You are on page 1of 10

STAR TREK AS MODERN MYTHOLOGY

We need myths that will identify the


individual not with his local group but
with the planet.
Joseph Campbell,The Power of Myth

Star Trek mythology fulfills this need, and more by helping us see what is possible for human kind as a race.

Star Trek is the most prominent and viable modern mythology for several reasons. It has become so
engrained in western psychology, and the technology we are seeing today may be a by-product of
inspiration from minds like Gene Roddenberry. Mythology, in order to be an effective means of
delivering higher goals for the conduct of those who believe in its strength, has to teach a better
way of being human. Looking at the longevity and popularity of the series, with all of the
possibilities presented to us becoming acceptable and attainable the closer we get to the future, it
becomes apparent that western civilization has accepted and incorporated this mythology into our
culture.

WHERE NO MAN HAS GONE


BEFORE
When we watched this episode in week 2, we looked at the
context of this episode in terms of human response to power,
and whether that could be a corruptive force. Philosophical
themes of this nature, which make us consider eternal questions
concerning human potential, were the status quo for Star Trek.
This was especially due to the influence of modern humanist
philosophy, reaching its height in the 1960s.
All valid mythology systems contain philosophical branches as
the means to teach different groups, but the roots are always in
our need to emulate an archetype this seems to be how our
minds are created to gain wisdom. The archetypes presented in
Star Trek are timeless, and ancient truths are re-told in modern
form, cloaked in a context that is more palatable because it is on
another level and portrays humans in a god-like (but without
inherent supernatural abilities) manner in their advancements.

VULCAN MYTHOLOGY

The Vulcan race was


portrayed as having a strong
historical connection with
mythology. Much of this was
borrowed from classic Greek
mythology, with the name
Vulcan meaning God of
Fire. This name was chosen
to symbolize that this had
once been a very passionate
and war-like race, that nearly
destroyed itself.
The Vulcans overcame this
flaw by becoming highly
rational beings, and
developing meditative and
other techniques to subdue
their volatile emotions. They
were portrayed as being
superior to humanity to an

SOCIAL ANALOGIES DERIVED


FROM MYTH
Some of Star Treks greatest moments were when the
writers portrayed pressing social issues, such as race and
gender inequality, in a format that was almost allegorical
since it was set in a completely different context.
Much of classic mythology follows this pattern of
storytelling using improbable and unbelievable situations,
to speak of taboo subjects, which are usually based on
ignorance. The goal of mythology is to teach us proper
conduct, but in a way that appeals to our inner child, who
instinctively knows when it is hearing the truth.

MYTHOLOGY AND SYMBOLISM


Although the symbol which we now easily identify with Star Trek has evolved over time, it
presents a valuable tie with the mythology itself. Mythology is heavily based on symbolism, and
humans still respond strongly to symbolic images, regardless of context.

ELEMENTS OF MYTHOLOGY: THE


HEROES
The heroes of Star Trek are very recognizable to most
people, especially Kirk and Picard, who represent the
epitome of heroism within the context of their culture and
environment. They, along with the members of their crews,
demonstrate some of the highest forms of human evolution,
including tolerance, justice, desire for peace, and supreme
mental discipline combined with moral fortitude.
Some of these heroes have followed the classic Heroes
Journey path, especially Kirk. He was an imperfect hero,
whos flaws were portrayed as something which kept him
human, with passions and desires. In terms of embodying a
classic hero figure, none of these people would necessarily
be someone we would emulate, but we can look up to them
and admire their ability to make the tough decision, and do
the right thing on a consistent basis.

ELEMENTS OF MYTHOLOGY: THE


VILLAINS
The villain element is very prominent in Star Trek
from the original series through the latest
blockbuster film installment. While it is not
necessarily the heroes (captains & crew) prime
directive or divine purpose to vanquish the evil that
exists in the universe, it is an important aspect in
retaining our essential humanity while facing of the
unknown.
The god-like, all powerful type villain is seen in the
character Q, and to a lesser extent in the Borg
Queen. Both of these beings do not seem evil in the
traditional mythological sense, but they do prey
upon what they perceive to be human weakness. In
both instances, the heroes prevailed against
seemingly insurmountable odds, by the virtues of
courage, brotherhood, and steadfastness.

DARMOK: A TRIBUTE TO THE CROSS-CULTURAL IMPORTANCE OF


MYTHOLOGY

In this episode of Star Trek the Next Generation, Picard encounters a race of beings so firmly entrenched in
mythology, their language is entirely based on metaphors derived from it. Picard relates to an important
member of this race while they are both forced to work together to defeat an evil foe.
By actively incorporating mythology, the creators of Star Trek have, since its inception, managed to
successfully promote the continuance of certain important precepts found in ancient myth-based belief
systems, while creating a new paradigm for future generations.
As with most aliens in science-fiction, the Tamarians [Star Trek characters] serve as mirrors for ourselves,
reminding us of the importance of myths, metaphors, and storytelling in our lives while demonstrating how
ingenuity, determination, and receptiveness can help defuse conflict, bridge gaps, further understanding
across different worldviews.

Works Cited:
Campbell, Joseph, and Bill D. Moyers. The Power of Myth. New York: Doubleday, 1988. Print.
"Of Myths and Metaphors: Star Trek TNG's Darmok." Ekostories. 14 Nov. 2013. Web. 27 June 2015.

Where No Man Has Gone Before. Star Trek: The Original Series. NBC Sep. 22
1966. Television.
Darmok. Star Trek: The Next Generation. NBC Sep. 30 1991. Television.