Trek lit and why it now disappoints me

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Deranged Nasat, Oct 4, 2015.

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  1. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    [SIZE=3][FONT=Calibri] As is probably not unexpected, this is a long one. I'm writing this in order to place in context my decision to put aside Trek lit as a personal interest, and also to do what I should have done some time ago and announce my withdrawal from the Trek lit community. I've mentioned in the past that being here is often a chore for me, but since only a moral coward blocks or ignores that which is problematic, rather than engaging with it in a spirit of tolerance and friendship, I have long held that being here and sharing with others is the best way to better both myself and others. At the very least, it might demonstrate to some people that there's a big world out there with a lot of differing life experiences and that the answers to actual problems do not come neatly packaged in political ideology. Sometimes everything is just a little bit wrong, a little bit chaotic, a little bit removed from the neat categorizations of how the world supposedly works. But as certain writers here have shown me, the "correct" way to approach these things is to condemn and distance.

    I enjoyed the Trek novel ‘verse for many reasons, among them its admirably non-tribalist and liberal approach (note that I certainly don't intend to imply a political identity of “liberal”, as understood by, say, Americans or Australians, to give two examples, but a purer definition detached from political ideology). Trek lit was one of the very few avenues I’d encountered which seemed to promote the illusive realization of a world that would not tolerate or condone the weaknesses inherent in the traditionalist social structure. It seemed to avoid the pitfalls of faux progressivism and actually present a world that had stepped out from the traditionalist tribal model entirely, far outstripping the canonical source material in doing so. This meant the world to me. However, it has become clear that the current crop of Trek authors are content to turn away from such an approach, if they ever actually intended to pursue it in the first place. I would particularly like to thank Christopher, who I have made the mistake of defending and supporting in the past, for his private demonstration of hypocrisy and zealotry, as well as the projection of self-serving motives onto others due to an inability to comprehend a perspective that violates the ideological narrative to which he is emotionally invested. I should have heeded the warnings of those on the BBS who made it clear the kind of person he was, but I naively thought that someone of his intelligence might be misunderstood. If there's a final nail in the coffin of my faith in a better world, it was you Christopher, and I am pleased to finally have the strength to tell you to “get the hell out of my galaxy”.

    You cannot create a better world by sheltering and promoting those who engage in hateful historical revisionism, censorship, aggressive propaganda, and denial of human suffering on the basis of ideology. Nor by spitting on those who are trying to work past age-old prejudices and imbalances. If one is not consistent in principle, those principles are meaningless. The Trek novels are written by those who purport to represent positive change, yet they sit in the basement wearing the same masks – the masks of tribalism, of projection, of self-serving politics. The masks of assumption and bias, grounded in the same impulses that have always informed our societies and which must be challenged. The mask that says: we can reinforce and defend the same patterns as before and can something achieve something desirable by doing so, especially if we deny or convince ourselves that we're not doing this. The mask that says: we are the people who know and want what is best for the world, and only the weak degenerates question this. The mask that says: we do this for the people, when really we do it for ourselves. The mask that permits no self-awareness, because to question is to challenge what feels right according to those same old biases and prejudices.

    I have posted much of this before, elsewhere, but I will say it again here:

    In terms of perspective, philosophical, political, etc., I pretty much always stand outside the camp, whatever that camp may be (and I stress that while, for example, a Christian, a Muslim and a Jew might believe themselves separated by vast philosophical and cultural distinctions, and engage in all manner of heated arguments and opposition, they are only reasonably distinct within their own perspectives. They can argue over the nature of God all they want, but to one without conviction of monotheism they are all simple variants on the same thing, and their claim to be diverse is a relative matter at best). It is no revelation that I am mistrustful or indifferent to the political and moral positions of those around me. Peoples’ own preconscious motivations allow them to discard sounder branches and boughs of thought in favour of well-worn and politically beneficial tracks that conform to the tribalist pattern. And in doing so, ironically, they often maintain what I would categorize as injustice (or, at least, social realities detrimental to sapient dignity) in opposition to their stated intent; because to challenge the ideological models on which a platform rests would threaten the social structure to which one is indebted - and thus would be detrimental to one's ambitions. Thus they will make a big deal, for instance, of opposing racism, yet they reinforce the social assumptions and structural patterns that keep racism alive by failing to place them in the correct tribal context - and then turning around and reinforcing that tribal perspective elsewhere. The brain knows what it needs to do in order to preserve the societal model that the creature is a part of. Millions of years of evolution have made it almost reflexive. This, I maintain, is what many misunderstand when they mock (with very telling zeal; Lady Macbeth comes to mind) the idea of “conspiracies”. The fact that people are not overtly gathering around a table to plan out their manipulations with knowing grins doesn’t mean they aren’t working the system, comfortably and very much preconsciously.

    As some regular commentators here have insisted - though apparently only when considering their opponents and not their political allies, because taking the mask at face value is apparently a given when one is on the "right side" - a person’s true motivation is below the surface, and often invisible, both to that person and to others. One should never take the mask at face value. One should not identify motive on the level of the assumed belief, the stated objective, the spoken plea to morals or principles, for these are not the motivation, and failure to understand a person's motives can lead to your chasing shadows, or becoming disappointed and ultimately in conflict with others when they inevitably act in opposition to their supposed principles (hence my ever-deepening dissatisfaction with this place, and with Trek lit itself - at least as I am given insight into the people behind it, and how they fail to live up to their claims). Often, as you examine the catalogue of your interactions with people, there will be discrepancies. Leaving aside the incredibly important fact that such discrepancies might be the result of your own perceptual grid distorting your perspective (one reason why you stay among those who are different and not just in your echo chambers, Christopher-I-ignore-people-because-I-can’t-face-that-which-challenges-my-dogma) you must then try to build a consistent model of their motivations. Keeping in mind your own susceptibilities, you can make the attempt to genuinely understand them.

    The motivation lies in the instinctual hardwiring. In most people that is a tribal model. Group affiliation and individual status within that group are the twin poles by which choice of behaviour is judged, in any situation wherein basic survival needs are sufficiently met. The importance of the unifying question “where do I fit into the social group?” cannot be overestimated. In the past it would anger and frustrate me when I'd face the contradictions of people. But eventually I reasoned that all people, unless truly, honestly insane (and that state is of course very rare), are in fact consistent. If there is contradiction between their statement of identity, intent, principles, etc. and their behaviour, attitude or perspective on an adjacent issue, then it is a mistake to assume that they were being inconsistent. It's not their fault that you failed to look beyond the mask and thus attempt to understand them. If what they say, do, believe, follow, etc., doesn’t match what you have on the card in front of you - then the definition on your card is wrong.

    People exist within a political framework, and they share a worldview defined (whether they acknowledge it or not) in terms of certain perceptual grids; structures established by a combination of neurology and the input of others (input that takes hold all the swifter for those inclined to conform to what they observe in others - as most social animals are). It enables easier navigation, and tracking of status within the social order, because the grid can be shared and all external matters or stimuli can be related to points on that grid, allowing a cohesive response from all community members. At initial response to stimuli, this means that things only tend to register in certain ways; they reach the person through the grid and are automatically shaped by it. On the level of decision making - analysis of incoming data, we might say - there is a strong psychological need to maintain and strengthen the grid, as it is the ward against chaos, the means by which one knows that they have status and position within a group structure, and their psychology requires this. Anything that can be interpreted in terms that confirm or sustain that grid, that reinforce the assumptions on which it relies, will be made prominent and worthy of attention, and this will in turn reinforce the supposed validity of the grid. Conversely, anything that might be seen to conflict with the grid, and challenge the assumptions that inform the worldview in question, is either twisted, contextualized or interpreted in a manner that actually reinforces that grid (or at least fits comfortably enough within it), or else it is downplayed, if not discarded entirely. On occasion, it is violently rejected. Once a belief system is in place, then reality can be understood only in terms of that filter, so long as the filter remains in place; indeed, the grid is supposed to in fact be reality. This is how political and social ideology works. The assumptions will always look reasonable, for they are seen to - obviously - match up with reality. If you place a blue film over your eyes, the world appears blue.

    Most humans are tribalist. They naturally locate themselves within smallish group structures, their motives being almost paradoxical. On the one hand they seek security through conformity, through knowing they are one with the group, and they modify their behaviour and thinking to match those around them. Paradoxically, they desire individual status and thus jostle for position and recognition. This is the basis of all tribal politics. And their social and sexual instincts predispose them to place certain colour films over their eyes. Deks is right when he says that most people need to train themselves not to see it.

    Tribalists are dependent on their grids. They tend not to appreciate anything that disagrees with their notion that the world is blue, so to speak. Sometimes they attack it. Often they just discard it as not worth causing conflict over - most people prefer allies to foes (although we must keep in mind that societal aggression - jostling, posturing, signaling - is inherent to the system, and normal to their social interaction). However, if the input openly threatens the integrity of the ideological grid - and thus, on the level of the base motive, the security of the individual in question - that input is treated as illegitimate. As, often, is the one bringing this alternative forward. Tribalists do not mourn the refuse that they discard. If it couldn't incorporate and thereby serve the system in some form, then good riddance to it. Input must reinforce the worldview that serves to provide the desired security, status, and promise of needs met that group membership brings to the social animal (and plenty of opportunities for signaling and posturing, too, which is where their desires and impulses turn when survival is no longer an immediately pressing concern. Classic tribal behaviour - they fight and squabble for status, but comes the outsider and they’re back-to-back). Challenges are only tolerated if they don't challenge at all. Which is why I claim that the bulk of any society is conservative and reactionary, and those who proclaim themselves progressive usually are not. Instead they reinforce the system with a few proposed tweaks in place, unwilling to truly threaten the very structure that they manipulate and ride into positions that benefit them. You stir the pot, certainly (political manoeuvring in large part depends on this, as the current order must be shaken up somewhat to allow movement, and the order reforms slightly altered in the aftermath), but you don't break the pot or scoop all the broth into a new pot.

    One’s own societal and economic system is dependent on certain ideological positions and received truths being in ascendance, and certain left unquestioned, leading a worldview to privilege certain conceptual paths while leaving others untaken, no matter the benefit or even necessity of doing so. Society must be defined along certain lines that avoid the pitfalls of awareness or dissent that might threaten and challenge the tribal structure - and thus the security of the individuals who are found among it. This means that incorrect tools are embraced, tools that impede rather than enable, harm rather than help, but when one is convinced that the source of all problems in the world is an over-abundance of nails, they will keep using that hammer. And they will insist that all who protest this state of affairs, and point to the existing social maladies made worse by the constant pounding, and the new ones created, and the alarming behaviour of those wielding it – well, that’s just people being “backward” and resistant to righteousness.

    Most people affiliate with structured groups - religious, political, ideological. Often they'll even equate the group with their personal identity. It's not "my theistic beliefs are Christian", it's "I'm a Christian". These groups are of many sizes, but politics will always reduce them down to the instinctively "correct" size when not united against a shared outsider (and an alliance is fluid by definition; one does not create peace through unity against a common foe, the tribal system has long incorporated allowance of temporary cooperation without the need to create enduring ties). The result, of course, is layered shells of affiliated identity, with the self right at the middle.

    The tribal model and the instinctive urge to "run" it in the brain (or is the brain structured so that this is the only model it can comfortably run?) is, I'd argue, why people generally don't do well in situations where they don't know the people with whom they interact, and when there aren't implicit physical consequences - YouTube comments, etc. People talk about "anonymity" on the internet as a catalyst for aggressive or "anti-social" behaviours, but I think it's simply because they've entered a social arena with strangers; that is, people who they have no affiliation or allegiance with, and thus minimal or non-existent sense of community. As with hens or fighting fish, there exists a societal balance, partially hierarchal. Upset that balance by introducing additional members and there is conflict until a new social order can be established (again, political manoeuvring depends on exactly this as a means of "climbing the ladder", although I dislike that metaphor for its appeal to the idea of a vertical hierarchy, when my critical view of society finds that to be only one of several structures defining access to power and status, and the tendency to prioritize it detracts from a sensible analysis of where the problems more readily lie. That’s the polite way of putting it; the impolite way is that allegiance to one structure while ignoring the others is akin to trampling over the wounded to reach the person who validates your own perspective, and is unconscionable reinforcement and justification for anti-egalitarian biases).

    People in the situations I’m discussing here - internet strangers, etc. - have been thrust into a setting absent an inherent community - and to the tribalist instinct there is no community absent political or familial allegiance; community is a limited sphere of those one is in league with, linked by kinship or mutual obligation as defined through (and on) a shared perceptual grid. They must jostle to establish a sense of where they stand, or maybe they're uncomfortable and so given to gaining security through posturing. They are creatures of order plunged into chaos, and they must 'retune' themselves so as to plug back into order, or to have the new reality filter correctly through their grid (or grids, depending on how fused those grids are; there are differing degrees of flexibility in peoples’ worldviews, of course).

    The system I would suggest emerges from my instinctive wiring has no inherent sense of political allegiance. It is an egalitarian system - and I have little time for most self-professed “egalitarians”, for a tribalist cannot be egalitarian, their social and sexual instincts will not permit it (even limiting ourselves to the idea of supposed-objective laws that remove distinction, in practice enforcement and interpretation of such will be mired in tribalist necessities, and everything is subject to enduring social dynamics). In my default perception, all people are alone, considered as individuals despite their insistence on group membership. The emotional urge to belonging, to societal acceptance, is of course present in me - indeed, it’s likely unusually strong - but other people are considered more as drops in an undifferentiated ocean than assets of a particular group (which nonetheless has them in its clutches like some soulless monster). The average person, being tribalist, is eternally aware of other people in a sense alien to those like myself. They are locked into a framework of politics. Who is this person? Where do I know them from? Where do they stand in relation to me? What do we owe each other? Rival, asset, threat? Continually seeking both to conform to what the primates behind and to either side of them are thinking or doing in order to be accepted, and to assert their individual status and so stand out. (This often means attacking the “acceptable targets” - those further to the fringes of the all-important group. Those that are different are treated with vague hostility - in the case of those that are different and threatening, it's no longer “vague")

    Tribal politics is also slippery. Consider rules. Most people bend and stretch the rules for their own gain, while loudly decrying any violation from others. Thus the nature of rules is to chain the competition, and to provide a means by which community aggression can be bought to bear against those who threaten one's security and prosperity, or that of one's in-group. Rules are considered paramount in spite of the individual's own sense that they are rightly an exception, because the absence of a framework of rules and implied communal punishment for their violation is equated with chaos, and chaos is equated with destruction. Caught between the rules and tribal self-betterment, the tribalist goes with the latter, seeing rules as a framework to "catch out" others and limit the competition. Rules are for the rival, not for you. Rules are, to tribalists, a means by which community penalty can be brought to bear on others who threaten their security; they never really believe rules apply to them too, and will dodge and weasel around them shamelessly.

    The needs of the community, which consists of individuals, will not be met when tribal group identification and affiliation - and the various social structures that are inherent there - occur.

    And now I can return to the issue of Trek lit, and why I am reluctantly withdrawing my past enthusiasm. If Trek lit wants to promote the Ishans of this world into positions of influence, then I can no longer see in this endeavour the worth I once did. But then as Castellan Garak has taught us, all is forgiven if you're wielding influence for the "right side". Those rules are slippery, after all, and partial.

    My faith in the capacity of those who claim to represent positive social change has been shattered time and again by the inability of tribalists to move past the assumptions, prejudices and biases that their social, political and sexual impulses would prioritise. I cannot give my support to, or find inspiration in, a pretty lie. A pretty lie that conceals the same inhumanity I have been trying, in my own way, to challenge.

    So I bow to the company, and turn my back on them.

    But thank you for the good times, all.
  2. Dimesdan

    Dimesdan Living the Irish dream. Premium Member

    Oct 12, 2007
    The Republic of Ireland
    Okay then................................. :wtf:
  3. Nathan

    Nathan Commander Red Shirt

    May 18, 2008
    Is that what you call a manifesto? LOL
  4. Allyn Gibson

    Allyn Gibson Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 16, 2000
    South Pennsyltucky
    I, for one, will be sorry to see Damaged Nasat go. I wish you all the best, chitinous scurrying thing! :)
  5. BillJ

    BillJ Canon Warrior Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2001
    Escaped from Trumpistan
    too long; didn't read; don't care (tl;dr;dc)
  6. Kemaiku

    Kemaiku Admiral Admiral

    Dec 23, 2004
    Northern Ireland
    *takes off headphones* sorry, what?
    Jinn likes this.
  7. Sto-Vo-Kory

    Sto-Vo-Kory Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Sep 25, 2008
    Battle Creek
    Good-bye, Nasat.

    I hope you find peace and wish you well.
  8. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 20, 2009
    What are "Ishans?"

    If Trek lit wants to promote the Ishans of this world into positions of influence ...
  9. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral In Memoriam

    Nov 22, 2012
    Melakon's grave
  10. BillJ

    BillJ Canon Warrior Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2001
    Escaped from Trumpistan
  11. ryan123450

    ryan123450 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jan 20, 2005
    Woodward, OK
    Sorry to you go Nasat. Hopefully you will find peace in life.
  12. Locutus of Bored

    Locutus of Bored This is the Way Moderator

    Jul 5, 2004
    Huntington Beach, CA, USA
  13. Tosk

    Tosk Vice Admiral Admiral

    Jan 7, 2001
    On the run.
    We're in Trek-Lit and people don't know who Ishan is? For shame! :)
  14. hux

    hux Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Oct 25, 2010
    Hard Sassenach in Moist Aberdeen
    *whispers to goldfish* "It was just a mission statement."
  15. Paris

    Paris Commodore Commodore

    Dec 29, 2008
    In the future's past
    Hopefully not gone for good this time. Good luck man :)
  16. Relayer1

    Relayer1 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 21, 2011
    The Black Country, England
    Nasat, I've enjoyed some of your stuff, but you've done this before and then come back.

    You seem to overthink and overanalyse things. You certainly see things that I don't, or see things as being way more serious than I do. This is, after all, a chat place for spinoffs from a TV show.

    Your viewpoint appears ultimately self destructive. I hope you gain a measure of peace.
  17. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 7, 2001
    Nasat, in that whole long discussion, I'm left uncertain as to what disappoints you about Treklit. You barely even mention it! (This is an honest question; I like you, and I'm curious.)
  18. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Premium Member

    Jun 15, 2008
    Washington, DC
    Yeah I read that whole thing and I still have no idea what your problem with TrekLit is. That Ishan took power? That didn't last long, and wasn't presented as a good thing by any perspective in that series.

    Regardless of your ideology, it seems like bad form to call someone out explicitly for hypocrisy and then not say why.
  19. JonoKyle

    JonoKyle Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

    Apr 27, 2010
    All I can say is I currently like the current era of post-Destiny Trek lit. There is currently not a single book I can say I regret in buying/reading (the recent NF were not the best, but I have still have faith in Peter David and the NF series).

    I was never a Star Trek follower when it was on TV – I watched and enjoyed the DS9 series, but had never watched any of the TOS or ENT episodes and only seen sporadic episodes of TNG & VOY. I did end up buying some of the novels at the time but was not a real follower and at one stage had even given up on Star Trek all together.

    However I started reading the Trek lit about 5 years ago and since then I now have all the TNG, DS9 & VOY novels/e-books based after the end of each TV series, I have gone back and collected/read all the VAN, STA, NF, SCE, TTN novels and SA comic series, I have collected/read the TLE novels involving Terok Nor, Enterprise-C and pre-TNG (2355-2364) and now looking into reading the DTI series and the other TLE novels I have not yet read.

    Furthermore, since Kirsten Beyer’s relaunch of VOY I have purchased and watched the entire VOY TV series and since the TNG relaunch (post-Nemesis) I have purchased and watched all the TNG movies.

    As I never followed the original TOS series, I would most likely not have seen the new Star Trek movies at the cinema however thanks to the current Trek lit getting me interested in Star Trek I did (and have also purchased the DVD’s since).

    I am now even considering buying the ENT TV series and post-series novels.

    So all I can say to the entire Trek lit writers – good work. It is an achievement that a franchise like Star Trek is still around for 50-years and the Trek lit writers have to take credit for keeping it alive especially the TNG era which has not been seen in a TV series or movie for over a decade.
  20. BobtheGunslinge

    BobtheGunslinge Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Dec 4, 2013
    Nasal, what specifically bothered you about the Trk lit? I would very much like to know.
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