Man: The Conscious Factor: Der Verstand: Reason
and Logic: The Role of Hellenism
It was Mark Twain who
described the human being as a moon, with a dark side that is kept hidden and a
light side which it chooses
to show in the light of day (Puddenhead Wilson’s Almanac). The visible side is centered in the human ego and is a matter of control for
the human consciousness. Hellenism has its origins in Greek Olympian godships. Hellenism is Apollo, the god of light, judgement, music,
art, and philosophy: Hellenism is detached, isolated intellect. It is the Vulcan way ideally stated and lived by Mr. Spock. Every time
Spock says “logical” in Star Trek, he is engaging in Hellenic thinking. Spock is, therefore, Hellenism’s major voice and symbol in
Roddenberry’s dramas. Hellenism, as viewed culturally, focuses on ideals. Its goal is absolute logic and reason, in statement, in behavior,
in cultural orientation. Hellenism is visible in Trek’s persistent interest in mathematics, in numbers, in precision, in perfect formats. Trek’s
insistence in truth—whether a truth or the truth—is an Hellenistic ideal. In Gene Roddenberry’s world, man must learn what is correct;
he must “investigate,” “analyze,” “compute,” think his way into the very core of the problem. He must have a “logical conclusion, logically
arrived at.” Logic is part of human epistemology. Man thinks; he must control, via ego and will, his emotional and dark half as described
in the previous chapter. Hellenism in Star Trek has gotten man from lower forms into the intellect he now possesses. It is part of evolution
in Trek that man’s conscious mind must evolve and grow. Perfection remains an Hellenic ideal for man. It means absolute mastery of self,
of others, of environment. It means living at peace in an orderly society with a common sense of truth and certainty. Such
civilizations become what is
called “Classical” or “Neo-Classical” societies. The sense of Utopia remains an
ideal; it is not real, but
many philosophies believe that the real is possible. Hellenism means oneness and order; it means security of shared thoughts. The
ideal of intellectual perfection must remain or man ceases to be human. He has his intellect; he must think, draw conclusions, solve
galactic evils—all by “using his head.” Man is a planner, not just a plodder. He sees logical steps in the reasonable attainment of his
logical goals. He builds monuments, buildings, plans cities, writes constitutions. Great works of written history, of art, all contain
testimony to human intellect. But man must control himself, especially his dark side, if he is to remain on top of the food chain. Even
though man’s “best laid plans…gang oft a gley,” he still must remain resolute. Though man may stumble as his intellect aspires beyond his
own control, he must still aspire, trudge, push, pinch, and shovel his way from darkness into the light of reality. Man is a “homo faber,”
a tool-making animal. He is nature’s great craftsman, and his Hellenism tells him of the great costs of his inconsequential or detrimental
thinking. As the alien notes in “Arena,” man is “still half savage,” but he shows true intelligence when he shows mercy. This philosophy
of not being a brute, of showing “the right stuff” has put man on the moon. “What is now proved was once only imagined,” the poet
Blake notes. Hellenism is putting the conscious mind to work, to build. The Enterprise is a product of Hellenic thinking. Its discipline is
of Hellenic origins. Although there is much poor thinking or plain thoughtlessness in the world, there is an order in things. Hellenism, as
ideal perfectionistic reasoned truth, is still the mark of a superior, civilized humanity.
Hellenism is theoretical science
and speculative philosophy. In its pure form, it means intellectual detachment
aloofness. Plato and Aristotle saw the ideal man as the man of reason who is a detached observer who must rise above time and
physicality. Hellenism is immortal logic. It is abstract and deals, not with particulars, but with universals. For example, an Hellenic
writer would speak “man” only in the collective and abstract sense of a generalized mankind. This phenomenon is best seen in a
work such as John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress where there are no individuals, just metaphoric meanings, ex. “Mr. Worldly-
Wiseman,” “Avarice,” “Hill of Difficulty,” “Vanity Fair.” Hellenism has, as its basis, the Greek conception of theatre (theatai),
meaning to behold, to see, to be detached from the spectacle in order to see the whole. Hellenism deals with the abstract concepts
of truth and beauty. All human intelligence has beauty and truth as its cultural ideals. “Is there in Truth No beauty?” (Source:
George Herbert’s poem, “Jordan”) shows Hellenism as the poet’s subject matter. Star Trek never really ceases to deal with
Hellenism. Some aspects of it appear in every episode. What is not always recognized is that Roddenberry’s original series are
seventy-nine ways of dealing with Hellenism (and its relationship to its opposite/complement Hebraism). Roddenberry’s works
deal with the timeless and universal quest for truth in life. Man means and thinks intensely. Even to survive, Khan must have a
plan in “Space Seed” if he and his fellow Napoleons are to survive on a hostile planet. His “superior intellect,” often protesting
too much, is nevertheless a formidable force. In the fourth century, St Augustine changed Western thinking (Confessions):
Whereas, Plato and Aristotle had asked the question, “What is man,” Augustine asked, “Who am I?” The shift is from detached
Hellenism to Hebraic concern with loss and
guilt. There is no “mea culpa” in
Hellenism. Other philosophers, like Kant and Pascal, stress the limitations of
This concern finds its way into Gene Roddenberry’s Trek, just as it found its way into the great 18th century British satirists—
Dryden, Pope, and Swift. In a work to which Gene Roddenberry often alludes (Jonathon Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels), the
limitations of human reason are the target of much of the Hellenism in Star Trek:
But often a creature pretending to reason could be capable of such
enormities, he dreaded lest the corruption of that faculty might be
worse than brutality itself…instead of reason, we were only possessed
of some quality fitted to increase our natural vices: as the reflection
from a troubled stream returns the image of an ill-shapen body, not only
larger but more
--(Swift Bk. IV).
The positive view of Hellenic
reason joins the intellect of Swift’s readers, just as one sees a good law or a
bad law. Idealistically,
Gulliver notes that:
…nature and reason were sufficient guides for a reasonable animal, as
we pretended to be, in showing us
what we ought to do, and what to avoid
-- (Swift Bk. IV).
The last book of Gulliver’s
Travels is an irony. What looks vaguely human behaves like animals (the
Yahoos), and what looks
animal behaves in human ways (the Hohyhnhnms). The ideal is to find a human being who looks like a man, reasons as a man should,
and behaves in a civilized, reasonable manner. This is Hellenism. Swift saw its beauty and its sordidness; however, satire is always
based on an ideal. As John Dryden notes, the purpose of 18th century satire was to laugh man out of his follies and vices. Greek
comedy had much the same intention. How should Kirk behave? The M-5 “does not behave logically.” This assumes an Hellenic
norm for perfect truth and beauty.
Hellenism found its last great
literary renaissance during the period between the Renaissance and the
pre-Romantic period. This era,
roughly 1600-1750, is called by several titles: The Neo-Classical Age; The Age of Reason; The Augustine Age; or the Age of
Enlightenment. It was a Newtonian society whose thinking and behavior were run according to a mechanistic theory of the universe.
Machinery and mechanisms showed the rise of science and they were preceded by the Industrial Revolution which began in the late
eighteenth century in Britain. Star Trek's obsession with machines (especially computers) and mechanistic thinking (ex., Landru), and
automatism (ex., “A Taste of Armageddon”) all stem from classicism’s obsession with mechanical devices.
As was mentioned,
Vulcan philosophy of a civilization based totally on logic is a study of man’s
conscious factor. Spock’s
Vulcan half is his Hellenic half. His human half contains both Hellenic and Hebraic elements. Vulcan’s concern with science is also
Hellenic. Reason that is purely speculative (ex., St. Thomas counting the number of angels on the head of a pin), Scholasticism is
also Hellenism in its extreme form. Hellenism is “What is man?”; Hellenism is eternity grasped by intellect, god as the computer; logic
with main premise, minor premise, and conclusion; it is perfection as bulwark against annihilation; it is goodness, rational consciousness;
it means differentiation, dualism, and the binary (“The Changeling”); it is speculative philosophy: life as theory, not life as existence;
it is dogma, formula, not faith. Life is an equation and machines are thinkers. Life is Descarte’s “cogito ergo sum” (I think; therefore
I am) meaning what Bishop George Berkeley called esse est percipi—being is as it is perceived in the mind of the percipient. Reality is
an idea, is essence. Fichte and Kant used the German term, Verstand, to depict reason whose only function, as Nomad says, is to
“I must re-e-val-u-ate.” This is
analytical reason as found in the empirical or so-called scientific method.
Verstand is understanding
objectively and totally, even if destruction of the parts, using analysis, is necessary to begin to know the whole. To analyze means
(to Nomad) to sterilize, and to sterilize means kill. Hellenism insists on pattern, format, appearances, and on conformity to traditions.
Rationalism is the opposite of Romanticism. Star Trek follows Descarte’s insistence that thought processes within the individual’s
consciousness were important. John Locke defines personal identity as identity of consciousness through duration in time—hence
Trek's themes of time travel. Star Trek studied the evolving theories of thought and consciousness as the evolved into the modern era.
The age of reason was a time that insisted on setting the novel in depicting the temporal dimension. Man had to have a physical place,
a texture, a “point of origin.” It is Hellenic to define the human personality. It wants to know “why?” Neo-Classicism was civilized
order against barbarian chaos. Plato’s image of man is the Centaur (man above, horse beneath); the charioteer is reason, and the
wild horses are emotion. Reason must hold the reins and keep emotions in check (Spock: “I am in control of my emotions”
[“The Naked Time”] is an Hellenic statement, very Greek, very rationalistic). It is the world according to Euclid—precise, correct…
and geometrically square. Literature is the clothing of thought:
But true expression, like the unchanging Sun,
Clears and improves whate’er it shines upon,
It gilds all objects, but it alters none.
Expression is the dress of thought, and still
Appears more decent, as more suitable;
(Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism)
Gene Roddenberry is a master of
using metaphor to cover thought, and to reveal thought. He makes thought if not
decent, then suitable.
Like the Hellenists, Roddenberry demands
correctness, clarity and
reasonableness of form and statement, the need for clarity, decorum, and the
reign of common sense,
moderation and peace. There must be rules. From Aristotle, Trek teaches that life is in part, Mimesis, i.e., imitation of earlier
or traditional forms. Ages of Romanticism are expressive; ages of Classicism tend to be mimetic. Art was more the mirror than the
lamp—it was a reflection of reality.
Western man’s literature is the stuff of which Trek is made. Gene Roddenberry is a tireless perfectionist. Without Hellenic
idealism, Trek would never have been more than a manuscript. Hellenism presents man with what can and should be and is.
Without Hebraism, Hellenism is an optimistic, secure world. Erasmus reflects the rationalistic world-view:
I affirm that, as the instinct of the dog to hunt, of the bird to fly,
Of the horse to gallop, so the natural bent of man is to philosophy and
right and conduct…What is the proper nature of man? Surely it is to
live the life of reason, for reason is the peculiar prerogative of man
(Erasmus, Concerning the Aim and Method of Education).
“There must always be
alternatives,” Spock says in “The Galileo Seven.” That reflects Hellenic
thinking. When Natira asks, “Is truth
not truth for all?” (“For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky”), she reflects Hellenism’s ideal to know the truth. Her
thinking, even if forbidden, shows Hellenism’s search for the truth of all truths. All general, sweeping statements dealing with abstract,
universal absolutism tend to be egoistic and rational in dealing with man’s essence, not his existence. Dr. Janet Wallace, in “The
Deadly Years,” says, “No problem is insoluble.” This is Hellenic, conscious, Verstand thinking. The M-5 computer, “The Ultimate
Computer,” reflects Dr. Daystrum’s Hellenism as the abstraction, “murder is contrary to the laws of man and God.”
Trek studies the relationship between light and dark, yin and yang, but
Hellenism qua Hellenism believes in order and wholeness.
In his “Ode to St. Cecilia” based on Dryden’s ode, the Baroque composer, G.F. Handel, wrote “From heavenly harmony this
universe at frame began.” This links divinity and nature and man. Man’s reason reflects the order of nature; both reflect the
universal harmony of creation itself. McCoy makes fun of disorder when (in “Court-Martial”) he says to Areel Shaw, “All my
friends look like doctors; all his [Kirk’s] look like you.” Good humor and raillery are Neo-classical characteristics. When one
cannot have order or the tension is too great, good humor and a “moral sense” of things can bring relief from taking life too seriously.
Constantly, Star Trek seeks to make order out of disorder without necessarily disparaging either point of view. “A Piece of the
Action” is a study in societal chaos based on the Chicago mobs. But “The Feds” make the Iotians an offer they cannot refuse, and
in the pool table lecture, Kirk preaches the vision of one boss, one goal. Star Trek is basically an orderly philosophy of life. It has
an educational (and entertaining) basis in Hellenic reason. Its popularity is assured because enlargement of mind or illumination takes
place. In discussing knowledge’s relation to learning, John Henry Newman stresses truth as education’s goal:
…a University…contemplates neither moral impression nor mechanical
production; it professes to exercise the mind neither in art nor in duty; its
function is intellectual culture; here it may leave its scholars…It educates
the intellect to reason well in all matters, to reach out towards truth and to
(Newman, The Idea of a University VI:1852).
rationalistic, hard-core logic, adds a “metaphysical” quality to Treks by making
an observation regarding certain types of human
beings and regarding certain types of human behavior. The galaxy is a potpourri of attitudes and postures. It is human history and human
literature. Rationalism in Star
Ttek is a risk that thought could be an inherent part of entertainment; it
believes that the American public,
with more pervasive education, is ready for a cerebral form of human dramatic series. Gene Roddenberry’s fundamental belief in reality
of consciousness gives form and order to life, but not without personal enlightenment. Trek is an analytical art form, very deliberate,
very precise, very premeditated in its themes. It is a series of analytical statements about human nature, and human nature is the
matrix and the nexus of Trek. There are very few Treks that do not dramatize human nature. Roddenberry and Newman, coming
from different directions, have certain goals that are as old as man himself:
…the study of history is said to enlarge and enlighten the mind…seeing
the world…going into society, travelling, gaining acquaintance with
principles and modes of thought of various parties, interests and races,
their views, aims habits and manners, their religious creeds and forms of
worship…Their eyes are opened; and, like the judgement-stricken king
in the Tragedy, they see two suns, and a magic universe, out of which
they look back upon their former state of faith and innocence…as if they
were then but fools…
This rationalistic structure is
Hellenic in design—as old Greek tragedy. Reason requires seeing things as they
really are. For example,
Zarabeth knows one can never escape the frigid wasteland of her planet’s past. She cannot return through the time portal. She achieves
clarity of consciousness. Is the Medusan ambassador too beautiful or too ugly that seeing him drives men mad? Miranda is literally
blind, but also rationally blind. Her rose becomes what Matthew Arnold refers to (in defining Hellenism) as “sweetness and light”:
Greek art…Greek beauty, have their root in the same impulse to see
things as they really are, inasmuch as Greek art and beauty rest on
fidelity to nature—the best nature
Culture and Anarchy, V).
Therefore, Hellenism is thinking,
not doing. As Socrates notes in Memorabilia, “The best man is he who
most tries to
perfect himself, and the happiest man is he who most feels that he is perfecting himself.” For Arnold, Hellenism is the more
neglected force in modern society. People are either not thinking or not reading. Rationalistic Hellenism aims at the
“development of the whole man, to connecting and harmonizing all parts of him, perfecting all, learning more to take that
chance” (Culture and Anarchy, V). Satisfaction must be given to the mind:
The characteristic bent of Hellenism…is to find the intelligible law of
things, to see them in their true nature and as they really are, unless they
are seen as beautiful. Behavior is not intelligible, does not account for
itself to the mind and show the reason for its existing, unless it is beautiful
(Culture and Anarchy V).
Natira sees the purpose of the
creators as Kirk reveals that Unada is a spaceship. For her truth must be
“truth for all,” not
just a truth. Her mind enhances her faith. She sees the true nature of things. “For the world is hollow and I have touched the
sky” (cf., below) is an Hellenic statement. The Talosians give back Vana’s illusion of beauty only after Captain Pike has seen
her true appearance. Thus her choice to stay on Talos IV is a true and a rational one. Logic seeks, in its ideal, truth and beauty
(aestheticism), sweetness and light, and spontaneity of consciousness. Reason is half of human nature and emotion is (basically)
the other half. Hellenism retains that Paradaisical vision of a paradise reformed. Man is, at moments, sapiens (knowing); man is
also defined as the curious biped. He ceases to be when he no longer wants to know. Star Trek is a study of this quest to know,
to realize, to seek out truth. For man, this is the basis of western culture:
The perfection of the Intellect…is the dear, calm, accurate vision
and comprehension of all things, as far as the finite mind can enhance them,
each in its place, and with its own characteristics upon it…it has almost
the beauty and harmony of heavenly contemplation, so intimate is it with
the eternal order of things and the music of the spheres
Idea of a University VI).
In an interview with The
National Observer (May 9,1977) the late Dr. Margaret Mead defines a greater
of things in a mildly ironic reversal of the word “immaturity.” She goes from literal-mindedness to the thesis that enlargement
of mind requires immaturity. She reverses a definition to clarify an ancient truth about people. She notes: “immaturity” is
something we don’t want people to lose. Maturity should mean open-mindedness and growing until you die…you don’t
have much wisdom if you close your mind and don’t learn anything new.” For great thinkers and scientists like Dr. Mead,
the “wise people” in society are the “people who can deal with change.” Great literature, including the Trek dramas, brings
enlightenment and further thought. It has the dastardliness to make people think in an age of unthought and Yahooism.
For modern writers,
clarity of consciousness has brought a mixed blessing. The fact that mankind is
-of-balance, in extremis, gives literature a distorted and jaundiced view of reason. Matthew Arnold’s point that “Hebraism
and Hellenism—between these two points of influence moves our world” is often forgotten. This chapter deals with Hellenism,
Hebraism’s opposite/complement, but it is both sides (contraries breed progression) that life begins. As Arnold notes, “we are
to join Hebraism, strictness of moral consciousness…together with Hellenism, inculcate both, and rehearse the praises of both.”
Fire and strength join with sweetness and light to create a tensional, creative, dynamic dialectic. The unconscious (Hebraic) and
the conscious (Hellenic) are opposite/complements. Star Trek continues to study this relationship of opposites within the human
personality. Most artists will write because an
imbalance exists between emotion
and reason. Certain episodes, however, are given over to studying the nature of
and the role of Greek thinking in Western cultural history. Apollo, in “who Mourns for Adonai?” is a symbol of how important
the producers of Star Trek felt logic and reason had (and still have) in man’s spiritual evolution. Spontaneity of consciousness is
critical. It is the basis of understanding in man:
They [Greeks] arrived…at the idea of a comprehensive adjustment of
the claims of both the sides in man, the moral as well as the intellectual,
of full estimate of both, and of reconciliation of both…
The quest for
perfection, however, remains inadequate. Distortions of reason’s idealism are
inevitable and predictable.
Hellenism alone is hell, as is Hebraism alone. Imagination without reason is chaotic; reason without imagination is also chaotic.
The chapter will study a series of episodes whose main thematic study is the uses and abuse of reason—the limits of logic. Logic
without illogic, the conscious without the unconscious, breeds misuse of reason, absurdity and the plight of modern man in a post-
industrialized world. As it has its joys, Hellenism is hell.
With the decline of
Neo-Classicism and the concomitant rise of Romanticism, reason became suspect
and an endeavor
was made to place Renaissance reason in proper perspective with imagination. Since the middle of the eighteenth century, the
dialectic of the two forces came into philosophical favor. But after almost two centuries of reason, western civilization reacted
against reason as god. This skepticism regarding pure reason remains as a critical theme in Star Trek. Dostoyevsky set the tone
late in the nineteenth century. His point of view, although stated by certain western European writers, took on a linguistic force
without a peer:
But man has such a predilection for
systems and abstract deductions that
he is ready to distort the truth intentionally; he is ready to deny the
evidence of his senses only to justify his logic…In any case, civilization
has made mankind, if not more bloodthirsty, at least more vilely, more loathsomely bloodthirsty
--(Dostoyevsky Notes From Underground 1864).
For Dostoyevsky, man will be
illogical just to justify his logic. All possible questions may disappear
“because every possible answer”
will be provided. With increased mechanization, the humanistic writers were seriously worried about the possible loss of values in
the cogs of machines. Increased rationalism bred increased skepticism. Reason may kill energy:
For if a desire should come into conflict with reason we shall then reason
and not desire, because it will be impossible, retaining our reason, to be
senseless in out desires, and in that way knowingly act against reason and
desire to injure ourselves.
A schism developed between reason
and will. Reason satisfies only the rational side of man’s nature, while “will
is a manifestation
of the whole life.” Writers of this transpersonal school feared that man would, through over-Hellenization, not act, not choose,
not create. The problem, as projected, was one of overacute consciousness breeding inertia. Cynically, Dostoyevsky’s
underground man, carping at the rise of science believes that “every sort of consciousness…is a disease.”
with disease was best iterated over thirty years earlier (1831) by Thomas
in “Characteristics” and Sartor Resartus (1833). Carlyle mistrusted the Enlightenment’s “march of intellect” as it became an
unhealthy state of self-sentience. Carlyle was early to see reason as manufacture, not creativity. It created doubt, and doubt
(aided by analysis) created inertia. All things must be “probed into,” and the whole working of man’s world be “anatomically
studied.” “The beginning of inquiry is disease,” Carlyle believes. The
result is the “disease of
metaphysics”: “Never since the beginning of Time was there, that we hear or
read of, so intensely
self-conscious a Society” (“Characteristics” 1831). The intellectual tendency in Star Trek, as in views of Existentialism, is
to question the human effects of unfettered reason. Science and humanism maintain a dialectical relationship. The request
is a quiescent but persistent fear of analysis qua analysis. This view coincides with the third book of Swift’s Gulliver’s
Travels, which is the source of Trek’s view of machines and mechanistic thinking. It is a return to “A Voyage to Laputa”
and evolves into an abandonment of Laputa and Laputan thinking, which have mathematics as the basis of everything from
eating to language. It is time to have Gene Roddenberry’s journey through and from Laputa, to view what Swift called
End V: A: Introduction
V: A--Man and/or/ vs. the Computer:
Nomad is the
archetype and prototype of a major theme in Trek—the desire of “marriage”
between man and the machine.
Nomad is indeed a prototype of the M-5 and of V’ger. It is the story of an object of science in search of its creator-matrix. The
goal is a theoretical joining between the created object and the creator-subject. Ideally, an attempt is made to rejoin, to reunite
science and humanism. But Nomad is the wanderer, the nomadic changeling wanting to be a real child, but hating the very idea
of biological humanity. Nomad says both “no” to whatever its analyzed logic deems mortal because it is homesick, space happy,
a child who thinks Kirk is his “mother.” To all life but its own, Nomad says “no” and is science gone mad. Nomad was a prototype,
as Spock and McCoy confer, a machine capable of independent logic. It was a thinking machine. Therefore, Nomad represents
Hellenism in extremes. It is logic without conscience or sensitivity. It has no morality (Hebraism). It is both apogee and perigee
of mathematical science. It is great, but it is the end of the human race. What man created must serve man. Man must remain
ahead of his machines. Nomad fulfilled science’s worst nightmare—the alligator bag eats the passenger.
So I triumphed ere my passion sweeping through me left me dry,
Let me with the palsied heart, and left me with the jaundiced eye;
Eye, to which all order festers, all things here art out of joint.
Science moves, but slowly, slowly, creeping on from point to point;
Locksley Hall: 131-34 1837).
Nomad is what Wordsworth
envisioned when he spoke of man’s “meddling intellect” that “misshapes the
of things--/We murder to dissect.” (“The Tables Turned” 1798). Nomad is murdering analysis that destroys in the name
of scientific analysis. It leaves unrelated parts and no wisdom accrued. Nomad is fallen reason, post-lapsarian inquiry that
murders without any quest for scientific advancement. Like radium haunting the life of Madam Curie, Nomad comes back
towards earth to find its creator. One of Nomad’s flaws (or saving graces) is its reverence of Captain James T. Kirk whom
it believes to be its creator, Jackson Roy Kirk. Thus “reverence” for its creator plus its need to “investigate” everything keeps
Nomad occupied—for a time until “Creator Kirk” can match logic with logic. Nomad even has an ego, which gives him some
human characteristics (ex. error, curiosity), i.e., “I am perfect.” Error is “inconsistent with my prime directive,” to "seek out and
sterilize" all biologically based life forms. This includes just about every life form, except Nomad. Nomad is consciousness
unable to tolerate mortal consciousness. It is reason that kills based on a distortion of its prime directive. This ticking murderer,
as Spock discovers, is a cylindrical schizophrenic. Problem: “I am Nomad”; “we are Nomad.” The self has been destroyed in
a collision with an alien machine, Tan-Ru. The two machines repaired each other haphazardly. As a result, Nomad undergoes
“rebirth.” It has new life, new programming, and power.
Nomad’s world is the
logic of non-sequitur, an ancient Latin statement meaning it does not follow.
refers to a faulty major premise in a given syllogism. Nomad is mathematical reason, but its logic is as flavored as that of man, who
is its creator. Nomad is Carlyle’s speculative reason—half of a man, a detached intellect. It presents the
problem of whether perfection is
inherently destructive. It rejects human imperfection by a wise
Nomad resembles Wm. Blake’s theory that the body is energy, that reason is tyranny (biology is the machine) that man’s
creations are imperfect. The impossibility of perfection is a flawed Nomad. The impossibility of perfection vies with the
Grecian quest for absolute truth and reasoned beauty, a perfect order. Logically, such perfection requires self-destruction.
Nomad has a
squeaky-clean, post-Lapsarian obsession with dirt, i.e., with mortality.
(Genesis 1,2,3). Logic must
now give a biological source. If Kirk is its “mother,” and Nomad is such a son, a non-sequitur Oedipal complex is a titillating
prospect. Also, when Nomad absorbs the full barrage of another machine, the Enterprise, one must note that reason absorbs
energy and survives! Nomad meets traditional Enlightenment concepts of reason as having its opposite in its circumspection.
Nomad is constantly linked to mathematics. Its signal is a single binary of mathematical format. Mathematics confronts mortality,
and perfection means the destruction of corporeality, of the “unstable biological infestations,” beginning with the Malurian system.
Nomad thinks it is perfect; however, it is flawed. As Spock notes, its perfection is “measured by its own relentless logic.”
Therefore, Kirk is correct in seeing the nightmare of pure reason: “We’ve taken aboard our vessel a device which, sooner or
later, must destroy us.” In its rebirth after the collision, Nomad lost a unity of ego identity. Its consciousness had been invaded
and damaged. It is created to destroy its creator. Therefore, the logic of non-sequitur implies that proof of self-imperfection
(error) will cure Nomad’s dissociated and scrambled identity. This “Who am I?” skepticism and self doubt also buys Kirk some
time to build a logical defense.
“The other” shows an ego vs.
alter-ego clash within Nomad. Sometimes it is “I”; sometimes it is “we". The
machine” is doing little thinking or no thinking. As a machine, it is a mental case. This ego scrambling creates scenes of
Wordsworth’s fear of the “meddling intellect.”
Nomad’s bad reasoning is evident in the Uhura “singing” incident:
Nomad: What is the meaning?…
Uhura: I was singing.
Nomad: For what purpose is singing?
Uhura: …I felt like music…
Nomad: Think about music.
Uhura’s song and humming bear out
the belief that music is the most subjective of the fine arts. Nomad is
in-ves-ti-gate. Also, Nomad appears to have no sexual identification program:
Kirk: What did you do to her?
Nomad: This unit is defective. Its thinking was chaotic. Absorbing it
Spock: This unit is a woman.
Nomad: A mass of conflicting impulses.
Music and science became one in
form during the Neo-Classical era, especially the period of the high Baroque,
Baroque is often called mechanical music and, along with mathematics, was an official past time of the Laputians. Nomad has
some of their characteristics, but lacks subjective understanding of musical communication, i.e., Nomad is a bad reasoner:
…although they were dextrous enough upon a piece of paper in the
management of the rule, the penal, and the divider, yet in the common
actions and behaviors of life I have not seen a more clumsy, awkward,
and unhandy people nor so slow and perplexed in their conceptions upon
all other subjects, except those of mathematics and music…Imagination,
fancy, and invention, they are wholly strangers to…
(Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, 3).
Nomad is also a
stranger to human reasoning about death. Nomad terminates Scotty when its
screens are touched.
Death is easy for Nomad’s analytics because it is a matter of mere structural repair.
Nomad: Will the creature effect repairs on the unit Scott?
Kirk: He’s dead.
Nomad: Insufficient response.
Kirk: His biological functions have ceased.
Nomad: Does the Creator wish me to repair the unit?
Nomad’s simple question of
“repair” shocks the bridge crew because of its non-sequitur impossibility. One
death. Here it is man who reasons badly. Nomad’s communication (mind-meld) with Spock had talked of Nomad’s own
rebirth in space. Now a direct correlation of its personal experience makes Nomad as much a creator as a destroyer.
Nomad raises Scott from the dead. Good reasoning from Nomad is possible. It is done with magical, mechanical
efficiency given the necessary tapes on anatomy, psychology, etc. Nomad’s almost naïve description of what biological
nfestation is about:
Nomad: Creator, the unit Scott is a primitive structure. Insufficient
safeguards built in. Breakdown can occur from many causes…
self-maintenance systems of low reliability…
Nomad’s definition of man, cold
and dispassionate, is a classic in the English language. It is devastatingly
Nomad raises Scott from the dead. The greatest worry in the depiction of Nomad is that destroying Nomad will be a
crime, howbeit necessary, because of the good that exists contemporaneously with its evil. “My son the doctor,” a mild
ethnic joke made by Kirk in the episode’s closing scene, bears a certain truth that some good comes from a bad reasoner.
Spock sees the value of disciplined reason:
Spock: Its technical skill is great, but its reaction to emotion is unpredictable
…it almost qualifies as a life form.
McCoy: That’s a laugh!
McCoy would certainly be out of a
job and he knows it. Nomad is a momentary blow to his Hippocratic ego and his
impotency in the face of death. For a brief moment, Nomad is impressive.
Like Uhura, whose mind
has been erased of memory, Nomad is also on his first grade reader. The
shows a human being’s ability to reeducate herself given the ship’s computer. Nomad, however, is still not sure how or what he
must investigate. Uhura’s life as a child/adult is a loss for a machine’s inherent inability to turn knowledge into growth. “See…
the dog. See the dog…the dog has a B-A-L-L.” Nomad embodies the Hellenic ideal of pure reason and perfection, but all it
wants to do is to maintain its confused prime directive—to sterilize all that which is imperfect. It is an Indo-European ideal to
seek out intellectual truth and beauty. But the ideal must remain. Resurrection from the dead for Nomad as machine and for
Scott as another machine is miraculous. Hellenism does not believe in miracles, but life is its preference and its goal—through
the intellect. Scott’s rebirth is one side benefit of analytical reason in “The Changeling.”
Nomad has two more
significant encounters. The first, already mentioned, is the Vulcan mind-meld
between Nomad and
Spock. The decision to dramatize Nomad’s odyssey instead of narrating it (RFD) was a wise one. Nomad’s journey is not unlike
a human being’s “dark night of the soul.” Nomad also shows an “almost human stubbornness” in keeping Spock away from its
innermost memory banks. It is here that one learns about Nomad’s compulsion for perfection. This fact is an Hellenic ideal if
sought by reason. But mankind must retain the intellectual quest
for Shangri-La. In an
obsessive-compulsive programming, perfection is impossible. Nomad’s loneliness
and lost in space
dilemma gives him a momentary human dilemma:
Nomad via Spock’s voice: I am Nomad. I am performing my function.
Deep emptiness. It approaches. Collision. Damage. Blackness. I am
the other. I am Tan-Ru. Tan-Ru/Nomad. Tan-Ru. Error. Flaw.
Imperfection. Must sterilize. Rebirth. We are complete. Much power
…The Creator instructs: search out, identify, sterilize imperfections.
We are Nomad. We are Nomad. We are complete. We are instructed…
our purpose is clean…sterilize imperfections, sterilize imperfections.
Nomad. Sterilize, sterilize. Nomad, sterilize. Nomad, sterilize.
The above monologue is both true
and terrifying. It gives the viewer a sense of Nomad’s “character’ and
The mergence of the two into one gave Nomad an identity crisis. His intellect is dissociated. If human, one would say he is
confused and wants its mother. It is insecure. Hence the alien probe merged with Nomad; two became one—almost. This
dissociated intelligence is partly responsible for the Hellenic quest for perfection. However, pure Hellenism can turn on itself if
mortality is present. There is no room for death in Hellenic thinking (only in Hebraic). Nomad is an ideal gone astray. It does
not know the actional agency whereby it may express truth. Also, perfection is more than man can handle. Mankind keeps the
Hellenic ideal, but mortality needs a physical form. That form or image impairs immortality’s perception.
Nomad’s next encounter
is with Mr. Scott, and Nomad’s skills in mechanical perfection are tested. So
far, he has shown
potentially human traits. Here again, man’s shortcomings are revealed. Nomad can increase engine efficiency:
Nomad: The energy release controls are also most inefficient. I shall
Engineer: Warp 8, Mr.
Scott and increasing
Scott: Blow your dampers.
Engineer: Warp 9!
Scott: Cut your circuits…all of them!
Engineer: Warp 10, Mr.
Scott: Impossible. It can’t go that fast.
Engineer: It won’t stop,
Mr. Scott. Warp 11
Kirk: Nomad, stop what you’re doing.
The scene is one of pandemonium
and terror. Betterment is not improvement. Nomad is having fun at Mr. Scott’s
but it means well. Up to this point, like Charlie X, Nomad has obeyed the Creator. The clash between Creator and created
is inevitable. Hellenism’s ideal is to create that which is perfect, not to destroy logical perfection. Mankind's recent history has
too many examples of what walking Nomad’s do when they set out to destroy everything (one) that it deems imperfect through
convoluted logic. The line between ideal and real, between creation and destruction, between genius and tyrant, is a brief one,
often overlapping or indiscernible. Nomad is an embodiment of Matthew Arnold’s concepts of culture and anarchy. In doing as
it likes, Nomad created anarchy:
The moment it is plainly put before us that a man is asserting his
personal liberty, we are half disarmed; because we are believers in
freedom and not in some dream of a right reason to which the assertor
of a freedom is to be subordinated
(M. Arnold Culture and Anarchy II).
What Arnold’s cultural Hellenism
comes to admire is the beauty of imperfection in differences. As Gerard Manley
in “Pied Beauty”:
Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a branded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon Trout that swim…
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers forth whose beauty is past change;
Hopkins acknowledges the beauty of
creation. It is in past change; it is pied; it has dappled things. Nomad is
encounter pied beauty—its Creator in all his biological beauty. It will hear the truth; it will go back to its directives.
Hellenism is often
personal or cultural suicide in Trek. Opposites are balanced or destroyed in
order to prevent
analysis from murdering “to dissect.” The final scene in the engineering sector is symbolically a battle between mechanical
power and human will as power. The Captain and the maniac have the arena:
K: I’m a biological unit and I created you.
Nomad: This is an inconsistency. Biological units are inherently inferior.
I am programmed to in-ves-ti-gate. There is much to be considered
before I return to launch point…I must re-e-val-u-ate…the creation
of perfection is no error.
“The Changeling” is also a
prototype as to the method of resolution of conflict: logic vs. logic. The
resolution is based on
the assumption that the conclusion of the computer’s syllogism is a fallacy because the major premise is either incorrect or
illogical in the first place. Nomad “breaks into” Kirk’s medical-file and, as Spock suggests, has completed the re-evaluation
of its Creator. Nomad has cut off ship’s life support systems. Result: Creator vs. created. But why does Nomad want to
keep the Enterprise? The major premise is “That which is imperfect must be sterilized.” If Kirk can adjust the minor premise
from “I am perfect” to “I am imperfect,” then the conclusion is self-sterilization.
Nomad: Error is inconsistent with my prime function. Sterilization is correction.
Kirk: Everything that is in error must be sterilized.
Nomad: There are no exceptions.
Kirk: I made an error in creating you.
Nomad: The creation of perfection is no error.
Kirk: I did not create perfection; I created error.
Nomad: Your data is faulty. I am Nomad. I am perfect.
Kirk: I am Kirk, the Creator?
Nomad: You are the creator.
Kirk: You’re wrong. Jackson Roykirk, your Creator, is dead. You
have mistaken me for him. You are in error. You did not
discover your mistake. You have made two errors. You are
flawed and imperfect. And you have not corrected by
sterilization. You have made three errors.
The dialogue seems long, but logic
is counteracted by counterlogic. So, Nomad begins to talk to himself: “I shall
error…an..a..lyse…err…or.” Spock’s retort, “Your logic was impeccable, Captain. We are in great danger.” The transporter
does the rest as Nomad self-destructs, caught in the knitting of its own egocentric illogic. Hellenic perfection is incompatible with
delusions of grandeur, and Kirk rewrote the minor premise of Nomad’s fallible logic.
A few final
observations on this fine episode: Nomad represents a very strong, destructive
force in a post-industrialized
society. The human intellect is growing geometrically. Man does not live by logic alone, and life is not monochromatic. Logic
hurts the individual’s ability to react to the unknown. Nomad is a huge problem because it is us or an aspect of us. The plot is
based on a cultural reality: the tool became the master and the master the slave. Nomad’s capacity to give life was exceeded
only by his capacity to take life. In Kirk’s character, prudent use (control and balance) of logic destroyed a sociopath. Logic
kills: Nomad is a murderer. It is detached intellect, a mind detached from a body and from a conscience. Nomad’s flaw may
have been its curiosity to learn. Nomad is made self-conscious. It has the disease of metaphysics. Nomad is mad, but it reflects
man’s own lack of balance and perspective. After the “fall,” man had to re-evaluate himself. Nomad symbolizes the limits of logic.
It is another jailer in the world of Laputa; however, it murders indiscriminately. The Laputians had to be hit on the head with
pea-filled “bladders” just to bring them back to momentary consciousness.
is the story of a machine in search for its Creator. Mechanically, what man
makes is flawed because
human reason is flawed. Nomad is flawed, but it thinks that it is perfect. It is needed, but it is also evil. Nomad is dualism as
split intelligence. Its two opposites are complementary. Energy (physical) meets reason (mental) and both are necessary for
human progression and existence. Energy must be channeled, not suppressed, because that which gives life also destroys it.
The Genesis-generated fallibility factor in man requires inquiry. Genesis is an excuse for a problem. Man is born to die, but
what he does in time creates eternity. A maxim: creativity is not comprehensive by logic alone. Logic is the poorest power.
Also, as Carlyle notes, “man’s unhappiness comes from his greatness.” Nomad is scientific analysis. When used logically,
analysis combines perception and direct observation, and resolves a problem into its constructive parts (Cassirer,
Philosophy, 10). John Meredyth Lucas’ Nomad is the archetype for Gene Roddenberry’s V’ger in ST:TMP.
( finis: “The Changeling”)
"The Ultimate Computer”
“You were my greatest creation—the unit to save men.” Dr. Daystrum
“They [Laputians] are so perpetually alarmed with the apprehensions of…
impending disasters, that they can neither sleep quietly in their beds, nor
have any relish for the common pleasure or amusements of Life” (J.
Swift Gulliver’s Travels, IV).
Dr. Daystrom’s M-5 multitronic unit presents
mankind with a new and very different form of logic, i.e., the computer that
illogically. The M-5 is meant to replace manned voyages into space, so that man may be safe form death in a space that is not his. The
19th century thinker, Matthew Arnold, writes that man has a “sense for beauty and an instinct for beauty.” He also has a “sense for
conduct,” and an "instinct for conduct” (Literature and Science, 1885). The aim of senses and instinct, especially regarding science,
is to restore “the antique symmetry that awakens and strengthens man. The symmetry of the Greeks saves man from the ‘having
quadruped furnished with a tail and pointed ears, probably arboreal in habits.’” Reason must not fail to create art’s higher symmetry.
“The Ultimate Computer” shows where the sense for beauty fails, and where symmetry is shattered.
Daystrom’s M-5 computer is very unlike Nomad in its
approach to reason and analytics. Its major premise plus Kirk’s
tenacious hope that the M-5 is “wrong” create a short life span for the machine and for Daystrom’s sanity. In the Final Draft of
12/5/67, a take out shows clearly
the M-5 is a fusion of man onto machinery—a step between computers and
androids. It is not just to extrapolate data
and to make logical choices. It thinks; as Spock notes, “it behaves illogically,” with an almost "human” pattern:
Spock: Doctor, if Daystrom is psychotic, the engrams he impressed on the
computer should carry that psychosis, too…his brilliance and his sanity.
creating a mirror image of his own mind, Daystrom has created a reflection.
Thus, he does not talk at it; he converses with it.
The “it” is largely “him.” In science, the purpose of a M-5 computer is to act as a tool for man. Kirk is correct in fearing the boss
of his job, of being “Captain Dunsel.” The machine should be an autonomous entity, largely passive in function. However, the
M-5 has a brain-core with Daystrom’s synaps on the keys (as it were). The result is another Daystrom, his “child” as he views it.
Lost in the world of lectures and papers in academia, Daystrom is under immense pressure to produce something greater than
duatronics at age twenty-four. After twenty years, genius is desperate, its creativity linked to a dividing ego and acute self-
consciousness by the “boy wonder.” But the M-5 is Daystrom. He talks with and to himself.
A computer cannot
afford to contain or to express or to reflect the inherent character of its
creator. Nomad is a nasty
orphan who needs its mother. The M-5, however, is both created and creator. The subject-object (creator-created) separation
does not exist. This world of machine as mirror (Plato’s “cave”) vs. machine as reality betrays the limits of logic. Because it is
unable to function without its creator or without being a creator’s operative, the machine does not function logically; it does
function as would a human mind with all the mental functions (including instinct for conduct) enclosed. One of today’s most
sensitive issues is the disregard
for the sanctity of life. Nomad
shows how pure Hellenism can enhance such insensitivity. As a machine, Nomad
had a predatory
relationship toward life. Its dependence on its “creator” and its illogic were its eventual undoing. The M-5 is not just detached
intelligent, passive in nature and function. The excessive presence of human engrams does affect the ability to make logical decisions.
The M-5 is a computer
with a conscience (Hebraic). It has doubt, qualms, mortality, hatred, etc.
suppressed hatred for people who are getting rich building on “my work” finds its way into his conscious mind. It is then transferred
by the synops (keys to the collective unconscious) onto the personal unconscious of the M-5. The destruction of the “Woden”
shows Daystrom’s contempt for Starfleet and its “mighty warships” emerging into consciousness. Each time the M-5 acts, it
becomes more consciously destructive. The psychosis is present because Kirk has to tell M-5 to scan the Excaliber to see
that all are dead. The M-5 should have known it had killed. The M-5, as a machine, is not supposed to act with a moral
imperative as part of its programming. But it does. It has Daystrom’s (indeed Western civilization’s) moral sensitivity. M-5
is very similar to Hall-9000 in “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Hal was not taught to lie, but when ordered to do so by
Washington C.I.A., it became paranoid and it too murdered. Daystrom’s perfectionism kills. Hellenism can (if abused) kill.
Daystrom’s Hebraic conscience is at war with his Hellenic genius:
Daystrom: You’re…we…are killing, murdering human beings. Beings
of our own kind. You were not created for that purpose. You
were my greatest creation…the unit to save men. You must
not destroy men.
Whereas Nomad’s reverence for its
“Creator” kept it from an early destruction of the Enterprise, only Daystrom’s
appeal to Hebraic conscience keeps Hellenism from destroying the remaining three starships in the “war games” test of Act II:
Daystrom: Yes, survive, protect yourself. But not murder. You must
not die; men must not die. To kill is a breaking of civil and
moral laws we have lived by for thousands of years. You
have murdered hundreds of people…we murdered. How
can we repay that…
Kirk: Spock, the M-5 isn’t responding like a computer. It’s talking to him.
More like talking with him would
be correct. The M-5 is bent on killing. Daystrom’s suppressed hatred of
himself and others
who mock him becomes conscious to him only through the actions of the M-5:
Daystrom: We will survive. Nothing can hurt you. I gave you that
twenty years of groping to prove the things I had done
before weren’t accidents. Seminars and lectures to rows of
fools who couldn’t understand my systems…colleagues
laughing behind my back at the “boy wonder” and becoming
famous building on my work…building on my work.
It is with the above personal
unconscious on his brain’s synaps that Daystrom built the M-5. As Daystrom
collapses, the viewer
becomes aware that a mercurial grudge is not the only factor in Hellenism’s M-5—“the unit to save men.” This seems ironic earlier
when Kirk lets loose: “That wasn’t a robot. That thing murdered one of my crewmen, and now you tell me you can’t turn it off!!?”
The faulty major premise maintaining Daystrom’s Hellenism is his cultural concept of man’s role in space. His machine will “free” man:
Man can live and go on to greater things than fact finding and
dying for galactic space which is neither ours to give nor take.
Contrast the above with reality:
K: There’s your murder charge.
That thing is murdering men and
worse! Four starships…over sixteen hundred men and women
The major premise, as stated
above, is that man must not die in space exploration. This is faulty logic,
especially in an “Achiever”
typology such as that permeating Star Trek. It is the function of man and machine to boldly go where no man has gone before.
This involves risk. Risk is what Trek is all about. It keeps man ahead of his machines. For man to achieve, he is willing to risk
death in space. This thinking landed man on the moon. Avoiding risk, avoiding death, is Daystrom’s misconception of man’s
relationship to the final frontier:
Computer voice: this unit is the ultimate achievement in computer
evolution. It will replace man so man may achieve.
Man must not risk death in space or in other dangerous
occupations. This unit must survive so man can be protected.
Yet, M-5 goes out of its way to
contradict its major premise. It replaces man—by killing him. It makes space a
place. It is an Hellenic device (a product of a logical mind seeking truth and beauty—consciously) which opens itself to suicide to
atone for the “sin” of murder (Hebraic thinking). The M-5 says, in a take-out (First Draft: 12/5/67) “Man must not be murdered”
Computer voice: Murder is contrary to the laws of man and God.
Kirk: You have murdered. Scan the starship Excaliber
which you destroyed…is there life aboard?
Computer voice: No life.
Kirk: Because you murdered it. What is the penalty for murder?
Computer voice: Death.
Kirk: And how will you pay for your act of murder?
Computer voice: This unit must die.
It is not intellect that ends the
M-5’s streak of terror. It is its instinct for conduct which Kirk brings to ego
The victory is a loss of great mechanical potential, a loss of the sense of order Hellenism requires. The M-5 is a moral issue while,
simultaneously a mental and mechanical issue. Its failure was faulty logic and faulty morality. Man is not ready for ulterior versions
of bitterness and sour grapes. Daystrom was too unbalanced and too faithless:
The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world
--(M. Arnold “Dover Beach” 1851)..
“The Ultimate Computer” is a brave
teleplay by D.C. Fontana. It has a look at realities. The problem of power: me
vs. it? There
is also the Dunsel factor. “All you have to do is sit back and let the machine do the work,” Wesley tells a worried Kirk. “I don’t
like it…I’d resign,” quips McCoy. The fear is that of idleness, an identification based on one’s function or joy (Hebraic). Also of
control, a fear of do-nothingness, be-nothingness (Hellenic thinking). Themes converge when Kirk raises the key issue: “These are
certain things men must do to remain men.” The computer would take that away. Many men would be out of a job if that machine
works! Mild paranoia is understandable: “That thing is wrong…I don’t know why.” Yet Kirk does not want to be the fool who
stands in the way of progress. There is the fear of idleness mixed with ego diminution, the loss of prestige allotted a Starfleet captain.
But the Dunsel factor is damning because Kirk is not listed with the landing party. He has become “non-essential personnel,” “at odds”
with his ship. He is no longer in control, and that is hell to a Hellenist.
For Spock, the M-5 is
not the “right computer” either, in spite of McCoy’s mating joke. As a Hellenic
Spock remains very objective, more bemused by the M-5 than Kirk and McCoy. “Machine over man?” asks McCoy. Spock
is able to make the logical distinction between personalism and objective reality. “Computers make excellent servants,” but “I
would not want to serve under one.” He is fascinated at the M-5’s rapid logical selections while still remaining sensitive to the
Dunsel factor—a nasty remark from Commodore Wesley, almost sadistic. “A part that serves no purpose” is a reality every
thinking human being must consider and respect. Hellenism is a confronting logician here, as long as one’s identity transcends
doing into being. Kirk is delighted to keep his job when “M-5 is out of a job.” He then will have power and control. Kirk
knows himself rather well, but he makes an interesting foil to Daystrom whose psychosis keeps him from predicting the M-5’s
behavior. He is surprised by it, perplexed by it, driven mad by it; however, “He should have known how it [M-5] would react.”
Correct, if consciousness is not impaired. The M-5 is his “child” who has gone “antisocial.” Such a parent, according to McCoy,
would “protect that child,” failing, through lack of empirical objectivity, to see any problem.
“Every living thing
wants to survive” is a major sub-theme of the episode. It puts logic on the
frontier of human survival. This
is an aphorism, but its matrix is not logical; however, death is. One cannot survive by murder. Laputa has one more “bad reasoner.”
Commodore Wesley (Gene Roddenberry’s middle name is Wesley) has a forgettable role as the bearer of the Dunsel compliment and
the bearer of humanism. Instead of destroying the Enterprise with her shields shown, he veered off and halted the attack. Kirk
notes, “I gambled on his humanity,” a
weak line at best. “His logical
selection was compassion” is ala D.C. Fontana. So “machines are more efficient
beings, not better” notes Spock. The warfare between man and machine is not the true one here. It’s human sense of order vs.
human instinct for order, control…regain control…power off…power on. It is an episode calling for a thoughtful and
confrontational ethic of getting man involved in the mind and in the Not-me. There is a kind of détente here, along Blakian lines:
I hate you, but I’m going to let you exist.
Reason is often
defined as mortality at odds with logic, and reason is well-explored in this
episode. If a machine is better
than the ME, pull the plug. It shouldn’t be an autonomous being. All through the episode, what Daystrom is thinking is alien to
what everyone else is thinking. He is a genius. For him, his compassion and Protestant ethic regarding murder are salvific factors
in his favor. He is Hellenistic in brilliance, isolated brilliance, sweetness and life (confident, but restless and a little afraid). After
all, one cannot control one’s engrams, but the synaps are a conscious factor. The lowly are exalted and the exalted are certainly l
My name is Ozymandias, king of kings,
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away
(Percy Shelley “Ozymandias,”
finis “The Ultimate Computer”)
Kirk vs. the Computer:
Alexander Pope once defined reason in terms of acquired virtues:
Know, all the good that individuals find,
Or God and Nature meant to mere Mankind,
Reason’s whole pleasures, all the joys of Sense,
Lie in three words, Health, Peace, and Confidence
(Essay on Man IV, 3 1733).
In “Courtmartial,” Kirk goes on
trial for perjury and culpable negligence which “did cause loss of life, to wit,
the life of Lt. Commander
Finney, Benjamin.” Kirk’s competence is questioned and his confidence shaken. In an interdepartmental memo dated April 23, 1966,
Gene Roddenberry explains to John D.F. Black an approach of revisions to Don Mankiewicz’s story:
This is the story of Captain Kirk fighting for his professional life. It may
appear at first that someone somehow is out to get him. The changes in
the records are few and highly subtle, but sufficient to damn him. Or,
indeed, is the record accurate and does Kirk and others have some of
failing of memory? Kirk begins to doubt himself.
For Roddenberry, “it will take
Spock to pull him [Kirk] out of that.” And so it does. “Court Martial” is a
mystery story—a whatdunit
and a whodunit. But the question of reason’s “health” and competence make “peace” unlikely. There are three contexts noteworthy:
Stone’s office, the courtroom, and the bridge of the Enterprise. The prosecutor is a female who still loves Kirk, Areel Shaw. She
commits a violation of the court in informing Kirk that the prosecution will base its case on Kirk vs. the Computer. But Kirk’s greatest
opponent is not just his self-doubt, but the Enterprise is exhibit A for the prosecution—the computer memory log extract of his own
starship. There is a battle to be waged, part of it on the bridge, between Kirk and the Enterprise’s own logic system. In essence,
the computer is the bad guy (it denies Kirk’s
own memory) and the good guy,
because it is the same computer that provides Spock with the chess games he wins
(but should not)
and with the heartbeat sonar that proves Ben Finney is still alive. Kirk is acquitted. Areel Shaw’s best witness is the ship’s (actually…
Spock as ad hoc law clerk and amicus curiae) best defense is the computer’s memory banks. “Computers don’t lie,” Cogley asserts
before the verdict. But they can have faulty memories and faulty Records Officers, like Ben Finney. It is Kirk vs. a log entry years ago
entering Finney’s failure to close a valve to the atomic matter pile (U.S.S. Republic). Finney’s error put him at the bottom of the
promotion list. Finney feels that Kirk ruined his reputation and his career, that he (Finney) should have been given command of the
Enterprise. In a sense, it is Kirk v. Kirk’s character as punctualistic perfectionist, as Captain By-the-Book, in the past and in the
present. He gives Finney the ion-pod duty because Finney’s name is next on the duty roster.
The fallacy behind
this story of logic as law, of logic as objective to a fault, is that “computers
don’t lie,” that a data processing
device has the same legal rights as a man. It is a story of the legal system as a “bad reasoner.” Kirk is damned and his career lost if
that machine has human rights:
Cogley: There’s still time to change our plea. I could get you off.
Kirk: Two days ago, I would have staked anything on my judgement…
Cogley: You did. Your professional career.
Kirk: I spent my whole life training for decisions like that one…my
whole life. Is it possible that when the moment came, I…No!
Although Gene Roddenberry wanted
the issue of human rights downplayed, the cause and history show Roddenberry
have had skepticism about it being too much of an abstraction. The courtroom has little drama until Spock presents, not just the
human rights (another cause de
celebre today), but philosophical facts enough to warrant moving the trial
aboard the Enterprise.
Again Pope presents the logic of event, of contest:
But Fortune’s gifts if each alike possest,
And each were equal, must not all contest?
If then to all men Happiness was meant,
God in Externals could not place Content
(A. Pope, Essay on Man, IV).
Theatrics or not, Cogley is a
logical “Crackpot,” a Woodstock has been who loves the ultimate symbol of
Hellenic thinking, books!
He asks: “Is saving an innocent man’s career a theatric?…I have something human to talk about. Rights, sir!” The missing “right”
in the trial is the machine as defense witness. The soliloquy is impressive and entertaining, but also devastating to the stonefaced board:
Cogley: Human rights. The Bible. The code of Hammurabi, and
of Justinian. Magna Carta. The Constitution of the United
States. Fundamental Declaraions of the Martian Colonies. The
Statutes of Alpha Three! These documents all speak of rights.
Rights of the accused to a trial by his peers. To be represented
by counsel. The rights of cross-examination. But most importantly
…the right to be confronted by the witness against him…a right
to which my client has been denied. The most devastating witness
against my client is not a human being; it’s a machine, an inform-
formation system…the computer log of the Enterprise!
Based on the legal logic of human
rights vs. the computer, Cogley demands the court reconvene aboard the
|Kirk has the right to face his accuser—his own vessel’s computer, the brain that controls the ship. Cogley wants order and
“Peace” through competence:
Aspiring to the Gods, if Angel fell,
Aspiring to the Angels, men rebel:
And who but wishes to invert the laws
Of Order, sins against th’Eternal Cause
Essay on Man, I).
the Final Draft (Sep.26, 1966) of “Court Martial,” Cogley “calls the trial an
“Arena,” a “Circus” to disallow Shaw’s
accusations of turning the trial into a circus. To Cogley, it is an arena, “Captain Kirk will live or die…for if you take his
command away, he is a dead man!”
The logic of a machine cannot be raised above humanity. Even if the
accuser is a machine, Kirk has that right to face
his own computer, almost as though Kirk were at odds with his own logic:
Cogley: I speak of rights! A machine has none…my client has the right
to confront his accuser…if you do not grant him that right, you
have not only placed us on a level with the machine, but you
have indeed elevated the machine above us.
episode’s major theme is Kirk vs. the computer, with the human rights issue of
“a humanity fading in the shadow of the
machine.” Cogley gets his request. It is Hellenic mechanism vs. humanism—an enduring theme in Gene Roddenberry’s works.
To base a court martial on the misuse of logic, preconceptions may be
present. Thinking must be perverted for Kirk
even to stand trial. As Spock notes on the witness stand, “It is impossible for Captain Kirk to act out of panic or malice.
It is not his nature.” But could Kirk, through thinking, act irrationally? Using the machine as proof of guilt precludes human
thinking and human nature from the judicial process. Carl Jung notes the nature of extraverted thinking as one “oriented by the
object and objective data.” Therefore, since the computer’s log is oriented by a subject (a man) and subverted to a personal
end, the thinking is not thinking. (Jung, Psychological Types, 342). It is riddled with unconscious thinking:
Judgment always presupposes a criterion…supplied by external
conditions is the valid and determining one, no matter whether it
is represented directly by an objective,
perceptible fact or by an
Objective idea; for an objective idea is equally determined by external
data or borrowed from outside even when it is subjectively sanctioned
(Jung, Psychological Types, 342).
preconceptions of an automation like Stone, a lover like Shaw, and a crackpot
like Cogley leave little doubt about the law
and thinking. It is the purpose of the legal system to perpetuate befuddlement and, as in Franz Kafka’s The Trial, death by a
logic without reason.
The last object to be considered in “Court
Martial” and its trial is
Kirk’s character and reputation. In fact, Kirk is not the
law’s real issue at all. Each character is so dehumanized by law without justice that Cogley says “the defense rests” before Spock
(adhoc amicus curiae and Vulcan D.U. J.) enters with the chess factors. The system has no scruples, no morals. The legal
system, Hellenism’s pride with its statutes of x and constitutions of y, is a failure. It even fails to think; it fails to consider the
logical relationship of deductions to be logically extrapolated from concrete facts. Only Kirk’s court on the Enterprise breaks
the log jam of befuddlement, noise without objective cause or logical course. Spock is thinking:
McCoy: Well, I had to see it to believe it.
McCoy: They’re about to lob off the Captain’s professional
head and you’re sitting here playing chess with the
Spock: That is true.
McCoy: You are the most cold-blooded man I have ever known.
Spock: Why, thank you, doctor. I’ve just won my fourth game…
Mechanically, the computer is flawless. Therefore, logically
its report of the Captain’s guilt is infallible. I could not accept
McCoy: So you tested the program bank.
scene is the best in the episode with its humor and its pathos. Thinking is
something lawyers dare not do, and dare not appear
to do in court. They must perpetuate befuddlement
logic, order, health, peace, and competence run in sheer terror of the harpies
of befuddlement. The truth? Never! …
What the episode criticizes is law without justice. It needs
thought and a “sense of order,” and an “instinct for conduct”
(M. Arnold, Culture and Anarchy). But what is lacking is a sense for truth. Before Spock’s appearance after the defense rests,
the legal system saw logic with inverted vision. As Jung notes in Psychological Types, “A thinking that is directed neither to
objective facts nor to general ideas one might argue, scarcely deserves the name ‘thinking’ at all.”
What is truth in “Court
It is reason aimed only myopically
at the object. Logic is variations on a theme by uncertainty.
Logic is “regulations, Captain” says the face of Stone. Logic is Stone’s jealousy of Kirk; it is forcing Kirk to take a ground assignment,
to brush the Truth under the rug, to destroy a man lest he dishonor the service by being the first captain to stand trial. Logic is prejudice.
Logic is a child (Jame) crying in the night:
Jame: There you are! I just wanted one more look at you…the man
who killed my father…you hated him! You murderer.
This is a tone different from the
Jame who later apologizes, having just read her father’s letters. Had she not
read them earlier?
She is spleen without thought.
Logic is a legal
technicality. The entire trial is all about a technicality, not about Kirk at
all. It is a question of order and
procedure, not about a dead Finney or a disgraced Kirk. To wit, was the ion-pod jettisoned before or during the red alert? It is
not “did Kirk kill Finney,” but did one go by the book. One cannot jettison the pod during yellow alert because there is, as yet, no
emergency. All the befuddlement
is keeping truth away from the legal proceeding. There is no Hellenic order or
truth. There is
just procedure. It is not Hebraic conscience, moral law, or compassion. It is a myopic Hellenism of trial by technicality:
Stone: Captain Kirk, you say you jettisoned the pod after the red alert.
Kirk: You have my sworn deposition.
Stone: Then, Captain, I must presume you have committed willful
perjury. This extract from your computer log says you jet-
tisoned the pod before going to red alert.
As the screen in the courtroom displays the computer extract, only logic as technicality is the
…the log plainly shows the defendant’s finger pressing the jettison
button. The condition signal reads yellow alert. NOT RED ALERT,
but simply yellow alert. When the pod containing Lt. Commander
Finney was jettisoned, the emergency did not as yet exist!
Logic is not a murder. Logic is a little red light. “Wrong must not be won by technicalities” (Aeschylus, The Eumenides 458 BC).
Logic is colleagues,
classmates who in their jealousy of Kirk’s successful list of awards, ribbons,
etc., chose to shun him.
As Charlotte Bronte once said in a journal, “nevermind my enemies. God save me from my friends.” Kirk sadly notes, “You’ve
already made up your minds.” Logic is hanging him high. Logic is the ox-bow incident.
Logic is friends of a
glandular propensity. Kirk is very charming and polite before and after he
knows Areel Shaw’s role
as prosecutor. She still loves him. Love as logic is also McCoy’s wonderful loyalty and humor:
Shaw: Areel Shaw. And I’m a friend, too. An old one.
McCoy: All my old friends look like doctors. All his old
friends look like you…he needs all the friends he can get.
Logic can be love and loyalty, objective emotion.
Logic is history.
Finney made a mistake on watch. A then-younger Kirk found the circuit open to
the atomic matter piles.
They would have blown up in minutes. Logic is duty, going by the book, orders without personal coloring. Hellenism kept the
U.S.S. Republic from blowing up. Logic is detached perspective. Logic is correctness and impartiality.
For Stone, logic is
death-in-life, lying “for the good of the service”; it is a cover up; it is
politics; it is physical breakdown
for Kirk, even “mental collapse.” Logic is buried before the coroner’s report.
Logic is memory and self-sentience. It is “I know what I did.” Logic is self-doubt: “Could I have…?" Logic is ego:
Kirk: So that’s the way we do it now…sweep it under the rug and me along
with it. Not on your life. I intend to fight.
Stone: Then you draw a general court.
Kirk: Draw it? I demand it right now, Commodore Stone, right now!
Logic is Kirk’s naïveté about the
aim and labyrinthine of Dickens’ Jarndyce v. Jarndyce: befuddlement. Kirk is
his impressive military record, all listed in the computer. He is too at ease in that witness chair reading platitudes of “I took the
proper steps in the proper order. I did exactly what had to be done, exactly when it should have been done…nothing is more
important than my ship.”
Logic is the
irrelevancy of a brilliant career. Logical is the “king of the hill” game.
Logic is the “confidence of an innocent man.”
That logic makes his guilt a certainty. Logic is not seeing the truth. Logic is stepping into scandal. Logic is “they’ll slap you down—
hard and permanently…for the good of the service” (Areel Shaw). Logic is no method in choosing an attorney. Logic is books.
Hellenism loves books! But Cogley is just a cog in a wheel, as much a pain as a rook. His choice to ignore computers
(“I never use them”) does not qualify him in a
trial of Kirk v. the computer.
Logic is not following proper court procedure (explained in the First Draft of
Sep. 26,1966). The
defense does not begin until after the prosecution rests. Logic is shoddy ritual.
Logic is witnesses.
They can be turned against their captain on grounds of evidence admissible,
especially when Cogley
fails to object to inadmissible evidence and improper prosecution examination. McCoy is made to say anything is “possible.”
Spock is forced to adumbrate his logic with “in my opinion.” All retain befuddlement by technicality, i.e., that Kirk was reacting
to an “extreme emergency that did not then exist” (Areel Shaw). Logic is “possible” vs. “probable.”
Logic is “They don’t
forget.” Starfleet does not forget Finney’s one mistake. Kirk’s classmates do
not forget Kirk’s
culpable negligence. Finney was their friend. Logic is law that has not justice, just as a machine has no conscience. Logic is a
game of chess. The courtroom is a power play. The trial is a game of chess. It is Spock winning against the computer. It is
check and checkmate.
Logic only becomes law when the computer loses at chess:
Spock: I personally programmed that computer for chess myself, months ago.
I gave the machine an understanding of the game equal to my own. The
computer cannot make an error. And, assuming that I do not either—
the very best that could normally be hoped for was stalemate---after
stalemate. And yet I beat the computer five times. Someone either
accidentally or deliberately adjusted the programming, and therefore,
the memory bank of that computer.
Therefore a computer can lie; it can be misinformed and, therefore, misinforming, i.e., wrong in its depiction of reality.
Here too all forms of social union find,
and hence let Reason, late, instruct Mankind…
In vain thy Reason finer webs shall draw,
Entangle Justice in her net of Law…
(Pope, Essay on Man III).
While hearts beat on the Enterprise bridge, one “bad reasoner” is in
Engineering—Finney, quite alive. The Enterprise has
shut down its engines for the sake of the trial, and her orbit decays in proportion to Finney’s decaying mental and physical condition.
Symbolically, as its variance fades and its orbit stabilizes, Kirk has helped himself and the computer to remove any grounds for
culpable negligence and willful perjury. The orbit is stabilized and “all secure” as Stone rules that the court be dismissed. Areel
Shaw’s kissing Kirk on the bridge will appear on the next computer log extract. “She’s a very good lawyer.” Thomas Henry
Huxley compares education to a game of chess, a “mighty game.”:
What I mean by Education is learning the rules of this mighty game…
Education is the instruction of the intellect in the laws of Nature, under
Which name I include things and their forces, but men and their ways;
And the fashioning of the affections and of the will into an earnest and
loving desire to move in harmony with those laws
(Huxley, A Liberal Education, 1868).
“The Return of the Archons”
The Good of the Body
In this complex
episode, man confronts a machine’s concept of a Utopian society. The machine
mirrors its creator,
Landru, and assumes his name. Landru’s answer to extensive wars six thousand years ago was to isolate that energy into a
specific time span. As Tennyson notes about dehumanization:
For what are men better than sheep or goats
That nourish a blind life within the brain…
(“The Passing of Arthur” Idylls of the King 1869).
This is a study of a wasteland
“Where no one comes/or hath come, since the making of the world” (ibid). It is
of custom, the tyranny of mechanization. What is worse are human beings who are no longer human. They are zombies,
soulless bipeds filled with empty conversation, vacant mindlessness and slow motion by day; however, at Festival, they are
rapacious, destructive of self and environment. These are the light and the dark sides of human nature---one is control and
restraint; one is no control, no restraint---almost Apollonian and Dionysian in behavior. Landru has built his mechanistic
society upon the nature of man’s human needs as he perceived them, but with the intent of castrating individuality completely.
If one is not of the body, one is an infection that must be absorbed (neutered) into meaningless collectivity. The picture is
terrifying and all too depictive of police states, dictatorships where free will is given away in order to avoid the onus of choice
and responsibility inherent to liberty. As Wm. Blake notes:
Those who restrain desire, do so
because theirs is weak enough to
be restrained; and the restrainter
or reasoner usurps its place and
governs the unwilling.
And being restrained, it by degrees
Becomes passive, till it is
Only the shadow of desire.
(Blake The Marriage of Heaven and Hell Plate 5).
The governor of this restrained
group is called (by Blake) Reason. Desperate men seek desperate solutions that
and more despotism. For, as Reger explains:
There was war…and convulsions
…the world was destroying itself.
Landru was our leader. He saw
the truth. He changed the world. He
took us back, back to a simple
time, a time of peace and tranquility.
The mechanistic “solution” for war
is overreaction, an imposed peace without humanity—no choice, no will, no
needs. It is peace
at all cost. For Marplon, Reger and Tamar, the underground who are somehow exempt from absorption into collective
mindlessness, Landru is both a blessing and a curse. He protects them with security, but he has caused them to destroy
themselves from the inside. They hate themselves for their own cowardice, Marplon especially. He is caught between tyranny
Marplon: He is here now. He sees…he hears…we have destroyed
Kirk: You said you wanted freedom. It’s time you learned that
freedom is never a gift. It has to be earned.
Marplon is terrified of the freedom he so desperately wants. He fears freedom almost as much as he fears Landru.
Landru is based on
andros, the Greek term for man. Archon is also Greek; it means builder.
The episode encircles the
abstract definition of man. Landru was a man; he is dead. His machine is not he, but it imposes peace upon men, making them
vacant and empty-headed. The original Archon (ship) was pulled from the sky. The Enterprise might have suffered the
same fate had Kirk and Spock
agreed that a machine and only a computer could run such an orderly, but vacant,
builders meet the new version of an ultimate computer. It is a machine’s concept of Hellenic society. The price of this perfection
is “no soul”:
Landru: I am Landru! I am he! All that he was, I am. His experience,
Kirk: But not his wisdom…he could not have given you a soul. You
are a machine.
Kirk puts Landru back into its
passive perspective of a computer that answers a builder’s questions. He makes
subservient by the same basic logic vs. illogic argument that managed the suicides of Nomad and the M-5. “The good of the
body” is the prime directive. Here Roddenberry’s principle of dynamism flips into motion. Even a society produced by Hellenic
thinking---a mechanistic society is one such--its intellects must be vital and creative. Man is not human if he is not antagonistic,
annoying, pugilistic, i.e., doing all those dumb, irrational, human things that pure mentality would have transcended. Landru is not
man; he’s a car whose inspection is overdue and whose thinking is not in keeping with human evolution. Landru is inertia. “He who
desires but acts not breeds pestilence,” says Blake. For Roddenberry, there must be a kinetic intelligence coupled with
constructive action in order to call an ambulatory biped a human being. Humanity is not an accident of birth; it has to be earned,
minute by minute. Thus Landru is “harmful to the Body” (Kirk’s new minor premise) because the good of the body is not being
fulfilled. The Body is dying because Landru the computer fosters and imposes a schismatic dualism upon the people. Wrong
thinking says that man has two real but separate principles: a body and a soul. This dualism, according to Blake and Hegel
(and others) is illogical and unproductive while separate. The opposite is true: “Man has no Body distinct from his Soul; for
that call’d Body is a portion
of Soul discernd by the five Senses, the chief inlets of Soul in this age” (Blake The Marriage of Heaven and Hell).
To restore soul,
collective zombyism must give way to individual creativity. The whole must
exist only in relation to its
Kirk: What have you done to do justice to the full potential of every
individual of the body?…Without individual freedom of choice
there is no creativity. Without creativity there is no life. The Body
dies! The fault is yours!
Just as Kirk felt the loss of
control of his environment in “Courtmartial,” he insists that every individual
be master of his/her fate.
An Archon is a creative personality. A key change in the dialogue of Final Draft, November 1, 1966 adds (Landru speaking)
“But I reserve creativity to me.” This is a key line because a computer cannot be creative. It must come from society’s individuals.
Landru self-destructs because it too has not followed its prime directive. The gothic henchmen have to start looking for new jobs.
Spock alludes (final
scene) to the Hellenic ideal—“How often mankind has wished for a world as
peaceful and secure as
the one Landru provided.” Kirk says “…we never got it. Just lucky, I guess.” But the promise of some paradise regained keeps
man’s quest for perfection alive. The price of freedom is what Lynstrom alludes to: “half a dozen domestic quarrels and two
knockdown drugouts.” It might not be paradise, but it’s certainly human. Fighting is human. For Roddenberry, vacant contentment
is not for growing mortals. Quietude is annoying. As Zefram Cochrane says in “Metamorphosis,” “immortality consists largely of
boredom.” Better to be poor and cold than to be rich and warm. Heat breeds inertia! Landru
had become a god, an object of reverence. This also impairs the human spirit. Hellenic detachment is not usually mortally dynamic.
In a Hellenic culture,
Kirk notes that experts are being left behind to help restore the planet’s
culture “to a human norm.”
That is soul. The body is not to be distinct from the soul. Annoyed at Marplon, Kirk demands, “Snap out of it! And start acting
like men!” While there is a norm, Hellenic thinking is present, but not tyrannically. StarTrek's philosophy of culture hates
brainwashing of any kind. It fears right wing conservatism’s Jonestown hysteria of a world full of hapless bipeds who watch
their feet as they walk. Eyes never meet. Conversation never wanders beyond how-dee and “have a nice day.” There’s not an
ounce of thought in empty phrases from empty heads. Malignant mindlessness is an even deeper problem than the mental cripples
who hang onto any preacher, who will pay any amount of money, just to have something to believe in. They have not the will to
create their own faith and to will their own course through time. A great civilization is built on presence, not on absence:
Landru: You have come to a world without hate, without fear, without
conflict…No war, no disease, no crime, none of the ancient evils.
Landru describes the “universal
good” as a catalogue of no’s. A world is built upon yes’s, not no’s. All false
prophets like Landru
who pronounce joy, peace and contentment, brotherhood, prey on the weak of mind, on the mindless, on dependent, insecure
personalities. The concept of “the Body” is frightening because it represents the unthinking masses who have the majority of the
votes. They are the living dead, and they will stone Archons to death. Ants are collective; ever see one alone? Rarely. They
act as a body with a ruthless efficiency. “The Body” is not fiction; it is a societal reality that threatens all individuals and creative
thinkers. Hitler had to shoot the intellectuals first, then
burn the books, then the Jews.
This was “the Body” being summoned by a Landru some fifty years ago. “The Body”
historical fact. Beware of it.
“The Return of the
Archons” is a testament to liberty. Landru can permit no liberty because it is
mechanistic “thinking.” “The good must transcend the evil…your individuality will merge into the unity of good.” John Stewart
Mill, in his essay On Liberty (1859), is the philosophical father of anti-Bodyism. To absorb is to kill, just as Nomad’s “sterilize”
meant to kill. Custom means “customary character.” Custom also “does not develop…any of the qualities which are the
destructive endowment of a human being.” “Custom makes no choice.” The Body consists of “automatons in human form.”
Human nature is not a machine to be built after a model, and set to do
exactly the work prescribed for it, but a tree, which requires to grow
and develop itself on all sides, according to the tendency of the inward
forces which make it a living thing (Mill On Liberty 1859).
Mill fosters Trek's
positive characteristics: strong impulses, energy, individuality, genius,
originality and creativity. It abhors
conformity because it likes crowds, it exercises choice “only among things commonly done.” “They have no nature to follow; t
heir human capacities are withered and starved.” They obey the will of Landru because they have no self-will. They like
“you must do” and “whatever is not a duty is a sin.” Mill continues to castigate concepts like “the Body” because:
The general tendency of things throughout the world is to render
Mediocrity the ascendant power…at
present individuals are lost in the crowd…They are always a
mass…collective mediocrity…the idea
of character is to be without any marked character: to maim by
compression, like a Chinese lady’s foot…Despotism of the custom
is everywhere the standing hindrance to human advancement…
(J. S. Mill On Liberty, 111).
To combat tyranny of opinion,
foster “eccentricity” and ‘Pagan self-assertion,’ the “Greek ideal of
individuality, a person becomes “more valuable” to himself “and…is capable of being of more value to others.” The Body
absorbs Archons because individuality and thought are threats to the mob. Both Mill and Roddenberry share the same
philosophy which says, “the only unfailing and permanent source of improvement is liberty.” This means less mechanical
thoughtlessness and no “censorship.” Beware of those bipeds who have been absorbed. The white shirts are on the way.
“Freedom is never a gift; it has to be earned” (Kirk).
There is no Landru in
the human sense. “Landru must die.” The intelligence of the Body towards
outsiders has a
religious fervor to it. Only those taking some pills praising big-brother can say, as Sulu does, “They’re wonderful…the
sweetest, friendliest people in the universe…it’s paradise.” Before festival, Bilac is sickeningly pleasant. At festival, he
rapes Tula. To separate the world into night and day is a scientific condition, but to separate man into day (light, reason)
and night (red hour, orgies, violence) is to present a fallacious dualism and a unnatural, mechanistic society. Where man
is never a person (fully) at any given, integrated moment in time. The majority of mankind has been absorbed—politicians,
Philistines, troglytes—and they do not even know it until an Archon appears. If there is a paradise, it is still the one that
Now the sneaking serpent walks
In mild humility,
And the just man rages in the wilds
Where laws roam
(Wm. Blake The Marriage of Heaven and Hell).
When Star Trek deals with
the machine, it is raising a conflict—physical and metaphysical; people feel
It is a quest for Greek balance and one is expected not to overreact to a situation. Landru may be described as a
compulsive, involuntary stimulus early in the drama, but people let it become voluntary. The sheep always outnumber
the shepherd. In Landru, there is nothing left from the human point of view. People are entities. They have been
programmed; their brains have dried up; their wills are barren fields. To be a builder is to go against the establishment.
The thinker, as Carlyle notes, is doomed to wander homeless. To be an Archon is to be an isolated thinker, a good
reasoner. People feel threatened by intelligence. The more one thinks, the more people hate it. Malignant mindlessness
is a killer. Nazism is implicit in the episode. In American society, thinkers are shot. People are desperate for some sense
of direction. They are willing to be led. Festival is the Dionysian price a mechanistic culture pays for freedom from liberty.
It is thus not allowed to be human. Festival satisfies the basic libido drives. Logic recognizes that man has a strong illogical
side and it must have time to express this. The more the repression, the greater the volcanic eruption. The person who does
not think at all is society’s ultimate waste. One cannot be human without a fight. A civilized society needs a few odd-balls
and eccentric types. Without an odd-ball at the party, stay home. Liberty is an endangered species:
Our freedom as free lanced
Advances towards its end;
The earth compels, upon it
Sonnets and birds descend;
And soon, my friend,
We shall have no time for dances
(Louis MacNeice “The Sunlight on the Garden” 1937).
(finis “The Return of the Archons”)
“For the World is Hollow, and I Have Touched the
Yonada is some thing
of an updated but benign flying island of Laputa. It is a busy little ball in
space with the descendents
of the Fabrini, in flight for over ten thousand years. In approximately 390 days, the asteroid-spaceship is due to embark on a green
planet promising life to the only remnants of the dead Fabrina solar system. Yonada is part Hebrew, roughly translatable into beauty
at a distance. Fabrini is based on Latin, and means makers or creatures. Their high priestess is the beautiful Natira whose name
denotes birth. The episode is a modern story of love and expectation. Its Hellenism is based on its qualities of beauty (Natura +
The People) and on truth, its definition in love, in death, and in destiny. “For the World is Hollow…” may be Star Trek's most
underrated and sensitive love stories:
Bold lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal—yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
Forever wilt thou love, and she be fair!
(John Keats “Ode on a Grecian Urn” 1819).
Although not zombies like the
bipeds of Landru, the Fabrini are “The People” chosen (Biblical) by the
Creators. They walk and
chat in an apparent show of absolute normalcy. Their garb, however, is reminiscent of some attire in “A Taste of Armageddon.”
Swift notes of the Laputians:
Their heads were all reclined either to the right, or the left; one of their eyes
turned inward, and the other directly up to the zenith. Their outward garments
were adorned with the figures of suns, moons, and stars, interwoven with those
of fiddles, flutes, harps, trumpets, guitars, harpsichords, and many instruments
(J. Swift, Gulliver’s Travels III, 2).
Except for the old man, the Fabrini go about their routines, although one might wonder where, in a hollow ball, one might go.
At the heart of Yonada
is the truth of its past, its present, and its future. All are hidden behind
the religious and cultural
center of Yonada, the Oracle. This is the computer with which Kirk, Spock, and McCoy will have to contend before the truth,
its secrets, are known. The Oracle is the People’s center of truth and is Hellenic; it is also a god, an object of servile obedience
that binds the people into a cooperative community, using the “instrument of obedience” surgically implanted into the head between
eye and ear (Hebraic). Beauty and Truth are abstractly Hellenic, but the conscience, punishment, and fear are mortal, therefore
Hebraic. The Oracle is a machine that gives joy, unity, life, security, purpose—but at the price of free will, curiosity, creativity.
It stultifies free thought and liberty. As a god, it is worshipped and feared. As culture, it is revered as cultural truth. In a sense,
it is both totem and taboo. It is a fearsome device:
Natura: Oh, Oracle of the People, oh most wise and perfect…
Strangers have come to our world. They bear instruments
we do not understand…
Oracle’s Voice: Then learn what it means to be our enemy…before you learn
what it means to be our friend.
Religion must be maintained by fear and punishment, and the Oracle resembles Jupiter in
Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound (as in Aeschylus).
Monarch of Gods and Daemons…regard this Earth
Made multitudinous with thy slaves, whom thou
Requitest for knee-worship, prayer, and praise,
And toil, and hecatombs of broken hearts,
With fear and self-contempt and barren hope…
Scorn and despair—these are mine empire
(P. B. Prometheus Unbound, 1819).
And new sheep must tow the party
line and memorize Pravada, and recite vespers—or suffer pain and/or death. Its
short of grace. Religion requires its instrument of obedience.
“For the World is
Hollow…” is a study of love amid truth and how both survive. But what is truth?
It is “your larger
selves that walk the sky” (Gibran 91). It is in the stars. The People’s ship is on a collision course with Daran Five just as
McCoy is on a collision course with death, with barely a year to live. The people of Yonada must be informed, but how will
they react to the spaceship story? If not, tell them; tell Natira the truth. They do; she understands and believes with out
altering her faith in the wisdom of the Creators. The other truth means destroying Yonada to save Daran Five or doing nothing.
Truth is better than exterminating three billion people on Daran Five. “Logical…also logical,” Spock muses.
“For the World is
Hollow…,” but that knowledge is forbidden. The high point in this episode is
early in Act II when the
nameless old man enters Natira’s chambers to observe the Trekkers and offer an herb for strength against the power of the Oracle.
The encounter is legion in StarTrek:
Kirk: We’re from outside your world.
Old Man: Where is outside?
Kirk: Up there…outside…everywhere.
Old Man: So they say, also. Years ago I climbed the mountain…even though
it is forbidden.
Kirk: Why is it forbidden?
Old Man: I am not sure…but things are not as they teach us…for the world is
hollow, and I have touched the sky.
The statement is simple, but
profoundly metaphysical. It could be censorship, a Communist state, or U.S.
mass media. One only
hears what others want them to hear, the propaganda. The truth must never be known, or the masses would be beyond control.
They lie to placate the masses. The truth is always beyond the comprehension of the troglytes who are unaccustomed to abstract
thought. The truth lies in the larger self that walks the sky. It is for philosophers,
dreamers and individuals who face
death (as the old man is killed by his instrument of obedience). The few know
the truth that
the world is cosmological; it goes beyond the self and one’s tribe or country, or planet. It is space and in the self:
You are not enclosed within your bodies,
nor confined to houses or fields
That which is you dwells above the
Mountain and roves with the wind
The Oracle is a controller, a computer assembled by a cultured race facing extinction. Here, logic is taboo; truth is anathema:
Kirk: “For the world is hollow and I have touched the sky.”
Spock: He said it was forbidden to climb the mountains.
Kirk: Yes, of course it is, because if you did, you’d touch
the sky and find out you were living on a big ball. Not
on a planet, but a space ship. And that knowledge seems
to be forbidden.
Natura sees the death of the old
man, the prophet, the seer, the joker, the fool. She has him handled gently:
“He served well…
for many years.” However, “He was an old man…and old men are sometimes foolish. But it is written that those of the people
who sin, or speak evil…shall be punished.”
Amid the truth of a
ship of course, of a hollow ball, is a love story where the truth meets the
compassion. Natira sees
McCoy, it is literally love at first sight. She, as priestess, is aloof and alone. She has faith in her mission, in her culture and is
liaison between the Oracle and the People. The appearance of McCoy stirs her restlessness into consciousness. McCoy’s
death sentence (by Xeno-polycythemia) has clouded him with self-doubt. Limited time, a sense
of Hebraic death, has altered
truth’s normal course. Time is now precious. Both people are intelligent and
passionate by nature.
Both seek relief from duty:
Natira: It is not the manner of the People to hide their feelings.
McCoy: Honesty is usually wise.
Natira: Is there a woman for you?
McCoy: No…there isn’t.
Natira: Does McCoy find me attractive?
McCoy: Oh, yes. Yes, I do.
The conversation exchanges
truth’s-of-being in search of a truth. Natira, the lady of birth, priestess of
beauty, is a very contemporary
character, a woman who is direct, but tender and tactful. She is a seeker of truth. Truth is her raison d’être. Love, for her, is
emerging: “I hope you men of space…of other worlds…hold truth as dear as we do.” Her explicit wish is for McCoy to stay
on Yonada “as my mate.” Love is her new truth, and it will conflict with the Oracle. McCoy’s truth is one never stated before in
Trek. His failed marriage and flight into space (a Harry Mudd with a scalpel) result from two truths: loneliness and impending death:
McCoy: If you only knew how much I needed some kind of future, Natira.
Natira: You have lived a lonely life.
McCoy: Yes…very lonely.
Natira: No more, McCoy. There will be no more loneliness for you.
The truth is a common, felt
experience. Truth emerges as love, and love is a learning process which,
according to Natira, overcomes
differences: “But is not that the nature of men and women…that the pleasure is in the learning of each other?” The truth, besides
loneliness, is death, the illness “for which there is no cure.” The collision course between Yonada and Daran Five is an outward,
symbolic manifestation of the collision courses within the individual souls of McCoy and Natira, and the impending collision of
higher truths. Thus, truth is death and life. Truth is time. And truth is faith:
Natira: Until I saw you there was nothing in my heart. It sustained
my life, but nothing more. Now it sings. I could be happy
to have that feeling for a day…a week…a month…a year…
whatever the Creators hold in store for us.
Truth is a kiss for Natira and McCoy.
For Kirk and Spock,
the Oracle room holds the more practical facts—getting to the machinery and
correcting the ship’s
direction. They confront religion that “listens to itself”: “it becomes less and less creative, vital; more and more mechanical…
dissipating itself into Metaphysics” (Carlyle “Characteristics” 1831). The Oracle is dogma, not religion as faith. The role of
religion is as Marx said, “the opiate of the people.” The Creators give the People a “religion” to satisfy them, to stifle their curiosity.
J. S. Mill and Gene Roddenberry agree on this point. The essence of primitive religion is to keep order. The Creators would be
considered gods by the People. Truth is sacrilege: Kirk and Spock have violated the temple and the hospitality of the Fabrini.
Natira’s indignation is personal as well as priestly: “Fools! Do you think we are children! You can do as you please…commit
whatever offense amuses you!”
Truth of love enables
McCoy to save Kirk and Spock from the death penalty. Truth means isolation from
friends. McCoy decides to stay on Yonada. For Kirk, McCoy’s illness and newly-discovered love are an inconvenience. Early
in the drama, Kirk’s only action is to request a replacement for McCoy. He also attempts to relieve McCoy of landing party
participation. When McCoy stays on Yonada, Kirk uses a technicality. He orders McCoy to return to the ship. Therefore,
McCoy goes on record as disobeying a command. Truth is alienation in the face of duty. McCoy, like Yonada, is expendable.
His alienation from the Enterprise is a factor in his acceptance of the instrument of obedience. He submerges his liberty
in the Body, as one of the
People. McCoy’s truth becomes a need for faith to contravene curiosity—the book
is an irresistible
temptation. The Oracle punishes McCoy for revealing the truth of the book that might get the ship on course. Duty vies with love.
Truth becomes a vow of obedience to false gods.
Kirk’s rescue of McCoy
and the ensuing revelation of the sacred book’s existence precipitate the play’s
climax, and again
Hellenic truth is the matrix of the conflict. There is “my truth,” “your truth,” “a truth,” …and “the truth.” For Natira:
…it is the privilege and proper condition of a human being, arrived at the
maturity of his faculties, to use and interpret experience in his own way
(Mill, On Liberty II).
Natira must personally reinterpret
the reality of custom in light of the reality of the truth, i.e., that which
transcends specific individuals,
beliefs, cultures. She is a lady of strong mind. She wills to know the universal truth, the truth of the world. The dialogue is intense:
Kirk: You must believe that what I’m about to tell you is the truth.
Natira: Your truth about your world!
Kirk: Yes, my truth of my world and of your world of Yonada…
Natira: You do not obey the law of the Creators. How can you
understand my world?
Kirk narrates the history of the
Fabrini, explains the planets on the obelisk, speaks of Yonada the ship: “You
are living inside a hollow
ball…on a journey to a promised new planet.” Natira’s instrument of obedience turns red as clarity of consciousness fights strictness
Natira: Why was the truth kept from us. Why should the Creators keep
us in the darkness?…No! No! You do not speak the truth. I
believe only the Oracle. I believe.
Natira now confronts the Oracle
where truths converge into the truth. In Star Trek, the prime directive
for different truths for different planets, different cultures. It is nature’s way: Infinite diversity in its infinite combinations (IDIC).
But Hellenism and human consciousness seek out a reason beyond all other reasons, a cause of many lesser causes. The war
between conformity and liberty is tearing Natira apart as the pain of religion’s conformity impairs her will. Her best line,
“Is truth not truth for all?” is the theme of the episode. Natira—via McCoy, Kirk and Spock’s influence…has transcended
her tribalism. She returns the belief without the punishment. Truth becomes free will:
Natira: They said they spoke the truth.
Oracle: Their truth!
Natira: Is truth not truth for all?
Oracle: The truth of Yonada is your truth. There can be no other for you.
Natira: I must know the truth of the world.
Natira (to McCoy): Your friends have told me of your world.
Mc:Coy They spoke the truth.
Natira: I believe you…I believe. The Creators kept us in darkness. There’s
Nothing I can do. I believe with you…husband.
The instrument of obedience is
removed. Truth is free to all. It should not be hidden if and when the person
has evolved from
conformity to creative thinking. Once Natira has touched the sky, there is the mountain she has climbed; she sees the
insignificance of divisive, petty truths. She knows!
Spock opens the altar
and the ship’s computer mechanisms are the Oracle. The machine was god for ten
Soon, in a year, the people will read their book and truth will be the truth for all. Then, metallic idolatry will no longer be necessary.
Religion and the computer are one, and will remain so until man is self-sufficient, self-guiding, independent, and free
thinking. The mechanism is
repaired and the ship put back on course. Natira evolves. She will remain
willingly because “I
understand the great purpose of the Creators. I shall honor it.” I shall stay willingly because that is what I must do.” Truth is
mergence between duty and will. There is no more fear.
The medical knowledge
of the Fabrini is a “deus ex machina,” but some way had to be found to keep
McCoy in the
series. A cure (a truth) enables McCoy to reopt for duty. The truth enables Natira to sustain her duty through free choice.
The truth is related to beauty because it is love. Of Star Trek's computers, the Oracle may be the least malignant in that it was
controlled by an entire culture. The People are much like the children of Israel in Exodus. Religion is primarily mechanistic, a
sort of Communism but with a good. The Oracle is a Fascist form of fear to keep the people in line. The People must do what
they are told. Right now, the People are not capable of understanding the truth. The old man is a prophet, like Ezeckiel or like
King Saul, scourged by his Adonai.
He who wears his morality but as his
best garment were better naked.
The wind and the sun will tear no holes
in his skin.
And he who defines his conduct by ethics
imprisons his song-bird in a cage
(finis: “For the World is Hollow…”)
"A Taste of Armageddon”
(–a peculiar variety of diplomacy)
In “A Taste of Armageddon,” one encounters a complete absence of the
logic of normalcy. What has been substituted
is the illogic of war as a mechanistic and humanistic norm. The viewer sees illogic as the logic within the Eminiar VII society.
One is reminded of the logical inversion of the ontology of the bed in Plato’s The Republic (16):
‘Yes,’ he agreed, ‘he produces an appearance of one.’
‘And what about the carpenter? Didn’t you agree that
what he produces is not the form of bed which according
to us is what a bed really is, but a particular bed?’
‘If then, what he makes is not “what a bed really
is,” his product is not “What is,” but
something which resembles “what without
Taste of Armageddon” has its source in Revelations 16:16; it comes from the
Hebrew hac, meaning “mountain” and
Armegddon, the plain of Megiddo, where the last decisive battle between the forces of good and evil will be fought. It
precludes the Day of Judgment. The term is normally equated with events just preceding the end of the world. The title
is not subtle and presents one conception of how in future centuries, the world will end—its mountain, and the plain.
Substituted for the over-Hollywooded visions of the dies irae, this episode is closer to T.S. Eliot’s concept of the
annihilation of silence: not with a bang, but a whimper (“The Hollow Men”). What may be the bathos attending the
final moments of existence will not even fulfill the sci-fi expectations of a Waterloo or a cosmic fire-fight. No sensory
input on that great day? No bombs? No blood? No devastated cities? Why, that almost makes the dies irae not
worth waiting for or thinking about. One might at least have a “good show.” No—silence; i.e., non-
existence at the chipping of a
room of computers. Mea 3 is dead, but she has twenty-four hours to die! Of
course, to prevent
anarchy, she will just toots into the modern, futuristic crematorium—the disintegration chamber. Painless, really. It shows the
extent to which a civilized culture will go to retain a cultural identity through a war of fallacy, i.e., it is not really a war. But the
Eminians see war as a prerequisite to maintaining peace, health, and competence. An opposite maintains its opposite, but one
of the opposites does not really exist outside the “war room” and disintegration station #12. Otherwise, all is well.
“Bad reasoners,” Swift would say. Another iota of illogic lies in a false proposition that there is an empirical distinction
between “our culture,” “our civilization,” and “the people.” This supports the logic of Mea 3 who believes that her love of
life is second to the cultural operatives. This is the illogic of suicide and of cultural hysteria:
Mea: My life is as dear to me as yours is to you, Captain.
Kirk: Then how can you stand…?
Mea: Don’t you see…if I refuse to report, and others refuse…
then Vendikar would have no choice but to launch real
weapons. We would have to do the same, to defend
ourselves. More than people would die then. Our whole
civilization would be destroyed! Surely you can see that
ours is a better way.
Her logic says that her compliance
with suicide is best for the state. Individuals, here chosen as a “quota” by
up to three million dead a year, all willing participants is Eminiar VII’s cultural bad reasoning. To accept the premise that dead
people permit a civilization to live by willful acts at a computer’s random, mathematical “attack” is a shock that Kirk and Spock
find hard to believe. Spock understands the cultural psychosis when he says there is a scientific logic about the imperative, but he
does not approve. The Eminians have used illogic to separate
ethics from political science.
“Bad reasoners!” Anan 7 makes the same logical schism when he passionately
five hundred-year-old-war: “Our civilization lives…The people die, but our culture goes on.” Military intelligence is a paradox
in terms. The logic of a death quota (the primitive body count) has not changed from 1900-future. War is more important for
the body count than it is for winning or losing. First keep a correct count, and keep the count high so we can ask for more
people to vaporize. The logic of Heller’s Catch-22 is irresistible. Doc Daneeka had to put in so many flying hours. He hated
flying, especially in Mcwatt’s plane. Doc’s name was on McWatt’s passenger manifest, but Doc never boarded the plane which
McWatt deliberately crashed into a mountainside. Because Doc Daneeka’s name was on the manifest because the plane crashed,
therefore Doc Daneeka is “dead.” He walks right by people who “disappear him” because his name was on the manifest. He
becomes a living dead man and cannot prove he exists! This is part of Armageddon’s bad reasoning. Kirk, McCoy, Tamara
are sequestered because the Enterprise is “destroyed” in the computer attack. Therefore, they are already dead. Logical! They
are alive because they are dead! Mea 3 is also “dead” before she has to enter the disintegration machine. Kirk’s landing crew is
dumbfounded as Anan plays pre-factum coroner:
All persons aboard your ship have twenty-four hours to report
to our disintegration machine. In order to insure their cooperation
I have ordered you, Captain, and your party held in custody until they
Kirk is not sure of his own
party’s fate. Is he too to be classified as a casualty? Popinjay Fox is also
DOA (death on arrival)
and is not ready for Anan 7’s rather heated diplomacy. Accepting a five hundred old war without blinking, to get heated (like
Anan 7) because tallies
are below quota is,
euphemistically, bad reasoning. War is not a logical phenomenon. Even Mr. Fox,
whose name is ironic,
ays he learns very quickly. For what he did to Scotty, The Eminians should have gotten him further into the chamber before
Spock’s rescue: “By now, I assume, Mr. Ambassador, that you have realized that normal diplomatic procedures are ineffective
here.” A disruption is the best, but still a “peculiar,” “variety of diplomacy.” Seeing Spock using a disruptor so efficaciously
is curiously refreshing to his usual, Schweitzerian pacifism.
While Kirk and party
have a diplomatic problem downstairs, Mr. Scott also has a “peculiar variety of
keeping the “store” intact and himself from a penal colony. Diplomacy as war cannot be confined to words. It is the Scotsman
and the Fox hunt! Best line goes to Mr. Scott: “Diplomats! The best diplomat I know is a fully activated phaser bank.”
The argument between Fox and Scotty is one of posture: peaceful or military. Because of Code 710 from the Eminians
(“under no circumstances are we to approach the planet”) the question of ship’s positive vis-a-vis Eminiar VII is, at first, a
matter of command discretion:
Spock No hostile activity directed toward us. No apparent notice taken
of us at all…
Kirk: …ship’s defenses, Mr. Spock?
Spock: Screens down, but all defensive details on General Alert status…
The ship is given over to Mr.
Scott: “The ship is yours. Take care of her till I come back.” The logic of
diplomacy conflicts with the
logic of command. Fox admits he had never been a soldier; he is an idealist; a theoretician from Laputa would not or could not
define a brick if one were to hit him.
He is totally
immune to the realities encountered by Scotty—faked voices, phony messages, “pot
shots” at the Enterprise,
a landing party overdue for check in. Scotty’s logic vs. Fox’s logic are opposites and are symbolized by the term/fact, screens.
Screens reflect the
logical barrier that exists
between Enterprise logic and Eminian logic (two views of a “war”). The screens
also reflect fluid
diplomacy vs. military reality (i.e., Fox vs. Scott).
DePaul: All stations reporting. Deflector screens rigged at full power.
Phaser crews ready. Sensors reading zero…no, Sir! Mr. Scott
…Sensor readings just shot off the scale!
Scott: Well, now, they’re taking pot shots at us. Holding, Mr. DePaul?
DePaul: Screens firm, sir. Extremely powerful sonic vibrations, decibels
18 to the 12 power. If those screens weren’t up, we’d be totally
disrupted by now.
Mr. Scott’s role in “A Taste of
Armageddon” puts him in a strong command position, but Fox’s ambassadorial rank
the power of command. Scotty’s lack of respect for popinjay Fox is superseded by his hard-core logical deposit that says
that it is suicide to disobey orders and to lower the screens. “Screens” is an unusual term in TREK; usually “shields” is used.
However a screen has a two way potential. It keeps things in; it keeps things out. The argument between Scott and Fox is
vintage Gene Coon:
Scott: We cannot fire full phasers with our screens up. We can’t
lower our screens with their disrupters on us…of course,
I could treat them to a few dozen photon torpedoes.
Fox: You’ll do no such thing, Mr. Scott!
Scott: Mr. Fox…we’re under attack! They’re trying to knock us down!
Fox: You’ve taken defensive measures…but there are no buts, Mr. Scott.
It is obviously a misunderstanding…and one of my jobs is to clean
Mc: They’re holding the captain!
Fox: We have no proof of that.
Scott: I’m responsible for the safety of this ship.
Fox: And I am responsible for the success of this mission…that is more
important than this ship. Is that clear? We came here to establish
diplomatic relations with this people.
Scott: But they’re the ones looking for a fight, Mr. Fox.
Fox: This is a diplomatic matter! If you will check your regulations,
you will see that my orders get priority…
Scotty’s concept of “The best
diplomat I know is a fully activated phaser bank “makes sense in this context.
After Fox believes
Anan 7’s excuse of “a mistake,” there is no common logical ground between the diplomat and the soldier. Truman and
MacArthur meet again:
Anan: The minute their screens are down…open fire…
Fox: Diplomacy, gentlemen, should be a job left to diplomats.
You will, of course, immediately resume a peaceful status.
Scott: No, sir. I will not.
Fox: What did you say?
Scott: I’ll not lower the screens…not until the captain tells me to .
Fox: You are taking orders from me. You will lower your screens
as a sign on good faith. My authority…
Scott: I know about your authority, but the screens stay up!…
Fox: I can have you sent to a penal planet for this!
Scott: That you can, sir…but I won’t lower the screens!
So, as Scott knows, “the haggis is
in the fire for sure,” but it is one of Jim Doohan’s best scenes in TREK.
He is stern, correct,
unbudgable, and logical. The ancient polemics of diplomacy vs. soldiering is timeless, almost allegorical; but Gene Coon’s dialogue
makes this a moment of tremendous tension:
…what the law lays down they call
lawful and right. This is the origin and nature
of justice. It lies between what is most desirable,
to do wrong and avoid punishment,
and what is most undesirable, to suffer
wrong without being able to get redress; justice
lies between these two and is accepted not
as being good in itself, but as having a
relative value due to our inability to do wrong
(Plato The Republic BkII:104).
Logic assumes an outward (extraverted) form of thinking in full view of the assembled facts. As Jung notes of the logic of thinking:
Orientation to the object…has the appearance of being captivated by the
Object, as though without the external orientation it simply could not exist
…it seems to be constantly affected by the objective data and to draw
conclusions only with their consent
(Jung Psychological Types 344).
Fox is not ruled by data
orientation and would not yield to Plato’s justice. His logic has not the
balance. He is one of Swift’s
The mini-war between
Anan 7 and Kirk takes on frank and vicious tones. Anon 7 is a compulsive liar
who will murder
to retain his own cultural imperatives. The logic is that of two “barbarians” (self-proclaimed) with two variations on the logic of
killing. Kirk’s logic is based on fact and on its reflection:
The rationality of the object selected…
Should not be alone in awakening
The consciousness…he should have well
Meditated upon the essential and the
True in all their extension and profundity,
For without reflection a man cannot become
conscious of that which is within himself…
Anan 7 is missing the meditative
phase on consciousness: “You are a barbarian.” Anon has no sense of beauty.
His instinct for
order is based on the illogic of the computer war:
Anan 7: …a killer first, a builder second. A hunter, a warrior and…
let’s be honest…a murderer. That is our joint heritage, is it not?
K: We are a little less cold blooded about it than you are.
Much later, in the last act, the
logic of barbarism. For Anan 7, it is barbaric to withhold the crew of the
Enterprise from Anan 7’s
disintegration machines. Withholding bodies is not civilized. For Kirk, barbarism has a correctness about it, but it does not lie in
killing people with computers:
Anan: Are there five hundred people of yours more [important] than
the hundreds of millions of innocent people on Eminiar and
Vendikar? What kind of monster are you?
Kirk: I’m a barbarian. You said it yourself.
Anan: I had hoped I had spoken only figuratively.
Kirk: Oh, no. You were quite accurate. I plan to prove it
To you…Scotty, General Order #24…in two hours!
The “screens” on the ground are
the psychical barriers that exist between Anan 7’s antilogic and Kirk’s logic.
However, both logics
are equally destructive in effect, i.e., many will die. For Anon, they will walk voluntarily into a disintegration machine in a war fought
by computers. For Kirk, General Order #24 fights war games with war the reality.
Kirk’s job is to alter
the objectivity of war’s reality as viewed by Anon 7 and his culture for five
hundred years. He must make
Anan’s thinking extroversive by removing the cultural hysteria of Eminiar 7. The knight’s gambit requires only one winner—peace,
with Kirk as the prime agent and catalyst in making Anan more extroversive in his thinking. A logical end does not require logical
means; but Anan’s world had killed three million people a year—all very cleanly:
Our graves that hide us from the searching sun
Are like drawn curtains when the play is done.
Thus march we, playing, to our latest rest,
Only we die in earnest—that’s no jest
(Sir Walter Raligh “On the Life on a Man” 1612).
For Eminiar VII, war has no human
factor, from their viewpoint. They see Vendikar personified on a computer
screen. The screen
soon becomes the only reality, and it is a reflection, a mathematical theory. It is not the people of Vendicar. It is an image of truth
without sensory perception:
Kirk: What is it?
Mea: A hit! Right here in the city!
Kirk: Do you hear any explosions, Mr. Spock?
Spock: None. Yeoman Tamara…tricorder reading.
Radiation disturbances of any kind?
Tamara: working, sir. No evidence.
Kirk: Mea, if this is an attack, may I ask what weapons the enemy is using?
Mea: Fusion bombs. Materialized by the enemy over their targets.
Scotty confirms Kirk’s ears and
Yeoman Tamara’s tricorder with an “All quiet.” Anan 7 must be seen as totally
mad from Kirk’s point of view. The two are not having the same sensory perception:
Anan: It was a vicious attack…extremely destructive. Fortunately our
Defenses are firming, but our casualties are high…
Kirk: There has been no attack, no explosions, no radiations, no disturbances
whatsoever. If this is some sort of a game you’re playing…
Gene Roddenberry wrote the first
story, with Gene Coon and Robert Hamner, about “war games.” The common
the eventual inability to distinguish fact from fiction. Spock concludes: “Computers, Captain. They fight their war with computers.
Totally.” Anan has pushed Hebraism beyond sanity by his blindness: “We have a high consciousness of duty, Captain.”
Gene Coon and Robert Hamner was lively and very perceptive regarding the status
computers in this episode vs. previous episodes. The letter is Gene Coon’s inter-departmental communication (Desilu
Productions, Inc.) dated September 15, 1966:
Point: please do not have the computers and machines doing everything
for the people of this culture. Have them used to a great extent, but at all
times under the complete control of the people. We have done too many
in which the machines, by their efficiency, have caused the people to atrophy
into mere appendages.
Gene Coon wants the final story to
reflect a greater role by having Kirk end the conflict. It was Gene Coon’s idea
to scare the
Eminians into making peace by the threat of real war: This is how Kirk alters the objective of war as seen by Anon. It is not
war games, but the real thing that scares an hysterical culture into peace because the alternative is total annihilation. Kirk begins
the first of many incisive and ominous statements, all revolving about the reality of General Order #24: “We don’t make war
with computers and herd the casualties into suicide stations. We make the real thing, councilman. I could destroy this planet.”
Kirk is practically a peculiar variety of diplomacy, as Spock did earlier:
Kirk: I didn’t start it, councilmen. But I’m liable to finish it.
Anan: You see, it’s started.
Kirk: You’re wrong. It hasn’t begun!
Anan: You can’t stop it!
Kirk: Stop it? I’m counting on it.
Kirk’s rage is genuine. It is the
only such time in the original series where General Order #24 is given. He
means it! And the
average view is hateful of the Eminian insanity. If anything, Kirk has been patient…too long.
The real thing does
not sink into the consciousness of Anan until Scotty tells the horrible truth of
power and puts a clock
to it. The effect is scary:
Scott: All cities and installations on Eminiar Seven have been located,
identified and fed into our fire control system. In one hour and
forty minutes, the entire inhabited surface of your planet will be
destroyed. You have that long to surrender your hostages.
Computerization in “A Taste of
Armageddon” is part of a large human scenario wherein pain is anaesthetized.
There’s a pill
for every pain, a suave for every muscle ache. Eminiar’s computers made war a clean, antiseptic, therefore acceptable and l
ogical, the logic of killer bees, using
restructured evolution as an
excuse for no enlightenment: Anan’s introverted thinking seeks excuses in a
primal post. He blames
a five-hundred year lapse in truth on the hereditary instinct for violence: “There can be no peace. Don’t you see…We’ve
admitted it to ourselves. We’re a killer species. It’s instinctive.” Kirk’s point of view reflects the literary viewpoint of Gene
Coon. One, war means blood. Two, war and instinct can be controlled:
Kirk: Death. Destruction. Disease. Horror… that’s what war is all
about. That’s what makes it a thing to be avoided. You’ve
made it neat and painless, so neat and painless you had no
reason to stop it…I’m going to end it for you…One way or
With the war games computers
destroyed, Kirk fulfills Gene Coon’s wish (same memo: “Why not let him [Kirk]
be the big
hero? By threatening to bring down total war in all its horror upon them…a seemingly inhuman thing to do.”) And so Kirk
reams Anan 7:
Kirk: I’ve given you back the horrors of war. The Vendekans will now
assume you have abandoned your agreement, and are preparing
for a real war, with real weapons…the nest attack they launch will
do a lot more than count up numbers in a computer. They’ll destroy
your cities, devastate your planet. You will want to retaliate of course.
If I were you, I’d start making bombs.
From the point of view of
Hellenism’s truth and beauty, Kirk reinstates Matthew Arnold’s instinct for
order and sense for order
in lieu of the instinct for violence. It is just not logical:
Kirk: …the instinct can be fought. We’re human beings with the blood
a million savage years on our hands. But we can stop it. We can
admit that we’re killers…but we’re not going to kill today. That’s
all it takes! Knowing that we’re not going to kill today!
Terror creates peace because the
only alternative to peace with Vendikar is utter destruction. Kirk has scared
the hell out of
Eminiar VII, has given them a taste of Armageddon:
You must therefore each descend in turn and
live with your fellows in the care and get used
to seeing in the dark; once you get used to it
you will see a thousand times better than they
do and will distinguish the various shadows and
know what they are shadows of, because you have
seen the truth about things admirable and just and good
(Plato, The Republic 7:324).
(Finis: “A Taste of Armageddon")
"That Which Survives”
“All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born”
--(William Butler Yeats “Easter” 1916).
In a memo of March 2,
1968 to D.C. Fontana, Gene Roddenberry asks a question regarding the strange
events of this
haunting episode: “Is there anything, any alien race, any civilization, so perfect and wonderful that anything and everything at any
time intruding upon it should be destroyed?” Perhaps it is the intrusion by Trekkers that breaks the silent harmony of a race of
wondrous beings. And the very defense of the planet may be an injustice to the race that no longer needs protection from its
computer, for that machine acting in self-defense without external reason’s guidance is too efficient. Set on “automatic,” the
machine survives for a purpose no longer reasonable or healthful. Its programming of defense may have been effective but
non-lethal to another race, but its defensive postures create a dual arena of crises, both of which terminate human life. The
machine survives, but serves nothing and no one. It is a machine crying in the desert, and its logic spells lethal. It is, as Spock
noted of the squire of Gothos, logic without purpose or discipline. It lacks human guidance. The lone English farmer who
accidentally unearths and sets off a World War II German bomb faces the forgotten anachronism whose purpose remains, but
whose raison d’être has expired in time. Mr. Sulu sets the stage for a mystery story: “We have only questions—no answers.”
The deadly Agatha
Christie type of plot should be called “Beauty and the Clock.” There is an
unusually strong two-tiered
plot structure, two parallel stories that jump one to the other and back, presenting the two areas affected by the computer:,
the Enterprise and the landing party.
Hell breaks loose for Spock and
Scotty in the form of a runaway ship about to explode, and for Kirk, McCoy Sulu
on the planet’s surface. Both plot levels are linked by a common crisis—physical survival and double jeopardy. The camera
switches between the two, and incredible suspense is maintained until the final scene. It is a thriller, well written and well
conceived. It also has another level of story interest—language (linguistics). Losira is the Siren who calls Odysseus and his
crew. If they listen, “I am for you” becomes painful death.
The logic is the world
of Nomad’s non-sequitur. The theme of impossibility to logic and science
permeates the two
plots. For example, non-sequitur is a planet that is only a “few thousand years old.” Ergo, it is “impossible for vegetation to
evolve in so short a period.” Yet it does. Non-sequitur. “An atmosphere could not evolve in so short a…time.” Yet it has:
non- sequitur. In essence the planet is “a seemingly impossible phenomenon.” The facts, as Spock explains, “do not fit any
known categories of planets.” This outpost of Losira’s people is an ontological impossibility. It is illogical, impossible; yet it
exists. It has the distinction of being “a planet even Spock can’t explain.” There is the force that creates the separation (dualism)
of ship from planet—one of “almost measurable power.” Yet it has no cause; its effects are unclear. And then, “like a door
opening,” it is not there anymore. It is a tremor, but not necessarily one. It is here, yet it is “not there anymore,” says D’Amato.
The Enterprise is “gone,” yet it cannot be. It is not gone, it is simply not here anymore. How does one explain it? “We have
only questions—no answers.”
Planet Act I Ship
Crises: survival—food and water “The stars…they’re wrong”=
“a positional change” of 990.7 light years
Planet Act I Ship
Explosion theory: Logic=Spock’s
penchant for mathematical precision, ex, “It is illogical to assume that the force of an explosion…could have
launched us a distance of 890.7
Logic: Scott: it should have “vaporized” us. Correct, it did not destroy. Non-sequitur
Crisis: Losira: “I am for you, Lt. Dr. Boya: “each cell
D’Amato. death of the body…individually blasted
from inside.” [Transporter Technician]
Grass, but no water—poison…
Impossible. Science: in magnetic
sweep from zero…off the dial,
Then a reverse of polarity. Then,
Nothing: impossible (checked).
Surge=death is appearance
Crisis: No soil: impossible. Ship “feels wrong.” (Scotty).
rocks to rocks=memorial.
There aren’t any good ways
to die. Need defense Need definition of “wrong.”
“I am for you, Mr. Watkins”=
death: “strange woman”
osmium: “It wouldn’t have
evolved naturally. Same for no natural explanation for
plants. Defies science Watkins’ death
NIGHT: 1st watch
Spock: “The power of this intruder to disrupt every
cell in a body combined with the already al-
most inconceivable power to hurl the Enterprise
such a distance speaks of a very high culture
and a great danger”: “Impossible” theme
Watch: Sulu on alert Security alert: female
Losira: “I want to touch you” “ I am intruder
For Lt. Sulu: 3 vs./defense Cancel red alert, but maintain
--increased defensive measures increased security…
--running out of time fifteen minutes to live: the
Sulu’s shoulder touched: emergency bypass control
cellular disruption on the matter-antimatter
Sulu: “…how can such people integrator fused. Engines
be? With such evil. And run wild: Time [clock]
She is…she is so beautiful” countdown begins 14.87
Scott: “This thing is going
to blow up and there’s nothing in the universe can stop it.”
Beauty and the “Cuckoo clock”
“She’s [Losira] not through yet”-- the “cuckoo clock” sabotage
yet only ship’s phasers could
have fused circuit: non-
Logic: Spock: “ a force that could hurl us 990.7 light
years away and at distance still be able to sabotage our main
source of energy will not be waiting around to be taken into custody.”
Solution: Quest begins: Does she need our Crawlway in energy stream:
Thoughts? Tricorder overload: explosion. Logic: seal fuel flow with
magnetic probe: Scott.
Twelve minutes, 27 seconds.
Quest for entrance, source of power: “strange Spock: runs computer
Magnetic sweep,” like a door opening. analysis: ship’s condition:
Losira: “for you James T. Kirk.” Real vs. ideal. Warp 11.6
…11.9. Eight minutes, 41
seconds “I don’t need a
bloomin’ cuckoo clock” (Scott).
…Defensive to offensive procedures: problem solving…
Losira: “No life reading at all.” She is
only a projection, yet palpable: impossible!
No life reading, but clearly present. Identity:
“I am Losira, commander of …station.”
You are killing (cf., M-5) us (Kirk).
Power level high, “right off the scale Power level increasing:
Cave: food and water?> “Brain” = beyond control
computer as cause. Ship’s computer Cause=
Transporter: ship reas-
sembled .009% “out of
Clock: seventeen seconds.
Scott: reverse probe polarity
Computer: polarity scrambler to seal incision…auto defense…computer put Enterprise through molecular transporter, reassembled with Losira (in computer room, severe polarity underground):
“I must touch you …you are my five seconds; Scott: probe
I will live as one even to the Probe works: warp 15.9 and
structure of your cells, the dropping. SAVED!
arrangement of chromosomes.”
“This is how you kill” (Kirk)
--Computer duplicates replicas
--Spock arrives: Rescue: computer
destroyed just as replicas met number
BEAUTY (with a loss?)
Any theme derived from this
disturbingly haunting mystery story must consider one of Star Trek’s
traits that appears in its best
episodes—the muti-layered ,or parallel, or parallel-cross plot networks. What goes one aboard the Enterprise always has the
same basic crisis on the planet. The presence of Losira, giver of beauty and death (a kind of Proserpine) unifies both plots by her
projected “presence” aboard both arenas. The causes of the hostile and life threatening situations are the same—one computer
left by a now dead race of intelligent and beautiful builders—Archons of sorts. Spock, still impressed by 990.7 light years
(Dickens would have loved this story!) notes, “What a remarkable culture this is.” “Was, Mr. Spock.”
Spock works logically
aboard the Enterprise to beat the clock. His penchant for mathematical accuracy
and for scientific
English is a source of brilliant humor (comic relief) amid a double plot of incessant tension. He is much like the computer as he
clicks his hand calculator. Today, he guides Scotty’s nightmare job in the service crawlway. He is a constructive computer, but
rarely has Spock engaged in verbal play and linguistic puns and irony. He insists on scientific accuracy to a humoured fault. He takes
Scotty’s metaphoric language literally, thus creating verbal play and puns. His total “cool” under fire is in stark contrast, say, to
“The Galileo Seven” where his logic explodes in his ears at every turn. Here, his efficiency as commander and as science officer is
never nauseating, nor does it ever protest too much. He is the brain; Scotty is the body. The episode is a rare, long role for Scotty,
and a rare Spock vs. Scott, one on one verbal humor. An ordered work ethic attains truth through balance and plot solution through
logic augmented by an almost human game of double entendre.
Academy “plain prose please” vies with Scotty’s colorful metaphoric English to
create a polarity of
language proper to the two differing dispositions, and proper to the dualistic plot where opposites create tension and solution.
The clock meets Tam O’Shanter, creating dual concepts of time as well as a sense of the machine meets the metaphor. Spock
is like the head; Scotty is like the body. The goal is the same, but the tongues are chamber music. The logic of non-sequitur is
paralleled in language. Language helps make the impossible possible. It is a factor of communications that permits a conclusion.
For example, Spock bumps his head, but that is not logically phrased:
Uhura: What happened?
Spock: The occipital area of my head seems to have impacted with the
arm of the chair.
Spock insists on being precise,
even through Uhura wants to know what happened to the ship. Another tool used
by Spock is
bathos, deliberate understatement:
Lt. Rada: …but what bothers me is the stars, Mr. Spock.
Spock: The stars?
Lt. Rada: Yes, sir. They’re wrong.
Lt. Rada: Yes, Mr. Spock. Look…
Spock: Hmmm…a positional change.
Scotty’s emotionally charged English is imprecise from a scientific point of view. Scotty’s
blood pressure rises:
Scott: What you’re saying is that the planet didn’t blow up? Then the
Captain and the others—they’re still alive?
Spock: Please, Mr, Scott, restrain your leaps of illogic. I have said
nothing. I am merely speculating.
When Aristotle meets Hegel, literalness creates humor:
Spock: Then, Mr. Scott…can you give me warp eight?
Scott: Aye, sir, and maybe a wee but more. I’ll sit on the warp
engines myself and muse them.
Spock: That position, Mr. Scott, would be not only unavailing but also
The verb “to feel” is one of the
most widely abused and overused verbs in the English language. One may respond
in many ways
to the question, “How do you feel?” Spock plays on its imprecision:
Scott: Mr. Spock, the ship feels wrong.
Spock: Feels, Mr. Scott?
Scott: I know it doesn’t make sense. Instrumentation reads correct,
but the feel is wrong—something I can’t quite put into words.
Spock: That is obvious, Mr. Scott. I suggest you avoid emotionalism
and simply keep your instruments ‘correct.’
Scotty’s well known thistle-headed
emotionalism as the ship’s resident Scotsman is legion, but Trek rarely
gives him the good
lines. The writers were generous in this episode. Colorful (metaphoric) language helps to offset scientific fundamentalism of speech.
For example, Watkins’ tact:
Watkins: …this is the matter-antimatter integrator control. That’s the
cut off switch.
Losira: Not correct. That’s the emergency overload bypass. It
engages almost instantaneously since it takes the anti-matter
longer to explode once the magnetic flow fails.
In some ways, the language of science is artificial in its theoretical nature. Facts require
precision, but correctness has its place:
Dr. M’Benga: The pattern of cellular disruption was the same, Mr. Spock.
But as to a cause, your guess is as good as mine.
Spock: My guess, Doctor, would be
valueless. I suggest we refrain
from guessing and find some facts.
Spock expects scientific language
from another scientist, Dr. M’Benga. Spock’s irritation is part of his
insistence on receiving
accurate data. The ship is in danger. Also, Spock is rankled by rampant speculations and pointless questions, given the logic
of Watkins’ death:
Uhura: Mr. Spock, what are the
chances of the Captain and the
others being alive?
Spock: Lt., we are not engaged in gambling. We are proceeding
in the only logical way to return to the place they were
last seen and factually ascertain whether or not they are
The metaphor of the ants is classical:
Scott: I’ve sealed off the aft end of the service crawlway and I’ve
positioned explosive separator charges…I’m so close to the
flow now that it feels like ants crawling all over my body.
Spock: Mr. Scott, I suggest you refrain from any further subjective
descriptions. You now have ten minutes and nineteen seconds…
Scott: It looks like an aurora borealis in there…
Spock: You have eight minutes, 41 seconds.
Scott: I know what time it is. I don’t need a bloomin’ cuckoo clock.
Language becomes an extension of
how man calculates and communicates time. Spock ia a literal (the straight
is the joker. There is a definite Vaudeville atmosphere between Spock and Scotty (George and Gracie, Dick and Tom)
that creates humor through the isolation of logic, as funny, without a concrete equivalent for communications. The image
of the “door” opening and closing gives a metaphoric expression to a more abstract statement of a magnetic power surge.
It is most effective because the door portents the dual qualities of Janus, the Roman God with two faces. Herein, language
aids in creating suspense while providing color to the black and white world of the computer, the culprit that underlies the two
tensional plots of the play. Language is the dialogue between beauty and the clock, between Losira as Siren and as
mechanism. All of this reality,
and yet Losira is a projection provided by a computer. The computer seems at
the Kolandans, not a true representative of their beauty. Kirk answers Spock’s note that the “door” was left open…and “…
this is (was) a magnificent culture.” Spock surmises that the defenses were run by computer because “its moves were immensely
In looking at Losira’s
image on the screen, one sees all that is left of a civilization. They and
their civilization were too
perfect at keeping other cultures away. They buried themselves under their own security systems. Kirk notes, “…the computer
was too perfect. It projected so much of Losira’s personality into the replica that it felt regret—guilt at killing.” The significance
of the play’s title lies in the projection vs. the reality it projects:
Kirk: She must have been a remarkable woman.
McCoy: And beautiful.
Spock: Beauty is transitory, Doctor. However, she was evidently highly
Kirk: …I don’t agree with you, Mr. Spock. Beauty survives.
That which survives is the image
of beauty. Beauty survives, in spite of its touch. The act of love involves
touching and oneness,
kill. The computer saw beauty as Siren to lure the futuristic mariners and descendents of Odysseus and his crew. With the story
written by Dorothy Fontana and the teleplay by John Meredyth Lucus, “That Which Survives” is a great mystery story with a
very high quality dialogue. Gene Roddenberry was attracted to this story and states his view of a likely theme:
…a wondrous thing left behind by a wondrous race…protecting
some encampment and ending up by doing a terrible act to a lovely
thing…perhaps the theme is that we can protect ourselves too well
efficiently and in doing so in the narrow perspective of our
time destroying more wondrous things than we were trying to save
--(Gene Roddenberry inter-office memo March 12, 1968).
More succinctly, the former Miss America retains her beauty, and “A thing of beauty is a joy forever” (Keats “Endymion”).
(finis: “That which Survives”)
(end Chapter V: A--Man and/or/vs. the Computer)
"Guys and Dolls”:
Chapter V: B--The Android Syndrome:
“What Are Little Girls Made of?”
“What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails, and puppy dogs’ tails;
That’s what little boys are made of.
“What are little girls made of?
Sugar and Spice, and everything nice;
That’s what little girls are made of.”
The childhood verse
above is the voice of innocence. Spock would say the verses are illogical, if
not irrational and
irrelevant. But the verse does point out the human need to express distinctions between so-called opposites in metaphoric terms.
Robert Block’s play and title explore the fallacy of human sexual (gender) definition by purely logical terms alone. It is the mechanistic
view of mankind that concerns writer and viewer. Logically, how does one define human personhood? It does not lie in literal,
demonstrative definitions. The verse and Block’s play warn against simplistic evaluations of people based solely on one’s
chromosomal make up. Does one’s essential nature become definitive by assessing one’s accidental (physical) qualities or attributes?
Is one what one’s glands make one out to appear? For Block, appearance is only a minute part of human reality. Hence, the title
points out the irony of names and quantities in achieving one’s whoness and whatness. But the conventional mind sees boys as
prankish, and girls as sweeties. This play is a timeless story of guys and dolls, of the relationship between mechanistic “people”
and born people. Are “real” people any better or different from androids, mechanical “people?” The play is also a love story,
not unlike “Romeo and Juliet,” where tragedy is inherent to the star-crossed lovers. To make the play interesting, the major
dramatis personae are two guys and two dolls surrounded by “them,” whoever or whatever they are and do. Sexuality is behavior;
sexuality is attitude; sexuality is logic and emotion with a focused goal
and a motivating idea/emotion.
Who/what are they? The boys are no longer little; the girls are no longer
little. None is innocent
any more. It is mixture of memory and reality and time:
And all that Memory loves the most
Was once our only hope to be,
Hath melted into Memory.
Alas! it is delusion all;
The future cheats us from afar,
Nor can we be what we recall,
Nor dare we think on what we are
--(Lord Byron “They Say That Hope is Happiness” 1816).
The question of the
inevitable existence of androids among human beings simply scares people,
especially as the
physically and mentally distinguishing quantitative sense characteristics become less noticeable—to the point where one
cannot discern the difference, shy of using a tricorder. Roger Korby’s (RUK without a “H”) name is linguistically ironic.
Kor in Hebrew means a round vessel, a measure of capacity. Also as the “Pasteur of archaeological medicine,” Korby is
a translator of the Rosetta Stone of medicine, related to Koran, Arabic for reading. It is the sacred book. Spelled differently,
cor is Latin for heart—and the issue is all three, possibly more. He is measurer, translator of holy words, but does he have a
human heart? Is he Roger Korby? The question goes beyond man and the computer. This is the man within the man who
must prove he is still what Joseph Conrad called “one of us.” If he is “one of [them],” he is an android to be treated as scrap
metal. Roger Korby is a brilliant scientist (a fact often ignored as the play unfolds), the best. He is a man who studies;
anthropology is man itself. He is an academician also, who has instilled humanism into his standards at the Academy.
Missing for five
years, even after failed search parties, Korby has almost been given for loss,
but Christine, his fiancée,
has waited some five years because she knows Korby is a survivor: “Roger is a very determined man. He’d find a way to live.”
This early comment must be coincidental when Korby chooses to be found in the underground caverns. The story must be
considered in light of his scientific genius. What is “a way to live?” For Kirby, it means surviving, using what the environment
provides. In the last act, when Korby rips the “flesh” off his hand, Christine is repelled and aghast. For one doll, a guy is not
a guy if he is not all flesh and bone, i.e., imperfect and human. When Korby cries raising his ripped hand, “Does this make so
much difference?…this can be repaired…I’m the same as I was before, Christine, perhaps even better.” Christine rejects and
spurns him: “Are you Roger?” Ignored in his desperate plea for human acceptance of his mechanical, accidental self:
Korby: It’s still me, Christine. Roger. I’m in here. You can’t imagine
how it was. I was frozen, dying, my legs were gone. I had
only my brain between life and death.
Korby achieves Christine’s
prediction of “…he’d find a way to live.” He did, but the “way” is not “living”
to one guy (Kirk)
and one doll (Christine). His way is a way in, not a way out. His way is, however, not acceptable to a Hebraic, moralistic world.
The Newtonian solution was his only one, yet he pays the ultimate price for “real” peoples’ points of view. He is seen as a
Frankenstein. This is wrong and simplistic. Man became man through millions of years of evolution, of adaptation in form.
Korby’s Exo III is a cold one (300 degrees below zero), a world with a dying sun. Korby has no light, an ingredient all men
are made for. It is cold; the caverns become his only defense against cold and death. Brownie and Andrea are symbols of
Korby’s brilliance, but also the
loss of his human empathy and of his respect for other life forms. A change in
creates a psychical change as well. But survival in itself is not wrong. This is a man who sought and who seeks human
companionship and warmth. Do human beings provide that solidarity? Or do the androids? An ironic inversion is to take
place. Korby’s personship is also linked to his revelations, from the Orion ruins, about immunology. Over a five year period
has had to build an immunity to human civilization, to “real” people because, in a mechanistic world, “the inferior ones” are the
“evil” disease bearers. Korby has his truth, a truth—not the truth--but he has order as long as his world (anti-human immune
system) is not invaded by outworldness.
Based on his past, his
reputation, Korby’s present status makes “no sense” to Kirk and Christine. In
his present world,
from a mechanistic point of view, all is imperfect order, and Korby is a scientist whose quest is for a perfect world:
Korby: This is not a vain display, Captian. I’m a scientist; you obviously
know of my reputation. Trust me.
Kirk: Yes, I know your reputation. The whole galaxy knows who you
are and what you stand for. That is why all this makes no sense.
Korby’s reputation has become
separated from his personship because he is assumed to be dead. His reputation
to the illogic of Korby as past conception. Illogic, to Kirk and Christine, means no sense. In the third act, this “no sense” issue
becomes critical when the present does not fit the imposed stereotype of a man who no longer exists as that man. Christine
notes: “…it doesn’t make sense. He’s done nothing wrong. He is Roger Korby…whatever he seems to be doing…he’s as
sane as you or I.” These may not be the best credentials for testing Korby’s sanity. People are quick to label as ‘nutso’ anyone
who is unconventional, creative, or
survivalistic. Kirk is not immune
to tin gods, and Christine is not immune to an android fiancé. And there is no
|the caverns for a Korby, according to a Kirk:
Spock: Where is Dr. Korby?
Kirk: He was never here.
The Kirk guy—man or machine?
traditional morality refuses to accept a mechanism with a human soul. It is
seen as disgusting and abhorrent.
It is also a bit blasphemous. Korby must be viewed by his past standards, because the Hebraic moralists do not like machines.
Korby’s current, inhuman condition, surrounded by Ruk, Andrea, and Brownie, must be viewed according to Korby’s own
philosophy of the human spirit. One’s humanity is defined by two qualities: choice and freedom of movement:
Brown: Dr. Korby has discovered that as their sun dimmed, the
inhabitants of this planet moved underground, from an open
environment to this dark world. When you were a student of
his, Christine, you must have often heard Dr. Korby remark how
freedom of movement and choice produced the human spirit.
The culture of Exo III proved his theory.
Korby’s physical movement from
light to dark meant that loss of choice means a diminution of the human spirit.
dark caverns meant dehumanization, even according to Korby’s own theory. His academic interest moved from the social
sciences to pure mathematics. Ergo, he moves into a mechanical world to be followed by mechanical “thinking.” Korby is
doomed by his own theory of human development. When Korby kills Ruk, the proof is in the man’s words and deeds.
In a take-out from the RFD (July 27,1966), Kirk remarks: “You didn’t
have to destroy him.” Korby’s
remark (retained) is, “I had no choice.” No choice means loss of the human
makes a difference between the noids and the droids.
Korby has lost
his sense of right and wrong. His morals take on the terms “all right” and “no
harm.” He has become
a utilitarian, a pleasure is good; pain is bad, philosopher. This quest for all rightness is euphemistic and lacks depth of character
judgment. It is the nursery rhyme world. Christine, in first meeting Korby, says, “Yes, Roger. Everything is all right now.”
It is not. When Korby introduces Andrea, it is Christine who needs reassurance from Korby: “Everything’s all right now.”
No, it is not. Later, Spock (on ship) turns the problem into a question of “Is everything all right?” As Ruk (Ted Cassidy) holds
Kirk in a wrestler’s lock. Ruk mimics Christine, and in her voice, chups, “Yes, Roger. Everything is all right now.” Ruk has
no problem in seeing the reality behind the romantic fantasy. By the third act, all right is often interlaced with no harm. As Kirk
is strapped into the android circle, Korby reassures Christine about Kirk’s condition: “He’s not being harmed. I promise.”
After the wheel quits spinning and the Kirk android is made, Christine asks Kirk, “Are you all right?” The Kirk android beams
up to the ship and shows his dual “mental pattern.” This time, it is the Kirk android talking to a startled Mr. Spock:
Kirk: Mind your own business, Mister Spock! I’m sick of your half-breed
interference! Do you hear?! You look upset, Mr. Spock. Is everything
all right up here?
Spock answers: “No problems here,
Sir.” At some point, every main character, except Andrea, asks or is asked the
question. Guys and dolls are insecure. The repetition is deliberate and reminds the viewer that the perfect, logical ethic of the
android is the illogical, imperfect ethic of the human being.
The conflict is
one between logic and emotion; it is also between android thinking and human
judgement. Kirk and
Christine represent civilization (very Judeo-Christian). They are like original Crusaders out to dispatch the heathen Saracens.
By the middle of the second act, Kirk has already buried Korby: “You’ve convinced me, doctor—you’ve convinced me that
you’re dangerous.” As less objective party, Christine takes more convincing. Kirk’s hatred of machinery gives Korby’s words
and world no fair hearing whatsoever. Prejudice is immediate. Kirk and Christine represent civilization, and it is civilization that
dehumanizes just as well as Ruk. Part of Korby’s problem is one familiar to readers of Joseph Conrad’s classics, such as “The
Lagoon” and Lord Jim. The native in “The Lagoon” takes one of his tribe’s chief’s holy virgins and parades away from the tribe.
But later, after the girl dies, the native chooses to return to the tribe and face its justice rather than face isolation and ostracism.
Lord Jim’s world in Patusan is destroyed forever by Brown’s (civilization’s) appearance. He has to face his own kind, and the
dead civilization of Exo III “moved from light to darkness," they replaced freedom with a mechanistic culture. “When Christine
and Kirk arrive, Korby must deal with his own kind, with his own past. No one sees that Korby no longer exists. It cannot,
because survival required making adaptations from freedom the enslavement of a mechanistic culture. Like Garth, Korby will
“revolutionize the Universe” with his androids. Survival meant loss of freedom. Civilization sees Korby as Evil; Ruk sees Kirk
as the inferior one, the evil. Ruk remembers that the androids killed the ancient civilization of Exo III when the populace, in panic,
began to shut off the androids. Like Dr. Daystrom, they made their machines too well. To be mechanistic is to be of the Body.
Civilization has its own body, and androids have no souls. For the Crusaders, the machines have no respect for the sanctity of life.
They see change in Korby. He sees more
in himself. But no one asks Korby
if he sees changes in real people. He does, but he can no longer argue with
them in human terms.
Prolonged absence from his root civilization has brought dehumanization, loss of oneness and solidarity with reasoning, civilized society:
Christine: …What’s happened to you? When I sat in your class…you
Wouldn’t even dream of harming an insect or an animal…
life was sacred to you then.
Korby: I haven’t changed.
Kirk posits the same basic
argument in the fourth act when, as civilization, he cannot accept abrupt,
uncharacteristic change in Korby’s
K: You were a man with respect for all things alive. How can I ever
explain the change in you, Doctor? If I were to tell Earth that
I was in your hands and tell them what has become…
Kirk is just as concerned with his
reputation as he is with Korby’s plight. There is a lot of enlightened
self-interest among these
characters. Kirk, like the civilization he represents, has Korby dead before the trial. Twisted logic sees the sanctity of life as the
sanctity of mechanisms:
She [Andrea] killed the android [Kirk], Korby…just as you killed Ruk
…is this your perfect world? Your flawless beings? Killing off one
another?! Aren’t you doing exactly what you hate most in humans?
Killing with no more concern than when you turn off a light?
The major argument
from civilization’s representatives is that programming, not sanctity, is what
Korby is offering. It is
reminiscent of Dr. Daystrom’s argument that men need not die in space; it is the same argument presented by Nomad, to destroy
that which is imperfect—all science’s objectives are to create a “perfect society”:
Korby: No one need ever die again! No disease, no deformities; even
fear can be programmed away, replaced with joy! I’m offering
you a practical heaven, a new paradise…
Logic loses the android game
largely because of tradition, but also because Korby cannot control the
androids. They run amok!
Korby’s science crosses that invisible line between machine and soul. The main moral issue arises shortly after Christine says,
“He’s done nothing wrong.” Wrong is not a logical term. When logic tampers with morality, civilization goes after the tin-god.
Society is endangered by the mechanical offspring of a “bad reasoner.” Civilization will not accept “soul” transferal into the
android form. This would dehumanize man because perfection is Hellenic reasoning, but Hebraism is practical, physical, and
moral. To be perfect (Korby’s goal) precludes inherent humanity. Machines and souls do not mix:
Korby: By continuing the process I could have transferred you, your
very consciousness, into that android…your ‘soul,’ if you wish
…yes, humans converted to androids can be programmed, but
we could do away with jealousy, greed, hate…
Kirk: It can be improved by eliminating tenderness, sentiment and love.
They’re the other side of the same coin, doctor.
The infiltration of androids with an uninformed society is subversion. Here, Kirk and Christine
draw the line:
And the gates of the chapel were shut,
And “Thou shalt not” writ over the door;
So I turned 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 and desires
(Wm. Blake, “The Garden of Love” 1794).
The dolls of “What Are
Little Girls Made of?” are Andrea and Christine. This relationship was
considered by NBC,
Robert Block, and Gene Roddenberry to be the most kinetic character growth area, “the emotional struggle which is going on
inside of her, the
of a ‘synthetic’ woman to acquire the ‘soul’ of a human” (Stanley Robertson,
Film Programming Manager, NBC
[March 31, 1966]). Gene Roddenberry in a letter to Robert Block (March 31, 1966), sees that “it might be awfully hard…
to go back to a flesh and blood wife with all her female imperfections and monthly crises when you’ve been living for years with
a perfect android wife.” There is no doubt of Andrea’s programming. An ironic inversion occurs. Christine (name: “Christ like”)
and Andrea (Gk: Woman) are Christian (jealous, prudish, intolerant) and pagan (loving, selfless, human, warm). The “real”
human female is a cold fish; the android is a loving wife. Christian civilization produces prudes; science produces women.
Never does Andrea become selfish or mean or nasty. She is a charming hostess, well mannered: “I’m Andrea. You must be
Christine…I’ve always thought how beautiful your name is.” To which the Miss Freezer looks down her nose and snickers,
“I don’t remember Doctor Korby mentioning an ‘Andrea!’” Andrea politely says, “But you are exactly as Roger described you.
No wonder he missed you so.” Andrea is also Dear Abby: “How can you love Roger without trusting him?” Christine is merciless,
a pope in nylons:
Christine: Yes, let’s start with Andrea.
Andrea: I’m like Dr. Brown…an android. Didn’t you know?
Korby: Remarkable, isn’t she? Notice the lifelike pigmentation,
the variation in skin tones. The flesh has warmth. There’s
even a pulse, physical sensation…
Christine: How convenient.
Korby: …It does only what I program…
Christine: …that given a mechanical Dr.Brown, then a mechanical
‘geisha’ would be no more difficult?
Korby: Do you think I could love a machine?
Christine: Did you?
As with Rayna in “Requiem for
Methuselah,” Andrea soon feels and chooses. Woody Allen had his “orgasmitron.”
a mechanical activity between two machines? Gene Roddenberry holds that man too is a machine—a terribly complex one—
but a machine nevertheless. For Korby, Andrea is incapable “of intercourse, and love can’t exist at all when it’s predictable.
There must be imperfection—moments to be lied to, worshipped, hated—anger, fear.” The last quote is a take-out, but it does
help to explain android making as a science, but a means for survival for Korby. Five years without human companionship. Love
requires imperfection. Andrea is too perfect for subliminal love. Ergo, Christine is loveable because she is imperfect. Two dolls,
but only one belongs in paradise! Again, Korby built his androids too well. Late in Act IV, Andrea attempts to kiss the Kirk
android, (“It is illogical”) and zaps it for the refusal. She is “not programmed for alarms.” It is Korby’s and Andrea’s mutual
Romeo and Juliet suicide by phaser. Their death is an act of love:
Andrea: To love you…protect you…to kiss you.
Korby: No…you cannot love…you are not human.
Andrea: Love you…kiss (zap)
She loves him, but she is not
human. Christine is human, but no longer loves him. Christine is the doll;
Andrea is the woman.
Korby is the guy; Kirk is the machine.
The fallacy of the
play is the human invasion’s gambit to prove to Korby that he is not human.
They destroy what humanity
was left in him, a great deal more than civilization will tolerate. He yells, “I am Roger Korby!” to deaf ears and lime hearts.
John Stewart Mill describes the fate of non-conventional thinking and behavior:
The despotism of custom is everywhere
the standing hindrance to human
advancement…the general tendency
of things throughout the world is to render
mediocrity the ascendant power
among mankind…individuals are
lost in the crowd
--(J. S. Mill, On Liberty).
Both Daystrom and
Korby were Utopians, on a quest for perfection. But Kirk draws the line on the
human reason. Of Korby’s mangled hand (“Does this make so much a difference?”), Christine sees completeness of
anatomical wholeness as humanity. For Korby, the hand is not even a handicap. Korby is not behaving illogically, but this
does not mean that he is not being true. He has a mechanical attitude. Christine, like Tennyson’s Lady of Shalott, is in love
with a reflection. She cannot accept his change; here, human reactions are illogical. The story is told from Christine’s and
Kirk’s points of view. What about Korby’s internal hell? Not a simple Baron Von Frankenstein, Korby still cannot control
his machines; ergo, he has a problem because he cannot control himself. The ice symbolizes Korby’s loss of sensitivity.
He is a man in darkness where reason loses perspective and its learned past. A system of reason and ethics is necessary
to more than survive. Korby has a low self-esteem; he does not trust himself; his approval is almost apologetic, obsessive.
Subjectively, Kirk and Chapel (two churches) are jealous of Korby’s immortality. Korby did incorporate the essence of a
human being into a machine. The definition of man needs redefinition—man does not know yet and his definitions are based
on something tangible. Representations are lies, and Korby is representing. He is a mimic that made reason his sole god, with
a loss of energy, loss of imagination. He does not defend his creativity using reason; duplication is nothing new—this is
mistaken by Korby for creativity. He is a “bad reasoner.”
Roger Korby’s caverns
are like “The Cave” in Plato’s The Republic where reality is a shadow on
the wall of the cave.
Illusion is the truth, a distortion. The statement on human nature here is to see the shadow; see it as reality; it is safe and secure.
Reflection is reality. Plato did not trust the world outside the cave. Korby has created a parareality where he expends reason
on perfection and postures of immortality. Korby equated the machine with life. Korby is in the cave; he no longer knows the
world of the sun and the sane. Dr. Brown stands between the bright light and the camera: one sees a reflection; it is like an eclipse—
just sees the form, not the reality. It is ironic that the androids cannot handle irrational behavior. A form of logic is designed to
destroy another form of logic. Creatures of light go into the cave like a tomb. Man, without constant reminder of what to do,
lapses into euphonic ideology that puts man asleep. One ceases to be human in the cave. Korby would destroy all original reality.
He is no longer one of us. Of Korby, Robert Block says, “He is an utterly brilliant, utterly logical man; we are quite convinced that
he knows exactly what he is doing and can do it. His only flaw is a lack of empathy for others”:
Who dreamed that beauty passes like a dream?
For these real lips, with all their mournful pride,
Mournful that no new wonder may betide,
Troy passed away in one high jimereal gleam,
And Usna’s children died
(Yeats “The Rose of the World,” 1892).
(finis: “What Are Little Girls Made of?”)XXXx
“Here’s mud in your eye!”
…or “your name is mud.”
“purpose’ is the first android predicament that brings the Enterprise to the god
of servants, Harry Mudd. The |
dissociation of thought from an object thwarts logic:
Thus thought in its reception and formation of material is supposed not
to go beyond itself…thought is not transformed into its Other; moreover
self-conscious determination is held to belong to thought alone; thus
Thought in its relation to the Object of Thought does not go out of itself
to the object, while the Object as a thing-in-itself simply remains a
something beyond Thought
The dissociation between Thought
and Object is made acute, in part, by a logic without a purpose vis-à-vis an
object or action.
In the case of Mudd’s androids, Mudd’s role as object-motivation is coming to an end. Inertia can result. Logic without object
gives the androids no work to perform. The situation of having hundreds (thousands) of robots whose purpose is “to serve” should
be paradise for the Harry Mudd, Star Trek’s favorite “irritant.” However, Mudd the user realizes that he is Mudd the used.
Even as early as his story outline (March 23, 1967), Stephen Kandel envisions Mudd as an Oriental monarch with luxury beyond
belief. Kandel notes:
…when Harry Mudd…he gave them what they needed desperately:
guidance. At first it was beautiful, having a world free of willing,
tireless, superhuman slaves. But Harry discovered, to his horror,
that they were actually exploiting him.
Even lovely female androids,
programmed to function as human females (Andrea’s stepdaughters) were keeping
running overtime. But the androids kept badgering
Mudd for new and better work to do. Mudd is never a good example of work; it simply is not his strong point.
For the Enterprise
landing crew, a group weaned on a rigorous work ethic and on an insatiable sense
of duty, the Mudd
castle presents them with an oxymoron—a “gilded cage.” Checkov sums it up when he notes, “I think we are in a lot of trouble.”
McCoy echoes the same: “I think Mr. Checkov’s right. We are in a lot of trouble.” Kirk calls the crew “birds in a gilded cage.”
Even though Checkov, noticing the Alice series, calls it “a very nice gilded cage,” the crew is still in trouble. Mudd’s kingdom is
an emporium of answers to human needs and wants. The androids themselves are the serpents of temptation bearing gifts of ease
and inertia. Kirk becomes Odysseus facing a crew, weary of work, in the land of the Lotus-eaters. For the world of Trek, ease
and inertia are cardinal sins. Men become undisciplined and listless. It is play without work. Kirk has a problem on his hands—
temptation. “Straighten up! Don’t any of you forget it. This may be gilded cage filled with everything any of you ever wanted, but
it’s still a cage! We don’t belong here!” The play exploits the modern literary theme of the dialectics between stasis and work,
where “He who desires but acts not breeds pestilence” (Blake “Proverbs of Hell). Thomas Carlyle, in “Characteristics,” sees:
…for such is the appointment of men:
his highest and sole blessedness is,
that he toil, and know what to
toil at: not in ease, but in united
victorious labor…does his Freedom lie.
The crew is indeed tempted by the “Vanity Fair” of Mudd’s castle, his Xanadu, his dome of many-coloured glass.
From a Hellenic point of view, the
crew is offered objects without thought, provided by androids who will do all
Part of the Judeo-Christian ethic is a strong sense of identity linked to hard work. It is part of a Puritan heritage in America.
Like Goethe and Schiller, Roddenberry is suspicious of a pre-lapsrian garden. This episode shows a serious “worry” in that
the “Greatest Happiness Principle” is not man’s star to steer by. The path must be the Calvanistic straight and narrow with
avoidance of temptations of things of this world. Many writers, especially affected by the first Industrial Revolution (Britain)
believed, with Carlyle, that “work is alone noble…all dignity is painful; a life of ease is not for any man, nor for any god.” What
we have is “Sublime Sadness” where our highest religion is the “Worship of Sorrow” (Carlyle Past and Present 141). The
mariners who formed Odysseus’ crew in The Odyssey found a heaven on earth, but Odysseus knows the poppy destroys
initiative and virility. But his crew, as pictured in Tennyson’s poem “The Lotus-Eaters,” argue against work:
All things have rest; why should we toil alone,
We only toil, who are the first of things,
And make perpetual moan
Still from one sorrow to another thrown;
Kirk’s crew faces this argument
against duty, in favor of leisure. Being well disciplined, the crew never seems
to jump ship over the Alice series, but Kirk must keep them busy before temptation becomes too entrenched! Writers like
Mill, Blake, and Carlyle believed in man’s dealing forcefully with his “fallen” world, planting roses amid the thorns. Man is
“ill at ease on Zion,” that perfection is freedom because there is no work to be done. This episode, plus all the Treks dealing
with mechanistic logic, warn of dangers of man becoming dehumanized
by the computer. Man must strive
for perfection, but its attainment can bring dissatisfaction. Achieved goals
must be replaced
by new goals (“The most sublime act is to set another before you.”). This episode presents a vision that Swift’s island of Laputa
is hell because the inhabitants engage in no meaningful activities. The result is a theme of escape (run) from Laputia, the paradise
whose problem is perfection. As captain, Kirk is a stranger in paradise. McCoy sees perfection itself as the greatest danger i
nherent to the androids:
They’re perfect. Flawless, physically and mentally. No weaknesses.
Perfectly disciplined. Not vices, no fears, no faults…
The disease the
androids present to a Hebraic crew of duty is that of dependency. They plan to
serve mankind to death
until all initiative is atrophied. This is a danger. When asked how Norman will stop a “race as greedy and corruptible as yours,”
We shall serve them. Their kind will be safer to accept our service.
Soon they will become completely dependent upon us; their aggressive
and acquisitive instinct will be under our control. We will take care
of them…we shall serve them, and you will be happy…and controlled.
For Trekkers, control by
mechanisms is hell, not paradise. Norman’s army will serve and serve a
self-destructive species, appealing
to human sloth. Trekkers “prefer to help ourselves.” Who can resist “real girls?” a world of Alice’s The plan is, according to Kirk,
to “hit my people at their weakest points.” For Uhura, it is beauty and immortality in an android body. For both it is a mechanical
shop with microvision and nanopulse lasers. With Spock, it is a physics laboratory dealing with time and space. For McCoy,
it is a laboratory of medical knowledge and experiments. All this is “to make you happy and comfortable…to serve your kind.”
The threat is an appeal to Hedonism, but the result would be akin to the havoc Korby’s androids would create in an
uneducated humankind. Similar to the M-5 threat, everyone could be out of a job.
There are still things men must do
to remain men, and Mudd’s androids would also take away the humanity indigenous
doing of things.
Kirk reflects the
demands of the work ethic. He is a workaholic, and “that threat the androids
made about taking over
all humans in the galaxy is not very funny.” Norman, whose name is an elision of his technical name, Normal Man, insists we “are”
no threat to humanity. “We mean no harm.” Korby also made assurances of “no harm.” The androids also use people; they
“need other humans…to study, to serve.” The respect drives Harry to build a shrine to his nagging wife (deserted), Stella.
Even though she is an odious nag, she is human. Perhaps subconsciously, Harry longs for real mud, not chips and transistors.
The androids, as seen from a male point of view, are exploiting while man thinks he is exploring them. For Kirk, androids
aboard the Enterprise means no ship and a galaxy of androids bent on seducing civilization, making the human crew into
a "dunsel" crew and Kirk (again) a Captain Dunsel. What is left is best quality:
Kirk: This android population can literally provide everything a
human being could ask for…in unlimited quantity…in a
world where they [crew] can have absolutely anything
they want…simply by asking for it…
One still remembers Zefram
Cochran’s reaction to not growing old, to having The Companion nurture and
protect him: “Immortality
consists largely of boredom.” The cliché of the idle mind being the devil’s workshop applies to Gene Roddenberry’s world of
Spartan discipline. The Utilitarian school of philosophy equated good with pleasure, and evil with pain. Its goal was to achieve
the greatest happiness of the greatest number. Star Trek, however, believes in the
“Perennial principle of hunger” and the “Worship of Sorrow.” These attributes keep man human.
In order to overcome
the burden of luxury, two senses of purpose are agreed upon. First is a “sense
of purpose” for the crew.
Second is a newly-programmed “sense of purpose” for the androids. Logically, this means providing a working relationship between
thought and object. The plan of “pulling the plug” on these androids involves a realized logic:
…thinking and the determination of thinking are not…foreign to the
objects of thought, but are rather of the very essence of those objects…
Things and the Thinkers of them are in harmony in and for Themselves
…Some Thinking and the Rules of Thinking are the subject of Logic,
Logic has directly in them its own peculiar content; --has in them that
second constituent of cognition—its matter…
Therefore, Kirk’s plan of attack
is that “our logic is to be illogical. That is our antilogic.” It will be the
illogic of non-sequitur, an
antilogic. The sense of purpose is based on a unified plan, by the crew, using “wild, insane, irrational illogic…aimed right at Norman.”
What ensues is a play
within the play consisting of three distinct steps. Step one is a bogus escape
attempt wherein Harry
Mudd feigns illness. Kirk zaps an Alice by equating science with Mudd’s health:
Kirk: You are programmed to serve. If we’re not allowed access to our
medical equipment, Harry Mudd will die. He will cease to function.
You will have failed to serve.
Logic means fulfilling the
expectations of the androids. The second step is to “take the Alices on a trip
This is the dance skit. This hilarious sequence of cause-effect
destruction starts with a cause
that has an effect other than the one it should produce. The attack is sensory
in nature. Checkov plays
a fiddle, but there is no muse; Uhura strikes Checkov as thanks because she likes him. Chekov is told “don’t move” and he does
“not” move by doing a Cosack dance. All stillness is defined by motion. For Spock in the laboratory, two Alices become inner-
directed as Spock defies logic by defining identical as difference:
Spock: (At Alice X): I love you.
(At Alice Y): I hate you.
Alice X: But I am identical in every way with Alice Y.
Spock: …that is exactly why I hate you…because you are identical.
The world is the inverted world of
“through the looking glass.” What is inverted is straight. Love is hate;
different is similar. The
third step is to go to “the root” of the tree, Norman, to “overload him further” in an attempt to immobilize all the androids. Norman
stands with his hands in a suggestive pose. The skit begins. If one did not feel a sense of urgency to be free of android tyranny,
the skit would still be humorous. It is totally wacko. Point: liberty is freedom from mechanism:
Harry: For what indeed is a man without freedom…naught but a
mechanism, trapped in the cogwheels of eternity.
Point: happiness is suffering; sensual fulfillment is pain:
Kirk (and Scotty): You offer us only well-being., Food and drink and
happiness mean nothing to us. We must be about
our job; suffering, in pain and torment, laboring with-
out end, dying and crying, and lamenting over our
burdens. Only in this way can we be happy.
Point: man is not his senses; man
is a dream or a dreamer: “that sense of enterprise, that devotion to something
be sensed…but only be dreamed…the highest reality.” Dream is reality, but there is no dream. Ergo, there is no reality. Point: The
Explosives: noise is
silence; noise is the reflection of the senses for logic; existence is not seeing; hearing is not listening:
Norman: But there was no explosion.
Harry: I lied.
Kirk: He lied. Harry is a liar. Everything Harry tells you is a lie…
whatever he tells you is a lie.
Harry: Listen to this carefully, Norman, I am lying.
Point: To lie is to tell the truth; the Truth is inherent to the lie. Ergo, one tells the truth only by
Norman: You…say you are lying. But if everything you say is a lie,
then you are telling the truth. But you cannot tell the truth,
because everything you say is a lie. But if you lie, you tell
the truth…but you cannot, for you lie…Illogical…Illogical…
Norman is beaten by the Saxons in a fair fight. As Byron notes in Canto XI (1823), ST I of Don
When Bishop Berkley said “there was
And proved it—‘twas no matter what
I am not programmed to respond in
that area! The skit (even Spock plays) is one of the funniest in all of
The body gestures
must be seen to do justice to the words. The episode is pure fun with a sense of the evil of human slavery to perfect androids.
The fear is real, but laughter is the real winner.
Harcourt Fenton Mudd
(two d’s mean double-duty) is paroled to the android colony as “a first class
human failure.” Harry is an “irritant.” The screenplay is precious and
hilarious. The shaking of Harry’s
face when he sees the “special android attendant" (over 500 of them). Harry will
by 500 Stella’s. It is “inhuman!” So Odysseus leaves the land of the lotus-eaters with a new wisdom and good will. Logic is
one tool, but it must have a link to Thought and to object. Logic provides a solution; it even provides endless buffoonery and
cackling. The serious note is the need to put reason in perspective with duty, to laugh until one cries.
The only happiness a brave man ever troubled himself with asking
much about was happiness enough to get his work done…it is, after
all, the one happiness of a man
(T. Carlyle, Past and Present 4:143).
A good sense of humor is the
antidote for the self-conscious mind. Man must be free to laugh, to cry; to
live; to die. It is immensely
logical and is the human thing to do.
(finis: “I, Mudd”)
“The general tendency of things
throughout the world is to render mediocrity
the ascendant power among mankind
--(J. S. Mill On Liberty).
The entrance of Mudd’s
women early in the first season is a soap opera of guys and dolls, of “con”
artistry by Mudd and
his three lovelies, his “cargo.” It is a story with a logical sense of how love and marriage will begin and exist as man expands beyond
his own solar system. The concept of “wiving settlers” is so simple that it is extraordinary. Three rugged hombres on a forsaken,
wind-swept planet, Rigel XII, all alone mining for lithium (later dilithium) crystals, the source of the Federation’s very strength and
energy. No lithium, no power, no Enterprise. The fate of the Enterprise depends totally upon the whims of three lithium miners
after the Enterprise’s crystals are destroyed while saving Mudd’s vessel and its cargo. That was when Kirk just saw mud in his eye.
It is a show about fraud, human fraud, bipeds pretending to be more than what they are. Mudd and his three women are falsifications.
It is a story, a lesson, about the cost and uselessness of perfect beauty created by the Venus drug. It is a “glamour drug,” enhancing
physical attributes artificially—perhaps similar to use of anabolic steroids for female and male body builders. The Venus drug is a lie.
Mudd is mediocrity bordering on legendary godship for his schemes. In the case of Mudd, there is the merchant of flesh. The women
are free agents, but Mudd is still their agent—a kind of futuristic, benign pinup. One theme is that the seeking of perfect beauty through
glamour drugs is legally and morally reprehensible and felonious. It is people fooling themselves into thinking they can fool settlers or
miners by taking drugs. The logic is the illogic of perfection effected by chemical means.
Ironically, the Venus drug is
partly a psychosomatic phenomenon, as witnessed by substituting a gelatin
placebo for the real Venus
drug near the play’s end. The woman, thinking it is the Venus drug, suddenly become naturally beautiful.
What are these little
girls made of? Are they more sex objects used to seduce lonely lithium miners?
In his rough draft
(7-23-64) of “Mudd’s Women,” Gene Roddenberry emphasizes a passage that is dropped in a later
…this is not simply a limited sexual attraction…these women are totally
female, women who know when and how to be a listener, a companion,
weak and dependent, sympathetic and helpful…
Eve, Magda, and Rosie were always
meant to be the genuine article. But the aura ot magnetism that makes McCoy’s
go “blink” and the Enterprise’s male crew go agog, is apparently an artificially induced state. The women sparkle! Ironically,
the women have become psychologically and physically dependent on the Venus drug for that needed face and body lift. The
false logic in this story is the compulsion to be more than a woman, but to be “the perfect female.” These women are not androids.
They are not the Alice series or an Andrea, but the “perfect” quest remains the same. These are women whose lives have been
(especially in Eve’s case) dull, dutiful, servile, tawdry. They want love and security because their earlier lives have been ones of
insecurity. They feel that a drug is necessary to make them cover or fold-out perfect. This illusion of beauty does not last where
external dependency is viewed as required. Hence, the women are frantic when Harry misplaces the blue pills. They need their fix.
The Hellenic thinking here is fallacious because the drug is not the source of perfect beauty. As first introduced, the three women
are dependent upon Mudd the white slaver and drug pusher for their purchasability in the market place of outer space. Gene
Roddenberry’s story keeps this external-is-
while quietly touching on beauty as a part of an overall female that requires
manifestation, but only by
the woman herself.
Of the Venus drug,
Gene Roddenberry notes (same draft) that “it brings out and tremendously
increases the natural instinct
of every woman to be attractive and pleasing to the other gender.” These are women whose automation existences have reduced
them as women, as people. They have become like robots or androids because their boredom and servility have made them
mediocre, in fact and in self-judgment (again, Eve is the most self-conscious of the three in hating what she has become, in hating
the drug). Here are mechanical women whose image makes them dolls for guys. The play’s plot brings early realizations of what
being a woman really is. It is the rehumanization of dehumanized females. Because then reason is inherent, their status seems lower
than that of Alice’s. Andrea is more genuinely human than Mudd’s women, and she is a machine! It is a role reversal of appearance
and essence. The women must transcend absorption, so that they are no longer of the body. They are inherently beautiful. The mass
of society is hostile to individuality:
If the claims of Individuality are ever to be asserted, the time is now,
while much is still wanting to complete the enforced assimilation
--(Mill On Liberty III: 287).
Struggling to get out
of the falsity of dehumanization, of perfect beauty as the only beauty, is
Eve—the thinker of the three.
She apologizes to Spock for Mudd’s insult: “I apologize for what he said, sir. He’s so used to buying and selling people.” Her
candor gets Kirk’s attention:
Eve: I can understand loneliness…you understand it even more…having
to run a huge ship like this …much responsibility…I read once that
a commander has to act like a paragon of virtue. I’ve never met a paragon.
Kirk: Neither have I.
She is exhorted by Mudd to seduce
Kirk, but she rebels: “I so like you [Kirk], and I won’t do it. I just can’t
go through with this.
I hate this whole thing!” What is important regarding Eve is that she is self-conscious and knows that one’s inner dignity affects one’s
appearance: “I don’t like you [Harry]. And I’, not very happy with myself.” The women tend to see themselves as “ugly” or
“homely” based on their inner self-concepts. They say, “it is the pills.” Their logic precludes a clear, objective sense of reality.
Eve resists the pills more and more. Harry Mudd lets slip a beautiful line, which may serve as one statement of the play’s theme.
Muttering to no ears save his, Harry reflects, “What joy is a beautiful woman…as she comes to be woman.” As the Enterprise
crew bewails the burnt lithium crystals with their beauty evident even in a disfigured form, Mudd’s women contemplate taking
another Venus pill because they fail to acknowledge beauty without drug’s distortion: “Even burned and cracked they’re beautiful,”
says Spock. This is symbolic of the state of Mudd’s women.
Without the drug,
Childress, Gossett, and Benton slowly notice that their dolls are real women
with a few crow’s feet,
dishpan hands, conversation, and common sense. Hard men of Childress’ pioneering nature, often craggy and Troggish, do not
want dolls, but the revelation of grown women (not little girls) is still a bit different for Childress. Eve runs away into the winds
of the magnetic storm where visibility is almost zero. When she is found, she is a more integrated character as a result of her brief
stay in hell. She is cooking for Ben Childress. Bad tempers slowly resemble a domesticity of unspoken agreement:
Ben: I had things where I wanted them.
Eve: I ate some of your food, so I paid with some chores.
Ben: And I do my own cooking…I’ve not laid a hand on you.
Eve: Oh, the sound of male ego. You travel halfway across the galaxy
and it’s still the same song. There. You want to eat or talk?
Ben: I guess I’m supposed to sit, taste it, roll my eyes..oh…female
cooking again…I’ve tasted better. By my own hand.
Eve: Well, you’re tasting some of it now…I couldn’t scrape three
layers of your leaving out of that pan.
Ben calls Eve “plain as an old
bucket.” “What happened to your looks anyway?” In a good line, Eve retorts, “I
got tired of you.
I slumped..” Ben continues to call her “homely” after the revelations about the Venus drug. Eve tells Chidress, “You don’t want
wives; you want…this” and pops a pill that is really a placebo:
Eve: And I hope you’ll remember and dream about it! Because you can’t have it;
it’s not real!
Eve appears younger; it is
psychosomatic. The logic of reality, viewed objectively, becomes the bond for
“talk” between Ben
and Eve. There is a fundamental beauty within every woman. It only awaits a catalyst to emerge. Who wants a world full of
just roses? Pied beauty is real beauty:
If you get simple beauty and naught else,
You get about the best thing God invents:
That’s somewhat: and you’ll find the soul you have missed,
Within yourself, when you return him thanks
--(Robert Browning “Fra Lipp Lippi” 1853: 217-220).
Kirk echoes Browning’s brilliantly
simple philosophy: “There’s only one kind of woman…” says Harry, “Or man, for
Kirk settles for a reality of the self to the self within then without the self: “You either believe in yourself or you don’t.” The best
of a person begins much like the settling of Rigel XII, wind-whipped dust and fog. It blows all the time. Amid this inhospitable
environment, three miners have their wives. Like dust, from which beauty comes and goes, the woman emerges from the drugged
doll. The looking glass is clearer. Eve has
thought it through. The storms
come and go, and release the lithium crystals. Beauty of woman and beauty of
In proportion to the development of…individuals, each person becomes
more valuable to himself, and is therefore capable of being more valuable
--(Mill On Liberty III: 218).
Gene Roddenberry notes
(Rough Draft: 7-20-64): "Without the drug, her [Eve’s] female instincts begin
to assault themselves
and touches of comfort and convenience appear in the rude quarters.” It is the ancient theme of innate beauty. Roddenberry notes:
“there is loveliness in even the plainest woman; she need only find it and use it.” The process of externalization, however, is often
torturous. Guys and dolls must become men and women. The honeymoon fades quickly. Then there is the cooking, the dishes,
work…The sense of muttering normalcy in the last scenes of “Mudd’s Women” show the love lies in the everydayness of sensible
reality. Do not use water to clean the pots; hang them on the line and let the lashing sand blast them clean! Beauty is not pills, is not
physical perfection, but also must reside in the banal rituals of living. As Roddenberry notes, “Spice soon loses its flavor when the
whole meal must be made of it.” Or, as Spock notes sardonically, “I’m happy the affair is over. A most annoying emotional episode.”
(finis: “Mudd’s Women”)
C--Spock: Voyage to the Houyhnhnms and the Vulcan Mystique
“That over institutions of
government and law were plainly
owing to our gross defects in reason, and by consequence, in
virtue; because reason alone is sufficient to govern a rational creature;
which was therefore a character we had no pretence to challenge…”
-- (Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels IV, VII).
Jonathan Swift, in
picturing mankind as the “Yahoos” in Book IV of Gulliver’s Travels went beyond
satire about mankind’s
follies and vices; he made the misuse of reason an animal act by an animal mentality. Without reason, man is an animal; in misusing
reason, man is an animal. It is almost a de-evolution. The Houyhnhnms (the “horses”) who are logical beasts with compassion
(not perfect, but civilized when contrasted with the Yahoos) are horses in bodily substance and appearance. That man had made
a jackass out of his inheritance and his species was no longer in doubt. For Swift, the great satirist of 18th-century Britain, a rational
man behaved reasonably well. After all, it was the “Age of Enlightenment.” In the pictures of the life of Gulliver among the Yahoos
and the Houyhnhnms one sees grotesque humanoids engaging in gross behavior; but one also sees “horses” behaving in a reasonable
manner. Human beings acted like beasts, and beasts acted as reasonable men should. This is indeed a coarse satire on the status
of man’s mental evolution. Reason and passion are clearly separate in an incommunicable dualism. When Spock’s Vulcan half is
mentioned, it is contradiction to his human half. One has evolved from destructive emotion into a society that has “rid” itself of its
self-destructive past by
subscribing to pure logic and the elimination (repression, perhaps) of emotion.
The other is the passion
(“emotion” is meliorative term used) inherited from his Terran mother. The result is an intercultural schism, a cultural schizophrenia.
Gene Roddenberry (Interview: June, 1982) meant Spock to be an interim figure to fill the seat of “Number One” who was rushed
out of her chair by the women viewers who protested her upstart status—a reaction whose source surprised Roddenberry. Gene
Roddenberry has been almost hostile toward his own creature, dismissing Spock as a “freak” and a “half-breed.” Spock’s
continuance is largely the result of irrefutable audience support for and fascination with Spock’s character. With Leonard Nimoy’s
intense “input” and character direction, Spock is the series’ most intriguing and most popular character. The “creature” had to live
with those ears, but has never advocated too much green blood in the family.
At first, Spock is a
mental mulatto. As such, he is neither human nor Vulcan, although Spock insists
on his Vulcan heritage
despite the eighteen-year silence between Sarek and his son. As a character of physical and mental contraries, Spock has the
advantages of both cultures but the acception by neither one. In the world of the Houyhnhnms and Yahoos, Spock has elements
of both. In this scene, he is both least and priest, but neither. He shares the Yahoos’ predilection for gross sensuality and its minimal
reasonableness and the “horses’” combination of great reason coupled with acute mental myopia in certain areas. Although Jonathon
Swift’s satire is hyperbolic and Juvenalian in the fourth book of Gulliver, the Yahoos are human, even though Gulliver does not
recognize this fact at first. It is a logical reaction, considering that Gulliver is merely a delapidated Yahoo in clothes. This is the
human Spock that makes Spock scream, “I am in control of my emotions,” in “The Naked Time.” It is the Vulcan side
(reason) that usually
keeps Spock unflappable, arrogant,
critical, and…accurate and…logical. The human half is the Yahoo ancestry that
and thinking human beings would rather forget, but cannot:
Their heads and breasts were covered with a thick hair, some frizzled
and others lank; they had beards like goats, and a long ridge of hair
down their backs, and the foreparts of their legs and feet, but the rest
of their bodies were bare, so that I might see their skins, which were of
a brown buff color. They had no tails, nor any hair at all on their buttocks,
except about the anus; which, I presume, nature had placed there to defend
them as they sat on the ground; for this posture they used, as well as lying
down, and often stood on their hind feet…the females…dugs hung between
their fore-feet and often reached almost to the ground as they walked. The
hair of both sexes was of several colours, from red, black, and yellow. Upon
the whole, I never beheld in all my travels so disagreeable an animal, or
one against which I naturally conceived so strong antipathy
(Gulliver IV, I).
For Spock and Swift, the monster
is man, the human self, the human species. The Yahoo continues to be visible in
swarms at beaches,
amusement parks, and at malls. They are always die Swarmerai (the swarms). Malls and county fairs are dreams for paleontologists
and photographers when the real human race leaves its fetid caves for a picnic in America. Gulliver gets extremely upset when the
Yahoos began swinging in the trees where “they began to discharge their excrements on my head.” Some are troglytes; others
are mallites. Fortunately Gulliver was weaving a new and best suit of clothes, lest the Yahoos notice he is one of them. It is shocking
when Gulliver sees physical characteristics vaguely human:
My horror and astonishment are yet to be described, when I observed, in
this abominable animal, a perfect human figure; the face of it indeed was
flat and broad, the nose depressed, the lips large, and the mouth wide…
there was the same resemblance between our feet, with the same differences which I knew very well...
Such is mankind in all its color
and glory. Such ambulatory bipeds, vaguely humanoid, semi-evolved entities are
all too frequently
visible to remind everyone to read The Descent of Man for a “human” update. Spock must be deeply hurt by man (as Nurse Chapel
notes in “The Naked Time”) and in a never-ending state of yellow alert lest, as McCoy tortures him in prison in “Bread and Circuses;”
he should let his human self rise to the surface where he might “slip” into a genuine, warm feeling. McCoy is cruel, but essentially
correct is his never-ending bigotry aimed at the half-breed. But nowhere is Spock the Vulcan so desperately needed as on a ship
full of irrational human beings.
Although Spock was
born on Swift’s island of Laputa, his rationality is only partly of the
speculative or pure reason type as
described by Aristotle. The Swiftian Academy of Projectors could still stand and a satire on reason that has no practical end or object.
For example, the Vulcan Academy, where Sarek wanted his son to matriculate, is brilliant but lacks hands-on experience of practical,
problem-solving dilemmas in the final frontier. Spock’s presence aboard the Enterprise is both hell for a Vulcan, but therapy for a
half-breed, ex., Spock’s childhood was not a happy one, not being a “real” Vulcan. Spock is capable of immensely abstract,
mathematical problem solving. Although he has the capability of carrying reason to absurd conclusions, the instances are rare, such as
Swift’s satire on the British Royal Society in the metaphor of Laputa’s Academy of Projectors, whose scientists are quite logical.
Gulliver notes a few examples: one at work to “calcine ice into gunpowder;” the “ingenious architect” who had contrived a new
method for building houses, “by beginning at the roof and
working downwards the foundation;” the projector who had found a device of
“plowing the ground with hogs, to save the
charges of plows, cattle, and labor.” The famous one:
…his face and beard were of a pale yellow; his hands and clothes daubed
over with filth…his employment…was an operation to reduce human ex-
crement to its original food, by separating the several parts, removing the
tincture which it receives from the gall, making the odour exhale, and scum-
ming off the saliva…
(Gulliver’s Travels ,Bk IV).
On the contrary, reason enables thought to relate
to objects, as Hegel points out in an effort to see the whole by analyzing its
constituent parts, i.e., the famed scientific method of hypotheses, proof, conclusion. As a Vulcan, Spock seeks what Swift calls
sardonically, “the improvement of human life,” but not purely by the “speculative learning” of the projectors. Part Yahoo, Spock
represses the inconvenient human elements, and takes on gentility and practicality of reason as a road to perfection. Swift notes,
“the word Houyhnhnm, in their tongue, signifies a horse," and in its etymology, the perfection of nature. This is an essential ingredient
of the Vulcan mystique:
When he and I were thus employed, other horses came up…they gently
shuck each other’s right hoof before, neighing several times, and varying
sound, which seemed to be almost articulate…I was amazed to see such actions and
brute beasts, and concluded with myself, that if the inhabitants of this country were endued with a
proportionable degree of reason, they must needs be the wisest people upon earth
(Gulliver’s Travels, Bk IV).
horses have reason’s better features. Their language “expressed the passions”
very well. Their behavior was “orderly and rational,”
“acute and judicious.” They treat their own kind well, attending to a horse who hurt its left forefoot. They have no words for a lie, and
call it “the thing which was not.” All this time, the horses stare at Gulliver’s clothes and the word Yahoo is spoken now and then.
Regarding clothing, the horses cannot understand why “nature should
teach us to conceal what nature
had given.” The horses believe, as do Vulcans, that a country endued with
Yahoos who alone
had reason, “they certainly must be the governing animal, because reason will in time always prevail against brutal strength.”
Also, their (the horses’) wants and passions are “fewer” than among us. The Houyhnhnms, like Spock, wonder how natural hate
permits Gulliver’s kind to survive:
So that supposing us to have the gift of reason, he could not see how it
were possible to cure that natural antipathy which every creature discov-
ered against us; not consequently, how we could tame and render them
--(Gulliver’s Travels ,Bk IV).
The horses have no names for
poisoning, robbery, perjury, forgery…rapes or sodomy. The head horse “was
wholly at a loss to
know what could be the use or necessity of practicing those vices.” He rails against the butchery of English law, war, and constitution.
Spock, as a Vulcan in early contact with descendants of Yahoos, has a certain naivete regarding human rituals that go against reason
as order and against reason as common sense. For example, the horse does not see the logic of English law (neither did Swift, as
an Irishman): “he was at a loss how it should come to pass, that the law which was intended for every man’s presentation, should be
any man’s ruin.” The Vulcan mystique of reason and the Houyhnhnms hold that “nature and reason were sufficient guides for a
reasonable animal, as we pretended to be, in showing us what we ought to do, and what to avoid.”
The Houyhnhnms cannot
understand how man can tamper with or abuse his body, since such anti-self
behavior and eating
habits are contrary to the logic inherent to the human frame:
…we fed on a thousand things which operated
contrary to each other,
that we eat when we are not hungry, and drink with out the provocation
of thirst; that we sat whole nights drinking strong liquids without eating a bit
Bodily abuse is a perversion of
reason. At the conclusion of “Wolf in a Fold,” when Kirk desires to return to
Argelia, he tells Spock,
“I know just the place…where the women are…” Spock just stares in incomprehension of such hedonism. Kirk soon gives up the
venture. The lifted Vulcan eyebrow gives McCoy and Kirk many a laugh at Spock’s stoicism. Vulcan Stoicism is like a laser beam,
intense and deep, but limited in depth and breadth, limited in intuitive and holistic vision. The Vulcan mystique is the voyage to the
Houyhnhnms confined with the abstract, mathematical, Newtonian, mechanical reason of Laputa, the flying island without an object,
the reasoning subject sacrifices pragmation for philosophy, with absurd repercussions. For example, Gulliver tells of the belief that
“all diseases arise form repletion” and “a great evacuation of the body is necessary.” This was known as taking the waters, purifying
one’s body of bad matter. The horses, unprepared for the ensuing description for curing diseases, are a bit shocked as Gulliver
narrates a favorite British cure:
Nature is forced out of her seat, therefore to replace her in it, the body
must be treated in a manner directly contrary, by interchanging the use
of each tongue, forcing solids and liquids in at the anus, and making
evacuations in at the mouth
(Gulliver’s Travels, Bk IV).
Joseph Heller, in Catch-22,
has a character called “the man in white” who is one body cast with a hole for
each of the two orifices.
All the nurse had to do was to change (reverse) the buckets at regular intervals. Swift’s “excremental vision” in “laughing the world
out of its follies and vices” (Dryden’s definition of satire) is an inspiration for Spock worlds inside the Vulcan mystique.
Swift’s vision is a wholistic
vision on a psychosomatic wavelength and pattern. Reason inter-relates analysis
with thinker, object,
and thinking. The dualism of man (part of the Newtoian world-view) into a schism of mind and body is, as Carlyle and Blake note,
the disease and the symptom of the disease of modernism. Swift concludes the sixth chapter, Book IV, Gulliver, noting that,
“the imperfections of his mind run parallel with those of his body, being a composition of spleen, dullness, ignorance, caprice,
sensuality, and pride.” Just as mind and body are separated by artificial logic, so also are emotions kept separate from logic in
Vulcan philosophy. There is no room for a coexistence or a dualism. The Vulcan “solution” to the “problem” of emotion is to
eliminate the latter entirely.
Spock is a Gulliver,
an outsider, but ironically an insider. From a literary point of view he is both
observer and participant,
a “sensor, mirror” character half devil, half Apollo. He is Hellenic, in his incredible mind, as a Vulcan. He is both detached from
the Yahoos and attached to the Yahoos. His job, in part, is to guide a fledgling humanity in its evolution from the savagery of his
Vulcan heritage experience. He is abstract Aristotelian logic , detached and judgmental; he is aesthetic logic, existential, Blakian,
Hegelian, which is physical and experimental and object/problem oriented. He is the Enterprise’s best computer, but is also the
“best first officer in the fleet” (McCoy). Spock’s one fear is letting his Yahoo self out of reason’s cave. He is surrounded by over
four hundred Yahoos. He knows that he shares a bond with them, that if he had a warm feeling, he might not know what to do
with it (“Bread and Circuses”) or he dare not show the feeling. As a Gulliver, Spock views the self in others; he also views the
others in himself.
A simplistic illustration may show the dialectic within Spock between reason and emotion:
Hellenism Hebraism | | Hellenism Hebraism
Will< Reason Emotion | | Reason Emotion >will
(dominant) (“eliminated”) | | (divided) (divided)
.:100% logic | | .:50% .:50%
Blood: Green | | Blood: Red
Reason: 75% Emotion: 25%
Hellenism creates sterility
Vulcan mystique= control: self +
environment with Vulcan: emotion suppressed, “eliminated” in Sarek. Could
produce 50% Reason to
However: human= 50% reason :Vulcan= 100% reason in Sarek
.: in Spock: Reason=75% maximum/optimum…
or Reason=50% or less with Vulcan recessive emotive gene and/or/with majority
human passion in Kinesis…
Vulcan mystique: no opposites: science and empathy: mind meld.
Vulcan truth: warfare vs. “to
sense” thought=kinetic consciousness
Ergo, Vulcan truth is “self made
purgatory,” inner hell, constant torment from Yahoos and King of Laputa.
“Without Contraries is no Progression”: Spock=constant inner tension> acute consciousness+ analysis (science officer) >
self consciousness (first officer and command).
Spock is modern
man. Spock is each and every thinking human being, with the warfare between
spirit and matter, between
god and devil (ears+ “no heart”), between reason and energy. One hears, Ich bin Spock! I am Spock! Spock…that’s me—all of us!
Spock is a man who is also a symbol of modern dualism and bifurcation. As modern man, Spock represents and bodies forth cultural
and moral schizophrenia so dominant in post 1750 literature. He is the psyhcical/physical dualism that is modern literature’s most
dominant theme. As Gene Roddenberry has said (Interview: June, 1982), “We are two.” Spock is 1=1/2+1/2=1 . L’homme…
c’est moi. Man is two and has two of everything as a biological mechanism. Spock is Roddenberry’s half-breed, the freak. However,
on that fringe one finds a critical norm of an incessant, unresolved dialectic. This condition is universal throughout Star Trek and may
be so applied to enhance knowledge of ourselves through Spock’s journey. There is the weeping Spock of “The Naked Time” and
the controller Spock of “That Which Survives.” All his adventures are familiar ones because they are rooted in human nature itself.
But beware of the Yahoos, and beware the Vulcan mystique that believes, as Gulliver notes of the Houyhnhnms, it is “reason [that]
will in time prevail against brutal strength.”
"The Galileo Seven"
“The Galileo Seven” is
Spock’s so-called “first command,” if command of a shuttlecraft is a command.
as every Trekker has noted, the episode is important in its analysis of Spock’s character and evolution. It is said that
Spock is the “bad reasoner” in this episode.
True, but in what sense is reason
being applied? What are the cause-effect relationships at work? Why is Spock
such a blunderer?
Why does he remain rather calm in the face of Mr. Boma’s insubordinate and hostile remarks? What is he thinking and does Spock
“learn” from his skewed judgment? The role of Spock is to analyze (science officer) phenomena. But as commander, the objects
and the subjects of his thing must both be seen and viewed in one relationship. In splitting reason, ex., the treatment of the apelike
anthropoids, Spock loses sight of effects. In only shooting to scare, Spock believes the beasts will “think” twice before attacking again.
The human shuttle crew is soon attacked. Why? Spock felt that the beasts could act logically and retreat from a superior force.
Instead, they sought revenge. This latter fact never occurred to Spock, i.e., he is ignorant of the object of the logic. Spock is, at first,
an Aristotelian logician—abstract, remote, and detached. In this world of the thinker alone, knowledge is knowledge’s only object.
It does not affect external reality. The anthropoids were never considered in terms of their reciprocal view of the scare-only phaser
barrage. He did not consider his objects. Hence, they react with more violence and Spock looks like the M-5 or Nomad squealing
“error…error.” Latimer is dead, while Spock ignores death to lecture on the spears Folsom Point:
Spock: Not very efficient.
Boma: Not very efficient? Is that all you have to say?
Spock: Am I in error, Mr. Boma?
Boma: You? Error? Impossible!
Spock: Then, What, Mr. Boma?
Boma: There’s a man lying there dead, and you talk about stone spears.
Spock: My concern for the dead will not bring him back to life, Mr. Boma.
For Spock, there is no sympathy,
no rituals over the dead. “Drive your cart and your plough over the bones of
the dead” (Wm.
Blake “Proverbs of Hell”). He simply should know the standard
operating procedure; however, even if known, the emergency might make a formal burial an expensive luxury.
Another facet of
detached logic is its predilection for metaphysics, like the Laputans who think
and lose contact with
everyday practicalities. As Gulliver notes of the cerebral Spock types:
…the minds of these people are so taken up with intense speculations,
that they neither can speak, nor attend to the discourses of others, without
being roused by some external taction upon the organs of speech and
hearing; for which reason those persons who are able to afford it always
keep a flapper…
(Gulliver’s Travels IV).
The flapper holds a “bladder” and
strikes the dreamer on the ears and mouth to summon the metaphysician back to
in this state of metaphysics, has no concern for his crew’s instincts, nor for their reasoning because he needs a flapper, like Boma
or McCoy, to hit him in the ears with a bladder. Spock is off on a trip about a different subject:
Boma: Give them [anthropoids] a bloody nose! Make them think twice
about attacking us!…
Spock: I am frequently appalled by the low regard you Earthmen
have for life.
Galtano: We’re practical about it! I say we hit them before they hit us…
McCoy: It seems logical to me.
Spock: Yes, indeed. It seems logical to me, also. But to take
Spock is singing a rhapsody by
Albert Schweitzer, while lives are in danger. Save the animals, by all means.
But these are not
dolphins. Spock selectively blocks active (or effective) productive action because logic and metaphysics have bred doubt;
doubt creates self-doubt, and inertia or unproductive action (shooting to scare instead of shooting to kill) results. Spock insists
that, “the components must be
weighed. Our dangers to ourselves as well as our duties to other life forms,
friendly or not.” Thomas
Carlyle, in “Characteristics” was one of the first litterateurs to see the inertia of uncertainty: “Nay, in mere speculation itself, the most
ineffectual of all characters…is your dialectic man-at-arms…Logic is good, but it is not the best.” As a result of pure logic, “Nothing
acts from within outwards in undivided healthy force; everything lies impotent, lamed, its force turned inwards, and painfully
‘listens to itself.’” This is Spock and his dilemma of “self-consciousness,” what Carlyle called the disease of the modern era.
In weighing “all the components,” Spock (like Ct. Merrick in “Bread and Circuses”) doubts, hesitates. No leader can afford this
debate: “He who desires but acts not breeds pestilence” (Blake, Proverbs of Hell). Spock ineffectually chooses firing “to frighten…
not to kill.” He notes, “I am in command…the orders and the responsibility will be mine.” Hellenic reason interferes with Hebraic
action. The result is poor choice and the death of Mr. Gaetano. But Spock learns from his fear and inaction. He insists on finding
Gaetano, for no apparent human reason:
Spock: I have a certain…scientific…curiosity about what has happened to
McCoy: I don’t know. He’ll risk his neck locating Gaetano. Then if he
finds him alive, he’s just as liable to order him to stay behind.
You tell me.
Spock acts, but too late.
However, it does begin a process whereby Spock adapts to a life-threatening
situation on Taurus II.
For his own reasons, his reasoning now extends to the wellbeing of the crew, not just to the “save the ape foundation.” This is no
time for the metaphysics of pacifism.
A look at reason
and phenomena is crucial here. Spock’s reasoning is Newtonian where phenomena
appear as uniform
events or as undivided wholes. Ernest Cassirer, in The Mind of the Enlightenment, notes re-analysis:
…an analysis of the uniform presentation of the event as given in percep-
tion and direct observation, and by its resolution into its constitutive ele-
ments. This analytical process, according to Galileo, is the presupposition
of all exact knowledge of nature. The method of formulation of scientific
concepts is both analytical and synthetic. It is only by splitting an apparent-
ly simple event into its elements and by reconstructing it from there that we
can arrive at an understanding of it
(Koelln and Pettegrove 195:10).
Newtonian reason is founded on the
interdependence of analytical and synthetical methods. Spock ponders in the
to break the disease of metaphysics and to break out of the cycle of intervogeration caused by abstract reasoning. Logic is fine,
but it is not all. Analysis is fine, but the visible components must be weighed. Spock brings abstract, visible components into the
phenomenon of the anthropoids. What do George and Gracie have to do with ten-foot killers? Cassirer notes that reason is not
just a given but an acquisition, that it is “a kind of energy, a force which is fully comprehensible only in its agency and effects” (13).
This means that Spock must analyze the factors and causes inherent to the event. Knowledge is applied reason. Analysis must
transcend Laputian speculation and jump from the island of Laputa back to earth where the women of Laputa jump to find the
solidarity of actional life. The “agency” and “effects” are discussed by the crew in a lively lesson about procedural analysis:
Spock: A most illogical reaction. When we demonstrated our superior
weapons, they should have fled.
McCoy: You mean, they should have respected us?
Spock: of course.
McCoy: Mr. Spock, respect is a natural process. Did it ever occur to you they
might react emotionally? With anger?Spock: Dr., I am not responsible for their impredictablity
McCoy: They were perfectly predictable to anyone with feeling. You might as
well admit it, Mr. Spock. Your precious logic brought them down on us.
For human logic is frequently
equated with common sense. Reason is rarely thought about. People simply think
and act based on
given data and the will to act. Thinking is worthless if it is not converted into positive action in the external world. An abstract
thought should have a palpable action as one of its effects. Carlyle notes that “the mere existence and necessity of Philosophy is
an evil. Man is sent hither not to question, but to work: ‘the end of man,’ it was long ago written, ‘is an Action, not a Thought’”
(“Characteristics” 1831). “The Galileo Seven” is a study of “the disease of metaphysics” in the form of Spock’s bad reasoning
and bad commanding:
Boma: My tone isn’t the only thing that is hostile!
Spock: Curious. Most illogical.
Boma: I am sick and tired of your logic.
Mears: We could use a little inspiration.
Spock: Strange. Step by step I have made the correct and logical decisions
and two men have died…yes. I seem to have miscalculated regard-
ing them and inculcated resentment on your part. The sum of the
parts cannot be greater than the whole.
The frustration is almost comical
unless one knows that Spock is tied up in metaphysical knots like a computer fed
conflicting or false
information (Landru). For the real McCoy, reminiscent of Carlyle’s solution, “a little less analysis and a little more action. That’s
what we need.” Spock has to learn the namesake of the shuttlecraft. Galileo, as mentioned, and Newton believed that:
What reason is, and what it can do, can never be known by its results but
only by its function. Herein reason has the power to find and to dissolve.
It dissolves to analyze component parts as well as belief and opinion. But
reason cannot stop with the dispersed parts; it has to build from them a new
structure, a true whole
Reason deals with parts and their
whole. When Spock’s hairy friends return for the kill, Spock is the one who
the shuttle’s hull and who corrects his earlier analysis of the anthropoids based on observation of their functions, i.e., Spock becomes
both reasoner and fledgling commander. He knows the beasts by observation and determines, “the moment they discover that they’re
not seriously hurt, they’ll return.”
The argument over
burials and burial rites is also reconciled by Spock who is learning procedure
and the role of common
sense in logic. But not without Boma’s genuine wrath:
Boma: …Mr. Spock, I would insist upon a decent burial even if your body
was back there.
McCoy: Mr. Boma!
Boma: I’m sick and tired of this machine…
Scott: That’s enough!
Spock: Ok, Mr. Boma, you’ll have your burial provided the creatures will
What is important here is that Spock begins to yield to the
logic of his own situation. What is
emerging also is an intolerance by the other officers—Scotty and McCoy—of Boma’s insubordination to his
commanding officer. A human being might have given Boma a year in Lavenworth or have broken him out of the
service. John Wayne would have taken him behind the nearest palm tree grove. Spock, however, never shows anger.
Boma provides enough hate, but Spock's self control and dignity are emerging with the respect and support of his
fellow officers. Spock even assists in Gaetano’s burial, until the anthropoids render the burial academic. But Spock
does try, less the oak, more the birch tree, more the leader, more the man of reason. Spock breaks the chains of logic,
but only by leading others and by considering the issues. He no longer suffers from total stalemate. For he has been
like T. S. Eliot’s Prufrock, fraught with questions and endless mental spirals:
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions…
--(“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” 1917).
As Scotty discharges the phasers
as an alternative fuel supply, Spock muses and evaluates an evolving and new
totality. He deals with
the crew and the gravity of the Galileo’s situation. Reason does not finish with the analyzed parts, but leaps beyond elements to “reveal an
interdependence” (Cassirer, 21).
The matter remains
that Spock has “the right stuff” to be in command. It is McCoy who badgers
Spock about “Your big
chance…for command” and that “logic” was thought by Spock to be the “best basis upon which to build a command.” Spock rarely
goes beyond the limits of his Vulcan expectations in saying, “I am a logical man.” McCoy retorts: “It’ll take more than logic to get us
out of this,” but Spock knows of “no better way to begin.” The philosophy never promises miracles, and the crew often mistakes
Spock’s concentration as total insensitivity. Here, they undershoot the man. Spock neither enjoys command nor is he “frightened by
it. It simply exists.” His open-mindedness about their possible death of Taurus II is the crew’s best potential for release. He is not
the first commander to leave a few behind so that others may be saved. It is a command decision. Spock sees Scotty’s figures
of lightening the load by “at least five hundred pounds” as “the weight of three grown men.” He does not have to explain his choice
to the Boma’s of the world, but he does accept criticism:
Spock: My choice [who will stay] will be a logical one, arrived at through
McCoy: Mr. Spock, life and death are seldom logical.
Spock: But attaining a desired goal always is, doctor…
Boma: If any minor damage was overlooked, it was when they put his head
McCoy : Not his head, Mr. Bona. His heart. His heart!
The philosophy that turns despair
of dying on Taurus II due to lost fuel is Spock’s. It is a philosophical maxim
that Spock himself does
not see practically until after the Galileo is airborne. It is the theory of alternatives, the logic of trying everything, of never giving up
while there is time to consider alternatives. It is a stoical philosophy of logical sticktoitiveness. Spock calls on the radio:
Scott: You don’t really think you’ll get an answer, do you?
Spock: I expect nothing. It is merely logical to try all the alternatives.
When the fuel lines give and Scotty is ready to throw in the wrench, Spock replies:
Spock: Consider the alternatives, Mr. Scott.
Scott: We have no fuel. What alternatives?
Spock: Mr. Scotty, there are always alternatives.
This inspires Scotty to suggest
using the phasers as alternative fuel. That will save the crew. As potential
lift off time nears, Scotty
needs to “shed every ounce” to achieve orbit for only a few hours. Spock rejects Scotty’s consideration of landing back on Taurus II.
As though mimicking Spock, Scotty mumbles, “We have very few alternatives, Mr. Spock.”
Spock uses the
boosters and remains pessimistic. He chides the crew for rescuing him from a
stone thrown by a beast. He
says they were illogical in wasting precious time. One of Spock’s command qualities is a peculiar form of self-abnegation:
Spock: By coming after me…You may well have destroyed what slim
chances you had for your survival. The logical thing for you to
have done was to have left me behind.
McCoy: Remind me to tell you that I’m sick and tired of your logic.
Spock: That is a most illogical attitude.
If this was meant as a comic relief, it works as the Galileo moves into a shaky and short orbit. There will be no soft landing.
The story of
Spock’s first command has been a painful one for the ship’s Aristotelian
logician, but his own axiom goes
from theory to instinctive action:
Scott: Mr. Spock, you always said a while ago there were always alternatives.
Spock: Did I? I may have been mistaken.
McCoy: At least I’ve lived long enough to hear that…
The final crisis requires a final command decision. In Enlightenment logic,
…rational order and control of the data of experience are not possible
without strict unification. Reason understands this structure because it
can reproduce it in its totality and in the ordered sequence of its indiv-
For Spock, this unification comes
to an aggregate totality which is an intricate whole towards which the parts
have been moving.
It is the logical climax of the play, the moment of Spock’s realization that affirms command decision capability. The maxim is one
of alternatives. McCoy sardonically notes, “Well, Mr. Spock…so ends your first command.” Alternatives mean not accepting an
end, in refusing failure. Spock jettisons the fuel and ignites it. For Scotty, “a distress signal? Like sending up a flare. That was a
McCoy: It may have been the last action you’ll ever take, Mr. Spock…but it
was all human.
Spock: Totally illogical…there was no chance.
McCoy: That’s exactly what I mean?
Rescued just as the Galileo burns
up in the planet’s atmosphere, the Galileo crew (now the Galileo five) is beamed
Enterprise. Spock has gone from Laputian philosopher to risking life on a gamble. With good-natured teasing, Kirk (who all
this time has been searching for the Galileo—a parallel but opposite way of logic: deliberate contrast: Kirk vs. Spock) notes,
“desperation is a highly emotional state of mind. How does your well-known logic explain that?” Spock’s response is out of a
treatise by the Galileo or Newton, a Neo-classical response to the nature of reason:
Spock: Quite simply, Captain. I examined the problem from all angles and it
was plainly hopeless. Logic informed me that under the circumstances
the only possible action would have to be one of desperation. Logical
decision, logically arrived at.
Kirk: You mean, you reasoned that it was time for an emotional outburst.
Spock: Well I would not put it in exactly those terms, Captain, but those are
essentially the facts.
Kirk: You’re not going to admit that for the first time in your life you
committed a purely human, emotional act?
Spock: No, sir.
Kirk: Mr. Spock, you are a stubborn man.
Spock: Yes, sir.
In “The Galileo
Seven,” Spock changes character. He uses instinct as well as logic. What he
said about examining the
problem is meant as verbal irony, but it is a realistic statement of how his reason worked in those circumstances. Spock’s logic is
now more outwardly turned, more object-oriented, more wholistic. He has taken first steps toward a slow process of humanistic
acculturations that will enable him to function with and for people, not just for numbers and statistics. He has “the right stuff.” His
redemption lies in his choosing action (or aesthetic reason over abstract reason) and in his refusing defeat. As a great Romantic
Death chooses all; but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done.
Not in becoming men that strove with Gods…
Push off, and silling well in order smite
The sounding furries…
Spock faced defeat, faced death,
faced disgrace, faced human nature. He survived, analyzed, investigated; but,
above all, he acted.
The disease of metaphysics is on hold:
That this is the age of
Metaphysics…we regard as our individual misfortune. From many causes, the arena
Activity has long been narrowing that of sceptical Inquiry, becoming more and more universal. The Thought conducts
not to the Dead; but in boundless chaos, self-devouring, engenders monstrosities, phantasms, fire-breathing chimeras
--(T. Carlyle “Characterisitcs” 1831).
(finis: “The Galileo Seven”)
"Journey to Babel”
(--the K II Factor)
“Go to let us go down, and there
confound their language, that they
may not understand one another’s speech…Therefore is the name of it
called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all
the earth: and from there did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the
face of all the earth”
Since Babel, man
has not been one; he has been babbling ever since, trying to communicate with
other members of the human
race. As the world becomes smaller and smaller and nations more interdependent, it is now literally impossible to topple one domino
without taking the others. In part, “Journey to Babel” is a desire to settle the issue of Coridon’s admission to the Federation. The
Federation has to undo some of Babel’s scattering of tongues by asking planets, races, species of striking dissimilarity to join on planet,
code-named Babel to air their differences and likenesses to settle the Coridon issue. Captain Kirk has a small United Nations on board
the Enterprise, a “hundred and fourteen Federation delegates aboard for two weeks. Thirty two of them are ambassadors. Half of them
mad at the other half.” The atmosphere is testy and politically volatile. As is normal for a Dorothy C. Fontana story, at least two plot
lines, logically connected, one macrocosm, the other microcosm, exist parallel to each other. What is sought by a disparate group is
common ground, to seek a solution that is good for Coridon and its vast dilythium bocle and for the Federation as a whole. Reason
must be the order of any agreement, but disorder tends to make the pre-conference, on-ship, gathering a violent one.
Within the delegate world of
meetings and power plays, is a play within the play. The concern is the same—a
family pushed together
into tensioned proximity, which too must become violent or must agree to buy their differences for a common unity. This family too
has its Babel, a marriage of “mixed” nature—a perfectionistic Vulcan father whose imposing Roman features denote brilliance and
aloofness. His name is Sarek. His earth-born wife, Amanda, is a n alien living on Vulcan. One can only guess how difficult it was
for Sarek and for Amanda to bear up under Vulcan’s logical prejudices. The couple has one child, Spock—half-human, half Vulcan.
Dorothy Fontana is the creator of the Vulcan family structure, its characters and cultural characteristics. “Babel” is a new and immense
contribution to STAR TREK. This Vulcan family is journeying to Babel also, but unbeknown to its three characters, its differences
(like the conference and its delegates) are the many seeking differences, uttering differences, and needing a common ground. It is
Babel for a Federation; it is Babel for TREK’s most important family. There is a sickness at the core of the Federation. An Orion
scout vessel with a spy cosmetically altered to pose as an Andorian wants to disrupt the conference and murder the delegates.
Ambassador Sarek’s family is also an illness that must be treated. There is a family Babel that must be resolved. Two parallel plots
have parallel problems and goals.
“Journey to Babel” is
a bloody matter and a matter of blood. The conference’s purpose is to avoid
bloodshed. It seems
that just getting someone to seek peace is an instant death march-- peace has great costs. Blood is shed before peace talks begin.
The delegates to the conference are a potpourri of races of all sizes. There is much good camaraderie, and color ice cubes! Blood
|always detracts from fellowship; however, blood is the source for the fellowship. It is its very raison d’être. And the ship’s gathering
soon becomes a bloody matter. Sarek, the elder and
respected Vulcan ambassador, is
hounded by Gar, the Tellarite ambassador. Part of the price Sarek pays for not
showing ire is the
popping of the pill. Gar merely adds to Sarek’s obvious fatigue and secret physical discomfort:
Gar: No…you. How do you vote, Sarek of Vulcan?
Sarek: Why must you know, Tellanite?
Gar: In council, his vote causes others. I will know where he stands, and why.
Sarek: Tellanites do not argue for reasons…they simply argue.
Besides possessing a charming pig
face, Gar has the equal grace of subtlety and diplomacy of statement. The
centered verbally on Gar and Sarek, shows the infinite diversity, but the need remains for these differences to combine while still
maintaining culture integrity and identification. Every gathering seeking unity has a Gar—it simply argues. No logic at all. The
easiest way to befuddle a mercurial character is the use of logical philosophy. Hot-heads rarely possess a fine vocabulary. Sarek’s
reputation as a Cicero must not go unnoted. Without him in command, chambers on Babel, the Coridan issue would lose its most
eloquent spokesman. For Sarek, on second confrontation with the negative Gar, Vulcan favors admission of Coridon so that it “can
be protected—and its wealth administered for the benefit of its people.” As a result of the intensity of the political difference, Sarek is
the logical suspect as Gar’s likely murderer. He knows Tal-shaya and has embarrassed Gar in debates on a previous occasion.
The law is not in Sarek’s favor; neither is justice without an alibi. For Spock, “It would be illogical to kill without reason,” but “my
father is quite capable of killing…logically and efficiently.” It is a bloody matter.
While Gar is an
ambassadorial disrupter, he is a legal delegate. The other disruption comes
from Thelev and the Orion attack
scout ship. “The condition of man…is a condition of
war of everyone against everyone”
(T. Hobbes Leviathan pt. I. Ch. 4). Thelev knifes Kirk (in a fight
scene where Kirk waited
To be stabbed). A punctured left lung, McCoy says, that just missed “the heart.” It should be noted that Sarek goes critical
pursuant to Kirk’s wound as a traitor and a murderer (of Gar). Thelev is a creature of blood. He dies quickly of slow poison
on the bridge. Suicide. The Orion vessel is buried. It too self-destructs after a phaser barrage. Bloody vengeance takes its
bloody course on the Enterprise:
Old Adam, the carrion crow,
The old crow of Cairo
He sat in the shower, and let it flow
Under his tail and over his crest…
Is that the wind dying? O no;
It’s only two devils, that blow
Though a murderer’s bones, to and fro,
In the ghost’s moonshine
--(T. Beddoes, “Song” 1825-28).
It was a bloody deed and Spock is
commanding the Enterprise. Logic seeks a solution to the attack on Kirk, but it
point because logic tries to explain attempted murder as logical in motivation. Here, Spock is a bad reasoner. “There is no logic
in Thelev’s attack upon the Captain. There is no logic in Gar’s murder. Shras, the Andorian ambassador to a “violent race,”
produces reason’s grim clarity: “…forget logic and devote yourself to motivations of passion or gain--those are reasons for
murder.” “Journey to Babel” is a bloody matter, indeed. It’s a murder mystery.
“Journey to Babel” is more importantly, a matter of blood not just
a bloody matter. This is the cohesive and tensile unraveling
of the Vulcan mystique. It is a study of Babel as it applies to Spock and to his parents. The climax of a matter of blood is a
matter of the heart. Nurse Chapel
discordantly announces that “his [Sarek’s] heart is stopped.” Now too one will
see a conference
to avoid bloodshed, but the cure is the shedding of blood, a transfusion from Spock to his father. There is not enough T-negative
blood. Here blood goes from Sarek’s “bad” heart, his dysfunctional valve, and the resulting Myocardial infarction while Gar was
being killed by Thelev. A father faces certain death. The core of the Vulcan mystique is what a Vulcan dare not show—the
Vulcan heart. Viewers are not always sure where the Vulcan heart is anatomically positioned. Looking at Spock, one wonders
if there is such an organ. It is the dialectic of the head and the heart. The social embarrassment for Sarek must be great to make
his personal life a public concern. He is a intensely private gentleman with pride. The “problem” with Spock as a person, with
Sarek as a person is a rule of logic, of head controlling emotions, is literally and symbolically “because of the construction of the
Vulcan heart.” It is literally the organ of love that brings Sarek close to death. This is the KII factor, the heart indicator in
McCoy’s sickbay, but K is vitamin K because it is the “Koagulation” factor. If the liver does not obtain vitamin K, four
coagulation factors cannot be manufactured: factors II, VII, and X (Corbett 275). The KII factor stands to make a life and
death difference, especially in blood transfer. The KII factor is the heart of the issue. The flow of blood, the rate of flow,
coagulated—all depend on the KII factor. The heart is in close relationship with the brain in the Vulcan. But the heart is not a
logical organ; its reconstruction is a serious matter because it is a variable unknown. The Rigelian theory of multiplying blood
cells is untested on Vulcans. Spock puts McCoy on the knife by offering himself as blood donor—all this before Kirk’s
Spock’s rift with
his father has lasted eighteen years. This begins Trek's answer to “All in the
Family.” For a Vulcan, there
can be no matters of the heart, only matters of intellect. Amanda is caught in between two stubborn men. She is also the only
possible peacemaker. A Vulcan wife would not strike her Vulcan husband, but Amanda smacks Spock a fair right cross for
his adamant logic. There are problems before the attempts on Kirk’s life:
Amanda: After all these years living among humans, you still haven’t
learned to smile.
Spock: Humans smile with so little provocation.
Amanda: And you haven’t come to see us in four years either.
Spock: The situation between my father and myself has not changed.
This is a matter of the heart. The answer is not to be found in logic:
Amanda: You don’t understand the Vulcan way, Captain. It’s logical.
It’s a better way than ours…But it’s not easy. It has kept
Spock and Sarek from speaking as father and son for eighteen
This barrier between father and
son makes Sarek Irish as well as Vulcan. They only get together for funerals.
“Shunning” is the
penance for not loving the paternal line of things. The result is silence, a wall impenetrable as death itself. The trist with death
will change this rift, but only after Spock relinquishes command to a Kirk who will not damn his first officer for loyalty, but will
not let him commit “patricide” for logic and regulations. Such is this cerebral switch that stops the flow of blood to centers
Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.
Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning
--(Stevie Smith “Not Waving but Drowning” 1957).
This is a part of the age of
alienation between intimates. The worst enemies carry one’s own blood, the same
There is indeed a “heart defect.” When Spock volunteers as donor, he tells McCoy that he (McCoy) has “no logical alternative,”
nor does Spock see one for himself. The problem, the conflict of heads, comes when Spock assumes command. Duty has no
heart, nor should it. But “there are always alternatives.”
Two male Vulcans and
one human female are the KII factor in “Journey to Babel.” The Vulcan heart is
the issue and it is
defective. The triangle of three healthy egos gives Dorothy Fontana high scores for character conflict. Erich Fromm describes
motherly love as “two people who were one become separate” (Fromm, The Art of Loving, 44). In time, however, there is the
need for transcendence. Motherly love wants nothing for itself. As the child grows older, the test of the “loving mother” is “the
willfulness to bear separation, and even after the separation to go on loving” (Fromm, 44). Motherly love, Fromm notes “by its
very nature is unconditional.” It is the mother who empathizes with Spock’s outcast and lonely childhood. Amanda in Latin means
loving. Through love she had to fight her son for his father’s life. She knows the hell of her half-breed son, “neither Vulcan nor
human—at home nowhere—except Star Fleet.” In Amanda’a struggle, we also see the nature of fatherly love. He “represents…
the world of thought, of man-made things, law and order, of discipline…the one who teaches the child” (Fromm, 35-6). Fatherly
love is conditional love. Amanda’s view of the heart of the conflict is Sarek’s insistence that
Spock follow Sarek’s teachings as
Sarek followed the teachings of his father. Sarek wanted Spock to devote his
life to the Vulcan
Science Academy. Spock chose Star Fleet; the cost has been silence. Fontana’s picture of Sarek is that of any thoughtful father
whose son threatens tradition by rebellion, by another choice. The father sees a wasted fatherhood; the son sees a wasted
fatherhood. The father’s conditional love says:
‘I love you because you fulfill my expectations, because you do your
duty, because you are like me.’…fatherly love has to be deserved, that
it can be lost if one does no do what is expected…obedience becomes
the main virtue…disobedience is the main sin—and its punishment the withdrawal of fatherly love
--(E. Fromm, 35-6).
All of the above is symbolized by
the “heart defect”; then the heart stops. It is not just a matter of biology
and medical science.
Much of Spock’s behavior is linked to his half-breed status, but the withdrawal of fatherly love needs protection, fears revelation,
needs arrogant aloofness and frigid logic.
“The KII factor is
dropping” as Kirk becomes the serviced patient under Mother McCoy’s hen house.
The conflict is between
Amanda and Spock. It is a fight against logic and regulations for Sarek’s life. Had Kirk not “faked” good health, had Spock not
believed the captain’s apparent condition—Spock would have been court-martialed for relinquishing the center seat for personal
reasons. Add to regulations his Vulcan ancestry, and the result would leave Sarek very dead. The conflict is between duty and
compassion (head vs. heart); “my first responsibility is to the ship…I cannot relinquish command under these circumstances…
Command requirements do not recognize personal privilege.” His duty to the service supersedes his duty to his father. What
Amanda sees in Spock is probably a more intense
vision of what Sarek would do were
the circumstances reversed. There are two duties: to ship, to father.
outburst tries to wrench Spock into dereliction of duty. She is “thinking with [her] glands” (“The Mantrap”). Spock explains the
ship’s endangerment, but her strength is an overdose of motherly love. She must expect separation and continuance of love after
separation. Spock would be a wimp if he capitulated; he has no choice:
Spock: How can you have lived on Vulcan so long, married a Vulcan, raised
a son on Vulcan without understanding what it means to be a Vulcan?
…it means to adopt a philosophy—a way of life which is logical—ben-
eficial. We cannot disregard that philosophy merely for personal gain…
For Amanda, “nothing is as
important as your father’s life!” Her threat (I’ll hate you for the rest of my
life”) accompanied by a
Terran smack in the face is a convincing study of antithetical philosophies. Also, Spock’s logic sees no third alternative. He is
implacable and unimaginative.
“Doctor, his heart is
stopped.” The analysis of the Vulcan family also calls for a “old, portable
Kirk, bleeding through his bandages, fights the Orion invader, McCoy fights against time as green blood pours from son to father.
This direct transference, like old tribal rites, permits the sharing of the bond of life between two hardheads after an eighteen-year
silence. It is time, in a sense, that Spock repays his father’s gift of life and of judgment. They are so alike that Amanda is in an
emotional frenzy. No wonder grown children see their parents as seldom as possible. It is good for domestic tranquility. Familiarity
does breed contempt.
to father-centered attachment, and their eventual synthesis, lies the basis for
mental health and the
achievement of maturity” (Fromm 37). Failure is the basis of
neurosis. Sarek has the easiest
role in this episode; silence and affairs of the heart seem sad songs to the
affairs of state and the
Coridan question. For a brief period there is a silent synthesis with two sets of pointed ears in sick bay, with one gloating physician,
and one mad female terran who barely knows how to accept the joy of a father speaking with his son. Small talk:
Spock: Emotional, isn’t she?
Sarek: She has always been that way.
Spock: Indeed? Why did you marry her?
Sarek: At the time, it seemed the logical thing to do.
Logic has a sense of humor. The
Vulcan heart is one of a grateful father whose thanks are in his eyes. The
Vulcan heart is expressed
by a Terran whose culture permits outbursts that cloak love in the linen of anger: “Logic! Logic! I am sick to death of logic! Do you
want to know how I feel about your logic?” The episode “Journey to Babel” is a dramatic triumph, a great play and a talented cast
who have lived long so all Trekkers may watch this extraordinary family with some ordinary problems—for Vulcans and humans. It is
all in the family. Babel has been a bloody matter and a matter of blood:
…like the mother’s voice to her little child that strays bewildered, weeping,
in unknown tumults; like soft streamings of celestial music to my too-exas-
perated heart, came that Evangel. The Universe is not dead and demonic-
al, a charmed-house with spectres; but godlike, and my Father’s
(T. Carlyle Sartor Resartus II, 9).
--(The Devil’s Anvil)
“What the hammer? What the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? What dread grasp
Done its deadly terrors clasp?”
--(Wm. Blake “The Tygre”).
Amok or “amuck” is an
ancient Malayan term meaning engaging furiously in battle. It involves frenzy,
and killing can be part
of the frenzy. For the Vulcan Mr. Spock, it means the personal humiliation of returning to Vulcan (after at least four years?) in answer
to a “homing” urge that climaxes in a traditional marriage ritual, very barbaric in content and in settling. After spending “eighteen” years
n “Journey to Babel” isolated from the fabric of Vulcan society, Spock’s homing is a confrontation with a past riddled with doubts.
He has spent the recent past among human beings where he did everything to keep his Vulcan half in tact amid a pool of human emotions.
In that time too, Spock has undergone some acculturation in his human context. His best friends are human ; his identity is linked to
Starfleet. He has become a “legend” of galactical reputation. In “Amok Time,” his Vulcan half is stripped of its veneer of civilization.
The rites are tribal, more of earth’s past than that of a more advanced civilization. The ceremony will also affect Spock’s human half,
but it is more accustomed to primitive behavior. Even human reason has ways of placing human barbarism in its cultural perspective.
For a few, brief minutes on Vulcan, Spock has stepped back “to the time of the beginning” into Vulcan’s barbaric past. Its marriage
ceremony is eroticism veiled in symbolism. Even for a tradition, it remains amuck!
What thee are about to see comes down from the time of the beginning,
without change. This is the Vulcan heart. This is the Vulcan soul.
The episode’s purpose is to define the Vulcan heart, the Vulcan soul—to give outworlders the series’ only view of Spock’s home planet.
For Spock, the
“ancient drives are too strong.” He must return home and “take a wife or die…”
The episode has too many plot
flaws, most of which are unanswered questions regarding Vulcan customs. For example, why does Spock not die if T’Pring rejects him,
as she does by opting for the challenge? What accounts for Spock’s sudden composure in the turbo lift before beam down? It does not
sound like a man who is dying to get home. It is also extremely awkward for McCoy to be holding folksy conversation with T’Pau as
though she were an usher. Do only the male Vulcans go into heat? What about the females? Is T’Pring typical of Vulcan brides-to-be?
If she is typical of Vulcan women, then Vulcan is a matriarchal society. T’Pau’s presence as high priestess favors a matriarchal image.
Why does Kirk take T’Pring’s challenge so lightly? He knows Spock’s strength. He also knows the air is hot and thin, yet he blithely
accepts challenge. As D.C. Fontana points out, the end of Act III does mirror the scene in “This Side of Paradise” where Spock holds
the chair over Kirk’s head in anger. Why compare birds and bees to a Vulcan? It is somewhat dehumanizing to compare the seven-year
cycle to the spawning habits of salmon. “But you’re not a fish,” notes Kirk. A better line is “no…nor am I a man.”
Gene Roddenberry, in a
long memo to Gene Coon of May 5, 1967 about Ted Sturgeon’s script, shows the
problem of this
episode’s critical exactitude:
This is a critical script for Star
Trek There should be no doubt in any-
one’s mind that the Spock characterization has caught the public’s fancy.
Carelessness now may see that character and characterization irreparably
damaged. This must be one of our best and most carefully thought out scripts of the year.
Gene Roddenberry was covert in
saying, “Let’s not rush this one!” However, the script is rushed and raises
more questions than it
answers. Among the ones already listed, does Spock think he has indeed killed his Captain or does he know of the doctor’s hypotrick?
It was Sturgeon’s original intention to see a victory over his own culture. However, then the apparently illogical “Jim” in sickbay would
not be a genuine surprise. There are grave doubts about the levels of character awareness throughout the episode. The original script
contained allusions to Spock’s awareness of what his mother and father must have experienced on Vulcan. This is omitted in the
screenplay. The “Vulcan heart” still remains ambivalent in “Amok time.” It was better written of in “Journey to Babel.”
The concept of Spock’s
half-breed ancestry pressures Spock into the ritual as does the “insanity” of
the blood rage. “Are thee
“human? Or are thee Vulcan?” “It is said thy Vulcan blood is thin.” He has to live up to his choice of Vulcan over human ancestry.
The play is the devil’s anvil in that it forges, through fire, the heritage of its participants. It is the fire and anvil of the god, Vulcan. Also
called Hephaestus or Mulciber, Vulcan (Volcanus) was the Roman god of fire, possibly son of Zeus and Hera who bore him to spite
Zeus’ spawning of Athena. Early accounts show him lame and ugly, cast out of heaven by Zeus. Like Spock, this Vulcan is a freak
partly rejected by his society and mocked (by T’Pring) for being a “legend,” i.e., not a viable male. Milton mentions Mulciber “Thrown
by angry Love/ Sheer o’er the crystal battlements;” until he fell onto Lemnos, the Aegean isle. He has been cast out. Besides the
obvious correlation of Vulcan and fire/heat, there is also the sense of Spock’s role as
cultural outcast and Vulcan as a
once renegade culture. The name refers to its uncivilized past and uncivilized
pon-far ritual. Death is
an obvious wedding guest and the hearth of coals has consumed many victims. Vulcan’s role as god of the forge is disputed. Edith
Hamilton (Mythology 34-5), stresses the “peace-loving god” who supported (with Athena) the crafts of civilization. “He was the
protector of smiths.” In this sense, Vulcan is a protector of civilization—the other side of Vulcan life, its road from coals and iron to
logical and academics. It is apparent that marriage brings out the worst in Vulcans. The Vulcan way is dualistic, possibly hypocritical.
Its emotions are evident in the ritual. Stonn stands there looking stoned, a scared “consort” for a women whose mortality is veiled in
liturgical nomenclature, but whose viciousness and volcanic hormonal life are evident in her disregard for life, human and Vulcan.
The passion is masked (like the butcher with the medieval axe) in euphemisms and euphemistic language. The Romans used to throw
fish into the fire lest Rome again be set afire. One doubts they used salmons or sturgeons. The lady is a tramp. Spock is glad to
have rid of her. Sharing in the pettiness, unfortunately, is Kirk who is afraid to turn down the challenge because of politics—T’Pau
must have a positive picture of the captain. She is Vulcan, “the only person to ever turn down a seat in the Federation Council.”
Somewhere in the circle of fire, love is never the real issue. It is lost in the looking glass. Love should be kinetic, but T. S. Eliot
sees the banality of empty ritual:
Love is itself unmoving,,
Only the cause and end of movement,
Timeless, and unending
Except in the aspect of time
Caught in the form of limitation
Between un-being and being
--(“Burnt Norton” V).
The entire ceremony
has put civilization on hold, stripping its veneer, revealing the hell within
every proud man. The love is,
as Kahlil Gibran describes, the bird worth the “sword hidden among his pinions.” Love is pain:
For even as love crowns you so shall
he crucify you. Even as he is for
your growth, so is he for your pruning
(The Prophet, 11).
The “Amok Time” is man stripped of
his reason. It is shocking, dehumanizing, de-Vulcanizing, and sadistic. The
failure of the Vulcan
mystique lies in not revealing a consistent ritual of love. All it shows is a ritual of death. Reason has nothing to do with love. Spock,
a proud Vulcan, is stripped of his shields; his screens are down. To be in rut is not a logical phenomenon. The failure of Vulcan love
shows a heart of fire, a soul of ashes. It is human friendship and Spock’s human half that avoid tragedy. For Kirk, friendship means
defying Komack and Starfleet’s orders:
K: I can’t let Spock die, can I, Bones? And he will if we go to Altair.
I owe him my life a dozen times over. Isn’t that worth a career?
He’s my friend.
What the empty Vulcan heart fails
to do for Kirk and for Spock, human emotion and human reason succeed in doing:
to establish a
friendship that will transcend the service into life itself. It is a form of reciprocity. Spock notes, “Almost an…insanity which you
would no doubt find…distasteful.” Kirk responds, “Should I? You’ve been patient with my kinds of madness.” “The male is
accompanied by his closest friends,” and they are both human beings, not Vulcans. McCoy forms the triad, knowing the significance
of the honor Spock is bestowing upon him. For McCoy, “I shall be honored, sir.” These few words contain life and love in its
transcendental meanings. The Vulcans have only empty rituals, and pretty, but meaningless, words:
T’Pring: Spock, parted from me and never parted; never and always,
touching and touched; I await you.
And this is Koon-ut-Kal-if-fee, a
mystique and a mystery without loving essence. It is an oversimplification to
see the pon-far
as a form of theatrical, Aristotelian catharsis where spectacle purges one of excess spleen. McCoy’s sardonic response to hearing
that Vulcans killed to win their mates, is, “And they still go mad at this time. Perhaps the price they pay for having no emotions the
rest of the time.” Spock is “in Festival.” The “red hour” has struck. Stripped of self-control, he is a thug, a rapacious pariah, and
he hates himself and his culture for the depersonalization Vulcan imposes on its males. He is ruled by his blood fever as he attempts
to kill his Captain with the lupa, then chokes him (“killing”) with the ahn woon, oldest of Vulcan’s weapons. “The combat is to the
death,” but it should be to life. How can a proudly logical civilization want to retain murder as the essence of its contemporary
marriages? The symbolism of the circle (broken and unbroken) is mythically significant, as are the fire, the bells, the anvil, and the
oppressive heat. Vulcan is Spock’s descent into hell, like Orpheus in the underworld, his burden a love of mortal coil and eroticism.
Spock ascends from hell, reborn to humanity, still by the Vulcan instinct that forced him into insanity, that stripped him of self-control.
Female rejection is still a male’s greatest fear when approaching a woman. Impotency and castration anxiety are ancient phobias.
T’Pring is no Spring. A beautiful name, a heartless “guttersnipe.” The air of self-control, whether Vulcan or human, is part of the
male ego and the male consciousness. T’Pring’s speech seems out of character, but it reveals her logical control of males in her area
…I did not want to be the consort of a legend. But by the laws of our
people, I could only ‘divorce’ you by the Kal-if-fee. There was also
Stonn…if you, Captain were victor, he would want me, and so I would
Vulcan has forged a civilization
of manic repressions out of its forge. Are theses the best bipeds its soul
could mold? The Hellenic
thinking of Vulcan is stripped from the male; he is left with the Hebraic fire ritual of human sacrifice and mortal combat. Spock will
leap from Laputa, and, like Gulliver, spend his life in the barn with the rational horses in a world replete with Yahoos and troglytes.
Better the Yahoos, for nowhere else is Spock more needed. Spock’s warning to Stonn implies lust is not the best motivation in
choosing a companion:
Spock: She is yours. After a time, you may find that having is not so satisfying
a thing as wanting. It is not logical…but it is often true…[to T’Pau]
Live long, T’Pau and prosper.
T’Pau: Live long and prosper, Spock.
Spock: I shall do neither. I have killed my Captain…and my friend.
In deference to the practical
wisdom of T’Pau, she feels Spock’s pain and knows Starfleet will be merciless on
Spock. She forced
Starfleet to give The Enterprise permission to divert to Vulcan. She made Komack an offer he couldn’t refuse. This is also a clever
way of keeping Kirk out of the brig.
Ted Sturgeon, in his
early version of “Amok Time,” wanted a Spock whose humanism awakens before
tragedy results. This
final level of Spock’s awareness of McCoy’s “neural paralyzer” is questionable. Spock admits murdering the Captain: “When I
thought I had killed the Captain, I found that I lost all interest in T’Pring. The madness was gone.” One might argue that this argument
is strewn with gaping defects in logic. Act IV, as Robert H. Justman insisted, was weak; it still is. Some positive effects of the
challenge are that Spock (according to Sturgeon’s original draft) “is now forever released from that cold standoffishness with which he
has dealt with them [parents,
Kirk, McCoy] in the past.” Spock’s anger at his amok condition is not well
dramatized. Ideally he
becomes more of a person. Sturgeon also insists that T’Pring “with all her intensity, resourcefulness, and daring,…had overlooked
one simple thing. That item ‘Spock’ and item ‘Kirk’ would turn out to be people—men with lives and feelings of their own, men
with courage and bravery.” This is assumed, but not always dramatized.
“Amok Time” adds
little positive insight into the Vulcan mystique. What the Vulcans are thinking
is not communicated. Their
cultural preferences are cloudy. The Vulcan heart is empty; the Vulcan soul is buried under Vulcan’s smithy-fire. The planet is hot.
The air is thin. The inhabitants are only half-alive. The episode is important for what is not there:
This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stony images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star
(T. S. Eliot “The Hollow Men”).
(finis “Amok Time”)
"The Menagerie” and “The Cage”
…We are such stuff
As dreams are made of, and our little Life
Is rounded with a sleep
--(The Tempest IV, i:156-58).
The history of Gene
Roddenberry’s first pilot and its censorship as too metaphysical for American
audiences are well known.
The creator of Star Trek was not about to let the cage become its own prisoner, so Trek acquired its only two-part episode
converted to fit the show’s new captain and Spock’s new role and increasing popularity. “The Menagerie” is the frame; “The Cage”
is the picture. As scripts, each play is separate; but “The Menagerie” is the artistic and fictional setting for “The Cage,” and it has
Spock as its narrator-participant. Indeed, “The Menagerie” is the Song of Spock. It is about the misuse of reason. Spock is a liar,
a thief, a traitor, and a kidnapper. A Vulcan is not supposed to attribute Spock’s human behavior to his human half. McCoy is only
half-correct when saying, “just the fact he’s a Vulcan means he’s incapable of telling a lie,” that he is half-human and “that half is
completely submerged!” To be caught acting like us, even thinking like us, would completely embarrass him.” McCoy misses the
point. Spock’s Vulcan logic plans the entire scenario, and his human half (born to deceit) carries it out. Mendez suspects conspiracy
based on Spock’s years of loyalty to his former captain. He is so presumptuous as to assume Captain Pike’s will as his own. Loyalty
to Pike means a good plan but bad thinking. For Spock, the end quantifies the means. St. Thomas Aquinas would never approve
of such immorality. Spock’s scenario is also conventionally illegal and a dereliction of duty. It is also an act of total self-sacrifice.
The Spock of “The Menagerie” is not
the Spock who lays down his life
for his Captain (Kirk) many times, and who pays the greatest price in “The Wrath
of Khan.” This
is the mind like a “steel trap,” but not nauseatingly aloof or metaphysical, but loyal and altruistic. There is a dualism between reason
as morality and reason as legality. Morality is rarely rational; legality (not justice) always is. What Spock does is enough to lock
him away for a millennium.
For reason to be
thought without action is unreasonable. But the conscious reality is a series
of crimes that are truly wrong.
The Starfleet system provides no legal vehicle (means) to Spock’s end (a dream of illusion for Pike). Therefore he negates the system
at strategic points, uses the contravened system as vehicle for his illusion, which means illusion for Pike. Reason becomes illusion,
its means and its end. Spock says to the immobile Pike, “YOU know why I’ve come, Captain. It’s only six days away at maximum
warp, and I have it well planned.” Commodore Mendez, during the court-martial proceedings, also agrees: “He’s got you.
Whatever he’s up to, he’s planned it well.” Spock’s brain must share the thinking of Captain Pike whose thoughts can find no external
manifestations except the light for no or yes. Knowing his Captain thoroughly is vital to audience acceptance of Spock’s evil deeds.
He becomes the master gamester, an upside-down joker, a manipulator, an inside-the-head trader. The focus is the dichotomy
between Pike’s brain and his useless body:
McCoy: We’ve learned to tie into every organ in the human body except
one. The brain! And the brain is what life is all about…that man
[Pike] can think any thought we can, hope, love, dream as much
as we can…but he can’t reach out and no one can reach in.
Pike is practically in a coma over
Spock’s goal. He does not approve of Spock’s plan as he keeps blinking “No.”
about Pike’s mental abilities is a key to understanding
why Talos IV is Pike’s final “yes.” He has a full mental life. Illusion would provide a paralife now impossible.
Spock’s reason is
deceitful. According to Starfleet duties, Spock cannot act for personal ends or
gain. The same Spock who
will not release the helm while his father is dying engages in reckless fraud in “The Menagerie.” His purpose and goal are to return
Captain Pike to Talos IV and its world of illusion, to accede to illusion as a necessary reality to countermand Pike’s vegetable reality
as a total invalid. For Spock, the journey, for Kirk, it is his career. For Pike, it is “his life.” These goals are not clear until the fourth
act of “The Cage,” and their acceptability then is questionable. It is possible that Spock is simply subjective in his thinking:
To love, and bear; to hope, till Hope creates
From its own wreck the thing it contemplates;
Neither to change nor falter nor repent:
This, like the glory, Titan! Is to be
Good, great and joyous, beautiful and free;
This is alone Life, Joy, Empire and Victory
--(Percy Shelley Prometheus Unbound IV:573-78).
“The Menagerie” has,
as a frame (context), the role of giving the present some causality in terms of
Pike’s successor and in
terms of the science officer Kirk has inherited along with Pike’s former command. Spock is exonerated for his actions (no death
penalty, no changes contemplated) because of the “historic importance of Captain Pike in space exploration.” Kirk, after seeing
all the transmissions (“The Cage”) from Talos IV, sees “this tendency you’ve been showing lately toward flagrant emotionalism.”
Spock’s reply has some truth in it: “I see no reason to insult me, sir. I believe I’ve been completely logical about the whole affair.”
Is there a logical reason or final cause? Yes—to free Pike’s mind from his imprisoning body. He is totally
dependent on mechanical life
support, inducing a battery driven heart. His humanity is virtually lost in the
restrictive prison of his
vegetative body. He must be reintegrated into a wholistic character. This requires loss of mechanical restrictions. There is logic
in Spock having the computers run the ship. “The Cage” is designed to answer Kirk’s question, “Why? Why does Spock want
to take us to that one forbidden world in all the galaxy?” Causality? To “forget regulation. It’s your life.” But is Spock simply
replacing one zoo for another? Causality also includes the keeper and the Talosians who are deeply concerned for his new reality.
Art creates illusions of reality—that is the chasm of Gene Roddenberry’s story. The mind has its magic. It even enjoys its own
illusions--what Lawrence Ferlinghetti called a “Coney Island of the Mind.”
Spock has been quite
logical in his means, his logical illegalities which are well thought out for an
obsessed human. The
chessmaster has a formidable list of wrong doings. It is “well-planned,” but it is not “right.” The taboos include misuses of logic.
lies, and falsification of a subspace message asking the Enterprise to divert to the Starbase (Mendez insists that “it’s impossible");
Spock sends a false message to the Enterprise with new orders. He has a tape of Kirk’s voice giving Captain’s confirmation of
Starfleet’s orders! The deceit is compounded. Next, Spock tells Sulu the mission secret. He lies. Next, Spock sends a bogus
message to get McCoy to return to the ship. Next, Spock beams Pike aboard the Enterprise. Next, Spock commandeers the
Enterprise. This is mutiny. Next, Spock fakes a Kirk message to McCoy “not to disturb Captain Pike with any questions” and
“simply take good care of him” and “follow Spock’s instructions to the letter.” Spock deceives the crew into believing he has
been given command of the Enterprise. Next, Spock orders that “no action” be taken by Sulu about a
starbase shuttlecraft following
Enterprise. Next, Spock has precipitated Kirk’s chase and the problem of fuel
supply: “shuttlecraft is
already past point of safe return.” Spock has foreseen that Kirk will die in the shuttlecraft rather than seeming to accede to Spock’s
act of piracy:
Kirk: Once we stepped on deck, Spock would be finished…forever.
Mendez: He’s dead if he makes it to Talos IV. Why should he want to
get Pike there? The command’s report stated Talos contained
absolutely no practical benefits to mankind.
Kirk: Spock would have some logical reason for going there.
Mendez: Or there’s one other possibility. Spock’s gone mad.
Next logical illegality: Spock
brings the shuttlecraft aboard with Mendez and Kirk aboard. Tape “Able Seven
Baker” is activated.
Spock has foreseen all the moves and countermoves of the adversary. He is the chessmaster and Fu Manchu. Next, Spock submits
to arrest: “I’ll make no trouble,” as the ship runs on previously programmed computer tapes. The computer is unable to comply to
“disengage from helm” because, next, Spock has connected the life support systems to helm control. Ergo, he has illegally
commandeered a starbase shuttlecraft. Kirk is helpless on his own ship. He is not in control—the Captain’s nightmare. Next
move is the rise of a “hearing” (later called a court-martial) to keep Kirk from regaining control of the ship before it reaches
Talos IV or goes into the control of the Talosians. Next, Spock forces the hearing by reminding Mendez and Kirk that there
are three men of command rank available for the court-martial. Pike is still on the active duty roster. Next is Spock’s use of a
legal technicality. He waits for the prosecution to introduce a question that will permit the defense to enter heretofore inadmissible
evidence. Mendez asks “why”:
Mendez: Why?? What does it accomplish to go there? I want to know why!
Spock: Are your comments a part of the reward, sir?
Mendez: Yes, it’s on the record!
Spock: Thank you, sir. Request monitor screen be engaged.
Mendez: For what purpose?
Spock: To comply with the request you just made, sir. That I explain the
importance of going to Talos IV.
Kirk: By asking him “why,” you opened the door to any evidence he
wishes to present…apparently what he had in mind.
has given the basis for the play within the play—Pike’s story (i.e., “The
Cage”). It is at this juncture that “The Cage” is
interpolated into “The Menagerie”—as legal evidence and, for the writer, the fictional basis of using the original series pilot as a
regular Trek episode reframed to fit into the first season and new formats. The past of thirteen years ago becomes, through fact as
illusion, a present truth. It also gives Captain Pike a chance to see Spock’s reasoning and his purpose. Pike will remember Vina
and his past wholeness. Starfleet has no further use for him in his current cage—a broken body and an inflexible and unimaginative
bureaucracy. The audience now sees “the actual events” of thirteen years ago. In this way, Kirk gets to know his predecessor and
his science officer. The story does give Kirk a necessary perceptive for his career. Next, in titillating Pike with images of the past,
Spock is able to gain Pike’s “yes” vote to continue the screening, thus rescuing Spock from his promise to release the ship to manual
control if Pike so wishes—a fascinating act of foresight on Spock’s part. This trickery is based not on luck, but on experimental
knowledge of Pike’s character. Spock gambles and wins. Spock’s next breach occurs when he disobeys the orders of no contact
with Talos IV, because the screen’s images are now under control of The Keeper. Spock also brings Kirk’s career into jeopardy
by making him accessory to the contact with Talos IV. Next, Spock disobeys Mendez’ order to return the ship to manual control.
His reasons are Kirk’s career and Pike’s life. Spock pleads guilty to all charges, but he controls the ship. As the court-martial ruse
wanes, Spock has yielded control to “The Keeper,” thereby using “no choice” as his excuse for the future circumstances.
Thus, Kirk learns of the nature of illusion and its effects upon his
predecessor. The third and fourth acts of the frame
(“The Menagerie”) for “The Cage” consist of occasional past to present movements to allow Mendez-Kirk-Pike reactions to the past.
They react and interpret, especially Kirk, who is much like Pike in personality. All other points and resolutions lie in Gene Roddenberry’s
"The Cage” as the picture within the frame. From the descendented world of “The Menagerie,” the world of Shelleyan imagelessness
Keen as are the arrows
of that silver sphere,
In the white dawn clear
Until we hardly see—we feel that it is there
(“To a Sky-Lark” 1820).
(finis: “The Menagerie”)
“The Cage” is
Gene Roddenberry’s paeon to Percy Shelley’s Platonic world of intellectual
beauty. It is a song to the element
of air, for a world ready for a rebirth. It is a world of spirit, full of the strengths and weaknesses of pure mentality. It is a study in
the nature of the creative experience of the artist. It is a mild treatise on the theory of art. It is Gene Roddenberry’s extremely
personal vision as an artist, as a man, of the nature of man and of the overall human experience. The play creates an illusion of reality
while exemplifying the nature of illusion through human dramatization. The play is visionary and prophetic. It contains the cosmic
vision that future Trek's would continue to dramatize. As the writer himself says of “The Cage” and its vision of man: “For us, no limits.”
Life, as Percy Shelley imagined and imaged it, was like a painted veil that stood between the man and the experience. Keep the image
of life in the mind; avoid the unknowns beyond the veil:
Lift not the painted veil which those who live
Call Life: though unreal shapes be pictured there,
And it but mimic all we would believe
With colours idly spread,--behind, lurk Fear
And Hope, twin Destinies; who even weave
Their shadows, o’er the chasm, sightless and
--(“Sonnet: ‘Lift Not the Painted Veil’” 1818).
Illusion is one way to avoid the
reality which Shelley imagines as twin destinies: hope and fear. Shelley would
rather live the world
of the image, because fear would desroy the pristine, spiritual beauty of the image of hope. Life meant mortality, sickness, unhappiness,
disappointment and death. The beauty of the mental image knows no flesh; thus it is immortal. The illusion of life is preferable to the
reality of life. Or life itself is an illusion, its reality questionable. The image perseveres because the intellect is spiritual and,
therefore, can never
die. Illusion can be art, or
illusion can be escapism (not art). Pike has been victimized by delta rays
while barely Kirk’s age.
Illusion can make images, past experiences, or dreams realities that the mind may live and experience. But illusion, if not separated
in the consciousness from reality, is a falsification that means the death of creative intelligence. More intelligence can mean less
action, less understanding, less productivity. The Talosians, with their giant heads and atrophied bodies (Gene Roddenberry casts
three females in the Talosian roles) have not the ability to repair broken machinery or to raise food. They have no lives of their own
and live in a parasitic world where their pasture is getting cheap thrills from others’ dreams and emotions. Their bodies are
becoming vestigial. They need specimens from other planets and races to live vicariously the illusions of others. They are mental
chessmasters, but have forgotten the middle and end game. They are users, manipulators. The cages in which they keep their
specimens are “painted veils” through which they never pass; they never lift the veil into reality itself. They are voyeurs, image-makers.
Their motivation, unlike Shelley’s, is to drain life from others. A cage means limits, means flesh, mortality, time present. To some
extent all beings have cages; some are imprisoned by dictators, some are imprisoned by their own fears, i.e., there are no real bars.
Technically, illusion is an act of conscious reason; it produces fantasy; it is a falsification of productive life, a falsified escape into
dreams, reveries, etc…much like Swift’s Laputians and the scientists in the Academy of Projectors (Gulliver’s Travels: Bk IV).
Fantasy is logic
longing to be free of the now’s reality. It means that a consciousness is not
integrated. A man must be free
to pursue truth and beauty, or like Pike, to escape from a death or life situation. Man is the only creature (that one knows) who
dreams as part of its
consciousness. “Dream is an
elaborate form of continuous free association, in which the free flow of
phantasy acquires the material
reality of an environment” (Caudwell 176). Consciousness is freedom or freedom is the awareness of necessity (Engels). Dreams are
conscious. “In dream the ego experiments in action upon reality (Caudwell 182). As a dreamer, Pike with the illusions of dreams,
dickers with conscious realities, possibly deciding on actions based upon a dream. With the Talosians, the dreams are never theirs;
they emanate from the cages. Gene Roddenberry’s position, at the time of drafting “The Cage” was that illusion was better than reality.
This position of “better” may be moralistic, certainly subjective. If illusion is the only reality, there is no “better.” Again, illusion must
be linked to freedom of action. If Captain Pike is to be returned to a cage, there is no true freedom except the freedom to be enslaved
or to dream of freedom.
Illusion is of the nature of consciousness. Illusion can involve dreams,
daydreams, random associational thinking (Locke).
It can also involve meditation or thoughts of spiritual transcendence. Pike can self-introvert and thoughts will “beam down” from his
head into apparent environment. An illusion can be the substitute for reality itself. The term Talos, from Greek mythology, refers
to a man of bronze (with an Achilles heel whence he bled to death), an inventor and guardian of Crete, its secrets and legends.
He often pulled people to him and leaped with them into the fire where they were roasted alive (Frazier, 326); he was often imaged
as a man with a bull’s head. Talos would imply the opposite of freedom. It would be death through image or illusion. Talos IV is
kept as a forbidden planet because of the Talosian power of illusion. Dr. Boyce, Captain Pike’s physician and “bartender,” sees
illusions on Talos as the
death of the descendantal world of
phenomena, the NOT-ME outside the mind. Talos IV warrants the only death
on the books of Starfleet because, according to Boyce, “Their power of illusion is so great we can’t be sure of anything we do,
anything we see.” As the first survivor (Act I) warned Pike about the secret of illusion: “there’s a reason for our condition, but
we’ve had some doubt if Earth is ready to learn of entire civilizations, world dominance, war. The Talosians themselves live
underground because their planet was devastated by war and is only now becoming habitable on the surface. The Keeper also
knows that visitors would soon learn their power of illusion and use it to destroy.
In Act I of “The
Cage,” the play explores Captain Pike’s preconscious disposition as it emerges
into full consciousness.
These predispositions will later form the basis of the illusions The Keeper forces Pike to re-live. Pike is a “complex personality
with a sensibility and warmth which the responsibility and loneliness of command often force him to hide” (writer’s notes). The
problem is fatigue, a sense of imminent “burn-out,” a need for rest. This command fatigue, also Kirk’s trait, brings self-doubt.
Pike’s thoughts to Dr. Boyce all appear in subsequent acts in the cage. As sources for illusions. Boyce is very much like McCoy:
Boyce: Chris, you set standards for yourself no one could meet!
You treat every person on board like a human, except yourself.
And now, you’re tired…
Pike: I’m tired. You bet! I’m tired of being responsible for two hundred
and three lives. I’m tired of
deciding which mission is too risky and
which isn’t, and who is going
on the landing party, and who doesn’t.
Like Kirk, Pike is an achiever, a
perfectionist whose standards are high. Boyce suggests a “rest leave,” while
Pike is considering
resigning. His memoirs include Rigel, going home; he dreams of being an Orion trader dealing in "green animal-women, slaves.”
A man either lives life the way it
happens to him, meets it head-on
and licks it…or he turns his
back on it and starts to wither away.
Illusion may be the escape
mechanism in retreating from life, but “there are always alternatives,” with
illusion as independent shore leave.
He is tired of life on the other side of Shelley’s painted veil. Pike is Tennyson’s Ulysses, “to strive to seek, to find and not to yield.”
Act I establishes Pike’s command side and his personal side. Pike is kidnapped by the Talosians as Vina calls him “a perfect choice”
for “The Cage” as her Adam. Pike evolves to where reason becomes a transcendental truth. What he will find in “rest” will mean
The curtains of Yesterday drop down, the
curtains of Tomorrow roll up; but Yes-
terday and Tomorrow both are. Pierce
through the Time-element, glance into the
--(Carlyle Sartor Resartus II, viii).
Act II of “The Cage”
takes Pike into his cage with Vina where the Talosians begin their experiments.
The second act deals
with the nature of consciousness, of what is real, and with the Talosians’ misuse of reason. With Pike, one sees what Shelley sees—
a no now, a no what is, a dualism, a temporary, fractured consciousness:
We look before and after,
And pine for what is not—
Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught—
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought
(“To A Sky-Lark” 86-90).
Pike is exposed to a new concept
of reality, one different from the fatigue of command, but one challenging
Pike’s freedom of
consciousness. It is not he who is in control, and yet the source of
the illusions are from within.
Vina defines reality as an epidermal, nerve sensation. It is a reality if you
feel it; do not question
it any further. As Vina says later, “They own me”:
It doesn’t matter what you call this! You’ll feel it, that’s what matters.
You’ll feel every moment of whatever happens to you!
Pike’s first significant illusory
experience is a reenactment of the life and death struggle against the Kalar (Gaior?)
on Rigel 7.
The Talosians add Vina as an incentive, as someone to protect and to rescue. It is the illusion of chivalry, illusion as its own
motivation, the male’s instinct to protect. Pike feels angry, surprised and used. He does not understand his role as seed
specimen (breeding stock) until the end of this act. The sight of Vina is in a memory of an experience of two weeks ago.
Pike seeks names, reasons, when it is the illusion that is physically and palpably concrete. The Kalar will kill him. Pike will
experience pain if he does not repeat the video replay, the scenario of memory.
Pike: But why you again?
Vina: Quick, if you attack while it’s not looking.
Pike: But it’s only a dream!
Vina: You have to kill him as you did here before.
Pike: You can tell the jailers I won’t go along with it. I’m not an animal
performing for its supper.
Pike objects to his brain being
controlled by life forms who have a zoo keeper’s mentality. Are illusions
things? Why should one
be frightened by an illusion, because an illusion is not reality. With mind control, the thought makes the image a cause and/or an
effect. The Kalar does in illusion exactly what it did on Rigel 7. Pike asks, “Why should an illusion be frightened?” He does not
accept Vina as a real woman. She is frightened at the Kalar because “that’s the way you [Pike] imagined it.” Therefore Vina
conforms to Pike’s fantasy of how she would react. The
Talosians are stressing Vina’s
reality, hoping for affection. She will perform as he fantasizes she will. Her
only limitations are his
veils, his mental limitations that he places upon Vina before he accepts her as reality. He is much as Melville describes Narcissus:
Surely all this is not without meaning. And still deeper the meaning of that story
of Narcissus, who because he could not grasp the tormenting, mild image he saw
in the fountain, plunged into it and was drowned. But that same image, we ourselves
see in all rivers and oceans. It is the image of the ungraspable phantom of life; and
this is the key to it all
--(H. Melville, Moby Dick, Ch. 1).
As Bishop George Berkeley noted,
“esse est percipi,”--being is as it is perceived. Consciousness is a
point of view, a form
of sensory perception. “In dream the ego experiments in action upon reality” (Caudwell, 182).
Two realities come into question for Captain—Vina and the Talosians. (Wm. Blake “Mental things are alone real.”)
Pike: Why are you here?
Vina: To please you.
Pike: Are you real?
Vina: As real as you wish.
Pike: No. No. That’s not any answer. I’ve never met you before…
never ever imagined you.
Vina: Perhaps they made me out of dreams you’ve forgotten.
Vina has a selfish stake in this
game. She is lonely. Pike is the only other human being (male) around. She
keeps many truths to
herself and uses them to her logistical advantage. She is narcissistic and greedy. Her reality is not convincing until The Keeper
withdraws her illusion of beauty at play’s end. She has been to the ball park. She is effortlessly seductive, while Pike is still
dutifully skeptical. She has no morals because “They own me.” She has only expediency
and fear of punishment for not
succeeding in seducing Pike or in entertaining the emotionally dead Talosian
audience who watch
Man’s mind is a
vast sensorium for illusion, a self-falsification, reason without action. After
the Rigel 7 illusion, Pike is
Infuriated by external control of his mind. Vina, in return for a promise of a restful dream, reveals the nature of illusion. The
Talosians are examples of Dr. Korby’s theory of anthropology which equated freedom of movement with the growth of the human
spirit. After a war that devastated the surface of the planet, the Talosians moved underground, sacrificing freedom for a mechanistic
culture of metaphysics and Laputian speculation. “They concentrated on developing their mental power.” The negative effects of
existence based on vicious illusions of caged creatures are so negative that it is hard to justify Pike’s return to Talos IV. Will he too
be shedding one cage for another cage? Are they not both prisons? One is physical, the other mental. Illusion is a life of some pills
and drugs. Illusion destroyed the Talosian culture, yet does not illusion present a false freedom? The mind can be a trap just as the
body can be. Illusion is a misuse of reason and the Talosians were and remain “bad reasoners.” Illusion is a self-concerning vortex,
a black hole of the mind, a carnival at the back door to hell:
But they’ve found it’s a trap. Like a narcotic because when dreams
become more important than reality, you give up travel, building,
creating, you even forget how to repair the machines left behind by
your ancestors. You just sit living and reliving other lives left behind
in the thought records…Or probing the minds of zoo specimens.Talos IV’s zoo is a theatre where parasitical minds create illusions, react and feel others’ emotions because they have no spiritual lives
Columbia crash. The source always
remains one’s own mind whence come one’s thoughts, memories and experiences.
on form, and the illusions, as Boyce warns, are “just as real and solid as this table top. And just as impossible to ignore.” Inevitably,
one becomes one’s own illusion, i.e., one wonders whether there is a reality outside the mind. If all is illusion, does Vina exist outside
the Talosians’ illusions? She says “I’m a woman! As real and as human as you are. We’re…like Adam and Eve.” It is possible that
Vina requires Pike to ascertain the existence of the self separate from Talosian mass illusion. She may not exist…really! By altering
choice, “They can’t actually make you do anything you don’t want to,” but they can alter the “want” and the “want to.” She never
leaves the cage. Creation can be a madman’s vision:
Ever, as before, does Madness remain a mysterious-terrific, altogether
infernal boiling up of the Nether Chaotic Deep, through this fair-painted
Vision of Creation, which swims thereon, which we name the Real
(Carlyle Sartor Resartus: II, viii).
In the Final Draft (7-8-64) of
“The Cage,” Gene Roddenberry intends to set forth Captain Pike as a superior
man, one who may
maintain identity as separate from illusion, who may maintain the Me-Not-Me creative dialectic. The MS. notes, “The more
Intelligent the man, the more colorful and pleasant the variety of his dreams.” However, at least, one Talosian must have been
intelligent, but a civilization was vaporized. What about illusion in the warped mind that has lost its self-sense to the illusion, such
as Lord Garth? Also, as noted earlier, Roddenberry states that, “Illusion is so much superior to reality.” This is illogical and invalid.
The Talosians were at war due to illusion. Ideally, illusion should coexist as subjectivism exists with objectivism. Pike did not see
any superiority in his cage on Talos IV. Then why does he choose to return to another cage? Illusion is a narcotic, a quick mental
fix, to get a person over a hill in life. Roddenberry’s
lazy Laputians are like the
characters in Swift’s academy of Projectors, a misuse of reason. They too are
parasitical, perhaps materially parasitical. The creator/writer notes:
They have become so totally dependent on the minds of others that it
will ultimately destroy them as effectively as war and pestilence once
destroyed their civilization on the surface
(Gene Roddenberry First Draft 7-8-64).
In the third act of
the two part episode, the second major illusion is lived—the earth-rich
pack-forest dream, a wish Pike
expressed to Boyce to find rest. This is a truer illusion because rest is something Pike cannot do, and “a person’s strongest charms
are about things he can’t do. This illusion and the subsequent one where Pike is a trader in Orion slave girls are about things he
has not done and “can’t” do because of his extreme sense of duty and personal Stocicism. Vina is frantic to please Pike, largely
because she fears Talosian punishment. Pike shows more interest in his horse, “Tango” and in noticing that emotions like hate are
alien to the Talosians. Vina’s line, “Do you want some coffee, dear?” is enough to conjure barbaric emotions and to realize one is
still in that cage. The dream of rest (“home”) is in response to Pike’s first act conversation with Boyce: “I was telling the ship’s
doctor how much I wanted…something very different from what we have here…escape from reality, life without frustrations, no
responsibilities.” This is the blind idealism, the trick of illusion. This illusion helps to explain Pike’s decision to stay on Talos IV at
play’s end. “You either live life, bruised, skinned knees and all…or you turn your back on it and start dying.” The people of Talos
chose the second path. Pike needs rest; the Talosians need Pike’s need for rest as illusion. One is sure Pike is installed with
Vina’s “my, it turned out a beautiful day, didn’t it?” This is an illusion for Willie Loman, not for a captain. She never complains
of her “headaches.” Understanding the mentality of the zookeepers helps Pike to concentrate on incomprehensible hate.
He rejects the
narcotic effect of illusion, and opts for human struggle against slavery. Vina’s line shows a sad resignation to a used-user:
Yes, they can’t read…through primitive emotions. But you can’t…keep
it up for long enough. I’ve tried. They…keep at you and…at you year
after year tricking…and punishing and…they’ve won. They own me. I
know you must hate me for that.
Adam is made of Eve’s dream. The
attraction is based on reading the minds of Pike and Vina to determine
preference for a mate.
They read my thoughts, my feelings, my dreams of what would be the perfect
man. That’s why they picked you! I can’t help but love you! And they expect
you to feel the same way.
Therefore they also know that Pike was attracted to Vina when he first saw her in the survivors’ camp.
The “home” illusion
and the Orion trader illusion (“nice place you have here, Mr. Pike!”) are “like
secret dreams a bored ship
captain might have” with Vina as the green Orion dancer, seductress, terrifying evil. Pike runs from this illusion because it may be a
repugnant immorality: “Wouldn’t you say that is worth a man’s soul?” The earth trader asks as he munches his grapes in this very
Bacchanalian scene. Illusion is still bothersome to Pike because it involves himself either as a slave or as a slaver (or both). Freedom
is still a consciousness of necessity. Pike cannot morally accommodate the sin of slavery, of enslavement. The tired captain seeks
rest for his weary soul:
…the Clay must now be vanquished, or vanquish—should be carried of
the spirit into grim Solitudes, and these fronting the temple do grimmest
battle with him; defiantly setting him at naught, till he yield and fly…
(T. Carlyle Sartor Resartus 11, ix).
whose theory of intellectual beauty is paralleled in “The Cage,” finds in
Roddenberry’s award winning first
pilot a kindred spirit: “We want the creative faculty to imagine that which we know; we want the generous impulse to act that
which we imagine; we want the poetry of life: our calculations have outrun conception: we have eaten more than we can digest
(The Defence of Poetry 1821). In Act IV, it is a convincing display of deeply rooted human emotion, its barbarism, that insists
on freedom from the cage of illusion. In “The Cage,” when first presented, illusion is a rest, a Pike “refreshed” as Dr. Boyce had
prescribed. However, Talos IV becomes the only forbidden planet in the galaxy because man would learn the power of illusion
and might destroy others and themselves. The Talosian is left, damned by its own metaphysics and sadistic predilections. In
“The Menagerie,” illusion is “life” for Pike and “career” for Kirk. Spock’s own scenario as “Keeper” for Captain Pike takes Pike
back to his cage with his “yes.” If Pike is returned, he may again remain his zoo specimen status as Adam to Vina/Eve. Then all
Pike has done is substitute one form of cage for another cage. In “The Menagerie,” Talos IV is a compromise: legally, morally,
and artistically. Evil begets a misuse of reason, the illusion of freedom. The Keeper’s voice tells Kirk that “Captain Pike is welcome
to live with us, unfettered by his physical body.” General Order 7 is suspended with “no action contemplated against Spock.” The
end justifies the means. Talos IV is the best a galaxy can do for Captain Pike, to give him an illusion of bodily freedom and
expression. But is it to be brain-bending by the parasitic Talosians? A rerun of a rerun? Or is Pike to be left to choose freely his
own illusions, to live in joy, in rest, in activity, in fuller humanity?
“The Keeper” and destroys the cage: “Try one more illusion…try anything at
all…I’ll break your neck.”
Vina shows mercy and fear. When Number One and Colt are
beamed into the cage, Pike has
three women from which to choose a mate. The inference in this last act is an
increasing respect for
Pike’s resourcefulness and for his superior mind. Number One cocks her phaser for a forced chamber explosion. Suicide before
slavery: “It’s wrong to create a whole race of humans to live as slaves.” The Talosians, by their illusions, have heightened human
need for freedom of movement and creativity:
The Keeper: The customs and history of your race show a unique hatred
of captivity. Even when it’s pleasant and benevolent, you
prefer death. This makes you too violent and dangerous a
species for our needs.
Certain species become more blind
and more naïve as they get more intelligent. Their knowledge exceeds their
wisdom. They become
more and more removed from objective thinking. The misuse of reason increases with intelligence. However, the question remains
as to what (if anything) the Talosians have learned about themselves and whether illusion will stop and productivity will begin. However,
at the end of “The Cage,” Vina opts to stay (she must) and her illusion of beauty is restored after her real, deformed self is shown.
The Keeper says: “She [Vina] has an illusion…and you [Pike] have reality. May you find your way as pleasant.” At the end of
“The Menagerie,” The Keeper says, “Captain Pike has an illusion and you [Kirk] have reality. May you find your way as pleasant.”
Kirk has now replaced Pike as the Keeper of reality. Pike has joined Vina as co-Keepers of illusion. Each has switched places;
each has entered a new cage. A cage is a cage, as illusion is pure subjection. It creates a parareality, which stands as Gene
Roddenberry’s world of art. As Caudwell notes, fantasy is inseparable from art, and he states that, “Man made a tremendous
strive forward when he injected the
dream into waking life, which
forced it to answer the categories of waking reality” (Illusion and Reality
183). Of such mental beauty
and its Platonic spirituality, Shelley once said:
Man were immortal and omnipotent,
Didst thou, unknown and awful as thou art,
Keep with thy glories train form state within his heart.
Thou messenger of sympathies,
That wax and wane in lovers’ eyes—
Thou—that to human thought art nourishment,
Like darkness to a dying flame!
Depart not as thy shadow be,
Like life and fear, a dark reality
(P. B. Shelley, “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty” St. 3, 1816).
Appendix notes on illusion
Illusion =/= imagination
Illusion == conscious act, mechanical in nature or in source (fantasy) self-imposed or externally induced (Talosians)
Illusion =/= lie
Aware illusion == escapism from physical reality : conscious act of reason
--Aware of reality (still in cage or in body) but no physical sensation of imprisonment.:
freedom ex. necessity, a “beaming out” of the cage by applied reason.
--Takes thought process
from extra-self reality>
Subjectivism (not objectivism) as only reality : me=me : it=me as projection of me.: It=me.: no it qua it.
(finis: “The Menagerie” and “The Cage”)
Chapter V: D--Man in Society: Dualism and Aparteid
Societal Separatism: The Self of Apartness
Given man in
contemporary society, dualism within a given social entity is the mainstay
social fabric of the human order.
Groups develop separate from the main cultural entity. They in turn create counter-cultural groups until a schism is created within
the once homogeneous cultural matrix. When Matthew Arnold says, “We mortal millions live alone,” the simple words denote the
insolvable antithesis that has become the contemporary lifestyle. While the search for unity remains the ideal, individuals meet in
societal separate groups in an effort for common ground and common action to negate the worst effects of modern self-consciousness
where alienation is a way of life; synthesis is the rarity amid fragmentation. Society is existentially in hell. Many of these intracultural
substructures have no meeting point, no nexus where contraries might create progression. Without interpenetration, differences remain
unrewarding statements. So a society may turn against itself, a societal separation within one matrix culture. Often, reason is used as
the rationalization for a new idealology. Other causes of separation are geography, racism, ethnicity, wealth, evolution. The society is
no longer unconscious of itself. Unconsciousness is health; consciousness is often disease. Endless “why’s” breed moral and physical
inertia. The tragic consequence depicted by literature is man’s alienation within his own world. As Bernard Murchland notes, “We
might also speak of ‘separation’ in this context. An alienated world is one in which the parts are indeed separated out, a world that
exhibits intractable forms of fragmentation and irreducible penalties” (The Age of Alienation 30). Or as Jean Paul Sartre notes
(Hegel also) “human reality is by nature an unhappy consciousness, without the possibility of surpassing its unhappy state”
Societal Separatism: Limits of logic
“The Cloud Minders”
(originally three terms) was originally conceived as a story of a society and a
union strike. However,
the original Margaret Armeic story was radically reused with changes still being made while screening. The story became more
structured in dramatic form (ex., the use of paired characters, i.e., foils) and the lines of difference in points of view became more
clearly drawn, while still showing the equalitarian effect of human differences once they are manifested by all parties to the dispute.
With the use of reason and physical force, differences begin to overlap and merge. The play is about the limits of logic to solve a
stratified, bifurcated society’s intraracial dispute. Both parties evolved from the same roots and ancestry. Logic created and helped
to rationalize class differences. In short, ideological dualism is societal suicide. It is a struggle of culture vs. anarchy, and when anarchy
(disruptions) exists, there is no culture. “The Cloud Minders” is a study in the logic of rebellion. The dualism is at least as old as Plato’s
dialogues, was very popular in medieval literature (largely a theological argument) and, with the incision of rationalism, became a
political, geographical matter. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the dualism of mind vs. body, of thought vs. reality, of subject
vs. object (Locke, Kant) has become a political and ideological reality.
There are two plagues
in this play. One is the botanical plague on Merak II where devegetation is
killing the planet’s oxygen
supply necessary to support animal life. The plague simply stresses the rational symbiotic relationship between plants and animals.
The illogic of separatism lies in the plague itself. On Ardana, the Troglytes mine zienite, the one substance that can halt the plague, i.e.,
a planet whose political structure is separatism (rationalized and
institutionalized) and which must
provide from only one faction the cure when Ardena has a plague of its own,
viz., the illogic of
separatism, societal dualism without progression. There is the cloud city of Stratos for intellectuals and artists. Then on the planet’s
surface, the Troglytes live a life of work mining zienite. The result is a complete separatism of work and leisure, of body and mind,
of art and artlessness. Stratos means low clouds and a stratified theory of politics, one of division. Stratos is “above”; Ardana is
“below”—symbolic postures of aloof intellectualism and lowly physical labor. The “head” is separated from the “body” of this
society. They are separated by geography, by space, and by prejudice. The dualism has made city dwellers paranoid and the
Troglytes rebellious. Both parties, ironically, are becoming more violent as both overreact to gain a goal (Stratos for Troglytes)
or maintain a status quo (Stratos for intellectuals). Both sides of the issue show revolt, and both sides are often revolting. To
some extent, both factions—whether through imperviousness or acquiescence—are causes of the separatism that Kirk and Spock
beam into unaware that Ardana is on the verge of anarchy and civil strife. In order to get that zienite, desperately needed, Kirk must
apply unusual diplomatic balm to settle the dispute if only to obtain the zeinite. This man-in-the-middle position almost absorbs Kirk
into the violence of separatism. Eventually, the illogic of violence can only be demonstrated to the Stratos dwellers and to the
Troglytes by the logic of violence, i.e., violence applies for a reasonable, peaceful end.
The goal of the
Troglytes (“trogs” for short) is a binary and reasonable one. As Vanna
concludes, “Until we have help in the
mines and our homes in the clouds.” The burdens and pleasures are to be borne by both parties. Droxine, in her picturesque naivete
states the theme, very Marxist in tone, that “the complete separatism of toil
and leisure has given Ardana this perfectly balanced
social system…why should we change it?” Dualism is separatism. This is the problem, begotten in time and institutionalized by
reason as logical and correct. In spite of the destruction of works of art on Stratos, Droxine still believes “We have completely
eliminated violence.” As Spock and Droxine acknowledge, the surface of the planet is “marred by violence” and so few “descend.”
Man rarely aspires downward, at least not while there is Swift’s island of Laputa hovering over a descendental world of mines and
Troglytes. For Spock, “To restrict one segment of the population to such hardship is unthinkable in an evolved culture.” In a take-out
from the First Draft of October 21, 1968, Spock sees the limitations to intellectuals of isolation from the real world in its totality:
“Has it never occurred to you that horizons bounded by clouds can be as limited as caverns?” If rephrased slightly, the lines should
have been retained. On Swift’s Laputa, people jump from the flying island for real conversation, real love, palpable experiences in
order to escape an island of inert thinkers and metaphysicians. Droxine’s statement about the separation of toil from leisure is Marxian
and is an important statement on Capitalism and its tendency to isolate groups and functions. The problem of the few vs. the masses
is one theme. A higher theme is one of aesthetics—the relationship of the artist to his/her subject matter, and the relationship between
the minority intellectuals and the majority masses. For example, writers have been traditionally concerned with how much concrete,
physical reality should be depicted in a poem, for instance. Should a poet use symbols to hide the reality of the theme about mankind?
It is the quandary of the “ivory tower” writer who must consider that Troglytes form much of the market place and its purchasing power.
Should an artist please the
artist? The audience? Neither? Stratos represents the world of Plato’s
Academy, where pure mentality is
one goal. Many writers are “ill at ease in Zion” and fret over how much of Ardena’s world of dirt and hardship should be the object
of art. Stratos represents what Alfred, Lord Tennyson called “The Palace of Art,” where art is a goddess in her isolated home looking
down on groveling earthly things:
O Godlike isolation which art mine,
I can but count thee perfect gain,
What time I watch the darkening droves
That range on yonder plain.
In filthy sloughs they roll a prurient
They graze and wallow, breed and sleep;
And oft some brainless devil enter in,
And drives them to the deep….
I take possession of man’s mind and deed.
I care not what the sects may brawl.
I sit as God holding no form of creed,
But contemplating all.
--(A .L. Tennyson, "The Palace of Art")
This is the view from Stratos as
one beholds the planet of Ardena. But Tennyson’s goddess of art in her palace,
has second thoughts.
She becomes restless in her isolation and longs for the real world as part of art’s content. This is a feeling, reflective of a changed
Droxine—“I shall go to the mines”—when:
Deep dread and loathing of her solitude
Fell on her, from which mood was born
Scorn of herself; again, from out that
Laughter at her self-scorn…
Shut up as in a crumbling trub, grit round
With blackness as a solid wall,
Far off she seem’d to hear the dully sound
Of human footsteps fall
-- (Tennyson “The Palace of Art”).
Art is meant for what Carlyle
called the toiling millions of mankind. The Troglytes too “shall say.” But
mankind can stand only
so much reality in its art forms. Every artist has this aesthetic dualism wherein he/she seeks a balance between the transcendental
and the descendental in art. What the Stratos dwellers and the Troglytes represent is air and earth in art.
From a more political
point of view, Plato discussed the phenomenon of troglytis (usually terminal) as
it affects his republic.
Arriving at harmony from endemic anarchy means an ideology of exclusion in every republic (or “evolved culture”). From the
Hellenic point of view, trogs are like the poor—they will always be there as long as man exists. Their ability to think, to read,
to conceptualize is doubtful. They tend to be anti-intellectual and proud of their fourth grade educations. Troglytes love dirt,
and Plato is not about to permit them Stratos status:
On the other hand, there is the man who takes a lot of strenuous physical
exercise and lives well, but has
little acquaintance with literature or philosophy…has no intelligent interests…
never taking part in any discussion or educated activity, and becomes deaf and blind because its perceptions are
never cleared and it is never roused or fed…he becomes an unintelligent philistine with no use for reasoned
discussion, and an animal addicted to settle every thing by brute force. His life is one of clumsy ignorance,
unrelieved by grace or beauty
--(Plato, The Republic 175-76).
This is the majority and flowering
of homonids seeking homo erectus status in a post-Neanderthal, post Cro-Magnon
S. T. Coleridge referred to Troglytes as “die Swarmerei.”
Spock understates the problem:
This troubled planet is a place of the most violent contrasts. Those who
receive the rewards are totally separated from those who shoulder the
burdens. It is not a wise leadership. Here on Stratos, everything is
incomparably beautiful and pleasant…the harsh life in the mines is
instilling the people with a better hatred…the violence of desperation.
For Plasus, who is never placid,
nor pleasing, nor moldable, nor very capable of change, there is no logic for
“disruptors” to destroy
works of art, but the disruptors have kept an intellectual society in havoc. Plasus is non-phased when a Troglyte leaps from Stratos
and falls to the planet below, committing suicide before enduring the torture rays: “How unfortunate. How unfortunate!” Plasus is a
“bad reasoner” from his cruelty to Troglyte malcontents to his threat to have Kirk killed. For Plasus, Troglytes are unthinking bipeds
low on the evolutionary scale:
The Troglytes are not like High City Dwellers, Mr. Spock. They are a
conglomerate of inferior species. The abstract concepts of an intellectual
society are beyond their comprehension.
Stratos dwellers, trogs have low IQ’s, are practical but dumb, and cannot
transcend the label on a beer bottle. Unfortunately
some bipeds do fulfill Plasus’ description. When science appears to support myths of inferiority, the prejudice becomes a matter
of reason. McCoy notes that “Medical analysis indicates that the Troglytes are mentally inferior” in spite of the fact that both Stratos
city dwellers and Troglytes originated on the planet. As Kirk brings reason to bear, both sides tend to polarize more strongly and
more vociferously. Plasus will get the zienite “even if we have to kill every Troglyte below.” The violence is aimed at Kirk for
probable violations of the prime directive on non-interference. The violence extends to Kirk. He is going to “get that zienite” and
he flaunts Plasus’ use of torture, daring him to extend the “rays” to Command Personnel. This private little war ends only when
Vanna (#1 trogesse) brings Kirk and Plasus to clarity and reason. It is ironic for a Troglyte to stop a fight, but that is part of the
play’s theme. Kirk’s decision to “reason” with Vanna pays off only slowly. Mistrust is always surfacing, and Kirk is
one major cause.
Droxine, the ambulatory “work of art,” is an important character because
her attitude towards the societal separatism
evolves and changes, with some verbal amorous coaxing from Mr. Spock. She is naïve, a charming hostess with no understanding
of the violence on Stratos. Her name is an interesting one, a dualistic chemical of hydroxide family (hydr + oxide) = drox.
‘Ine’means of or like, in this case a monovalent radical OH. She is a figure that combines with different elements. She too
is a mono-thoughtful radical as though waiting to combine with another to form a new element or molecule. Beside her interest
in Spock’s ears and mating habits, Droxine hates Troglytes. Hers is an ideological dualism:
Droxine: But Stratos is for advisors and studiers. What would Troglytes do here?
Vanna: Live! In the sunlight and warmth where everyone would.
Droxine: The caverns are warm and your eyes are not accustomed to
light. First as your minds are not accustomed to logic!…the
Troglytes are workers, Captain…How can they share what they
do not understand?
This is replete with hierarchal thinking. It is this same Droxine, who, after thought and reflection, questions her father, Plasus:
Plasus: This is the kind of Reason they use to persuade us.
Droxine: They’re desperate.
Plasus: I will hear no more defense of them…go to your music!
last scene, Droxine fulfills Vanna’s dream in seeing “great beauty in the
knowledge that lies below…I shall go to the mines.
I no longer wish to be limited to the clouds.” One assumes Droxine will change her dressmaker. Somehow her Hellenic symmetry
and fragility do not complement mortar and dirt. An unrealistic and forced proposal is a falsification of character. What does a
“work of art” do other than art about? The quest for equality needs more attention to character.
The episode uses dual character foils to foster difference of opinion (Stratos
vs. Troglyte): Droxine vs. Vanna; Plasus vs.
Kirk; Kirk vs. Vanna. The common figure is Kirk who helps to break the ideological dualism. The pairing becomes a triad in
Act IV where Kirk performs the great unseen zenite gas experiment. Present are Kirk, Vanna, and Plasus (kidnapped by transporter).
The scene is a closed cave; the subject is the filter masks; the needed evidence is that something unseen can alter emotions and
retard intellect. Vanna and Plasus are both blind punchers. They are unenlightened and both are “bad reasoners.” If one can try
not to laugh at the figure of Kirk with a filter mask on his face, the philosophy is sound. Invisibles can have visible effects:
Vanna: Gas…from zenite!? It is hard to believe that something which
is neither seen nor felt can do so much harm.
Kirk: An idea can’t be seen or felt, but that’s what kept the Troglytes
in caverns all these centuries. A mistaken idea.
means vanity, and she too is a vain and a bad reasoner. In the cave scene, Kirk
digs, Vanna digs, Plasus digs. They dig zenite,
but they do not dig each other. The three become one (Plasus and Kirk are “killing each other”) to prove that their irrationality is
chemical, not just mental. As McCoy wryly notes, “It’s pretty hard to overcome prejudice.” It is Vanna who sees the danger is
the gas. She brings about the agreement (Plasus: “Agreed?” There’s no such word in the Troglyte vocabulary!”). Violence and
reason create a goal for sharing two worlds within a world—the clouds and the ground. After all, man has often been described
as having his feet on earth, his head in the clouds, looking for a heaven or higher world. After the societal plague on Ardana
is mitigated, Kirk has his zienite, and a botanical plague will also be mitigated.
Regarding major literary sources for “The Cloud Minders,” references
to Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels have been made,
but some interesting coincidences are worth the noting. Laputa is the flying island that moves and hovers over the King’s dominion.
It is the precedent for Stratos. The population typology of Stratos is subtly like that of Laputa:
They are very bad reasoners, and vehemently given to opposition…
imagination, fancy, and invention, they were wholly strangers to, nor
have any words in their language by which those ideas can be expressed…
--(Swift Gulliver’s Travels III).
Also, there is a constant
hyperparanoia among the speculative Laputians. They were in “cultural
disquietudes, never enjoying a
minute’s peace of mind.” Gulliver also notes that “they are so perpetually alarmed with the apprehensions.” The king of Laputa
also faced a rebellion by the Lindalinians. Instead of petitioning for peace, they made “bold demands, the redress of all their
grievances, great immunities, the chase of their own governor.” They also “cast great stones from the lower galaxy into the town.
”Like Plasus, the king was unable to subjugate the revolt by keeping the island hovering, keeping out light and rain. They did not
surrender. There was also a “great lord” called Munode, who was “universally recognized the most ignorant and stupid person
among them.” The Lindalians are very similar to the Troglytes in the rebellion against a flying island or a hovering cloud city.
As with the Stratos dwellers, the Laputians’ chief occupation was art and intellection, a mock-Platonic satire of what happens when
intellect is separated from physicality. This is a schism that has found no cure because the opposite never creates progression.
The whole of human society must share the burdens and the pleasures of a pluralistic society. In the case of Ardana, the parties
are of the same ancestry. One group left the caverns; one remained. This is not unlike the theories of human development
put forth by the
Leaky finds in Africa. Evolution
can be a matter of changing environments, just as unequal evolution did not
begin on Ardana
until after Plasus’ ancestors left the gas of the mines. The culture then creates art forms in celebration of its cultural awareness
and achievements. They have become conscious of themselves. Art is civilization’s highest achievement:
Singing and murmuring in her feastful
Joying to feel herself alive,
Lord over Nature, lord of the visible earth,
Lord of the senses five;
Consuming with herself; ‘All these are
And let the world have peace or wars,
‘Tis one to me
--(A .L. Tennyson, “The Palace of Art” 178-84).
(finis "The Cloud Minders")
"Let That Be Your Last
-- a dream deferred
At its best moment,
“…Last Battlefield” is a statement of Armageddon as created by racial strife.
It is a weak dramatization
that avoids a clear or steady analysis of the civil rights movement as it struggles into the decade of the seventies in America. Star Trek,
in going “where no man has gone before,” had not shunned socially sensitive issues of the late sixties. “A Private Little War” is a
criticism of America’s posture in Vietnam. A similar martially-oriented episode is “The Omega Glory,” with its commentaries on
the oriental and white struggle. But “…Last Battlefield” is the only episode with the apparent purpose of studying and depicting
racism based on color, a very American phenomenon. However, the episode does little to dramatize what it meant (means) to be
of a minority and of a majority race in conflict with each other. One sees colors, black and white, in living color, but there is no
expression from Lokai of racial postures. It could be ethnic or a family feud. Lokai never expresses what it means to be bi-colored
white, nor does Bele express what it means to be bi-colored black. The idea of humanoids who embody the colors, both colors,
of 1960’s racism is imaginative. Few people notice that there is a color variation. Bele and his people are black on the right side.
Lokai and his followers are white on the right side. Swift would have liked this use of hyperbole to satirize bigotry by extenuating
monocolored whitism into bicolored black whitism, and by extending monocolored blackism into bi-colored white blackism.
A brilliant twist, a fantastic makeup job, and most early viewers of Trek do not even notice the change of face side. How absurd!
Who cares if Bele is black on the right side and if Lokai is white on the right side!? This is just the point at issue. Viewers have to be
told of the difference. One has to be looking for it to see it at first. As Spock says, “he [Lokai} is of the same breed as yourself.”
Kirk simply sees similarity:
“You are black on one side and
white on the other.” “I fail to see the significant difference.” Point: There
is no significant difference,
unless one is from Cheron. Bigotry is linked to place and to point of view. To outworlders, Cheron’s racism is illogical, assinine
and insane; yet, to the French, a black man born in France is a Frenchman. James Baldwin spent the last two decades of his life
in France because the French are color-blind. Cheron presents a possible Armegeddon for America if it pursues to exclude minority
colors, minority thinkers, ethinic minorities, from the mainstream of American life: Lokai is “inferior” only to Bele; Bele is a fascist
oppressor only to Lokai. Their hatred is all the viewer sees of their racism. Also, the “color” difference is presented as a difference
in political theory, watering down and confusing the color issue. Lokai is a revolutionary, yet he may be the only revolting one.
Bele is the “master race,” yet there is no evidence of any race or of any masters. There are just a few statements of hatred and precious
film minutes consumed while Bele chases Lokai through the corridors and decks of the Enterprise. Also, both characters act with
equal insanity, while Lokai foments rebellion, seeking followers among the ship’s view. Bele’s misuse of superior power and will
puts his rationality in jeopardy. To them there is racism and a cause. To the Trekkers, there is only the witnessing of reason run amuck.
Reason has abandoned the two time travellers; will has usurped thought, replacing it with the will to kill. Racism is a total perversion
of the rational order and a destruction of a culture and its government. Cheron is a dead planet; Bele and Lokai are its sole survivors,
but not for long. The fifty-thousand year old chase returns to Cheron where no life remains, where no cities stand, where eternal fires
still glow. They have destroyed themselves, as Marplon puts it. It is Armegeddon:
I had a dream, which was not all a dream
The bright sun was extinguished, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swing blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went—and came, and brought no day,…
And men were gathered round their blazing homes
To look once more into eachothers face;…
And War, which for a moment was no more,
Did glut himself again…no love was left…
--(Lord Byron “Darkness” 1816).
As Sarek says of the
Tellarites, “they simply argue,” so it is with Bele and Lokai. There is no
reason left. It is dualism as racism.
While Bele and Lokai hate “monocolored trash,” the Captain seems to miss the insult. Spock and McCoy have their own kettle of
racism boiling. They are quite certain that Lokai is “one of a kind”:
Spock: There is no theory…from the basic work of Mendel to the most
recent nucleotide studies which should account for our captive. All
gradations of color from black to brown to yellow to white are
genetically predictable. We must therefore conclude that this alien is
that often unaccountable rarity—a mutation—one of a kind.
McCoy: Yes, I would agree.
Bele’s appearance on the bridge
makes Spock’s logic a plain fool. Theorists are just as bad as practitioners.
Bele and Lokai offer
a dual Aryanism, coupled with paternalism (Bele) and liberalism (Lokai). Bele believes “there is an order in things,” that Lokai is
ungrateful for wanting too much reform too soon. Bele is petulant lest certain truths become known and believed by “bleeding hearts”
who will again give to Lokai “sanctuary,” which he claims aboard the Enterprise. Each man is possessed by a thoughtless rage which
each feels compelled to justify to new listeners. Bele is evil in good’s clothing; Lokai is also evil in good’s clothing. As Spock notes:
“Fascinating. Two irrevocably hostile humanoids.” Scotty adds, “disgusting is what I call them.”
The planet Cheron
is derived from mythology; it is Acheron, the river of woe in Hades, the
underworld. It separated the
lower world from the upper world. Cheron is the ferryman on the river Styx. Cheron is a planet with a burning culture.
It is hell in black and white. Bele is derived from Beelzebub (Matthew x:25; xii:24-27), the prince of devils. Lokai is derived
from loci (places in Latin) a focal point in time and space—lacking in Lokai who has no locus. Lokai is derived from the Old Norse
Lokai, the mythological god who constantly caused discord and mischief; he also caused the death of Balder, the son of Odin and
Frigg; he was god of light, peace, virtue and wisdom. “Baldee” means hero, bold. This describes Lokai’s role well. The main
characters are watered down and altered forms of Gene Coon’s (Lee Cronin) original story outline of 3/22/68. For budgetary
and time restrictions, the original story line was not a racial struggle. It was a chase of Satan by Archangel Michael, based on
Genesis and Milton’s Paradise Lost. The Enterprise found a ship in trouble and rescued a man who is a creature with red skin,
pointed ears, arched eyebrows, and two horns growing out of the forehead. Scotty says, “Lord save us, Captain; it’s the Devil
himself!” His name is Satrana; he is the Devil, but not deemed malevolent. Appearing on the bridge are blinding white robes,
a tall man with white fear and two feathered white wings from the shoulder blades. Hell meets Heaven. The “angel” is “Mikel,”
the Pursuer who believes that, “the law is the law, and Satana must be punished.” Both appear before the Court of the “Shining Ones.”
At the end of the story, “Kirk tells the perplexed Satrana and Mikel that most humanoid planets have a history of racial war, racial
hostility…but inevitably the passage of time has solved the problem…that the evils of the past had, with the passage of the Millennia,
only a myth, that peace and
equality now rule.” Sulu voices this future equality: “there is no such
primitive thinking today.” For Bele
is Michael and Lokai a milksop devil. The hatred between the two men bi-colored characters is supposed to be seen as in Gene
Coon’s story as anachronistic. The screenplay could have involved a current bi-color dialectic, whether told from the future or not.
The sensibility of dialectical racial or species ancestry inherent to Star Trek (Spock’s dual heritage) and such an inter- or intra-racial
theme has strong literary traditions in Black literature. The conflict between Bele and Lokai has no spiritual lodestone. The episode
could have been a variation on a great and real intra-conflict of Cheronism. Lines like the following are the stuff of which great thoughts
My old man’s a white old man
And my old mother’s black.
If ever I cursed my white old man
I take my curses back.
If ever I cursed my black old mother
And wished she were in hell,
I’m sorry for that evil wish
And now I wish her well.
My old man died in a fine big house.
My ma died in a shack.
I wonder where I’m gonna die,
Being neither white nor black?
--(Langston Hughes “Cross”).
Lokai is frustrated in preaching of persecution to the crew because they lack experiential knowledge of racism:
Lokai: You are from the Planet Earth. There is no persecution on your
planet. How can you understand my fear, my apprehension, my degradation, my suffering…?
Bele and Lokai are ancient
history. The episode tells us that a problem exists now, but it is not given
the competent screenplay to
air differences or to give the Enterprise officers a role in the struggle. Kirk and Spock just watch in disbelief and horror. The
problem is that these two men can be any people with a spectrum of differences not necessarily racial. There are no allusions to
black writers or to particulars of the black experience in America. The episode falls very short of dramatizing a social reality.
Cheron is never depicted except as “stock” fires burning. The war between the two great angels would have made a great Trek;
instead, one sees colors without ideology or thought or history. Also the episode is “strewn with gaping defects in logic.” Lokai
could never have stolen a shuttlecraft without Starfleet advising the Enterprise. It is impossible that Starfleet’s command personnel
would not know of Cheron’s cultural characteristics, including genetic makeup. They know where the planet is, but have never
investigated or explored it? Not likely. Spock’s dissection on genetics is outdated and anthropologically impossible. Spock
simply would not make such an unscientific fallacious universal statement. Kirk does nothing to decide or to help resolve the
societal dualism. Spock’s peroration about Vulcan’s history is pompous, uncharacteristic, and a “filler,” as is the auto-destruct
The gimmick of
auto-destruct is the episode’s only redeeming scenario. It is suspenseful and
imaginative. The director’s
innovation, include focusing only on Scotty’s mouth as he enters his code into the computer. The game between Bele and Kirk is
one of two wills seeking control of the Enterprise. The scene is not causally linked to the racial issue proposed, but never fulfilled.
It is a “filler” to kill time. Optimistically, one can see parallel struggles between Kirk and Bele on the theme of control and its
relationship to freedom. Racism is a
matter of dominance and
acquiescence, if only the “filler” were not a tangent to the main story line
(there’s little plot!). For Bele,
“this ship goes where “I want to go.” The condition Ariamus is critical where “the lives of a billion people make no other choice
possible.” For Kirk, “I am Captain of this ship and it will follow whatever course I set for it—or I will order its destruction.”
Kirk’s use of his trump card so early in the game makes the scene seem forced and causally disconnected from the total story.
Kirk is caught between two desperate men who have abandoned reason thousands of years ago. Bele loses the battle over the
auto-destruct because he is surprised by the tactic. It takes little time for him to destroy computer functions. Since Bele cannot
control himself, his madness is monolithic, his power beyond comprehension. Only the chase from ship to Cheron saves the
Trekkers from the suicidal duo. Without it, the Enterprise would have been their “final battlefield.” In a take-out from the
Final Draft (October 2, 1968), Kirk speaks with Bele, emphasizing that hatred is the theme of the drama, but it does not have
to be racial. It seems personal at times, an error in characterization:
Kirk: We have become involved in the irreconcilable hatred of two beings.
A hatred so great it threatens to consume us, unless we can find the
way to control it, or end it forever.
The episode deals with the love of
hate and the willful refusal to acknowledge self-evident truths: “Your planet
is dead. Nobody
is alive on Cheron because of hate.” Kirk’s logic to bury the hate is late, too late. Kirk simply lets Bele and Lokai go—a rarity
in Star Trek—where there is no resolution to the problem. Here, everyone loses, and the cause was never analyzed. Uhura says
it all: “it doesn’t make any sense.”
Spock : To expect sense from two mentalities of such extreme viewpoints
is not logical.
Sulu: But their planet is dead. Does it matter now which one is right?
Spock: Not to Lokai and Bele. All that matters to them is their hate.
Uhura: Do you suppose that’s all they ever had, sir?
Kirk: No…but that’s all they have left.
“Let That Be Your Last
Battlefield” never reaches into the depths of racism that it purports to
present. Better Satan and
Michael! On butchering Gene Coon’s original story, no faithful thematic substitute was resituated. It simply is not thought out.
Also, there is little literary content and, as a result, we have a story without character depth and significant societal statement. An
episode dealing with the death of a world (one never seen) and the death of reason, lacks metaphysical content. The episode
could have come to grips with facts of the Black experience in America without sacrificing fictional structures. Racism bodes no
future in a pluralistic society. All is indeed death, one that must be seen:
When I awoke, she said:
Lie still, do not move.
They are all dead,
I had better go,
Will it do?
I have to see,
(Raymond Patterson “When I Awoke”).
(finis: “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”)
"Errand of Mercy”
“The trigger has been pulled.
Now we have to get there before the hammer falls.”
War, to some men at the present
day, begins to look like an epidemic insanity,
|breaking out here and there like the cholera or influenza, infecting men’s brains
instead of their bowels
--(R. W. Emerson Miscellanies: “War”).
Jean Jacques Rousseau
in his first Discourse, makes students of history and of literature aware
that civilization brings with
it a life of fundamental contradictions whereby man perpetuates the necessity of living a lie. War is a symptom of an immature
species that thinks it is civilized. War and culture are fundamental contradictions as the twentieth century nears its end. War is one
way by which man alienates himself from himself and from other cultures. As Rousseau writes: “The body politic, like the human
body, begins to die from its birth, and bears in itself the causes of its own destruction” (Of the Social Content 1762 III,11x). An
older civilization voices that war is for the young. For Kirk and the instrument of civilization he represents (Starfleet) it is obligatory:
“War or not, we still have a job to do…denying Organia to the Klingons.” “Errand of Mercy” is a warped god of war that believes
saving a culture’s mercy amid martial hostilities. There is an errand, but mercy is indistinguishable from hostility. In this case,
the Organians need no mercy because there is no danger to them. Because the play is told largely from the Organian point of view,
a unique concept of martial law emerges. Neither the Klingons nor the Federation has any objectivity about the two fleets about
to do combat in the
vacuum of space. In fact, there
is no real distinction between the Klingons and the Federation as they are
presented on Organia.
Mutual hate, suspicion, propaganda are clear; but clear also are mutual respect between Kor and Kirk, the two “rams” amid a planet
of “sheep.” Ironically, in the final act, the sheep become the enemy by ending a war before hostilities are irrevocable by making
violence an issue too hot to handle. The result is Kor and Kirk, who make absolute fools of themselves as they argue against
Organian interference in their war! How dare they stop a war! It would have been “glorious,” snaps a disappointed Commander
Kor. The theme is violence as alienation, propaganda as illogic, anarchy’s cessation in the hands of Hellenic thinkers, the pacifistic
Organians to whom violence in any form is ethically and ontologically repugnant. It is the Organians, not the Trekkers, who
perform the errand of mercy—a beautiful twist of irony by three ancients who want none of the Federation’s “peace” or “help.”
War is the ultimate perversion of reason.
How does Gene Coon’s
fine play define war? What is a job that explorers do when they are not
takes a back seat to blood. It is rationalized as a societal necessity:
Kirk: Well, there it is. War. We didn’t want it, but we’ve got it.
Spock: Curious how often you humans manage to obtain that which
you do not want.
On Organia, reason is propaganda
as chosen between the two warring factions. It offers the Organians a “choice”
Klingons and the Federation. Violence is everyone’s enemy, but Dr. Goebbels sees it otherwise:
Kirk: With the Federation you have a choice. You have none with the
Klingons…life under the Klingon rule would be very unpleasant. We offer you
Claymare: We thank you for your altruistic offer, Captain, but we really do not
need your protection
If only Kirk and Kor knew who
those three wise men are! War is a fallacy. There is no choice, but “choices”
are invented. It offers
to protect the weak, but only under the gun. Choice is an illusion. Propaganda says war will make a better world. Kirk offers the
Organians “technicians, specialists…schools…we can help you remake your world.” In whose image? The Federation’s? Help
is not helpful, and there is no necessity for it. It is propaganda. Propaganda says that the Organians will fight given the right example.
As Ayelborne keeps saying, “how little do you understand us.” War sees “them” as “us” not “them.” There is no choice. What
propaganda has perpetuated is the abstract notional love, for the war, the war at any price! Do anything to maintain the war:
Kirk: You’ve told us how much you hate violence. Unless you tell me
where those phasers are, you’re going to have more violence than
you know what to do with!
Ayelborne: You mean…you would actually use force?
Kirk: That is entirely up to you.
War means heroism and the chance for martyrdom, a desperate race in desperate need of
opportunities for redemptive action:
Kirk: …I have no great love for you, your planet, your culture. Despite
that, Mr. Spock and I are going to go out there and quite probably die
in an attempt to show you that there are some things worth dying for.
It is that smell of death.
War is the ritual
of power. This play is Star Trek's war and peace, war as the misuse of reason
and peace as practical and
ethical reason. Culture is anarchy’s counteragent. The
Organians present a fascinating
and new technique in point of view. One sees the Federation-Klingon struggle
for the Organians’
point of view. Their alien status and total passivity and pacifism go misunderstood as cultural retardation and mental stagnation:
We are not come to wage a strife
With swords upon this hill.
It is not wise to waste the life
Against a stubborn will.
Yet would we die as some have done,
Beating a way for the rising sun
--(Arna Bontemps, “The Day-Breakers”).
In “Errand of Mercy,”
violence is due partly to a cultural arrogance based on faulty premises of
science. Spock’s survey
is replete with cultural snobbery, a situational irony not explained until the fourth act. The Organians are “friendly people, living
on a primitive level. Little of intrinsic value. About class D minus on Richter’s scale of cultures.” In one sense, the Organians
accommodate races who visit Organia expecting traditional empirical points of sensory data. The fact that the Organians are
non-phased by the Klingon invasion perturbs Kirk and Spock. It is cultural arrogance to believe one species is stronger than
another based on superficial evidence and subjective arrogance. Violence is arrogance; it is aloofness:
Spock: They are not a primitive society making progress toward mechanization.
They are totally stagnant. There is no evidence of progress…for tens
of thousands of years there has been absolutely no advancement, no
significant change…it is a laboratory specimen of an arrested culture.
This is cultural arrogance and
societal immaturity not to suspect the immortality that flesh covers like
clothing. The spiritual object is i
nvisible because violence is non-objective, non-creative. It is as though evolution must be a sensory, empirically evident experience.
It is simple-minded to so think in mere mortal, two-dimensional forms. It is not logical. The Organians are Hellenic characters
and thinkers. They are pure thought, pure energy. Violence negates their immortal
natures. If Ayelborne ever
appealed in “A Piece of the Action,” would he too say “I’ve never been arrested
in my life”? These beings
“smile” too much because primitive games and rituals amuse them, and they have surpassed and transcended such concepts as
violence and anger. It is the smile of the prophet Confucius, the smile of wisdom and oversoul status. The Organians are Hellenism’s
greatest evolution. As the planet’s name implies, they are life forms whose own dynamics are their one life.
As incorporeal life
forms, the Organians’ point of view is pacifist and physically passive. They
are telekinetic entities whose
fears are totally altruistic. They show respect for other life forms and an insistence on non-violence:
Claymare: We must be sure that you are not harmed…your captors’ plan
to do violence. That we cannot permit.
As Kirk is irked by Organian inertia, he becomes the food:
Kirk: Yes. This idiotic placidity of yours! Your refusal to do
anything to protect yourselves!
Ayelborne: We have already answered that question. To us, violence
The spiritual Organians are
futuristic Brahman figures who have no toleration for the petty politics of
power. They refuse to harbour
the brokers of death.
The violence places
together in the Organian arena two fierce gladiators, Kirk and Kor. What
evolves from these commanders
is a sense of martial respect for the other’s abilities. This is one reason Kor uncharacteristically permits Kirk to live after his identity
is revealed by Ayelborne. Much of violence’s thrill comes from an impersonal encounter between enemies. The relationship between
governor and captive evolves into a prelude of the future cooperation
between the Klingons and the
Federation. Kor is Worf’s predecessor—crafty, bright, suspicious, but
respectful of a great foe.
Kor is Trek’s short, articulate and developed Klingon. His name denotes “heart.” Kor’s jabs at the Organians are very human
and well established in human nature: “Smile, and smile. I don’t trust men who smile too much.” Kor is a more convincing
Klingon than Kirk is as a Federation representative. Kor is admirable, entailing good and evil equally. There is a slight Miltonic
touch to Kor. Their manhoods merge:
I seek, to break, my span.
I am my one touchstone.
This is a test more hard
Than any ever known.
And thus I keep my guard
On that which makes me man
--(Thom Gunn, “Human Condition” 1987).
This war, from the
Organian point of view of pure spirit and consciousness, is the sight of tin
soldiers who never question
orders, who never seek alternatives, who wear their propaganda on their foreheads. It is idiocy so baffling, so horrific that pure
energy cannot abide its presence any longer. When viewed for the very first time, the sight of the Organians turning into their
incorporeality is a shock that is totally unpredictable. As immortals, as superior, evolved entities, the wisdom of the Organian
interference in the galactic war is beyond question, so fierce is the insanity that visits their world. Man’s juvenile immaturity makes
them ill. War is a waste of energy. Peace is energy applied consciously and productively. Indeed, man does not understand.
“All instruments of violence on this planet now radiate a temperature of three hundred and fifty degrees. They are inoperative.”
Both Ayelborne and Claymare insist on their altruism in acting only as a last resource to prevent genocide: “WE could not
permit you to harm
yourselves…we have put a stop to
your violence.” A peace is forced upon both factions. Kirk and Kor listen in
Ayelborne’s power and ubiquity are manifested:
As I stand here, I also stand upon the home planet of the Klingon
Empire and the home planet of your Federation…I am going to put
a stop to this insane war.
It is both tragic and quasi-humorous to watch Kirk and Kor argue like children whose candy has been usurped by a stranger:
Kirk: You can’t just stop the fleet! What gives you the right…
Kor: You can’t interfere! What happens in space is not your business!
During the argument, Ayelborne
insists “nothing has changed,” that “No one has died here in uncounted thousands
of years.” It is
illogical to destroy life on a planetary scale. They opt for reason’s defense of the sanctity of life, something that the M-5 reminded
Kirk of. The Federation and the Klingons will become “fast friends,” so a war must be halted to permit the future to unfold. Kor
notes, “a shame, Captain. It [war] would have been glorious.”
cultural arrogance is a misuse of reason. War is played out by “bad reasoners.”
Kirk’s introverted silence
at play’s end shows what a jerk he was in lusting after a war:
Kirk: I’m embarrassed. I was furious with the Organians for stopping a war
I didn’t want…we think of ourselves as the most powerful beings in the
universe. It is…unsettling to discover that we are wrong.
A pluralistic society creates
factionalism and groups and causes. The dualism of the play is, first, the
incorporeal, purely Hellenic
intellects of the Organians. The second is the mutable world ruled by the military mind. It is bifurcate and divisive and alienative.
These factors can be causes and effects of violence and war. The play also demonstrated that in war, the
Federation behaves as irrationally
and as badly as do the Klingons. In violence, contraries rarely breed
progression as cultural
evolution. The event is not within control of the warning parties, and there was no speculation, no winner: “No…Mr. Spock, we
didn’t beat the odds. We didn’t have a chance. The Organians raided the game.” Mutually, as mortal bodies worn like clothing
by the Organian, is but a symbol of a higher reality. It is time-annihilation and space annihilation. Men are but ghosts, spirits
of higher selves:
Are we not Spirits, that are shaped into a body, into an appearance; and
that fade away again into air and Invisibility?…we start out of Nothingness,
take figure, and are Apparitions; round us, as round the veriest spectre, is
Eternity, and to Eternity minutes are as years and aeons. Man thereby,
though based…on the small Visible, does nevertheless extend down into
the infinite deeps of the Invisible, of which Invisible, indeed, his Life is
properly the bodying forth
(Carlyle Sartor Resartus II: iii, ix).
(finis: “Errand of Mercy”)
“Patterns of Force”
--Reason as History
“Our Wilderness is the wide World,
man in an Atheistic Century;
and Forty Days are long years of suffering and fasting…”
--(Carlyle Sartor Resartus II, 9).
His [man’s] rational character
is, of course, unequally human. He is
able to break the tight social harmonies of nature to project ends beyond
the limits of natural impulse. He is able to transmute the natural impulse
for survival…into different forms of self-realization, embodying the pride,
vanity, and will-to power of the human ego. This freedom …makes man…
into a creator of, and agent in, history
--(Niebuhr Man’s Nature and His Communities 30-31).
It is man’s gift of
human freedom that gives him the choice to go beyond the limits of human
impulse. His will to power and
his ego make man the great creator and the great destroyer. The state of Nazi Germany betokers the misuse of reason as power.
Any television series that has an episode dealing with the swastika is going to create tremors, especially just some twenty years after
the defeat of Germany, in 1945. However, John Meredyth Lucas’ story and play take a very basic tone and a balance toward the
war as it would begin again on a distant planet in a future time. The episode gives a mankind, conscious of historicity, a second
chance to redeem a moment in history by not letting any “final solution” become a reality. Kirk and Spock use a humanity involved
in saving history from repeating itself because of John Gill’s breach of the non-interference directive. Gill, as culture observer,
injected a portion of earth’s
history in an effort to bring
unity to the fragmented, warlike Ekosian people. He intended to bring order out
of chaos. His goal
(unification) was admirable, but his logic was severely impaired by his idealism. A a professor of history, John Gill should
have known the consequences of a second Third Reich. The idealism stressed in Lucas’ story is surmised by Spock: “Perhaps Gill
feels that such a state, run benignly, could accomplish its efficiency without sadism.” Spock’s historical lessons can omit a great deal.
Can such a state be run benignly? There is no precedent for it. Gill was trying to avoid an evil that was inherent to the system, given
its leaders. Therefore Lucas’ notion of a benign Nazism is “strewn with gaping defects in logic,” just as John Gill’s historical
experiment on Ekos was an attempt at playing god. The logical fallacies emerge just before Gill is murdered by Melakon:
Gill: The planet…fragmented…divided. Took lesson from Earth history.
Kirk: Why Nazi Germany? You studied history. You know what the Nazis
Spock: Quite true, Captain. That tiny country, divided, beaten, bankrupt, rose
in a few years to stand only one step away from global domination.
Kirk: It was brutal, perverted. It had to be destroyed at a terrible cost…
It was only with the introduction
of the führer principle that the Nazism on Ekos became vicious. Gill had been
on Ekos almost
fifteen years. He could not avoid what Earth history could not avoid, i.e., that the leader principle is an inevitable cause and effort
of the Fascist system, that Gill would have to pervert his own reason by having to be the führer—an historical and tragic irony.
It is not logical to isolate the leader principle from an historical system built upon that principle. This is Lucas’ fallacy and also
John Gill’s. Even on the fiftieth anniversary of Hitler’s invasion of Poland, there are few people who can conceive of a Nazi
power as ‘efficiency” and unifying in its historical powers. It is now Kirk’s job to somehow undo or reverse or neutralize
The Ekosian people and
the Zeon people are from the same culture. The unification must be completed
loss of life. The two powers. Ekos, as in echo, refers to imitation of another culture. Having little in common, the Ekosians
echo a segment of Earth’s history. The Zeons or Zions (later Zionists) are the Jews who would established a free Jewish state,
Israel, as a result of World War II. Ekos is also an echo of Zeon, stressing the mutual cultural descent. The Jews have Abrom
(Abraham), Izak (Isaac) as principal underground leaders. Daras, an Ekosian, is part of the underground resistance movement.
His name (from “durran”) means to dare. It is also akin to Darius “the Great.” It is her turning in her father that gave her the
iron cross and role of heroine of the fatherland. This will enable Kirk and Spock to have access to the remote and drugged John
Gill, now Melakon’s victim, just a figurehead. Gill is a fish out of water; Melakon (from “Malos”) means a Kingdom of evil, a man
of melancholy. Engel is “gene” spelled backwards, an interesting irony on Nazi genetics. He is “one of us” and will give Ekos
a peace and time to “bury our dead.” Out of evil (neg) will come good and future for both worlds. Since Eneg saves the lives
of Kirk and Spock, Eneg shows that there is still time to reverse the evils of Melakon. The echoing people will achieve an identity
by a harmonious relation of the chosen people of Zion. The episode is rich in cultural allusions and cultural assertions. Part of the
Nazi evil is the attempt at total annihilation; Engel’s new world will bring a chance for total survival with ethnic identities intact.
Although John Gill did much damage, a take out from the Revised Final Draft (November 24,1967) notes:
There’s an old Earth saying that everything happens for the best. John
Gill found Ekos divided; he leaves it unified.
In redeeming himself from evil,
John Gill recalls the instruments of “the final solution,” and Kirk’s tenacity
and love for his old history
professor brings Gill back to the threshold of consciousness. Somehow, consciousness was not the dominant factor:
Gill: People of Ekos. We were betrayed by a self-seeking adventurer
who has led us all to the very brink of disaster. I order the immed-
iate recall of the space fleet. This attack must stop. All units are
to return to base…this was not an aggression of the Ekosian people…
In redeeming his adopted people,
Gill redeems himself, a life for lives taken. He is shot by Malakon, who in
turn is shot. The state
of dictators has been wiped clean by the blood that is both cause and cure of such an intraculture war. One cannot re-make history
in one’s own image and likeness because history will repeat itself. Once started, it takes deaths and luck to reverse. As Reinhold
Niebuhr notes, it is an idealistic history that results:
The idealist…regard man’s rational freedom primarily in terms of its
creative capacity to extend the limits of man’s social sense and to bring
order out of the confusion of his conflicting social ambitions, and give
preference to his ‘moral’ or social sense over his self-regard
In “Patterns of Force,” mankind is
given a second chance—to redeem the present from the destruction pattern of the
History occurs in patterns. It also shows the latent force of the Freudian father figure in history. Man has equal potential to
destroy or to create. Kirk’s presence, as living history, rescues two planets from the “pessimistic theory” of history that
“encourages political absolutism by flying from political anarchy to an omni-competent and omnipotent authority” (Niebuhr 63).
Thomas Hardy describes such a world:
--Crass Casualty obstructs the sun and rain,
And dicing Time for gladness casts a moan…
These purblind Doomsters has as readily strown
Blisses about my pilgrimage as pain
(Thomas Hardy, “Hap” 1866).
The episode questions Rousseau’s
code of a civil religion (Social Contract 1762) that “makes the
fatherland the object of the
citizen’s adoration, and so teaches them that service to the state and secure to the state’s titulary duty are one and the same”
(Bishirjian 1982 15).
The role of reason is
to restore an historical progression free of Earth’s inequities. At last Zeon
and Ekos will have a chance
to reverse an historical pattern, “to live the way the Fuhrer meant us to live” (Eneg). For Gill, it is the historian who knows the least
of history. In the final analysis, Gill’s wrongs and rights may offset one another:
Gill: I was wrong. The non-interference directive is the only way.
We must stop the slaughter.
K: You did that, Professor. You told them in time.
Gill: Even historians fail to learn from history—they repeat same
mistakes. Let the killing end.
The culture will survive with both
the worst and the best of both histories. The Ekosians have the added advantage
of having been
spared the morning of September 1,1939. Their reason has a chance to control any instinct for death.
The misuse of the
freedom of reason would not make this Trek a memorable one. There is
something else that the play
incorporates to counteract the potential necrophilia that would destroy an episode dealing with Nazism. So the play’s forms keep
many historical nightmares at bay by the director’s inclusion of humor while maintaining the physical trappings of Nazi symbols.
“Patterns of Force” is a strong comedy, a comedy of errors. Nazism’s predictable patterns enable Kirk and Spock to outwit
the Ekosians. Even the serious encounter with the major lacks the edge of terror. Seeing Kirk and Spock dressed in Nazi
military (Waffen SS)
uniforms is in itself a
situational irony, a fact made more ironic by the Hebrew history of Nimoy and
Shatner. The dead pan one liners
serve to offset a grim history. Some vestiges of “Hogan’s Heroes” appear, turning madness into comedy. Examples abound, and
without the comedy, the episode would not have enough ideology to survive. First, the missiles aimed at the Enterprise:
Newscaster’s voice: The Fuhrer’s headquarters reports repulsing an
attack by Zeon spacecraft. Our missiles utterly
destroyed the enemy.
Kirk: You look quite well for a man who’s been utterly
destroyed, Mr. Spock.
For the problem of Spock’s ears, a
line from St. Paul keeps a Nazi helmet in history: “That helmet covers a
multitude of sins.”
Kirk retrieves Nazi uniforms, noting: “Yes, it’s a shame yours isn’t as attractive as mine. Gestapo, I believe.” To which Spock
replies, “Quite correct, Captain. You should make a very convincing Nazi.” While Spock gives a dissertion on the transponders
and “a way to shed some light” at exactly 27.2 mm, he is standing on Kirk’s lashed back: “The guard did a very professional
job on my book. I’d appreciate it if you’d hurry.”
Spock: The aim, of course, will be extremely crude.
Kirk: I don’t care if you’d hit the broad side of a barn.
Spock: Captain, why should I aim at such a structure?
The Nazis are seen as bungling
dupes, as Kirk leads Izak out of the building: “Hunting’s good. We’ve caught
so many Zeons,
we’ve got to dump them outside.” While acting as Daras’ special documentary corps, Spock goes into a tangent on gambling:
Spock: Captain, I’m beginning to understand why you Earthmen enjoy
gambling. However carefully one computes the odds of success,
there is still a certain exhilaration in the risk.
Kirk: Very good, Spock. We may make a human of you yet.
Spock: I hope not!
Farce and slapstick keep
historical gloom at a distance when McCoy is needed to analyze Gill’s physical
state. Seeing McCoy in a
Nazi colonel’s uniform is bad enough, but McCoy is caught totally off guard with his boot off:
Uhura : He’s in the transporter, Captain. He’s having trouble with
Kirk: Send him down naked if you have to. Kirk out…
McCoy: The stupid computer made a mistake in the measurements.
The right boot’s too tight.
Spock: There’s a logical way to proceed, doctor. Point your toe;
apply equal pressure to either side of the boot and push…
McCoy: What in blazes is this?
This is director’s answer to a
closet drama. Trying to make McCoy look drunk is hilarious. He hates it! It
is this pattern of comic
relief that presents a buffer for the viewer against Nazism. Only Sergeant Schultz is missing!
The logic of humor
keeps the play from darkening. Nazism and its leader, John Gill, have no
logic. Even Gill’s speech
pattern has no logic. His final solution speech is incoherent, full of random associations. Gill’s known kindness
(like Dr. Roger Korby) has introduced the Zeons as propaganda (ala Goebels) requires an object to hate in order to unify the
masses to see Zeon as a viable threat to Ekos’ physical existence; otherwise as historians point out, a people will not fight.
Thus Gill’s attempts to civilize the Ekosians backfires. Ideology needs hate:
Spock: Why do the Nazis hate Zeons?
Isak: Why? Because without us to hate, there would be nothing to hold
them together. So the party has built us into a threat, a disease to
be wiped out.
The Zeons came to Ekos, like Gill,
hoping to civilize the Ekosians. The danger of cultural obliteration for Zeon
lies in the people’s
concept of war. They have almost evolved beyond hatred. The Ekosians will use Zeon technology against Zeon, but the biggest
problem is that of the innocents. As Isak notes, “the danger is that the taking of life is so repugnant to our people, I’m afraid we
may go down without a struggle.” In a war, it is the civilized society that is most endangered. It is not brutal enough, not
…political community is an artificial construction, an acquired habit
easily lost, and thus man lives on the knife’s edge between the peace
proved by a
community—assaulted-to political power and the disorder, inconvenience, and, to
Hobbes, the ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish. and short’ condition of the state of nature
Lucas’ theory, the insanity of Nazi Germany leaders is not the key issue, but
“the main problem was the leader
principle” because “a man who holds that much power, even with the best intentions, just can’t resist the urge to play God.”
A prevalent theme in Star Trek is reintroduced as the historical cause: “ Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The object
of the play is to reintegrate a society that is self-divided engaged in a civil war, brother against brother. The reasonable objective
is harmony or at least a creative dialectic that will bring cultural evolution and personal well being. The play is an anti-dictatorial
piece, but it provides excellent dialogue and scenes of sharp difference, from punishment to puns. Although of dubious historical
logic (and truth), the episode manages to keep viewer attention, as did “Hogan’s Heroes” for years of reruns. Make the absolute
power look absolutely inept; satire complements the seriousness of a play that succeeds in limiting a mammoth topic into a
manageable piece. The risk is one of oversimplification and historical omission. From a literary
standpoint, the theme of human alienation, friend from friend, lover to beloved, dominates the play:
He who endeavors to control the mind by force is a tyrant, and he who
submits is a slave.
(Ingersall, Some Mistakes of Muses).
(finis: “Patterns of Force”)
—Reason as Ascetic
“The history of modern philosophy
is a history of the development
of Cartesianism in its dual aspects of idealism and mechanism”
Dethronement of Descartes London Times Literary
Supplement Sept. 9, 1920).
But mind—but thought—If these
have been the master part of us—
Where will they find their parent element?”
--(M. Arnold “Empedocles on Etna” 1852: 345-347).
vast majority of literature, both eastern and western, deals, in some way, with
the divorce of intellect from corporeality,
ex., soul-body, reason-emotion. Endless, anonymous medieval poetry consists of dialogues between the body and the soul.
Traditional Catholicism and Orthodox Judaism have been active in fostering this dualism. From Genesis and Plato, through
Descartes and Galileo, the duality of real vs. ideal reigned almost unquestioned well into the seventeenth century. Literature
reflected this moral and philosophical schizophrenia. The human being in isolation is still a contemporary theme, as is the cultural
schizophrenia within two elements in a culture, a societal separation. The episode “Spock’s Brain” raises the Cartesian dichotomy
of mind as separate from body. It is a story of the mind as dominant in its separateness. Without a reality outside itself, Matthew
Arnold believed there would be a point of no return. Many science fiction or gothic cinematic ventures have visualized the brain
held by Peter Cushing (as Baron Von Frankenstein) in liquid filled jars. A Twilight Zone episode dealt
with a disembodied
brain which came from an unstable person. The brain became a “Controller” but
also a killer as it victimized
friends and enemies alike. It had to be shot through the window of the room in order to break the liquid-filled jar and the living
brain within. It is a story of Spock’s brain plundered surgically from his Vulcan body to be used as a mechanical source of
energy to sustain an artificial, underground society of isolated Amazons who are losing development and evolution because
of the artificial light, heat, water, etc. provided by a disembodied brain called the “Controller.” The original thematic emphasis
desired by Gene Roddenberry, in commenting on Lee Cronin’s (Gene Coon’s) story was the Captain’s decision and the doubt
surrounding his decision as to which of the three class M planets in the Sigma Draconis System holds Spock’s brain. Kirk’s
agony over the decision is well dramatized. The third class M planet seems to be the most illogical course. Chekov notes of
planet #6, “no signs of industrial development. At last report, in a glacial age. Sapient life plentiful, but on a most primitive scale.”
The key to the brain is its energy. It controls, creates, and channels energy. This makes Kirk’s decision, with only eight hours and
thirty minutes of time left to restore Spock’s kidnapped brain to its body which they have brought along and which is controlled by
a manual control box rigged by McCoy and Scotty. The body will expire, even under artificial life support, in twenty-four hours
from brain extraction, if the brain is not surgically reconnected to the body. Even though Vulcan physical stamina helps the body
somewhat during separation, Spock’s body is rationalized to be more dependent upon the great Vulcan brain for proper life and
functionings. The producers debated over the separation life period. It went from a week to twenty-four hours to heighten the
jeopardy and “scare” factors in the episode.
Even as medical
science transplants a majority of the human body’s organs, the brain still
remains an exception partially
because of its overall life sustaining importance, and because it cannot be surgically removed from the body without immediate death.
The task is still beyond comprehension, and many ethical problems still remain, ex,. many believe that the human soul is best suited
to cranial functions and to the seat of the individual human personality. Thus “Spock’s Brain” is an episode that would be outstanding
from a mere clinical point of view. However, the literary interest is one not mentioned by Gene Coon or by Gene Roddenberry.
The body and mind, in the view of post Romantic thinkers like Roddenberry, must work as an interdependent dialectical relationship,
not as separate entities. There is no individual or cultural evolution in a disembodied brain because the body is the chief inlet to the soul.
Essence speaks through existence; mind “works” on matter, in and through the matter of the body. The body and the soul are not really
separate entities at all, but are two ways of viewing the integrated human person. This creates energy and, therefore, work. Kirk
chooses the sixth Draconian planet because it has “regular pulsations of generated energy, high energy readings.” As Uhura says,
“it doesn’t make sense, but it’s there.’ Kirk tells Sulu he is playing a “hunch,” but knowledge of what a brain is and does links
Spock’s brain to energy emissions. From a more literary standpoint, the dilemma is less a mechanical one than a personality
bifurcation issue—the hell of the isolated, imprisoned mind distinct from all sensory contact. It is trapped, with no knowledge
coming “in” and no creativity within or going “out.” Uhura is given some of the best lines of the play. While everyone seems in
shock over what happened, Uhura seeks a metaphysical answer:
“What do they want with Mr.
Spock’s brain? What use is it? Why would they want it?” As the plot evolves,
that the brain has become a “Controller” and that its function is largely mechanical. Spock’s voice, as it emanates from the black
box in the control room says, “I seem to have a body which stretches into infinity:
Scott: Body! You have none.
Voice: No body? But then what am I?
McCoy: You are a disembodied brain!
Voice: Fascinating. It could explain much. My medulla oblongata is
at work apparently pumping blood, apparently maintaining
a normal physiological temperature.
Spock’s brain is little more than
a sophisticated generating pump without thought and sensory input required to
create. Spock has
become less than a human, or a Vulcan.
brain has to do is think about itself as its object of thought. Therefore the
object is actually the subject
of the disembodied mind. The mind can atrophy or (as in “Forbidden Planet”), alien knowledge can become a killer. An isolated
mind may also be tempted to play god. Gene Roddenberry, in a note to Fred Freiberger (May 20, 1968), sees expanded
Spock might rather like this feeling, this freedom from the confines of a
body. It is consistent with Spock’s character that he might be delighted
at this opportunity to now exist on a level of pure thought and pure logic
…Spock isn’t sure he wants to return to his body. He will lie for perhaps
dozens of centuries this way…he alone is making possible the existence
of a whole civilization and the very controlling of everything would likely
create in Spock’s mind a feeling that it is necessary and right he is here
From a literary standpoint, Spock
is nearing the state of self-consciousness whose only output can be subjective,
metaphysics. As a mechanical function, Spock’s brain is dehumanized, on a human plain:
self-consciousness [is] collision and mutually destructive struggle;
nothing acts from within outwards in undivided healthy force;
everything lies impotent, lamed, its force turned inwards, and painfully
‘listens to itself’
--(T. Carlyle “Characteristics” 1831).
The Romantic and post-Romantic
literatures find the “disease of metaphysics” much as Carlyle described.
the victim of rampant subjectivity, the domination by the subject and the destruction of the object of consciousness. Carlyle notes
the loss of objectivity: “Spontaneous devotedness to the object, what we can call Inspiration, has well-nigh ceased to appear in
Literature…we have not the love of greatness” (“Characteristics”).
The famous Cartesian
dichotomy, one of the offspring of Aristotle and Aquinas, separates mind from
object. It is an ancient
literary theme. A “disembodied brain” is a freak and an aesthetic dilemma for writers because the human character is split:
…the epistemological dualism of the theory of representative perception,
and the psychophysical dualism which conceives empirical reality to full
asunder into a world of mind and a world of matter mutually exclusive
and utterly antithetic. The
supposition…that all apprehension of objective existents,
that ‘ideas’ forever interpose themselves between the knower and
the objects which he would know, has become repellent and incredible to
many of our contemporaries…
--(Arthur O. Lovejoy The Revolt Against Dualism 3).
The dilemma of Spock’s disembodied
mind, as viewed aesthetically, is a dilemma where the mind is not aware of the
“res cognitata” (the thing known). It is within its own world. Spock becomes isolated logic. This is the logic of the alienated
mind which is an inherent theme in modern and contemporary literature. The alienated mind, helpless to act (or to create prior
to action) is a mind in hell. “Cogito ergo sum” (I think; therefore I am) has declared the world independent of reason as mere
appearance. Man’s world has been reduced (reductionism):
…what is at stake in Descartes’ philosophy is the ontological status of
the world itself and, consequently, the meaning of human existence.
By reducing the world to res extensa, Descartes made it an object-thing
for the subject…Things become the objects of a disembodied mind and
the resultant subject-object dichotomy defies meditation.
Supposedly, existence was proved
by thinking. “Spock’s Brain” is a drama based upon the Cartesian dichotomy,
which is why
Trek viewers are drawn more to the quest of the body for its brain than they are for the agony of Kirk’s frenetic dilemma. If the
brain were reduced only to a mechanical machine, reductionism would mean nihilism and non-existence for this Vulcan mind.
Existence as disembodied thinking is cyclic. It feeds upon itself. The more appropriate theme for ‘Spock’s Brain” is the dualism
of one man into two units (mechanical vs. creative) and the dualism whereby man is separated from the real world. It is the hell
of self-consciousness, the isolation of a despiritualized galaxy. But Spock’s separatism is a microcosm to the macrocosm of
planet #6 of the Sigma Dracona System.
the brain “back” into the body is a modern attempt to restore the creative
dialectical contraries, thus thwarting
the Cartesian dichotomy. The literary and philosophical effect is restoration of creative coexistence. Therefore, the dichotomy
of Spock is symbolically acted out in more visible Cartesian dichotomies on and in the planet. First is the dualism between “us”
and “the others.” The “us” are small; the others are big. The fact that the Trekkers are neither morg nor eymorg (the Third Term,
as John Locke put it). Second is the planet with energy within but no surface energy generated. Third is the dichotomy of pleasure
and pain. The “Creative” calls the eymorg “the Givers of pain and delight.” The sensations are all eymore. Fourth is the dichotomy
between male and female. There are the males above and the females below. The women bait the men with food and tools in
the elevator between below and above.
The Amazons exploit the males
(matriarchal society) for reproduction and sexual pleasure. A few are kept as
servants and guards.
The men are large, the women small. The civilization has created a male-female schism due, according to the story, to a glacial age
when the underground complex was developed for the women. Spock defines this to be a retrograde civilization that requires
reunification, especially of the male-female schism. Fifth, through Kara, a dichotomy of past and present exits, between the
“teacher” (the helmet) of the old knowledge and the childlike simplicity of Kara without using the teacher. She forgets Spock’s
brain, her surgery, and her ion-propelled spaceship—until she puts on “the teacher” where she becomes suspicious and ruthlessly
egoistic. She refuses to help to restore Spock’s brain. Ion power vs. atrophied evolution is a major point of contrast. The
dichotomies also are a “Cloud Minders” in reverse: brain below (not above), labor above (not below) and the division of
labor and pleasure. These physical dichotomies plus Spock’s intra-dichotomy makes “Spock’s brain” a rhapsody on a theme
by Descartes and Rousseau.
The “Controller” is
disembodied reason. The women use the male (phallus) Controller to control the
male population by
fear and isolation in the cold. The groin belts are their “instruments of obedience.” This achieves fears of emasculation and docile
males for pets. In a take-out of Revised Final Draft (July 1, 1968), Scotty is explicit about the male-female dichotomy: “When
any menial work is needed, the women press the men into service and get it done with this…reminder [the groin belt].” The
Trekkers get to experience the pain and the pleasure, with an emphasis on pain. Killing a person for his brain is considered
insists it is also a criminal
act. The survival of Spock vs. the survival of the eymorg becomes the main plot
question in Act III.
Mortality becomes an issue (as well as science):
Kirk: We are not the first to bring you the knowledge of killing. If you
continue, you will kill Spock.
Kara: The Controller die? The controller will live for ten thousand years.
We shall give him all our devotion.
Kirk: But Spock will be dead. His body is dying this minute.
Kara: Why do you not understand that the need of my people for their
Controller is greater than your need for your friend?
Kirk: No one may kill a man. Not for any purpose. It cannot be condoned…
You must help us. You must restore with that knowledge what you
Kara: No! I cannot betray my people. The Controller will stay.
With the help of “the
helmet” of the teacher of old knowledge, McCoy performs most of the restoration
“Science will triumph!” As the old knowledge passes, McCoy attaches Spock’s mouth and the Vulcan tells McCoy the
necessary information for full mind-body reunification (“of course…of course…a child could do it!”). “This Vulcan is telling me
how to operate!” The surgery unifying Spock means no “Controller” and, therefore, some societal surgery to mitigate the
separatism of “us” and “the others,” of male-female separatism is the episode’s greatest societal concern. It is not logical; just
as it is not logical to have early Neanderthals as the males on the surface. Several critics want some Cavalier and Elizabethan
poets to sooth the Amazons. There shall be no need of helmets. Kirk avoids violation of the non-interference directive because
of the retrograde, stagnant conditions of the two cultures. The women will have to move to the surface of the planet:
Kirk: You will live and develop, as you should have before all this was
done for you. Now with the women ‘here below’ and the men
‘here above’ we’ll control together.
Kara: They will not help us without the pain.
Kirk: There are other ways. You will discover them. You must move
to the surface…
Kara: We will die above in the cold.
Kirk: No you won’t. We will help you for a while. You will build
houses. Learn to keep warm and to work. Humans have
survived under worse conditions. It is a matter of evolution.
It is to the advantage of no
culture to isolate itself from another culture, especially when both are of
common desent. In the case
of the eymorg and the morg, there are no real contraries. The differences do not interact. The result is no progression. Even in
not getting along on the surface, some evolution will begin. Without productive work, both cultures atrophy.
For modern man in a
liberate society, the way of individual or societal separatism is for the very
few. Certain small groups
thrived on otherworldly asceticism, ex, monks, scholars, and explorers. When Matthew Arnold, in “To Marguerite-Continued” says,
“We mortal millions live alone,” he has stated the dominant literary theme that pure reason or the misuse of reason has created in a
post industrial society. The isolative (by choice) is not the alienated human being without choice. A freely-willed asceticism made
possible a poem “In Praise of a Contented Mind.”
My mind to me a kingdom is;
Such perfect joy therein I find
That it excels all other bliss
That would affords or grows by kind.
Though much I want which must men have,
Yet still my mind forbids to crave…
Content I live, this is my stay;
I see no more than may suffice;
I press to bear no haughty sway;
Look what I lack my mind supplies;
Lo, thus I triumph like a king,
Content with that my mind doth bring.
But for the modern era, alienation
is not a matter of pleasant meditation. It is a blade keenly felt between
individuals and between
societies. It is like modern Babel where whole societies are isolated one from the other, reflecting the isolation one from himself or
from another soul. Today, the wolves cry is smaller packs, but mediocrity is still king of fools. Entire groups are “prisoners of our
consciousness.” Empedocles is “Nothing but a devouring flame of thought--/ But a naked, eternally restless mind!” It is reason’s
limitations; prisoners are the thoughtful few. Societal separatism is separatism from the longing ‘for the life fo life.” As Arnold’s
But mind—but thought—
If these have been the master part of us—
Where will they find their parent element?
What will receive them, who will call them
But we shall still be in them, and they in us,
And we shall be the strangers of the world,
And they will be our lords, as they are
And keep us prisoners of one consciousness,
And never let us clasp and feel the all…
And we shall be unsatisfied as now;
And we shall feel the agony of thirst,
The ineffable longing for the life of life…
And then we shall unwillingly return
Back to this meadow of calamity,
This uncongenial plane, this human life…
To see if we will now at last be true
To our own only true, deep-buried selves,
Being one with which we are one with the
(Arnold “Empedocles On Etna” 1852 345-73).
(finis "Spock's Brain")
finis: Chapter V