Filed under: Uncategorized
“I knew I had to keep on writing or else I’d let the ambient cultural noise drown out my thoughts, which weren’t paraphrasable wisecracks or wisdom but rather a way of looking at the world or the self. French people dismiss the cultural chatter and self-centered attitudinizing of Paris as parisianisme. A similar noise is generated by hip New Yorkers, though we don’t have a word for it and perhaps we haven’t isolated it yet as a reprehensible phenomenon. This “newyorkism” is so opinionated, so debilitating, so contagious with its knowingness, its instant formulas that replace any slow discoveries, that only people who are serious and ponderous can resist its blandishments, its quick substitutes for authenticity.”
-Edmund White, City Boy
NON-SPOILER Review of Star Trek Into Darkness:
It’s good, see it.
SPOILER Review of Star Trek Into Darkness:
After the jump.
What is the best Star Trek commercial?
William Shatner plays the new Star Trek video game?
Zachary Quinto vs. Leonard Nimoy in a race to the golf course?
The new Star Trek movie is coming out in a couple of weeks, and it’s fair to say I’m excited. You may have noticed I’ve made a few posts about Star Trek here recently.
Part of the genius of the new Star Trek movies is that time was reset by the time traveling villain in the first movie, and the result is a new version of the Star Trek Universe that resembles the original version in all the ways we love, but isn’t a slave over 700 hours of television and 10 earlier films set in that universe.
Back in 2009, I was writing about Star Trek for half a second for a website called Pink Raygun. At the time I had a blog about Star Trek called Hi Trekkies. To help myself and my three-and-a-half readers keep track of the differences between the “Prime” Star Trek timeline (the original one that Spock Prime and Nero come from in the movie) and the movie’s new timeline, I wrote a post of comparative chronology, taking the time to do what all good Trekkies do — rationalize all of the inconsistencies and mistakes to explain why they actually make perfect sense. (What, it’s fun!)
I can tell already I’m going to need to do an updated version when the new movie comes out, but in the mean time, I’m reposting the original version.
EDIT 5/30/13: Now with 100% more Darkness.
PRIME TIMELINE: Voyage of Enterprise NX-01. (Star Trek: Enterprise)
MOVIE TIMELINE: NX-01 mission probably altered to some degree.
REASON FOR DISCREPANCY Many key events of the prequel series such as the Klingon first contact (“Broken Bow”), the Romulan first contact (“Minefield”) and the Xindi Expedition (season 3) are caused or altered by time travelers from a future that may no longer exist in the wake of Nero and Spock Prime’s incursions. Because the effects of Nero and Spock Prime’s actions on the distant future are impossible to predict and the motivations and identities of the temporal cold warriors were never revealed, guessing the results is a dizzying proposition. However, Scotty’s reference to Jonathan Archer suggests that, at the very least, Archer remains a prominent Starfleet officer in the movie timeline, still on active duty at age 146.
PRIME TIMELINE: The Federation is founded. (“The Outcast,” “These Are the Voyages”)
PRIME TIMELINE: Spock born.
MOVIE TIMELINE: Spock born.
PRIME TIMELINE: Kirk born.
MOVIE TIMELINE: Kirk born. Nero arrives in the past and destroys the USS Kelvin, killing Kirk’s father.
REASON FOR DISCREPANCY: Direct intervention by Nero.
PRIME TIMELINE: No known events.
MOVIE TIMELINE: Pavel Chekov is born (based on the fact that he says he’s 17 years old in 2258).
PRIME TIMELINE: Kirk survives Tarsus IV massacre by Kodos the Executioner (“Conscience of the King”). Spock fights bullies (“Yesteryear”).
MOVIE TIMELINE: Kirk destroys his stepdad’s car. Spock fights bullies.
REASON FOR DISCREPANCY: Since George Kirk is dead Kirk grows up in Iowa and never lives on Tarsus IV.
PRIME TIMELINE: Pavel Chekov is born (he says he’s 23 in “Who Mourns for Adonais?”, which is set in 2268).
MOVIE TIMELINE: Pavel Chekov is four years old at this point.
REASON FOR DISCREPANCY: Chekov is established to have been an only child in the prime timeline in “Day of the Dove.” If something about Nero’s changes in the timeline caused Chekov’s parents to conceive a child earlier and that child was male, Pavel Andreievich Chekov would probably be their first choice for a name. That would mean this Pavel Chekov is a brother to the prime timeline Chekov, rather than an alternate version like Kirk or Spock. That explains why this Chekov is a genius, while the prime Chekov was not, at least to the same extent. It is unknown whether an alternate version of the prime Chekov exists in this timeline. It’s worth pointing out that Sulu and Uhura were also conceived after Nero’s incursion into the timeline, meaning they could also be siblings rather than alternate version of their prime timeline counterparts.
PRIME TIMELINE: Spock enters Starfleet Academy.
MOVIE TIMELINE: Spock enters Starfleet Academy.
PRIME TIMELINE: Kirk enters Starfleet Academy. Spock graduates from Starfleet Academy (he says in “The Enterprise Incident,” which is set in 2269, that he has been a Starfleet officer for 18 years).
MOVIE TIMELINE: Spock graduates from Starfleet. Kirk graduates from high school with high aptitude but stays in Iowa.
REASON FOR DISCREPANCY: Spock Prime says Kirk’s father was his inspiration for joining Starfleet in the prime timeline. Kirk never knew his father in the movie timeline.
PRIME TIMELINE: Spock, now a lieutenant, begins serving with Captain Pike (he said he served with Pike for 11 years in “The Menagerie”). Pike takes command of the Enterprise. “The Cage” occurs (based on the fact that it is said to have happened 13 years in the past in “The Menagerie.”)
MOVIE TIMELINE: Spock graduates from Starfleet Academy and serves as an instructor at Starfleet Academy. He begins a four-year stint programming the Kobayashi Maru test. The events of “The Cage” never occur. Spock falls in love with Uhura.
REASON FOR DISCREPANCY: Construction of the Enterprise has not been completed in the movie timeline. While Spock’s romantic interest in a human seems out of character at first glance, “The Cage” demonstrates that he was less guarded about expressing his emotions in this era than during the original series, which was set in the following decade.
PRIME TIMELINE: Kirk graduates from Starfleet Academy. He is assigned to the USS Farragut.
MOVIE TIMELINE: Kirk is convinced to enter Starfleet Academy by Captain Pike. The Enterprise is under construction in Iowa.
REASON FOR DISCREPANCY: Kirk lacked inspiration to join Starfleet Academy due to his father’s death. There is no clear reason for the delay in construction of the Enterprise. It is generally believed (though not canonical) that the Enterprise was constructed in spacedock in the prime timeline, like the Enterprise-D (“Booby Trap”), Columbia NX-02 (“The Expanse”) and all other starships we have seen under construction. Perhaps Nero’s mysterious attack necessitated greater security in the Federation, requiring the ship to be built on the ground and causing a delay. Perhaps the need to replace the USS Kelvin delayed starship development and construction. In any case, the fact that the Enterprise was completed at least five years later in the movie timeline than in the prime timeline explains the minor design differences.
PRIME TIMELINE: The majority of the Farragut crew, including the captain, are killed by an attacking cloud creature at Tycho IV. Kirk blames himself for not firing on the creature, though it’s later proven the ship’s phasers would have had no effect. (“Obsession”)
MOVIE TIMELINE: It is unknown whether these events occurred. If they did, Kirk was not present.
REASON FOR DISCREPANCY: Other than Kirk’s absence there may be no discrepancy. The death of such a large portion of the crew may explain why the Farragut is one of the ships at the Earth spacedock in 2258 when Nero attacks Vulcan.
PRIME TIMELINE: No known events. Kirk may be serving on the USS Republic at this time, per “Court Martial.”
- Spock Prime arrives in the past. Nero attacks and destroys Vulcan but is killed before he can destroy Earth. Kirk takes command of the Enterprise.
- Starfleet begins searching new sectors of space in response to the destruction of Vulcan (reason unclear). Admiral Marcus finds and revives Khan and manipulates him into helping Section 31 to militarize Starfleet.
REASON FOR DISCREPANCY: Direct intervention by Nero and Spock Prime. While the destruction of the Kelvin was a relatively minor event that would have only subtle changes in the time line, the destruction of Vulcan is far more significant. From this point on, the two timelines become increasingly divergent, rather than running parallel with slight variations.
PRIME TIMELINE: No known events.
MOVIE TIMELINE: Khan begins to strike back against Admiral Marcus, allowing the Enterprise crew to uncover and stop Marcus’s plans for a war with the Klingons. Marcus badly damages the Enterprise before being killed by Khan. Khan destroys Starfleet headquarters, then is apprehended. Kirk meets Carol Marcus.
PRIME TIMELINE: Kirk meets Carol Marcus (approximate). In “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” Gary Mitchell mentions that while Kirk was his instructor at the Academy he set him up with a “little blonde lab technician,” whom Kirk almost married. If this was Carol Marcus, it means that Kirk is teaching at the Academy at this time.
MOVIE TIMELINE: The Enterprise is rechristened after a complete refit. The five-year mission begins. Carol Marcus joins the Enterprise crew as a science officer.
PRIME TIMELINE: David Marcus, son of Kirk and Dr. Carol Marcus, is born. Carol ends her relationship with Kirk and makes him promise to stay away from their son. Spock, though still serving with Pike, spends part of this year on Earth (Leila Kalomi says she knew Spock on Earth six years ago in “This Side of Paradise”).
MOVIE TIMELINE: Second year of the five-year mission. We don’t know yet whether David Marcus is ever conceived.
REASON FOR DISCREPANCY: Kirk Prime avoided romantic relationships with people under his command, and Carol Marcus is part of the crew of the Enterprise in the movie timeline.
PRIME TIMELINE: No known events. McCoy may have joined the Enterprise crew under Captain Pike this year (he says he has been chief medical officer of the Enterprise for 27 years in Star Trek VI, which is set in 2291, but Dr. Piper seems to have that job in “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” which is set in 2265).
MOVIE TIMELINE: The five-year mission of the Enterprise ends (presumably).
PRIME TIMELINE: Kirk takes command of the Enterprise. The five-year mission begins. “Where No Man Has Gone Before” presumably happens this year.
REASON FOR DISCREPANCY: Kirk takes command of the Enterprise later because Nero’s attack hasn’t killed a large number of Starfleet officers, disabled Captain Pike and given Kirk a chance to distinguish himself in the Prime Timeline. These events allowed him to advance to command rank more quickly in the movie timeline.
PRIME TIMELINE: Second year of the five-year mission. Some early episodes of TOS season 1 may occur this year.
PRIME TIMELINE: Third year of the five-year mission. The second half of TOS season 1, including “The Menagerie,” happen this year. In “Space Seed,” Khan is discovered by the Enterprise and marooned on Ceti Alpha V with his crew of supermen.
PRIME TIMELINE: Fourth year of the five-year mission. TOS season 2 happens this year. The destruction of a neighboring planet renders Ceti Alpha V almost uninhabitable for Khan and his crew, a fact that goes unnoticed by the Federation.
PRIME TIMELINE: Final year of the five-year mission. TOS season 3 and Star Trek: The Animated Series happen this year.
PRIME TIMELINE: Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
PRIME TIMELINE: Star Trek II, Star Trek III and Star Trek IV occur within a six-month period. Events include the escape of Khan from Ceti Alpha V, his death, Kirk’s reunion with Carol and David Marcus, the death and resurrection of Spock, the death of David Marcus, the destruction of the Enterprise, and the commissioning of the Enterprise-A.
PRIME TIMELINE: Star Trek V. (This movie is set in 2287 according to the Star Trek Chronology, but it seems to take place shortly after Star Trek IV.)
PRIME TIMELINE: Star Trek VI. Enterprise-A decommissioned. Kirk, Spock and McCoy retire from Starfleet (although McCoy later returns).
PRIME TIMELINE: Kirk apparently killed during the launch of the Enterprise-B.
PRIME TIMELINE: TNG (2364-2370), DS9 (2369-2375), Voyager (2371-2377) and TNG movies (2371, 2373, 2375 and 2379).
MOVIE TIMELINE: Most of these events probably still occur but they would be altered by the destruction of Vulcan and any subsequent changes.
PRIME TIMELINE: Spock moves to Romulus to pursue reunification. (“Unification”)
MOVIE TIMELINE: Since Spock’s life has been radically different and since Vulcan no longer exists to be reunified with Romulus, Spock likely doesn’t go to Romulus.
PRIME TIMELINE: Kirk, who has time traveled to his era from 2293, is killed saving the Veridian star system.
PRIME TIMELINE: Romulus destroyed by a supernova. Spock and Nero travel back in time. (Based on Spock Prime’s statement that he comes from 129 years in the future.)
MOVIE TIMELINE: If the supernova does occur in this timeline (and one hopes the Federation would use its foreknowledge to prevent it), Spock probably doesn’t live on Romulus so it’s unlikely he promises to save the planet.
I had a really good day of writing today. I got a lot done on a collaborative project I’m working on, and I feel very pleased with myself. I had been banging my head against a particularly difficult scene for a week. I had some ideas about it on Saturday morning as I was leaving to go backpacking for the weekend so I quickly jotted down some notes and then went hiking for two days and didn’t think about it again.
Well, apparently my subconscious did the rest of the work for me because when I sat down to work on it at lunch today, it poured right out of me. I threw out the two previous versions of the scene, started over, and I think I nailed it — both that scene and the one that follows it. Now, I can put the project back into my writing partner’s hands for a while and get back to my novel.
A good day…
The Proust Questionnaire is the original meme of the francophone world — like one of those personality tests that goes viral on LiveJournal (I’m old) or Tumblr, but popularized long before the Internet existed. The questionnaire, which came from an English magazine, was filled out by the French author Marcel Proust in 1890, when he was 19 years old. Since then, the questionnaire has become very famous in France, and somewhat well known in the anglophone world, as a test of character.
Like Proust, I also filled out answers to the questionnaire at age 19 (the resemblence between Proust and me doesn’t go much further than that). It was March 26, 2002. I was going through a pretty interesting time in my life. A few months earlier I had dropped out of college, not telling my parents until the decision had been carried out. For the period of January 1 to March 16, I back in with my mom. I moped. I listened to Simon and Garfunkel’s most meloncholy songs late into the night. I visited my ex-girlfriend in the frigid Montreal winter, got truly blitzed for the first time in my life on screwdrivers, felt more dejected than ever. I visited two of my best high school friends in Austin, Texas, and had a fabulous time. I bought a new video camera and put together a video portfolio, which I used to apply to Rhode Island School of Design and NYU. I read The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, For Whom the Bell Tolls, A Moveable Feast and Dubus’s “Killings.” Then on March 16, having never lived outside of Michigan, I got on a plane and flew to Paris for 4 months, with absolutely no contacts, leads on housing, or any firm idea how I intended to spend my time. I spent my first week at the Hôtel de Médicis in the 5th arrondissement, scouring classified ads for an apartment, getting no where, roaming the city, reading short stories in the Luxembourg Gardens and seeing cheap movies. I thought I’d found a job and lodging as a tutor, but it fell through on my last day at the hotel and I couldn’t extend my stay and had to move all the way across town with three suitcases.
As I recall, I was sitting in a park in the 17th arrondissement (no idea which one). It was a chilly day, but I was worried about money and couldn’t afford to sit inside. At some point during the week I had bought a post card with the questionnaire written on it and, with nothing better to do, I copied the questions into my journal and wrote my replies.
A couple days ago, the questionnaire was mentioned to me again. I began to think, the questions are designed to test character, right? Well, it would be interesting to answer the questionnaire again, eleven years later, and see which answers had changed and which answers had stayed the same. So, without looking at my answers from 2002, I sat down recently and filled out the questionnaire again.
1. Le principal trait de mon caractère ?
Réponse à 19 ans : Je veux me changer pour le mieux. Je ne sais pas quoi faire exactement, donc j’essaie tout — je voyage, j’habite dans une grande ville pour la première fois de ma vie pour avoir plus d’expériences, j’explore une culture outre la mienne, j’essaie de faire des nouvelles chose (sic) avec les films que je tourne et les histoires que j’écris. Donc il y a deux traits — le désir de m’améliorer et la confusion.
Réponse à 31 ans : Le désir de connaître et de comprendre toutes les choses extérieures qui influencent ma caractère et d’éliminer celles dont je n’approuve pas — autrement dit, de vivre sans influences extérieures.
2. La qualité que je préfère chez un homme ?
Réponse à 19 ans : Un sens de justice.
Réponse à 31 ans : Ne pas trop réfléchir à si ses qualités sont assez masculine ; surtout qu’il ne réduise pas ses amitiés avec d’autres à quelques interêts ou activités partagés parce que l’amitié à un niveau plus intime et profond ne lui semble pas assez masculine.
3. La qualité que je préfère chez une femme ?
Réponse à 19 ans : Une intelligence gracieuse.
Réponse à 31 ans : Qu’elles se concernent abec des choses sérieuses et non seulement la beauté, les vêtements et comment plaire aux hommes.
4. Ce que j’apprécie le plus chez mes amis ?
Réponse à 19 ans : Le (sic) créativité et le respect pour tout ce qui est créateur.
Réponse à 31 ans : Qu’ils ont la capacité d’être drôle mais qu’ils savent quand il faut être sérieux et sincère. Et qu’ils n’ont pas peur de discuter des sujets qui les mettent mal à l’aise.
5. Mon principal défaut ?
Réponse à 19 ans : Je pense trop à moi-même et pas assez aux autres.
Réponse à 31 ans : L’égoïsme. Je pense trop à moi-même, à mes idées, à mes projets d’écrivain, et pas assez à d’autres. Mais au moins je suis égoïste dans un sens critique et non pas dans un sens narcissiste.
6. Mon occupation préférée ?
Réponse à 19 ans : Cinéaste.
Réponse à 31 ans : Quand il a répondu au questionnaire, Proust a dit “aimer”. Moi je suis obligé à répondre “penser”. Je n’en suis pas fier ! Je suis tenté à dire “écrire” mais c’est faux — écrire, c’est l’activité qui donne un sens à ma vie, mais ce n’est pas mon activité préferée.
7. Mon rêve de bonheur ?
Réponse à 19 ans : Travailler à cette occupation que j’aime.
Réponse à 31 ans : Une “partenaire dans le crime” — une femme qui me pousse toujours plus loin.
8. Quel serait mon plus grand malheur ?
Réponse à 19 ans : La mort de cette personne que j’aime.
Réponse à 31 ans : Le sentiment de ne pas être compris par les autres, et de ne pas pouvoir m’exprimer. Quand je me sens triste ou déprimé c’est toujours pour cette raison.
9. Ce que je voudrais être ?
Réponse à 19 ans : Heureux, ou, au moins, content.
Réponse à 31 ans : Un écrivain qui est respecté mais pas trop célèbre.
10. Le pays où je désirerais vivre ?
Réponse à 19 ans : Le monde. (Ou peut-être, le Florin.)
Réponse à 31 ans : Celui que j’habite actuellement, mon pays adopté : New York City.
11. La couleur que je préfère ?
Réponse à 19 ans : Noir.
Réponse à 31 ans : Le bleu est tranquil. Je me sens plus calme dès que je le vois.
12. La fleur que j’aime ?
Réponse à 19 ans : La rose.
Réponse à 31 ans : J’ai toujours adoré les lilacs — ça sent le printemps.
13. L’oiseau que je préfère ?
Réponse à 19 ans : Je n’y ai jamais pensé.
Réponse à 31 ans : Celui qui est tombé du nid. Pour ceux qui attendent une réponse littérale, je suis énormément content chaque fois que je vois l’héron bleu.
14. Mes auteurs favoris en prose ?
Réponse à 19 ans : Hemingway, Ray Carver, Andre Dubus.
Réponse à 31 ans : Parmi les écrivains morts : William Faulkner, Henry Miller, Mark Twain, William Shakespeare, Jack Kerouac, Albert Camus, Ernest Hemingway, Patrick O’Brian. Parmi les vivants : Jim Harrison, Collum McCann, Margaret Atwood, Michel Houellebecq, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Sherman Alexie.
15. Mes poètes préférés ?
Réponse à 19 ans : Homère, Ezra Pound, Galway Kinnell.
Réponse à 31 ans : Je n’aime pas tellement la poésie. Pourtant, Allen Ginsberg me plaît beaucoup.
16. Mes héros favoris dans la fiction ?
Réponse à 19 ans : Yossarian (Catch-22), Robert Jordan (For Whom the Bell Tolls), McMurphy (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest)
Réponse à 31 ans : Yossarian, Mr. Spock, la version fictive de Henry Miller.
17. Mes héroïnes favorites dans la fiction ?
Réponse à 19 ans : Miranda (The Tempest).
Réponse à 31 ans : Beatrice dans Much Ado About Nothing.
18. Mes compositeurs préférés ?
Réponse à 19 ans : Beethoven, John Lennon, Paul Simon.
Réponse à 31 ans : Dans la musique classique je préfère Beethoven parce que j’aime écouter des orages. Dans le jazz, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Charlie Parker et John Coltrane. Dans le rock, c’est Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Counting Crows, Guster, the Ramones, the Clash et Girlyman que je préfère.
19. Mes peintres favoris ?
Réponse à 19 ans : Il n’y a qu’un : La nuit étoilée dessus le Rhôn, de Van Gogh. (Ici j’ai confondu le mot “peintre” avec le mot “peinture”, et en réalité la peinture dont je parle s’appelle La nuit étoilée sur le Rhône. J’aime encore ce tableau-là…)
Réponse à 31 ans : Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet… et ma petite amie, Caroline, bien sûr !
20. Mes héros dans la vie réelle ?
Réponse à 19 ans : Hemingway, Robert Rodriguez.
Réponse à 31 ans : Mon héro que je connais : Pierre Dulaine. Un héro que je ne connais pas : Dan Savage.
21. Mes héroïnes dans l’histoire ?
Réponse à 19 ans : Gertrude Stein.
Réponse à 31 ans : Margaret Sanger, Eleanor Roosevelt. Et mon héroïne (pas historique, mais quand même) que je connais est Donna Hardenberg.
22. Mes noms favoris ?
Réponse à 19 ans : Miranda.
Réponse à 31 ans : Si un jour j’ai d’enfants je les appelerai Miranda et Jack.
23. Ce que je déteste par-dessus tout ?
Réponse à 19 ans : Les chiens, les tomates, la guerre, les gens qui n’ont pas d’émpathie (sic) (et, oui, je pense que je n’en ai pas assez, comme j’ai dit plus tôt).
Réponse à 31 ans : Des gens qui pensent qu’ils sont plein d’esprit parce qu’ils sont ironique pour éviter la sincérité.
24. Personnages historiques que je méprise le plus ?
Réponse à 19 ans : (Dans la version du questionnaire que j’avais quand j’avais 19 ans, cette question disait “Caractère que je méprise le plus:”) Les gens sans émpathie (sic), les gens qui font semblant.
Réponse à 31 ans : Tous les “grands hommes” auxquels la patrie est reconnaisante.
25. Le fait militaire que j’estime le plus ?
Réponse à 19 ans : Je ne dois (sic) estimer aucun fait militaire, mais je dois confesser que c’est le Jour J, l’Alaimo, et la bataille de Termopolyae.
Réponse à 31 ans : La paix.
26. La réforme que j’estime le plus ?
Réponse à 19 ans : J’admire toute décision de s’améliorer ; je ne sais pas si ça c’est une réforme ou la définition de la réforme.
Réponse à 31 ans : La libération sexuelle.
27. Le don de la nature que je voudrais avoir ?
Réponse à 19 ans : L’habilité de bien juger des autres, de savoir quand ils mentent et quand ils disent la vérité, de savoir s’ils sont assez intelligent qu’il faut faire confiance en eux.
Réponse à 31 ans : Je voudrais être charismatique.
28. Comment j’aimerais mourir ?
Réponse à 19 ans : D’un caillot de sang dans mon cerveau.
Réponse à 31 ans : En sortant du cabinet du médecin qui vient de me dire qu’il me restait six mois à vivre, je voudrais être renverser par une voiture et tuer sur le coup.
29. État d’esprit actuel ?
Réponse à 19 ans : Assez confus, mes sentiment (sic) se changent d’un jour à un autre et je ne sais jamais quoi penser et quoi faire.
Réponse à 31 ans : J’ai hâte à commencer le prochain chapître de ma vie.
30. Fautes qui m’inspirent le plus d’indulgence
Réponse à 19 ans : Tous (sic) les fautes qui ne font pas du mal aux autres.
Réponse à 31 ans : Il ne me gêne pas quand un époux et une épouse se trompent en même temps.
31. Ma devise ?
Réponse à 19 ans : Je n’en ai aucune.
Réponse à 31 ans : Aucune. Les devises sont sottes.
From an e-mail I wrote today to a friend in France about the recent demonstration in Paris against marriage equality:
J’ai vu les photos de la “manif pour tous” (ben, non, c’est pas pour tous, c’est pour une minorité de Français selon les sondages !) sur le site du Monde ce matin. Je trouve que le mot dégueulasse est employé trop souvent en français actuellement, pourtant c’est le seul mot que j’ai trouve pour décrire ces gens-la et leur manif. Aux Etats-Unis c’est surtout les chrétiens qui opposent le mariage pour tous. Bien que je ne sois pas d’accord avec eux, on voit que la plupart de chrétiens sont des bonnes personnes qui croient qu’ils sont obliges à opposer l’homosexualité à cause de leur religion. Par contre, beaucoup des Français qui manifestent contre le mariage ne sont pas croyants, il font ça simplement pour la tradition — c’est à dire qu’ils veulent exclure les gays parce que les gays ont toujours été exclus. Bref, ces gens-là sont tout simplement méchants. Ils n’ont même pas l’excuse des gens religieux que leur propre capacité de décider ce qui est bon et ce qui est mauvais est supprimée par les valeurs supposées de Dieu. Ils font ce qu’ils font de leur propre volonté et ce qu’ils veulent c’est de se mêler dans les vies privées de leur concitoyens pour leur faire du mal bien qu’ils n’aient rien a gagner eux-mêmes. Ce sont des gens abominables.
Filed under: Uncategorized
It’s after midnight but I’m still up watching this video of Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell tap dancing to Cole Porter’s “Begin the Beguine” in Broadway Melody of 1940. Ever since I was six years old, watching Savion Glover on Sesame Street I’ve know the truth — that tap dancing is actually the coolest thing ever. People who know me know would probably think it’s funny that I took some tap lessons when I was a kid (and, yeah, I can still bust out a time step if I have to).
So far, as I’ve been writing about the scenes that make Star Trek great, I’ve been shying away from the scenes everyone thinks of—Riker facing off against Locutus at the end of “The Best of Both Worlds, Part 1,” for instance. The reason is I’m making a distinction: just because it is a big moment doesn’t mean it’s a great scene. In fact, to me the greatest scenes are usually the quiet ones. I’d argue that it’s harder to make a great scene out of a big moment than out of a small one because big moments are so goal driven. Certain things have to happen in order to satisfy pre-determined plot points, and it’s difficult to add the little something extra necessary to make it a great scene as well. Maybe there’s even a temptation for writers, directors and actors to get lazy at big moments. The big moment is so interesting in its own right there’s the temptation not to put in the extra effort to make a great scene out of it as well, while in small moments the creative types will work extra hard to make sure the audience isn’t bored.
Well, the death of Spock at the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is both—it’s definitely a big moment, but it’s also a great scene. It’s the climax of the entire movie, and it also might be the best scene William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy do together in the entire Star Trek series.
There is a misconception about Star Trek II that I want to address before I talk about the scene more. Some people claim that Star Trek II is the best Star Trek movie because it has a strong antagonist. Strong antagonists, the theory goes, are missing from Star Trek and as a result the drama is undercut. Therefore, nearly every Star Trek movie since Star Trek II has been trying to duplicate the feat of creating an antagonist like Khan—I remember Soran, the Borg Queen, Ru’afu, Shinzon and Nero all being compared to Khan by the producers of the various films. In the case of the antagonist of the upcoming Star Trek Into Darkness (John Harrison, played by Benedict Cumberbatch), he has not only been compared to Khan, there is an unbelievably persistent rumor that he actually is Khan.
People who think that the reason The Wrath of Khan is so good is because it has a strong antagonist have been reading too much Syd Fields. Yes, an understanding of basic dramatic structure can improve an ailing narrative, but you can’t chalk up Star Trek II’s greatness to a cheap storytelling formula. Especially since Khan is not a strong antagonist. He’s a madman with a two-dimensional motivation who spends about twenty minutes on screen in the entire movie, most of it sitting on the bridge of his stolen starship surrounded by his hair metal lackies. During the film, he never comes face to face with any of the heroes of the movie, except for a scene at the beginning with Chekov—Chekov! Ricardo Montalban’s performance is memorable in spite of the material, not because of it. In fact, most of what is interesting about Khan as a character comes from his original appearance in “Space Seed,” and it’s all irrelevant here. Any unhinged madman bent on revenge could have filled Khan’s place in the film. Please take note: It isn’t good villains that make good Star Trek. What makes good Star Trek is using a sci-fi adventure story to explore what it means to be human—and Star Trek II is one of the best examples of this winning strategy.
The aspect of human existence explored in The Wrath of Khan is mortality, not a subject that Star Trek touches very often. The entire movie is full of references to mortality. As it begins, we learn that Starfleet gives every aspiring captain a test designed to impress upon them that death is sometimes inevitable, and to get an idea of how each candidate would choose to meet hers or his. “How we face death is at least as important as how we face life,” Kirk wisely tells Saavik, but we soon learn he hasn’t taken these words to heart. Our swashbuckling captain is now a middle-aged admiral facing another depressing birthday—he nostalgically collects antiques, needs reading glasses, and believes the best days of his life were over the day he gave up command of the Enterprise. No matter what he said to Saavik, it’s clear Kirk isn’t facing death very well, but he’s facing it a heck of a lot better than Khan is. Unable to accept the death of his wife, Khan has gone absolutely off his rocker. His hatred is so single-minded that even his most loyal minion, Joaquin, questions Khan, suggesting maybe Khan should just let it go. The territory that Kirk and Khan are fighting over, coincidentally, is the possession of the Genesis Device, a miracle of Federation science. Khan doesn’t seem to realize why he wants Genesis so badly, but when you consider that Khan can’t accept death and Genesis can create life from nothingness it becomes a whole lot clearer. The device was created by Kirk’s erstwhile love and his son David. It is said that having children is the closest human beings can get to immortality. If that’s true, it’s of no use to Kirk because his son doesn’t even know who he is; in fact, he believes Kirk embodies all that’s wrong in the world and tries to kill him. It all leaves Kirk feeling old and worn out. And no wonder. Kirk reveals to his stranded landing party that he cheated on the Kobayashi Maru test—he doesn’t believe in a no-win scenario, he has always thought that if he’s clever enough he can defeat death every time, forever. That’s the cause of his unhappiness—age has begun to teach him otherwise. The whole thing comes to a head with an actual no-win scenario. As Kirk sits by doing nothing, Spock saves the ship in the most logical way, by accepting death, and Kirk must do what Khan never could. He must watch as the person he cares most about in the universe dies, and he must accept it.
This actually happens in two scenes: the actual death scene rightfully focuses on Spock, and then the funeral scene where we see Kirk’s reaction in the eulogy. Both the writers and Nimoy nail the death scene. Spock’s dignity is spot on—the way he stands stiffly and adjusts his tunic even as he is dying. First he intellectualizes, talks of logic. Then he mentions the Kobayashi Maru test, in what almost seems like a bit of gallows humor. Spock always was a funny man. Then he begins to collapse, and at the same time as his dignified bearing slips away he lets go of his trademark stoicism in order to use his last moments to say what is most important: “I have been and always shall be your friend. Live long and prosper.” And William Shatner may be accused of overacting sometimes, but the look on his face of a man who has been completely destroyed is about as perfect as it could be. In the funeral scene, we see a man who is grieving but who has accepted his friend’s death. Spock died as logically as he lived, Kirk says, reminds his friends that life follows death as surely as death follows life, and ends with, “Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most human.” What does he mean by this? Human is a loaded word in Star Trek. The entire series is about defining what it means. No definitive definition has emerged, but whatever human means on Star Trek, we’re told that Spock embodies it.
The film ends with Kirk’s reconciliation with his son — his connection to the future, and therefore immortality — and then a scene on the bridge where Bones asks Kirk how he feels and Kirk says, “I feel young.” Lesson learned.
Some might argue that most people don’t even notice all this philosophical stuff when they watch Star Trek II. They enjoy it because of the space battles, period. I disagree. You don’t have to notice it to be affected by it. On a deep level, most people are concerned with the big questions of human existence, and when those questions are asked they are interested. We just resonate at those frequencies. We don’t have to notice. It can happen on an unconscious level. Not everyone sees the systematic discussion of mortality in almost every aspect of Star Trek II, yet they feel it at a deep level and are left wondering, “Why was that so much better than Star Trek Nemesis?” And then they say to themselves, “Well, I guess it’s because it has a strong villain…”
A Federation scientist wants to disassemble Data to learn how to create more androids like him to improve the quality of life of the entire Federation. Only one problem — Data isn’t so keen on risking his life in the scientist’s experiment but Federation law doesn’t give a machine the right to refuse. Paging Patrick Stewart — the scenery is in desperate need of chewing!
Unlike the first entry in this series, “The Measure of a Man” is included on just about anyone’s top 10 list of TNG episodes. Broadcast when Next Gen was still trying to find its footing, it’s often considered to be an early example of the greatness the series would achieve in the following years. The reason is simple. “The Measure of a Man” is one of the finest examples of what Star Trek does best: it tells us a story about a group of characters, but that story is actually about something much bigger. The episode starts out being all about Data and his ability to refuse a Starfleet order. Not even Picard, who is defending Data’s rights, realizes how much more is at stake — not just Data’s rights but the rights of any and all future artificial lifeforms in the Federation. It takes a chat with Guinan for Picard to realize this (isn’t that always the way?), but once he sees that a monstrous injustice is unfolding in front of him, nothing will stop him from making sure his beloved Federation remains an unreproachable beacon on justice.