Friday, September 08, 2006

Live Long and Prosper

Today is Friday, 8 September 2006.

On this date in 1966, the original Star Trek television series debuted.

While HH is not in any sense a “Trekkie”, the show did have a considerable impact on him.

Partly it was the sense of optimism. Recall the objective situation in 1966.

The Vietnam War was in the second year of the “Big-Unit” phase of the conflict, and casualties were heading through the roof, for American troops, and far more for Vietnamese civilians. The planet was only four years out from the American-Cuban Missile Crisis, and imminent nuclear holocaust was a very real threat.

Segregation, the Second Slavery, was still in force across much of the South. American-backed military dictatorships infested most of Latin America, and many nations in Africa and Asia. Soviet-backed military dictatorships controlled Eastern Europe. In China, Mao had launched the bloody idiocy of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, in a bid to renew his power in the PRC Communist Party, which had been diminished by the even bloodier idiocies of the Great Leap Forward.

The fictional world of Star Trek assumed a past in which Earth had gone through a very bloody late 20th and early 21st century, but humanity had won its way through. Every image of hope was very precious in those days.

On a personal level, the character of Mr. Spock spoke deeply to me.

The product of a human mother and a Vulcan father, Spock therefore had in equal measure the often-uncontrollable emotions which characterize humans, and the rigid self-control by logic which characterizes Vulcans. I identified with that duality. I was 14, beginning 9th grade.

I have a deep and rich emotional life. As Mrs. HH can tell you, I’m one of those who, when they’ve had one martini too many, become, not belligerent, but maudlin. I was also one of those perpetual straight-A students known as a “brain”. I had begun studying ancient Greek philosophy in 6th grade; two years earlier I had fallen in love with classical music, and tried never to miss the Saturday afternoon Metropolitan Opera broadcasts. I found school pretty boring; I would rather have been pursuing my own course of study by reading, which I did voraciously. I believed, and still do, in the necessity and power of reason and critical analysis.

So Spock spoke to me, as someone who successfully, in daily life and actions, synthesized the often seemingly dialectically opposed poles of emotion and reason.

Live long and prosper.

Note: For those of you keeping score. By happy coincidence, today marks the 200th column MoB has presented in this venue. Your author expresses his gratitude to all of you who’ve followed his efforts.


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