Tuesday, February 3, 2009

To Boldly Go...

Recently I've become more and more reacquainted with my old Star Trek fandom.  I've been wondering quite a lot about why the stories of Kirk and Spock and McCoy that my mother and I watched when I was a little boy were so evocative.  Why do we feel so attached to Picard, to Riker, to Worf; even to Q?  Later on Deep Space 9 we can see a new frontier, ravaged by war and falling apart.  Do Cisco and Kira's stories draw us because they are so different from the semi-utopian visions we have seen to this point?  What about Voyager, so far away, yet driving forth on a hopeless 75 year journey home?

What is the draw that these stories have on us, with characters that feel so much like friends?  Gene Roddenberry originally intended the show to be a "wagon train to the stars", which I believe it was successful at accomplishing.  It is an adventure in the final frontier, a story told with such strength of purpose, finding such a joy in the human condition and in how we strive forth.

The ancient Nordic and Teutonic societies originally worshipped Tyr as the leader of the gods.  A god of war, warriors, and destruction was so very appropriate in their culture.  Yet over the course of time their leaders and shamans brought forth the god Odin/Wodan.  Odin was overwhelmingly dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom.  He hanged himself from Yggdrasil, the World Tree, for the sake of knowledge; traded his eye to the Norns for the sake of knowledge; and sent out his ravens Huginn and Muninn day after day to return to him with knowledge.  Yet Odin was still a warrior god, vengeful and powerful.

Space, the final frontier.  That which is beyond us.

To explore.  To know.

To boldly go.  With strength.

Where noone has gone before.  The unknown.


baxdragon said...

Man, if only Gene KNEW what he started. With each episode of Star Trek Original Series I watch the more I notice how MUCH of current technology has been molded and conceived based on Star Trek technology. I read somewhere that the inventor of the cell phone was 100% influenced by watching Kirk call for the ship with a flip of his wrist.

God bless ya Gene!

Pocket Size said...

I think the appeal also has a lot to do with self-reliance. Just like the gods, just like the pioneers we find so inspiring, the crew of the Enterprise generally don't have anyone around to help them. Yet they persevere. They figure things out for themselves and they come through in the end. Not without loss, but stronger every time. Okay maybe that last sentence is romanticizing a bit, but you get the idea. In our society I think we rely on outside help a little too much, and it has made us weak.

B said...

There's an interesting bit from Star Trek V that I really like (some people would argue that it's the only redeeming point in the movie). In the very first scene Kirk, McCoy, and Spock are sitting around a campfire in Yosemite. Kirk tells them that through all of their adventures he knew he would come through alright. When they press him for the answer he tells them he knew he'd be alright because the two of them were there. He says something like, "I've always known I'll die alone." This whole exchange is followed by the very memorable scene of Kirk and McCoy trying to teach Spock to sing "Row, Row, Row your boat".

I'm pretty excited that I have the movies now. I should go watch that scene.