I waited to make this post; I counted down days and minutes, made timers.
“Darkness is coming…” and now that it is less than a week away from US screening, I am ready to speak about a passion of mine: Star Trek. In opening this discussion, however, I need some help, and, so, I channel Elizabeth Barrett Browning, because,
OF writing many books there is no end;
And I who have written much in prose and verse
For others’ uses, will write now for mine,–
Will write my story for my better self…
The book from which this is quoted, Aurora Leigh, stands as a somewhat touchstone for me in many different arenas of life: writing, relationships, careers, attitudes. With her opening statement, Browning has essentially written her speaker as herself (as was a sort of trend for female writers during the 19th century, making it somewhat of a trope, I suppose). The speaker, Aurora, though, problematizes, in a quatrain, the nature of story-telling, of consciousness.
Aurora opens with a direct reference to the Old Testament, particularly Ecclesiastes 12:12, which indicates that “of making many books there is no end [so do not believe everything you read], and much study is a weariness of the flesh…” This complete reference suggests something about Aurora: she has made no venial error in her writing. She HAS written much, and she HAS written for “others’ uses.” The tension of this quatrain is temporal, propping the past-tense with the future tense. Aurora has uncloaked her intention here, and will not let the dust settle as she has in the past, because she is going to “write my story for my better self…” As the narrative of the story explodes through several moving books thereafter, Aurora follows a tradition that is Künstlerroman: there is a genesis of identity that one could parallel beside Elizabeth Browning’s, as both Aurora, and EBB (as suggested in her letters to Robert) are writers seeking maturation. While formulaic, I might suggest that Browning wrote Aurora Leigh for herself entirely to define herself, to scaffold and develop the self she wanted, or foresaw. How does this relate to Star Trek? You shall see, but it is all in the narratives we tell ourselves…about ourselves…for our unique Self.
We will have Into Darkness in fewer than seven days, and I have, as any good Trekker would, scoured each trailer, each line of dialog, for evidence of what to expect. I was even tempted to try attending the pre-screening in San Francisco the othe night, but, fortunately, was turned away…because all this hype, excitement, makes me think of, all things, All Men Are Brothers, a Wuxia novel from China. I am clearly (or not so much) talking about “Mimetic Renown…”
In All Men Are Brothers, a character, Wu Song, kills a tiger at a mountain pass. The circumstances of this fight are as follows: a Drunk Wu Song timidly cried like a baby at the sight of the tiger before mustering enough “courage” to beat the stuffing out of it. At least, that is how the story goes…what changes is what happens when he returns to a village that had been plagued by the vicious mountain tiger: he re-presents an entirely different view of combat; he exaggerates; he lies; he soaks up his success and grows stronger as a result. In a way, his “Myth” was enhanced by this success, and his strength increased, almost in video-game, level-up, fashion. With Into Darkness, Kirk and his crew complement are no different.
Into Darkness is transitional, but it is also epic. It does/will tell the story of how Kirk learns to live up to his own legend. Kirk beat the Kobayashi Maru trial at Starfleet Academy by “cheating,” or “changing the conditions of the test.” He saved Earth and thousands of land-lost Vulcans in the first Trek reboot. While I could bore you with speculation about Temporal Investigations, Section 31, and whatnot, I will not. Instead, I am going to say this is not so much about Benedict/Harrison, as it is Kirk. It is still about Kirk, and Into Darkness is for his Mythos, one that I hope will be retained.
The trailers have made it clear that Kirk is central: Beyond the Darkness…Lies Greatness. It is a reference to the first film as the Romulan Nero choked Kirk “James T. Kirk was a great man…” It is a reference to the fact that even in an alternate timeline, Kirk can succeed, and that is the Browning beauty of it all: he has made mistakes and performed all these duties for others, but with this film Kirk is going to make a name for himself, and establish his legend in the history of the Federation.
Wait until I post my thoughts on the new Film next week…I can guarantee that I will be fair, as long as there ARE NOT ANY KHANS.