Tuesday, January 17, 2006

learn something new...

I enjoy Neo-neocon's blog very much. She explores all sorts of issues and has lately been exploring the literary depths of Melville's enduring classic, Moby Dick.

While the discussion of Ahab's motivations and intent are fascinating, what I really learned today is that The Enemy Within, a 1966 episode of the original Star Trek series, was based on Talmudic lore (see neo's post linked above for relevant quotes and links).

In this episode, a transporter malfunction separates the components of Kirk's psyche into two physical manifestations, the Good Kirk and the Evil Kirk. While the Evil Kirk is predictably bad, the Good Kirk is disappointingly wimpy, and everyone realizes that without the strength of his "evil" side, Kirk can't be an effective captain -- he can't even be an effective human. As silly as that sounds here, it makes sense within the episode, and as presented, it makes sense in general: there is a lot of "negative" energy/force/what-have-you behind nearly all of our positive accomplishments.

I had no idea of the philosophical underpinnings of this episode. It was written by Richard Matheson, who has such an extensive film resume that I'm embarrassed to admit I didn't know who he was before writing up this post. His 1957 The Incredible Shrinking Man was fantastic, in both senses of the word. Obviously, Matheson knew what he was doing in putting that episode together.

So, the next time you hear someone dis Trek, you can casually point out that this episode managed to examine the duality of human nature and be entertaining at the same time, no small achievement. How much Talmud is Desperate Housewives (audio at link) serving up these days?

1 comment:

Sheik Yerbootie said...

You didn't know that "The Enemy Within" was a modification of the Zoroastrian evil impulse restated as Talmuldic evil influence?

And here I thought you were a scifi fan.