. For a moment, the viewer may overlook Sylvia's
beauty as a metamorph, to be whatever form of woman Kirk may fancy. The presence of the beauty of light is
adumbrated by the beauty of night and evil. Sylvia had "never conceived of the idea of togetherness before. It excites
Kirk soon witnesses a desperation, a frightening terror in Sylvia's actions. The key to Sylvia's naked need and
utter helplessness lies in the existence and in the function of the transmuter:
Kirk: Your people….when they come here ...
Sylvia: They would be like feathers in the wind without the
Kirk: The transmuter (nibbling Sylvia's ear)
Sylvia: The source. You will learn....I will teach you later, later.
As Kirk feigns attraction in caressing Sylvia, he seeks Sylvia's weakness, her flaw, in order to destroy her and to
protect his crew and the galaxy from the world of “We three meet again." Sylvia's very existence is based on a
vacuity of character creativity. She and Korab are not created and controlled by their own wills and willed
circumstances. The transmuter is "a device [that] gives only form." Sylvia is a ghost, a cosmic shadow. She is not fully
real in the human sense. Like the gothic Incubus, she sucks the very being out of her specimens in order to give herself
"substance,” and she temporarily sees Kirk's embrace as teaching her substance. The newly-found world of
substance has changed Sylvia's mind about her duty to the Old Ones, and she has no intention of returning to her
home: "This is my home….with you. A billion worlds of sensation... we can pick and choose." Just as Sylvia uses
others, Kirk uses her:
Sylvia: You are using me! You hold me in your arms, and there is no
fire in your mind ! [Hecate clutches her medallion]. It is here...
like words on a page! You deceive me! You are using me!
Kirk: And why not? You've been using me and my crew!
Sylvia: Come! Come! You will be swept away….you, your crew, your
ship, your worlds!
Meanwhile, Korab can no longer control so many Trekkers and a ship. Sylvia is absolutely enraged. It is a true
contest of wills among realities whose forms are quickly reflecting their inner spiritual realities. Passions are in play,
fighting for survival. The character of Hecate in her para-Satanic form as the bejeweled black cat assumes
Brobdingnagian size and roams the gothic castle vampirishly. The Trekkers resort to reason to destroy Sylvia's evil
quest for the instability of imbalanced intuition. She never knew her specimens correctly from the beginning. Just as
Korab dies heroically in saving the Trekkers, he reveals that the transmuter is the source of his reality. Sylvia becomes
fratricidal and genocidal.
The arena now becomes Kirk vs. Hecate, with the transmuter (vaguely phallic) as the literal and symbolic object
of this struggle for cosmic survival. Sylvia is nothing without the transmuter to give her form, hence control and power.
It becomes clear that Sylvia's control was always illusory, and that the aliens depend totally on a mechanical device
(not unlike the mirror in "The Squire of Gothos"). Their very existence is a mechanical and a technological
phenomenon. The relationship between the aliens and the Trekkers on Pyris VII was never a symbiotic one, but a
one-sided parasitical relationship with the aliens as the totally dependent phenomena. As Kirk says, "You seem to
need us.” The why behind the need becomes clear in the conflict. Kirk taunts the cat: "I have the transmuter, Sylvia.
It's mine, now.’ Sylvia, the lamia, reassumes female form and vies for the magic wand of modern mechanization. The
sense of the occult begins to dissolve as it becomes clear, through Kirk, that Sylvia's “people have nothing of [their]
own," and must be taught, must always take and never give. Her identity becomes a question of a what, not a who.
Gothicism is a fringe, sometimes extreme, application of the Romantic imagination where perspective is lost as one
faculty becomes in extremis, thereby destroying the creative balance between opposites. The results are gothic ruins
and gothic desolation:
Sylvia: You fool! Don't you know what you're giving up? Everything
that your species finds desirable. Look at me! I am women!
I am all women.
Kirk: I don't know what you are, but you're not a woman. You tortured
my men and took their minds from them. You ask for love and you
return pain instead.
No equity exists between pleasure and pain. It has no compassion, no sense of the passions of others, except as
pawns in an arena of pain.
A loss of credibility transpires as the fourth, and final, act of the play reaches its resolution. The game results in
Kirk's smashing of the transmuter and the resulting return of Korab and Sylvia to miniscule pipe-cleaner creatures
that die in the absence of their artificial life source. The Robert Bloch and D.C. Fontana
teleplay of the occult dwindles into rationally explainable, mundane magic and mechanics. The power source of the
transmuter was the mind, according to Sylvia, yet Kirk, seeing the real Korab and Sylvia, says, "Their forms were an
illusion, just like the castle and everything else. Only the power-pack gave them reality." The ending deals with
paradox and seems uncertain how to explain away Korab and Sylvia.
Finally, "Catspaw,” although unsatisfactory in consistency and thesis (premise) is a slap on the back for Sylvia's
realization that man, as is, is an object of desire and envy by seemingly superior aliens of other worlds.
There are ghosts among men. In a sense, Roddenberry is saying that we have something they do not have. Yes, we
do! Sylvia's screen lines read: "We need your dreams, your ambition. With them I can build." The writer prefers the
original RFD wording of April 27, 1967, where Sylvia is consistent to the gothicism of the Bloch story: "We need
your dreams, your imagination.” Gothicism' s keystone, as a Romantic motif, is the presence or absence, use or
abuse, of the imagination. “Ambition” is a poor substitute for imagination because Sylvia already has ambition. She
lacks imagination and its constructive applications before her life form even begins to equal mankind's own mutable
"The Corbomite Maneuver”
The most popular gothic novelist in the late eighteenth century remains Mrs. Ann Radcliffe. She is still recognized
as the queen of the gothic romance, of the mystery novel. A contemporary called her "the Shakespeare of Romantic
writers." In one such work, The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), Ann Radcliffe sets the philosophical milieu of a play
like "The Corbomite Maneuver":
She [Emily] sat down, near one of the casements, and, as she gazed on
the mountain view beyond, the deep repose of its beauty struck her
with all the force of contrast ... a scene of savage discord. The conten-
ding elements seemed to have retired from their natural spheres, and
to have collected themselves into the minds of men, for there alone
the tempest now reigned.
Gothicism has the duality of nature and of the human being at its aesthetic core. Man stands between life and death.
The heroine, Emily, reacts both physically and emotionally to the "force of contrast" where "contending elements" vie
for the soul of man. "The Corbomite Maneuver" (by Jerry Sohl) is an intense study in the psychosomatics of terror, a
gothic theme. The very image of Balok is gothic in intention and in effect. Balok plays mind-games, head games that
generate sheer terror in the "minds of men." It is William Blake who says, "Mental things are alone real." This episode
presents the mentality of reality, a mystery drama of mortality. In the quest for identity and for identification,
that things are not always what they seem to be. In David Hume fashion,
expressed concerning the validity of the senses as a source of truth. The episode tells of the preconceptions drawn by
fancy stemming from invisibilia, from the world of Kant's noumena. There is no “alien” in the sense of a negative, phe-
nomenal reality. As in Franz Kafka's story, “The Great Wall of China," ignorance and superstition, enforced by
centuries of ideology, create the alien. In "Catspaw," the black cat existed. As a Mr. Hyde, Balok does not exist.
Corbomite too does not exist, but mental terror does. “The Corbomite Maneuver" is more condensed, more intense
dramatically than “Catspaw," in that there are fewer persons and fewer events to scatter the viewer's attention. There
distractions and only one problem to solve. It is a tight episode with careful analysis of unknown factors facing the
Also, "The Corbomite Maneuver" is a comedic in its dramatic form. Its ending is bathos and a tour de force. The
ending is the happy-ever-after ending of the fairy tale, despite the grimness that weaves its way through most fairy
tales. The episode is a game, a hoax, a bluff, using what does not exist to affect and to effect what does exist. In this
episode, Roddenberry takes Jerry Sohl's story to show that the alien, although unknown, is not necessarily dangerous;
Balok is not an enemy-alien. The strange and grotesque need not be a threat. Here alien comes to mean friend,
knowledge and comradery of good cheer. In Martin Buber's terms, the "it" (or "they") is transformed into "thou" and
"I," a mutually beneficial, symbiotic relationship. The episode is a primitive, early Trek of the early first season--very
basic and a very simple sequel to the Star Trek philosophy of "Where No Man Has Gone Before." It is an
exemplification of the need-to know motif. The theme is the unknown. As Kirk notes in the second act, "The
mission of the Enterprise is to seek out and contact alien life." The final meeting with Balok shows Ann Radcliff's
concern that every single mystery be ultimately explicable as natural and rational, not supernatural phenomena. One
experiences the exhilaration of terror without being the victim of irrationality. Everything remains a creature of the
eighteenth century, the age of reason, with a greater pre-Romantic emphasis on sensibility--all gifts of philosophers
like Hume, Locke, Kant, and Berkeley. The disguise of the ghosts of supernaturalism remains thin and ultimately
reasonable. Although space is the twentieth century gothic cathedral, it presents the traditional dualism of the known
and the unknown, with Balok as Star Trek's first unknown alien/gargoyle. The future will continue the experiences of
past and present by presenting us with new symbols (old symbols too) with old and traditional meanings, with space as
the final frontier.
Maneuver,” like the traditional gothic romance, presents as its theme the
la mystère, with terror induced by the fear of the unknown. It is Kirk, in Act IV, who astonishes Mr.
Bailey: "The face of the unknown. I think I owe you a look at it." Lastly, this episode is a gothic study of
der totentanz, the dance of death.
In the Second Revised Final Draft (SRFD) of May 20, 1966, the author Sohl begins Act I with a quote
from Samuel Johnson, a man considered by many critics to be the dominant non-fiction writer of the eighteenth
century. It reads: “Whereso'er I turn my view,/All is strange, yet nothing new .” The strong literary basis of
Star Trek continues. Sohl read Johnson and cares enough about the reader's intelligence to give a quotation,
an epithet, as a key to the episode's theme--a point stated earlier. The concern is the unknown that was
always the known, strange but not new. This is true of the cube, of the Fesarius, and of the alien Balok.
Star Trek is literature; it is drama written and teleplayed by intelligent, well-read individuals. Star Trek deals
with traditional, universal, and timeless themes about man. The use of the Johnsonian quote clearly puts the
author's thinking in the last half of the British eighteenth century. However, the Johnsonian reference is
already evident in an analysis of the text itself, which deals with intuition and reason as dialectical approaches
to human nature.
The curtain rises. In the teaser, the boring routine of mapping unexplored space plods on. Mr. Bailey is
the new face in a new job as navigator (pre-Chekov) of the Enterprise. The captain is conspicuously absent
from the bridge, as Spock answers Bailey's question: "Negative, lieutenant. We're the first to reach this far.”
The routine is broken by "contact with an object .” This object is , however, on a collision course. The story
of induced terror/tension begins. Enter: the cube: Bailey is aghast, all nerves, while Sulu is surprised, but efficient.
Bailey's inexperience begins to show--first fright, later terror, then loss of self-control.
Act I establishes
the episode's first critical look at gothicism's dialectic with interest in
state, his fall. It analyzes gothicism's concept of sensations--the human body, its somatic self, individually
and collectively. Indeed, the episode should be subtitled the adrenal gland. It is all about man as glands and
hormones. The primary somatic symptom of terror is sweat, the same symptom used so effectively in
"The Naked Time." There is a constant visual play on the strengths and weaknesses of man's mortality.
With well-timed humor, the weakest mortal is Bailey whose nervous self-consciousness lends humor to terror:
Bailey: Raising my voice bask there doesn't mean I was scared or
couldn't do my job. It means I happen to have a human thing
called an adrenal gland.
Spock: Sounds most inconvenient, however. Have you considered having it removed?
Bailey: Very funny.
Spock's line is riotous and brings comic relief to Bailey, and the bridge crew smiles widely. Sulu, amused, warns
Bailey, "You try to cross brains with Spock, he'll cut you to pieces every time."
As the cube continues to block the forward movement of the Enterprise, Kirk is
in sickbay undergoing
the mandated routine physical exam. The camera pans Kirk's legs pumping away as McCoy takes notes.
The emphasis is on Kirk's body, shirt off, and sweating. Sensors indicate the various responses of Kirk's
bodily functions, including respiration, blood pressure, heartbeat, temperature, etc., according to the
producer's notes in the SRFD of May 20, 1966. The examination occurs while the red alert light flashes
unknown to Kirk. Kirk is clearly winded. McCoy asks, "Winded?" Kirk quips, "you'd be the last one I'd tell."
The physical exam is no accident in terms of the episode's theme. Physical well-being will soon be tested by
the movement and the nature of the cube. Terror is the felt condition. Of all the Trekkers, Kirk shows the
least somatic reactions to terror. Indeed, this episode is almost unique as Kirk is almost inhumanly
stoical throughout the ordeal. What one sees is an idealized captain who is in perfect control of his adrenal gland. He
controls his adrenaline and complements it with intellect to be the captain. The physical exam symbolizes that he, too, is
human, but only in the presence of Bones. Balok does not succeed in making Kirk sweat. It is only a factor during the
routine physical. It is important that the only aspect of the physical shown deals with stamina--ganglia (cardio-
vascular) and glands. The episode is all about glands. Before Kirk arrives on the bridge, the viewer is exposed to
Kirk's naked torso top, his sweatshirt, and a towel. McCoy refuses to bring Kirk's attention to the red alert light,
much to Kirk's annoyance, and much to McCoy's delight:
Kirk: You could see the light from there, McCoy. Why didn't
you tell me?
McCoy: (humorously) Finally finished a physical on you, didn't
I? (to himself). What am I, a doctor, or a moon shuttle
conductor? If I jumped every time a light came on around here,
I'd end up talking to myself.
The episode is also unique in that Kirk chooses to change first before going to the bridge--all this during a red alert.
Spock sees no immediate danger from the cube. Apparently a sweaty captain would be improprietous on the bridge.
The appearance of Stoicism precludes the red alert. Kirk has Samuel Johnson's sense of eighteenth century sense of
propriety and decorum, factors indicative of Roddenberry's early establishment of the ideal captain. Control, always
control first, glands last. With one exceptional moment on the bridge, Kirk has no apparent adrenal gland. Bailey
serves as the counterpoint to this game of somatic terror. For Spock, adrenaline is an object of inconvenience; for
Kirk, it is anathema; for Bailey, it is hell.
As the Captain arrives on the bridge to consult with his department
heads, to assess the cube situation, one sees a worried crew somewhat relieved by the controlled and controlling
presence of Kirk, a busy and efficient Spock checking the cube with the ship's sensors. The crew is trying to find
technologically-based explanations for and about the cube, but it is a mystery, la mystère--the unknown. Even in the
first act, the episode's basic plot pattern has already emerged. Basic questions are raised about man, technology, and
the unknown. Does technology mitigate man's fear of death? Has technology helped man cope with death? As the
cube changes from a physical impediment to the ship's progress in space to a physical danger to man's mortal
well-being, the above questions become critical. As the cube begins to emit lethal radiation, death here is inferred as
imminent and pathological. Death is a physical, somatic point of teleological termination. It is the existential abyss.
Death is the ultimate unknown while being an irretrievable cessation of phenomenal life. As the cube approaches,
and as the radiation enters the lethal zone, the crew undergoes, as it does almost always in Star Trek, the "collision
course" with the unknown. A quest takes place for definition, for identity--a quest brought with doubt, anxiety, and,
slowly, with terror, as the cube and the Trekkers are in der totentanz. Technology provides facts, but man must
provide, if not the answers, at least the direction and the action. Navigation can report: "Distance from us, fifteen
hundred ninety-three meters." Helm can report: "Each of its edges measures one hundred seven meters. Mass, a
little under eleven hundred metric tons.” Science officer can report it "as solid , But its principal substance are
unknown to us." Communications can report, "Hailing frequencies still open...no message." The impotency
of technology is best stated, rather humanly, by Scotty as engineering can
report, "Motive power….Beats me what makes it go--How something like that can sense us coming, block us, move
when we move; it beats me!" Life sciences (McCoy) can report, "Same report." Although frightened and very much
out of order, Bailey's "Sir, are we going to just let it hold us here? We've got phaser weapons. I vote we blast it,"
Bailey's vote is curiously refreshing. His call for action shows he is an ambulatory adrenal gland, but it also shows
what Kirk knows will be necessary--action, whether defensive or offensive. Kirk eventually opts for both, but acts
with extreme caution and conservatism. Kirk has promoted Bailey to navigator, but the crew, McCoy most
vociferously, does not share Kirk's confidence in Bailey. If Bailey cannot control his adrenaline under duress, that
reflects upon Kirk's powers of command. Bailey is at least alive, but is put in his place abruptly by Kirk's
famous piece of pomposity: "I'll keep that in mind, Mr. Bailey, when this becomes a democracy.” Bailey sweats more
under Kirk's icy command.
Kirk follows "the book" of military tactics as a new and not fully-tested captain. He and Bailey have much in
common, starting with the newness of each man's position on the Enterprise. Kirk shares Spock's theory concerning
the alien buoy, as the type of action to be taken is discussed (somewhat democratically) among the department heads.
Kirk quietly, cautiously and methodically listens to their recommendations. The ship has stood motionless in front of
the cube for eighteen hours. Spock theorizes first, "a space buoy of some kind." His second theory is "f'lypaper ."
Using a pun, Kirk notes, "And you don't recommend sticking around." Spock's theory stems from the military manual
in that sticking around "would make us appear too weak." It would also show doubt and fear. Balok is testing the
human race and its purpose in seeking out
alien life. Balok, ironically, must know what he is putting the Trekkers through; however, even an alien of superior
intelligence may have his doubts because, to Balok, the Enterprise is an alien. All human beings are aliens. The idea of
"alien" runs both ways. Suspicion and the assumption of destruction are too frequently the causes behind hasty military
offensive action. The true culprit is ignorance of the unknown, ignorance that assumes all things alien are hostile.
Technological superiority becomes a crutch upon which intelligences, alien to themselves and to others, base
hasty and often destructive decisions. Gothicism is quite apparent in man's decision not to show his fallibility and his
weakness. He is weak, but he is terrified to show it. Hence, the "flypaper" decision prevails in the face of fuller
evidence. Kirk's mood remains aloof and cold as he reams
Bailey for being out of place:
Bailey: Bridge to phaser gun crews…
Kirk: Countermand. I'll select what kind of action, Mr. Bailey.
Bailey: I'm sorry, I thought you meant…
Kirk: Explaining, Mr. Bailey? I haven't requested an explanation.
Kirk's subsequent actions--in kind and in order--reflect the painstakingly precise order in which Roddenberry expects
fallen, mortal man to face the unknown. The episode is almost a textbook lesson in how to confront the unknown, the
alien who is temporarily strange, but not new or known.
The method used to differentiate illusion from reality is basically the scientific method. The first question pertains to
the immediate nature of the problem. In its first posture, the cube merely blocks the ship's path. Kirk opts for evasive
maneuvers to get around the cube, beginning with a "spiral course away from" the cube. Once the cube begins
emitting radiation, initial reaction is to hold position to check the cube's changing position. As the cube now moves
toward the Enterprise, the action becomes the game of attraction and repulsion. Movement is reversed from sub-light
to warp speed--still defensive postures. As radiation reaches and passes the tolerance level, Kirk waits until the very
last possible second before implementing phasers. The cube is destroyed at point-blank range. From Balok's point of
view, the action is still one of defense. The only reason for phaser action is the physical well-being and the physical
survival of the crew. Survival alone dictates violence. It is strictly a matter of biology and necessity, and destruction of
the cube. The risk of retaliation is secondary to the primary instinct of self-preservation. It is a decision rising from
common sense, but more primordially based in the unterlebensgeist. Existentially, no choice exists when the unknown
becomes offensive and overtly hostile, even though the motivation of the alien, (later known as Balok) is unknown. If
Balok is laughing or doubting, Kirk and the crew are sweating as Radcliffe's contending elements meet in Act
One of "The Corbomite Maneuver.”
In Act Two, man's fallability is studied further as more becomes known about the unknown. Ironically, the mystery
deepens and more terror is generated as more facts become known. Knowledge actually increases anxiety and
doubt. The terror augments man's sense of feebleness (unkraft). The second act involves the next logical step,
meeting the intelligence behind the cube incident. As Spock notes, the alien intelligence is probably both different and
superior to ours. The "contending elements" continue der totentanz. Kirk's decision to forge ahead is a matter of duty
and of curiosity. To not proceed goes against both logic and intuition. As the seriousness of the situation becomes
greater, a sense of humor is present in the repartee between Kirk and Spock:
Spock: And if you're asking the logical decision to make ...
Kirk: I'm not. The mission of the Enterprise is to seek
out and contact alien life.
Spock: Has it occurred to you there is a certain
inefficiency in constantly questioning me on things you've
already made up your mind about.
Kirk: But it gives me emotional security. Set course
ahead, Mr. Bailey.
Human fallability is
visible in Kirk's quest for absolute perfection in his crew's reaction time to
the unknown. He knows that
the next collision course will be a greater one. The program of drills or simulated attacks and evasion maneuvers is reminiscient
of “The Caine Mutiny." One way of confronting the unknown is to make the crew instinctively fast in executing split-second
maneuvers--all this with a very tired crew. Kirk has many qualities of Forester's brilliant, often merciless, Captain Hornblower,
a great hero to Gene Roddenberry and to all lovers of maritime romances. Hornblower coupled drill, drill, drill with reason while still
possessing the pre-Romantic quality of sensibility. Hornblower, too, did not like to lose. With the unknown, perhaps one must be
prepared for the worst, if that becomes necessary. Mercilessly, Kirk drills a tired crew to the point where two contending elements
surface within the Enterprise between Kirk and McCoy who calls Kirk's timing "lousy." Throughout the episode, McCoy, acting from
his job of chief medical officer and from panic, chides Kirk tactlessly for promoting Bailey too soon. Kirk has no emotional
response to McCoy's
early naggings, noting that, "I think he'll
(Bailey) cut it," while McCoy
chides Kirk personally: "How so sure?
Because you spotted something you liked in him, something familiar….like yourself some eighteen years ago." The tension increases:
McCoy What's next? They're not machines, Jim!
Kirk: No, they're not. After what they've been through
I've heard you say that 'man is superior to any mechanical device.'
McCoy: No, I never say that either.
Kirk is being partly
humorous, while stating a basic raison d'être in
all of Star Trek. Kirk, through the drills, wants a somewhat
unknown--his crew's reaction time and cohesiveness--to become a known to him. The bottom line is still survival in the face of an
alien intelligence. Spock's exercise rating is ninety-four percent. Kirk wants one-hundred percent. There is little question that McCoy
is being annoying, but Kirk maintains his control. Just before the Fesarius is encountered, more humor is injected, but with a serious
thematic intent. Janice Rand, the new captain's yeoman, enters Kirk's quarters with a tray of food. Food is used in this instance to keep
the viewer's attention on the physiology of terror. Using ironic language, Kirk chirps, "What the devil is this? Green leaves?" Janice
perfunctorily answers, "Dietary salad, sir. Doctor McCoy ordered your diet card changed." McCoy is a relentless tease: "Your weight
was up a couple of pounds. Remember?" Kirk is again, in private, confronted with his own body, its needs and shortcomings:
Kirk: Will you stop hovering over me, yeoman:
Janice: Well, I'll change it if you don't like it, sir.
Kirk: Bring some for the doctor, too.
McCoy: No, thank you. I never eat until the crew eats.
McCoy is serious
about the diet, but also Kirk's own subconscious insecurities about women and
the captaincy. While Kirk (via Spock)
is drilling the crew, McCoy is humorously drilling Kirk:
Kirk: When I find the headquarters genius who assigned me a female
McCoy: Don't you trust yourself?
Kirk: (with wit) I've already got a female to worry about--
her name's the Enterprise.
Again, the theme is
hormones and glands, with added gothic self-doubt and surpressed anxiety. The
episode reminds us that Kirk
Jonathan Swift, in Gulliver's Travels, satirizes man's mortality by using
drastic change in symbols of size, ex., Lilliputian vs.
Brobdingnagian. In gothicism, size can be used to generate terror. The character of Apollo made little impression on the Trekkers
until he attained Brobdingnagian stature. Vastness is impressive largely because it makes man conscious of his Lilliputian standing in
a vast universe. The absolutely Gargantuan Fesarius terrorizes the devil out of the crew, and phasers are put on standby readiness.
Man feels paranoid at a vessel whose dimensions go off the sensor scale, whose vastness is shocking and incomprehensible. Man feels
mortally threatened because he cannot control such a massive unknown. Der totentanz continues, this time with Ann Radcliffe's terror
very present and felt. Soon the terror becomes internalized in the crew's fancies. "A thousand meters away and it fills the screen,"
chokes Bailey who is awed and stunned almost to physical incapacity. This is gothic terror induced by the unknown. Kirk is undaunted;
Bailey sweats because man's senses are stimulated beyond capacity into the world of primordial terror. The Fesarius is not logical.
Man now sees the symptoms of the unknown, but he has yet to see Samuel Johnson's "All is strange, yet nothing new." To the
Trekkers, the Fesarius is a new and strange time in der totentanz. They imagine death. They do not know, nor would they believe it,
that Balok is testing them. Balok has presented the visage of mass indestructibility in an effort to understand the unknowns of the
Enterprise. It is a game of hide and seek, or show to seek, to know, to discover the truth of humanity.
The Roddenberry scenario for encountering the unknown is to make it new and strange, a gothic literary trapping, but to let man
seek to make it less strange, thus more rationally knowable--the supernaturel expliqué
of the Radcliffe
school of gothic romance. The collision course scenario calls for an open-minded
need to know, i.e., a desire to
communicate. Hence Uhura has only one line, repeated ad nauseam: "Hailing frequencies open." Communication is the key to
demilitarizing the situation and to mitigating the terror building within each crew member. It is significant that Balok (still unknown) first
communicates via Bailey over the ships navigation beam. Intuitively, Balok may already have sensed Bailey's importance as a
representative of mankind.
Der Totantanz continues breeding terror on an audio-visual scale, by
deliberately presenting limited sounds and symbols, while still
retaining the real audio-visual truth. Terror tends to force a true, inherent response that precludes any masks, ghosts, and false illusions
that an alien may perpetuate to hide its true self and true intentions. Terror distorts sham. Terror forces one's hand and one's
unterlebensgeist to the surface:
And everybody's restless
Everybody's looking for something, that just ain’t
Everybody’s scared—they think we’re all in danger…
--(Elton John and Bernie Taupin, "Restless," 1984).
Below the thunders of the upper deep,
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, inward sleep
The kraken sleeps.
There hath he lain for ages, and will be
Battering upon huge sea worms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deap!
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.
--(Alfred, Lord Tennyson, "The Kraken," 1830).
Balok's cube and
ship are followed by the voice on the intelligence behind both cube and ship.
It ,too, is a ghost. The Trekkers
are confronted now with the hobgoblins of the mind. Balok's is not Balok; the voice is not
Balok's; the voice is terrorizing (Ted Cassidy's voice) because it is a disembodied voice. Hence, the crew is taking a mental tour of a
haunted house, all trick, no treat. It is the ghostly voice of the abstracted "commander of the flagship Fesarius of the First Federation."
Bailey sweats some more. The commander forbids two-way communications. His hailing frequencies are closed, breeding more terror
in its hollow, baritone resonance. Kirk's order to dispatch the recorder marker to alert other ships to the danger is a serious military
move because it has
to be based on der totentanz, with a fear of imminent and inevitable
destruction, with a logical and realistic
assumption, based on evidence, of death. The destruction of the marker by Balok gives terror an air of despair. The crew is isolated
from all communication with its fleet and its fellow man. Isolation in duration breeds terror through helplessness and disorientation.
This is complicated by the alien shutting off the ship's systems, meaning loss of power and possible loss of life--support systems.
Spock is fascinated with Balok's technology, "Extremely sophisticated in their methods." While Spock is curious and Kirk is composed,
Balok terrorizes the crew with the ultimate unknown, death:
Balok's voice: You have been examined. Your ship must be
destroyed. We make assumption you have a deity or deities,
or some such beliefs which comfort you. We therefore grant
you ten Earth time periods known as minutes to make preparations.
The final screening
of "The Corbomite Maneuver" omits the line, "Your ending will be painless" from
the SRFD of May 20, 1966.
No words can describe the camera movement over the faces of the bridge crew. Balok's voice has "bottom-lined" the crew. Like a
judge without benefit of due process, Balok's voice has condemned the Enterprise to death, without any reason from the Trekkers'
point of view. They acted in self-defense. The lack of reason or purpose in Balok's judgment hardly bespeaks an advanced
civilization, a fact Kirk is aware of, but which is overlooked by a crew
faced with the death
sentence. The key to the sentence lies in Balok's judgment of the crew's
intention, based on limited evidence
and ignorance (feigned or otherwise) of the sincerity of the ship's scanned memory banks. Indeed, an alien's look into earth’s history
hardly denotes a culture based on reason. Although Balok may have uncertainties about his aliens, it is doubtful that he shares their
terror. Indeed, he must have some awareness that the crew is scared to death. Balok is more the cat than the mouse in the dance of
death. The "reason"
for Balok' s drastic pronouncement of death has peace vs. war as its key. Even
in this early episode,
Roddenberry's world of Star Trek defines a civilized society by the absence of war, the transcendence beyond war, the coordination of
human instincts with
reason, and by the abundant presence of peace. Civilized men do not kill (but
they do), and both Kirk and Balok
are aware that paths of destruction lead to the city of wisdom:
Balok's voice: Your vessel, obviously the product of a
primitive and savage civilization, having ignored a
warning buoy, and having then destroyed it, has
demonstrated your intention is not peaceful.
One is reminded of
the observation of the Metron in "Arena" who tells Kirk, "You are still
half-savage," but he expressed hope for
mankind a few thousand years hence. A civilization attempting to emerge from its barbaric past is still suspect by Balok , "Not peaceful"
in "intention" is the key to understanding what the unknown is to Ba1ok. Can aliens, primitive by his standards, be peaceful?
Balok wants truth by
the test of the dance of death. He awaits truthful and credible physical
evidence--a positive deed, a peaceful
act. The ten minutes to death are also ten minutes to live, to think, and to act positively. Kirk knows this, but he does not know if it
is a bluff. This ten minute countdown is der totentanz. It provides
brilliant plot suspense with the terror of annihilation without reason, without communication, without power, just pure Hebraic faith and
internalized anger. Sulu bites his lips. Bailey wets his lips, on the brink of pure irrationality.
The second act's climax is Balok's judgment, and the rest of the episode is a
methodical countdown to death, as Sulu counts the
minutes and seconds, as Balok reminds them of the passing of minutes that seem like an eternity.
Kirk's assurances to the commander of the Fesarius that "We come seeking
friendship, but have no wish to trespass" fall on deaf
ears as Balok forbids the Enterprise to return the way it came. Oddly enough, by this time, a superior intelligence like Balok, must
know the potential answers to his question regarding peaceful intention. His test, his game, is to make man live up to his best by
forcing the issue from the realm of words to the arena of the dead. In the midst of this terrifying dance of death, Kirk becomes
Roddenberry's spokesman for clarifying the issues and for confronting the "collision course" of "contending elements."
The monologue forms a constitution for the republic of Star Trek. Some points are "the greatest danger facing us is ourselves. An
irrational fear of the unknown." In a line, borrowed from F.D. Roosevelt, all one has to fear is fear itself. The individual's greatest
enemy is himself and the unknown parallel aspects of an enemy within. Kirk's first point is correct, in theory. The episode's theme is
mystère and la bête
noire. As noted earlier, Ann Radcliffe's heroine, Emily, states the gothic
terror of violent contrasts,
and she says what happens aboard the Enterprise and in the hearts and viscera of thinking mankind. She sees the scene of "savage
discord" and the "contending elements" that have left their "natural spheres"
to become present in the minds of men. It is there "alive the tempest now reigned." It is in the crew's minds where the tempest
contending elements have lost their naturalness, submerging themselves in
anarchic subjectivity. This is the unknown,
and it is terror! Kirk, like Ann Radcliffe, believes that all experience has a reason, that there is no such thing as an accident: "But
there is no such thing as the unknown, only things temporarily hidden, temporarily not understood." This conclusion of no unknowns
is a fundamental tenet of gothicism of the age of reason. Kirk's extreme stoicism throughout the countdown to death indicates both
control and a knowledge that Balok will reveal himself and his true intentions in time. Kirk's thesis is to control irrational
fears based on man's fallibility. The Gargantuan Fesarius indicates extreme intelligence. Roddenberry posits this gothic Balok on
an ideal assumption of limited validity, that an intelligence of a high order will behave intelligently towards aliens. But Balok's
behavior and appearance so far belie this precept:
Kirk: Intelligence capable of a civilization is capable of
understanding peaceful gestures. Certainly a life form
advanced enough for space travel is advanced enough to
eventually understand our motives.
One must assume Kirk feels the same way about the Klingons, but with the Klingons there is a rational fear of the known. As yet,
Balok may not kill,
as did Sylvia. Mrs. Radcliffe expresses Kirk's feelings: "I have endeavored to
teach you the duty of self-command;
all excess is vicious; let reason therefore restrain."(The Mysteries of Udolpho). But irrational fear of the unknown exists, and Bailey
sweats: "Are you all out of your heads? End of watch? It's the end of everything!" Bailey's apocalyptical fear is a majority fear shared
by most of the crew:
"What are you, robots? Wound up toy soldiers? Don't you know when you're dying?" Bailey pours out into blind fear and Kirk relieves
him from duty. Bailey has gone amok in der totantanz. The ultimate fear is the fear of dying without even knowing by whom, by what,
and for what reason. Countdown to death is "seven minutes" as Act Two concludes.
Der totentanz moves toward resolution, but not without sweat and tears. The symbolism of Kirk's body and food means a battle
between Kirk and McCoy over Kirk's relieving Bailey. The doctor's negative myopia borders on egoism as he loses the perspective
of the larger landscape of the dance of death. McCoy has always been a rather visceral character throughout Star Trek, and this fact is
focused on McCoy's
adrenal gland as the terror induced by the fear of the unknown surfaces. The
result is a testy exchange between
McCoy: And it was your mistake. You overworked him, pushed him,
expected too much of him.
Kirk: I'm ordering you to drop it. I've no time for you, your
theories, your quaint philosophies!
McCoy: I intend to challenge your action in my medical records.
I'll state I warned you about his condition. And that's no
Kirk: Any time you can bluff me, doctor!
tends to bring to consciousness the gothic possibilities of the untouched and
untapped unterlebensgeist. McCoy has
called Kirk's bluff. A bluff uses certain tangible realities to create the illusion of an alter or para-reality. Up to this point in the play,
Balok has been the dealer, the "house." The key to testing Balok's game is to call his bluff--the game is to be poker, not chess--glands,
not reason. Fight
fear and terror by creating one's own gothic mystery. Up to this point in der
totentanz, the Enterprise, aside from
destroying the cube for self-preservation, has been passive. It has played the cat's pawed mouse for too long.
Is Balok bluffing?
Realities can be built upon bluffs, including one's irrational perceptions of
the unknown. The captain wants the
alien's cards on the table to resolve the doubt over the realities experienced so far. The point-counterpoint of Spock's world of
chess-like thinking is a fatalistic quality in Spock that conceives of no logical alternative to an illusion accepted as a reality. Spock has
"seen" Balok , and his Hebraic, human half becomes submerged by his Hellenic side. Logic sees no alternative: "In chess, when one is
outmatched , the game is over. Checkmate." Kirk asks, "Is that your best recommendation?" Spock's unimaginative answer
is one of defeatist passivity: "I regret that I can find no other logical alternative." As Spock says in "The Doomsday Machine": Vulcans
never bluff." That's a more human Mr.Spock who confronts Commodore Decker, and Spock's threat wins the day. No, the solution
is glandular, not cerebral. Kirk's altercation with McCoy has embarrassed Kirk by bringing his adrenal gland to the surface of
consciousness. McCoy has given Kirk the key to the game of the unknown, i.e., using the unknown against another unknown.
Corbomite is that bluff. Kirk has, as the producer's notes indicate, "cracked a bit under the strain." Discipline, his "carefully developed
image.” His own self-respect, "has been lessened by some measure." The episode's earlier stress on Kirk's physiology now makes
sense and provides a way to stay on par with the alien. The answer is “Not chess, Mister Spock. Poker: Do you know the game?"
Here Kirk uses terror to combat terror, forcing Balok's trump card, the tower.
Kirk's bluff is based on the principle of contraries breeding progression: "If any destructive energy touches our vessels, a reverse
reaction of equal strength is created, destroying the attacker." Newton's third law of physics calls for the same concept of an equal and
opposite reaction to any action. Part of the scenario of man's fall is his sense of importance and
Byronic hatred of enslavement. For Byron, a rebellious act was an heroic act. Kirk is reacting to tyranny as man's punishment for past
transgressions. Byronic gothicism favors Promethean perversity where enslavement exists. Byron's Manfred grows annoyed at the
forces that banter his life about. He is tired of being controlled and used. As the death count approaches one minute, Kirk gives Balok
an answer which may have affected Balok more than the death threat: "Death has little meaning for us. If it has none to you, then attack
us now. We grow
annoyed at your foolishness." No fear of death neutralizes Balok's totentanz
completely with the fictional corbomite
element. Kirk has taken the first positive step. He has called Balok's bluff. Balok's superior intelligence seeks a species which is not
overcome by its own mortality. As Kierkegaard notes, one must absorb and transcend the fact of death in order to go on living, to get
about the business of creating in time. It is a fundamental tenet in Star Trek that all impediments to action be removed. Kirk has indicated
a superiority of
culture in not giving in to der totendanz, in dancing the dance of the
unknown. Balok must admire this courage. Like
Kirk, Byron's gothic hero Manfred defies the spirits of death who say, "Mortal! thine hour is come," by saying:
I do defy thee--though I feel my soul
Is ebbing from thee, yet I do defy ye--
Back to thy hell!
Thou hast no power upon me, that I feel;
Thou never shalt possess me, that I know.
Poker has its
advantages over chess because of its unknown, almost infinite, variables.
Balok's voice delays the countdown. For the first
time, Balok has been put on the defensive: "We will relent in your destruction only if we have proof of your corbomite device.” This is
Kirk’s bluff. In answering, Kirk uses a now familiar image in the play: "Hold on that. Let him sweat for a change." The game is even in its
odds. Also, for the first time, Kirk has individualized
and personalized the alien as "him," not as
"them." The pronoun shift evens
the odds. Kirk now
clearly faces one unknown that
is slowly revealing itself by presenting the image of terror to the captain. The alien too is not so powerful, not so controlling. Balok
soon switches from audible terror to visual terror by permitting the crew to see its gothic image. The key word is "form," not reality
as yet. In his effort to keep showing "superiority," Balok deliberately makes Kirk feel an internal struggle, a sense that Balok is actually
weak and in fear of death also. Again, Balok seeks signs of civilized superiority in dealing with what is unknown to him. No intelligence,
bent on senseless destruction, would add a note of ironic humor, saying, "And now having permitted your primitive efforts to see my
form, I trust it has pleased your curiosity."
Bailey, now more composed, seeks permission to assume his post--a request Kirk grants. Kirk had gambled that Bailey would
"cut it," and the gamble pays off. Kirk was right; McCoy was wrong. As Balok tests Kirk, he also tests Bailey. Mankind looks better
as the seconds pass zero and as Balok talks in the totentanz scenario. Poker presents greater risks and higher stakes than chess, but
a bluff often wins a game if another player accepts the illusion of superiority as an insuperable reality. Balok backs down, but maintains
the game of terror by using the gothic size illusion. He goes from being Brobdignagian to being Lilliputian in form. He literally tests the
crew by becoming opposite in image, and, therefore, in the crew’s minds. A small alien ship (only two-thousand metric tons) pulls the
Enterprise and puts her in tow. The gothic obsession with imprisonment and with helplessness still breeds terror, but slowly Kirk
realizes the potential for freedom is now clearer, in spite of a continuing death threat:
Balok's voice: It has been decided that I will conduct you to a planet of the First Federation which is capable of sustaining your life form.
There you will disembark and be interned. Your ship will be destroyed, of course. Do not be deceived by the size of this pilot vessel.
It has an equal potential to destroy your vessel. In a paradoxical speech, Balok wishes to sustain life, yet also to intern the crew.
Kirk senses Balok's ambivalence regarding life and death, and both ships are now "equal" in superiority. Clearly, Balok is presenting
the image of equality to test Kirk's true intentions. Ironically, Balok continues to give the Enterprise the illusion of his own vulnerability
in a cat and mouse game of totentanz. Balok must now play the Enterprise's game. In doing so, Balok gives back the Enterprise's
original power to destroy. He deliberately sustains "gravity and atmosphere" while verbalizing, "Escape is impossible." He tempts Kirk
to destroy the small, pilot vessel:
Balok's voice: You are being taken under our power to your
destination. Any move to escape or destroy this ship will re-
sult in the instant destruction of the Enterprise and everyone
Balok has pulled a corbomite maneuver in reverse. He has called Kirk's bluff in order to see the truth of Kirk's intentions and to test
man's will to live
and his will to be free. Der totentanz of power ensues to sustain terror
while testing ardour. The switch is from the
big unknown to the small unknown with the illusion of lesser destructive ability. Balok uses his small ship as a fishing fly, as flypaper.
What will the mouse do when the kitten roars?
Balok is making himself more known to Kirk, even to the use of "I" as a new substitute for "we." Balok is making himself
individualized and seemingly vulnerable by attempting a role reversal. To attempt to kill Balok would prove Balok's assumption of
primitive hostility and would thus thwart Kirk's
sensibilities regarding alien life forms. So, Kirk opts for the illusion of vincibility:
Kirk: My plan….a show of resignation. Balok’s tractor beam
has to be a heavy drain of power on his small ship. Question,
will he grow careless?
Bailey: Captain, he's pulling out a little ahead of us.
Spock: He's sneaked power down a bit.
Sulu: Our speed is down to point six four of light.
Balok has played the card of apparent weakness. The tug-of-war between equals begins. Kirk countermoves by attempting a shear-away
using all the ship's power in an effort to be free. Balok permits this as part of his test of man's humanity and love for freedom. Kirk, by
superheating the engines, demonstrates the willingness of Byron's Childe Harold and Manfred to pay the ultimate price of self-destruction
rather than submit to tyranny. Terror of explosion makes Bailey sweat again. The dramatic tension of this scene is unnerving:
Sulu: It's a strain, Captain. Engines are overloading.
Kirk: More power.
Spock: We're superheating. Intermix temperature seven
thousand four hundred degrees, seven-five, seven-six,
Eight thousand degrees.
Kirk: Shear away, Mister Bailey:
Spock: Two thousand above maximum. Eight-four, eight-five,
eight-six; she'll blow soon.
Kirk: Mr. Sulu: Impulse power too.
After maddening shrieks of power, it is Bailey who cheers, "We're breaking free, Sir," and Kirk has all engines stopped. Kirk has shown
man's superior will to be free. Balok wants to know this.
Balok's final move in this celestial game of poker is the image of the alien dying. The cat is at the mouse's mercy totally. An
SOS signal goes out, “his engines are out--his life sustaining system isn’t operating.”Balok plays dead. The crew expects Kirk to
destroy the villainous, tormenting unknown. A "primitive" culture would destroy or run or both. Balok needs assistance. Balok seeks
the highest virtue of all--compassion. He seeks a good
Samaritan from the now invincible Enterprise. Will an enemy, much maligned, terrorized, and put upon, heed a distress signal? Kirk
knows it could be a trap, but Balok seeks not the "logical" choice, but the illogical choice of mercy. Kirk is willing to turn the other
cheek, if necessary. Instead of destroying the alien, Kirk moves to save the alien unknown. A superior life form does not destroy
wantonly. Curiosity, empathy, and duty coalesce into one action. The crew is surprised by Kirk's seeming endangerment of ship
and crew. The risk is necessary for Kirk, for it is an instinctual act of sympathy as well as an act of duty. It is human:
Kirk: There are lives at stake.
By our standards, 'alien' life,
But lives nevertheless.
Ready the transporter room ...
What is the mission of this vessel,
doctor? To seek out and contact alien
life. And an opportunity to demonstrate
what our high sounding words mean.
What to do about the unknown is to make it a known, thereby demystifying the mystery, getting to know the alien.
The concluding scene aboard Balok's ship is one of good cheer and comic reversal of all terrors built up in the crew's minds
about the bad guy. The horrible alien was created by the gothic fancy of insecure human, frail-flesh--the sound and the fury reveal
there was never an enemy, except the enemy within and a terror of death. The moment of McCoy's, Kirk's and Bailey's surprise is
mixed with incredible relief at the scene of a homulculus (alien, jovial, wise)
wrapped in proverbial
swaddling garments of his culture. Balok is now quick to greet them with the grotesque Mr. Hyde's stuffed head that fed
on man's subconscious. What did they come to see--a reed shaken by the wind?
Welcome aboard." All the
knew Kirk, McCoy, and Bailey.
"Be comfortable; be seated. We must
drink. This is tranya. I hope you relish it as much as I." Mr. Hyde existed only in man's gothic fancy, where Hyde is always hiding
and hidden. Jeckyl is a veritable child of a man, pudgy, soft-looking, warm and cuddly-- smiling cheerfully with all the signs of
innocence and fondness for life. The ending is a Dickensian coup! Balok knows his aliens better than the aliens know him:
Balok: And I thought my distress signal quite clever. It
was a pleasure testing you.
Kirk: I see.
Balok: (smiles) I had to discover your real intentions.
Kirk: But you probed our memory banks.
Balok: Your records could have been a deception on your part.
One is reminded of
the line by “The Doors,” that "People look ugly when you're alone," and Balok
is alone, just an intelligent space
voyageur who misses “company, conversation. Even an alien would be welcome.” It has been the work of a lonely alien whose emotions
linger in the dark void of space. His inner needs are much like Bailey's or those of any sensible man. Balok fulfills the Enterprise's
directive as he seeks "perhaps one of your men, for some period of time, an exchange of information, cultures." The nightmare has
become a fairy-tale dream come true. The known is peace and light, sweetness of comradery and conviviality.
The only sinister reality had been the hobgoblins of the mind, the gothic grotesque seeded deep through millions of years of
evolution. There is no such thing as an alien, just the unknown created by fears generated by fancy, by stereotypes, by things that
go “bump” in the night. The players fold their cards, for the trump card is known. Compassion is its own reality, as the
gargoyles of gothic
terror run from the light of 18th century reason and from good cheer.
All is reason, as Dr. Johnson and
Ann Radcliffe note: much is known in the arena of Enlightenment reason.
Star Trek, especially in the episodes where gothicism is explicit, makes man conscious of his mortality. Hebraism is health,
according to such writers as Thomas Carlyle and Matthew Arnold, because man is given the freedom to act. Like Job, even
rebelliousness against one's god shows man's strength and his faith in the mortality of his deeds. McCoy asks Kirk, "Don't you
trust yourself?" regarding Kirk's attraction and repulsion re: Yeoman Rand. Scotty sardonically tells Sulu, "You have an annoying
fascination for time," as the helmsman counts the minutes and seconds to doom. Regardless of the outcome of the Corbomite maneuver,
Spock believes that Kirk's bluff "was well played." Bailey is chosen for the exchange of cultures with Balok who thinks Bailey
represents mankind's "best." Ironically, Bailey is the best choice because he will "make plenty of mistakes." The unity of opposites
will be productive. Balok's cube, his image, his ship--all present the immovable object that presents mankind with the chance to grow.
Mortality and freedom are elements of Byronic gothicism. Jerry Sohl's story presents food for some interesting speculation for footnotes
to the episode. If the writer is aware of literary precedent and literary techniques, such symbols as names, for example, are deliberate
road signs meant to elicit the viewers interpretation of the play. For example, corbomite has as its root the Middle English “corbie,"
meaning raven. "Cor" is Latin for heart. "Bo" or "bi" means two. "Mite" means mild or gentle; it also means a small creature
or object. Mite is also replete with double entendre, as a pun for might (small vs. strong). Corbomite means the small raven.
"Corbel" is also based on Middle English as a support device protruding from the side of a wall, the spring of an arch(note Balok’s
ship inside). It had a function in gothic architecture.
Bailey comes from
the ME, baili, var. of baile, the outer wall of a medieval castle.
Bail, as a key to character, means to deliver
good in trust for a special purpose. Bail still means to set free. Also Bailey from L. bejulane, to bear a burden. Bal or bail means
freedom. 10k means imprisonment. Balok possesses the dual qualities of freedom and enslavement. Balok is a pun on bailor, as
one who delivers, through bailment, one party for another for a specific purpose and returns the party when that purpose is ended.
Balok too is lonely, isolated, and imprisoned. Bal means balance from ML, having two scales for weighing. The scales of justice hinge
on Balok. Bal is a state of equilibrium or equipoise. Balok implies, linguistically, the justice or power to decide. Balok also has biblical
roots as Baal, the false god and false idol of the Philistines, especially of the Amorites. In Joshua 24:9 and Joshua 13:17, Balok is the
son of Zippan, King of Moat who sent Balaam, son of Beor, as a curse. God intercedes, and Balaam blest the Israelites. The viewer's
imagination is tested by Balok's ship, the Fesarius. The term has a root in L. fessus, meaning tired. Fess and fesse from L. fascia,
meaning a streak of a cloud. A fascia, in medieval heraldry, was the horizontal band forming the middle third of an escutcheon.
Fascis from L. means burden. In Roman law, fasces were the rods and axe of power of Roman consulship, implying law by
divine right. Aries is the rain constellation with astrological significance. Aries relates to the sky and the heavens. The above facts
imply a theme already discussed, but now supported by the episode writer's choice of names. Bailey, Balok, and Fesarius are just
three terms whose linguistic bases carry a denotation of freedom from burden, balance amid chaos, freedom and law, and equipoise
amid darkness. Gothicism has its basis in Latin and in medieval or Middle English of the historical dark age of western Europe.
Reason is the essence of the terror gothic.
(finis “The Corbomite Maneuver)
"THE DEVIL IN THE DARK"
"Devil" is Gene Coon’s masterpiece drama based on the Horta prop worn by
propman Janos Prohaska. A trite expression in
our language says that monsters come in many forms. The Horta is meek and mild; she is intelligent, but ugly and a murderess.
At the end of this episode, Spock shows the fallacy of the Greek (Hellenic) ideal that truth is beauty. Truth may appear ugly, but not
after the real truth is understood by man. Engineer Vanderberg and his band of troglytes find the Horta ugly, but the Horta finds man's
appearance distasteful also--except for Spock's ears, which tradition links to Halloween and things Satanic. Of the truth behind the
Horta, Vanderberg says, “We didn't know; how could we?” Perhaps man refuses to see the truth; he only wants to "kill" the
"monster" because it has killed over fifty men. Man never seeks a rational cause; he only seeks to kill whatever interferes with his
utilitarian god of profit and loss. This lack of understanding shows the malignancy of human mindlessness. This episode deals within
the terror of human superstition and the nature of evil. The Horta shows man's obsession with his "Fall" from Paradise and his
subsequent myths that the Devil made him do it.
The Horta (the garden) lives underground, a situation of man's descent into Hell. Hell is always "down," and Heaven is always “up.”
“The Devil in the Dark" is largely a satire on man's myths of the Satanic. Satanism is Christianity's abhorrence. "Devil" coalesces
Christian fears of the Fall and its subsequent effects of mutability and death. The episode indicates that there is no Devil per se.
Man is digging in the wrong places. The Horta is not the Devil. If a Devil exists, it is in the imagination of fallen man who sees devils
in every dark cave. As Hawthorne notes in The Scarlet Letter, the real devil emanates from the heart and imagination of man himself.
The murdering of thousands of the Horta's children, however unconsciously, was done in the name of the “goddess-of-getting on,"
of monetary profit at the cost of indigenous “green life.” One wonders have we seen this before in real life? This murdering, thoughtless
destruction of sapient life forms makes
man the devil in the
dark world of his own misconceptions. The monster is within, not without; the
"monster" is not the
monster at all. Mother Horta makes Chief Engineer Vanderberg look the fool (and the trog) when the truth is brought from the
twenty-third level to the light of day and is understood as both beauty and truth. Man's Hebraic obsession with Satanism is
a joke. Man is
obsessed with killing that which is new. What is unknown is treated as a monster
(ex. the Gorn in "Arena").
Hebraic man distrusts what he does not, cannot, or will not understand. The enemy is again within. It is easier to look without.
How many witches and goblins have been murdered out of fear and superstition? How many species have been exterminated
by ambulatory bipeds? It is easier to kill than to think.
A study of Gothicism is not complete without Gene Coon's charming study of
Satanism and the masses. To understand himself,
man must discover the world of unterlebensgeist that lies down, inside man, at the twenty-third level. Mining pergium is symbolic
of Conrad's quest for, and journey into, the heart of darkness. “To explore strange, new worlds” is to arrive at the underground
darkness of the twenty-third level of unconsciousness, of Dante’s Inferno. The Horta is part of what Matthew Arnold calls
"The Buried Life":
A thirst to spend our fire and rather face
In tracking out our true, original course;
A longing to inquire
Into the mystery of this heart which beats
So wild, so deep in us.
The Horta symbolizes
both death and rebirth. In knowing this creature, Arnold's quest finds "what we
mean, what we say, and what
we would, we know/ A man becomes aware of his life's flow." We begin to know that the Horta is a mother; she kills to create and
to preserve life. Man merely kills; she creates. The term Horta comes from the Latin hortus, meaning a garden. She cultivates and
like a horticulturist. She is a hortatory creature of intelligence,
and her function
is to encourage others to do good deeds, The Horta fits William Blake's
conception that Christianity's evil
as really good, and our goods are really evils. The Horta is viewed as evil, but she is a good creator for her race and for man.
The Horta is pro-life, a model of the prolific earth herself. She's a slight variation on the earth goddess of traditional roles of
good and evil in mythology. Roddenberry's works indicate that traditional roles of good and evil must be reevaluated, that the
Biblical view of the "fall" is myopic if taken too literally or if interpreted literally. The twenty-third level is a descent into
the unconscious, the enemy within.
The mining colony's planet is Janos VI, a tribute to Janos Prohaska, whose "prop" inspired Gene Coon to write the story, It is
also a reference to the Roman god Janus (January), god of the threshold, which looks forward and backward, symbolic of
Hebraic dualism of death and of rebirth, Janus is two-faced and as such reflects the human spirit.
The world of the twenty-third level is both a Hell and an Eden. Constant references are made to "its dark down here." The latter
placement of Schmitter as a guard would be a bad joke if it did not mean probable death for Schmitter. "We've got to have guards,"
Vanderberg reiterates. Why? "You'll be all right," Vanderberg says to Schmitter. A lie--why? "Like the rest," Schmitter is "burned
to a crisp" by the Horta. Shades of hell-fires surround the vengeant, mysterious Horta. If every guard is killed, why must there be
guards? Guards for or against what? For what good? Vanderberg, the troglyte, places guards while confessing there is no haven
from their monster, "that thing." Attributed to the Horta are the external and ubiquitous qualities of a spiritual entity of evil, "I don't
know any safe place" merely stokes the fires of the miners' fears.
Spock sees an
intelligence at work, but fears McCoy’s sarcasms. It is Kirk, who with Spock,
shoots it, who calls it
a creature, raising the "it" to animal status: "Now it's wounded; there's nothing more dangerous than a wounded animal."
When killing of individual miners fails to stop the killings of her children, the Horta proceeds logically to the mass, the
atomic mass: "We've been given a choice--death by asphixiation or death by radiation poisoning," "It" is made of fibrous
asbestos, a mineral. The impossible fantasy moves through solid rock, only one creature in one-hundred miles. She is
the last of a race of creatures. As this gothic tale unfolds, Poe's raven says "Nevermore." Spock, in his Schweitzerian tone,
says, "to kill it would be a crime against science." Kirk must chastise Spock for instructing the miners to capture the creature,
not to kill it. Kirk, the ironic monster killer, says, "The creature must die," As the story progresses, the theme proceeds from
one of death to one of life. Intuition and science merge to give Hebraic anxiety an Hellenic love for living, not killing,
Vanderberg and the other troglytes (cf., “The Cloud-Minders”) are hardly creatures of enlightenment. In a brilliant ironic
reversal, the Horta becomes more human as the troglytes become more inhuman and animalistic. They behave like the heirs
of Babel and the sons of Cain, They are indeed cave men, literally. Human technology and machinery take men into the past
and the sub-land of the twenty-third level. To go down is to go up. The myth of the "fall" has, as Blake states,
left the just man
"raging in the wilds where lions roam.” Kirk and Spock use civilized restraint,
and killing is
subordinated only to survival of the individual
and of all men. To Vanderberg's troglytes, evil was basically an impediment to
and life's forces are at the heart of the evil attributed to the devil. The caverns and corridors of the dark mines symbolize the inability
to see and the unwillingness to perceive even the obvious. The episode deals with the very necessity of darkness for enlightenment.
Darkness is part of life and, as unconsciousness, it becomes conscious and "normal." For this to be credible, the Horta must be
understood in and for itself. As "it" becomes "the Horta," and an animal is known and reasonably understandable, man becomes less
barbaric. She is intelligent and the last of her kind. Hellenism balances Hebraism, creating a more tolerable existence between
opposites. Man may never have to love the devil in the dark, but he can learn to live with it, even profit by it.
The heart of darkness (23rd level) is the unforgettable scene where Kirk confronts the creature head to head, creature to creature.
The story is now told from the Horta's point-of-view, i.e., how the Horta feels becomes a fantasy truer than life. From wanting to kill,
Kirk wants to save; ironically, Spock, who wanted to capture it, exhorts Kirk to kill it: "it is a proven killer." This may seem a paradox
in the episode's depiction of Spock; however, with Kirk's life in danger, Spock sees no alternative to saving the captain's life. In seeing
the Horta through the Vulcan mind-meld, the devil becomes good; evil becomes good. Symbolically, Kirk and Spock take two different,
but parallel, tunnels to the same goal: "two tunnels, two of us; we separate." Kirk and Spock go in quest of the "devil" and find that the
uncivilized brute burns (like Yahweh on Sinai). "No kill I" is burned nto the rock, a motion somewhat akin to Hollywood's view of the
creator writing the commandments in stone. But the creature is "not reacting at all like a wounded creature." It is wounded,
passive, and suicidal. In the mind-meld, Spock screams "pain! pain! Waves and waves of searing pain; it's in agony" in the
garden. Kirk's motivations in preserving the Horta are mixed. Any humanitarian motives are counteracted by the utilitarian one
of getting the confidence of the
creature in obtaining the reactor's stolen “retardation mechanism.” Survival
programming. Spock is like a second skin lost in total Romantic empathy/mind-meld with the Horta's plight:
Horta (via Spock): Murder! Killers: Eternity ends…the altar
of the ages. Murderers! Stop them: Strike back! Monsters.
Eternity ends….the chamber of the ages..
the altar of tomorrow.
From the Horta's point-of-view,
man is the killer; from man's point-of-view, the Horta is the killer--another
ironic reversal in Gene
Coon's tale of mystery and woe in the darkness. Adam's "Fall" too has left Rachel mourning the death of her children: "Cry for the
children" and "the end of life" without children:
Horta (via Spock): Walk carefully in the vault of tomorrow..
sorrow for the murdered children..sadness..sadness for the
end of things.
While Doctor McCoy (I'm a doctor,
not a bricklayer") trowels concrete into the Horta's wound, the Horta seeks
death while her
healing begins. It is renovatio for the Horta. She will live physically, but "The murderers have won. Death is welcome, Let it end here."
The Horta satisfies Kirk by pointing the way to the retardation mechanism, thus saving the colonists. But clearly the Horta's life must
also be saved: "He's (McCoy) a healer; let him heal." Surely, the scene of the dying Horta is the cavern filled with her eggs, a mother
crying in a wilderness of thoughtless troglytes that smash her eggs. The realization that the silicone modules are eggs jerks Kirk into
a higher reality, one from the darkness of the unterlebensgeist, the unconscious. It is a birth
chamber; it is a death chamber.
The cave is the Nativity scene for a nightmare. Bethlehem and Calvary meet in
Death, birth, and rebirth occur in one moment of light in the darkness. Time and eternity meet in "the vault of tomorrow," in
"the murdered children." Like Christ, the Horta is born not just to die, but to give her life for others. In thanks, mindless troglytes
have killed her children. Christian symbols (many Biblical) coalesce in the Horta who, Spock says, is "the mother of her race,"
sensitive to differences and tolerant toward birth and death. Kirk and Spock must now defend the "monster" from Vanderberg's
thugs who, reminiscent of an ancient story, wield sticks to crucify the monster whose only sin is love. McCoy says a
lot in an incomplete expletive: "What in the name of..?" The mob confronts Kirk, who earlier had knelt in the birth chamber,
with clubs, screaming, "Kill it!" But the "it" is now Martin Buber's "Thou" to Kirk. The Horta is what Conrad's Marlow says of
Lord Jim--"he's one of us." Like Christ and Mary, the Horta suffers intensely: "You've killed thousands of her children." The Horta
are "the most inoffensive of creatures." They harbor ill-will toward no one. She is the garden of Eden, the agony in the garden--
she brings life and justice born of love. The troglytes have Vanderberg, whose name means a place of wandering, a nomadic mankind;
the troglytes have Ed Appel, the apple from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. located in the center of the garden (the Horta).
They have greed, but not much else.
horror (horror has death and a traditional devil present), Gene Coon has written
a moral fable of great complexity.
The fairy tale is of the ugly duckling, the toad who was a prince, the ugly witch who was really a queen. The Bible, E. A. Poe,
M. G. Lewis, and Walt Disney combine
in this brilliantly conceived and produced tale.
S.T. Coleridge summarizes beauty and sentient life best:
He prayeth well, who loveth well
Both men and bird and beast.
He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.
--(S.T. Coleridge, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner").
But the snake is double ended
because the little hortas are natural miners, the world's best, who will do
bidding while each party leaves the other alone. The troglytes are richer than ever, even though the hortas find them ugly. Has man
learned from the Horta? Chief Vanderberg's last words refer to the "little devils" who start tunneling and are "not so bad once
you get used to their appearance." For the Vanderbergs of the species, a word from a poet laureate of England:
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
For this, for everything, we are out of time;
It moves us not.
--William Wordsworth, "The World is Too Much with Us," 1807).
(finis "THE DEVIL IN THE DARK")
“THE MAN TRAP'”
It is clear, in a memo from Gene Roddenberry to George Clayton Johnson, dated June 2, 1966, that
the original title that Johnson
envisioned for this episode was "Damsel with a Dulcimer.”
done some homework as he deliberately based his story's emerging concept on the above, famous line from
the second stanza of S.T.
Coleridge's poem, "Kubla Khan, Or a Vision In A Dream. A Fragment," written
between 1797-98, but not published until 1818. "The Man Trap" has an explicit and clear source in Coleridge's
famous Gothic fragment purportedly
the result of an opium dream or reverie, which, due to an interruption,
Coleridge never completed. Again, Roddenberry's Star Trek prefers an idea whose source lies in
masterpieces. Although hardly clear or logical, "Kubla Khan" is a provocative
of brilliant and conflicting Romantic visions. The poem's imagery and concepts are Gothic in inspiration,
beginning with the Romantic poet's conflict between good and evil, between savagery and beauty:
A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora,
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 'twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair:
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honeydew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.
--(S. T. Coleridge, "Kubla Khan," 11, 37-55).
The King, Kubla Khan, did "A
stately pleasure dome decree," but its contents contain Edmund Burke's
elements of the sublime in Gothic romance:
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing her demon lover!
--(S. T. Coleridge, "Kubla Khan," 11. 13-15).
From Coleridge, Johnson and Roddenberry drew a Gothic romance dipped in psychological realism. But the
poem and the play yield the key ingredients: a woman, seductive and evil; a place both "savage" and yet "holy"; a
demon (Nancy) and her lover (Prof.
Crater); an aridity of fire and ice, Planet M-113 and its ruins of a past,
great civilization--one envisioned in its peak by Kubla Khan; and "tumult to a lifeless ocean." M. H. Abrams,
renowned critic of British Romanticism, says in one critical footnote to "Kubla Khan" that "all critics agree that
this visionary poem of daemonic inspiration is much more than a mere psychological curiosity.” The poem
depicts daemonic pleasure and the evils of an evil fallen Paradise. Clearly, Nancy Crater is the damsel with a
dulcimer who sings like a Siren of shadows and sun, pleasure and pain, of savagery and holiness, of death amid
life. Of Nancy, the salt monster, all viewers must cry "Beware! Beware!" for M-113 is a Dionysian spectacle
of twisted beauty where drinking the waters of Paradise Lost brings "holy dread," where the maidens of Bacchus
drew honey from the river in a state of frenzied madness. "The Man Trap" is the vision, a dream romance of an evil
enchantress with her illusory songs of pleasure and beauty. Both "Kubla Khan" and "The Man Trap" are studies of evil,
of monstrosity, of the grotesque in Gothicism. Both are depictions of the Bosch-like world of heterogeneous
parodoxes. It is a
study in the Hebraic obsession with
fallen man and fallen civilizations.
Above all, both works are dreams that study the
reality of illusion. Both sing of the dream that was where the reader must be
by using a Satanic rite wearing "a circle round him thrice" to protect him and Coleridge's narrator from Satanic intrusion.
In "The Man Trap," Roddenberry and Johnson study carefully the evils that imperil a world of Gothic fantasy taken to its extremes
without the counteracting influence of Hellenic reason and civilized restraint--factors represented by Captain Kirk, who remains the
only voice of objectivity in a world of rampant subjectivity--what George Eliot and the school of Logical Positivism called egoism,
"Kubla Khan" and “The Man Trap" are diversified images of the nature and effects of imagination that deteriorates into a series of
egoistic projections of the self onto external reality. The entire world of the egoist (Dr. Crater) is literally a figment of his imagination
where objective reality dwindles as time and nostalgia about the past (his deceased wife killed by the creature) destroy reality into
an opiate-like reverie of ugly truths and seemingly beautiful appearances. Professor Crater is the victim of his own imagination.
His insanity lies in perpetuating his myths accepting them as his only truths. Crater has no thrice-woven rings as he hears his Nancy
in his vision, his damsel with a dulcimer.
A mantrap is a psychological, technical term for a female enchantress who lures the male into her web of destructive love. Nancy
Crater is the mantrap who literally caresses the life (salt) out of her objects. In this sense, she feeds on flesh under the illusion of needing
love. Her love is all consuming, her Bacchanalian senses ever hungry, her appetite purely evil. Nancy Crater embodies many legends
from ancient mythology, but the best depiction of her as a mantrap is the legend of the beautiful lady without
mercy, best described by another
British Romantic poet, John Keats, in his "La Belle Dame sans Merci: A Ballad,"
a goodly knight sits moaning having been seduced by the lady, only to wake from a dream where evil abounded, and no
what can ail thee, knight at arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.
The knight sits with a "lily on thy brow/ with anguish moist and fever Dew/ And on thy cheeks a fading rose/ Fast withereth too."
He had met a "lady in the meads," full beautiful, a fancy's child whose "hair was long," whose "eyes were wild." Keats' lady
without mercy, like Nancy and Coleridge's damsel, "lulled me asleep,/ And there I dream'd." “The Man Trap" is a study in the toll
paid by the dreamer who is disenchanted after "She took me to her elfin grot,/ And there she wept, and sigh'd full sore..
there she lulled me asleep." Crater, in one sense, was one such knight; while wife Nancy lived, there was delight. The usurper--
Nancy, “la belle dame sans merci,” triggered the dream and the illusion and the grotesque gothicism:
And there I dreamed—-Ah! woe betide:
The latest dream I ever dream'd
On the cold hill's side.
saw pale kings, and princes too,
Pale warriors, death pale were they all;
They cried--"La belle dame sans merci
Hath thee in thrall!
saw their starv'd lips in the gloom
With horrid warning gaped wide,
And I awoke and found me here
On the cold hill's side.
this is why I sojourn here,
Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is wither'd from the lake,
And no birds sing.
In essence, Coleridge and Keats sing a similar song based on Medieval legends and Grecian mythology. In "The Man Trap,"
the characters are given contemporary surroundings and new names, but the struggle, the principals and the outcome
remain timeless and true. Nancy Crater is a tale of beauty and the beast, but in one character, where beauty is a projected
illusion upon a beast who has no mercy on Crater, on Spock, on Kirk, on the entire Enterprise crew. “Beware! Beware!”
Nancy, although real as grotesque monster, is fantasy as Nancy. The Gothic monster, however, is an enemy within, first
and primarily. This episode was originally submitted as a short story whose theme involved creatures from the buried life of
subconscious anarchy: "The Enterprise party begins tracking again--and encounters strange apparitions which are as
real as flesh and blood" (author's italics). The major characters are envisioned as working on a primitive Freudian
“wish fulfillment” level. To some extent, every man's egoism projects past memory or present dreams from the
unterlebensgeist, raising the latent images into palpable, fleshly, Hebraic realities. The ME faces an unconscious aspect of
that ME. Salt is the equalizer in "The Man Trap" because it is one primordial, creative element that the individual shares with all
living creatures, past and present. Salt is a biological matrix that sustains life. In the episode's final draft of June 16, 1966,
in lines omitted from the final take, McCoy emphasizes the Hebraic notions of blood, sweat, tears, and the visceral:
McCoy: Salt. Biology one, remember? Man never really left the
ocean. He still carries its salt in his body fluids…
tears, blood, sweat. This man has no salt in his body
Spock continues the reference to
the ocean where, according to the Greeks, man first emerged from the primordial
"Fortunately, my ancestors spawned in quite another ocean than yours." As with the gaseous cloud monster in "Obsession,"
Spock’s salt and copper-based blood left a bitter taste in the monster's mouth. Nancy does not feed on logic, but on
primitive, human emotions.
Individual after individual sees Nancy somewhat in keeping with his/her immerleben (inner life
of the unconscious, buried life). The monster is a pre-existing condition within one's imagination. Professor Crater's vision is
now a grotesque embodiment vision of his deceased wife:
Crater: I loved Nancy very much.
There were few women like my Nancy.
She lives in my dreams;
She walks and sings in my dreams.
Kirk: And it becomes Nancy for you.
Crater's words almost resemble a mad scene from a Shakespearean tragedy. Above all, "Mantrap," is an analysis of dreams, of
nostalgia with the human past
being conjured up, romantically, into the present. In the FDS, Crater
iterates: "It's been Nancy
so often for me; it’s almost become her. She loves me just as Nancy did." Crater, like the others who view Nancy, each
according to his dream-vision,
shows the Romantic imagination at work. In one of his letter (to Benjamin
22, 1817), John Keats describes "Adam's Dream" where Eve is created based on a subconscious need depicted in Adam's own
dream. She appears and her form is a product of the workings of Adam's fantasy:
Imagination and its empyreal reflection
is the same as human Life and its
spiritual repetition..the simple
imagination/mind may have its
rewards to compare great things
with small--have you never by being
surprised with an old Melody--in
a delicious place--by a delicious
voice, felt over again your very
speculations and surmises at the
time it first operated on your
soul--do you not remember
forming to yourself the singer's
face more beautiful than it
was possible and yet with the
elevation of the Moment you did
not think so--even then you
were mounted on the Wings of
Man exists partly on sensation (ex., salt) and partly on thought (ex. dream). Crater is one such Adam who forms
"the singer's face more beautiful than it was possible," thus creating, through imagination, Nancy, his Eve. The ruins
of M-113 are reminiscent of Blake's vision of the fallen earth with Adam and Eve alone and unproductive. Keats'
letter attests to the authenticity
of the human imagination as it evolved in British Romantic literature based on
immerleben of primitive man.
Romanticist's Gothic sensibility, horror and terror were causes of "the sublime"
(Burke). McCoy's Nancy
stems from a romantic involvement that "ended" ten years ago; however, a present situation--the necessity of an
annual physical check-up of Starf1eet personnel--re-creates "the singer's face," making Nancy appear just as McCoy
envisioned her. For McCoy, Nancy is still no older than thirty: "Nancy, you haven't aged a year." "We walked out of each
other's lives ten years ago. She married Crater. For all I know, she's forgotten me completely." No, she has not, because
McCoy has not forgotten. Neither has Crater. Hence, Nancy remembers "Plum." McCoy's imagination has re-created
Coleridge's damsel because the monster is a telepath and becomes what is projected by McCoy's imagination. Crater
is curious and intrigued to see if
Nancy has used her metamorphic abilities to fulfill McCoy's egoism:
Crater: You've seen Nancy?
You saw….that is, you were here
with the good doctor?
Kirk: Yes, Why?
Crater: Just that I'm so pleased, you see, that
she's seen and old friend, has a chance of some
McCoy: Hasn't seemed to age I knew her. Looks exactly as
I knew her twelve years ago. Amazing like a girl
of twenty-five. She hasn't aged a day. Not a gray
hair in her head.
However, Nancy has not adapted her form to the passing years. After the initial appearance of twenty-five, the form
we see is the forty year old Nancy. In the FOS, a note to the director (still early in Act I) notes: "Important--she is Kirk's
Nancy at all times now." Professor Crater is closer to the truth behind beauty when he rationalizes Kirk's point-of-view,
reminiscent of Keats' theme:
Crater: You're seeing my wife through the eyes of your
past attachment, doctor. I'm sure when Nancy lets….
Uh, when you see Nancy again, she'll be at a believable age.
And so she does adjust her dulcimer to a lower chord. For McCoy, Nancy is a love story that is macabre and soul-wrenching.
In destroying Nancy in the episode's final act, McCoy is saving himself (unconsciously) from his own fantasy. He must see his
fantasy as physical and his dreams as evil incarnate, as the creature assumes its real, monstrous form. Without counter-balancing
objectivism, egoism is destructive of self and of others. One must know the dream for what it is in truth. The insistence on the
darker aspects of love-dreams is one cornerstone of Gothic art. It is only Spock's brutal bludgeoning of Nancy that convinces
McCoy's Hellenic consciousness that no woman could go unharmed by such physical blows. She is not human. Of all the
characters in "Mantrap" affected by Nancy, McCoy is closest to Keats' innocent knight whose own seductive illusions
stunned and no longer innocent. "Lord, forgive me!" shows the depth of McCoy's love, innocence, and knightly nobility.
He now sits by the river where "no birds sing."
In a mantrap, the female is all-consuming, and few men can resist her wiles. Crewman Darnell's dream-fantasy causes
him to see Nancy as a tart from
Wrigley's love planet, with her blond hair and sexy wiggle, and so it goes with
(the trapped fish), with Green, and with the crew technician. Love, and the need to be loved, is monstrous when
indistinguishable from Dionysian, Bacchanalian indulgence in gross, earthly sensuality. We all need the salt of life, but love
is monstrous without a healthy symbiosis. Nancy, with the emergence of other salty victims, cannot control her sensory appetite.
She is very different from the
Horta in that she takes without giving. She is a lamia. "The Man Trap" is a Gothic
tale of love and the daemonic principles indigenous to the human being, which are evil when seen in extremis.
Like dreams, solitude is a primary characteristic of Gothic tales. Nancy fulfills a primal need within the human immerleben--
the fear of solitude, loneliness, and the need for companionship. In spite of superficial assertions of independence and individualism,
one frightful truth wins out--the horror of human isolation:
Yes! in the sea of life enisled,
With echoing straits between us thrown,
Dotting the shoreless watery wild,
We mortal millions live alone.
Who ordered that their longing's fire
Should be, as soon as kindled, cooled?
Who renders vain their deep desire?
A God, a God their severance ruled!
And bade betwixt their shores to be
The unplumbed, salt, estranging sea.
--(Matthew Arnold, "To Marguerite--Continued," 1849).
Arnold depicts the fate of many Greek tragic figures--Oedipus, Prometheus, Antigone--whose personal hell is severance
from the community of man. Professor Crater depicts the deep and dark emptiness bereft of its old fire ("crater"). He refuses
to kill the monster because he did not want to be alone. The secondary reason, shared by Spock, echoes the Horta's
being the "last of its kind," the “buffalo.” As scientists, both Spock and Crater know it is a crime against civilization to kill the
last of a species. Ironically, Nancy's existence has its reality in a twisted motion of love and in a tenet of science. Crater has
totally rationalized the continuation of the monster. Crater purports to love solitude, but he lies deliberately to cover up his
scheme, his private heaven, and his private hell.
Uhura's solitude is also projected into Nancy. Part of its hypnotic screen pre-exists in Uhura's immerleben. In Uhura's case,
the seduction stems from love
isolation and from racial isolation. Nancy becomes someone from Uhura's dreams,
a black male
Uhura: Crewman, do I know you?
Uhura's Crewman: In a way, ma'am. You were just thinking
of someone like me. I'm guessing, of course. But you
did look a little lonely.
Uhura: I see. Naturally, when I’m lonely I think of you.
Uhura's Crewman: Nina ku dhanie Nwaniamka.
Uhura is powerless, made so by her
need for symbiotic companionship. But, Nancy-turned-crewman is now off the
and parasitosis is the only sensual object. The call from the bridge saves Uhura for future episodes, ostensibly by jarring her
into consciousness where duty supersedes Swahili hypnosis. The sheer terror of solitude is sensed by the creature and it,
like the damsel with a dulcimer, plays upon man's primal and tribal need for fellow-feeling. Spock is famous for the line,
"We all feed on death"
("Catspaw"), but we all also feed on love and its preservation (salt).
Nancy is monstrous because she violates the distinction, so love and death merge to form Gothic horror in Uhura when
she later reflects on what it was
and what could have happened to her. Nancy knows too well that "We mortal
alone." Both Keats and Shelley spoke frequently about the solitude of the poet. Shelley says, "A Poet is a nightingale, who sits
in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds." Shelley also defines people like Crater, who are not
"tricked" by a Nancy: "Self-deceit is the veiled image of unknown evil before which luxury and satiety lie prostrate."
(A Defense of Poetry, 1821). It is only the hell of living without his Nancy that lends sympathy and tragedy to Crater's
horrible plight. What price does nostalgia, the buffalo, cost the preserver of an endangered species? The analogy between
Nancy and the American buffalo is a fallacy of the past adumbrating the truth of the present. In Nancy's case, man
is the endangered species whose
sentiment deafens his objectivism. The possible result is multiple death as that
tramples through the salt of civilization aboard the Enterprise.
philosophy of Logical Positivism calls for greater objectivity and less
subjectivity on the part of mankind drowning
in the tears of his own Hebraic fantasies. Captain Kirk is that voice of objectivity. When the creature boards his ship, Kirk
becomes the relentless hunter of Crater's buffalo. At moments, Kirk's obsession with killing Nancy is reminiscent of his
obsession with destroying the gaseous cloud that fed upon blood, and with destroying the Horta--until the truth of its
being tempers hostility into sympathy and a creative solution. The verbal emphasis in this episode is in seeing Nancy. Kirk
sees Nancy as an uninvolved
spectator at first: "She has a trace of grey, Bones… a handsome woman, yes, but
twenty-five." The mysterious whodunit of the series of crewmen's deaths turns Kirk into Sherlock Holmes and Buffalo Bill.
Relentlessly, he eliminates the
borgia plant as cause. Both Kirk and Spock attack the mystery, not without
impatience on Kirk's part who imparts a now-famous line at the enigmatic Professor Crater: "I don't like
mysteries. They give me a bellyache, and I've got a beauty right now!" The order to Crater to stay aboard the
ship infuriates Crater. Gothicism demonstrates the dualistic approaches to the mutability factor. Fantasy destroys
McCoy's ability to perform a routine autopsy. To McCoy's seeing Nancy "through a romantic haze," Kirk shreds
McCoy: "How your lost love affects your vision doesn't interest me, doctor. I've lost a man. I want to know
what killed him!" The logical positivist, Kirk, again jolts McCoy: "Stop thinking with your glands!" Kirk is an
important equalizer as the main counter-agent for the terror of romantic dreams and personal fantasies. His
emotions never become obsession, but are channeled into a mind from Scotland Yard. Kirk impales Crater
in the briefing room as Nancy sits, as McCoy, who, like Crater, seeks caution and sympathy for the creature:
Crater: When it killed Nancy, I came close to destroying
it. But it was the last of its kind.
Kirk: You bleed too much, Crater. You're too pure and noble.
Are you saving the last of its kind...or is it Crater's private
'heaven' here on this planet?
Kirk: It can be wife, lover, best friend, idol, slave, wise man,
fool. It isn't a bad life, having everyone in the universe at
your beck and call--and you win all the arguments.
Crater: You don't understand.
Clearly, Kirk will not be hoodwinked by fantasy. He is the unremitting eye of culture in a romantic ocean of
emotion. Kirk has no qualms when it comes to rubbing salt into the wounds of dreamers.
"The Man Trap," the first of the Treks to be shown in the original series (pilot excluded), shows the sharp
thematic focus, the incisive dialogue, the sense of myths that were to become standard features. The teaser
sets the stage for a grim and
forbidding tale of Gothic horror. Ironically, in the opening
lines, Kirk asks an apprehensive McCoy, "Shall
we stop to pick some flowers, doctor?" Kirk holds pieces of dead grass.
This symbolizes the paradoxes of living dreams and lost loves. Man needs dreams; he needs illusions; he even needs nightmares.
They are all aspects of the dark side of the human character. Darkness, sleep, and revelry, like Landru's "red hour," form that
other ME. It is the shadow that leads us in the morning and follows us into the twilight. "The Man Trap" is a Gothic romance.
The reason for the entire mystery started innocently enough with a routine periodic medical examination, because it stresses the
one year cycle, a sense of coming full circle, to evaluate the status quo of two people. This routine is both lunar and solar, and is
at the heart of much mysticism and of much mythology. Even a "Plum" can shrivel into a prune when imagination eclipses reason.
All men are fruits of the earth and must testify to civilization at regular intervals for their stewardships. But, as McCoy notes,
"The machine is capable of almost anything, but I'll still put my trust in a healthy set of tonsils." This is the love story told by a
tongue depressor, signifying much--that the best way out is also the best way in. The theme points to human health, physical
symbolizing psychological. As Carlyle notes in "Characteristics" (1831), "The healthy know not of their health, but only the sick,"
that the "perfection of bodily well-being is that the collective bodily activities seem one," that the first condition of "complete health
is that each organ perform its function unconsciously, unheeded." Culture lies in this organization of healthy spirit and healthy tonsils.
Anarchy lies in the disintegration of the progressive tension between human factors.
"The Man Trap" has, as its opening and closing settings, a civilization in ruins and a starship in order. The Gothic elements are
all present: ruins, a monster, solitude, death, past obsession, la mystere. All are integrated
by a controlling concept of the human imagination as defined by Coleridge and Keats. There is even a salt "vampire," who
in true legend (Dracula) was driven by love, lust, and a need to survive. He even felt love and remorse in British legends.
The ruins of a dead civilization attest to a society that literally sucked itself dry until only one intelligent beast was left. It is the
story of "la belle dame sans
merci," of past nobility and present despair. John Keats, upon seeing samples of
marbles in the British museum, wrote of that civilization:
My spirit is too weak--mortality
Weighs heavily on me like unwilling sleep,
And each imagined pinnacle and steep
Of godlike hardship tells me I must die
Like a sick eagle looking at the sky
Yet 'tis a gentle luxury to weep....
Such dim-conceived glories of the brain
Bring round the heart an undescribable feud;
So do these wonders a most dizzy pain,
That mingles Grecian grandeur with the rude
Wasting of old time--with a billowy main--
A sun--a shadow of a magnitude.
--(John Keats, "On Seeing the Elgin Marbles," 1817).
And so, like the poet, with a
pensive expression, Kirk sits in center chair vaguely hearing Spock ask, "Is
Sir?" To which the reflective gentleman responds, "I was thinking about the buffalo, Mister Spock." And well he should.
(finis "THE MAN TRAP")
“WOLF IN THE FOLD"
an insight into the horrible
truth outweighs any motive
for action, both in Hamlet
and in Dionysian man."
--(Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of
Nietzsche's term, Dionysian, is based on the Greek god of fertility, associated with acute passion, revels, and orgasmic delights.
It is an extreme statement of Matthew Arnold's concept of Hebraism. Taken literally, the two terms can be used interchangeably
if one keeps in mind Nietzsche's extremist cynicism and irony. Dionysian and Apollonian are comparable to Hebraic and
Hellenic. Nietzsche, a descendent of a cynical branch of mockers of Hellenism, says, "despite all its beauty and moderation, his
(the Apollonian Greek) entire existence rested on a hidden substratum of suffering, and of knowledge, revealed to him by the
Dionysians. And behold: Apollo could not live without Dionysians!" Nietzsche depicts human and Grecian tragedy as an
Arnoldian and Blakian dialectic between the "barbaric" and the "civilized." Nietzsche is deeply indebted to Arnold's original
dialectic of Hebraism and Hellenism. To Arnold's thought, Nietzsche adds the notion that art mediates these opposites and that
tragedy is definable in terms of the enduring dialectic between the heart and the head: "...the Dionysian and the Apollonian, in new
births ever following and mutually augmenting one another, controlled the Hellenic genius.” In an extremist post-Romantic view,
Nietzsche is useful in defining the darker depths of the unterlebensgeist. For Gothicism, Nietzsche has a slightly more
contemporary twist as he carries
Hebraism and Hellenism to their absurd conclusions, but he still uses
traditional Grecian terms
to define tragedy
(Dionysian and Apollonian). This philosopher is
useful in analyzing modern literature by sheer force of his direct influence
on contemporary works of dreams and visions. "Wolf in the Fold" reflects this Nietzschian view: "The Dionysian musician is,
without any images, himself pure primordial pain and its primordial re-echoing" (The Birth of Tragedy). This artistic musician
sings of nausea and evil pain. This extreme Hebraism is embodied in the Gothic legend of the human monster called
"Jack the Ripper." The antagonist who is the wolf in the fold of a society of sheep who, in their own Dionysian and hedonistic
world of Argelius II, are unprepared to cope with the ultimate evil, an entity of eternal and spiritual malevolence that feeds on
all aspects of the human immerlebens (the unconscious world of man's buried life). Primarily, it subsists on murder and fear.
The episode takes the salt monster one step further into total, absolute evil that cannot end. It is Gothic horror. Like Milton's
Satan, it has endured since before the beginning of time. It is the Mr. Kurtz of Conrad's Heart of Darkness whose last words
were "the horror! the horror!" The “Wolf in the Fold” takes Star Trek's Gothicism to its illogical conclusion—pure, immutable evil.
The monstrosity is Nietzsche's musician of primordial pain. This sub-genre is called the schauer gotik, or horror gothic combined
with the suspense of terror.
"Wolf in the Fold," written by Robert Bloch ("Catspaw"), is an allegorical Gothic romance of fallen Hebraic man caught
between good and evil, between the dark aspects of the Romantic imagination and the sublime light of fluctuating reason. It is a
story, a classical mystery/romance, in the Gothic tradition of Wilkie Collins, M. G. Lewis and Mrs. Radcliffe. Collins once defined
the main tenet of the modern mystery romance in terms of suspense via the withholding of answers. He says of the audience:
"Make them laugh; make them cry; but, above all, make them wait!" We do not know what or who kills all those women on
Argelius until the end of the fourth act of this play. In Mrs. Radcliffe's
mysteries, one literally waits until the last
page for the final solution. It is this suspense that helps create the terror
characters and for the reader alike. It is a horrifying whodunit, successful in its impact, but with flaws in its overall vision of
logic's relationship to evil. Bloch's story begins with a solid, Dickensian, sense of character roles and motives. A look at the
dramatic personae is one key to the drama's points of conflict. First, there is the setting, Argelius II, the scene of the crimes
and of Scotty's "therapeutic" shore leave. Ironically, as with "Mantrap," health is the raison d'etre behind the story's setting.
One doubts whether Scotty's bump on the head is any the better for the traumas he suffers on Argelius. The planet's name is
ambivalent and paradoxical in its linguistic meanings. 'Ar,' as in Arab, means dry, arid; "gel" from the Latin, gelidus refers to
frost, cold. The name implies the Arabian, Middle Eastern setting in the cafe and the Moorish architecture inside Jaris' house.
Bloch's original story is emphatic that the house is Grecian in its architecture, inplying that the architectural contradiction (opposites)
is deliberate, the house would symbolize the dialectic of east versus west, of Hebraism and Hellenism, that forms the drama's
overall conflict. Argelius implies a conflict between hot and cold, between dry and wet, a metaphor for the dual nature of the human
spirit. As a pleasure planet, Argelius is a Mohammedan heaven of earthly, sensual delights, like those pictured in the bazaar in
James Joyce' s story, "Araby" where a similar conflict exists in the narrator between pagan revels (Dionysian) and a Catholic
conscience (Hellenic and Western) that forbids Araby as fleshly, and therefore, as sinful. The Enterprise landing party is
representative of such Christian, Hebraic conscience, but without the overly Platonic/Calvanistic sense of sexuality as ipso facto evil.
Murder, however, as Dr. Daystrom pointed out (in "The Ultimate Computer"), goes against the laws of god and man; it goes against
the rules that have dictated civilized society
for centuries. An ambivalence in "Wolf in the Fold" permits overt promiscuity
and fornication as "shore leave," a view equal to the Angelian law of love. The episode also rationalizes overt sexuality as
therapy, hence a scientific "must" for Scotty's condition and state of mind as posed by the insecure plot-line. One can succumb
to this pleasure planet's promiscuity as one facet of Dionysian emotionalism counterbalancing any suppressed, subconscious
resentment of women. One can come up with 'ar,' or moral aridity, on Argelius, but the planet is sustaining the “other side of
wetness,” as one famous TV show phrases its skit. There is a death in unrelenting emotionalism, and Argelius represents an
innocence that orthodox Christianity views ambivalently.
Argelius thrives on disobeying the sixth commandment, while acknowledging the fifth commandment. The two are not causally
indistinguishable. The murdering entity ruins the innocence of childlike play by introducing another moisture, the wetness of gothic
blood. Also, whether intentional or not, a change of one letter--r to n--yields Angel-ius, a place of pre-lapsarian Paradise, a place
of angels. Such an interpretation heightens the conflict between god's angels and the devil's angels, between Bloch's interest in good
versus evil, with the distinct probability that both states are concomitant and spring from the same source--man and the creatures of
Romantic imagination depicted in Goethe's Faust, in Keats, Byron, Coleridge, and Blake.
The setting requires a brief survey of the Argelian inhabitants, inherent and transplanted. The transplant from Rigel IV is,
of course, Hengist--later Hengist the Ripper. Hengist's name stems from O.E. hengest, stallion, and from the German hengst from I.E.
base Kak, meaning to leap, to spirit forth. Stallion stresses the traditional symbol of acute masculine sexuality in its wild, uncivilized
state, such as an Arabian stallion. He does leap and spirit forth as the murderous Ripper entity (Greek centaur/Dionysian).
He also possesses a physical sensibility while
maintaining a spiritual nature and essence. There is also an historical figure
Hengist ( ? from 4888 A.D.), a Jute chief who is reputed to have led the first Germanic invasion of England and to have founded
the Kingdom of Kent. Such historicity makes for interesting speculation. Hengist-the-Ripper, as it evolves in the episode, is a Gothic
incubus whose nature is the subject of legends from Genesis 6 to the Romantic writers of eighteenth and nineteenth century western
Europe. The incubus is the entity in Coleridge's "Kubla Khan" and "Christabel" and is Polidorie in The Vampyre and Dr. Polidori
in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Geoffrey of Monmouth described him a half-human and half-angelic, midway between the moon and
the earth, which, although not physical presence not unlike the entity's presence in Jaris' body or the entity pictured in the ship's computer.
The entity is a burden, an oppressor (Latin meaning) "incubus," also from the German Mahr, the O.E. maere Old Norse mara--
all meaning "one who leaps on, oppresses, or crushes." This definition is consistent with Hengist, one who leaps. Maere is also close
to the Gaelic more, often depicted as a sexual molester against helpless victims; he is a demon. The apocryphal Book of Enoch
(also Genesis 6) speaks of angels of God who mated with daughters of men, who had giant offspring not unlike the Greek myths
of the Titans and Saturn. When the giants died, their evil spirits oppressed mankind. They "rise up against the children of men and against
the women." (Enoch 15:12). Merlin was one such offspring of an Incubus, as was Grendel in Beowulf. In the works of the British
Romantic poets, the Incubus has a basis in the human imagination, embodying the darkest, most awesome, most sublime visions of
this faculty. The Hengist-Ripper is too evil and too sublime in the Gothic imagination to be envisioned in
rational imagery of created
nature. Hengist the Ripper is a Faustian Asmodeus, popularized in recent
cinematic works dealing with
exorcism and the Satanic horrors of the Amityville series. It is Keats' demon lover, first mentioned in Coleridge's "Kubla Khan."
The Ripper is the darkest shadow of human imagination as described by Coleridge in his Biographia Literaria, chapter XIV, as:
persons and characters supernatural, or at least romantic;
yet so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest
and a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these
shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief
for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith.
For Coleridge, the "wolf" of this
drama represents "an inner truth and reality," transferred to and embodied into
characters supernatural." In a Hebraic view, Hengist-the-Ripper is akin to the Satanic, female molesting entities of Judeo-Christian
tradition, an evil and a violent destroyer. Above all, Hengist is a metaphor for all the lusts and fears and fears of post-lapsarian man,
We fear it; we fear; it is that fear, and its feeds on our fear. Romantic tradition augments, through imagination, a horror of living, a
fear of dying, an Existential der angst of twentieth century literatures, best depicted by Franz Kafka in The Trial. Modern man is simply
and plainly horrified and racked
with fears and doubts over the ripper's murders.. The Hengist Ripper-Incubus
is all our fears, doubts,
lusts in one supernatural demon who consumes all life, who is our life to consume.
What Sybo reveals in the ceremony/seance of the second act of the play is to be taken literally, a fact Kirk ignores until computer
analysis enhances and proves her
visionary perception. In "The Man Trap," the key word repeated over and over is
hunger. The salt
monster hungers for companionship, for love; then it hungers for salt, for death. Crater hungers for companionship and solitude in
his hellish, personal paradise. But Nancy was mortal.
Hengist-the-Ripper is timeless and immortal:
Consuming hunger ..hatred of all that lives .
hatred of women, a hunger that never dies, a screaming thing of
horror, death, death, a monstrous evil hunger ...a
hunger feeding on terror; it has a name—boratis,
Kesla, redjac. Devouring all life, all light, a hunger
that will not die—redjac, redjac.
It is Blake who says that all
mankind "groans to be delivered," from the present hell of his doubtful, fallen
state. Man's incubus
is a son of Cain for all time. Hengist-the-Ripper's voice adds the most horrible spectacle of all: "I have existed from the
dawn of time ..and I shall live beyond its end." It destroys life with its antimatter characteristics. The figure of the hole dug in the
ground for every dying man follows upon the ultimate horror of waiting for the inevitable while being impotent to stop death:
"You will all die horribly in searing pain." Hengist wants and gets blood and horror. His satisfaction lies in the twisted, savage
instrument, the knife. The knife draws blood; murder involves a physical contact between killer and victim. The grotesque, sexual
gratification lies in the sadistic pleasure of watching the last seconds of life, then after, the last seconds of dying into death itself.
The gratification soon ends and the lust for another victim reasserts itself. It never ends. Perhaps the ultimate horror lies in a human
realization that Hengist-the-Ripper exists potentially in every son of Cain. Hence, the real history of uncountable, unsolved murders
throughout human history has its
source in human nature. So gross, so unutterable is the crime, that Dionysian
Roman coliseums, blot the history of civilized societies. The sons of Cain like to witness pain, others and their own. The path of
civilization leaves huge
footprints of self-drawn blood. Spock says, "We all feed on death, even
vegetarians" in a technical
scientific sense. Add to this the sublime gothic imagination, and sexual fantasy makes "Wolf in the Fold" an extremely attractive
The character, Sybo, embodies this dualism of fact
and fantasy. The lady is dark, dignified,
mysterious, and is of extreme beauty of a Shelleyan, veiled nature. She is the
counterpart to Kara's navel intelligence of the green Orion slave girl variety, of the Wrigley's planet variety of vegetable beauty.
Sybo is sublime beauty heightened by her psychological and empathic powers, transcending the world of reasonable images and
things. Her mysticism is seductive. The seance ceremony with its symbolic altar of sacrifice and flame of purification raises the spectre
of ancient rites of human sacrifice to the fertility god, Dionysius, where Bacchanalian orgies and bloody sacrifice were one and the same.
Sybo's presence raises the gory deaths to the realm of primordial religion and religious mysticism. It is one of the most engrossing
scenes in all of Star Trek, both in direction and in conception. Darkness lends the final quality of imperceptivity to the Ripper's heinous
murder of Sybo. Her physical poise and serene beauty makes Sybo's death the most tragic and horrible of all of the Ripper's murders
in this episode. Sybo is a symbol of the need for primordial means in any ultimate solution to seemingly senseless deeds. A sense of lost
beauty and of beauty wasted permeates the scene of Sybo dying in Scotty's arms. Her death arouses more hatred in viewers' minds
than any other. Sybo demonstrates a unity of Hebraic conscience and truth with the healthy role of the human imagination to intuit the
truth. There simply are not enough rational answers to irrational acts. There is such a thing as being too civilized to admit of the barbarism
that underlies the thin crust of civilized societies like that of Argelius. Sybo is the Sybil or Sibyl from the Greek sibylla, who is a woman
consulted as prophetess by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Sybo is a priestess with the ancient "ancestral gift" of prophecy through
emphatic contact. She represents the beauty in man's
primordial self as well as the
savagery. Her own beauty causes her to be its own victim. Hengist-the-Ripper
must silence her
or be revealed totally; it must also consume the woman whose darkness is light because she is both truth and beauty. As the
beauty of life and light, Sybo is destroyed by her very being:
Yes, there is something here, something terrible. I feel its
presence..fear..anger..hatred. Anger feeds the flame.
Oh there is evil here, monstrous, terrible evil.
Sybo, as a character, must be female or the characterizations would fail. The Ripper is "hatred of all that lives, hatred of women,
a hunger that never dies." Sybo's bloody death is a physical dramatization of her empathic truth and beauty. Sybo (see-bo) sees both
the natural and the supernatural. She is a sane voice testifying to the insanity wrought by beauty.
the Prefect of Argelius, is Sybo's husband and the planet's chief magisterial
official. The existence of an investigator, like
Hengist, is postulated upon the Argelian character as represented by Jaris. His mentality has rendered Argelians into pleasure-giving
impractical sheep, with no concept (or an atrophied concept) of violence. A planet of pleasure exists here in order to obscure
negative emotions, like Morla's jealousy, by shrouding past barbarism in a love ethic. Love should make murder unnecessary,
vestigial, and extinct. Jaris cannot conceive of what has actually happened. His love for his lost Sybo, his mourning, is almost lost as
outsiders (like Kirk) pursue their own, almost selfish interests. Jaris' society's spring has turned to winter after three murders. His
self-control and dignity lend horrible irony to McCoy's early remark that Argelius "is a completely hedonistic society."
Jaris shows a Hellenic sense of
control and reason as well as a Hebraic sense of duty and conscience: "Very
is virtually unheard of." Jaris, unlike Tark's dismay ("how could this horrible thing happen here?"), evidences justice amid shock in
seeking, "How could any man do these monstrous things?" He is Sybo's complement and, in sharing her ancestral gift, he also shows
Scotty that Sybo's gift was genuine and not what Scotty calls "spooky mumbo-jumbo," a rationalistic simplification of a desperate man.
Jaris is objective and just. He seeks truth, but not by rolling over the innocent nor by merely being intuitive. He counteracts
Kirk's rambunctious emotionalism in Act II by a calm rebuke: "Captain, you sound very much like a man who is desperately trying to
do anything to save a friend." He
seeks justice, not revenge; justice requires facts, balancing of facts and
imagination, and the necessity
Jaris: And he who is guilty will face the ancient penalties,
barbaric and horrible though they may be. The ancient
penalty for murder was death by slow torture. Do you under-
stand, Mr. Scott.
Scotty: Aye, Sir. I understand.
Jaris is civilized law at its
best. It is Jaris who comes to a fuller conclusion of a difficult legal
distinction--between guilt and
responsibility. The question is still a vital one, although no issue of insanity on Scott's part is ever raised. Kirk notes in Act II:
"If he (Scotty) didn't know what he was doing, he would not be legally responsible under anybody's laws." Jaris keeps Hengist
under control, quelling most of his legal objections to the investigation:
Jaris: No, Hengist. The authority is mine. The decision too is
mine; (to Scott) You, sir, claim to remember nothing about the
murders. If this is the truth, you may have killed and not known
it. (to Kirk) Will your machines tell us this?
It is Jaris' decision to go aboard the Enterprise. He suspends disbelief (ala Coleridge) about this riddle, retaining the final
decision to himself while maintaining an open mind as to reason, facts, and above all, as to the machine’s (the computer) role in
criminology. Jaris utilizes all available means--ancient and modern--to ascertain the truth. He is never overwhelmed by subjective
grief over Sybo's death nor by Hengist's insistent objections about the entire legal investigation. He is both sensitive and judicious.
Jaris represents objectivity while feeling that Scott "does not look like a man capable of such a barbaric act." This is a product of
Argelius' "Great Awakening" of
several hundred years ago. Ironically, in terms of revolutions, the Angelian
Awakening was from
barbarism into love as a code of civilized behavior. In transcending barbarism, however, Jaris has left his people inefficient and
somewhat vulnerable in their newly found innocence. Such an awakening to one element meant a blinding to the opposite element.
A Hellenic society based on civilized order and love is easy prey to hungry wolves--human or otherwise. This awakening has left
Argelius almost unaware of evil. It is the bias of Spock's observations and the episode's title:
Spock: I point out that an entity which feeds on fear
and terror would find a perfect hunting ground on
Argelius, a planet without violence, where the inhabitants
are as peaceful as sheep, where the entity would be as
a hungry wolf in the fold.
Jaris, with his tall stature, white hair, and regal demeanor, is a just man who, while adhering to his culture's "Great
Awakening" (one akin to Vulcan's revolution from emotion to logic--hence Spock's understanding of Argelius' plight), remains,
like his Sybo, willing to be "barbaric" in this instance where the punishment must fit the crime. Jaris is a complex man, showing
that not all Argelians are peasants and sheep. The body-possessing ripper is neutralized, and Mr. Scott is exonerated.
discussion of the Dionysian, Nietzsche sees the "chorus of satyrs who live
ineradically behind all civilization and
remain eternally the same, despite the changes of generations and of the history of nations." The Dionysian state annihilates the
ordinary bounds and limits of existence where all personal experiences of the past become immersed. A final statement from
Nietzsche serves to summarize what happens in "Wolf in the Fold" with its Gothic horror:
This chasm of oblivion separates the worlds
of everyday reality and Dionysian reality.
But as soon as this everyday reality re-enters
consciousness, it is experienced as such, with nausea:
an aesthetic, will-negating mood is the fruit of these states.
--(The Birth of Tragedy , Sect. 7, 1872).
IN THE FOLD")
(finis Chapter 4B—Gothicism)
Children and Imagination
The thought of our past years in me
Perpetual benediction; not indeed
For that which is most worthy to be
Delight and liberty, the simple creed
--(William Wordsworth, "Ode: Intimations of
of Immortality" 1802-04).
Love childhood; look kindly on
its play, its pleasures, its
'…..for the imagery of man's
heart is evil from his youth'
(--Genesis 8:21; Martin Buber)
A concerned parent once took his child, who was ill, to a physician, saying that
the child is behaving irrationally, that he
is not himself. The physician leered over his spectacles and noted sarcastically, "What are you talking about? He's a child,
and all children behave irrationally." The physician discarded any notion that a child's behavior is reasonable.
The parent added, as
clarification, as rejection of the physician's dubious logic, that "the child
was not acting according to
the characteristics indigenous to his personality as evidenced by his established patterns of behavior." The physician just
snickered again. Four of Star Trek's original episodes deal directly and overtly with children: "Miri," "And the
Children Shall Lead," "Charlie X," and "The Squire of Gothos." All are variations on the ordinary and the everyday themes
of the traditions of the fairy tale. What is a child? What does a child (pre-pubescent) think? What is going on in
What airy sand
castles is he building? How does he deal with his peers? With grown-ups
("grups")? Why and in what sense
are children both good and evil? How is a child an "onlie?" Star Trek presents the most basic and primitive facets of the individual
and the collective personality of kids. Of the thousands of books written about children, few can get into an onlie's head as his eyes
peer into a world of grups and "no's!" The child, according to Plato and Wordsworth, is closest to his creator and represents man
in his/her most original and creative stages. Gene Roddenberry studies onlies, their world, and their process of maturation into and
through the age of reason, into, through, and just after adolescence. Reality and imagination meet as grups view the living fairy tale
life of onlies.
In his novel, Tristram Shandy, Laurence Sterne calls upon the ancient homunculus theory, i.e., that the child is a "little man."
Wordsworth says "The Child is father of the Man." ("My Heart Leaps Up," 1802). The Romantic poet's view of the little man means
that a child is the begetter of the grup that he is becoming and that he will become, as an adult. The child's ME is a microcosm of God
and of the cosmos. The ME's confrontation with the ME, and with the NOT-ME, begins soon after birth; with the death of the child's
pure Narcissism, his individuality emerges and maturation formally commences. Freud believed that the human being's personality is
fixed by the age of six. By his sixth year, the little man is the person one will see at sixteen and at sixty. There are no "essential"
changes, just what Thomas Aquinas calls "accidental" changes. Appearances change, but essential changes are ephemeral ones,
dealing only with appearances and environmental, accidental changes. This little man, homuculus, is a basic assumption in fairy
tales and in
substantive literature since Plato's time. Wordsworth's view holds true of much
of Romantic literature where
the child in man is an essential ingredient in all imaginings of reality. The child begets us all, and therefore must be explored
and understood if one is to understand the present. The soul is immortal and exists separately from the body before birth
and after death. Wordsworth's "Ode: Intimations of Immortality" proposes that the soul only gradually loses "the vision splendid"
after birth. Plato maintains also that the knowledge of eternal ideas is totally lost at birth, and must be gradually "recollected in
tranquility," as Wordsworth states it, by education and discipline during one's lifetime. This is one reason why onlies need grups--
a basic view in "Miri," in "Charlie X," in "And the Children Shall Lead," and in "The Squire of Gothos." All are children whose
fairy tale lives will acquiesce to the Neo-Platonists' view (and Wordsworth's) that the godly glory of the unborn soul is slowly
overshadowed by its descent into the darkness of the NOT-ME and into the world of descendental matter. The universal
experience expressed in Trek's children, and therefore in all children, is that the loss of youth involves a loss of a freshness and
a glory permeating all experience. The growth into adolescence is the "disease" in "Miri" because puberty alters inborn narcissism.
Something beautiful is lost in the dark scenario of blemishes and uncontrollable glandular functions. Adolescence heralds the
self-consciousness of fig-leaf psychosis, and the battle against self and existence begins in earnest. Almost invariably, the new grup
cries in sorrow over the loss of his not-knowing. Wordsworth is the poet of recollection, of memory. It has been said that when
the poet ran out of childhood recollections; he was unable to write; his imagination lost its brilliant ordinariness, and the fairy tale
world dissolved in the face of the Enlightenment:
Nothing was more difficult for me
in childhood than to admit the
notion of death as a state applicable
to my being. I have said elsewhere
'--A simple child,
That lightly draws its breath,
And feels its life in every limb,
What should it know of death!--
But it was not so much from feelings
of animal vivacity that my difficulty
came as from as sense of the indomitableness
of the spirit within me….whatever might
become of others, I should be translated
...to heaven .
--(William Wordsworth, Notes).
What Miri (and the onlies), Charlie, the children, and the squire experience is
the loss of the fairy tale, through
adolescence and grups, and the descent into fallen matter. They all confront some "disease" in simply growing up. There is
a dying of the old self--a ripping, a dreadful crumbling--and the pangs of birth of a new self. Hence, Miri no longer likes
to play games with
the others. Fairy tales are "foolies," microcosm's of "eternal childhood filled
with play." But those children
are at least three hundred years old! "Miri" deals with the evil of protracted childhood. Foolies are an evil because they breed
no contrary, and "Without Contraries is no Progression." Childhood without grups = inertia, and what the Bible calls "pestilence,"
a term used by William Blake: "He who desires but acts not breeds pestilence." Static onlies are a disease on planet Earth II.
The fairy tale must end, or at
least be complemented, by
grupism--education, discipline, etc. Foolies are a form of evil. "Miri's"
grups, long dead, in seeking longevity, created a series of diseases. They hoped to raise the body's immunology to plagues,
thereby creating near-immortality by making man immune to death itself. Such a quest for immortality makes "Miri's" grups to be
childlike and immature in seeking to make fairy tales real.
damned their children to "eternal childhood" full of foolies that try to
re-enact the reality of adult-child
interaction. The children are three hundred years old "children," doomed to stasis and death by puberty and death by starvation,
because the food supply is almost depleted. "Miri" shows a child-adult inversion of the natural order. The grups were wicked
and unnatural, hence are feared by the children in an unnaturally hyper-apprehension. Grups do "awful things." They' fight, have
fits of insanity, and beat the children as their man-created immortality. They have left their children with no sense of death. The
"creature" who dies hugging his tricycle in the teaser, dies a man-child. He ages "a century in just a few minutes." Like the grups,
he is "yelling, hurting." Miri screams "Don't hurt me" in a warped legacy of grups as terror. The adult stereotype of "No" discipline
is distorted and magnified by the children as a universal fear of all grups. The children's foolie must end with the incursion of the
Trekkers who are maintaining their grown-up ways even when they contract the disease and become irritable, but it is a
frustration built partly upon inheriting another culture's insanity, the "Life-Prolongation Project." Just as Kirk says, "But all men die."
All Earth II residents' lives were shortened abruptly by "Life-Prolongation." The episode demonstrates that immortality is hell,
that a Hebraic mortality of natural elongation and maturation is the best norm for physical and psychical growth. It is unnatural to
be an onlie, for isolation from grups is unnatural: "Children have an instinctive need for adults," Kirk notes. It is what they should
A fairy tale is a
nightmare of nihilism. Hell is inhabited by vacuity
because there is "no adult interpretation" of the "beforetime,"
of the present, and no future is viable. Miri resembles "the awful things," but re-remembers both jealousy, order, and affection
by watching Kirk and Yeoman Rand who find psycho-sexual solace in facing death by verbal candor and human fellow-feeling.
They clutch each other and show Miri that not all grups hurt each other and children.
In "Miri," the Trekkers show Miri, Jahn, and the little ones that communication is essential for order and progress. As a foolie,
the children steal the communicators. The Trekkers grow frantic, because communication with the ship and its computers is essential
to develop a vaccine against the Hebraic disease of absolute mortality. The landing party is dying. This communal need among the
Trekkers does much to convince Miri that her fear of these grups is baseless. Kirk too must get inside and instinctively sense Miri's
inner feelings as she "becomes a woman." She needs love and guidance. Miri's jealously of Rand simply feeds on her fear of grups
as sneaky liars. Kirk is not above doing a foolie on Miri by courting her affections and puppy love. Kirk becomes Miri's first crush.
She does love him, beyond need. Kirk loves Miri as a child and respects her as a young woman. Kirk also uses Miri as his only
contact with the children. Kirk needs Miri. The relationship between Kirk and Miri is symbiotic, and Miri sees through the foolie.
Children and their fairy tale world create foolies as substitutes for an absent reality and a retarded need to be both disciplined and
loved. Adults, like Earth II's grups, created a foolie also, and it cost them their lives and the company of their children.
children to remind them of their past "splendor" and as model roles upon which
to base maturation throughout adulthood.
The need is thus mutual, logical, lovely, and necessary. Past and present must interact to grow and to create a future that is a synthesis
of the best, and of the worst, of all dualities. When McCoy spins the wheel of the tricycle, he has no sense that some man-child owns that
broken symbol of what he has lost--his peace, his on1iness, his serenity of undisturbed childhood. McCoy plays with the wheel because
the child within the man still has a place in his heart. He is emotionally moved by the sight of a broken toy. It reminds him of himself and
a "splendor" lost in the darkness of matter.
McCoy's willingness to sacrifice himself to test the vaccine, a possible "beaker of death," shows his selflessness and human care for
his fellow man. "Grups don't help," Miri states. But enlightened grups do help. Children frequently do not appreciate grup help, because
it often contradicts the need of the children to maintain their own sand castles in the air. Children often find grup guidance as an acute
interruption and an irritant, at best. "We only want to help you" has put many a man into a rubber room and a straightjacket. The
children's lives on Earth II are no Rousseauian heaven of "noble savages." It is a living life, a stasis malignant and evil. No one is
saying that growing up is easy; it is not. However, no one is saying that growing old is easy; it is not. Nor is it quite correct to see children
as "animals," "like mice," as Spock insists. Childhood is an entity, a mythos that persists in being itself for as long as it can. Some element
of the child should remain as the adult emerges. On Earth II, the dialectical relationship between nature's opposites or contraries has
broken down. A world
of children without grups is just as wicked as a world of grown-ups without
onlies. In either case, being
an onlie is hell's foolie:
….their world is confined, it contains kings, princes,
faithful servants and honest craftsmen, above all,
fishermen, millers, charcoal burners and herdsmen, in
short, all who have stayed closest to nature. All else
is alien. The whole of nature is animated, as it is
the myths of a golden age. Sun, moon and stars are
our fellows. They give presents and even have garments
woven for themselves. Dwarfs work the ore in the
mountains , nymphs sleep in the waters, birds, plants
and stones can talk and express their sympathy. Their
very blood can call and speak….This innocent communion
of great and small things is of inexpressible sweetness.
We would rather listen to the stars talking to a poor
child, lost in the wood, than to the music of the
--(Bruder Grimm, Kinder-und Hans-marcher [Berlin, 1812],
Vol 1, Preface, v-xxi).
William Wordsworth, the poet of the common man and of common creation, sought an
ideal state where childhood and
adulthood remained interrelated, where Blake's contraries still bred progression. There was to be no destruction of the two
states, but a dialectical interaction, creating a better man who contained both elements, grew with them, but never outgrew
the need for both:
My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now 1 am a man;
--(William Wordsworth, "My Heart Leaps Up," 1802).
In a more modern and
less nostalgic view, William Blake's Songs of Innocence and of Experience (1794)
present "the two contrary
states of the human soul." They are "Innocence" and "Experience." Trek's four episodes about children are studies in the necessity
of onlies and grups as both complementary and
states in the one human soul. He proposes a sustained conflict, without victory
or suppression, of simultaneous opposites.
Blake's view consists of turning all traditional, orthodox goods into evils; therefore god is evil and the devil is good. Energy, from the
body, is good, not evil; Reason, from the soul, is evil, not good. The truth is that "Energy is the only life, and is from the Body; and
Reason is the bound or outward circumference of Energy." "Energy is Eternal Delight." Man has no Body distinct from his soul,
and the five senses are "inlets" to the soul. Blake at once uses and negates bibles and sacred codes as sources of error, especially
as they have been taught and misrepresented by orthodoxy.
Charlie, Miri, the children, and the Squire are first introduced as children who experience knowledge and whose innocence is placed
in confrontation with experience. The loss of innocence is depicted in all these Trek onlies. Children are the state of Innocence, close to
Eternity from which them came "trailing clouds of story" (Wordsworth's "Ode"), and are as yet uncorrupted by Experience. Blake says,
"Little children always behold the Fare of the Heavenly Father." "That is Heaven," indicating children playing, "for of such is the kingdom
of heaven" (cf. , Matthew 19:14). Agreeing with Wordsworth, Blake's children are "infant Loves and Graces," "infant thought and desires."
Children symbolize the workings of the imagination, the "Eternal flowing from the Divine Humanity in Jesus." "Jesus is surrounded by
Beams of Glory in which are seen all around him Infants emanating from him; these represent the Eternal Births of Intellect from the divine
Humanity." Trek's children represent the state of unfallen man, pre-lapsarian man; the child is still naive, unknowing of evil. "Experience"
was used by Blake to represent man after the fall from God. Blake's dialectic contrasts laughter with tears, gaiety with sorrow,
despair. Experience, however, is necessary for character growth. It is evil to
falsely maintain innocence, to avoid
confrontations that jar and hurt. Innocence should not be broken prematurely, however. To foist the concepts of fallen man upon
the innocent before it is necessary is evil. Blake’s "contrary states" are not mechanically contradictions, but contraries--almost opposites,
but never totally so. Therefore, to some extent, innocence and experience, good and evil, co-exist at the same time in any growing,
thinking individual. The child, Charlie, is innocent of erotic love until he confronts Yeoman Rand, his first crush. Though sexually of age
and intellectually of experience, Charlie is innocent emotionally and physically. He has no knowledge of woman, in the Biblical sense.
To be complete, Charlie must lose his innocence through confrontation with his own glands. As in "Miri," "Charlie X" is a story of
contraries based on adolescence. Through science and good grups, Miri will learn to love Jahn--no more foolies: Charlie, with no
guidance since infancy, living alone on a Thasus planet whose inhabitants (Thasians) are pure spirit, with no knowledge of corporeality.
They have been, in essense, no parents, not even grups. Charlie cannot even see them, feel them, touch them. He is a child, an adolescent
child, of total sensory deprivation. Janice is experience, the pagan love of a Venus, to a starved virginal, human adolescent. Kirk tries to
be both father figure and authority figure to Charlie, but even Kirk cannot do, in a few days, what takes a child many years to learn--
how to see, to feel, to feel and show affection. Charlie's libido has no positive outlet. He feels the terrible pangs, but cannot handle
what his body hungers for. Charlie needs a geisha, but Janice is no lover of children.
In "Charlie X," Charlie must eventually be destroyed because he cannot love and
be loved. Charlie's pent-up hunger is indistinct from
his instinct for survival taught him by his invisible, uncaring guardians who have transcended bodily form and desires for many centuries.
Charlie is a nightmare whose urge to create is defined only by his urge to survive--a power over matter given him by his less-than-
understanding guardians. They are helpless to help Charlie. You have to be a visible, physical parent to love and to discipline a child who
does not take "no" for an answer. His inability to control any aspects of the Enterprise's environment makes Charlie X a sadist and a
murderer among the ranks of a civilized society. On the planet, he needed his power to stay alive; on board the Enterprise, the objects
of Charlie's passion become his victims. He makes them "all go away." He will not and cannot be disciplined, so his mortality destroys
his fellow man. Charlie is an example, akin to "Miri," of a child who has an instinctive "need for adults," but it must come early--from
infancy to teens and beyond.
Imagination without reason and its contrary breeds evil. Although adolescence is not the "disease" in "And the Children Shall Lead,"
childlike behavior and immaturity are. They too, like Miri and Charlie, are orphans. Perhaps orphans have some happiness in the novels
of Charles Dickens, poor but basically innocent; but innocent children can be misled by a Fagin (Oliver Twist) or by a gorgan, the
who uses the innocent to aid his evil plan to corrupt all mankind by preying on man's subconscious "beasts;" All imaging by the
children in all four
episodes has one common demominator--the children are evil. Howbeit
subconsciously or out of naive innocence,
the children do not behave innocently. They are all little SOB's who deserve a prolonged paddling, perhaps a qualified, absolute
thrashing, at the hands of a Calvinistic preacher-father! On the other hand, the adults are either too permissive, self-blind, or too
impotent to teach and to assume responsibility to discipline the children. The grups are remiss in their duties. If children do not receive
discipline, they resent the lack of authority and become rebellious truants. Those "innocent" children are evil, and the human imagination,
in the absence of ruling reason, is allowed to proliferate evil without censure or qualification. The children are evil:
'All good thoughts, all good
words, all good deeds, I do
consciously. All evil thoughts,
all evil words, all evil deeds,
I do unconsciously.'
It is in Skinner's
behavioral psychology (Walden Two) that a metaphysical distinction is
drawn concerning the concept of good and
evil in children. Skinner says that it is incorrect and imprecise to say that Johnny is a "bad" boy. This denotes that Johnny is inherently
evil and that there exists no distinction between the moral state of the doer and the deed. Instead, a parent should say that Johnny is
behaving badly or incorrectly. The evil lies in the deed, not in the doer. Many theologians have done battle over this distinction. Miri,
Jahn, the middle ones, and the little ones--approximately ages fifteen to four--are Miri's gang. The producer's stated concept of Miri’s
old gang is one of innocence. In the
Final Draft of
August 12, 1966, the director's note states that, "Jahn isn't evil--none of
these kids are evil." However, as The Avesta
quotation denotes, the thoughts, words, and deeds stem from the immerleben, are evil unconsciously--but nevertheless evil. While
technically in a non-knowing state of pre-1apsarian, Blakian innocence, the children's words, thoughts, and deeds have evil in them.
For Blake, experience requires an intelligent and an emotional recognition of one's fallen state of chaos and violence. The child becomes
an adult when he/she sees the thorns amid the roses. He sees the world's essential wickedness and himself as a sinner, of sorts. To enter
experience, the child must see Earth II as a place of abandonment and desolation, a silent, dead city. Miri and Jahn also experience a
sexual awareness but, as Jahn suggests, it is a “good thing." Miri and her gang are not traumatized until the oldest one, like the "creature"
and Louise who enter puberty. The experience of the creature, yelling and crying over his fallen and broken tricycle shows the terror of his
personal hell. He now knows; he now experiences the self-consciousness of present mortality; he is now able to compare and contrast
good and evil; he sees, understands, feels anger for what proves to be the heritage of death bequeathed him by the grups. Miri's transition
from innocence to experience is a recognition of the dualities of good and evil in herself, in her gang, and in her fallen environment.
The trauma is eased for Miri because of adult intervention and guidance given by the Trekkers. Miri's old gang will be cared for and
trained to prepare them for the inevitabilities of mortality. They are evil until that time
"they have lived without restraint," and because there is an absence of a
consciousness of evil. But they do perform evil things.
Jahn wears a military jacket; the onlies wear World War II helmets and bear military paraphernalia. One looks like a Japanese soldier.
What the children do to Janice and Kirk is no foolie. The worst is the red-haired boy who goes "bonk...bonk...bonk" on the head with
his hammer. They negate all enemies with "Blah--blah-blah!" and "bonk on the head." They are brats, and they inflict bodily harm on Kirk.
In doing whatever suits their fancy, the children perform evil. To use Jaris' distinction, they do evil without actually knowing it; they are guilty,
but not responsible. Evil is an absence of restraint. So they club "Mister Lovey-Dovey…bonk, bonk on the head--bonk, bonk." In the
scene of the principal's office, the Blakian idea that experience exists amid the haunts of innocence becomes incarnate when the children
attack Kirk, leaving him bloody, bruised, and shocked. Janice is tied to a chair and awaits their mercy. She is scared of the kids' brutal
intentions to sacrifice her; she is also saddened by the state of the children. Hatred and love intermingle in the adult of experience. The
innocent children feel no such sadness. The children, in a foolie, mimic school teacher and primitive principal, and Kirk is “a very bad citizen"
for raising his voice. Kids do not usually "like" school. The stereotype of the punitive, uncharitable nun, brings few fond memories to adult
Irish Catholics, for example. Learning is a difficult and painful process, but learn they must change. Kirk bears the brunt of the anti-teacher,
Experience confronts innocence as Kirk must convince children that it is time to grow up. No more foolies:
Kirk: It is not a game!...
there never was a game.
Blond Girl: Call the police!
Red-haired boy: I'm the police: Bonk, bonk unless you're good.
Kirk: Listen to me….All of you....If you don't...if my friends
and I don't do our job right ... there will be nothing left
soon...no grups...no onlies, noone! ...Nobody left...Nobody
In the final draft, some omitted lines intensify the evil of the children's thoughts, words, and deeds:
Kirk: You hear me? ... Before -- it's -- absolutely--too
late! You're grinning--laughing, but what you mean
to do isn't funny at all...Do you know what you mean to
do? To hurt me--to kill me, maybe…. K-I-L-L!
Like the children in
William Golding's Lord of the Flies, the children chant, "Kill the
beast:" They intend to spill human blood,
and they succeed:
Red-haired boy: Naughty grup...bonk, bonk...bonk, bonk.
Kirk: Do you want the disease to kill you? The
disease...you1re not babies, you know more than
you want to let on--I know you understand.
Kirk is clubbed and
clubbed. Boys grab at him, beginning to punch. Weapons appear in the children's
hands..."things before but
weapons now." The disease is already "in" the children, like a time bomb. Kirk reaches the children's level of language by "I dare you...
I double dare you." He gains their attention: "And the little ones--the ones you've been taking care of ... what about them?"
Red-haired boy: What about them? Bonk, bonk, grup!
Kirk: You older ones will be gone, but they'll go on a
while (getting hit, driven back). But no food,
you understand? (As these words get through, the
hitting stops; they stare at him for a beat or so).
We've looked over the food inventory...the food is
almost gone...Six months--that's all, six months and
Seeing the grinning
faces, Kirk touches his bleeding cheek, and stares at the blood on his arms and
hands: "You want a foolie?
All right. I dare you...I double dare you...to look at your hands. Go ahead, a double dare!" Kirk brings a moment of experience to
the children through the visage of blood. The children are behaving like their foolies and grups:
Kirk: And that's what you are...people, but with blood
on your hands...like those creatures you're so
afraid of. That's what you're becoming, like those
others. Hitting...hurting… blood ... Look at the
blood on your hands: Is that what you want to be?
With facts the
children comprehend, Kirk, with Miri's exhortations to heed Kirk's truths, Kirk
convinces the children, "I am a grup...
and I want to help you, or there won't be anything left at all!" If children have “an instinctive need for adults," they also have an
instinctive need for violence. The cure for the disease comes at the moment that Kirk raises the children's innocence to the beginnings of
experience. The violence stops. The disease is cured (it was in the children for three-hundred years), and the children receive guidance.
They may also need "truant officers," as McCoy snips. In the FD, experience has been more difficult on the Trekkers than on the children.
Adults who rear
children before, through, and after experience, do take a lot of the pounding
and the beating from often-ungrateful
brats who happen to be the subjects of their love and life. Kirk symbolizes the extraordinary patience and will required of a good grup.
In adolescence, children suffer blemishes, zits, but these things too shall pass away. No teacher, no parent, no child escapes
the blemishes of growing up:
Janice: But they were just children
Simply to leave them there with just a medical exam to help them ...
Kirk: Children ... three hundred years old and
more. They'll catch on fast with a
little guidance. Besides, I've already
contacted Space Central .... They'll send
teachers, advisers ...
McCoy: And truant officers, I presume.
The children in "Miri
produce evil. Every child has the potential for violence. Even orderly children (perhaps a paradox) can be brats.
And this too shall pass--into an ever-maturing adult who still frets over a lonely, broken tricycle. He knows; he remembers; he is complete;
his inherent dualities INTERACT: HE IS GOOD.
As a name, Miri is indicative of the predicament of the main character. Miri is employed as a twenty-first century up-dating of Mary.
The name is meant to imply change, just as John is Jahn. It is different. 'I'he term, "Miri," has its linguistic basis in the Middle English myrr.
In Old English, myryth came to mean mirth, joy, merriment, especially when characterized by laughter. Miri as a child is merry-Miri,
one side of her role as innocence. From the Old Norse, myer, Miri denotes an area of soggy earth and of mind. Miri is a mire in that she
is stuck in the mud. Noticeable is the dirt on Miri' s face in her opening scene. As a chi ld of three hundred years, Miri is static. She, like
the other "onlies,” has no particular love of soap and water. The same root for Miri is the Greek "meros," as in meridian. Miri is a
midday, noon, i..e., she is only a part, half of a grown-up. She is a part, and a part, incomplete as a child. As an innocent child entering
adolescence, Miri, has a linguistic basis in moira, a Greek term denoting her fate or lot or quality of deserving well or sometimes ill.
As merit, Miri is a child of value and worth with "intrinsic rightness or wrongness." Latinate derivative, Miri, as in miraculum, means
a strange thing, later miracle as in strangely wonderful. The denotation is always positive. Mirari, as a verb, presents Miri with Star
Trek's most probable visage--"to wonder at."
Miri is wonderful,
based on the (s)mri Miri means to smile. As a child to behold,
Miri possesses the laughter of a pleasant child to
behold. Miri, even dirt on her face, is a beautiful young woman.
Kids in Star Trek endure the normalities and abnormalities of being kids in an adult world. Miri and her gang are, in the end,
the lucky ones. The will have long lives to live, and they will continue. They were given a second chance. The evil in Charlie exceeds
the fairy tale of innocence. Jahn and the kids inflict hurt, but they never appear to be premeditatively evil on the conscious level. Their
goodness is equal to their sadness: 'All good thoughts, all good words, all good deeds, I do consciously. All evil thoughts, all evil words,
all evil deeds, I do unconsciously.' Charlie is much like the narrator in Blake’s poem, “The Garden of Love," where the now-experienced
man senses the loss of "glory" and splendour.” His knowledge is both abstract and personal. He is angry because the innocent pleasures
of his past in the garden now are sins forbidden by the sixth commandment. He feels a helpless and overwhelming guilt in himself; he feels
hatred for Christian orthodoxy for making him one of the wicked:
I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never has seen:
A chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.
And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
And 'thou shalt not' writ over the door;
So I turn'd to the Garden of Love,
That so many sweet flowers bore,
And I saw it filled with graves,
And tomb-stones where flowers should be:
And priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars my joys &
--(William Blake, "The Garden of Love").
the form of Hebraic conscience of good and evil. In his youthful frolickings in
the garden, his seeds wrought sweet
flowers. He saw that it was good. After being guided by the 'Thou shalt not' dogma of Hebrew orthodoxy and Christian Calvanism,
the body is now seen as evil. He has been taught to see that carnal knowledge is evil. Dogma has made his childhood sexuality an evil.
He is shocked and dumbfounded. Gone is the visionary gleam of childhood; here are the tombs, graves, and priests who preach evil and
death. He sees himself as a sinner or one of the wicked. His past totem is experience's taboo: "Thou shalt not" is a death within him.
He is a victim of a newer knowledge, of an administered Hebraic conscience that makes him self-conscious of his own mortality.
He has fallen; he has been driven from Eden once more. As Blake, no lover of brainwashing clergy who speak lies in place of Biblical
truths, notes: "As the caterpillar chooses the fairest leaves to lay her eggs on, so the priest lays his curse on the fairest joys."
("Proverbs of Hell") For Blake, "All deities reside in the human breast," a conscience of the heart. The narrator, like Charlie, is taught
that touching is "wrong" and people "are not nice to me.” Charlie is never given the opportunity to channel his adolescent energy
because civilized society (grups), on the Antares and on the Enterprise retains the "error" that “Energy , call'd Evil, is alone from the
Body" and that Reason (control) is the only good. He is told "Thou shalt not" at every turn in the road. Charlie wants all the world's
"goods" now, but society says these "goods" are evil. As a result, "no" to Charlie is not understood. He has never known a "thou shalt not"
before. What the priests see as evil, Charlie sees as good. His evil is a result of his inability to reconcile the duality of good and evil.
Charlie rejects the discipline of the temple. As a result, Charlie's imaginings vs. "Thou shalt not" create energy without order.
Charlie has never
overcome his childhood Narcissism--he is all ME, ME, ME! All the "NOT-ME" is
evil. Charlie becomes a
demon. His love and need to be loved find no healthy outlet because Charlie does not "know the rules." He has got to know
"the rules" to love. In a ship full of grups, Charlie is an adolescent onlie who does not know the meaning of “no.”
Charlie's thoughts, words, and deeds are evil because he lacks direction and grown-up knowledge. He feels a hunger
that never dies. He kills people! One of the pieces of verse that Charlie forces Spock to recite on the bridge states:
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright/
In the forest of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame they fearful symmetry?
These are opening lines from Blake's poem, "The Tyger" from Songs of Experience. The tyger is the contrary of the lamb in
the Songs of Innocence. As representative of Blake's tiger, Charlie is an archetype of cunning, predatory evil.
Blake's poem of experience deals with a new consciousness of evil and presents the Manichean heretical impasse: how can
a creator of good also be a creator of evil. The Manichean heresy created two gods: one of good, one of evil. Without this
dualism, it was believed that god would otherwise be evil. The separation into two gods is an evil because it sustains and
reaffirms the mortal man's inability, based on the fall, to reconcile opposites. Such an inability is a sign of the self-consciousness
of Charlie's fallen state. Heretofore, he has never known evil. Now, all at once, his natural hunger of adolescence is an evil.
Charlie's prolonged innocence of some sixteen years evidences the evil itself. Of Charlie, as of the tiger, Hebraic men of
conscience must ask:
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On What wings dare he aspire?
On what hand, dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder, &
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?
Charlie is a tiger
among the fold of Hebraic sheep aboard the ship. The Thasians gave him
telekinetic powers to help him
survive on Thasssus, where no sensual desi res exist. Since infancy, Charlie has had no mortal parents to touch, to feel, to love,
to teach, to learn. The Thasians are energy, pure spirit (like Trulane's parents). They are inadequate to guide Charlie through
innocence and experience. Charlie is an emotional orphan with no onlies to provide peer example. He has never learned to be
a child; he has never experienced the fairy tales and "glory" of a Wordsworthian childhood. Charlie was born and died at the
age of 16, and therein lies his evil. He confuses his powers to survive with his primal powers to love/lust. Charlie never had a foolie,
none of the songs and play of innocence. He was never allowed to be a kid, an onlie without grups and onlies. Charlie's evil
derives from cultural and mythical deprivation. He is a fallen Adam without an Eve--no play, no ghosts, no goblins, no sleeping
beauty. This is the essence of Charlie's tragic character. When Charlie maims people, or turns them into a lizard , or defaces
a yeoman, he is guilty of evil, but probably not responsible. At the very least, he could be guilty by reason of insanity in
gruplessness, in childlessness. He is born at age sixteen into a new culture of flesh and blood that runs on rules and
Charlie has no
concept of helplessness because of his power
to "make them go
away." Charlie murders and he likes it,
a fact that denies to him any sympathy for his plight when the Thasians finally rescue the Trekkers from an adolescent!
It is also difficult to applaud the Trekkers who either cannot or will not breach innocence and experience. Here, adults
do not help, cannot help because Charlie's power to murder and maim precludes positive reception and positive learning.
Charlie puts the Enterprise in a kill or be killed dilemma. Charlie must be destroyed; like a Nomad-in-reverse, Charlie's
adolescent evil, combined with supernatural powers, makes the tiger a nightmare in a flock of orderly, impotent sheep
who will not give in:
Those who restrain desire, do so
because theirs is weak enough to be
restrained; and the restrainer or restrainer or
reason usurps its place
and governs the unwilling.
And being restrained, it by degrees
becomes passive, till it is only
the shadow of desire.
--(William Blake, Marriage of Heaven and Hell, 1790-03).
The Antares and
the Enterprise crews are being governed by the restrainer and they are unwilling
and never passive.
The philosophy of Martin Buber in his work, Good and Evil, takes Blakian and Biblical thinking into a newer synthesis
by which Charlie must be wicked and evil. The basis is the fall of man and the subsequent inability to reconcile opposites.
In Psalm 73, it is the heart that determines. Blake's innocence must make way for growth, experience. Charlie has been
deprived. No deep experience has penetrated to his heart. Charlie is a "wicked one" because he is "sheltered from destiny:
For them there are not, as for all the
others, those constraining and confining 'hands of
destiny' ; 'they are never in the trouble of man. '
And so they deem themselves superior to all ... from
the fatness of their faces, one sees 'the
paintings of the heart,' the wish-images of their
cruelty, flitting across. Their relation to the
world of their fellow-men is arrogance and
cunning, craftiness and exploitation. 'They
speak oppression .... '
--(Martin Buber, Good and Evil, 1952). All references are to this text.
Charlie's end is
the inescapable "experience of their non-existence." His life is a shadow
structure in the face of the truth. The Psalmist (73)
points out what leaves Charlie so evil in that he is solitary, devoid of 'the generation of thy children' and of the father who takes "his little
son by the hand in order to lead him." The father leads him "primarily in order to make present to him, in the warm touch of coursing blood,
the fact that ... the father is continually with him." The Thasians take Charlie back to the ship, the realm of nothingness, where there is "neither
activity nor consciousness." Miri ' s gang, Charlie, the children, and the Squire can attain the good only in the leading of parental guidance.
Miri and the children have no living parents, but eventually find guidance among Starfleet personnel, big brothers, and "block" parents.
Charlie alone has no love, no caring. Why cannot Charlie's power be withdrawn? He will never be "one of us." He cannot be "among us
because he is a demon and a freak. All that's left of his humanity is a destructive eroticism. The squire, a very naughty boy, has parents who
are pure energy (like Charlie's Thasians), but they are his true, caring parents, not remote, uncaring guardians. Trulane's parents love their
son incarnate, and they discipline him for his naughtiness. All children's pranks, in the void without grups, are potentially harmful and violent
offspring of childhood imaging.
“And The Children Shall Lead”
In Buber' s works,
as in Blake's, direction must accompany knowing, and knowing is not just an
abstract cognizance. Buber stresses that
knowing, the recognition of maturing, must be physical and personal. The children in "Shall Lead" must have physical contact with the evil
of the gorgan as he really is. McCoy's insistence that grief must be present subsequent to the suicidal deaths of the parents emphasizes the
Hebraic catharsis of grief. It is wicked to induce parental death and act as if it never happened or by saying, "So what?" While the children
are not sorry for indirectly killing their parents, they are the evil, and the gorgan is an imaging of this inherent inability to reconcile good and
evil. The image-angel is "good" while the kids maintain death as an illusion. When they are made to realize the angel is bad, tears cascade
down their cheeks. The death of their parents is the doings of the children. Their "angel" is their "beast." Tears bring "experience" into a
physically Hebraic experience:
The decisive event for 'knowing' in
biblical Hebrew is not that one looks
at an object, but that one comes
into touch with it. This basic
difference is developed in the
realm of a relative of the soul to
other beings, where the fact of
mutuality changes everything. At
the centre is not a perceiving
of one another, but the contact
of being, intercourse ...
--(M.Buber, Good and Evil ).
Charlie is evil
because he is deprived of "knowing" in the sense of intercourse, physical
contact and mutuality with other beings of his
kind. Miri and her gang, although three-hundred years without parents, have "intercourse" among themselves as onlies. Foolies of
imagination keep them
alive, falsely but
mutually. Knowing means a "man is lifted out" of his innocence. All the Trek
onlies (children) must remain innocent,
but only to the point where continued, protracted not-knowing is damaging and a negative burden to the personalities involved.
The experience and the knowledge of it constitute one's destiny, however "cruel and contrary" it may appear. Blake's influence on
Buber and other modern thinkers is beyond estimate. Buber insists that "knowing" is "not like any experience of nature.” On the
contrary, it is "biographical experiences" experienced according to Miri's, Charlie's, and Trulane's own personal life, is a destiny lived
in life's every confrontation.
Evil, whose knowledge is the destiny of Trek’s onlies is, according to Blake, a reversal of a precept that "Everything that lives is
Holy" (Song of Liberty). Life is holy, and evil is not an absolute, any more than hell is a place. Evil is an error, a delusion, a quality
springing from the mistaken division of good and evil. The evil lies in human false-imaging: "Everything possible to be believ'd is an
image of truth," as every belief is a reflection of something in the human imagination. But it is only an image. In Jerusalem, Blake notes
"What seems to Be, Is, To those to whom it seems to Be, & is productive of the most dreadful Consequences to those to whom it
seems to Be, even of Torments, Despair, Eternal Death." Blake has left man to the heaven or hell of his own imagination. If Charlie's
image of love is power-domination, then it is so. It must be said then an image can be as real as any reality, just as pleasant, just as
In explaining man's loss of innocence, Martin Buber uses the Blakian (and Hegelian) dialectic between opposites as the key to
explaining the fall of man and the consequent freedom to grow or to stagnate. One is either "one of us" or not so. All onlies, except
Charlie, have experienced detachment from and attachment to the circle of communal mankind. Only Charlie is fully ostracized because
of his demonry and rampant sexuality. If evil exists, the good must be found to balance the scales. Good or evil, in extremities, leaves
no room for maturation. Man must know both innocence and experience in order to be whole. The dualities form a momentary "heaven"
combine in a person to breed progression. Trek’s onlies experience evil
partly in the acquisition of sexual desire--
Charlie and Miri; partly in the acquisition of moral consciousness--Miri and the gang, Trulane (an alien), and the Triacus children
only; partly in a general knowledge of all good and bad things of all kinds: Miri, Trulane, and the Triacus children. The fourth
knowledge, according to Buber, is the correct one: " 'Knowledge of good and evil' means nothing else than: cognizance of the
opposites ... adequate awareness of the opposites inherent in all being within the wall." Only a creator is absolutely familiar with
the opposites of being, and only he is superior to them. Man's tree of knowledge denies him familiarity. The experience of
the children of man has a creative part only in "that which is created and not in creation, is capable of begetting and giving birth, not of
creating." Evil and imaging, any unity of opposites, can only be monetary. Man must, as Blake insists, act quickly in these moments
or as a rule man must use the opposites to his advantage. Buber clarifies the yes and no of Blake's theory of innocence and
experience as contrary states of the human soul:
and evil, the yes-position
and the no-position of existence,
enter into his living cognizance;
but in him [fallen man] they can never
be temporally coexistent. He knows
oppositeness only by his situation
within it; and that means de facto
(since the yes can present itself
to the experience and perception of
the no man in the no-position,
but not the no in the yes-position).
--(Martin Buber, Good and Evil).
with his toys, his specimens (Kirk and friends), Trulane must learn by his
situation. As an alien, he is not a
Charlie, but he does possess huge, alien, mechanical power. He taunts and hurts people's pride, but he never maims or murders
with his power--unlike Charlie, who is a human with alien powers accentuated and activated by Dionysian eroticism. Trulane loses
and misuses his playthings. He will be spanked, and ·will not be allowed "to make any more planets." In this sense, Trulane remains
a loveable clown of a kid. His antics and foolies are cognizant to him. His parents stop Trulane's "most dangerous game" before
anyone gets hurt. He learns that he is a bad boy in the no-position, a naughty brat for putting a yes in the no position. The Triacus
children also learn their no-position when their yes-angel becomes a no-angel. It was the good only as long as they perceived it to be
so, as long as the gorgan seemed to be a good angel. Miri, Trulane, and the Triacus kids learn oppositeness by their situations within it.
But evil is not temporally coexistent per se; only the images coexist. Knowledge stems from this encounter within the ME, of
oppositeness. Buber leaves final coexistence to God; Blake sees the human imagination as a human factor, in god's image, for rebirths
throughout one's lifespan. Modern literature is wary of Buber' s acute theism, permitting man a degree of creativity within the dialectic of
opposites--a fact Buber admits pre-exists in the Divine. Man inherited these dualities, but he is not their master and is not superior to
them. There are roses amid the thorns. Both honey and locusts grow in the desert of a fallen world. The Triacus children have
benefited from death and grief. The result is a better child and a morally knowledgable adult-to-be. But each child, in gaining
something, has lost something. A good gained means a good lost. They are orphans. Through experience the Triacus children's tears
"always latently present in creation break out into actual reality" (Buber). The children "are ashamed, not merely before one
another, but with one another."
Trek’s onlies experience what Buber calls "human recognition' of opposites," and
it alone "brings with it the fact of
their relatedness to good and evil." It is part of being kinetically human to be exposed to the opposites inherent in all existence
within the world, through awareness of them. The loss of innocence is a "felix culpa" (happy fault) because it presents children
with the challenge of self-betterment. Man in the world is "a primordially free being" where his freedom will find its strangest and
most adventurous expression. The human drama is only just beginning.
Trek’s onlies are evil in their imaging because their imaginations see good without evil, or evil without good. Experience
energizes the rebirth cycle of dialectical contraries. Particularly, "And The Children Shall Lead" is a study in the incongruity of
imagined perspectives. As in "Miri," the children are orphans (onlies), but they are responsible for inducing the mass suicides of
their parents. The episode shows that the followers are just as dangerous as their demon-angel, the gorgan. Their incantations
and their circle are reminiscent of Satanic rituals recalling the devil from the kingdom of hell into the mortal world of the children.
From the very beginning, an incongruity exists between the horror of a Jonestown scene of mass carnage and the unbelievable joy
of children laughing-playing as though unconscious of the holocaust. Evil here is defined as the innocent mislead into imagining the
dead parents to be a good thing. They imagine that their parents never loved them, that Triacus is a hell. The children are their
parents' beast as offsprings of parental love and experience. Misled, the children live out "Miri's" dialectic of grups vs. onlies .
Adults are "the enemy," the gorgan states. What one sees are children, asleep. The key to the evil is "locked up" within them.
The incongruity of laughing children amid dead parents sets the tone for a battle between determined, goal-oriented children,
and a crew of Trekkers bound on changing the children's false imaginations in the light of Hellenic reason:
Whatever happened here is temporarily
locked up in those children.
Spock: The attack on the Professor's party
must surely have been unprovoked.
Kirk: Attack, Mr. Spock? Mass suicide is what it seemed to me.
Spock: I stand corrected, Captain. Induced might
really be a more precise term. Induced
by an outside force.
In this episode, the
mystery of the cause is logically stated in the first act. The also stated The
children's motivations are also stated
children...would then have been
exempted by conscious design.
Spock: A valid assumption, I would say.
Kirk: And their present behavior could
be explained by...fear of punishment.
Spock: Or the promise of reward.
facing an evil father-figure, like the gorgan, are not conscious of the
experience of parental suicide. If Tommy is aware,
he imagines that his parents are still alive on Triacus. He uses both past and present tense in stating his image of what happened:
you see your father today?
Tommy: Sure I saw him.
Kirk: Did he seem upset?
Tommy: Yeah ... he sure did!
Kirk: About what?
Tommy: How should I know. He was always upset.
Just like you, Captain Kirk....
Kirk: Won't you be unhappy leaving Triacus?
Tommy: That place? That's for grown-ups
Kirk: Aren't you sorry to be leaving your parents?
Tommy: What for? They loved it down there.
They were always bizzy...bizzy...bizzy.
observation of perspective centers over McCoy's medical observations that the
children "behave as though nothing had
The children deny Kirk and Nurse Chapel's "no-position" because they feel parents lose themselves in their work and, therefore, do not
pay enough attention to the children. They imagine their parents could not care about them. Kirk and Nurse Chapel keep entitling the
children's "no," heightening the adult-child gap. Kirk and Nurse Chapel are reminiscent of the "Nurse's Song." In Songs of Innocence,
the nurse hears the children laughing and playing, and calls them:
home my children, the sun is gone down
And the dews of night arise;
Come, come, leave off play, and let us away
Till the morning appears in the skies.'
The children protest:
let us play, for it is yet day
And we cannot go to sleep
Besides, in the sky, the little birds fly
And the hills are all covered with sheep.'
Because the nurse
is as innocent as the children, possibly not much older, in fact or in her
imagination, she empathizes with the children's
request because their views are similar:
well, go and play till the light fades away
And then go home to bed.'
The little ones leaped and shouted and laugh'd
And all the hills echoed.
The perspective of
experience is the "no" expressed by Kirk: "Children! Children! It's time to
leave here and go up to the ship." The
children protest: "Ahhhh not yet. Geeee not now. We're just beginning to have fun." Kirk responds: "I'm sorry...I'm sorry. It's getting late.
You'll have to go with the doctor." Nurse Chapel is the vendor of ice cream:
Chapel: Would you like to be surprised,
Steve? (he nods)
Steve: It's coconut and vanilla. They're both
white. I don't ...
Nurse Chapel: There are unpleasant surprises as
well as pleasant ones. That was
your unpleasant surprise.
is the voice of experience, of balanced perspectives of pleasure and pain.
Like the nurse of Blake’s innocence,
Chapel consciously gives Steve a pleasant surprise of "chocolate wobble and pistachio." She is baiting the children, but with tender
gloves. Kirk shows the same need to be like one of them, while attempting to elicit the truth about the Triacus suicides:
Do you like this ice cream better than
Don (the Black child): That dirty old planet?
Ray (the Oriental child): What's there to like
about that place?
Mary: Yeah! You weren't there very long!
You don't know.
Kirk: I don’t think your parents liked it very much either
Tommy: Yes, they did.
Steve: Yeah--mine sure did.
Don: Parents like stupid things.
Nurse Chapel: I don't think so. Parents
Mary: Ha! Ha! That's what you think.
Kirk: I'm sure your parents loved you. That's
why they took you with them to Triacus.
They didn't want to be away from you for
such a long time...they would miss you.
Wouldn't you miss them?
Tom: Bizzy! Bizzy!
Children: Bizzy! Bizzy! Bizzy! Bizzy!
In those Bizzy's,
Nurse Chapel sees a swarm of bees. Kirk sees a swarm of adults, as the Mary bee
threatens, "Watch out! Watch out!
I'll sting you!" Kirk, like Blake's nurse, in Songs of Experience, refuses more ice cream because "it might spoil your dinner." In Blake's
poem of experience, the now-older, adult nurse is soured on life, probably an old maid, and she refuses the children's biddings. She is no
longer innocent, thus presenting the perspective of reason:
When the voices of children, are heard on the/
And whisperings are in the dale,
The days of
my youth rise fresh in my mind,
My face turns green and pale.
Then corne home my children, the sun is/
And the dews of might arise;
and your day are wasted in play,
And your winter and night in disguise.
(Wm. Blake, “Nurses Song." Songs of Experience)
Kirk tells. the
"You’ve all had a very busy day. It is time you
got some rest."
The children snicker with resentment. Although
rebellion is not yet overt, it will soon begin.
The children are the unconscious victims of a conscious design. Professor Starnes' tapes and final "takes" add the "enemy within" theme,
not found in the FD of June 21, 1968. The theme is Gene Roddenberry's most consistent one in dealing with man's immerlebengeist. The
ghost is from the human imagination and its primordial darkness. The most consistent term used to describe what the gorgan represents
and images is "anxiety." Kirk first experiences it in the recently excavated cave on Triacus where the demon hides.
you picking up any life forms?
Spock: Definitely not humanoid ...
Kirk: Strange ... I get a feeling of
anxiety in this place ... That
sounds rather 'unscientific'
doesn't it? But it's strongest
Spock: I don't feel it, Captain .. anxiety is
foreign to me ... I wasn't aware it could
be picked up by sensors.
Kirk: Of course. How stupid! It's only
in my mind. How could it make the
momentarily incapacitated by his anxiety attack, attributing it to '"
sympathetic vibrations' with what happened here." Professor
Starnes team experiences the same enemy wi thin, at first attributing it to nerves. Slowly, Starnes sees that there is an attack, that his
people are being forced to do things against their wills. Their behavior becomes .illogical: "I went so far as to call Starfleet Command
to request a spaceship...I began to realize that my mind was being directed."
Kirk suspects the children's evil early, asserting that evil does seek to maintain itself in power by two means: suppression of the truth
and misleading the innocent.
The first appearance of the gorgan has already been explained by Kirk and Spock. They have given all the logical assessments. It is as
if the gorgan were an apparition from Kirk’s own anxieties, his enemy within, and from data from Spock' s analysis of the planet's legends,
and from Professor Starnes' own tapes of the "unseen force" influencing his science team. The legend of a band of marauders on Triacus
warns that "the power of evil is awaiting a catalyst to set it again into motion and send it marauding across the galaxy." Kirk is now
convinced that the
five children are
that catalyst. Kirk's strong intuition is somewhat countermanded by fear of
hurting the children, physically and
psychologically. In acceding to McCoy's medical warning "that until the children's normal grief can be tapped and released, you
are treading dangerously." Kirk is caught between duty and sympathy, but Starnes' revelation that he cancelled his request for a
ship triggers Kirk's consciousness: "I understand the diagnosis, Dr. McCoy. I will respect it. But not to the exclusion of the safety
of the Enterprise." By the time Kirk reacts, the children are already in control of the Enterprise (like Charlie X), and the gorgan, like
some figment of legend and imagination, has appeared at the behest of the children's incantation:
Hail, fire and snow
Call the angel
We will go
Far away, for to see
Friendly angel, come to me.
The children chant
the lines of a wizard calling the demon, like Faust calling forth Asmodeus. The
gorgan' s objective presents evil to
children under the image of play. The objective is to go to Marcos where "a million friends" will make "us very strong, my friends.
"The world is to be a fairy tale planet without Kirks, nurses, and "no"-saying grups. It is to be a fantasy world of innocent children who
will not have to come in from play because night is coming and the sun is setting. It is to be an eternal spring, without any winter: "A
million strong and we can do anything we wish--in the whole Universe. It will be ours to play in. No one will interfere. It will be ours."
Edward Lahso's carefully designed story envisions three social forces: the children, the gorgan, and the Trekkers. While the children and
the gorgan are one--"us"--the balance of power is that of evil. What the Trekkers must do is break the
bond of "us," thereby isolating the gorgan from the children's imagination,
making the demon a strange entity without followers,
without power. This would leave only the complementary groups: the children and the adults to resume the dialectic of progressive
reorientation. For the gorgan, the children must wrest control of the Enterprise from the adults, thereby reversing the normal dominance-
subservience relationship between adults and children:
accomplish this great mission we must first
take control of the Enterprise. To control this
ship all we need do is control the crew. You
can do that. That is your next task.
Like a fallen
angel disguised as a guardian angel, the evil one makes the good see "that the
wickedness of man is great on earth and all
the imagery of the designs of his heart only evil the whole day" (Genesis 6:5). In the children, the good only sees "for the imagery of man's
heart is evil from his youth." (Genesis 8:21).
The first level of the children's imagery of evil is that of control of conscious illusions. By the "pounding" of fists, the children externalize
their powers of imagination into creating illusions of the crew's minds, thus controlling conscious movement. Sulu changes course to Marcos,
thinking he still sees Triacus on the viewing screen. Uhura, too, reacts but rests again at her station as Mary pounds her fist.
The children are committing evil under the imaginative illusion that it is good. The gorgan has convinced them that Buber's No-position
is a Yes-position. Their polarities in the immerleben have been reversed by the power of an evil imagination within. Don proceeds to pound
his fist to control the technicians in auxiliary control:
When did we change course?
First Technician: We haven't changed course ...
Scott: What the devil do you think you're doing?
First Technician: We must remain in this orbit
till the bridge orders a change.
Scott: You blind fool! Can't you see what's
in front of you? We're not in orbit ...
First Technician: You are losing control of yourself, Sir.
technicians knock Scotty into unconsciousness. Don has altered the human
consciousness into imaging an altered reality. Again,
polarities of consciousness are reversed: What is isn't; what isn't is. When Kirk is in the transporter room and sees that Sulu is off course,
the jinx is up. The children must use level two power, and so recall the gorgan through incantation. However, this time the entire bridge crew
witnesses the shimmering vision of the gorgan. A new crisis, the Trekkers' awareness of the evil angel and of his evil followers, requires a
new power i.e., the negative control of the unterlebensgeist--the beast--of every adult:
Friends. We have come to a moment of
crisis. The enemy has discovered our
operation. But it is too late for them.
The enemy no longer controls the ship.
We do. If resistance mounts, call
on their beasts. Their beasts will serve
us well. The fear in each one is the
beast that would destroy him....
the Korean War and the later introduction of mind-altering drugs. oppressors
(incubi like gorgan) have known that every
man has one subconscious fear that, when isolated, can be used to thwart conscious thought and behavior. This has many names, like beast
or enemy within.
It is the
innate fear that eclipses all reasoning. The children now extend control
over the key command personnel. Only an overwhelming
reassertion of Hellenic reason can possibly enable a man to reestablish self-control. This "beast" is the one, deep-seated, obsessive fear.
It varies with the psychical make-up of each person. The children now call upon these beasts. The results are dark and macabre. Sulu
freezes in terror as the modern-day Samurai sees a viewing screen encircled with giant daggers. In the FD of 6/21/68--omitted in screening,
Tommy recites: ripped apart by the helmsman's "See--see--what shall he see? His ship ripped apart by the daggers he will see.” Kirk,
shocked by the helmsmen’s refusal to change course, orders Uhura to radio Starbase Four: "tell them we’re bringing the children there…
I suspect them of being alien in nature.” In the mirror of her console, Uhura sees her beast—her death, “My long, long death, ancient
with disease pain. I see my death.” Uhura's obsession with her physical beauty is well-established in Star Trek. In "I, Mudd,” she requested
an android body of immortal beauty. All the beasts allude to the subconscious and its imaginative fears of mortality and loss of ability to
control one’s destiny. Spock too is temporarily affected by the madness on the bridge; “Why are we bothering Starfleet? This bridge
is under complete control. There is no need.” Tommy pounds his fist as beast meets beast, making all order dissolve into chaos. Spock is
physically unable to touch the radio controls. His beast s self-control and fear of his human half. The guard will not take Sulu to his quarters
because Kirk’s orders are garbled; every other word is omitted. Tommy calls upon Kirk’s beast:
I am losing command of my ship.
I am losing the Enterprise…
I am alone.
I am losing command. I am
losing the Enterprise.
Kirk: I have lost command. I have
lost command of the ship.
Spock: Captain Kirk
and use of "Captain." Kirk glares at Spock with "almost insane anger that will
help him overcome fear that is eating him"
(Producer's notes). Finally Kirk regains his self-confidence: "We are here on the Enterprise. I've got command." Spock: "Yes,
Captain Kirk." The dramatic scene on the turbolift is the anagnorisis of the story and the beginning of the end of beastly terror: "To
Auxiliary Control, my Vulcan friend. This ship is off course." Self-control precedes situational control. Kirk must rule his beast. Duty
is his prime directive. Knowledge of one’s unterlebensgeist, and personal confrontation with it, permit reestablishment of the dialectic
of good and evil where man's great powers interact to permit movement forward. Scotty's beast is his fear of misused power and
misdirection: "These are highly sensitive instruments, Captain. I will not let you upset their delicate balance. We would all be lost--
forever lost." The children's innocence, even as followers of the demon, is endangering the lives of 430 men and women. Spock' s logic
is correct, but what was contemplated against Charlie is now contemplated against the wicked children. Spock' s logic calls for
termination. Kirk's logic is tempered by King Herod’s murder of innocent children:
Kirk: It's all right, Spock. My beast is finished. It won't return.
Spock: So long as the children are present there is danger. They are the carriers.
Kirk: They are not alien beings. They are innocent children being used.
Spock: They are followers. without followers the evil cannot spread.
Kirk: Spock! They are children.
Spock: The 430 men and women on the Enterprise and the ship itself are endangered by these children.
Kirk: They do not understand the evil they are doing.
Spock: Perhaps that is true, Captain. But the evil that is within them is spreading fast--and unless we can find a way to
Kirk: We will have to kill them.
beast is his fear of disobeying orders. In attempting to arrest Kirk and Spock,
his beast defines itself
as his duty: "I have never disobeyed a command, Captain. You know I have never disobeyed a command."
Tommy loses control over Chekov' s beast. Kirk's answer to the rampant disobedience by his crew is to confront
the gorgan. He decides to beat the demon at his own game by destroying the crew's and the children's evil imagings:
Kirk He is afraid to be seen. When the
crew sees him and hears him, they
will understand he is not their friend.
They will no longer follow him
Tommy: He is our friend.
Kirk: Then let him show himself. Let him
prove he is my friend, and I will follow
him to Marcos and to the ends of the
Spock replays the taped incantation
and the gorgan reluctantly appears. The game is over. "My beast is gone ...
lost its power in the light of reality," is the Hellenic solution. Kirk proceeds to turn imagination's evil into revealing
its ugly and true appearance. The gorgan's angelic image shrivels with the absolute evil now visible:
Spock: You take only from those who do not know you ....
Gorgan: Foolish! You will all be destroyed.
I would ask you to join me. But you
are gentle ... your gentleness cancels
your strength ... you are full of goodness.
You are like the parents. You must be
The pictures of the
children playing with their parents on Triacus appear. Love and goodness engulf
the screen; then Spock
shows the suicides on Triacus, body after body, and tombstones with names clearly visible. The children begin to cry--at last!
The gorgan is evil that murdered their parents and the children were the accessories. The gorgan incriminates himself as his
evil is now physically visible. Imagination's hold on the children is tempered by the destiny, howbeit terrible and harsh:
Kirk: Without you children he is nothing. The evil remains within him.
Do not be afraid. See how ugly he really is.
Look at him and do not be afraid.
The gorgan becomes
monstrous in form and in essence. Without the sustaining forces of the
children's collective imaginations,
what seemed good reveals itself as evil. "And The Children Shall Lead" is one Trek whose happy ending is one of
uncontrolled crying and pangs of mortal recognition. The children are entering the difficult path of Blake's state of experience:
Oh Those thou art sick
The invisible worm,
That flies in the night
In the howling storm:
Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy
--(William Blake, "The Sick Rose," Songs of Experience)
The episode, "And The Children Shall Lead" is based on a concept, an image, extrapolated from Sarah II: 6-9:
The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the
kid, and the calf and the young lion and
the fatling together, and a little child
shall lead them.
The biblical context describes conditions that image a paradise:
And the cow and the bear shall feed,
their young ones shall lie down to
gether, and the lion shall eat straw
like the ox.
And the suckling child shall play
on the hole of the asp, and the
weaned child shall put his hand on the
They shall not hurt nor destroy
in all my holy mountain, for
the earth shall be full of the
knowledge of the Lord, as the waters
cover the sea.
The child leads the procession, of
heterodoxical nature, and opposites are resolved. The dialectic of good and evil
will be resolved in paradise; indeed the familiarity with opposites resolves the haunting dualisms of man's fallen state--
and children shall lead. The episode's title is both verbally ironic and humanly true. Men of fierce, angry opposites
will cease to devour and restrain others. Love and humility and gentleness will cover the earth. No more aggression,
no more false personalities. Identities are relearned and attained in the fullness of experience. The tyger shall dwell
peacefully with the lamb, and the sorel will become one as its contrary states wed in Edenic joy and
harmony--and the children shall lead, a little boy shall be leader over them ...the children will show the way .... for:
Little Lamb I'll tell thee,
Little Lamb I'll tell thee!
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb:
He is meek and he is mild,
He became a little child:
I a child and thou a lamb,
We are called by his name.
Little Lamb God bless thee.
Little Lamb God bless thee.
--(William Blake, "The Lamb," Songs of Innocence).
( finis "And The Children Shall Lead" )
who think that they are grown...
Children...with children of their own.
From the cradle to the grave,
Why must we all behave
--(Joe South, "Children.").
“The Squire of Gothos”
The episode, "The
Squire of Gothos," is a comedy of errors about adults who play children's games.
It is a satire on fairy tale
fantasies where "The child is father of the man." It is a story of Robin Hood and the medieval legends of dashing knights,
delightful damsels in distress. All is grand in those days of yore , where there is "all for one," and "one for all!" The tenor of
this episode is very British, very English--especially noticeable in William Campbell's astonishing mimicry of the English
dandy/fop circa early nineteenth century, Regency period as depicted by William Makepeace Thackeray in Vanity Fair.
One Trek critic pans "Squire" as never developing into "what it could have been--one of the most effective segments of Star
Trek." Such an observation ignores William Campbell's extraordinary acting in its realistic depiction of a series of
historical and literary traditions. One suggests a reading of Vanity Fair and Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. Trelane's
wit does Pope and Dryden justice; it is thematically and dramatically so satiric, that a thoughtful viewer literally howls at
Trelane's Beau Brummelism. It is Enlightenment satire at its best. Trelane's character, though shaky at moments, is well
conceived and well-dramatized. The echoes of Henry Fielding and Laurence Sterne are familiar and delightful. "Squire"
has its sources in British theatre, as early as the Comedy of Errors. In deference to “Tribbles,” the "Squire" is not humor
as farce or tour de force; it is based on an artistically conceived comedy of character. It is Trek’s most comical episode--
pure fun and actively intelligent!
uninitiated viewer, the revelation that Trelane is a child comes as a surprise;
he is not just an immature, effeminate adult.
With his tastes and sense of history, Trelane is a "Renaissance man," even with his nine-hundred year old error in time. His scope spans
human history from its primordial monsters in the niches of his wall, to medieval knightly hardware, to busts of Julius Caesar, of
Napoleon Bonaparte, and more. The hodge-podge of props is a mixed bag of historical facts and artifacts. Many eras and events are
represented. No troglyte ever produced and played a harpsichord! Although Spock is critical of Trelane for knowing "all the earth forms--
none of the substance," Trelane is a child. His perspective deserves more attention. Trelane wants to learn. The story is really one truth
with an opposition of points-of-view. The Trekkers show no interest in teaching Trelane of contemporary earth's human advances. Also,
they show no wish to learn from Trelane, a child who surpasses them in intelligence. He is an alien child, highly advanced technically, who
commands tremendous powers over matter and energy; but he never pulls a "Charlie" on his guests; he never makes them "go away." He
wants to learn from an inferior, less developed species. His intellect means little to him without otherness. He is still innocent, despite his
intellectual superiority; he is still a kid who is "lonely," who has no friends to play with. It is too easy to forget that even technically-advanced
civilizations will have children. They too must experience mutuality and otherness in order to learn. Kirk, Sulu, and Spock express an
oppressive and distinct myopia:
That's your whole problem, Trelane.
Everything is too easy. It's given
you a bad habit. You're not aware of
it--but you have it .... You don't think,
Trelane--that's your problem. You miss
opportunities. Like your anger before-
like mine now--you enjoyed it. But with-
out me, you couldn't have accomplished it.
And you know why? Because you're a
stumbling, inept fool!
Trelane: Take care now--
Kirk: Here you've got an opportunity to
experience something really unique,
and you're wasting it ... Where's the
sport in a simple hanging?
Trelane: Sport ... ?
It is Kirk, not
Trelane, who has missed the opportunity. It is Kirk who is the stumbling, inept
fool. In this "royal hunt" of "predator against
predator," Kirk is never in any danger, but if one exists, it is Kirk who suggested the manhunt depicted by O'Connell in his story, "The Most
Dangerous Game," not Trelane, who beats Kirk at his own game:
Remember, Trelane ... you promised to let my
Trelane: But this is such sport.
I shall have to fetch the others back
to play. So this is victory. It has a sweet taste. Down, Captain! On your
Kirk: You haven't won anything!
Trelane: I have! I could run you through! ...
You are beaten!
Kirk: But I'm not defeated!
Trelane is so
unskilled that Kirk grabs his sword and breaks it. Trelane is virtually in
tears: "You ... you broke it! YOU BROKE
MY SWORD!" Kirk's pride has been hurt because, in spite of Kirk's admonition, "You got a lot to learn about winning, Trelane...
in fact, you've got a lot to learn about everything!" Trelane still won. Kirk has a lot to learn about losing. Trelane is slapped and quips,
"I'll fix you for that...You cheated! You didn't do it right!" Correct. Trelane's invisible (pure energy) parents stun Kirk and new viewers
in calling, “Trelane…Time to come in now, Trelane.” Trelane's a child, naughty, but throughout the episode, he has shown restraint,
correct manners, and his hospitality was well-given, but poorly received
by adults who
appear whimpy and childish once Trelane's real identity and age are revealed. He
has been an absolute gentleman
with impeccable tastes. But his parents end all fun. The dialogue and scene are irresistable:
No! Go away! You said I could
have this planet for my own!
Man's Voice: This has gone far enough!
Trelane: You always stop me just when I'm having fun.
Man’s Voice: You are disobedient and cruel ...
Trelane: I don't want to come in.
I won't. I'm a General. I won't
listen to you ... but I haven't
finished studying my predators.
Man's Voice: This is not studying them!
Woman's Voice: If you cannot take proper
care of your pets, you cannot
have them at all.
Trelane is taught
the difference between pets and “beings.” "Trelane, they have spirit." The
woman’s voice is both gentle and firm,
assuring the boy, “You’ll grow up, Trelane. You’ll understand. Now come along.” The man’s voice is typically stern, threatening a loss
of the boy’s cosmic toys: "Stop that nonsense! At once! Or you'll not be permitted to make any more planets!" The voices acknowledge
their parenthood. Superior intelligence and pure energy, they are still like concerned parents throughout the millennia. They combine love
with justice: "You must forgive our child. The fault is ours for indulging him too much. He will be punished." One hopes Trelane's spiritual
behind shows no ill-effects from his celestial spanking. Childhood proves to be a timeless equalizer. What will Trelane be like as an adult,
one wonders while observing his boyhood games. Parents, too, are timeless and universal in Star Trek. Trelane's parents,
heard for a few moments, are dignified in speech and in feelings: "Captain ...
we regret that the life paths of yourself
and your companions have been disturbed .... We would not have let him intercept you had we realized your vulnerability. “Forgive us,
Captain; please accept our apologies." Apparently, it is true that parents are better heard than seen.
It is only after hearing the parents and after some reflection that Kirk sees positive qualities to his experience. However, Kirk never
openly regrets the failure of himself, Spock, and Sulu, to appreciate what the adults should have, but refused, to learn from the child,
Trelane. As adults , they behaved wretchedly by presenting Trelane with poor examples of adult role-models. The adults of experience
learned nothing from the child of innocence, and the adults of experience taught the child of innocence little that is good in contemporary
human civilization. The male Trekkers, too, lose: their prime directive is snobbishly ignored--to seek out and to contact alien life forms,
to make mutual contact between opposite points-of-view as they did in "The Corbomite Maneuver" where the Captain of the Fesarius
(Balok) is an adult who appears like a child; secondly, the Trekkors broke the primary codes of chivalry in refusing Trelane's invitation
to be his "guests," not prisoners. Trelane is a correct and charming host: "Come, everyone! Let us forget your bad manners! Let us be
full of merry talk and sallies of wit! Here are victuals to delight the palate--brave company to delight the mind." Kirk refuses (or omits)
to properly introduce Uhura and Teresa, and Trelane does not let Kirk forget laws of British hospitality and fine manners--signs of a
civilized society: "I fear you are derelict in your social duty, Captain. You have not yet introduced me to the charming female contingent
of your crew. " Correct! Spock, reminiscent of Paul Dombey, Sr., in Dickens' Dombey and Son, never needs ice at his housewarming
Trelane: (reacting) I don't like your tone.
It's most challenging. Is that what
you're doing--challenging me?
Spock: I object to you...I object to intellect
without discipline; power without
Trelane (eyes bugging up) Why, Mr. Spock. You
do have a saving grace...You're ill-
mannered. The human half of you, no
Again, Trelane is
correct and very British in wit. Spock is left speechless in meeting his verbal
match! Spock is ill-mannered. Sulu calls
Trelane a "maniac" and his manners "a charade." Only Jaeger is polite in speech and quiet in demeanor. The ladies, on the other hand,
are enchanted with Trelane. Uhura is genuinely engaged at her newly-found keyboard abilities at the harpsichord. Although a little
"taken back" by Trelane' s quip: "A Nubian prize? Taken no doubt in one of your raids of conduct, eh, Captain?" Uhura responds
politely to Trelane' s gentlemanly acknowledgment of her beauty: "She has the same melting eyes as the Queen of Sheba ... the same
lovely color." Yeoman Teresa Ross, like Uhura, likes to "play,' and reacts shyly, like a maiden, to Trelane's: "Is this the face that launched
a thousand ships/ And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?/ Fair Helen, make me immortal with a kiss! " Trelane may be melodramatic.
He is also the only one in the room to have read Homer. While Trelane and Ross waltz, Kirk plots--to Trelane's delight. McCoy is
eager to observe that Trelane is a "madman," that "he's not quite human,” and that “he doesn't exist.”
The male Trekkers
cease to be open-minded. They are rude. They show that there is a failure in
contemporary society to have
a sense of humor. They do not want to play. Why do they not play?!! Trelane's games are meant for their amusement as Trelane' s
guests. They have forgotten to play. They refuse to see the irony of Trelane's role as host: "This game has gone on long enough."
They have agreed with McCoy that Trelane is unimportant. He simply does not exist. Both as scientist and as men, they are failures.
They are insulting and obnoxious. As scientists, Kirk and Spock are incorrect in seeing a mechanism as the source of Trelane's
powers. In shooting out the mirror, Kirk thinks he has solved the problem. Trelane' s reappearance shows their flawed logic. He is
his own energy and "Energy is eternal delight" (Blake).
"Squire" is also a study in the cruelty of toys. Trelane never harms anyone, but the adults act like Miri' s grups--very bad citizens.
It is they who inflict harm on Trelane, his creations, his feelings, and his childhood. It is they who disrupt his life; they refuse to be children,
thereby disrupting the balance within themselves and without, in Trelane's "island of peace" on a stormy, little planet. In spite of Kirk's
protest that "We are living beings, not play things,' It is Kirk's attitude that depersonalizes himself into a thing, not a living being. By being
one-sided and borishly scientific, Kirk pushes Trelane into possibly treating them as things. Fortunately, Trelane sees them as people and
wishes to treat them as equals, even as superior. One must try to view the Trekkers from Trelane's point-of-view. Trelane is a child (they
should have seen that) of imagination, a child who appears, images himself, to be an adult. He is an adult illusion, an alien with massive
power over energy and matter. The Trekkers are, as adults, totally devoid of imagination: humbuggers. They are not unlike the Thasians
ignore the truth. They show the very worst in adults by negating childhood and
its games of learning. They refuse to joust. They act like
old maids and killjoys: "You're not to dance with him any more." Trelane's observation is again correct and charming: "How curiously
human--wonderfully barbaric!" They are both indifferent and hostile toward the child. As Blake notes, a sign of maturity is the maintaining
of the childlike under adult vestiges. Experience cannot involve the elimination of one past childhood. "Squire" could have been a piece of
shore leave in the void, the desert through which the ship was passing.
Trelane's desire is to experience physically adulthood feelings of his alien, human guests. He suffers from boredom and loneliness, the
isolation of pure intellect without emotion. He enjoys the experience of intense innocence of primitive human love and anger. His quest is
from the immerleben, i.e., to experience the experience--historical and present, of mutuality--Buber's sense of personal contact, of "knowing"
intercourse with living beings, a truly biographical knowing. In the drawing room, early in the fourth act (the courtroom game), Kirk has
succeeded in helping Trelane, unconsciously, to see "the absurdity of inferior beings." Kirk refuses to play the role of the accused to
Trelane's British, judicial wiggery:
Trelane: Until just a moment ago, I did not
think it possible. But--it was. I did
it; I was angry. I experienced genuine
rage (delightedly turns to Kirk). Oh,
this experiment has been a success!
...Why, Captain. You're still angry.
Would that I could have sustained the
The Trekkers are
the adults who could have learned from the child. They behave like immature
children. The image-roles have been
reversed. Trelane is a model of a child who can
give more than he receives. Adults are to learn
from a child, even with his apparent lack of discipline. If Trelane is the
Kirk is the haughty, naughty child. Trelane needs adult models and sibling company. He wants to play. He is honest; he is fallible and
admits it willingly.
"Squire" is an anatomy of the human species; it is also an indictment of war. Trelane has a habit of unmasking human militarism and
the mythos of the glory of war. McCoy notes that "three thousand years ago, he would have been considered a god ...a little god of war."
The criticism of human savagery is witty and satirical:
You must tell me all about your
missions of conquest.
Kirk: Our missions are peaceful--not for
conquest ... and we battle only when
we have no choice.
Trelane: That's the 'official' story,
eh? We're all military men under
the skin ... how we do love our uniforms!
Of man, Trelane's quips are deadly: " …your
feelings about war--killing--conquest ...you know, you're one of the few
predator species that
preys even on itself!" To DeSalle, "Vive la gloire! Vive Napoléon! I admire your Napoleon very much, y'know ...." Trelane, to prove his
point, takes DeSalle's phaser as DeSalle attempts to burn Trelane, and taunts: "Now how does this work? Ah, yes! I see! That won't kill--
but this will"; Trelane dematerializes the salt vampire in its niche. Trelane has made his point, but in self-defense. Trelane's dinner is reminiscent
of Byron's and Thackeray's descriptions of the Duchess of Richmond's ball held on the evening before Waterloo: "I want you to be happy.
Free your mind of care! Let us enjoy ourselves in the spirit of martial good-fellowship." Trelane's cabinet is full of rows of flags and pennants:
Trelane: ... and this is
an array of your
battle flags and pennants--some
dating back to the Crusades, to
Hannibal's invaders, Grecian war
galleys, the hordes of Persia ....
Can't you imagine it, Captain?
The thousands marching off singing
to their deaths beneath these
banners! ...Doesn't it make your
blood run swiftly!
In his imagination, Trelane is in the presence
of the descendants of those soldiers--DeSalle, French; Jaeger, German, etc. But
admires the virtues of raw courage and blind ferocity, seeing war as man at his noblest: "Tut, Tut! Now you mustn't believe that I deplore
your martial virtues of deception and stratagem! Quite the contrary--I have nothing but admiration for your whole species!" Again, Trelane
is wittingly provocative, but out of a desire to know and to experience emotionally primitive human instincts. He plays on the irony of
death' s nobility. When DeSalle loses his temper, Trelane's interpretation achieves physical form: "Ah, what primitive fury. The very soul
of sublime savagery!" Trelane also experiences the chivalric mythos of valor and sexuality. Yeoman Ross, in her lovely 18th century silk
gown, is also reminiscent of the British paradox of war as entertainment, a time for promiscuity and intrigue. So the Countess of Richmond
holds the gleaming ball where all the officers are in formal array, many to be dirtied and dead the next day.
Trelane lives out the fantasy
while waltzing with Yeoman Ross: "Now that's more what we want. The dashing
warrior and his elegant
lady!" The real war is for dominance, for the lady's attentions and scarf:
don't care what you
believe. Just keep your hands off her!
Trelane: How curiously human--wonderfully
Kirk: I've had enough of your insulting attentions to her--
Trelane: Of course you have! After all,
it's the root of the matter, isn't it?
...You fight for the attention, the
admiration, the possession of women--
The war theme results in three games: the duel,
the judgment, and the hide 'n seek games: the pistol, the rope, and the sword. In
Trelane's imagination seeks and attains the experience of martial emotion. Like Thackeray, the puppeteer, in Vanity Fair, one feels that
Trelane is in control; but it is Kirk who suggests both the games and the weapons. Kirk has made a fool of himself, and he keeps making
himself into a dupe. Trelane permits Kirk the illusion, while enjoying the arena of martial good-fellowship. Kirk proves Trelane' s
hypothesis that man is the soul of sublime savagery. Touche!
Trelane is still an innocent child, but his toys are cruel. Unconsciously, Kirk has brought Trelane' s history up to date, all nine-hundred
years. Trelane is quite a tutor of human history and of the Romantic imagination. His wit is delightful; his truths are decorous, palpably real,
and critically incisive: "How absolutely typical of your species! You don't understand, so you're angry! " Kirk says, "I demand to know," but
Trelane has already confirmed the truths of his intelligently-controlled imagination. Kirk may never achieve "knowing" from Trelane, because
the grups refuse to listen--to the voice of the child who is “father of the Man":
painted birds laugh in the shade
Where our table with cherries and nuts is spread
Come live and be merry and join with me,
To sing the sweet chorus of Ha, Ha, He.
--(William Blake, "Laughing Song," Songs of Innocence).
Trelane is tree
lane, is tru-one, whose name denotes woods, arbor, and bower. Trelane is based
on the French treille, meaning trellis.
He is one who is interwoven, whose role is to "train" creeping plants and vines. Trelane is the beauty of the arbor and the tutor of men.
His planet is Gothos, gothic, barbaric, Bosch-like. The "lonely squire" is an arbor of peace in a sea of barbarism.
need someone to understand,
Children need someone to hold their hands.
To cheer you when you're sad,
To spank you when you're bad
Haughty, naughty, children.
--(Joe South, "Children").
(finis--"The Squire of Gothos")
It is not now as it hath been
Turn whereso'er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.
--(William Wordsworth, "Ode: Intimations of Immortality," 1802-04).
With every birth is a new beginning.
Something is lost; something is gained. The character generation of the
state of Blake's "experience"
heralds a consciousness of lost “innocence,” the glory and its dream. Wordsworth sees the child as the "Thou best Philosopher" who keeps
his eternal heritage, who is an "Eye among the blind." The child is a "mighty Prophet" and a "Seer blest" who, as the years past, clings more
to the earth and less to heaven. This creativity, his imagination, his sand castles in the sky, make the fallen earth his dull opiate. The earth,
like a simple nurse, teaches the child to "forget the glories he hath known" and "that imperial palace whence he came." The "six-years'
darling of a pygmy size" learns the art of mimesis, and learns the rules of how to please his parents. "The little Actor cons another part...
As if his whole vocation/ Were endless imitation." Experience brings with it the onus of obedience and mechanical thinking:
Why with such
earnest pains dost thou provoke
The years to bring the inevitable yoke,
Thus blindly with thy blessedness at strife?
Full soon thy soul shall have her earthly freight,
And custom lie upon thee with a weight,
Heavy as frost, and deep almost as ink!
For Wordsworth, the child's "high instincts"
recollections" that "uphold
power to make/ Our noisy years [adulthood] seem moments in the being/ Of the eternal Silence." The child comes from afar, and life's
rules and thorny paths are
cruel. In innocence, "Heaven lies about us
in our infancy," but in experience, "Shades of the prison-house begin to
close/Upon the growing
boy." The child journeys from East to West, perceiving his "vision splendid" die and fade "into the light of common day." The adult is the
weaker for this fading imagination, and to live with some balancing joy, he must accept change, grow, but always retain a sense of his past.
The child is soon aware that not everyone can be or will be nice to him. He feels hunger, but life's secular wells offer oases in his restless
wanderings through the desert. He is not alone. There are other onlies and a world full of deaf ears. Byronic wanderlust must heed Carlyle's
call to "know what thou canst work at ...and do it with all thy might." The child's imagination, in its myriad colors, is his key to avoid death
by mechanical mindlessness amid a swarm of troglytes.
Martin Buber' s theory of the imagination as a 'depiction of the heart' (Psalm 73:7) is the child's key to growth through the dialectic of
"evil urges" and "good urges." The challenge of maturation, in Star Trek and other great literatures, lies in the growing sense, in adolescence,
of the need to understand the imaginings of the heart. With children, imaging is an adjunct of play: "Man's heart designs" in images
of the possible, which could be made into the real." Buber goes further by defining imagery as "play with possibility, play as self-temptation,
from which ever and again violence springs." Buber goes too far in calling "imagery of the possible" evil, but the potential is attested to in
Star Trek’s children, from ages four through adolescence, circa seventeen (Charlie) . Not all products of the imagination reflect the dark
side of the unterlebensgeist. S.T. Coleridge sees the imagination as most active in childhood, as does Wordsworth, and its power in man
is one of molding into unity. He defines the primary imagination to be "the living power and prime agent of all human perception, and as
a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal art of creation in the infinite I AM." (Biographia Literaria, XIII (1815). Without adulthood's
Buber sees chaos and violence as products of a fallen imagination. A
truth in his works is most evident in the transition from
innocence into its various levels of experience. During a young person's development, the unterlebensgeist faces consciousness of evil.
The imaginations "products" (not the imagination per se or the person per se) are dark:
Thus, from divine reality, which
was allotted to him, from the
'good' actuality of creation, he
is driven out into the bound-
less possible, which he fills with
his imagings, that is evil because
it is fictitious: even in exile, man's
expulsion ... is continually re-
peated by his own agency. In the
swirling space of images, through
which he strays, each and every
thing entices him to be made in-
carnate by him; he grasps at them
like a wanton burglar, not with de-
cision, but only in order to over-
come the tension of omnipossibility; it
all becomes reality, though no
longer divine but his, his capriciously
constructed, indestinate reality,
his violence ... overcomes him,
his handiwork and fate.
--(Martin Buber, Good and Evil, III).
experience, man is at the mercy of the knowledge of good and evil
without being able to transcend its opposites. Positively, Buber
approaches the tremendous creative potential. He acknowledges the Coleridgean position in stipulating that "imagination…is good
and evil” because in it and out of it "decision can arouse the heart’s willing direction,” mastering "the vortex of possibility." Buber explicitly
analyzes the tumult of adolescence, admitting its possibilities for maturation:
For straying and caprice are not
innate in man .... in spite of all
the burdens of past generations, he
always begins anew as a person,
and the storm of adolescence
first deluges him with the infini-
tude of the possible--greatest
danger and greatest opportunity
poses the same challenge of dualities to Charlie: "You have to live
with people. You’re not alone any more.” In this
galaxy, as Kirk admits, there are a million things you can have and a million things you cannot have. Of joys and sorrows, Lord Byron
reminisces on youth
sweet to win, no matter how, one’s laurels
By blood or ink; 'Tis sweet to put an end
To strife; 'Tis sometimes sweet to have our/
Particularly with a tiresome friend:
Sweet is old wine in bottles, ale in barrels;
--(Lord Byron, Don Juan, I, 126, 1819).
(Finis Chapter 4C—Children and Imagination)