Eruditorum Press

Christmas and Easter nihilists

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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.

9 Comments

  1. SK
    April 28, 2015 @ 10:37 pm

    That so many people, including people who are going to go on and write future Star Trek stories (in particular ones that are openly self-critical and deconstructive in tone), seem to have utterly missed this rather crucial underpinning of Star Trek: The Next Generation's basic moral philosophy is quite frankly alarming, and can only be seen as something of a failing of the show itself as well

    'All the boys but my Johnny are marching out of time.'

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  2. Thor
    April 29, 2015 @ 5:32 am

    I stumbled onto Vaka Rangi recently and read quite a few posts over the weekend on TOS episodes and films that I remember quite well – and watching both "Bread and Circuses" and "Journey To Babel" based on comments in other posts.

    Then I decided to watch the next episode of TNG due for coverage, having no idea which episode it was. (Sadly, I'm more familiar with Voyager than the rest of the franchise.) I may well have seen "The Loss" before, but I certainly won't bother again. The analysis, however, was as reliably interesting as I've come to expect.

    Keep up the good work, and I hope "Data's Day" proves a better episode.

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  3. Ross
    April 29, 2015 @ 6:35 am

    This is one of the ones I recall, even as a child, feeling off in a way I couldn't quite verbalize at the time. The way everyone treated Troi losing one of her senses as if she should just Man Up And Grow A Pair, because she was still human-baseline-fully-abled, therefore that one of her senses was really "optional". A perk.

    It didn't occur to me until much much later that Deanna never actually talks about it, but it must have been really hard for her, being a limited telepath growing up on a planet of full telepaths. She was already profoundly handicapped by betazoid standards — she's already gone through learning to cope with a "disability". I'm not sure I even have words for just how petty it is to have the rest of the crew treat her like a wimp.

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  4. Josh Marsfelder
    April 29, 2015 @ 12:05 pm

    Thank you for saying so and I'm very happy you're enjoying the blog!

    Not to worry about "Data's Day": I think we're all going to be profoundly grateful for that one 😉

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  5. Adam Riggio
    April 30, 2015 @ 12:38 am

    Don't give up, Thor. You just hit a bum episode. Go back to the first season and check out Too Short a Season. That one became my favourite after revisiting it thanks to Josh's post. And don't forget The Bonding, Yesterday's Enterprise, Tin Man, and Remember Me.

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  6. Adam Riggio
    April 30, 2015 @ 11:54 am

    Oh, SK, you adorable little goblin scamp. The point of blogs like this isn't to reflect and relate accurately the facts of the production teams' own goals and understandings of what Star Trek is and what/who it's for. That would just be a reference book. That's no more Vaka Rangi's goal than it was ever TARDIS Eruditorum's.

    Vaka Rangi identifies one core idea in the whole range of possible meanings that Star Trek could have for us, an idea that Josh chose because it was particularly close to his heart. That Star Trek is an illustration of utopian progress, striving to improve ourselves and improve our world in doing so, working in the world toward the justice we seek.

    It's an that's rather important to how I want to live the rest of my own life and career as well. It's why, however much I love TARDIS Eruditorum, it moved me through my love for Doctor Who itself. Eruditorum's conception of mystical threads running through all of Doctor Who was fascinating, but I don't associate as deeply with alchemy as I do with utopian dreaming.

    But it's no more a necessarily correct and comprehensive conception of Star Trek than alchemy was of Doctor Who. It's an idea from which you can open your mind and learn to see the world differently. I hope to achieve the same if I ever get my project of a joyful existentialist reading of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm, or my reading of Trailer Park Boys as an aesthetic of the anarchist working class hero.

    Free your mind. And your ass will follow.

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  7. K. Jones
    April 30, 2015 @ 2:29 pm

    Nailed it.

    I will say this, though – while I don't have to go into why this episode is bad, I did always think the 2-dimensional cosmic lemmings were a pretty standout sci-fi concept, and something very akin to taking concepts that are easy to do in comic books and making it work on TV.

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  8. SK
    April 30, 2015 @ 11:19 pm

    Vaka Rangi identifies one core idea in the whole range of possible meanings that Star Trek could have for us

    'Johnny is marching to one core beat in the whole range of possible beats that the band could conceivably be playing.'

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  9. Daru
    May 4, 2015 @ 10:22 pm

    I feel that in so many ways this is a ridiculous episode that completely demeans and diminishes Deanna. Not much of the disability issue comes through in the script really. I personally imagine that Deanna's abilities lie not only in her telepathic empathy, but also in her simple, innate sense of basic empathy which I feel she has as a part of her and is not simply dependant on telepathy but also on observation, caring, sense of body language, etc.

    I feel that she would have actually coped very well and adapted quickly, and there are so many avenues the story could have gone down that celebrated her rather than bringing her down in a cynical way. Very poor story.

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