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Old January 22 2015, 03:09 PM   #1
enterprisecvn65
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So this "Katra" thing seems like a raw deal for a lot of Vulcans.

So first I realize in the movie making world the concept of the "Katra" was something created so that in conjunction with Genesis regeneration Spock's physical body they could plausibly bring him back to life and restore him as a whole person. As far as concepts for pulling off the ultimately impossibility, coming back from the dead, go I thought it was pretty clever and well done do I don't have a problem with it in the films. It's certainly a million times more creative and believable then synthesizing "super blood" in 20 minutes that can being a person back to life.

Second I'm not attempting to get into any religious arguments with my comments, I'm just stating some generally accepted viewpoints in many socities so please don't respond with the "Well the United Spacelites Glory of God" church doesn't believe that.

But as far as the Star Trek world goes the Katra seems to have some SERIOUS drawbacks and a great many Vulcans get screwed in the afterlife.

OK so the Katra is as Sarek called is a Vulcan's "essence" and "immortal soul" that lives on after death. I don't ever remember it being mentioned in TOS, but if I'm wrong someone please correct me.

So Vulcan's have an immortal soul.....fair enough. A great many cultures and religions today believe something similar, that there is a spirit or a soul within a person that lives on in some way after a person dies.

Now it's generally accepted by people today who believe in this kind of spiritual afterlife that the soul leaves the body and goes to whatever plane of existence automatically when the person dies, there isn't some kind of special procedure needed it just happens and it doesn't matter where, how or when a person dies. So a person can die peacefully in their sleep or be blown to bits in an explosion and regardless their soul lives on.

But the Katra apparently doesn't work like that. Seemingly the Katra cannot survive a body's physical death and a copy of it has to be transferred to a living person, which is then transferred back into the dead Vulcan's body and only then is their soul or whatever "at peace" however you interpret that meaning. Sarek also says that it's Vulcan custom to meld with someone when they feel the end is near so they can transfer their Katra for this purpose. And also this all seemingly has to be done on Mt. Selea on Vulcan.

All of this seems fine as long as

1. You know you are probably about to die.
2. You have someone handy who you can transfer your Katra to.
3. Your body survives mostly intact.
4. Someone has the means to get your dead body and the Katra carrier to Mt. Selea.

If all of that goes as planned then things should be great and your Katra will be at peace.

So when Kirk realized he made a mistake leaving Spock's body on Genesis, and because McCoy is suffering from having the Katra, he steals the Enterprise to get the body and take it to Vulcan so all can be put right. Remember at this point Kirk or Sarek has no idea that Spock's physical body is alive again so this of course provides a unique opportunity to make Spock Spock again. So they save Spock, get him to Mt. Selea, restore his mind to his LIVING body and we have our beloved Spock back and everyone is happy.

But here are my issues.

1. What if a Vulcan, like happens a lot of people, dies suddenly with little or no warning and have no time to transfer their Katra before their death. Or knows he is going to die but noone is around to do the meld with?

2. What if a Vulcan does know he is going to die and melds with someone, but then the cause of their death blows their body to a million bits or vaporizes is completely?

3. What if a Vulcan knows he is going to die, successfully melds his Katra and dies in such a way his body is mostly intact, but they don't have the means to get to Mt. Selea?

So what happens to their immortal soul in any of these situations? Sarek seemed pretty specific that the meld had to be made, the body and the Katra holder had to be brought to Mt. Selea and only then could a dead Vulcan's soul be at peace. Does that mean that if any of the above scenarios happens the Vulcan is shit out of luck and their soul is going to be suffering some kind of torture in the afterlife for all eternity? What happened to Sonak in TMP when the transporter killed him suddenly, he had no time to meld. Or the starship crewed by Vulcans in TOS, maybe they knew they were going to die but who could they meld with? They were all killed, so does that mean they're 300 vulcan starfleet crew sitting around in some kind of vulcan hell suffering for all eternity. Or Winona Ryder? Is her immortal soul in constant pain?

Shit what about the entire Vulcan race in the reboot. Vulcan is destroyed to no more Mt. Selea. Does that mind every Vulcan is damned for eternity regardless?

And what about the Katra holder. As we see in TSFS it clearly starts to drive a person insane after a while. If a you get a Katra but then the Vulcan's body is completely lost does that mean you're SOL and you're just going to go slowly insane and probably die from it. Or can you go to Vulcan and they can pull it out of you even there is no place to put it?

Do they have to have the WHOLE body or if they only take back a severed head is that enough?

Man this seems like a REALLY bad set up as compared to the typical "The soul goes to whatever form of existence as soon as you die" method.

If I were a Vulcan and knew that I had to have all these things happen in order for my eternal soul to not apparently be suffering forever I would make sure I had a designated Katra carrier with me at all times and probably wouldn't ever go more than 20 miles away from Mt. Selea.

Last edited by enterprisecvn65; January 22 2015 at 04:31 PM.
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Old January 22 2015, 03:18 PM   #2
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Re: So this "Katra" thing seems like a raw deal for a lot of Vulcans.



Vulcans are pretty chill people, so I can't see them getting too upset about the people who transfer their eternal life-juice to a new bottle.
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Old January 22 2015, 03:37 PM   #3
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Re: So this "Katra" thing seems like a raw deal for a lot of Vulcans.

What we saw in Star Trek III seems to be a rarity. Indeed, when Sarek tells T'Lar that he wants Spock's katra transferred out of McCoy and back into his body, T'Lar states that and is an illogical request and that it hasn't been attempted in ages.

Presumably most of the time the katras are transferred into the "katric arks" which were mentioned in Enterprise and Trek XI, basically vaults containing many katras. I guess they all just mingle together for eternity or something. Also, maybe some Vulcans keep an extra katra floating around in their head to offer guidance and advice, kind of like what was implied to be going on with Surak's katra in Enterprise.

So yeah, transferring a katra is a very tricky situation, and I imagine very few Vulcans ever manage pull it off. Also worth noting, in the 22nd century mind melding was not encouraged in proper Vulcan society, those who did engage in it were considered deviants and ostracized. We don't know how long this was going on for, but presumably there are entire generations of Vulcans who didn't even have the option of transferring their katra anywhere when they died.
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Old January 22 2015, 04:15 PM   #4
Vandervecken
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Re: So this "Katra" thing seems like a raw deal for a lot of Vulcans.

Well, I think I can answer the easiest problem: McCoy was losing his mind because he was a human. Vulcans would, naturally, mostly transfer their katras to another Vulcan, who could presumably handle a Vulcan "soul" impressed onto his/her brain for a time.

We could guess that the crew of the Intrepid transferred their katras to each other. Doesn't help them with the Selea issue, but Wormhole has already answered the issue of the body problem.

I was just watching TSFS 2 days ago--it really holds up better than IV, and frankly I think it's as good as TWOK. Anyway, something of the same thought crossed my mind this time--what about Vulcans who can't manage all this for all the reasons you listed?

I doubt that what the Vulcans are transferring is a "soul." We could argue metaphysics forever, but I choose to believe that it is a strong, personality-laden, mental echo of a Vulcan--the ultimate mind meld. Whatever was transferred from McCoy was NOT necessary to make Spock--Genesis-reborn Spock--a whole being again. Necessary to give him Spock's memories, almost certainly, and we wouldn't have wanted an amnesiac Spock going forward, but I don't think the Selea ceremony "ensouled" him, just that it restored his memory and habits of thinking. I mean, did Spock look and act "soulless" when he was growing so quickly on Genesis? What happened with Spock is a rare, perhaps never-before-occurring, case of true resurrection. Genesis resurrected him, not any Vulcan mysticism, and it resurrected all of him--except for memories.
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Old January 22 2015, 04:17 PM   #5
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Re: So this "Katra" thing seems like a raw deal for a lot of Vulcans.

Jedi_Master wrote: View Post


Vulcans are pretty chill people, so I can't see them getting too upset about the people who transfer their eternal life-juice to a new bottle.
I would agree except Sarek put such HUGE importance on it and even Kirk said if that much was at stake Spock would have found a way. So that implies Spock obviously thought it was vitally important as well.

Since Vulcans don't get all fired up at the drop of a hat the fact they seem to feel this is so important makes me believe it must be something they strongly believe they have to do.

Which brings me back to the original question of what if the set of scenarios apparently needed (Katra transfer, intact dead body, getting to Mt. Selea) for this to happen isn't possible. Are their immortal souls screwed for life? Sarek didn't indicate there was a "Plan B" for their souls if the main plan wasn't possible.
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Old January 22 2015, 04:23 PM   #6
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Re: So this "Katra" thing seems like a raw deal for a lot of Vulcans.

The Wormhole wrote: View Post
What we saw in Star Trek III seems to be a rarity. Indeed, when Sarek tells T'Lar that he wants Spock's katra transferred out of McCoy and back into his body, T'Lar states that and is an illogical request and that it hasn't been attempted in ages.

Presumably most of the time the katras are transferred into the "katric arks" which were mentioned in Enterprise and Trek XI, basically vaults containing many katras. I guess they all just mingle together for eternity or something. Also, maybe some Vulcans keep an extra katra floating around in their head to offer guidance and advice, kind of like what was implied to be going on with Surak's katra in Enterprise.

So yeah, transferring a katra is a very tricky situation, and I imagine very few Vulcans ever manage pull it off. Also worth noting, in the 22nd century mind melding was not encouraged in proper Vulcan society, those who did engage in it were considered deviants and ostracized. We don't know how long this was going on for, but presumably there are entire generations of Vulcans who didn't even have the option of transferring their katra anywhere when they died.
I always got the impression that T'Lar was talking about transferring a Katra back into its living body was tricky and had only been done in myth.

It seemed to me that, the way Sarek spoke of it to Kirk, transferring a Katra back into the persons dead body wasn't something hard to do and in fact was kind of SOP when a Vulcan dies to put his soul at rest.
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Old January 22 2015, 04:23 PM   #7
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Re: So this "Katra" thing seems like a raw deal for a lot of Vulcans.

enterprisecvn65 wrote: View Post
The Wormhole wrote: View Post
What we saw in Star Trek III seems to be a rarity. Indeed, when Sarek tells T'Lar that he wants Spock's katra transferred out of McCoy and back into his body, T'Lar states that and is an illogical request and that it hasn't been attempted in ages.

Presumably most of the time the katras are transferred into the "katric arks" which were mentioned in Enterprise and Trek XI, basically vaults containing many katras. I guess they all just mingle together for eternity or something. Also, maybe some Vulcans keep an extra katra floating around in their head to offer guidance and advice, kind of like what was implied to be going on with Surak's katra in Enterprise.

So yeah, transferring a katra is a very tricky situation, and I imagine very few Vulcans ever manage pull it off. Also worth noting, in the 22nd century mind melding was not encouraged in proper Vulcan society, those who did engage in it were considered deviants and ostracized. We don't know how long this was going on for, but presumably there are entire generations of Vulcans who didn't even have the option of transferring their katra anywhere when they died.
I always got the impression that T'Lar was talking about transferring a Katra back into its living body was tricky and had only been done in myth.

It seemed to me that, the way Sarek spoke of it to Kirk, transferring a Katra back into the persons dead body wasn't something hard to do and in fact was kind of SOP when a Vulcan dies to put his soul at rest.
But, transferring a katra back into the body after it died would be rather illogical. The body is dead, there's nothing that can be done about that. Transferring the memories or "soul" back into a dead body isn't going to change the fact the body is old and its organs have shut down, or change the fact the body is damaged due to radiation exposure or any of the various circumstances that cause death but leave the body relatively intact. Sarek wanted Spock's katra preserved, presumably to place in the kartic arks at Mount Seleya.
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Old January 22 2015, 04:30 PM   #8
enterprisecvn65
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Re: So this "Katra" thing seems like a raw deal for a lot of Vulcans.

The Wormhole wrote: View Post
What we saw in Star Trek III seems to be a rarity. Indeed, when Sarek tells T'Lar that he wants Spock's katra transferred out of McCoy and back into his body, T'Lar states that and is an illogical request and that it hasn't been attempted in ages.

Presumably most of the time the katras are transferred into the "katric arks" which were mentioned in Enterprise and Trek XI, basically vaults containing many katras. I guess they all just mingle together for eternity or something. Also, maybe some Vulcans keep an extra katra floating around in their head to offer guidance and advice, kind of like what was implied to be going on with Surak's katra in Enterprise.

So yeah, transferring a katra is a very tricky situation, and I imagine very few Vulcans ever manage pull it off. Also worth noting, in the 22nd century mind melding was not encouraged in proper Vulcan society, those who did engage in it were considered deviants and ostracized. We don't know how long this was going on for, but presumably there are entire generations of Vulcans who didn't even have the option of transferring their katra anywhere when they died.
Well I never watched Enterprise so I wasn't aware of the "arcs" I guess that would explain some things. Thanks for the info.
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Old January 22 2015, 04:35 PM   #9
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Re: So this "Katra" thing seems like a raw deal for a lot of Vulcans.

To me, it sounds like nothing more than a private library that the dying Vulcan might or might not want a specific person or the general community to inherit. Many probably think highly enough of themselves to decide that future generations will want to have access to that library, in which case they ask for it to be placed in a jar where anybody willing can take a sip. Others want their loved, uh, logically agreeable ones to receive the library. Yet others decide nobody will ever have any use for it, and let it disperse to the winds at death.

Basically nobody expects the katra to provide any sort of afterlife other than the sort you gain from writing a bestselling book. But Sarek is an old and embittered pervert, so he wants not just Spock's magnum opus but Spock back as a whole. And Spock, whose will apparently has a "Bury me in space and make sure my father hears of it too late to do anything about it" clause written in bold with blood-green ink, gets second thoughts at the last moments of his life and leaves behind the library, in a manner no self-respecting full Vulcan would ever choose.

Generally, katras are no big deal for Vulcans, and nobody but Sarek ever worries about them. Well, him and perhaps a few fellow pervs plus assorted religious nuts.

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Old January 22 2015, 04:40 PM   #10
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Re: So this "Katra" thing seems like a raw deal for a lot of Vulcans.

I don't want to mix things up with other shows, but then best thing I can compare it to is the Soul Hunter and his collection of souls. They keep them in whisper galleries and they can talk with them.

I think perseving the Katra is more about keeping the person for the living, like still being able to visit your loved ones while you are still alive any they aren't, then for any well being of the dead. They seem to believe that if the Katra isn't saved, then it no longer exists in any form, at least that's what the Soul Hunter believed. I don't think the Vulcans were clear on where the uncaptured Katra goes. If you don't know about the Soul Hunter, I apologize for my lack of help.

Did anyone even bother to get Sarek's Katra? I don't remember them saying anything.
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Old January 22 2015, 04:45 PM   #11
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Re: So this "Katra" thing seems like a raw deal for a lot of Vulcans.

My understanding is in line with The Wormhole's, and I'll add three (admittedly highly speculative) items:

1. I don't think that individual katras normally remain individuals as we knew them once placed into the katric arks. I think the situation is meant to be more like nirvana - they become one with everything else that is in there.

2. I think the function of the arks is wrapped up somehow in the mental abilities of those ginormous (Dune-ripoff) psychic worms that live on Vulcan. So it may not be necessary, if a Vulcan is ON Vulcan when they die, for anything special to be done for their katras to end up in one of the arks.

3. I think part of the reason the ceremony Sarek requested that T'Lar perform had not been done in such a very long time is that it is from a pre-Surak time when the people having it done were probably the elite, having their katras (if they are the equivalent of souls) transferred into new young bodies "selected for the honor" from their vassals, or having the katras (if they are just the knowledge/wisdom/whatever of a Vulcan) of old patriarchs/matriarchs who were dying transferred into themselves to enhance their own power and knowledge. The regeneration of the body must have been completely unheard of or at least extremely rare back then, too. (Unless the Vulcans had cloning back then. In which case, this concept rips off concepts from the late 80s World of Krypton comics - but as mentioned with the Dune worms, the story of Vulcan is not entirely above cribbing off of someone else's paper. )
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Old January 22 2015, 04:53 PM   #12
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Re: So this "Katra" thing seems like a raw deal for a lot of Vulcans.

Worms on Vulcan?

Do you mean the tcha'besheh of Spock's World? They are big beasts beneath the sand, but AFAIK they are in no way part of the Vulcan culture or a major element in a gaia-type ecology; the have about as much to do with Dune as the blue whale does.

Apart from that, all I can think of is the sandworms of ENT "Dear Doctor". Good snacks in moderation, but again rather unrelated to Dune.

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Old January 22 2015, 05:00 PM   #13
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Re: So this "Katra" thing seems like a raw deal for a lot of Vulcans.

Timo wrote: View Post
Do you mean the tcha'besheh of Spock's World? They are big beasts beneath the sand, but AFAIK they are in no way part of the Vulcan culture or a major element in a gaia-type ecology; the have about as much to do with Dune as the blue whale does.
Perhaps I flavored what I was reading with my own expectations, since I also read the Dune series at around that time. But yeah, that's what I'm talking about.

I guess I'll need to reread Spock's World, now.
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Old January 22 2015, 07:14 PM   #14
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Re: So this "Katra" thing seems like a raw deal for a lot of Vulcans.

enterprisecvn65 wrote: View Post
4. Someone has the means to get your dead body and the Katra carrier to Mt. Selea.
Probably less a matter of Mount Selea (sp?), and more any conveniant Preistess.

Mount Selea perhaps was Spock's family's center most religious site, but not for all Vulcans.

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Old January 22 2015, 08:01 PM   #15
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Re: So this "Katra" thing seems like a raw deal for a lot of Vulcans.

It is unclear that the majority of Vulcans transfer their katras into someone else( until they are ready to dissipatel, or be transfered into vrekatras. Transfering a katra into a host and then into a resurrected body must be astronomically rare an event.
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