Principles, Linear Existence, and Deep Space Nine

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Principles, Linear Existence, and Deep Space Nine

by baldilocks

One of the many rea­sons that Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was my favorite of the sev­eral Trek incar­na­tions was its pilot episode “Emis­sary.” In it, we first meet Com­man­der Ben­jamin Sisko, a wid­ower, the father of a young son, Jake, and pre­vi­ously, the first offi­cer of the USS Saratoga which was destroyed in Trek’s infa­mous Bat­tle of Wolf 359. His wife, Jen­nifer, has been dead for three years — killed at Wolf 359 – and he has lan­guished at a desk job since that time. In the begin­ning of the series, he takes com­mand of Space Sta­tion Deep Space Nine with­out much enthu­si­asm, and con­tem­plates retir­ing from Starfleet when his task at the sta­tion is finished.

Fast for­ward to the piv­otal scene of the pilot: here is Sisko as he teaches the prophets — a group of non-​linear alien beings who have abducted him and who use the appear­ance of per­son and sce­nar­ios which are famil­iar to him — about lin­ear exis­tence using his favorite game as a metaphor.

[On a base­ball field]

[cap­tion id=“attachment_82067” align=“alignright” width=“150”]Avery Brooks as Benjamin Sisko Avery Brooks as Ben­jamin Sisko[/caption]

BATSMAN-​Alien: Aggres­sive. Adver­sar­ial.
SISKO: Com­pe­ti­tion. For fun. It’s a game that Jake and I play on the holodeck. It’s called base­ball.
JAKE-​Alien: Base­ball? What is this?
SISKO: I was afraid you’d ask that. I throw this ball to you and this other player stands between us with a bat, a stick, and he, and he tries to hit the ball in between these two white lines. No. The rules aren’t impor­tant. What’s impor­tant is, it’s lin­ear. Every time I throw this ball, a hun­dred dif­fer­ent things can hap­pen in a game. He might swing and miss, he might hit it. The point is, you never know. You try to antic­i­pate, set a strat­egy for all the pos­si­bil­i­ties as best you can, but in the end it comes down to throw­ing one pitch after another and see­ing what hap­pens. With each new con­se­quence, the game begins to take shape.
BATSMAN-​Alien: And you have no idea what that shape is until it is com­pleted.
SISKO: That’s right. In fact, the game wouldn’t be worth play­ing if we knew what was going to hap­pen.
JAKE-​Alien: You value your igno­rance of what is to come?
SISKO: That may be the most impor­tant thing to under­stand about humans. It is the unknown that defines our exis­tence. We are con­stantly search­ing, not just for answers to our ques­tions, but for new ques­tions. We are explor­ers. We explore our lives, day by day, and we explore the galaxy, try­ing to expand the bound­aries of our knowl­edge. And that is why I am here. Not to con­quer you either with weapons or with ideas, but to co-​exist and learn.

[Scene switches to the doomed USS Saratoga in Sisko’s quar­ters as he leans over Jennifer’s dead body.]

TACTICAL-​Alien: If all you say is true, why do you exist here?

The prophets force Sisko to face the fact that, by liv­ing in the grief and anger pro­duced by Jennifer’s death, he has stopped try­ing to live up to his own stan­dard.

This is what we all do at var­i­ous points in our lives. And our task in life isn’t to beat our­selves up for being imper­fect in what we say we believe — for fail­ing – but to get back up off of the floor and keep push­ing and press­ing on, using what we have left. Sisko still had his son and dis­cov­ers by the end of the pilot – and the end of the series – that he has much more than he was able to imag­ine at the point where we first meet him. This was good TV.

And it demon­strates some­thing essen­tial about the rela­tion­ship between inner-​core beliefs/​principles and the fallen nature of human­ity: tem­porar­ily falling away from the for­mer doesn’t make them any less true or correct…and doesn’t make them any less yours. And the great part about prin­ci­ples which are solid and true is that return­ing to them will help you dig your­self out of the ditch into which life has deposited you.

Juli­ette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was pub­lished in 2012. Her sec­ond novel, ten­ta­tively titled, Arlen’s Harem, will be done in 2016. Fol­low her on Twit­ter.

Please con­tribute to Juliette’s Projects JOB: Her new novel, her blog, her Inter­net to keep the lat­ter going and COF­FEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Inde­pen­dent Journalism — -»»

baldilocks

by baldilocks

One of the many reasons that Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was my favorite of the several Trek incarnations was its pilot episode “Emissary.” In it, we first meet Commander Benjamin Sisko, a widower, the father of a young son, Jake, and previously, the first officer of the USS Saratoga which was destroyed in Trek’s infamous Battle of Wolf 359. His wife, Jennifer, has been dead for three years—killed at Wolf 359–and he has languished at a desk job since that time. In the beginning of the series, he takes command of Space Station Deep Space Nine without much enthusiasm, and contemplates retiring from Starfleet when his task at the station is finished.

Fast forward to the pivotal scene of the pilot: here is Sisko as he teaches the prophets—a group of non-linear alien beings who have abducted him and who use the appearance of person and scenarios which are familiar to him—about linear existence using his favorite game as a metaphor.

[On a baseball field]

Avery Brooks as Benjamin Sisko
Avery Brooks as Benjamin Sisko

BATSMAN-Alien: Aggressive. Adversarial.
SISKO: Competition. For fun. It’s a game that Jake and I play on the holodeck. It’s called baseball.
JAKE-Alien: Baseball? What is this?
SISKO: I was afraid you’d ask that. I throw this ball to you and this other player stands between us with a bat, a stick, and he, and he tries to hit the ball in between these two white lines. No. The rules aren’t important. What’s important is, it’s linear. Every time I throw this ball, a hundred different things can happen in a game. He might swing and miss, he might hit it. The point is, you never know. You try to anticipate, set a strategy for all the possibilities as best you can, but in the end it comes down to throwing one pitch after another and seeing what happens. With each new consequence, the game begins to take shape.
BATSMAN-Alien: And you have no idea what that shape is until it is completed.
SISKO: That’s right. In fact, the game wouldn’t be worth playing if we knew what was going to happen.
JAKE-Alien: You value your ignorance of what is to come?
SISKO: That may be the most important thing to understand about humans. It is the unknown that defines our existence. We are constantly searching, not just for answers to our questions, but for new questions. We are explorers. We explore our lives, day by day, and we explore the galaxy, trying to expand the boundaries of our knowledge. And that is why I am here. Not to conquer you either with weapons or with ideas, but to co-exist and learn.

[Scene switches to the doomed USS Saratoga in Sisko’s quarters as he leans over Jennifer’s dead body.]

TACTICAL-Alien: If all you say is true, why do you exist here?

The prophets force Sisko to face the fact that, by living in the grief and anger produced by Jennifer’s death, he has stopped trying to live up to his own standard.

This is what we all do at various points in our lives. And our task in life isn’t to beat ourselves up for being imperfect in what we say we believe—for failing–but to get back up off of the floor and keep pushing and pressing on, using what we have left. Sisko still had his son and discovers by the end of the pilot–and the end of the series–that he has much more than he was able to imagine at the point where we first meet him. This was good TV.

And it demonstrates something essential about the relationship between inner-core beliefs/principles and the fallen nature of humanity: temporarily falling away from the former doesn’t make them any less true or correct…and doesn’t make them any less yours. And the great part about principles which are solid and true is that returning to them will help you dig yourself out of the ditch into which life has deposited you.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel, tentatively titled, Arlen’s Harem, will be done in 2016. Follow her on Twitter.

Please contribute to Juliette’s Projects JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism—->>>>

baldilocks