Eruditorum Press

Doxing gods

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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.

10 Comments

  1. Jack Graham
    November 17, 2013 @ 11:23 pm

    I like that Doctor Who essentially did the same story, but in their version the Big Man of All History is called Scaroth and he's an evil bastard, doing it all entirely for his own purposes and driving humanity towards annihilation.

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  2. K. Jones
    November 18, 2013 @ 7:22 am

    I like "Requiem for Methuselah". But I loathe science fiction when it incredulously tries to reduce the great works of many disparate individuals to secretly all being the works of one superman. It's insulting to the human race, or at least the cross-section of "History of Western Art" we get here.

    For that matter, if Flint was an immortal version of Alexander or da Vinci, assuredly Rayna would likely not be a "perfect Female" android.

    But beyond that caveat of the immortality trope, and its reductive (and therefore, antisophisticate) nature (this is something I find fault in with a lot of "immortal" fiction, whether it be Highlanders or even Doctor Who, although in Who's case the tropey nature works in its favor – eventually, the whole history of mankind's achievements are revolving around one protagonist, and that's a horribly narrow way of looking at things), the episode itself has a fine premise (Odyssey plague ship comes to Western eccentric isolationist billionaire's island need remedy, he's been cut off from other people for a long damn time, and so on and so forth). It's well acted, the trio of heroes is wholly well represented and are clearly excited by the quality of the script and the human nature on display.

    And the ending, besides "Forget …" being another prophetic moment that will pay off two decades later with "Remember …", is probably the most uncanny, empathic and wonderful ending in TOS history – it's getting toward the end now, and we see that Kirk really is the weary traveler, he's exhausted by genuine romantic feelings toward all of these women, this one may have pushed him over the edge. Even his famous, slightly callous sense of humor isn't staving off the anxiety.

    But Spock understands the emotional toll. That's where Bones is so wrong; Spock may be stoic, unemotional, coldly logical, but the Vulcan understanding of the manifold effects of emotion is actually keen as a lance. They're highly empathic. Only in suppressing their own emotions can they so loudly hear those of others.

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  3. Theonlyspiral
    November 18, 2013 @ 3:12 pm

    Quick question Josh: had he named great thinkers from the east (Confucius) or historical figures from the Americas, wouldn't your critique be that a white guy was stealing credit for the works of indigenous peoples continuing a history of cultural imperialism and appropriation?

    I'll be honest: I was expecting an entry where you talk about how it says the entirety of western thought is backwards and how it all grows out of one primordial man that is basically a killer, whose only relationships are artificial and for his own self-image, and who in the end destroys his greatest works rather than learn to live in peace with utopian ideals.

    Great entry. Just really not what I was expecting.

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  4. Josh Marsfelder
    November 18, 2013 @ 4:39 pm

    "had he named great thinkers from the east (Confucius) or historical figures from the Americas, wouldn't your critique be that a white guy was stealing credit for the works of indigenous peoples continuing a history of cultural imperialism and appropriation?"

    Well, yes. That's the other side of the Great Man conception of history: That's still effacing the contributions of everyone who isn't the famous White Male historical figure. And so many Westerners tend to believe it and internalize it.

    "I was expecting an entry where you talk about how it says the entirety of western thought is backwards and how it all grows out of one primordial man that is basically a killer, whose only relationships are artificial and for his own self-image, and who in the end destroys his greatest works rather than learn to live in peace with utopian ideals."

    That's a fantastic reading of the episode as well (and actually you might enjoy my take on the episode I'm writing up now a bit more, given that take). Glad you liked the post anyway, though.

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  5. Theonlyspiral
    November 18, 2013 @ 4:53 pm

    I love your writings, even if I don't agree 100% of the time. I feel like part of being an informed person is exposing oneself to other views. And it's not that I see anything wrong with your reading.I was just expecting something different.

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  6. Josh Marsfelder
    November 18, 2013 @ 5:28 pm

    No, I agree completely! Part of the reason this blog exists is to inspire discourse about Star Trek in ways that really haven't been talked about before. And I quite like your take on this episode.

    That's the thing about doing this kind of "immortal man" brief in the first place. There's going to be problems no matter which way you slice it. I'm glad for Bixby's sake The Man from Earth turned out as well as it did

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  7. brownstudy
    November 20, 2013 @ 11:50 am

    Actually, the story I'm most reminded of is Twilight Zone's classic "Long Live Walter Jameson", with Kevin McCarthy playing a Methuselah who, while not a Great Man, was present at the big events and uses those memories to be a popular history professor. And his past, of course, catches up with him, in the best TZ fashion.

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  8. Josh Marsfelder
    November 20, 2013 @ 12:28 pm

    This is actually quite similar to how The Man from Earth ends up playing out, though the movie has a perhaps more gentle ending.

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  9. BerserkRL
    December 21, 2013 @ 7:31 pm

    Apart from the central point about Flint's identity, this follows closely in the tradition of The Tempest and Forbidden Planet.

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  10. BerserkRL
    December 21, 2013 @ 7:44 pm

    Another annoying thing is the absurdity that the greatness of Brahms (artistic creativity) and the "greatness" of Alexander (being good at conquering and killing thousands of people for no even semi-plausible reason) are just different modes of a single homogeneous "greatness."

    Reply

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