Re: Star Trek fans, what do you think?

Gil Hardwick (
Mon, 15 May 1995 06:15:14 GMT

In article <3orodt$>, Allan Dunn ( writes:
>Please enlighten someone who is not a student or practitioner of
>anthropology (although I would like to think that I study the human
>species on a daily basis). Why is it that contemporary Western cultures
>are not subject to anthropological study, while contemporary pre-tech and
>pre-industry cultures are considered MORE important?

Western society is already covered by sociology, except that in the
light of reaction against its radical leanings it has lost standing
as a distinct branch of the social sciences and its practitioners
have been incorporated for administrative purposes into anthro.

Anthropology is not considered MORE important. It merely asserts
that MORE THAN contemporary Western cultures need to be taken into
the account on the human condition. Therefore anthropology studies
The Other; that is, quite DIFFERENT societies.

That anthropology has been so successful that it now APPEARS to have
overwhelmed the various discourses of the social sciences, is merely
due to the richness and diversity of its field of study.

> I understand the usefulness in the study of other cultures, i.e.
>studying unique solutions to common problems, understanding our common
> pre-tech,indust. origins. What I do not understand is the general
>distain of Western culture to study? Are we waiting for someone to
>emerge from an "untainted" culture to study Western culture, or will
>study of "Western culture" continue to be the realm of sociology- and WHY?

Well, the problem has been to find anything much resembling "culture"
in the West to start with. I will allow the French and German cultures
of Europe, along with the Celtic, Gaelic and Welsh among quite a few
others, but the Anglo-American (incl. their antipodean derivative)
hot-potch of borrowed artifacts and horribly abused language belongs
only under "miscellaneous".

I cannot speak for the others, but I find it far more of interest to
take these latter into my studies of socio-pathology, of social decay
extreme environmental breakdown. It is from these latter, for example,
that I can obtain the statistics on suicide, sexual aberration and
promiscuity, and here above on people cocooning themselves within
Hi-Tech home cinemas to escape reality in a fantasy world generated
from film images.

>Although I am not a Trekkie, I realize that the electronic mediums have
>become a major source of information, replacing personal oral relating of
>the same in other cultures. What is wrong with turning the anthro-lens
>back on ourselves in an objective manner? We are not different species,
>the mediums and implements are different, but much of the baggage is
>remarkably similar.

No the phenomenon is not at all similar. You appear to be confusing
the carriage of valid information capable of building knowledge and
skill yet presented at that age in children's fantasy stories, which
at puberty they are made to GO OUT and substantiate for themselves
prior to the next round of ceremonies bringing them fully into their
adult life, with fantasy generated on whim to titilate and amuse.

And no doubt make TV producers very rich into the bargain.

If you want to make a valid comparison, please do explain how some
fellow addicted to watching a particular science fiction series is
better able to run a farm, for example. What, does he sit there of a
night picking Klingons off his truck patch, or something.

> Trek relates to certain constants and solutions in
>the human condition- whether those who watch those particular programs are
>"couch potatoes" (and I know many active people who enjoy this show) is a
>blanket judgement of this culture that is loaded with bias. What do you
>do for fun? Ski-bunny, party-animal, beach-bum, cineaddict etc.....AD.

Certain constants and solutions in the human condition?

Certain CONSTANTS? What, selected from this undoubtedly representative
list you offer?