“Where No Man Has Gone Before”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Satanic Hero is a fearful one because he would destroy everything to gain Something. He is Orc who sets fire to the world and who tears Urizen from his throne. He doesn’t care that Innocents will die to bring about the new world. Out of this destruction arises Albion, a wiser, better leader who is a man of compassion as well as action.

I guess the BIG QUESTION is: Would Gary Mitchell have evolved into Albion given time; and would the destruction of the galaxy be worth that transformation? Or, is Kirk right to finally bring about Mitchell’s death because his Otherness is not leading to regeneration. Is Mitchell Orc? Or is he Urizen?

“The Literature of Change” by Christopher McKittereck struck a resounding chord in me for a variety of reasons, but most specifically because of McKitterick’s definition of science fiction as being a literature of change rather than of science. We use science fiction as a vehicle to explore who we are as human beings, to test theories, to alter our own perspectives about our lives, society, and culture. We speculate. Think about “Where No Man Has Gone Before” for example. STAR TREK definitely fits our popular conception of science fiction because of its futuristic setting, alien beings, and use of technology. I don’t think this TV show would have gained such popularity however, if it had not also speculated about the human condition, social change, and the effects of science and technology on humanity.

In this particular episode, the characters are faced with the question, “What will you do if you are given absolute power?” Mitchell gives in almost immediately to the alien power he is given, practically throwing away his humanity in exchange for something more. You have to ask yourself why he would be so eager to give up all that he is to become something alien.

The transformation in Dehner is not as swift, nor is it an obvious conclusion that she is eager to give up her humanity for power. From a sociological perspective, this is unusual because in the time that this script was written women were just gaining power and one myth tied to the women’s movement is that minorities would not know how to use the power that they were given and would abuse it. Although Dehner’s fall is inevitable, it is surprising the writers choose to mask her changes while allowing Mitchell to tumble from grace so quickly. The first hint of Dehner’s inner transformation is her response to Kirk’s query about Mitchell’s ability to control key ship’s functions through ESP. She responds by saying, “No one’s been hurt, have they? Don’t you understand? A mutated superior man could also be a wonderful thing. The forerunner of a new and better kind of human being” , and thus reveals her achilles heel – curiousity.

Archetypally, Dehner’s character seems to be following the pattern of Pandora, Eve, or Delilah — all women who are connected to the ideas of temptation and deception. In comparison, Mitchell’s archetypal pattern is that of fallen heroes like Adam, Lucifer, or Dorian Gray, all of whom gave up their positions of Grace for personal gain or knowledge and in so doing became monsters. In fact, Mitchell even says that the majority of the crew view him as a monster. Historically, Elizabeth Dehner is echoing Nietzche’s concept of the Ubermensch in his book, “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”. Roughly translated as Overman or Above-Human or most commonly as Superman, the literate reader/viewer of Star Trek would naturally make the connection to Nietzche, and from there to a new Garden of Eden story.

The split between human and other is paralleled by Spock’s and Kirk’s responses to the situation. Spock logically assesses the situation and recommends that Kirk either abandon Mitchell on Delta Vega, an isolated planet or that Kirk kill Mitchell right away. Reasoning that Mitchell’s abilities are multiplying incrementally, Spock hypothesizes that sooner rather than later the helmsman will view the crew as little more than white mice for his experiments. With this future in mind, Spock recommends that sacrificing the one for the many is a viable solution. Kirk, on the other hand, calls for a more compassionate solution and cannot divest himself of his human emotion of “love” for his crew member and former student. Kirk chooses a path taken by many other captains and refuses to leave a man behind, unless the cost to his ship and crew is irrefutable. Further revelation of Mitchell’s deterioration comes when he mocks Kirk’s decision to try and save him, telling Kirk that “command and compassion is a fool’s mixture”.

In the end, however, compassion is what saves the day. Dehner listens to Kirk’s plea to hold onto her human self long enough to defeat the monster that Mitchell has become. What makes her listen to Kirk? Is it the psychiatrist, who has witnessed the nightmares of humanity? Is it the woman who feels for those who are weaker than herself? Is it the “mother” who will fight to the death to protect her children? Nevertheless, without Kirk’s influence, her response would not have been the same as she had already admitted that, “Earth is really unimportant. Before long, we’ll be where it would have taken mankind millions of years of learning to reach. “

Christopher McKitterick ends his article with the line, “Science fiction is a discussion about what it means to be human in a changing world, and everyone is invited. Welcome to the conversation”, which inevitably brings to mind many late night conversations with fellow Trekkies as we dissected each episode. If I were to identify with a character on the Enterprise which character would I be, is a question that I’ve asked myself more than once. I remember watching, “Where No Man Has Gone Before”, as a teenager in the 1970’s and I must admit my sympathies lay with Gary Mitchell. There was something compelling about the acquisition of power, especially the power to control things with your mind. His alpha male persona, obvious connection to a male hierarchy, and his good looks swayed my sympathies, I’m afraid, and I spent many an hour re-writing the ending to the episode. To my credit, however, my new ending did include a complete character transformation in the helmsman turned god. Heart of Darkness  comes to mine as I  ruminate upon the quandary of the characters in “Where No Man Has Gone Before”. Literally, the entire crew journeys each week into the heart of darkness and is tested like the Knights of Arthur’s Round Table for courage, loyalty, faith, love, honour, truth, generosity and goodness. Star Trek explores the chivalric code in modern terms, sometimes upholding the values and sometimes debunking them when they become too rigid and the “knights” lose sight of their purpose for following the code. I feel for Kirk in his position as captain, simply because the final decision regarding Mitchell’s fate is his alone to make. He can take Spock’s counsel, and listen to Dehner’s as well but in the end Kirk is the only one who can decide if Mitchell must be saved, killed or exiled. In the same way that King Arthur must lead with strength and judge with compassion, so too must Kirk.

This role of wise king can be compared to the Freudian theory of Id, Ego, Super Ego. When all three constructs work together then their roles in the psyche are balanced. For example, when Mitchell is performing his normal role as helmsman, and Spock is doing his job as Science Officer then Kirk is free to perform his duties as captain. The routine of the Enterprise runs smoothly. However, when one of the constructs is given too much power, as happens when Mitchell’s ESP capabilities are boosted then chaos erupts. Spock, the Super Ego, counsels dire measures to contain or eradicate the out of control Id (Mitchell). Kirk (Ego) must balance Spock’s advice against his personal relationship with Mitchell. Only when it is obvious that there is an irreparable imbalance can Kirk (or the Ego) act to destroy the out of balance Id. If the story were to end at this point, however, Kirk would never regain his position as wise king or balanced Ego. The Super Ego, Ego, Id relationship must be restored in some way. This is accomplished when Kirk makes a notation in the ship’s log that Mitchell died during the performance of his duty, because he didn’t ask for what happened to him. Spock takes on the role of Id when he agrees with Kirk by saying, “I felt for him too”.

So … what do I personally learn from “Where No Man Has Gone Before”? Maybe that power is a force that must be respected at all times, and that there is a strong need for balance in our approach to life. Thought becomes action; action creates thought. If I consider my need to balance my spiritual, emotional, intellectual and physical needs then I am more likely to make wise decisions rather than spontaneous reactions to random stimuli. When I ignore the signs of one sphere being out of balance, then resentment will build and arguements/fights/alienation will occur. Have I experienced a Spock-like desire to execute an errant thought or irrational act. Yes. At times, this decision was the right one, and like Kirk I managed to save my “ship” by sacrificing the out of balance construct.

Thoughts become actions.
Actions become thoughts.

 

 

 

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Follow the White Wolf (excerpt)

Technique:  Point of View and Stream of Consciousness

Intention:    To develop the character, Kineu, through the techniques of introspection, dialogue, action and interaction with other characters.

Genre:    Science Fiction

His breath pooled in his chest, then puffed passed his lips. A meditation stone cooled the palm of his hand. In and out – forget about crystillium thrusters, spatial anomalies, crew squabbles, duty assignments, and Nexus attacks.

Kineu sighed. When he was a boy, his grandfather had told him that meditation was the path to the peace of his ancestors. Too bad his butt hadn’t paid attention to the lesson. He shifted to relieve the cramp and tried to focus. How do you think about nothing and still stay alert? Why couldn’t it be like his dream last night? Kineu tried to dismiss his errant thoughts but it was too late. The images flow, as clear now as they had been upon awaking that morning.

A gleaming white wolf nudges his hand in greeting. Kineu honors its welcome with one of his own, stepping lightly through desert air to sit by a pool of water. Ripples of memory disturb its surface only briefly.  He brushes the thoughts away … brushes the pool


turns his palms skyward

rests them

open

on crossed knees cupping gently the meditation stone

of his father’s father

given to him in ceremony

a seeker

of  light

he opens his heart

to greet his soul …

Into his vision stalks a jaguar. Black muscles ripple past the moon silver wolf. Soft pads whisper near the sinew of the seeker’s shoulder. The jaguar’s tongue laps at the clear water, while yellow eyes

narrow and suspicious

furtively study -in quick fearful glances –

the leather clad Anishnabeg.

Deliberately he remains silent.

Muscles struggle to remain still.

His breath, so regular at first, catches in his throat. The big cat is unexpected…

The cat growls, soft and menacing, in Kineu’s ear. Its breath, hot and sweet, brushes his cheek. Already he can feel his hair stirring in response. He readies himself for the attack, and reaches for a gun he knows isn’t there.

“Brrrrt.”

Kineu’s cellcom chirped. Automatically his hand reached for the device clipped to his belt.

“Sorry for interrupting, Commander.” Mitchell Ogawa’s voice was a cheerful interruption in the silent room. The young officer had been on duty for several hours already, but nothing could put a dent in his enthusiasm.

“Is there a problem, Ensign?” Kineu’s voice rasped uncomfortably in his ears. Their ship, Destiny, hadn’t encountered Nexus since leaving Commonwealth space three years ago but circumstances could change in a hurry.  To date, their explorations had resulted in few friendships and more than a few squirmishes. Folks in this quadrant of space weren’t particularly friendly with strangers

Ogawa understood the first officer’s concern. Even though Destiny had found no sign of the Nexus homeworld, there was always the hope (and the fear) that today would be the day.  “No sign of Nexus sir, but sensors have detected a new star system.  Captain Sinkiewicz wants you on the bridge.” Mitchell’s voice reassured the first officer.

“I’m on my way.” The words were barely out of Kineu’s mouth before the whoosh of the door signaled his exit. He padded quietly down the grey corridor, his body a compact study in muscle. Crewmen stepped from his path, aware of the strength held beneath passive facial muscles. Black heels clipped the carpeted corridor. Spine straight and eyes direct, only his hair proclaimed he wasn’t totally military. It hung straight down his back, held in place by a simple leather knot.

 Even after three years, Danu La Fey thought, Kineu still had the air of a Midewewin… of a freedom fighter. If anyone had asked her four years ago about serving aboard a Commonwealth ship she would have laughed. Now? Well, even Midewewin principles had to give way to practicality. The Nexus was too great an enemy for the Midewewin to fight alone, and the Commonwealth had finally decided that diplomacy wouldn’t end the war. Kineu had agreed to merge the best of his crew from Raven with the best that the Commonwealth had to offer. The result was Destiny and their mission to hunt down the Nexus.  “Hey, have you tried that new virtual reality program I wrote for you?” Her crisp voice cut through Kineu’s preoccupation, while her strides matched his purposeful gait.

Kineu glanced down. Danu, as always, looked frailer than she was. A human might have mistaken her for a blue pixie, but her species was far more ferocious. “Not yet, but I’m hoping that your program will help me with my meditation exercises.” None of his disappointment peeked through the mask he wore for the crew. It was no secret that he was searching for a way to harness the telepathic powers of his people but not even Danu knew how much it meant to him.

He forced a smile and changed the subject. “So, how are you feeling? Is Liam looking after you?”  The first officer made an effort to keep his voice even. Even though Liam Tennyson had proven himself a loyal member of Destiny’s crew, Kineu couldn’t forget that years’ earlier the younger man had almost destroyed the Midewewin council. Maybe Danu’s husband wasn’t the fool he had been, but Kineu still wondered.

“Liam is driving me crazy,” Danu sighed. “Every day he reviews the food groups’ chart and quizzes me on my eating habits. If he isn’t trying to feed me, then he’s questioning my hours in Engineering. If he had his way, I would be lying down in our quarters right now!” Danu’s voice quivered with disgust. Pregnancy had softened her Gael physique but hadn’t touched her temper.

Kineu halted abruptly. Catching her shoulder, he steadied her against a stumble.  “Can you blame him? Not only is the Nexus killing and enslaving most of free space, but they’ve also figured out a way to arrest fetal development. You and Liam are an anomaly. Your baby is actually going to make it to term.”  He softened his voice. “Sure he’s being over zealous but with good reason. Just be patient.”

Lips quirking over her testiness, Danu nodded and resumed walking. “You’re right. I’ve got to remember the big picture. He’s just so annoying at times that I forget.”

Kineu paused at the lift, and raised an eyebrow. “Bridge?”

“No,” she chuckled at the irony, “I’m meeting Liam for breakfast.”

 Kineu stepped onto the waiting platform. The lift silently propelled him towards his destination. For a moment, as the floor moved beneath his feet, Kineu swayed. Vertigo, swift and hushed as death, swirled past his eyes. His black and grey clad shoulder protested his sudden stumble. Fingers splayed against cool metal –

gold eyes wink at him out of the mists

menacing and alien,

he stuggles to stand

to assess the threat, but low growls rumble in his ears

push him further from his objective …

his uniform and the colours of blood and fur

mix,

and gold watches him

–        feral –

fear tastes bitter in his mouth and bile

presses against his teeth …