Little wonder we stumble in life.

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The Spock Narrative

I fell into the Star Trek fandom again. Inspired by this, because I felt there was a particularly absent Spock perspective on their relationship in original Spirk songs, as this is the second Spirk song I’ve heard and it was also from Kirk’s perspective. First is here.

As I’m not very musical, these are just lyrics. As there’s no music attached, you’ll just have to imagine.

You give me something I’ve never known before
And there is no logic in it
It’s hard to know what I need more
You dare me to lose you every minute

Can it be I trust you because you feel?
Maybe I’m just too addicted
Because I don’t think I could ever heal
When I see you stray, I am left strickened

If there’s shame in love, I don’t want to know
You take over my mind, you make me let go
I can’t see you
I can’t see you
I can’t see you
I can’t see you

Whenever you touch me, my nerves alight
Mind over matter, I focus on you
I make sure to keep my body packed tight
Minds joined, I understand everything you do

Whenever you smile at me, I feel seen
Though I have no need for emotional security
Yours I will be and ever have been
I’d do anything to keep you in safety

If there’s shame in love, I don’t want to know
You take over my mind, you make me let go
I can’t see you
I can’t see you
I can’t see you
I can’t see you
Oh show me words I used to know
the man I was channelling Show me

I couldn’t stand it, the feelings inside
I must close off the pain, feeling so wrong
Let my hair grow long, need Vulcan to hide
I should have it known it all along

And there you were, so open and proud
Yet I couldn’t even look back at you
You had a way of getting through this cloud
I never knew what I was about to do

If there’s shame in love, I don’t want to know
You take over my mind, you make me let go
I can’t see you
I can’t see you
I can’t see you
I can’t see you
Until this moment

This is my interpretation of their relationship, but there’s another perspective I need to explore. I recently saw The Spock Resonance from the most recent season of the Big Bang Theory, and I keep thinking about it. It isn’t as though I didn’t know Sheldon thought differently of Spock than I do, but given that his history with Spock and Star Trek runs far deeper than mine, it surprised me that the way he sees Spock would be so ignorant.

So the way Sheldon sees it, Spock lives in a world of pure logic, and perhaps this was an idealisation of Spock, whose logic he’s always admired. But he has also admitted in the past that he ships Kirk and Spock, so I wonder how he ships them. There is certainly enough evidence in the original series for both physical connection and, dare I say, emotional connection. There is certainly loyalty, and friendship; protectiveness and relief. Spock sticks as closely to Kirk as Kirk does to him, and he even smiles when he learns he didn’t kill Kirk on Vulcan in Amok Time from the second season. Perhaps Sheldon, understanding arguably less about narratives than I do, simply took this at face value, not recognising the contradiction between this emotional connection and Spock’s so-called pure logic. Perhaps he shipped it out of some need in him to share a connection with someone, even while his need for detachment through logic created a wall of denial of this side of himself. Both sides are a part of him, and yet he chooses only to see the dominant feeling, through a compulsion to protect himself from the chaos of feeling.

The most obvious and important part of this evidence of duality lies in Star Trek The Motion Picture, the first of the TOS films, and my favourite area of the Kirk/Spock canon. In my opinion, this film is second only to The Search for Spock in terms of film canon. After watching The Spock Resonance in season 9 of The Big Bang Theory, more than anything I’ve been tempted to give Sheldon my blow-by-blow of this movie; but given his just-as-fictional reality, I’ll do it here.

So the first we see of Spock, he’s in Gol undergoing Kolinahr. This parallels Sheldon towards Amy in The Spock Resonance, since after their season 9 breakup, Sheldon swears off women entirely. Although this is a trope in many men post-breakup, I think with Sheldon it carries more weight as he is more physically restrained than many other men, making him a more direct parallel with Spock here. I don’t know whether you could call whatever happened to Kirk and Spock leading up to this first scene a breakup, but what does become clear is that it was Kirk who drove him here. And you have to understand this was a long time coming; it goes way back to Spock’s admission in TOS that, “Jim, when I feel friendship for you, I’m ashamed.” Although when he served with Kirk on the Enterprise, he didn’t resist the little things like touches and looks, that shame continued through their relationship — again, this parallels Sheldon in an earlier season of BBT, when he says, “What has that little vixen done to me? Amy has altered my personality.” This background in both cases has led to Spock stopping the ritual, an action with no pure logic in it, but instead an emotional reaction. Spock reached out during the ritual to stop the necklace because he knew there was still something unresolved in his heart that brought dishonesty to the ritual; much the same way as Sheldon got a song stuck in his head in season 9 that eventually reminded him how much he loved Amy, leading him back to her.

The next time we see Spock, he has come aboard the Enterprise, probably after monitoring its activity going by his actions once aboard, as well as the timing. Here we come to another parallel within the film itself, that of the other Vulcan employed by Kirk, who I think he hired in part as a replacement for Spock. That’s why he appeared so shocked when Spock stepped onto the bridge: I don’t think Kirk ever expected to see him again. But in fact, that Vulcan officer was his excuse in, and I think Spock needed that. As Spock distracted himself from Kirk with his work, arriving without an excuse would have exposed him and whatever his true intentions were, when he likely didn’t know yet what he wanted to do beyond facing Kirk again. No matter how happy Kirk was to see Spock in either case, Spock needs duty first, before he can acknowledge anything approaching his feelings. This is similar to Sheldon too, as he briefly tried to replace Amy with a woman he would meet through craigslist, though he soon abandons her for fine details, probably at least in part indicating that he’s still too stuck on Amy to move on. But before he could go back to her, she first had to invite him in. Even when she did, like Spock, he was resistant at first, until he reached his revelation and finally returned to her.

I have read a theory that light and shadow factors into the TOS movie; the black clothing and shadows on Spock’s face when he boards the Enterprise contrasts sharply against the lack of shadows and white clothing in the hospital bed when Spock has his revelation about Kirk. There is also the parallel between Decker and Ilea, down to her vow of celibacy and last heartrending separation with Decker, which remains relevant to Kirk and Spock despite the fact we don’t know how they were separated. In fact, we don’t even know how Decker and Ilea were separated. Nostalgia is also used, with a brief shot of Spock in his familiar blue uniform between arriving and his first private conversation with Kirk, as well the line that follows in the next scene, “I need him” which was first said in Charlie X and directly contrasts Spock’s current, even mocking attitude of detachment. This is also repeated in the hospital room, and in both these occasions Kirk said this in white rooms, signalling unambiguous honesty, as well as vulnerability, using the light metaphor. This begins in the next scene, with only Spock, Kirk and McCoy present. Despite his intimate past with Kirk, and perhaps due to the post-conditions of Kolinahr, Spock stands as stiff as ever, and refuses to even sit down, as even that will make him feel vulnerable, as if his will is not his own; and Spock, especially in this moment, needs control over anything else. He is still afraid, still ashamed, of the connection they share. But Spock does sit down eventually, perhaps foreshadowing the outcome of this movie. Perhaps the closest equivalent in Sheldon’s relationship is his trip to the Aquarium with Amy, and the awkward conversation in the car, between Amy mirroring Kirk by trying to relax the situation, and Sheldon mirroring Spock by mocking the situation, by addressing the elephant in the room: Sheldon asks the questions friends don’t ask, just as Spock makes the stiff business-like bargains against Kirk’s personal of “I need you”.

As the movie continues, Spock continues to play the part of ship crewman, but even as they descend into the cloud towards V’Ger, Spock is already standing next to Kirk closer than the average crewman; observe Decker standing behind the barrier to the left, and Spock in front as Kirk’s right hand man. This may have been a brief, simple pretext to be next to the captain for a moment, as he’s soon back to his chair again. However, as Kirk moves the ship in closer to V’Ger, a pillar of lightning enters the bridge to tap into the computers. And here’s where it gets interesting, because there’s four main players in this next scene. Decker, Kirk’s parallel, tries to work on the computer. At Kirk’s commentary on the problem, Spock reacts by damaging the computer to cut off access. As a result, Spock’s parallel, Ilea, is attacked because of Decker and taken by V’Ger. So firstly, we have Kirk/Decker as instigators, then Spock/Ilea as defenders and in turn revenge victims. I have mentioned the woman from craigslist in BBT, but I haven’t mentioned Amy’s parallel, the British boyfriend. He may represent at least at least a subconscious desire to replace Sheldon, as he at least somewhat mirrors him in that he’s tall, as well as his unfortunate overt enthusiasm for Sheldon, which breaks through her desire for subtlety in his attributes. However, she is eventually able to dismiss even this in her desire to chase after Sheldon, up until the point he wins her back. These mirrors both show desire and loyalty in the main ships.

V’Ger then drew the ship even closer to itself, and Spock didn’t seem at all resistant. In fact, since first contact with V’Ger, it seems Spock has had direct mental contact with the unit, allowing Spock to see and know more about it than the rest of the vessel. He probably knew how it thought, and this has probably attracted Spock to it. Because there’s the mission, and then there’s Spock’s personal thoughts and feelings. He wants to be as logical as possible, which he equates with morality through restraint, and even with these small emotions and inclinations, his thoughts aren’t on Kirk; he wants to be closer to V’Ger in order to attain this enlightenment through pure logic. So he finally steals a spacesuit and heads out to meet V’Ger. And as all this is happening, V’Ger’s probe/Ilea is moving in the opposite direction by discovering feeling through Decker, and thus higher meaning through that feeling. Up until now, Spock has had a kind of contact with V’Ger, but until meeting on the other side he didn’t have a strong enough connection to achieve his ends. But when he attempted a mind meld, he was filled with the empty thoughts he would have ended up with had he undergone Kolinahr, and he understands now why he couldn’t go through with it. When Sheldon and Amy were apart in season 9, both also headed into opposite directions, with Amy moving towards forming new connections with other men, and Sheldon moving towards detachment. Although Sheldon didn’t deal well with this separation, he clung to this detachment even when Amy admitted she wanted to be his girlfriend again. Like Spock, he did this on principle: the fact that he needed to be her friend reflects his need to cling to detachment and run from his feelings, just as Spock has always done especially by clinging to duty and business-like statements.

Then we get to the famous hospital scene, and McCoy is speculating Spock’s condition. At the words, “The power pouring through that mind meld must’ve been staggering,” Spock laughs. Because he knows, it wasn’t immense power, but its opposite. V’Ger doesn’t have the answers Spock thought it did, but questions. It understands far less than even Spock has achieved in his life. Even Spock has feelings for Kirk, has hopes, and V’Ger has none. This is not something to aspire to, but to avoid devolving into. When Sheldon goes mad trying to figure out the song in his head, he eventually figures out it’s because of Amy, because it reminds him of her. Like Spock’s mind meld, Sheldon undergoes a mental journey which leads to the revelation that compells him back to the one he loves. This leads to a final famous scene of their reunion, and a kiss that has lost all its stiffness, the equivalent to Kirk and Spock’s handholding.

In the very next scene, he underscores this by explaining that V’Ger is a child. This parallels much of Sheldon’s character, as Sheldon is often compared to a child, yet his connection to Amy, much like Spock’s connection to Kirk, makes him better. Sometimes he still fears his vulnerability through this connection, but both Spock and Sheldon eventually come to accept this love over that fear. When V’Ger merged with Decker, that new life, that ascendence provides the perfect metaphor of this.

There are plenty of weighted phrases from Spock that reflects his own feelings as well as the the original context they were spoken in. He says “curiosity,” as both an expression of V’Ger’s spirit as well as his own attitude towards the entity, says, “It knows only that it needs, Captain. But like so many of us, it does not know what,” reflecting both V’Ger’s current conflict and his own recent one, and “Unfortunately, it will have to deal with [human emotions] as well,” regarding both the new V’Ger and himself into the future. In this way, V’Ger serves as a parallel to Spock as well. And in many ways, there is a resonance to Sheldon too, as these quotes may all apply to his life as well. Although curiosity could easily be explained in many contexts, it is personal curiosity that matters here, and perhaps what kept him near Amy at the beginning at least. Not knowing what he needed probably kept him from discovering the truth about how not only Sheldon’s relationship, but how it changed him, until it was too late to stop it. And now that he does know, the last quote comes into play, in that no matter how he might wish to return to the safety of 2003, he has simply changed too much to go back. So perhaps these comparisons didn’t all happen in the same order, but we can see that there are many similarities between these two ships to link them, making them mirrors in different worlds. And perhaps the most important link of all between them is that they will always find their way back to each other.

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Suicide Forest

Inspired by this and this.

The ground crunches and cracks under my feet as I headed towards the forest. I pause for a moment as a wooden sign comes up on my right. Please think of your friends and family… call the Suicide Prevention hotline… Utter rubbish.

Silence and pressure fills my heart as I pass the chain barrier, entering the forest alone and free. I don’t have to worry about anyone here, don’t have to think about feeling so inhuman around everyone else, or feeling inadequate for anything. Soon I will be the nothing they made me into. I don’t have friends, my family hates me, my happy memories are tainted and my bad ones consuming. I can think of no reason to live, no reason to continue, when my happiness can be nothing more than a mask, hiding my disgusting self from the world.

No more.

My eyes are full of greenness, hypnotising me to stay, enticing me deeper into the forest, the ground brown, loose, rocky, ready to swallow me up. I would gratefully allow the earth to consume me, into a perfect natural grave. And best yet, no one would ever find me.

I come upon a sign in two languages, Jesus loves you. Yeah, bullshit. Some foreigner god. I don’t need you, or want you. I don’t want anyone here, I just want to be alone. I don’t ever want to be seen by eyes again.

I walk on, I don’t know why. I could just crawl up and die here, but I don’t. It’s as if I’m searching for something within these trees.

I wander for days, slowly letting myself waste away. Any hour now…

I’m still here, sunken, starving, and still alive. I scrunch up a dead leaf beside me, destroying it utterly as I wait for my own end. It is a slow process. I continue to breathe. The forest embraces me.

I’m bored. I’m starving, but nothing’s happening. And then something occurs. I get up. I keep moving. I’m not done yet.

My feet are the ones moving, decided our fate, and I let them lead the way. I still don’t know what I’m doing, but something in me wants to survive.

I stop between trees, kneel down and pick up a stone. I didn’t bring anything else with me, so if I want to survive, I’ll have to do it myself. I start sharpening the rock against another one. It’s mindless work, but just the kind I need. My mind empties into a thoughtful haze. Images of my childhood press at the back of my mind, as if branded there. The faint click of rocks grazing off each other fills my ears in a steady rhythm. I tick to it.

When my eyes return to it, the rock has a fully form sharp edge. I drop the second rock, and find a stick, cutting four needlepoints into the end. If there is anything living in this forest, I will kill it.

I walk for a long time, before I stop to rest. I wonder if I should walk back to where I came from. But the thought of walking back to people is still untolerable to me. I can’t live among them anymore; I’ve reached my limit. So just what am I supposed to do? I stay for less than ten minutes, before I’m eager to go again.

I hear nothing in the forest for a while, and I begin to wonder if I’m the only living thing here. Surely what people say can’t be the truth… could this really be a dead forest?

I catch a rat finally as it scampers by me as I stop to rest. Grateful for the bounty, I pierce through the heart and open it’s skin, blood onto the ground and myself. Sucking it from the entrance point, I bite into the meat, hating myself for eating it raw, and for eating such a disgusting creature. It breaks even my internal limits.

But I eat it all from the inside out. Perhaps I still might die of disease…

Nights pass shivering, days spent wandering, and occasionally eating. Eventually I must wear this out. I must either die or escape.

I meet solid ground. The path… I can escape.

I meet a man on the road. We exchange sympathetic words.

When I reach a clearing at the end of the trees, I stop suddenly, just at the edge. Am I really ready to leave? I came here with no plans of escape, and the air in front of me feels too bare. I am afraid to leave the forest’s welcoming embrace.

I stand there for well over an hour, hesitating at the edge of the forest, stopping myself several times from going back or moving forward.

I finally start forward.

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Public Nightmare

Inspired by: Tasha Receno – “Just Another Rape Poem”

Trigger Warning: rape mentions

I see a sea of faces, bright lights, and look down for just a moment. I have performed before, but in most cases I focus less on the audience and more on the stage. But I am alone out here, so I peer through the light like its a mirror, and begin to speak.

“When I used to imagine sex, I imagined pain
Pictured a force tearing me apart
Me, with no choice
Him, with no mercy
Tearing me apart even when I screamed for mercy
Or a break
Or it was too much sensation
Or I was too dry

I have the vague memory of a penis entering me –”

I am cut off by a voice, detached at first, coming from nowhere. Then I begin to see the audience, scanning it, when the invisible voice comes again. Now I’m able to pinpoint it, find his face, hear his words.

“You should stop whining about rape and learn to defend yourself,” he says.

He doesn’t know, none of them do. This is why, after all, I’m up here. Because people don’t know what I know, because I’m tired of being misunderstood, because people need to understand. Because I know someone will, and fuck the rest.

But this man’s still talking, still interrupting me, even while he calls me the interruption. He doesn’t see the hypocrisy. And as he continues to challenge me, I become the monster on stage, curling my fists hard, imagine launching myself at him.

But I don’t. I stand still, frozen as I force myself to remain frozen, imagine physically holding myself back. I take a few deep breaths, stop imagining my fist in his face, and start imagining yelling at him instead.

“You know what?” I say, “Fuck this. You think it’s so simple? I’ll write another slam poem, just for you.”

I wander downstage, then return to the mic upstage, preparing myself. I take a deep breath to steady myself, and when I begin, my voice is screaming.

“I won’t be silent!
Men like you
Have been silencing women like me for centuries!
I was raped!
And I deny it pretty often in my own head, but I won’t anymore!

You think you know me?
You have silenced me.
I spend every minute of every day bowing to your whims.
I don’t speak about it, I am afraid!
Afraid of offending someone,
of provoking someone,
of embarrassing myself,
of crossing some line.
But it’s all a lie!
I don’t owe you shit!

I was raped!
And men like you defend those rapists.
You degrade me,
as if I’m to blame.
I don’t have anything to do with it.
No matter what, they will still rape,
no matter who you blame.

You ask why I don’t defend myself.
day in and day out,
why don’t I defend myself against violence that is everywhere?
I take beatings, don’t get me wrong
I get abused
I take this abuse in my body just as if you had punched me in the face
But I take it
because I don’t want to be a bitch,
don’t want to complain,
am told I deserve it.

I don’t deserve it.
But everyday, my fear and my anger grows
My body corrupt
my mind twisted
so that I lose my compass
and lose myself in the forest of right and wrong
a forest of my own emotions
a forest of my inner selves
I search, decade by decade, for myself
I’m searching for how I feel,
I’m searching for -” I burst into song, “when will my reflection show
who I am inside -” and back,
“I’m searching for who I am,
and I’m searching for the bravery to wear my heart on my sleeve.
I doubt even you’re man enough to do that. Most men aren’t.
Men are balls of fear wrapped up in bravery,
a paradox men like you are completely blind to.

Many men are bullies
That’s why many men rape
Because they need to take in order to feel whole
To feel powerful in order to feel in control
To control others rather than yourself
To violate someone else’s rights in order to feel your own.
It’s been happening for centuries,
so you must be afraid, ‘why stop now?’
End of an era.
And it’s coming
And that terrifies you, doesn’t it?
So much you have to condemn us to ‘just a distraction’ in order to convince yourself we’re not a threat
Yeah, keep thinking that, because before you know it
we won’t be
just a distraction
We will change the world.”

I take a breath, thinking back on everything I just said, while looking him the eye again.

“You know, I should really thank you
By standing in as my muse
You only fuel my power.
Critics like you
remind me how much hate there still is in the world

Hate versus hate, there should really be art
Because hate plus art equals heart
And that’s really what we could use more of.”

And with that, I spin from him and exit the stage, invited into the fold of my fellow performers, and I’m awash with praise once again.

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Who Am I

I am
You are
We are whole

I spent my whole life
believing that.

But are we fragments
in space
in a vacuum
fitting together
all our lives?

Maybe we are both

fit unto ourselves,
wholly feeling yet missing

What are we missing
Why are we missing it?
What are we?

Even if we are one thing
Might we be an opposing force?
Opposing the thing that makes us whole

If so, then why this conflict
why can’t we be together in ourselves?

Why can’t I be together
without you

I need to be

can’t let you

fill me
as if I’m not enough

Why can’t I be?
Why do I need you?
Are we all incomplete without each other?

Do humans need each other
Why do we need to

be floating on the edge of space
in our little bubble
infants in need of touch
touch or we die
can that really be who we are?

Who are you? Who am I?
Why do we crawl
and search
and cry
and punch

What is life? What is our lives?
Let me be free
and whole.

Let me be free.

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Death on my Mind

Your heart was slow in your chest. You were withered, old, and grey. And your younger sister was clutching your hand beside the bed.

“How do you feel?” she asked.

“How do you feel?” you retorted.


“Seriously, it doesn’t matter how I feel. My death isn’t about me. It’s about you.”

She looked at you disbelievingly, pitying.

“No one’s death is really about them,” you continue. “Except for those who really have no one, no one to care. Then their death is about them, because they’ll have no one else to carry them. Just a last flash in the pan, then they’re gone. But you care,” you said. “And soon it won’t matter how I feel, cause I’ll be dead. These’ll be my last words. And then you’ll be alone, to suffer. How can that feel?”

She squeezed your hand. “You’re still alive. You still matter, to me.”

“I know.” You stare back into her face, unshed tears in your eyes, and squeeze back. “I’m afraid to go. My mind… I don’t want to lose it.”

“A mind is a terrible thing to waste,” she quoted at you with humour, and you smile.


You felt yourself slip away, and squeezed her hand tighter. “It’s been real,” you said, unironically. It comes out sincere, full of emotion. “I just wish I had been real for longer, instead of burying it so deep I lost it. You were the one exception.”

“Sisters,” she said, “duh.”

“Yeah, I know. But still.”

She looked at me, eyes soft. “I know.”

“Will you care when I go? When mum died…”

“Of course I will. You’re my sister. Anyway, you remember I cried when dad died.”

“Just checking.”

“You’re the only one I have left,” she said.

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. I was glad to have you as a sister. Still am.”

“Thanks.” You allowed a tear to slide down your face before closing your eyes to sleep; to die.

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The Girl with the Mousy Hair

Inspired by this song: Life On Mars

Dawn stole the money from Brenda’s wallet before she leapt through the door out into the night. It was a new city, and she had heard Brenda talk to someone on the phone about the “movies,” and thought this new thing was something she ought to try.

There was plenty about the big bright world she hadn’t seen, that her father had tried to shield her from like some puritanical hypocrite fuck, but she was out here and she was proud to have left him behind, so she bounded into the world, looking for the place.

After wandering around the right vacinity, she found it, and paid her ticket for some random title. There were food stands, and she passed by without even considering them; she couldn’t pass the stuff, anyway. That was the problem with having a partially dead body. She couldn’t even claim blood as a snack, just an occasional necessity. And she didn’t get hungry much, anyway.

Sitting in the dark room, it occurred to her that the effect was lost on her, as a vampire. She could still see the room, in crisp detail, and she wondered if that would lessen the visibility of the screen somewhat. At least there was no glare.

The ads were running for a bunch of other films. She didn’t pay much attention, apart the occasional quip that caught her eye or ear, and waited for the film to begin.

Finally, it did, and the scene began to unfold before her. The black of space was faded at the edges as a ship came into view, intricate and foreign to her eyes. Not understanding what was happening, she was hooked to the screen, already the makings of war earning the film its title. Two men in a small desert hut then came to view, talking. Then they were attacked.

Brenda came and sat down beside her, hooking her fingers into the cupholder as she kept her arm a calculated distant parallel to Dawn’s on the armrest between them.

“Figures you’d choose a film with war in the name.”

“I was curious.” She glanced at Brenda, who was slightly stiff in her seat. Dawn pressed her back more into the cushions, almost as a challenge. She had never been used to comfort. “How did you find me?”

“Asked. Just had to find someone who saw the malnurished girl. You know, I could help you with that.”

“Drinking you wouldn’t help my figure. I’m afraid I’m stuck like this, like it or not.”

“I’m just worried, that’s all.”

“Don’t be.” There was an edge to her voice, and Brenda looked ahead of her at the screen, saying nothing but looking uncertain. Eventually her eyes settled, and she watched the movie with Dawn.

Occasionally, Dawn couldn’t help but glance at her. Eventually, she sighed. “This movie is weird. I’ll admit there’s some weird shit in the world, like what I am. Vampires. But it’s nothing like this.”

“It’s just sci-fi.”


“Sci-fi. Science fiction. It’s all speculative.”

“Yeah, well I don’t like it. Look at that thing. What is it?”

“An alien.”

“A what?”

“An alien. A species from another planet.”

“Another what?”

“Look, it’s a foreign species.”

“Oh,” said Dawn, looking down and up again. She found she had reached out and intertwined her fingers with Brenda’s, and they were hanging over the front of the cup holder. She almost pulled away, but she found she liked it. It made her feel close to someone again, like she had her sister. She looked up into Brenda’s eyes.

“I think I’ve found who I’m like. That Ray person. The eager warrior. You’re the cowardly stormtrooper.”

“Thanks,” retorted Brenda.

“Seriously. Afraid but loyal, till the end.”

“Movie hasn’t ended yet.”

“Yeah, but it’s pathetic. I already know that’s where we’re going. Again. There’s a war, we fight together, I kick their asses, you take their names. We win. I’ll always be happy to fight, and you’ll always complain about having to defend me. And then we be together.”

“Is that where we’re going?” said Brenda.

“It’s pathetic,” Dawn repeated, real venom in her voice this time, but not aimed at Brenda. “We fight, we break up, we come back. Because we’re friends. Because I couldn’t live without you. And now here’s this, this movie, serving it to me like I don’t know, like a neat little package served up with alien monsters like that’s supposed to mean anything, like it’s not some fucking fantasy.” She took a breath, steadying herself. “I know what I am. And so do you, and so do we. I don’t need to be manipulated, or reminded.”

“Is that what you think I do?” said Brenda. “I know you understand, but they don’t. Sometimes it hurts too damn much, to know they don’t. All these swirling thoughts in my head, these feelings… I just want them to know you like I do, to understand. I want them to love you, Dawn, like I do.”

“Is that a confession?”

Brenda blushed, sheepishly smiling, turning slightly away. “Not like that. But you know what I mean.” She forced the smile down. “Tell me I’m not wasting my time.”

“You’re not. Not on me, anyway. Maybe on them.”

Brenda shrugged. “It’s important to me. I have to try.”

“I know you do.” Dawn looked softly at her, as though about to say more, but she didn’t. “I love you too.”

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Star Trek, Doctor Who, and the evolution of connection

It is a funny thing, comparing the old canon of sci-fi with the new. I have looked at it enough with Doctor Who, and I have begun recently to do the same with Star Trek. Most of popular sci-fi started on 60s television (from what I’ve seen), and so it is with both of these shows; they are, in fact, the genesis of the genre as we know it today. I have observed that they also represent two approaches: that of the personal adventure (Doctor Who) and that of the formal adventure (Star Trek). The Doctor ran away with a time machine from his civilisation on Gallifrey, yet the crew aboard the starship Enterprise conduct their adventures with the full permission and support of their own civilisations.

However, I have also recently been thinking of another aspect to both these series, that of the series’ representation of relationships. In the Star Trek original series, of course, relationships aren’t exactly top priority, and yet in the reboot (also referred to as the ‘Alternate Original Series’), one of the very creators of the first film described it as a kind of romantic comedy between Kirk and Spock. This is a relationship that’s also very much canon in the original series (especially the original series movies), but the reboot puts relationships on more of a forefront than the TV original series. It’s certain that some kind of obvious physical or romantic contact doesn’t occur in the relationship of new Kirk and Spock, like that apparent between the new Spock and Uhura, however it is undeniable nonetheless, in the ways that creator mentions:

This first movie is just a love story between Spock and Kirk. It has all the beats of a romantic comedy where they meet, they don’t get along, they totally hate each other, and then they get into a situation where they kind of need each other, and by the end Spock walks onto the bridge and he’s like, ‘Let’s fuck!’ – Star Trek producer Damon Lindelof

Although I don’t agree wholly with this statement (the idea of Spock so much as implying ‘let’s fuck’ messes with everything I know and think about who he is under most circumstances), there is definitely subtext the like of which comes to something not far from it. Although I don’t see the two of them acting in quite so sexual a manner, there is a definite connection that might lead to actions such as touching or melding, though I doubt it would happen on screen. Lindelof is certainly entitled to his opinions, though I do suspect that the intended on screen relationship is meant to be that of Spock and Uhura. I don’t see as strong a connection between those two characters as between Kirk and Spock however, but it certainly seems to be the modern trend to imply but not show deep male bonding, with the implication of romance but often not going beyond that. At the same time, showing either one of the men engaging with many meaningless physical relations (as in the case of Kirk), or one of the men engaging in a physical sometimes romantic connection with a woman but to a lesser degree than the man he should be with (as in the case of Spock).

Compare this equation to the one presented in the original series, in which romantic relationships were very much gendered — most of them occurred to the woman of either the Enterprise, or an alien planet, and in the men it wasn’t something that occurred very often as their main priority was always to their work and not their love lives, apart from when that aspect was brought up by the appearance of women. Spock here is also the epitome of this ideal, as the logical Vulcan with no interest in that aspect, but is far more focused on his work than even the ordinary men. The fact is also shown that women represent a fantasy for men, and are used as nothing more than whatever male desire is shown in that episode, with the probable exception to that rule being Uhura and perhaps a few others. However, this was usually also the medium through which female character was revealed, whatever its motivations were, showing equally as many ambitious women as compassionate ones.

However, apart from the representation of women in original series Star Trek, is that of Kirk and Spock’s relationship. That their relationship was beyond friendship and went into romance is still a widely accepted piece of canon, and it was certainly the intention of Gene Roddenbury, which he himself admitted in 1979, around the time the Star Trek movies began. It is shown in the TV series, as well as in novelisations and comics, that this connection existed to such an extent that it was essentially the same as any other relationship represented in popular culture.

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Be that as it may, the original series was always cleverly constructed as a sci-fi series first, that just happened to contain snippets of this relationship all throughout its canon. It weaved relationships like it weaved character, as an essential but not primary part of the narrative. This is something Doctor Who did as well. It presented action as the primary, as the character that compelled that action was revealed through it. In the Star Trek reboot, as mentioned before, they described the film as a ‘romantic comedy’ in space, but there was of course action in it as well. I think the difference between now and then is that the priority has switched; the ideal now seems to be that sci-fi without something for the audience to connect to is meaningless, and this is translated into the idea that sci-fi, as well as any other genre, is meaningless without relationships. This can only mean that through the decades, relationships have gained more power in the collective consciousness; that while women are still seen as sexual and romantic objects to an extent, the meaning of relationships has become primary in our culture for all of us.

Lindelof is a prime example of this, certainly by how he ended his quote about the Star Trek reboot, showing that sexuality has become arguably more important than romantic relationships in our society. After all, it is nearly impossible to come across a creator of storytelling media these days who doesn’t think about the sexuality of even the most chaste characters as primary to what makes them up, or inject more of it than strictly necessary into a character or story. Doctor Who, especially the 10th Doctor, is a prime example of the evolution of relationships, although it is in fact the 8th Doctor who first showed true signs of this development. When he first kissed Grace, his companion at the time, in the Doctor Who movie, the fandom strongly rejected the move as a betrayal of the character. However, it came to be accepted more as time passed, and future writers of the series, such as Steven Moffat, decided to develop this into the series that followed. In my opinion, Moffat is very overeager with this aspect, and perhaps has pushed it inappropriately in the series since the time of Rose. Clara, River, and a whole assortment of people the Doctor has kissed or married. Do I think he has betrayed the character? Well, not wholly. I firmly believe that it goes into the Doctor’s development as a character, of course. I love the Doctor, and if he wants to pursue something he hasn’t before since, assumingly, his life on Gallifrey, then of course I will accept him for that. And I also grant you that whenever he has kissed or married any of the female characters, there has always been a legitimate reason for it; to do otherwise, I think, would be the true betrayal. However, I also believe that, even if he has taken several hundred years — or more, judging by the most recent season — in his various bodies to develop his new emotions of attraction, I believe they have been fairly shallow compared to his love for them besides that, apart from the obvious Rose exception. As revealed since the 12th Doctor’s regeneration, his most recent regenerations have shared connections that led him until recently to veil his face in order to hide his age, his turmoil, and his distance from them (“Don’t let him see the damage” works just as well in reverse). As 12 himself has said, hugs are like hiding your face. He is as in love with the universe and exploring it as he’s ever been, but he’s also been so hurt by his history that he’s begun to fear the change that is inevitable in it. He holds the same convictions that he always has, but his hearts are also at odds with it. In the most recent season of Doctor Who, he has given an impassioned speech about the importance of peace, but when trapped inside a Gallifreyan prison of sorts at the end of that season, expressed just the opposite of that conviction. All this shows how his hearts are being torn in two, between the man who wants peace and the man who has learned to fight.

There is another aspect of Doctor Who that is interesting. Watching Classic Who, I find its representation of women much better than Star Trek’s, but conversely Star Trek’s representation of race is also much more diverse than Doctor Who’s. In both series’ representation of women, there is of course a representation of the ideals of its time. But Doctor Who’s representations of Susan, of Barbara, of later companions like Sarah Jane, are both diverse but also shows the women being more engaged in the action than on relationships, something more women of Star Trek can’t claim. I won’t claim that Star Trek women aren’t diverse in their own right, of course, but there are certain attitudes also present in Star Trek, not only towards gender but to an extent even race (as in certain indigenous societies the Enterprise comes across) that can be troubling; women in Star Trek, especially those indigenous of certain planets, are often exoticised, sexualised, romanticised, sometimes against their own agencies, as in Metamorphosis. Sometimes they are used as stereotypes, or to legitimise certain attitudes against them, as in Catspaw. And it isn’t to say that these episodes aren’t well constructed away from that, or that the characters are flat, but the fact that they aren’t flat perhaps lends more legitimacy to them. At the same time, however, in Is There No Truth In Beauty?, an aide to Medusan Ambassador Kollos is shown to have agency throughout, even amongst accusations of not being a woman, or being told by Kirk rather selfishly that she must eventually fall under her urges. Selfish, because it’s a more a reflection on him than her, and because by saying so he denies her own feeling even as he tries to draw it out.

Between Star Trek and Doctor Who, I also find the characters of the Doctor and Mr Spock most intriguing, particularly going by what each aliens physiology has to say about them. For example, Vulcan biology belies heightened mental awareness and sensitivity to their own kind, and the biological event of their blood boiling during Pon Farr indicates and an underlying passion to the race. However, the fact that Vulcan hearts also don’t beat also belies dispassionate suppression, and they are also a very logical race, whether because of social construction or evolution, which has caused the race to reject body over mind, as well as become a collective and exclusive race. They also contain green blood, as they have more copper than iron in it, and pointed ears, a possible inherited trait from their assumed feline ancestors, which indicates a certain inhumanity about them. On the other hand, the Doctor has a physiology closer to humans, with the only true exception in their bodies being an extra heart which, much like the Vulcan’s burning blood of Pon Farr and high tolerance for heat, indicates a high level of passion. However, in addition to this, some Gallifreyans including the Doctor also have something extra, given to them as with all Time Lords when sent to look into the untempored schism. It may be concluded that those Gallifreyans chosen are the ones proven to be sensitive to a mental transformation as a result, that would allow them to become Time Lords and thus in tune to the universe. All citizens with this ability are then trained, it could be argued conscripted, into the Academy. Given this history, that already shows two layers of sensitivity in Time Lords, as opposed to the Vulcans’ one, so there is a clear difference between the Vulcan and Gallifreyan races. And Spock and the Doctor are both clear representations of their races, and yet both are also divided between their home planets and Earth. It seems self-centred of us, then, that even the most famous of our humanoid alien characters in science fiction should be tied to Earth like this. But perhaps it is an important connection to understanding them.

Now let’s take a moment away from the analytics to focus on how I feel about and interpret these characters. First, we’ll start with Spock.

Spock, like the rest of his race, is a touch-telepath who, despite this deep connection, strives largely for a life of disconnect from his emotions. Being a telepath, and even being a Vulcan, this flies in the face of what is natural, as his emotions, mind, and body, are highly attuned and sensitive, more than most on the outside. Being logical, despite these things, makes sense, when you consider how difficult such heightened senses are. Think of a person with Aspberger’s Disorder or something similar. Their senses are overwhelming; too loud, too close, too sharp. Sound, sight, and touch. Aspberger’s Disorder people are also highly logical. It’s the only way to make sense of the world, bring order to it out of the unbearable chaos. Vulcans, and by extension Spock, are the Aspbergers of the universe.

Time Lords, on the other hand, are the Watchers of the universe. Think of the Watcher from 4’s regeneration. The Doctor is somewhat apart from his race, but not entirely. He interacts with the world, in the face of his race, yet he also watches it up close. You have only to look at 10 and his exclamations of “Oh, you’re beautiful!” and “brilliant, you are,” to see that, although it doesn’t stop and start with just him. Alike with Star Trek, the Doctor just loves to explore. Unlike Spock, however, the Doctor swells with love and doesn’t shy away from it. He allows himself to feel so fully that he needs an extra heart to fit it all in. He loves more fully than humans can understand, because he doesn’t just love one but many. He loves all his companions, even occasionally his enemies, and sure he has favourites, but over the years that love only grows, and becomes more complex, to the point where, in the modern series, he kisses, and falls in love, and becomes more heartbroken. It’s true that even in Classic, he began seeing his companions as he died, but this is a tradition only continued in Modern with 11’s death, seeing Amy one last time.

In this way, both Spock and the Doctor love ‘the many’ as opposed to the human ‘few, or the one’. (Spock senses the deaths of an entire Vulcan crew, and tells McCoy, “You speak of the objective hardness of the Vulcan heart, yet how little room there seems to be in yours.”) Further, these characters are explorations on the human capacity for love and connection through progression of their races, although this could also be true of Starfleet itself, and the openness towards the human races, at least, within that organisation. The grandest idea among all being, that we are our best when we love, deeply, that and those which surrounds us.

[P.S. Due to the collectivism of his culture, I think there are also aspects of Eastern-style culture in his race.]