Friday, June 11, 2010

Star Trek by the Minute Episode 114: Put Aside Logic

"Because you need each other." Spock Prime responds.  There are two problems with this quasi-answer which anyone with a minimal knowledge of logic and philosophy would recognize instantly: First, "need" is meaningless without some goal or object driving the need, like a requirement.  In the great film "Out of Africa" Denys Finch Hatten replied to Karen Blixen's claim of "I need you!" with the sensible but because of their obviousness and insensitivity not stupendously brilliant questions: "Why?  If I die will you die?"  The second problem is one that keeps cropping up with these characters over and over, in fact the entire plot seems to advance on revisiting differing sides of an inconsistent setting: whether the prime and alternate timelines are separate universes, parallel analogs, or something else.  If conditions are substantially different in this universe with, for example, major players like the Vulcans nearly extinct and a major Federation planet missing, it would suggest that predicting microscopic personality traits, opinions and experiences with any accuracy would be borderline delusional.

Abrams, with some kind of stellar chutzpah, uses Spock Prime as the voice of God to "I could not deprive you of the revelation of all that you could accomplish together;  of a friendship that will define you both in ways you cannot yet realize."  While it is possible the elder may have studied younger Spock's history as well as Kirk's, predicting the compatibility of these two, and the value that their interactions will provide in a significantly altered reality is plainly foolish - and we don't require top honors from the Vulcan Science Academy to comprehend that.

"How did you persuade him to keep your secret?" asks nuSpock.

"He inferred that universe ending paradoxes would ensue should he break his promise." What?!?  How could this script ever get approved?  Spock prime is actually lying here.  Absolutely nothing, of any way, shape, or means, anywhere, near anything, like that was ever, EVER discussed on Delta Vega.  Quite to the contrary - Spock Prime's "justification" to Kirk consisted entirely of ipse-dixitism by stating to Kirk that he "must" keep the secret and he "cannot" tell nuSpock.  In this case Spock Prime appears yet again to be speaking for Abrams, continuing to support of the idea that people who are ignorant, but willing to act on faith with conviction and determination are heroes, if they are the people chosen by Destiny (wink).  Of course, such heroes require equally energetic, (i.e.: violent), equally ignorant (faithful), and loyal (arrogant) opponents to provide an evil enemy to defend against.

nuSpock sums up that explanation with "You lied," which applies more to this explanation than anything that was misleading Kirk, but older Spock cops to deliberately deceiving both alternate Spock and Kirk with "Oh.... I implied."  If anything like that did occur back on Delta Vega, the audience never saw it.  Instead, this scene clearly portrays a sympathetic view of self-serving mis-characterization, of intentionally hiding the truth through misdirection and deceit, rationalized by good intentions.  The sub-text message is that ignorance is really a benefit, and that Spock Prime cares more about engineering a friendship roughly like the one he holds in high regard from his own past.

"A gamble..." What gamble?  Did Spock Prime risk something of material value while ostensibly "lying" to Kirk?  I can't help but recall the series of non-sequiturs from the dinner scene in Star Trek VI which were, according to one script, attributed to the Romulan Ale and lots of strange editing of the conversation.  Here, describing Spock Prime's deception as "a gamble" appears nonsensical.

"An act of faith..." says Spock Prime, "...one that I hope you will repeat in the future with Starfleet."  Here is where Abrams tries to deliberately drive a stake through the heart of Roddenberry's hopes for Trek: portraying a secular, optimistic and peaceful future that conveys the magnificence of space, the excitement and thrill of discovery, and joy that comes from reaching peace when violence and war appear to be the only answer.  Abrams repeatedly tells us in this film to bury logic as our primary guide to truth and that unthinking faith and leaping without looking is best.

"In the face of extinction it is only logical I resign my Starfleet commission and help rebuild our race."  Finally, he starts making some sense, especially if anyone on Vulcan ordered "Women and children first!" when the evacuations started.  There's probably a few more of these photos out on the Federation's subspace network of lonely refugees interested in "rebuilding the race" with available, pointy-eared hunks...

"And yet, you can be in two places at once..."  Another ridiculous non-sequitur - nuSpock cannot be in two places at once, and this comment is a sophomoric jibe perhaps designed to amuse 8-11 year olds in the audience, but seems so unworthy of what we might hope from Star Trek.  Old Spock in the Abramsverse might even have his eye on forming a harem somewhere.  However, if this were really his intent, he first would have to cook up some excuse to keep the younger, better-looking competition busy, while he contacts Harry Mudd, locates some suitable, out of the way "colony", and sets up sex-slave traffic - pretty easy when you have transwarp beaming! 

But, perhaps I'm uncharitable and Spock will actually team up with his younger self and work on their top priority: rescuing the purity of the Vulcan race from mixing with degenerate species and races.  Which is it?  Spock Prime answers with "...I urge you to remain in Starfleet.  I have already located a suitable planet on which to establish a Vulcan colony." Ha! I knew it...

"Spock" he continues "in this case, do yourself a favor: put aside logic."  Borrowing from TimeCop, Spock quotes the main bad guy giving his younger self advice, but in urging Spock to "put aside logic", he is actually advocating that we put aside one of the few tools we have to recognize when language is deceiving us.  It's like faith: only really necessary for lies or mistakes - since truth and good decisions can very well stand on their own.  If we pursue truth and good decisions, faith is not necessary - but before the invention of logic and cognitive science, religions and myths that had been passed down over time were the best guidance available to us.

Spock Prime turns and walks away.  At this point in the film, I couldn't stop from shedding a tear and had to walk out... 

No women speak or appear in this segment.

Mass murderer and negligent idiot "Captain" Kirk is awarded a medal in our next episode, Star Trek by the Minute 115: Commendation Ceremony.

3 comments:

Steamblade said...

This is one of the egregious faults in the entire film for me. Nothing says true eternal friendship like having it dictated to you. This removes essential genuine feeling out of the equation because its tainted by "destiny." At least, that's how it felt.

BurntSynapse said...

It's apparently a completely unconscious bias in throughout the film, but explains much. If "destiny" is "on your side" (i.e.: "Gott Mit Uns"), there's no need for logic, looking before you leap, evidence, or wasting time on developing one's own sense of ethics, morals, or cultivating virtues.

Cultures of humble, secular logic and conservative reason are natural enemies of liberal dogmatism and radical faith. By destroying Vulcan, Abrams seems to make clear which side he favors. BTW, I don't think it accidental that violence is the first resort of his heroes, and that his enemies are crazed, evil lunatics without a single redeeming feature.

MOCK! said...

I feel a little silly posting this after the well thought out comments above mine and in the post, but I've always been partial to that female cosplay Vulcan pic!

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