Friday, July 4, 2008

My Second Vid: Kirk/Spock: "The Definition of Love" (poem by Andrew Marvell, 1621-1678)

I spent about 4 x as much time on this one as the last one, and it's only 3 x longer. This is a nerve-racking process!
(But thanks to Kellie for making it easier by helping with the music!)

K/S:"A Definition of Love"

My accompanying notes on youTube:

Unmet longing + stars + navigation.
The 17th cent. British "metaphysical" poets wrote about this stuff long before 1960's Star Trek.
I mashed-up this poem by Andrew Marvell (1621-1678), music from "The Four Seasons" by Antonio Vivaldi (born the year Marvell died), and Kirk and Spock.

So I guess that makes this metaphysical Baroque Star Trek slash...

Kirk & Spock do--eventually--fulfill the seemingly impossible demands Marvell set for ill-fated loves to meet. (Helps to have a starship.)

The angst of the poem is obvious enough, but some of the language may be unfamiliar to modern readers, so here's the whole poem to read at your leisure, if you want.

(I had to look up "planisphere" = a star chart made of a flat surface--the plane--with a movable disc--the sphere--on top; and "oblique lines" = lines that are neither perpendicular nor parallel.)

"The Definition of Love"

My Love is of a birth as rare
As 'tis for object strange and high:
It was begotten by Despair
Upon Impossibility.

Magnanimous Despair alone
Could show me so divine a thing,
Where feeble Hope could ne'er have flown
But vainly flapped its Tinsel wing.

And yet I quickly might arrive
Where my extended soul is fixt,
But Fate does iron wedges drive,
And always crowds itself betwixt.

For Fate with jealous eye does see
Two perfect Loves; nor lets them close:
Their union would her ruin be,
And her tyrannic power depose.

And therefore her decrees of steel
Us as the distant Poles have placed,
(Though Love's whole World on us doth wheel)
Not by themselves to be embraced--

Unless the giddy Heaven fall,
And Earth some new convulsion tear;
And, us to join, the World should all
Be cramped into a planisphere.

As lines, so Loves oblique may well
Themselves in every angle greet:
But ours so truly parallel,
Though infinite can never meet.

Therefore the Love which us doth bind,
But Fate so enviously debars,
Is the conjunction of the Mind,
And opposition of the Stars.

Marvell's work is in the public domain; Paramount owns Star Trek; I offer this solely for pleasure and edification.
Thanks to for the screencaps!


bink said...

You have risen to the ranks of the stars of K/S videos! Very expressive! Great editing (use of clipped clips is unique in my experience of K/S viewing). Strong emotional content really comes through. I think you've got a hit on your hands. You can certainly proudly go to Las Vegas as the master behind two excellent K/S movies.

fresca said...

Wow, thanks for the praise!
I'm relieved you think the emotional content is strong, as I think that's importance since the poem could be hard for some people (but you don't have to "get" all the poem to get the point).
I too have not seen fragments of still photos in fanvids; but that's a look I've loved ever since I saw it in Japanese art. (The potent power of a hint.)
I knew fans would recognize even a glimpse of a scene.

That's one of the pleasures of working with established stories, like scripture:
All you have to say is something like "fig tree: and people can fill in an entire world.
OK, with your blessing, now I'm set for LV!

Jennifer said...

I like the use of stills as well--as you say, one of the joys of fandom is the ability to be extremely allusive and still have confidence that your audience will get the references and fill in the blanks. The result is a lot like one of those Japanese prints that are mostly empty space--all the power is in what is left unsaid and can be implied and inferred between the fans.

Beautiful choice of poem...the whole feel of it made me think inevitably, even without the visual references, of the death scene and the wall of glass between them.

Manfred Allseasons said...

Why, but this is indeed Marvell-ous!

(Didst thou espy what I did there, prithee? Nay, say ye?? then I am sore vexed!!....& etc...)

Well, I dont know what K/S means, somthing to do with Star Trek yes? (I'll make detective yet) but its a wonderful video and, of course,an excellent poem. Very enjoyable.

fresca said...

Yeah for the power of the unspelled-out! That still frame of Kirk in a wedge of light with 90 percent of the rest of the frame black especially pleased me. And indeed I counted on fans knowing it depicted Kirk in grief over Spock's death, and that was the "distant poles" Fate had assigned them to at that point. But I hope it works even if people don't get every allusion, because art should be applicable to all sorts of stories from all sorts of directions...
I appreciate your comments, btw. Do you blog???

Manfred: And there's another angle--there are people who get the allusions to the poet if not to Star Trek. It delights me to hear from one of them: Thank you.
(And an Italian vidder wrote me through youTube about Vivaldi--so there are lots of entry points.)

Ah. "K/S." Well, there you have stumbled onto a whole little world here---or a whole underground literary genre anyway (not so underground since the advent of the Web). "K/S" stands for "Kirk[slash]Spock" and it is the first and most famous of 20th cent. "slash" pairings. That is, fans (usually female) pairing in writing or visual art two fictional characters (usually male) as lovers, making explicit what is implicit in the original. Wikipedia says the earliest literary example is Holmes/Watson slash from the 19th cent., not that it was called slash. One could say Marvell's poem is already slashy... Or, for that matter, the latest production of "Jesus Christ, Superstar," I hear, slashes up the relationship between JC and Judas.

My interest is in the kinetic energy of longing.

There's a fantastic academic article by Henry Jenkins (of MIT's comparative media dept.) on the phenomenon that I excerpted here: "How to Watch a Fanvid", with a link to his whole article, should you care to explore further.

fresca said...

P.S. I mean rather the "potential and kinetic energy of longing."

But not to be too heavy! I started with a silly non-slash video, after all.

Manfred Allseasons said... all is plain.

I attended Hull University, and Marvell was a local lad, so this came with mothers milk to me... though I always prefered (the early) Donne..!

And of course, I loved Star Trek, who doesnt? I didnt realise Kirk and Spock were so close! Kirk seemed such a one for the alien ladies though? I need to buy those box sets, I think....

Manfred Allseasons said...

Holmes and Watson??? Oh I say!!

Are you sure????

Did neither of them have a fancy for Mrs Bridges??

The world turned upside down!

fresca said...

Hull? Any ideas how I could fit some Philip Larkin to Star Trek?

Ah yes, early Donne. Yum. Like the early Augustine (the North African one). On the 4th of July here in the USA naturally we all recite "O my America, my new-found land" round the barbecues.

As for Kirk, his appetites were famously omnivorous. Watch: he flirts with EVERYONE.
Don't buy the box set, you can watch all the old episodes for free on CBS:
They're a bit jumpy, but not too bad.

I think Holmes/Watson is a silly pairing myself. Surely it should be Holmes/Moriarty?

Manfred Allseasons said...

Yes, the old boy was still Librarian when I was there...we had a sit-in in the library for some reason or other, and he marched around waving a stick and barking at us not to touch his books...I never got him to sign my copy of A Girl In Winter...

Thank you for the CBS link, but they dont allow foreigners to watch that site, we get a blank screen and a young womans sonorous tones..'This content is currently unavailable...'. Ah, well...

In terms of the US, Elegy XIX is my favourite Donne...

fresca said...

That's the one! (elegy xix)
Thanks for the shove. [See new post]

So mean of CBS not to let in you former colonial powers.
(So, was the title of the song from the 1968 sci-fi book?)

Manfred Allseasons said...

Yes, I'm afraid we 'borrowed' the title of Stand on Zanzibar but not the theme...our latest CD is called Downbelow Station after the Cherryh novel...we arent very imaginative I'm afraid...

Now I'm off to watch Star Trek on the Sci-Fi Channel!

momo said...

This is fabuloso! I'm so curious about how you did this, but also about whether you took the line and went looking for the image, or had a collection of images and fit them to the lines.

fresca said...

Momo: I am so glad you asked! That really interests me too--do people start with the idea, the Word, and then the pix or the other way round.

In my case, the first little fanvid I made, I started with a couple silly images of Kirk and his flower. I really just wanted to learn how to use iMovie, so I uploaded those and went from there, clicking this and that option (add fog, heighten contrast, fade-out, etc. etc. etc.).
As I worked and played around, a story formed.

The 2nd vid was exactly the opposite. I knew I wanted to illustrate Marvell's poem. I'd read a lot of metaphysical poets after I finally got my BA in Classics (in my mid-thirties)--seemed the logical next step--and I had been amazed the very next year that the Marvell poem "The Definition of Love" had played a role in the movie "The Daytrippers" (1996, with the stellar cast of Stanley Tucci, Hope Davis, Ann Meara, et al.).
So--that was a very different process, but because I know Star Trek pretty well, I wasn't of course working blind with the images.

Still, I wasn't sure what I was looking for--I didn't want to take the super obvious route (showing a silvery wing, for instance, to illustrate "Tinsel wing", though the show certainly supplies such images), and I also wanted to shy away from some of the most over-used images, or at least present them a bit differently: I totally did want to use Spock's death scene, for instance, as the barrier between them speaks volumes, so I used it as a frame within a frame and moved it off-center, just to make it a little less familiar...
And so forth.

As I looked through the thousands of still images ("screencaps"--online at, an astonishing labor of love by other ST fans), again a "story" sort of presented itself that ran alongside the Marvell poem--that, in fact, Kirk and Spock DO experience Heaven's fall and Earth's tear, and in fact, their ill-fated love does eventually get on a happy track (in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home).

Krista says I should write a book about all this. Maybe she's right! On the other hand, maybe this is a "book," as books are these days.

So--thanks for asking! If you want, I can show you iMovie basics--it's sooooo much easier if someone says, "Click here." But it's not hard if you have some sense of how apps work (which I do not, but I'm getting there).

Jennifer said...

On blogging (and rather late in replying!): I don't have a blog set up on Blogger yet, but I suppose I ought to, since somewhere along the way I seem to have acquired an account. :) I'll let you know when I get to it! I've been enjoying reading your blog, it's always very cool to see what people are thinking and doing--especially when they're thinking and doing things about Star Trek. *grin*