Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Geeks of the World... Live Long and Prosper!

I've an essay in the new Geek Mook by Vignette Press. My essay's in-jokily entitled 'Dammit, Jim, I'm a Philosopher'.

But wait. What is a 'mook', you ask? (Dear reader, you ask such good questions.) It's part magazine, part book. Short, pithy, slick and packed with variety.

This Geek Mook is exactly as it sounds: distilled geekiness. From the website:
Geek Mook explores the worlds of hackers, gamers, astronomers, trekkies, theatre buffs and obsessives of all the other fixations that give us a reason to stave off death (and quite frequently sex as well). The book explores the ways the ways geek, literary and human have crashed up and mashed up in our lives and imagination. Geek Mook exposes the fleshy heart beneath the robot carapace.
Geek Mook is currently on and Kobo, but will also be on Amazon Kindle soon.

Show some geek love, and pass the information on to your roleplaying, Dr Who watching, Spock-eared friends. 

And here's a sample from my chapter:
Yes, Star Trek was kitsch. But kitsch is the back door to the mansion of the highbrow. It works like this. Something is fashionable: it exemplifies its era. Then it is passé – there’s something disgusting about it. It reminds us of how shallow or naïve or ugly we all were. Then it’s taken up by a new generation, for whom it is so bad it’s good: kitsch, camp, funky. And then, scrubbed of all its old generational stain, it is suddenly shiny. (If I can quote Firefly.) It happened to Victorian furniture, and happened again to Star Trek. 
So Trek is bona fide, in other words – as a philosopher, it is almost in my universe of highfalutin’ respectability. But what do I see in this franchise? In many respects, Star Trek is inferior to series like Battlestar Galactica, with their more nuanced characters and consistent plots. And it lacks Dr. Who’s irreverent pathos and wit. Gene Roddenberry’s cosmos can be simplistic, utopian and smug. 
Nonetheless, the recent Star Trek film, directed by J.J. Abrams, reminded me of what might be called the ‘spirit’ of the series. 
Friendship is at the heart of this, particularly the Captain and his Vulcan First Officer. Kirk and Spock might be very different young men, but they grow to rely on each other. Eventually, they're as close as friends can ever be - it is more love than simple camaraderie. Nietzsche once observed that the best friendship can be harsh, conflicted – not because of petty quarrels, but because genuine friends challenge one another. ‘It is not in how one soul approaches another,’ wrote Nietzsche in the second volume of Human, All-Too-Human, ‘but in how it distances itself that I recognise their affinity and relatedness.’ This is a lesson in the potency of friendship: not to make us the same, but to get the best out of our differences.

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