Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Is the Star Trek Franchise Pro Dalai Lama and Pro Free Tibet?

As it was with Gene Roddenberry as it is now with J.J. Abrams, has the Star Trek franchise always been pro Dalai Lama and pro Free Tibet?

By: Ringo Bones

Whether he really intentionally showed it or not, the truth can be self-evident for some Trekkers and Trekkies whether – during his lifetime – Gene Roddemberry was ever sympathetic with the causes of His Holiness, The Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet. From Roddenberry’s frequent use of the Sino-Indian War of 1962 as a creative science fiction literary tool to various Star Trek episodes mimicking the Dalai Lama’s exile into Dharamsala, India after Tibet was unlawfully annexed by the Beijing Government back in 1959. But is this proof enough that Gene Roddenberry is pro Dalai Lama and pro free Tibet?

Tales about strategically insignificant political and spiritual figures being pursued by an imperialist power with utter disregard of that imperialist power’s own eventually limited military resource. Like not following aspects of Sun Tsu’s Art of War when it comes to leaving alone strategically insignificant targets to fulfill the desired main objective. Like that Star Trek: Enterprise episode titled Fallen Hero. Where the Vulcan Ambassador named V’Lar - a strategically insignificant target - was pursued by corrupt alien agents with no regards to their limited resource.

J.J. Abrams even exploited this apparently “inexplicable” link of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Freedom cause to the Star Trek franchise. Like his decision to use one of the songs of the Beastie Boys – an unabashed Tibetan Freedom and Milarepa Fund supporters – titled Sabotage as part of the soundtrack of the latest Star Trek movie. Future moves to make the Star Trek franchise even pro Dalai Lama and pro Tibetan Freedom Movement would probably involve guest appearance of traditional Tibetan musicians and dancers. Like Yungchen Lhamo, Nawang Khechog and Chaksampa to make guest appearances in coming Star Trek episodes, movies and even on official Star Trek conventions.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Historicism in Star Trek: A Creative Way to Break Out of the Series Canon?

J.J. Abrams may have done it to the dismay of long-time Star Trek fans, but is historicism a creatively valid way to break out of the Star Trek series canon?

By: Ringo Bones

Any work of Star Trek not adhering to the established series canon is often seen as an anathema by long-time Trekkies and Trekkers and is more often than not dismissed as nothing more than an aberration usually relegate to the dustbin of failed Star Trek concepts. J.J. Abrams’ rework of the established series canon in the recent Star Trek motion picture may have received howls of derision from veteran Trekkers but its state-of-the-art visual effects allowed it soldier on instead of being relegated to those Star Trek works deemed “too unconventional” for mainstream consumption by self-respecting Trekkies and Trekkers. But can there be a “creative” way to break out of the established Star Trek series canon while still embracing the “soul” that made long-time Trekkies and Trekkers fell in love with Star Trek in the first place?

Historicism is a not so oft used concept that may be already be used in the past – although not very often – Star Trek TV episodes. Historicism is a term derived from the German Historismus, which was first used in 1879 to characterize the mindset of Giovanni Battista Vico. It denotes an attitude which interprets all human concepts, values, and institutions as entirely the products of some individual and unrepeatable historical development, and hence limited and relative, without claim to universal meaning.

Historicism arose during the 19th Century in conscious opposition to the attitude of the Enlightenment, which had emphasized the constant and universal features of human life, and, as David Hume said, wrote history only to exhibit them. Historicism received its primary impetus from the Romantic Movement and was fostered in subsequent years by the great development and increasing specialization of historical studies throughout the civilized world.

Historicism’s impact upon philosophical thought had taken three main forms: a) it impugned the classical philosophy of history, which envisaged human life as a unitary development in time, realizing universal values of exemplifying universal laws; b) it urged that the logic of historical inquiry must differ from that of natural science, for the general laws by which natural science explains repetitive – or repeatable – physical events; c) its assertion of the relativity values seemed to threaten the capacity of mankind for strong conviction and decisive action.

The problem with historical relativism exercised many thinkers, in particular Ernst Troeltsch (1865-1923). On the other hand, Benedetto Croce (1866-1952), a well-known historicist, denied the reality of the problem of historical relativism. In Croce’s view, historicism – far from being a threat to values – protects them from being from abstraction and convention, and assures their continuous efficacy within the living current of history. From the view of pragmatic science fiction creative writing, does historicism have any useful applications?

An aspect of historicism that’s been used in Star Trek storytelling is that particular Next generation episode when the android Lt. Commander Data refused to allow top scientists form the United Federation of Planets to reverse-engineer his positronic brain citing that they may not be able to put him back together again, citing that his sentience and overall cognition is entirely the product of his own individual and unrepeatable historical development. Does this too apply the debate between Nature versus Nurture when it comes to human development?

Another concept found in the Star Trek universe that hopefully has not yet invaded ours is the reality of time travel. Time travel – as seasoned science fiction already know – tend to deny the reality of an unrepeatable historical development. As evident in Star Trek: First Contact where Captain Picard travels back in time to undue what the Borg did when they changed the timeline. The time travel incident behind Star Trek: First Contact somewhat made the established series canon of Star Trek somewhat gain a modicum of flexibility. Like how the last Enterprise series was structured. It looks like historicism might be the useful tool needed to sort out a tangled timeline if time travel ever becomes routine.