Sunday, August 1, 2010
6:30 AM. Not feeling so hot. A combination of too much Star Trek, too late going to bed, too much uneasy breathing, apprehension over the talk I have to give this morning, and general symptoms that so often accompany a sudden cold snap, such as came in with rain last night. Not the best background for communication, perhaps. I was up at six, decided to go back to bed, and here I am half an hour later. Just to preserve continuity? For I don’t feel like much. And yet, as I told [my brother] Paul, I wind up feeling better as I work, so why not?
How about it, Ernest? Is that how it was for you?
It’s true, work provides continuity. At the most elementary level, just the need to get up and go pushes you to do that rather than to declare yourself out of action. But of course illness comes with a reason, and so you overlook or ignore it at your own risk. If I thought I was coming down with something, I took to my bed and stayed there until I figured the coast was clear.
But you were afraid of drowning in mucus, I gather.
Well — probably I never would have seen the difference consciously — at least, I don’t remember being aware of it — but I put illness and injury into very distinct categories. An injury was one thing. You tried to avoid them, and you cleaned up after them, but they didn’t pose a continual threat. Illness was harder to prevent, and could be harder to deal with, because your body was working against you, or that’s what it felt like. It deprived you of a place to stand, where if you’d gotten injured, the uninjured rest of you could work together to recoup. That doesn’t say it very well.
Maybe because I got distracted by seeing that “very” — which I don’t associate with Hemingway.
There’s writing and there’s speaking, and if you don’t get to revise, and pare down, and select and say it again starting from scratch if need be, it’s speaking even if you’re doing it with a pen — and in somebody else’s hand, at that.
Of course. And it’s coming through my mind, of course. I’ve noticed that sometimes one or the other will seem to get stuck on some verbal tic — like “oh-so-” the other day — and before I’m through both will be doing it.
It’s a side effect of minds in resonance. Don’t worry about it. That’s just one more thing to worry about that gets in the way of doing the work of communicating. And it is work, to communicate, regardless how pleasant you may find it.
You keep watching those Star Trek videos and you’ll be saying “fascinating” all the time.
No doubt. While we’re on the subject, what do you think of them?
They were television, and I never cared much for television, though I must say it is better without commercials interrupting it all the time. But it’s still TV in TVs constricting format. An introductory sequence to get your interest, then three or four longer more or less same-sized segments each ending with a dramatic situation designed to prevent you from turning to another channel during the commercials, then a coda like the introduction, not only to wrap up the situation’s loose ends but to leave the watcher feeling good so you’ll want to watch again next time. It’s hard not to be distracted by the constraints of the format. Scott [Fitzgerald] could have written for television. He would have been pretty good at it.
I could have provided the basis for specials, and Hotchner could have done the adaptations, just as we did do. I couldn’t have worked to order like that. Besides, they wouldn’t have wanted anything real that I could have given them, and anything they would have wanted, I wouldn’t have been able to give them except by whoring. Faulkner could have written for TV too. Anybody who could write for the movies could write for TV. I couldn’t. Too much like grinding out sausages, especially if the sausage has to look good regardless of tasting good.
So what about the Star Trek universe?
You’re coming to them backwards, so I am too. You know the movies, so I know what you know. You never watched the TV show, so it’s all seen in retrospect by you, hence by me. (It would be a different experience, my watching it through someone else’s mind.) So, like you, I see these young skeletally thin actors through the lens of the older, bulkier actors they would become. So we know something they don’t know. We also know of the success after failure of the whole Star Trek concept; we know the interaction and growth of the characters and the increased complexity of the storylines and messages and yet we are seeing them when they didn’t know it themselves.
But their non-physical selves did!
That’s how we live our lives.
There’s a continual interaction between physical, living each moment of time, and non-physical, aware of the overall pattern in ways the individual in the moment can never have the data to share — yet the non-physical will help to physical to greater awareness if that’s part of the pattern. It is in this sense that you can talk about “planning” your lives. Everything people have said about the non-physical patterning of your lives is true from a certain direction — and that direction must come with an awareness of the effects of a different continuing experience of time and the effects of time.
I see it. So — the characters and plots?
Perhaps you can see that the very compromises that made it commercial also compromised the message and made it that much less able to do what it tried to do. Enforcing peace is like spreading non-violence by winning fistfights or laser-gun battles. It’s like the flaw in the premise you saw in “The Day The Earth Stood Still.” The galaxy wants peace so much that it reserves for itself the right to annihilate men, women, children, animals, plants — the whole planet — if they decide that man’s violence is going to spread to the rest of the reality. But they don’t enforce quarantine, or use any intermediate form of policing (which in itself would recognize that peace, like war, is contained within at least potential violence) — they just threaten to kill everybody.
But if a film or if television shows had attempted to dig deeper into the paradox without finding scapegoats such as madmen or villains, the result would have been looked on as theoretical or unrealistic or even as polemical. It is very hard for an artist to get beyond the bounds of the commonly accepted and experienced reality. It’s 20 times as hard — maybe 1,000 times as hard — to get beyond those bounds in teamwork — and what are script-writing teams but attempts to do together what is best done individually, except that the medium makes it impossible.
I see some pretty heavy-handed messages tailored in the early days of the Vietnam War.
Early days in retrospect. But 1968 was after all in the third year of massive involvement. It didn’t seem “early days” to you, did it?
No, that’s true. I was forgetting.
Only in “the future” could certain disturbing messages be even hinted at; and they had to come wrapped in the form of conflict that was accepted as being dramatic. I’d say it was a contribution of Star Trek to substitute intellectual confrontation for violence sometimes, and that wedge — mostly inserted via the logical character of Spock — was as subversive as anything else they attempted.
No point in analyzing the characters, although I gather I’m going to be seeing quite a lot of them.
About 79 or 80 episodes all told, I think. They certainly produce a different mental “feel” than reading your work.
I’m smiling too. But seriously, there is a difference and I don’t think it is only film versus book.
It isn’t only that, but you are out of time.
Yes, I did better than I thought we might do. And I have to leave in about an hour to do my presentation about talking to the other side.
Too bad you didn’t pick a subject you know something about.
I’m tempted to speak without notes, but I’m afraid to.
You’ll have to decide about that. I didn’t do any public speaking if I could help it, and I usually could.
Should we (paging back to where we started today) continue about the difference between illness and injury?
There isn’t any “should” about it, and no, you’re really out of time if your day is going to proceed smoothly. You can always add to today’s later if you are so inclined.
After my talk I’ll probably just want to watch more Star Trek.
And that is called nemesis. You’ll wind up subscribing to satellite TV, if you aren’t careful.
All right. I can hear it as a joke, and I suppose our listeners can too. Later.