|Return to Table of Contents|
THE MYTHOS OF STAR TREK
Dr. Raymond Nighan
|I know Hamlet. And what he might say with irony, I say with conviction. "What a piece of work is man! how noble in reason! How infinite in faculty! In form, in moving, how express and admirable. In action, how like an angel. In apprehension , how like a god..."
I see us one day becoming that..."
(from Hide and Q and Hamlet.)
|In th' commonwealth I would by contraries ...All things in common nature should produce / Without sweat or endeavour. Treason, felony, / Sword, pike, knife, gun, or need of any engine / Would I not have; but nature should bring forth./ Of it own kind, all foison, all abundance, / To feed my innocent people.
The Tempest, II, i, 153 ff.
SCIENCE FICTION, MIMETICISM ,
and the vision of
All literature in any form, from the plays of Sophocles to the films of George Lucas stand or fall on their mimetic value. If literature is not mimetic, it fails a most fundamental test and is not worth reading or viewing. The Greeks, inventors of literary criticism, knew that, and so with them we must begin.
Science fiction has a bad press--how often have "B" grade movies defied mimetic explanation; people who dislike the genre are well aware of its limitations--monsters and demolished cities. Roddenberry proposed a show with a vision, a show that is mimetic of the human condition, and dramatized what it means to be human. To see why he was so successful, we must begin with the mimetic theory and its offspring, the pragmatic and expressive theories.
The mimetic theory was articulated by Plato and Aristotle, the cofounders of literary criticism. Locate what they said:
Print out the relevant excerpts from THE REPUBLIC (Plato) and THE POETICS (Aristotle) and be prepared to discuss what makes literature mimetic. Focus on what Aristotle said about tragedy. We will use your findings to determine whether the vision of Roddenberry meets the classical criteria.
The pragmatic and expressive theories are likewise available on line. For the Pragmatic Theory, go to the above British Literature Home page, click on the Sidney's DEFENSE OF POETRY under the Renaissance Section. For the Expressive Theory, use the same index and examine the links for Coleridge under the Romantic Period. Be prepared to determine whether the vision of Roddenberry meets the criteria for the pragmatic and expressive theory.
HISTORY OF SCIENCE FICTION INCLUDING STAR TREK--
The uncut pilot rejected by NBC.
Be aware of the following for the films:
History of science fiction:
Begin to read:
1. THE MAKING OF STAR TREK-- (Roddenberry) assigned text for TOS
2. REBIRTH--essay which updates the vision to include TNG
3. INTERVIEWS WITH BERMAN and PILLER--essay which updates the vision to include DS-9 and VOYAGER
4. STAR TREK WRITER'S GUIDE--available from instructor
Take notes on the material, especially those concerned with the articulation of the vision: