Thursday, February 1, 2007

To Boldly Go...

Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: To explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before.

Should it not be to go boldly? Or perhaps even boldly to go?

The mission objectives are in reverse order of causality: first you go, then you seek, lastly you find and explore. The order must therefore be a crescendo of purpose. James Tiberias Kirk is the new Ulysses: To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Boldly is a not merely a descriptive, nor even restrictive, adverb. It is an essential adverb, the very purpose of going: not primarily to go anywhere, not even to go boldly, but to be bold in going.

A bad-ass James T. Kirk, powered by the finest starship a bad-ass Federation (read: America) can provide, is boldly going to show those aliens that there is a new bad-ass in town, bringing with him a New Galactic Order, along with a Prime Directive seemingly invented only so that when we (of course we, not Kirk anymore) break it — and are seen to be breaking it — aliens will understand that they cannot use legalistic casuistry to defeat us: the sword is truly mightier than the pen.

The phrase to boldly go where no man has gone before is written to hit the high notes when read aloud: bold, no, fore. We are the strong, we are the first. The man is in there to acknowledge (then dismiss) the obvious fact that every alien in the galaxy got there before us, but presumably none started out boldly. They slinked into space to conquer and pillage, or (worse) to join some larger community of soft-minded naifs who think that wishing makes it so.

We are no mere overlords like the Romulans, no mere warriors like the Klingons, no mere profiteers like the Ferengi, and certainly no mere prophets like the Vulcans. We are all this and more: we are missionaries.

We go boldly, but we do not go first. We follow the Macedonians, the Romans, the Arabs, the Crusaders, the Spaniards, the British. We bring the Pox Americana.

Kirk dared to ask in Star Trek V: “What does God need with a starship?”. What indeed.

George W. Bush is the new James T. Kirk. Don't worry about splitting that bold infinitive. Go boldly forth, O Great Decider. It is, alas, what you do best.


bjkeefe said...
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bjkeefe said...

Reflections upon rereading:

I'm glad you buy into my concept of the essential adverb. Maybe we should call it the atomic adverb-verb (pairing), so that it may henceforth be viewed as inseparable, and thus allowed to split an infinitive forevermore.

I think of the order of the expressed mission objectives not as violating causality, but as a zooming out: "Here's what we're doing. No, wait, it's bigger than that. Here's what we're really after. No, wait, …" (cf. PlotIt).

I never thought Star Trek, at least the original series, was America-centric. I always thought it was the optimistic extrapolation of what humans could be, and what the US (c. 1968) represented better than most. I still think our original plan is the best I've heard, despite the recent pee-stains left upon it by recent Republicans.

It is impossible to express in familiar numbers the amount of geek points you get for knowing Capt. Kirk's middle name.

I bow down.

I am not worthy.

Unknown said...

I completely agree with you that Star Trek is optimistic and not America-centric. The show is (as you well know) replete with irony to challenge people to think about race, ethnicity, cultural arrogance, militarism, McCarthyism (boy, the list goes on and on!) The fascinating thing is that Star Trek, like All In The Family, is a pretty ugly spectacle if you miss the satire.

I was portraying the opinion of James T. as Dubya would very likely have if he watched it. Kinda scary when you think about it.

And the fact that you know how geeky it is to know Capt. Kirk's middle name makes you eminently worthy. You may cease bowing.