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Old March 22 2014, 04:44 AM   #1
LMFAOschwarz
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Whose Eden is it, anyway?

Whenever I watch The Way to Eden, I'm always fascinated by the scene in which they discuss Severin's disease. There are really interesting implications which were never expounded upon, mainly Severin's attribution to it being that the Fed's technical society 'made him what he was'. To paraphrase, "This stuff you breathe, this stuff you live on...The artificial layers which you shield around every planet!" sounds like a pretty deep condemnation of the high-tech future we see, as if a "cure" for some problems leaves new ones in its wake.
I'm not saying I agree with him (I don't know enough about the situation to say), but it sounds like he certainly has justifiable grounds to feel as he does. His overall plan was a bit nuts, but the whole scenario sort of makes his wish to find Eden quite understandable.

Any thoughts on this? Everyone always talks about the hippies, but this aspect of the story, to me at least, the most interesting, get ignored.

(Oops, I meant to post in the Original Series category!!!)
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Old March 22 2014, 06:09 AM   #2
Melakon
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Re: Whose Eden is it, anyway?

Yeah, Sevrin's complaint, if valid, is quite an indictment of the utopian future. But he's treated as a Typhoid Mary and therefore must be confined, rather than trying to find a cure for his condition.
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Old March 22 2014, 12:37 PM   #3
King Daniel Into Darkness
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Re: Whose Eden is it, anyway?

Perhaps insanity? I've often wondered if the high rate of crazed captains, commodores and admirals in Trek could be the result of years of exposure to warp fields or some other starship tech.
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Old March 22 2014, 01:18 PM   #4
Warped9
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Re: Whose Eden is it, anyway?

The idea of TOS' era being Utopian is a TNG retcon with no solid evidence. The TOS era certainly didn't give off a vibe of being Utopian except perhaps comparatively to mid 20th Earth.

That said there were references in the series that artificial habitats, even on some planets, were common enough given the need for specific minerals for those habitats.

It's never specified what Severin's problem is. The implication seems to be his illness could endanger others, but no cause is clearly stated. It's clear in his mind what the cause is, but no real evidence is offered one way or another.

Like in the '60s there are people today who question the nature of our society and it isn't just disenchanted individuals. A lot of regular folks do as well. There are reports of greater incidence in diabetes and resperitory problems. Some of our homes and workplaces are so airtight and climate controlled that the fumes given off by many artificial materials become concentrated and affect some people adversely. We have increased incidences of obesity partly due to a decrease in physical activity. A lot of the food we eat mightn't bear close scrutiny. The increase of technology seems concurrent with increases in different forms of ADD. We can also question the quality of our educational institutions.

These were questions arising in '60s and they're even more relevant now. They haven't gone away.

The episode might have handled the issues poorly, but they are relevant even today. What kind of world are we making for ourselves and what will be the long term impacts?


Star Trek paints a picture of a far future where technology works perfectly. A good example are starship life support systems. We rarely hear of problems with such systems unless they are affected by outside forces. But today studies are showing how enormously difficult it is to build such systems. There are incredible challenges involved in designing workable artificial environments for proposed long range space missions (re: going to Mars). It's mind-boggling to imagine shutting up people for lengthy periods of time in completely sealed environments with zero opportunity to "get out for some fresh air." At least in Trek they can beam down periodically to a Class M world, breathe fresh air and walk in the grass.

Yes, there are many people today, particularly in large cities, that can live like shut-ins and never see a tree or blade of grass. There have been trials of people always staying indoors and even when they go out they have access to underground shopping complexes. But a key difference is they still have the opportunity to go outside or at least open a window. In space or sealed in an artificial habitat you can't do that.
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Old March 22 2014, 03:24 PM   #5
LMFAOschwarz
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Re: Whose Eden is it, anyway?

Melakon wrote: View Post
Yeah, Sevrin's complaint, if valid, is quite an indictment of the utopian future. But he's treated as a Typhoid Mary and therefore must be confined, rather than trying to find a cure for his condition.
Typhoid Mary...just imagine having your name becoming synonymous with a disease. Talk about condemnation for reasons beyond your control!

King Daniel Into Darkness wrote: View Post
Perhaps insanity? I've often wondered if the high rate of crazed captains, commodores and admirals in Trek could be the result of years of exposure to warp fields or some other starship tech.
I always figured it was the power these people wield that eventually "goes to their head". However, I wonder now. Each "crazy Captain" story was written to provide some drama, which individually are fine. But collectively, maybe they do represent some pattern of causality. Maybe there is some environmental/technological 'man behind the curtain' at work?

Warped9 wrote: View Post
The idea of TOS' era being Utopian is a TNG retcon with no solid evidence. The TOS era certainly didn't give off a vibe of being Utopian except perhaps comparatively to mid 20th Earth.
That always bugged me a little when Picard or someone would reference how this-or-that are no longer problems. I'd always flash back to Kirk saying "Maybe we weren't meant for paradise. Maybe we were meant to march to the sound of drums..." bla bla bla.

"We've learned to detect the seeds of criminal behavior", indeed...

Warped9 wrote: View Post
Like in the '60s there are people today who question the nature of our society and it isn't just disenchanted individuals. A lot of regular folks do as well. There are reports of greater incidence in diabetes and resperitory problems. Some of our homes and workplaces are so airtight and climate controlled that the fumes given off by many artificial materials become concentrated and affect some people adversely. We have increased incidences of obesity partly due to a decrease in physical activity. A lot of the food we eat mightn't bear close scrutiny. The increase of technology seems concurrent with increases in different forms of ADD. We can also question the quality of our educational institutions.
Interesting, and makes me think Dr. Korby::

BROWN: Doctor Korby has discovered that as their sun dimmed, the inhabitants of this planet moved underground from an open environment to this dark world. When you were a student of his, Christine, you must have often heard Doctor Korby remark how freedom of movement and choice produced the human spirit. The culture of Exo 3 proved his theory. When they moved from light to darkness, they replaced freedom with a mechanistic culture. Doctor Korby has been able to uncover elements of this culture which will revolutionize the universe when freed from this cavernous environment.

Sounds like he had more of the same thing in mind, like how at one time if bleeding a patient to remove evil spirits didn't work, the obvious next step was to remove more blood!
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Old March 22 2014, 03:31 PM   #6
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Re: Whose Eden is it, anyway?

Warped9 wrote: View Post
There are reports of greater incidence in diabetes and resperitory problems. Some of our homes and workplaces are so airtight and climate controlled that the fumes given off by many artificial materials become concentrated and affect some people adversely. We have increased incidences of obesity partly due to a decrease in physical activity. A lot of the food we eat mightn't bear close scrutiny. The increase of technology seems concurrent with increases in different forms of ADD. We can also question the quality of our educational institutions.
The increase of various diseases isn't linked to technology in quite the way some people interpret it. It's more down to the way we can better detect or have broadened the expansion of what defines certain diseases (autism, as an example. Some people were freaking out that autism suffered a sharp increase, in reality the definition of an autistic individual changed.)
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Old March 22 2014, 03:49 PM   #7
LMFAOschwarz
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Re: Whose Eden is it, anyway?

OpenMaw wrote: View Post
The increase of various diseases isn't linked to technology in quite the way some people interpret it. It's more down to the way we can better detect or have broadened the expansion of what defines certain diseases (autism, as an example. Some people were freaking out that autism suffered a sharp increase, in reality the definition of an autistic individual changed.)
That is very true. What's puzzled me for years, though, is how every kid in the universe is suddenly allergic to peanuts. When I was a kid, it wasn't an issue at all. We used to get little cups of peanuts and raisins at school lunch without problems. (Though admittedly, many hooligans would often eat the raisins and use the peanuts as projectiles. I have to laugh, remembering the cafeteria floor on those days, littered with hundreds of peanuts! )
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Old March 22 2014, 03:54 PM   #8
Warped9
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Re: Whose Eden is it, anyway?

OpenMaw wrote: View Post
Warped9 wrote: View Post
There are reports of greater incidence in diabetes and resperitory problems. Some of our homes and workplaces are so airtight and climate controlled that the fumes given off by many artificial materials become concentrated and affect some people adversely. We have increased incidences of obesity partly due to a decrease in physical activity. A lot of the food we eat mightn't bear close scrutiny. The increase of technology seems concurrent with increases in different forms of ADD. We can also question the quality of our educational institutions.
The increase of various diseases isn't linked to technology in quite the way some people interpret it. It's more down to the way we can better detect or have broadened the expansion of what defines certain diseases (autism, as an example. Some people were freaking out that autism suffered a sharp increase, in reality the definition of an autistic individual changed.)
The technology in itself doesn't cause the disease. But how the technology is used could be influential in health problems arising.

A small example. When many of us were kids (and this was even more true for our parents) we walked or rode our bikes everywhere. Our parents often kicked us outside where we got together with friends and ran/rode around all over the place. Today we have grown generations that often can't contemplate walking or riding down the street. Adults are no different. People drive everywhere even if it's just around the block. The general level of physical activity isn't there.

Now this is a generalization because, of course, there are many youth and adults who are physically active. But there still remains a marked decrease in physical activity in the overall population.

Another change is the availability of food. When we were younger (and, again, even more true for our parents) it was a comparative rarity to eat fast food as opposed to usually eating home prepared food without benefit of a quick heating microwave. Today fast food has become commonplace. Additionally food establishments have become more numerous and accessible. Also there are vending machines everywhere. Food is never out of reach and in tandem with human inclination to indulge immediate self-gratification we can often have a beverage or snack in hand no matter where we are or what we're doing. Tie that in with decreased physical activity and you can have a problem.
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Old March 22 2014, 06:16 PM   #9
scotpens
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Re: Whose Eden is it, anyway?

LMFAOschwarz wrote: View Post
. . . There are really interesting implications which were never expounded upon, mainly Severin's attribution to it being that the Fed's technical society 'made him what he was'. To paraphrase, "This stuff you breathe, this stuff you live on...The artificial layers which you shield around every planet!" sounds like a pretty deep condemnation of the high-tech future we see, as if a "cure" for some problems leaves new ones in its wake.
I always took Sevrin's Luddite rants as the ravings of a madman, like like today's anti-vaxers or the religious nutters who believe in healing through prayer alone. He was looking for a convenient scapegoat on which to blame his disease.
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Old March 22 2014, 06:36 PM   #10
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Re: Whose Eden is it, anyway?

It's never specified what Severin's problem is.
Sure is. He's suffering from Synthococcus novae, which must be a bacterium from the cocci family (or else something about scientific terminology has changed a lot - but TOS isn't famed for having planets named the Sagittarius Galaxy, or birds named the Altairian Electro-Frog).

They can inoculate against it, but they can't "lick all the problems". Whether they can kill the bacterium itself is unclear; it might be currently resilient to antibiotics, but that's a rat race, and if Severin just had enough patience, the antibiotic rats would no doubt gain a lead again.

The name itself is telling enough: the bacterium is "new" and "synthetic". Plenty of reason for Severin to blame technology for his ailment. But "reason" probably doesn't enter the picture regarding his course of action. Finding Eden might spare his disciples from S. novae, provided they spaced Severin first, but it obviously wouldn't help the prophet himself.

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Old March 24 2014, 01:01 PM   #11
2takesfrakes
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Re: Whose Eden is it, anyway?

Sometimes, it is hard to tell genius from insanity and Sevrin's Space Hippies make the mistake of deciding the former. But even a broken clock gives the correct time, twice a day. And He may well have had a point, but as mentioned in the Original Post, this is never investigated in any detail. In fact, what the point of this show seems to be to me, at least, is the Space Hippies feelings of entitlement. Some of them, apparently, even came from privelige. But none of them wants to earn the utopia they seek, they content themselves to be led to it. And this sentiment, this sort of mindset is still around, today, to a large degree.

If you're knowledgable about the Hippy movement of the Sixties, this episode can seem even more dated, but if you're not aware of it, then that aspect isn't so distracting. It's cute to see these pretty girls with flowers painted on them and everything, and they seem sweet. But the clash between their idealism and their sense of entitlement was begging for this sort of a wake-up call. Unfortunately, it turned out to be fatal, for some of them. But for others, they seemed to bridge that disconnect and realize it's fine to have hopes and big dreams, but the struggle to attain those things has its own rewards, too. It's got a lot of goofy elements in this episode, who can deny that? But I find it fits very comfortably with the rest of The Original Series, quite well. It even has a certain charm ...
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Old March 24 2014, 05:18 PM   #12
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Re: Whose Eden is it, anyway?

There's also the fact that when they were frustrated in their quest these folks who sang about calling a stranger friend then set about to kill and destroy to get what they want. They neglected to remember that if you want to be treated with respect you have to also give it in kind.

They said themselves: they recognize no authority but their own. Yeah, well the real world doesn't work like that.
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Old March 24 2014, 05:52 PM   #13
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Re: Whose Eden is it, anyway?

I wonder if some working communes exist wit the Federation. they don't have to biker about work, so some might work.
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Old March 24 2014, 06:05 PM   #14
Timo
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Re: Whose Eden is it, anyway?

Would they be markedly different from the regular brand of colonist, though? Those supposedly rent rather than steal the ships that get them to the destination, but bowing to authorities has never been their forte. Heck, even government workers like Drs Crater, Korby and Adams seem to forget all about society when sufficiently distanced from it.

There's a weird sort of continuity about the TOS universe that doesn't flow automatically from the 1960s US culture or counterculture... (Or at least from their usual dramatic portrayals, for us foreigners.)

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Old March 24 2014, 06:19 PM   #15
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Re: Whose Eden is it, anyway?

The colonists on Omicron Ceti III ("This Side Of Paradise") seemed to be a backwards facing group. They seemed to want a simpler existence without all the high tech. If it hadn't been the issue with the spores everything would have been fine for them. And as is they can still relocate to start again. Seems to me the Edenists could have settled on a similar planet only on another part of it. Hell, park the Edenists on Omicron Ceti II along with the spores and they'd be happy as pigs in shit.
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