I’d been brewing components for a post about the historical phenomenon of Covid-19 (or the novel coronavirus) as a literal “novel” — the strong emergence of a narrative metaphor made real, actualized into the environment as part of a historical wave much like we could describe the emergence of a war.
But as that set of ideas materialized and became articulate for me, I found myself unable to apply … myself … at the desk to sit and write:
shhhhh… don’t tell the family secret
“fooled you! hahahaha…”
So, I decided to binge-watch Star Trek: Picard instead. I made it halfway through Episode 7, watching riveted (except when I fell asleep during Ep 2 . . .) and taking copious notes, because the show is utilizing precisely the set of archetypal metaphors I’ve been working with for some time now, and and and, even more fun, finally, conclusively proves that Star Trek and Star Wars are . . . yes . . .
essentially about the same basic thing.
For a chunk of fourth grade I spent considerable time during recess nerding out with one Aaron Moreno and one Joshua Powell about Star Trek: or rather, I tried nerding out with them, and any true discussion of it was short lived. Once I had excitedly interjected with the observation about whatever element of The Next Generation was under discussion, “it’s a lot like Star Wars!” —I’d handed irretrievable fodder to an unknown enemy. Both boys protested and scoffed. Aaron did not let me nerd out with them again without consistently baiting me into a defense of Star Wars as Nuh-uh! NOT inferior to Star Trek. Josh, with a bit of a lighter touch, would inevitably follow Aaron’s suit, and any attempt at actual discussion always descended hierarchically thus.
The more I prevailed with persuasion of Star Wars‘ sensibility, the more eye-rolley came the staunch pride of their own defense of Star Trek‘s sense.
That creates an unfair good/bad dichotomy—I’ve done my fair share of eye-rolling and staunch defense in life; and I had a high adaptive tolerance for responding to even scathing sarcasm with good-natured and perhaps naïve earnestness. Those discussions were therefore usually maintained in a light(ish)hearted mood.
Among fans, the argument was not a unique or novel phenomenon:
Which is Nerdier: Star Wars or Star Trek?
And then one day, Josh P and I (in the absence of Aaron) hatched a brilliant idea in all the bright-eyed eagerly innocent happiness of prepubescent latency, childish devotion to our passions, and the indelible delight of synergistic creativity: “HEY! What if we wrote a story where Star Trek meets Star Wars?!”
“It would be the coolest thing ever!”
“Oh my gosh! That’s the best idea ever!!”
“It hasn’t been done yet!”
“Right?!?! Okay, what if the Enterprise goes through a wormhole and meets the Millennium Falcon?!”
“Yeah!! Oh my gosh that would totally work!”
“I know! This is definitely the best idea anyone has ever had!”
“Yes Yes Yes!!”
“Okay, okay,” he gets down to business. “We’ll each write a first chapter, one on the Enterprise, and one on the Falcon—”
“—and at the end of each chapter it can be like, the response each ship has to suddenly seeing the other one,”
“Yeah! And maybe The Enterprise is putting out a distress call, because it got sucked into the worm hole, and the Milennium Falcon answers it,”
“Yeah! That’s good,” I’m already composing the visual scene, mood, and tone, in my mind, imagining Chewie alone at the console.
“Okay, you write the part aboard the Falcon, since you know more about Star Wars, and I’ll write on the Enterprise, since I know more about Star Trek.”
Ladies and Gentlemen, fourth wave feminism was born when I was in fourth grade. And it was his idea.
Don’t smash it, let’s mash it up. Together!
We got to work excitedly over the next few days, wrote up to the part where the two ships meet, then left it sort of hanging in space, neither of us sure yet how to proceed with these sets of mutually beloved characters cooperatively and yet also wholly true to their distinctive forms.
And in that space of unknown, where the idea launched remains temporarily unutterable, unobserved, Aaron smashed it. Josh let him. Whether this happened literally or figuratively, as a result of one child’s relative dominance over the other, I will likely never know. We stopped working on it. We hardly talked very much after that. I was crushed.
War, thanatos, the death drive (mutually terminal negation), smites eros: mutual recognition with a strong emergent subjectivity. This smiting would be the cognitive translation of the metaphor in the Picard series, “the sister that dies.” As with any quantum potential, there is both the cat dead in the box upon observation and/or the cat alive: the observation of one gives rise to the desire—the simultaneous potential—for the other.
As far as fusing fandoms go, the moment had all the juice it could possibly provide for us kids, then (circa 1992). There was no paradigmatic conceptual grid for our idea to come to any kind of creative material fruition. Yet.
Though feminism was on its third wave, and western thought had gone not only modern, but deconstructive and even post-modern, the operative binary modes of cognitive hierarchy—which are meant to be inherently protective:
1=true ; 0=false — no recognizable subject detected, thanatos: do not observe—
were still dominant in the broader culture (including within feminism itself). As Adrienne Rich notes in her Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution, even with the rise of feminism “the power of the fathers has been difficult to grasp—”
“—because it permeates everything, even the language in which we try to describe it. It is diffuse and concrete; symbolic and literal; universal, and expressed with local variations which obscure its universality.”
From ST:TNG, cliffhanging and conjoining seasons three and four.
“He’s more machine now, than man . . . twisted and evil . . .”
locution — 1. a particular form of expression or a peculiarity of phrasing, esp. a word or expression characteristic of a region, group, or cultural level . . . 2. style of discourse, phraseology (merriam-webster online). [3. (humbly suggested by me) the specific trappings of a fandom]
I believe we may have seen a patriarchal figure like this somewhere before…. part man, part machine….. some movie…. can’t quite recall…..
The metaphor of assimilation is a reflection of the social prevalence of thanatos, or a repression of individual subjectivity for the purpose of protecting the collective as a whole. It is balanced against the eros drive, and together this tension generates social collapse and other forms of social deviance or destruction, as repressed subjectivity in the collective seeks the expression of eros, either through individuals or through the cooperative locus of strong emergent incidents of rebellion, deviance, or other forms of revolution.
The collective organism is thus driven through history in a dynamic balance of the thanatos/eros drives toward a sustainable equilibrium that allows more and more eros, or mutually recognized subjectivity, to be granted over time to more expressions of individuality, as personal and collective death drives are reconciled and allowed subjectively creative rather than objectively destructive expression. Hegel refers to this historical coalescence as the collective rise of Absolute spirit/Absolute knowledge. It begins with an intrinsic and socially universalized understanding of the pure innocence and value of all human drives. It reconciles such narratives as “the fall from eden” or other ideas of sin, punishment, and transgression progressively on an individual and then increasingly collective psychological, biochemical/cellular, and what we might call a spiritual—or socially cohesive—level.
0 ; 1=true=eros=true=1 ; 0
Becoming a Borg forces Picard to experience an internalized projection of a split state of self [1=true=subject=BorgCube=subject=Locutus=true ; 0=object=Picard=false]
and so also the fundamental innocence of the objective drives of thanatos and collective belonging: one could argue that this literal mind-meld of the Borg collective is the most true belonging Picard experiences within the scope of The Next Generation series, even if it is also a violation of his subjective personality.
His relative helplessness to regain subjectivity, and complete dependence on being rescued by others
though it allows him to experience the innocence of the drive for singular wholeness through his friends’ desire that he be restored to himself, is still an experience of relative objectification—thanatos. We could draw a parallel between this element in such narratives to the culturally [not naturally, not inherently] disempowered experience of delivery, birth, and mothering of the reflectively helpless infant, where both the mother and the infant are historically “dead in the box” — denied by the patriarchal exercise of power a mutual recognition and the ensuing subjectively mutual, empowered experience in which mother and child discover one another and create their bond as an expression of strong emergence.
But even that objectively disempowered state co-occurs with the quantum possibility for a personally empowered subjective state that can be “opened” or observed, created, in the future.
And so, Star Trek: Picard reveals that Picard is driven historically to embark on a journey of personally empowered rebellion, this time against the compromised ideology of the Federation, which can no longer tolerate his subjectivity (demonstrated in the first episode when his emotional state becomes subjectively disregulated and deemed inappropriate). Again, one could argue that it is through his assimilation with the Borg that Picard is first put into direct subjective touch with an experience of such deep collective unification that it later drives his own personal search to restore or reclaim himself from a state of fragmentation. His own awareness of the Federation’s [initial] self-betrayal is brought into conscious acuity as a direct result of his more fully immersive experience of belonging with the Borg: I briefly touch on the evolutionary benefit of fragmentation in my post le non/nom du père.
The Borg assimilation illustrates the deeply traumatic effect, both in mind, body, and spirit, of the ways in which children and adults alike are objectively fragmented by the social drive of thanatos present in fundamental “civilizing” practices (primarily birth, rearing, education, and financial provision) during life stages universal to all human beings regardless of culture (locutive mode).
I will go a little further to describe Picard’s referenced Borg assimilation as the twin shadow, the “dead in the box” foreshadowy mechanical skeleton that the Star Trek: Picard series finally reveals to be fleshed out, living: clothed in the skin of Starfleet itself. Unlike the encounter with the Borg in The Next Generation, Picard is now subjectively empowered to both recognize and define “Starfleet” for himself in the resonant core of eros—subjectively shared principles, rather than be objectively assimilated by it. He then assembles (that word is used here intentionally, as a thematic motif throughout the series) an interdependent and cooperative unit with other such eros-oriented subjects: a crew, a strong emergence—the veritable David—even when the much greater collective body of Goliath—Starfleet [Or rather, the Romulans]—remains committed to its thanatos drive.
This journey—which is very much a journey to restore the father’s innocence, or his whole subjectivity—requires both a potentiator (the cat “dead” in the box) and a catalyst (the subsequent co-occurant quantum possibility of life):
Help me . . .
So the “difficult to grasp” power of the father came right to her. . .
I haven’t read or listened to any commentary or discussion about the show yet and don’t plan to til after I finish watching, but I’m certain I’m not the only one to make such obvious connections between these two widely treasured fandoms.
I wonder how many fans of Star Trek were annoyed by the Picard series—or if Aaron Moreno was out there somewhere, upset that Star Trek had betrayed him by exposing how very Star Wars it had always really been.
Or, as Elnor thoughtfully remarks, “maybe that’s none of my business. I should out-butt.”
Enough people—even fans of Star Wars—were annoyed at the “repetitive” nature of the final Star Wars trilogy’s story arc, unaware of the story’s natural ring-narrative structure, built upon precisely timed reversals and repetitions that unfold in an intuitive pattern rooted in deep archetypes. So it’s easy to believe plenty of fans were even more annoyed at Star Trek‘s seemingly sudden imitative and repetitive narrative leap.
0 ; 1=true=eros=true=1 ; 0
Back to July 26, 2020: I get through six or so episodes of Star Trek: Picard, eagerly scribbling down my notes for a full analysis I knew would take me a joyous long long time into the future. Okay, eagerly scribbling notes except for when I kept falling asleep during the second episode, rather like Soji on the phone with her mom (it was uncanny to watch so soon after having been lulled to sleep by the show myself, but fun)
I eventually grew aware of feeling so psychologically battered as I continued watching the show that I decided to take the respite offered on Nepenthe and stop halfway into the seventh episode [I finished marathoning the second half of the show in January 2021].
In my video The Quad I refer to the quadrilateral archetypal “family” structure that serves as a foundational personality matrix through which all human beings express their selfhood and creativity.
These are the “deep archetypes” that inform all narratives, whether they be individual, or collective; stories, or history (“the news”). I describe a phenomenon “object-subject polarity,” which magnetically aligns the subjective creative drives (eros) across the father-daughter axis, and objective creative drives (thanatos) across the mother-son axis.
You could picture this as a four-square checker board, where black squares indicate “thanatos” or objectivity.
As the father-daughter archetypes gain mutually empowered (recognized) subjectivity, the mother-son archetypes gain subjectivity that is rooted in a mutual recognition of innocence, allowing for full subjective restoration. You could say, the red squares (or white, if we’re playing chess; as the video explains, this is an ever-expanding gameboard) turn gold—eros—and the black squares turn white. The drive is still thanatos, but it is subjectively recognized and integrated rather than objectively sublimated (and subordinated, sub-routed).
Essentially, all human beings are a walking talking quantum computer: each cell contains the mainframe for this computer and the personality matrix of the individual, and is clothed in organic matter that all magnetically resonates to create the strong emergence of the individual. We are each a unique collective, very literally our very own Borg cube. But we are wholly human, as well. The Borg cube represents the objectively assimilated individual who is oriented magnetically toward responsiveness to collective thanatos drives, rather than one who is subjectively individuated, and thus oriented magnetically toward responsiveness to collective eros drives.
So, to revisit our friend Locutus, we have either the red observational light of thanatos objectives (observes the cat always dead in the box), relative to the golden light of eros and subjective recognition (able to observe the cat alive)
The two above images are drawn from space (the unknown) and the desert (consciousness). Nepenthe, however is a house in an Edenic garden (the creative heart and procreative centers, which also contain their own strong emergent expressions of the personality matrix, or house). Even though I didn’t finish the episode, I had a lot of fun seeing my own idea of a “wild woman” archetype to reframe Carl Jung’s “chthonic mother” realized in the form of the family’s daughter—”created” in a sense by the brother (via his invented game shared with her) [a move in this epic chess game that got me thinking further about the chthonic mother and the daughter] I also really enjoyed seeing Picard placed in the room of the son:
the brother who dies. No wonder evolution has taken us so much time. Being, acting, and being recognized, seen for who he really is, is still so closely correlated and penalized with death in our collective imagination for the figure of the subjectively integrated, able (Abel) son.
But in this incredibly powerful, mainstream pop-culture love story, “Juliet” got to live, and that’s a start. Now we’re collectively up on one leg.
So not having watched the way the show employs the archetypes and resolves the action, I’ll let myself get musey about the connections, the live wires, I’ve collected here. We have the mother, the father, the sister, the “brother,” (interestingly and importantly, Picard is both interchangeably brother and father) — and Soji, the proverbial fifth wheel or might we say “fifth element”
“She’s perfect” — the cat alive in the box, then released from the box:
who becomes the creative force, the magic, the life force—the strong emergent subjective expression of the four collected archetypes in a unified harmony and of mutual subjective recognition or resonance—and its predominant drive for trust, a belief of protection that is the golden light, the ray, the “power of the father” to dispel the objective thanatos narrative drives of the “borg” collective.
Instead, this strong emergence composes subjectively for the purpose of achieving the same kind of immersive harmony and collective unity as the borg, but with distinctive regard for individual subjectivity.
[edit later to add, after actually having finished the series, the plot relationship of Picard and The Fifth Element is even more clear in the impending doom of the final episodes]
I believe the historical collective shift toward narratives moving in the direction of absolute spirit [à la Hegel] rather than locked in an objective slave circuit has already occurred, and will give rise to a globalized creative renaissance across all fields of human endeavor, not only in the arts but also in the sciences: most especially medical institutions and healing practices.
The inspiration, eros, the power of the fathers, which flows—and is grasped cognitively, allowed to express—through the subjectively empowered archetype of the offspring (the sister who lives, the brother who lives) is described in Star Trek: Picard succinctly as the “therapeutic utility of a shared mythological framework,” or as Soji articulates, creating a “shared narrative framework for understanding . . . trauma rooted in deep archetypes but as relevant as the days’ news. . . . that’s just what I’m hoping to do.”
Ditto, sister. hashtag lifegoals.
Mutually subjective creative exploration of potentially healing narratives:
[quantum potential]; 1=true=eros=true=1 ; [quantum potential]
“There may be nothing new under the sun,” (emphasis mine) as Fruhling states in his post on pop-culture franchises as modern mythology (which I read while working on this post)—however there is everything new as we are subjectively unified within its scope, and empowered to turn our gaze into the unknown.