Re: The Robert Johnson declaration_and Star Trek

Eve Pinsker (U56728@UICVM.BITNET)
Tue, 28 Feb 1995 23:01:23 CST

On Wed, 1 Mar 1995 07:59:28 +1000 John Ford said:
>Robert Johnson, amonst other things, writes;
>"We have a responsibility to speak for all life forms and to defend the
>integrity of the natural order."
I know Mike Lieber got jumped on awhile back for comparing Johnson's pronounce-
ments to Star Trek (in its more arrogant-imperialistic moments), but I must
admit, this sounds obviously Trekish to me. (natural order = the non-
interference mandated by the Prime Directive) Defend all life
forms, whether they be
gigantic cosmic paramecia or tiny nano-machine intelligences, whether we
immediately recognize them as such or whether it takes them attacking us first
(i.e., whether we have the vaguest idea about what we're defending or not;
certainly applies to Terran species as well, Mother Gaia included).
Don't get me wrong, I generally LIKE Star Trek (not to be interpreted as an
endorsement of Robert Johnson), and was somewhat offended when Lieber
misspelled "Klingon" in his earlier post (thus ignoring the careful work of the
linguist who worked on Klingon grammar and published a dictionary, which has
undoubtedly got him
more royalties than most anthropological or linguistic works on less imaginary,
one would hope anyway -- at least if one is not a postmodernist, societies.

Re Star Trek -- the last episode of Star Trek:Voyager did bug me; we get to
the other side of the galaxy only to find a film noir who-dun-it, complete
with monogamous male/female couple marriage angst, jealous older husband,
dissatisfied young wife smoking a cigarette. Sample dialogue -- Voyager
Navigator/womanizer Paris: we gave that up on Earth several centuries ago.
Comely humanoid female (only "oid" part being some feathers mixed in with head
hair, other parts all presumably compatible), batting eyes: You must be a
superior species . . . I know what you're thinking, you want to know why I
married a man old enough to be my father [when I was expecting her to say, at
least, husband had enough cattle-oids for bridewealth, but doesn't stop her
from ogling men her own age, however cattle-oid-less]. And comely female's
DOG (didn't even have any feathers, looked just like your overbred Terran yippy
lapdog) ends the story by not growling at supposed stranger, but jumping up in
recognition. I mean, universal translators are one thing, but this is
taking cross-cultural-species-planetary communicative conventions several steps
too far. One great leap across the galaxy, one light-year step backwards in
the imagination. Even Robert Johnson could write a better script than that,
surely. Scriptwriters obviously had no knowledge of the frustrations of cross-
cultural human flirtation on this planet, let alone ability to construct extra-
planetary metaphors for same.
Where is Ursula K. Leguin when we need her? If there's any
anthropologists out there with better story ideas, please send them to
Paramount. Given what they're doing, rewriting _Argonauts of the Pacific_ as
a Star Trek script would be a giant step forward. Actually, that's not
a bad idea. Anybody know if we'd have to pay royalties to Malinowski's estate?
Eve Pinsker