Friday, May 25, 2012

Star Trek & Theories of Manipulation

I did not grow up watching Star TrekThree's Company, M*A*S*H, The Golden Girls, and Murder, She Wrote were popular viewing in my childhood home, but Star Trek was not. If you say, "Come and knock on our door," I am likely to respond, "We've been waiting for you." Too many of my father's anecdotes still begin, "Hawkeye was talking to Radar..." Just the other night Amanda introduced a story with, "Picture it..." and in our minds' eyes we both saw Sophia Petrillo sitting around the kitchen table with Dorothy, Blanche, Rose, and a half-eaten cheesecake. Angela Lansbury's Jessica Fletcher was a retired English teacher who went on to write mystery novels. As a teacher with a borderline unhealthy addiction to crime television series and an idea for a novel based on a mysterious event from my childhood, those Sunday evenings spent eating dinner at a card table in front of the TV so as not to miss the latest Cabot Cove whodunit may have had more than a little influence on the trajectory of my life.

Until a couple of years ago, however, I could not have told you anything about the Borg. I was not a science fiction fan. My favorite ten year old is. Because of him, I am now well-versed in the worlds of George Lucas and Gene Roddenberry. On Wednesday, he introduced me to Star Trek: Voyager, after having told me for months that I would like it because the captain is a woman.

Here's a screenshot of my tweet when we began the first episode:

He wasn't wrong.

After we watched the first episode of the series ("Caretaker"), we skipped forward to season four, episode two ("The Gift"). During this episode, one of the crew members (Kes) uses a hyper-mental ability to help Seven of Nine (a Borg drone) return to her natural human state. Upon witnessing this feat, another crew member labels Kes's power "psychokinesis." This struck me because a couple of weeks ago Bea Dazzler sent me the following insert:

"How many of you believe in psycho-kinesis? Raise my hand."

My initial response was that she won the award for oddest (not-a-)fortune ever. At the time, I was unsure how psychokinesis was different from telekinesis, though I didn't research it. When I watched Voyager, I thought maybe the difference was that psychokinesis referred to the ability to manipulate others' body parts and telekinesis referred to the ability to manipulate inanimate objects. I told Bea Dazzler my theory and we agreed that either power would be cool. I have since done some (admittedly hurried) research and it appears there is little difference between the two. So much for theories. (But come on, doesn't her not-a-fortune make more sense with my theory? SAY YES.)

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