Saturday, May 9, 2009
I enjoyed the Star Trek movie! Revisiting the starship Enterprise connected me to aspects of myself that I value. In books like The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell talked about the importance of stories in life and he talked about connecting to the archetypes in Star Wars, and I got it intellectually. But my experience of this recent Star Trek showed me more.
I remembered a few things from my childhood. At Christmastime before my seventh birthday I moved in with my Dad and Stepmom in Ohio. I remember seeing that my Father watched Star Trek, and thinking that was pretty great because I liked that show, too. It helped me to connect my experience from one household to another. I had been living in Georgia and Alabama with my Mother’s side of the family up to then, so the story of Star Trek actually helped to provide some continuity to my experience. It might sound strange, but living in those different homes with different inhabitants, rulers, customs and rules…even environments, was similar in story to Star Trek. From the perspective of a six-year-old: I had been going from planet to planet, too.
I also remember a mystical experience, of sorts, from around the same time. I was lying in my bed with my eyes closed, and I had a sense of being surrounded by infinite space in all directions. I felt safe: I could see distant stars, and thought that when I opened my eyes I might be anywhere.
So I’ll just call it the “space” archetype, it’s a metaphor for consciousness. Exploring outer space in a spaceship just gives us to tools and images to explore ourselves.
I also identified with the characters Jim and Bones because it was their wounds that sent them into space (of course, Spock, too!). And that’s how it really works. If there is no reason to question one’s existence then we can be happily complacent. But when natural pains come into a person’s life we seek “space” (as in the space archetype) for solace. Jim grew up without a Dad and was reckless and smart, and Bones’ ex-wife had “left him with just bones.” So both characters went off to Starfleet to prepare for space travel.
And through the experience they found connection, achievement, and even love.
This group of actors is young! So I hope that there will be many more movies that are as true to the spirit of Star Trek as this one is.