Eruditorum Press

No nationalism but Terry Nationalism

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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.

4 Comments

  1. Adam Riggio
    August 12, 2013 @ 12:11 pm

    "This isn't the language of travellers, this is the language of missionaries, colonialists and conquerors."

    Partly right, but I think there's an element of the Changeling/V'Ger dynamic missing from that sentence. The missionary sees himself as already having the Truth and bringing its enlightenment to foreign communities, in the case of Star Trek, to the stars. Yet something different happens to Nomad and V'Ger: they go out to explore in ignorance, have a mystical encounter with an alien intelligence, and this mystical encounter brings the Truth to them. In this story, Truth has an alien origin. So the missionary isn't the only attitude for the traveller; there's also that of the seeker.

    Of course, both of these views are intensely flawed if, like me (and probably like you from what I can gather), there is no one unified Truth, but many diverse narratives and ways to live. We explore different worlds to discover and conceive of new possibilities. Which is basically the message of TNG when it's done right.

    I don't know if you've noticed over on Adam Writes Everything, and a lot of this conflict is over facebook, which is restricted access. But I'm in the middle of an epic fight over just this problem in the nature of philosophical interpretation. A couple of friends of mine think they have the Truth about a subject we've been discussing, or at least that seeking a univocal Truth that will end all speculation and inquiry is the goal of philosophy. Meanwhile, I just want to create some funky new concepts that let people do new things with their ideas of temporality, and I find myself under siege.

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  2. Josh Marsfelder
    August 12, 2013 @ 2:52 pm

    "Partly right, but I think there's an element of the Changeling/V'Ger dynamic missing from that sentence. The missionary sees himself as already having the Truth and bringing its enlightenment to foreign communities, in the case of Star Trek, to the stars. Yet something different happens to Nomad and V'Ger: they go out to explore in ignorance, have a mystical encounter with an alien intelligence, and this mystical encounter brings the Truth to them. In this story, Truth has an alien origin. So the missionary isn't the only attitude for the traveller; there's also that of the seeker."

    Yes but this still gets at the core problem you bring up later on in your comment: It still presupposes the existence of some fundamental objective Truth, which must be called something, so it is called God. This remains a pop Christian way of conceptualizing philosophy and metaphysics, so my cultural contextualizing still holds I argue.

    "We explore different worlds to discover and conceive of new possibilities. Which is basically the message of TNG when it's done right."

    A succinct summary of what's valuable about TNG if I've ever read one.

    A shame you're under siege, not only as I am in fact in your camp (which will make future Vaka Rangi interesting), but also because the whole idea of the conflict rather flies in the face of this conception of truths and ideas in the first place.

    We will, of course, be returning to this theme several more times for the episodes/movies you would expect them to be important to. It should also prove helpful for redeeming Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.

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  3. BerserkRL
    December 14, 2013 @ 8:23 pm

    It still presupposes the existence of some fundamental objective Truth

    Well, it's hard to see what coherent alternative to that conception there could be.

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  4. Josh Marsfelder
    December 15, 2013 @ 2:17 pm

    This is neither the time nor the place to discuss Western Metaphysics, but I'll just say I tend to believe in a multiplicity of truths rather than a singular objective Truth.

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