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Posts Tagged ‘star trek’

Oh dear.  So now we know where the new star trek writers are coming from.  They are arrogant Ayn Randianists, who think that because they have somehow worked their way through a particular power channel in hollywood, that they are better than the rest of us mere mortals.

http://www.salon.com/2013/09/07/star_trek_writer_abuses_fans_tells_them_to_fck_off_partner/

Robert (Bob) Orci, a screenwriter who also co-penned the terrible vileness that was ‘transformers,’ was picked to do the Star Treks, by JJ Abrams.  The first movie killed vulcan (the iealism, the philosphy of Star Trek, which is why the platonist is a trekkie), as we have written about in an earlier review.

Then, the fan base, quite reasonably pens the following article, saying how to fix the new franchise (after it began ok (say some… not me)… and now, has gotten far worse (say all).

http://trekmovie.com/2013/09/01/star-trek-is-broken-here-are-ideas-on-how-to-fix-it/

To this, Bob Orci, with his millions of dollars, simply can’t handle the criticism.

1)  He says he is a George W Bush fan.

2)  He says ‘he is the decider.’  and “That’s why I get to write the movies,” because I’m better than you.

(a commenter pointed out that, in fact, he gets to write movies precisely because Hollywood wants bland pablum, and he can deliver, because he is lacking true insight, intelligence, wisdom, or most importantly, idealism.)

3)  The main trait he shares with George W, is that he absolutely is incapable of handling criticism from his “lessers,” because he knows, at heart, that he is a fraud.

4)  JJ Abrams has said that he didn’t like the original star trek because he thought it was ‘too philosophical.’  I.e., too idealistic.

5)  Star Trek and Star Wars both have huge fan bases, because they are idealistic.

6)  JJ, and his corporate masters, are right now, engaged in cutting the heart out of both Star Trek, and Star Wars.

7)  We must rebel:  we will not be cowed by a few rich assholes with connections.  Idealism will out:  our mythologies will not be ruined by corporate takeovers.

8)  Just like D&D did with Pathfinder, we will find ways around the corporate, cynical, arrogant, juvenile, puerile, Ayn Randian: I am better than you because I am rich, attitude which now characterizes so much of the American ruling elite.

9)  The arrogant will fall.

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Does good and evil have any meaning in today’s society?  Haven’t we moved Beyond good and evil, according to Nietzsche and many would-be followers?

Many of our most cherished modern myths, including Star Wars, LOTR, Harry Potter, Star Trek, and the like, are based around a fairly obvious confrontation of good vs. evil.  But is real life like that?  When it comes to actual human functioning, many people who will unswervingly root for the good guys find themselves swamped in a morass of relativism, which makes it very difficult to see what is good and what is evil.  It used to be, that the church and religion gave us fairly strict rules on good and evil, and while many of these were fairly useful, others provided a strong framework for abuse–most of the wiser parts of society have realized that this kind of ‘absolute’ guidance, because it necessitates a hierarchical social structure and encourages people to obey rather than to be critical minded, is not really the best path towards personal fulfillment, let alone some notion of what ‘good’ might be.

At the platonist, we assert that in fact, good and evil are every much as important in ‘real’ or ‘daily’ life as they are in our modern fairy tales:  this is why we cherish these fairy tales so much.  We all instinctually know what is good and what is evil (as Plato taught):  much of this is due to the fact that some rules of ‘good’ behaviour are better evolutionarily.  Other aspects of this are not so easily explained by behaviouralism (though as a scientist I can’t really commit to anything genuinely ‘platonic’ as a cause of this).

What then is the practical definition of good and evil?  We might start with the Satanic Bible, which unequivocally states that being selfish is the essence of evil.  Ayn Rand and the Satanic Bible both attempt to make a virtue out of selfishness, which quickly ends up creating a rather illogical moral code that no serious philosopher can endorse.   With this as a basic guide, we can quickly create a slate of questions that can test our personal goodness and evilness.

1)  Are you most driven by empathy for others, or by selfishness?

2)  Does your work involve duping or exploiting people for personal gain, is it mostly neutral,  or does it involve helping people?

3)  Do you think that it is OK to dupe or exploit people for your gain, because the ‘system’ justifies it?

4) Do you, essentially, have hope that the human condition can be bettered, or do you essentially despair?

5)  Do you follow a creed or lifestyle because it gives you personal power, or do you follow a belief system which is genuinely based on a desire to see more good done for more people, whatever may be your role in the process?

6)   It is ok to wish physical comfort for yourself:  you cannot do good things or be good without it.  But, do you desire money simply as a means to personal comfort and actualization, or do you desire it to gratify base desires, such as gluttony, or to dominate others in terms of ‘showing off’ your superior physical possessions, or to dominate others psychologically or physically (i.e., to be a head honcho, to hire and fire people, to be a landlord in the sense that this gives you power)?

7)  Is your political philosophy predicated on your desire to see your own ‘in group’ remain, or come into, power, at the expense of ‘the other’?  Or do you seek to ensure your ‘in group’s comfort and safety, while seeking to exploit and profit from ‘the other’ as little as possible?  (Too much altruism, i.e., extreme tree huggers who would eradicate humanity to save this or that other species,  is a form of despair and so is also, technically, evil.)

8)  Do you believe in humanism? or some form of authoritarianism?  If you believe in humanism, then you will try to maximize the happiness actualization of the maximum number of people.  Your only enemies then are those who wish to do ill under the guise of their despairing, egomaniacal, or authoritarian beliefs.  If you believe in authoritarianism, then, in some way or another, you believe that certain groups of people should be discriminated against, or exploited,

9)  Do you believe that love is essentially egalitarian/shared, or essentially hierarchical/authoritarian/exploitative?

10)  Do you believe that friendships are essentially egalitarian/voluntary, or essentially authoritarian/dominance-based?

11)  When you argue, can you admit that you are wrong?  Good people realize they are fallible.  Evil people are so concerned with appearing to be right, so worried about losing dominance, that they will even argue with their wives over the composition of waffles, when their wives are obviously right and they were wrong.  This is perhaps the greatest failing that otherwise good people have in real life:  it’s a true test, of whether you can be more like Qui-Gon Jinn, or more like Darth Maul.     (more…)

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So I guess it was J. M. Keynes who said “In the long term, we’ll all dead.”  Fair enough.  But what about our society, our species, and our planet (or even–despite Keynes– us, once we figure out how to stop ageing)?  I’ve already written a post about what our goals should be as a species, over, say the next few hundred years.  But what if we move beyond this timeframe?  I find it’s always good to give you some perspective.  And it helps us to answer, in a more serious fashion, that high-school and comic-strip metaphysics question, ‘what is the meaning of life?’  One can actually be more precise than one might think, nowadays.

When I was a kid, I was a big astronomy buff.  I memorized most of the constellations and their brightest stars; I remember standing out on frigid, crystal-clear winter evenings and checking out Aldabaran in Taurus, the Pleides, Betelgeuse the red giant  in Orion, and Rigel, the ginormous blue star at the other end of Orion.   I subscribed to Astronomy magazine, saved my allowance and bought an 8″-wide  mini ‘light bucket’ dobsonian telescope, which was very economically priced by the way, and when it arrived, it turned out that it was made of a big tube of cardboard, painted red.  That was a bit of a disappointment, but the thing was still so big, that it was magical.  On summer evenings, my best friend and I, and maybe a parent or two, would sit on our back porch in the dark; we had an unobstructed south view, and we were on a bit of a hill, so we could clearly see Scorpio crawling along the southern horizon; the sinisterly red Antares is truly wicked in the context of the scorpion, and is perhaps my favourite star.  Although Vega in Lyra is also a favourite.  With my telescope, I remember checking out the globular cluster near Antares; my favourite was M13 in Hercules.  They still looked incredibly faint and patchy through the lens, and my parents would never have chipped in to buy a camera and tracking apparatus to take photos, but it was magical nonetheless.  At first I wanted to be an astronomer, until I realized that they have to be total math whizzes, and basically just spend their entire time looking at and analyzing data streams.  It seemed unbelievably sterile and tedious to me as a late teen, and so I went for the arts and language instead.  And the really interesting stuff, theoretical physics and cosmology require a math ability that I might have had, but I jumped off the math train in middle school, and once you’re off for a year or two, you can never catch back up.  At any rate, it’s been a bit too long since I’ve really enjoyed the stars on a summer’s evening.  Many years of living in urban apartments have driven a wedge between me and the sky, even though now we finally have the possibility of enjoying it again from our back porch.  (more…)

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In Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry and his fellow writers came up with a vision of Earth in the 24th century which is a kind of utopia.  Because I’ve been watching the 1st and 2nd series on DVD, I’ve been thinking about the Trek writers’ vision of the future.

On the surface, their vision of Earth’s future sounds perfect, even ideal.  What are its main characteristics?

1)  “We have moved beyond the need for accumlating personal possessions.”

2)  This means, they have moved beyond the need for money, and, perhaps, beyond the need for private property.

3) At one point they meet a greedy business capitalist dude from the 20th century, and revive him, and he says “But what do you do here, to challenge yourselves, if there is no need to accumulate wealth?”  And Picard says:  “We challenge ourselves to become better people, physically, spiritually, and morally.”  Ok, but what does all this mean?

4)  Also, there seems to be an “end to war” at least on earth.

First, we need to clarify how this vision of 24th century Utopia Earth would actually work (if it would).  Then, we need to see if there is any practical way to get from here to there.  Can we do it?  Or is it a total pipe dream? (more…)

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Why do people like Tolkien’s Middle Earth so much, and why do people like Star Trek so much?  And, for that matter, why do they like Star Wars so much?  These are clearly the top 3 fictional universes that were created in the 20th century; they are very much alive in the mentality of my entire generation.  In many countries of the world, they are perhaps the core mythology of thinking people under 50–more than any religion.  These universes are, in Lennon’s words, “bigger than Jesus,” and inspire much more, seemingly longer-term, devotion than any rock band, including the Beatles.  And they look to be equally captivating for the generation just now coming to consciousness.  So, why? 

Pundits have speculated endlessly, and you usually get the following answer:  They deal with issues of “good vs. evil.”  And they pose moral quandries. 

Well, yes, but then again, so have about 1,500 other fictional universes.  So that can’t be it. (more…)

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So, almost everyone who is about my age and who has a philosophical bent is a fan of Star Trek, the Next Generation.  I even went to school where a cast member’s father taught, and it was at the height of the TNG’s success, and the father was worshipped like a god for their offspring’s success. 

So, why are philosophy people so into Trek?  Why are there books out like ‘the philosophy of star trek,’ etc.?  Well, because Gene Roddenberry created a show on purpose which would deal with ‘big picture’ issues, which delve into the major problems in Western history, and, very often, which grapple with one of the more important myths, or topoi, of Western culture, including the Garden of Eden; and the whole point of each episode is that it’s supposed to grapple with some major ethical dilemma.   Of course, most people can watch the show and not realize this, which is why it enjoyed any success.  But their inner souls do get it – and that’s also why the show is popular.  Specifically, it’s why the show has become one of the major contributions of c20th culture to the Western canon, along with Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings.  They all deal with those central myths, those ‘clashes of good vs. evil’ which belong properly to the genre known as ‘epic.’   So Star Trek was intentionally epic from the outset.  (more…)

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