Science Fiction Into the Darkness-or-The Mythology of Star Trek

Where Noone Has Gone Before -or- The Scientific Romance Dreams of Star Trek 

Once upon a time, dubbed "the Wagon Train to the Stars", Star Trek the enduring entertainment phenomena will return to silver screens in the global village next month in the new J.J. Abram's film "Star Trek into the Darkness". 

The Star Trek mythological canon is a science fiction (SF) tale, adventure story, morality tale and romance story which has had an enormous social influence on our Western popular culture's imagination and its iconic communal dream screen. My own experiences with the "scientific romance" of the Star Trek franchise dates back to the late 1960's, when I would race home from school, so I would not miss a moment of the opening segment. 

My experience of the Star Trek cult phenomena dates back to the late 1980's when I visited a Star Trek convention in the States which featured Michael Dorn (Worf) as the keynote speaker. About 10 years ago I visited "Star Trek: The Experience" attraction while vacationing in Las Vegas. And yes, while growing up I had many dreams about going where noone had gone before. And yes, I continue to do so. Many dreams posted at the IIDR website such as "The X-Files -or- ET Phone Home" bare the literary archetypal Hollywood dream factory blueprint of SF romance. Here are more SF dream interpretations; 

The Hollywood dream factory SciFi universe of Star Trek is dominated by the anthropic principle. It personifies a universe populated by extraterrestial life forms and M class planets. This fine tuned (SF) universe is not all carbon based, it can also be silcon based, for example. Over 800 planets in distant solar systems have been scientifically discovered over the last 20 some years. 

The Star Trek mythology which encompasses its philosophical scientific eros, logos, ethos, and pathos of the future, includes the thematics of altruistic value of personal loyalty, duty, humanism, optimism, ecology, adversity in the face of political conflicts, war and peace, authoritarianism, imperialism, economic disputes, racism, genetic engineering, mind control, religion, human rights, sexism, feminism, and the powerful role of technology. Many of the dream interpretations posted at the IIDR website deal with similar ongoing dramatic social, political, religious and economic issues happening on our planet. 

TV Guide in 1996 printed "Star Trek: 30 Years", the official collector's edition. The contents include interviews with characters of the Star Trek franchise (till then), and we also find TV Guide's readers' survey in which half those that responded; "admitted they had dreamed about Star Trek and its characters...." I guess that's one of the important aspects that truly defines and makes them "Trekkies"? This iconic popular culture dreaming thing should be of no surprise? As can be expected, researching dreams, we find in Patricia Garfield's "Your Child's Dreams" which was published 12 years (1984) before the TV Guide's published survey, Garfield reported (in the section "Superkid and Other Joyful Dreams") the dream of Kenric age 8; "Yesterday I dreamt of ‘Star Trek.' Then I thought I was Captain of the Enterprise." 

Inside the Star Trek mythological SF canon itself we find the dreams of many different species, in The Next Generation episode "Night Terrors" the Betazoid Deanna Troi experiences nightmares while the rest of the Enterprise D crew is unable to achieve REM sleep. Even Vulcan's have dreams. In the classic Trek episode "Amok Time" about Vulcan mating rituals and rites of passage, Mr Spock has a "startling" dream about nurse Chapel. Mr Data after a surge to his positronic brain experiences a dream for the first time in the episode "Birthright". One of the most intriguing episodes from a comparative Star Trek species perspective comes in a Star Trek Voyager episode, "Waking Moments" which features aliens who apparently live out their lives in the dream state. In the Star Trek franchise film "First Contact", the movie opens with Picard experiencing nightmares. The nightmares frame Picard's own remembrance of things past about the Federation's most lethal enemy "The Borg". They also work as a phenomenal sign of things yet to come. In the philosophical search of hope, optimism, tolerance and a brighter future, Star Trek has fueled our mythological (mythos), logical (logos), ethical (ethos), and erotic (eros) imagination, it has literally fueled our utopian dreams. 

The IIDR is dedicated to making our inner darkness visible (3) with the medical symbolic logic aim of a "revolution in dreaming" which philosophically rids (or at least makes our dream world a more humane place) our planet of all the everyday dramatic "pathos" of the social, political, economic and religious strife it is plagued with. There are many movements and projects underway that support such a scientific and medical humanities revolution in dreaming. This philosophical and historical movement has been ongoing and is known in the Western world as "The Great Conversation". 

Freud, in 1895 wrote "Project for a Scientific Psychology" in an attempt to outline a neuropsychological "theory of neurons" was hoping to provide a complete scientific explanation of human motivation and behaviour. Freud gave up his writing in frustration, because the neurosciences had not advanced to the point for such a new paradigma and understanding to be achieved. Now nearly 120 years later, the completion of Freud's "Project" is within our grasp and stands on a more solid footing. On the Western forefront of the ongoing Great Conversation of the neurosciences is "The Human Brain Project". The Human Brain Project will go where noone has gone before, using supercomputers to simulate brain function. In the Star Trek mythology of the future, we see that "neurographic" scans will assess brain function down to the molecular and atomic level. With an accurate understanding of the dreaming brain, the conscious brain and the psychopathologically functioning brain, many long standing mysteries will find scientific and Socratic philosophical answers. 

From a medical humanities (7) perspective, computers play an an inordinate SF role in Star Trek's mythology. If as the Canadian literary critic Northrop Frye points out; "Literature imitates the total dream of man.", then the IIDR has been mapping the everyday collective mimetic unconscious and the total dream of those living in the global village. Making visible (read, conscious) the invisible (read, unconscious) mimetic process of the creation of the everyday oral and visual culture and its literary, artistic, musical, poetic and dramatic universe of dream vision we live in is philosophically necessary to "Know Thyself". 

As "Field Notes of a Dream Researcher: 1001 Nights in the Global Village" will increasingly show, it is, has always been, and most likely will always be dream vision that binds humanity and the Great Conversation on our planet. The IIDR is tracing the history of Dream Vision, providing you the reader with Ariadne's golden thread to help to navigate and travel through the cosmological and interpersonal labyrinth of culture, space, time and intertextual meaning in what the media expert Marshall McLuhan called the "global theatre" (5) we live in. 

Further Reading; 

  1. John Clute, "The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction"
  2. Ross S. Kraemer (et al), "Religions of Star Trek"
  3. Bert O. States, "Seeing in the Dark: Reflections on Dreams and Dreaming"
  4. Wilder Penfield, "The Mystery of the Mind: A Critical Study of Consciousness and the Human Brain.
  5. Marshall McLuhan (with Wilfred Watson), "From Cliché to Archetype"
  6. Jean Baudrillard, "Simulcra and Simulation"
  7. Erich Fromm, "The Revolution of Hope: Toward a Humanized Technology"
  8. Northrop Frye, "Anatomy of Criticism"
  9. Erving Goffman, "Forms of Talk"
All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.