“The Great Bird of the Galaxy”

VIDEO-STAR-TREKI saw Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry in person when he came to Columbia, Missouri one night  in (I think) 1977. I was one of the throng packing Jesse Auditorium on the University of Missouri campus, along with many fellow Mizzou undergrads and Trek geeks (though I don’t believe the term was in fashion yet, for those not quite geeky enough to call themselves Trekkies or Trekkers), but also many townies and others who were excited to encounter “The Great Bird of the Galaxy” in the flesh. We were a loud and encouraging audience, eagerly imbibing his vision of a possible human future so different from the malaise-infested present then recently catalogued by President Carter. He evoked a world lit by the cooperative spirit of mutual respect, celebration of diversity (as in the Vulcan philosophy of IDIC,  “Infinite Diversity from Infinite Combinations”),  untroubled by economic malignities , and utterly unafflicted by sectarianism, superstition, intolerance, or fear of the unknown. It was inspiring to be with him and so many other dreamers then, and to think of him and them now.

And so it was a joy and a nostalgic remembrance to pack another appreciative auditorium last night, at the multiplex, for the new Trek prequel. J.J. Abrams and cast did the franchise proud. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Sulu, Chekhov, Uhura – especially Uhura – all restored, enhanced, enlarged, humanized.

Roddenberry spoke to The Humanist not long before his death in 1991. If there were any doubt about his own humanist and naturalist credentials, they were dispelled in that interview:

I was born into a supernatural world in which all my people — my family — usually said, “That is because God willed it, “or gave other supernatural explanations for whatever happened. When you confront those statements on their own, they just don’t make sense. They are clearly wrong. You need a certain amount of proof to accept anything, and that proof was not forthcoming to support those statements.

How did he hope to be remembered? As one who looked confidently to the world of  “tomorrow,” and

had great patience with and great affection for the human race… Perhaps, “tomorrow” is 500 years from now. What we humans are is really a remarkable thing. How can you doubt that we will survive and mature? There may be a lot of wisdom in the old statement about looking on the world lovingly. If we can, perhaps the world will have time to resolve itself.

That’s what I needed to hear, again.


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3 Responses to ““The Great Bird of the Galaxy””

  1. osopher Says:

    “A lot of science-fiction is nihilistic and dark and dreadful about the future, and ‘Star Trek’ is the opposite,” Mr. Nimoy said. “We need that kind of hope, we need that kind of confidence in the future. I think that’s what ‘Star Trek’ offers. I have to believe that — I’m the glass-half-full kind of guy.” http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/10/weekinreview/10itzkoff.html?_r=1&hpw

  2. osopher Says:

    UP@NIGHT on the Obama-Spock meld:


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