Saturday, January 26, 2008

Pain! Pain!

This is NOT a post about Star Trek (OK, turns out it is, kinda), but I must start with a scene from the S-T episode "Devil in the Dark" because it captures how I feel:

In this episode, which I watched last night, Spock mind-melds with a silicon- (not carbon-) based creature,
which looks remarkably like regurgitated pepperoni pizza,
fringed with carpet tassles.

Spock extends his hands toward the wounded creature and begins to moan loudly,
"Pain! Pain!" before stumbling backward in agony.
(Into Kirk's arms, but that's not part of my story.)

This is exactly how I feel having spent most of today vetting a manuscript about spirituality for teenagers.

When I read the author's contention that Christianity offered something new and wonderful to the world, but that Hinduism is very difficult to understand with all its "fantastic" gods I began to moan.

When he went on to say Shiva is a goddess (he is not), I doubled over.

You can recognize Hassidic Jews by their black clothes? The brain staggers.(What if you misidentified a beatnik?)

But when I got to Islam and it was all about suicide bombers, (this is supposed to be about spirituality, remember), then I truly got out of my chair and cried aloud, "Pain! Pain!"

If your average schmuck on the street said any of these things, I would only cringe slightly, but this is not only the work of a professional writer, it has passed through the hands of a professional editor...

...and come out looking like that silicon-based thing.
But without its inner beauty.

One of the things Spock is always reminding his doltish human colleagues of is that not all life in the universe looks like you.
Same as it ever was.


Matt_J said...

Classic episode. Now there's some good writing. Kirk wounds the rock beast with his phaser. After Spock learns the Horta was just guarding the eggs (it has a 50,000 year reproductive cycle) they ask Bones to patch him up. 'I'm a doctor, not a bricklayer!' he replies but eventually patches the Horta using quick setting concrete beamed down from the Enterprise. At the end of the show we learn that the Horta found human appeareance disgusting but liked Spock's pointy ears.

fresca said...

I have been surprised at how many of my friends know and like S-T, but you win the gold star, Matt, for remembering the 50,000-year reproductive cycle of the Horta!

Yes, it is one of the best Star Trek episodes--it has all the ingredients--the crew actually carries out its mission to "discover new life and new civilizations" without killing said new life.

There's some good character and relationship development,
and coherent psychology (not to be taken for granted in this show)--Kirk convinces the murderous miners at the end not to kill the creature by appealing to their sense of greed--the Horta will help them mine valuable minerals.
No women, but that's par for the course, alas, though why they bother with hefty security personnel when they can't even fire their phasers is a bit of a mystery...

I bet the Horta liked Spock's ears because she sensed they were made of silicon!

can't "bear-it" said...

I'm more interested in the "Pain"!
How...can this problem be rectified? I know this is not the first time errors of this magnitude have slipped into print. The pain is so great I want to moan and fall on my knees.

Matt_J said...

Thanks for the star, that's one of my favorite episodes, especially the scene where Spock mind-melds with the rock beast. I must confess to having read the Wikipedia plot summary.

Yes, the pain, the pain. All teachers know that the ignorance of the students is eternal and without bound. Education is a Sisyphean task, best done with a smile. Teach the young, honor the old.