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  • Mrs Chakotay 12:29 pm on August 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , creationist, DS9, , ,   

    In the Hands of the Prophets 

    Are you okay?
    Okay? I’ve forgotten okay. I haven’t seen okay in what seems like years.

    Episode Summary

    Vedek Winn visists the station and causes a controversy when she declares that Keiko O’Brien’s teaching of science about the wormhole amounts to blasphemy as far as Bajoran spirituality is concerned, since referring to the Prophets as alien entities dishonours the celestial temple.

    Winn manages to turn all the Bajorans on the station against the Star Fleet personnel including the Bajoran engineering staff, and the school is temporarily closed down.

    It all comes to a head when the school is bombed and when Vedek Bareil (the much more progressive and forward thinking Vedek and favourite for the position of Kai) arrives, there is an attempt on his life, as well as another murder – all of which Winn has cunningly orchestrated behind the scenes.

    Kira, who had originally supported Winn’s position ends up seeing with painful clarity exactly what sort of woman she is and what she has done, and the lengths she is willing to go to in order to get what she wants.

    Notes

    The argument over the teaching of the prophets is clearly a metaphor for the teaching of creationism in American schools (and, to a lesser extent, in private schools in the UK and around the world – my contact Jonny Scaramanga has been working tirelessly to expose the use of ACE teaching materials in the UK. I wrote about this a while ago in “Culture Clash“, although I have changed my mind considerably since I wrote that post – having looked at the details of the curriculum and heard the voices of the affected students).

    On the Station

    These DS9 posts were originally started on the blog “The Bajoran Exile” that I wrote on Open Diary way back when. I didn’t ever get as far as this last episode of season 1 there before we moved away to the place without an internet connection and meanwhile the platform shut down entirely. So I’m pleased to have managed to resurrect it and finish the season.

    DS9 was not my favourite emanation of Star Trek but I grew to love it, especially as I recognised in Kira a fellow angry and feisty survivor, and readily identified with her.

    I have found Star Trek in all its forms to be a really useful metaphor and window into life, the universe and everything. It means that I have an almost endless supply of topics to write on, which as you know I find cathartic and helpful, so I’ll enjoy carrying on into season 2 and beyond. (Watch this space!)

    Now that I have amalgamated all my blogs, it means I’ll be writing about DS9 and Voyager in the same place, so I hope that’s not too confusing. If it’s Star Trek overload, I apologise, but you may be in the wrong place. I can’t de-nerdify my inner geek. It’s out now and proud; it’s the core of my being!

    LLAP

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  • Mrs Chakotay 4:46 pm on June 22, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: DS9, Philando Castile, prejudice, racism,   

    Duet 

    Summary

    Duet is a heartrending episode where a Cardassian, claiming originally to be the filing clerk Marritza turns up on DS9 needing treatment from Kolla narra syndrome, which he could only have contracted during the mining accident.

    He is then suspected to in fact be Gul Darhe’el, the butcher of the Gallitep concentration camp on Bajor  But it turns out that Gul Darhe’el was never at Gallitep during the mining accident, and in fact Darhe’el had died some time ago. Gul Dukat confirms that he attended his funeral.

    The man was indeed Marritza, the powerless little filing clerk, who felt so terribly guilty about his inability to stop the atrocities at Gallitep that he had transformed himself with plastic surgery to resemble Darhe’el in order to be convicted and pay for the crimes for which he felt responsible.

    I covered my ears every night, but… I couldn’t bear to hear those horrible screams. You have no idea what it’s like to be a coward. To see these horrors, and do nothing. Marritza’s dead. He deserves to be dead.

    It is like a sad duet between Marritza and Kira Nerys who goes from prejudice, hatred and vengeful anger to understanding and pity. It might have been the beginning of a beautiful relationship of reconciliation, until finally Marritza is murdered by a rogue, racist Bajoran on the Promenade, in typical operatic style, the story ends as a tragedy.

    Why? He wasn’t Darhe’el! WHY?” Kira asks incredulously, and Kainon answers with a sneer, “He’s a Cardassian. That’s reason enough.” Kira replies, “No. It’s not.

    Comments

    My children are often deeply shocked and angered by the portrayal of racism and prejudice shown within Star Trek. But it is always presented in such a way  – either openly or subtly, that is designed to make you shocked enough to realise that it’s not logical or rational and is in fact completely inconsistent with Star Fleet ideals and Roddenberry’s vision for the future. It shines the spotlight on our own prejudices and challenges them. Kira doesn’t completely abandon her prejudice toward Cardassians of course (how could she? the atrocities they perpetrated against the Bajoran people happened in her lifetime, and it’s hard for her to accept that not all Cardassians are evil).

    Real Life

    I’m a white female. I don’t feel particularly privileged, but I am aware that the colour of my skin as well as my gender affects how people view me, and treat me. I don’t like to think of myself as a racist. I grew up in a multicultural school in London, my friends were a mixed bunch which included all colours and creeds, and my best friend was Caribbean. But I told my children recently that, in order to confront racism, it is important to realise how the prejudice is so culturally ingrained and the system is so firmly institutionalised that we probably have prejudices we’re not even conscious of. We have to be honest and confront the prejudice in ourselves as well as speaking up to defend the oppressed and speak out when the system is so outrageously stacked against people of colour.

    I’m in the UK, but it hasn’t escaped my notice that the killing by a police officer of Philando Castile in front of his girlfriend and four year old daughter failed to return a conviction of murder. It is only the latest in a string of killings of young black men – who were guilty of nothing more than being young black men – by police officers that has failed to produce a guilty verdict. I’m sickened, appalled, heartbroken over and over again.

    Where do we go from here? When will things change?

    Why do these prejudices persist?

    What can we do to change the world, change people’s minds, bring down institutional racism?

    Is Roddenberry’s vision – of an enlightened society – possible?

     
  • Mrs Chakotay 9:52 pm on December 17, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: DS9, , ,   

    Dramatis Personae 

    Summary:

    The station crew are struck down by a ‘telepathic matrix’ brought on board by a Klingon who dies on arrival. The matrix causes everyone to become randomly obsessed and Kira mounts a mutiny with the rest of the crew taking sides. Sisko, though, seems completely disinterested in the whole managing the station thing, and instead locks himself in his office and obsesses over blueprints which he eventually uses to build a clock.

    I’m not sure why.

    Dax meanwhile does nothing but reminisce about old times with previous hosts, seeming pretty oblivious about the mutiny. In the end, Odo, who is unaffected by the matrix (although it knocked him out when it tried to affect him) works out  a way to assemble all the affected crew together and defeat the matrix by blasting it out into space, and everybody is alright again.

    OK.

    Probably the most interesting thing about this episode is the way Kira and O’Brien both fight for Odo’s loyalty, and Kira basically tries to seduce him with her feminine wiles! Perhaps this episode shows how the characters would act and behave if all pretense and inhibitions were abandoned?

    Real Life Notes:

    I’ve been so distracted, I thought I’d already written and submitted this post. But then I remembered that I struggled to see much purpose in it all. I’m not sure I can see any of this in our real-life characters. Thankfully, there is no big fault-line which could lead to familial civil war. The main issues are between Julian and Quark, and they regularly need pulling apart. But as far as I know, nobody takes sides, it’s more a case of learning to be peacemakers and negotiators. It is, however, depressingly constant. These two never seem to be able to learn to get on together.

    I mentioned earlier that I would introduce my characters more properly in the episode ‘Dramatis Personae’, so here goes:

    Sisko: my husband. We’ve been together 23 years which is somewhat miraculous considering how very different we are. Level headed, slow to anger, never acts in haste. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear he was a Vulcan.

    Dr Julian Bashir: my eldest. Highly strung, sensitive and quite brilliant, friendly and sociable but never quite understanding people, so constantly confused, disappointed or frustrated. Feels strongly about social justice.

    Jadzia Dax: my only daughter. Beautiful, strong, determined and feisty, capable and knows what she wants, but plagued by self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy. Talented and creative, but with no strong sense of direction.

    Quark: my middle boy. Clever in a cheeky, cunning sort of way. Constantly working on any number of projects which usually include avoiding work and getting rich quick at the same time. Extremely sociable and extrovert. Has a heart of gold really but masks it with a thick layer of bravado.

    Rom: my youngest. Shy and quiet and almost completely overshadowed by his older brother, (and like Julian, often completely confused about everything) but slowly beginning to come out of his shell to reveal a kind, clever funny young man.

    Kira: that’s me. Even when I’m perfectly happy, there’s anger bubbling beneath the surface. I’m not sure anymore what I’m angry about, it just seems to be in my nature. In another dimension, I’m definitely Klingon.

    For the purposes of this blog, the characters are interchangeable as I see aspects of ourselves in their stories.

    ds9-cast

     
  • Mrs Chakotay 11:37 am on October 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , DS9, , Happy Accidents, imagination, , wishes   

    If Wishes Were Horses… 

    wishes horses ds9

    Summary
    “Station residents suddenly find their imaginations are manifested in physical form; a spatial rift threatens to destroy the Bajoran system.”

    Comments
    I’m really quite ashamed that this post has taken me, what, 4 months to publish?! I don’t know why, but every time I looked at it, I felt stumped, and I procrastinated (along with the million other tasks I needed to do and put off until the last moment).

    This is a really crazy and random episode where some undetermined and unnamed aliens conduct an experiment on the station’s crew and residents by allowing their imagination to run riot and we learn something about each character’s wishes, hopes and fears. Sisko conjures up one of his baseball heroes, Quark imagines beautiful girls that desire him, Julian creates an alternate Jadzia who is submissive and fawns all over him, (the real Jadzia is less than impressed) Jadzia herself worries that there might be a spatial rift causing the bizarre manifestations, and that worry turns into an anomaly that really does appear to threaten the station. The Chief calls a Rumplestiltskin into being who threatens to take his daughter away. Odo can’t imagine anything, but somebody thought of it snowing on the promenade, and lo – it snows. It’s just one of those random individual episodes that is never followed up, but put in there presumably for the purpose of character development.

    Real Life
    Yes, this is where the problem is, I think – how to apply this whole weird episode to real life, what to make of the metaphors. My brain has just been drawing a complete blank. Perhaps due to the fact that the characters conjured up by the DS9 crew don’t make any sense to me – they’re not the things or people I think I would call into being from my imagination. (Although I did like the snow on the Promenade).

    The ability to determine reality from fantasy is, I suppose, crucial to living a mentally stable life – fantasy certainly has its place, but we can’t let it take over because physical reality will suffer.

    Without going into embarassing details, most of my fantasies are not the kind of things I would even want to stray into the realm of reality. But there is a spectrum that runs between fantasy, dreams, wishes and plans that we would like to bring to fruition in the real world.

    What happens if we spend all our time and energy thinking and fantasising about the kind of things that really ought to stay at the fantasy end of the spectrum – does all that ’emotional energy’ (think ‘Cheeseman’s law’)* actually have any power to bring about manifestations of our desires, as proponents of the ‘Law of Attraction’/ ‘The Secret’ would argue? I don’t think I have seen any evidence of it in my life. But perhaps I’m not looking hard enough? Do good things happen because we ‘love’ them into being, bad things because we fear them?

    Answers on a postcard please.

    Station Plans

    I’m actually about to move offices on the station in the next week or two, so expect my time will be occupied by packing and sorting and organising for a bit. But I haven’t forgotten this blog and do have plans to come back and do some more posting very soon. Watch this space, as they say.

    ~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~

    • Cheeseman’s, for those unfamiliar with it, is the postulation put forward by the temporal scientist of the same name, that emotional energy has the power to alter events in time that would otherwise seem to be fixed and unchangeable. (From one of my absolute all-time favourite films, starring Vincent D’Onofrio and Marisa Tomei – ‘Happy Accidents’. If you haven’t seen it already, go out and find it on DVD or Netflix or something. Romance, time travel, comedy, what more could you ask?)

     
  • Mrs Chakotay 5:02 pm on December 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: community, DS9, Frontier, , , Shyamalan, , The Village, ,   

    The Village 

    village
    This evening’s entertainment was M. Night Shyamalan’s film ‘The Village’. The setting and themes in this film really couldn’t be any further away from science fiction in most respects, but it is high up on my list of all-time favourite films.

    Why would this geeky girl, so addicted to twitter, facebook, and all things hi-tech enjoy the idea of the pioneer homestead life? It’s a paradox, I know, but there it is. I was raised on a twin diet of Star Trek and the Waltons.

    But it’s not just me. Star Trek, in all its forms is replete with references to simpler times: real cooking, horse riding, paper books, classical civilisation and literature to name but a few.

    There are also repeated instances of pioneering colonies setting out for distance planets – Terra Nova in Star Trek Enterprise, and the fledgling colony on Melona IV in TNG which the Crystalline Entity destroyed, for example.

    It is as though, when we look either backwards or forwards we see glimpses of the utopia we’re looking for, a place and time with less crime, less misery, less complication. It’s just that nasty modern bit in between that’s not quite right.

    Of course, the Village in Covington Woods is not all as it seems, but do they find their place of innocence in the end? I love the idea of intentional community where everybody lives in harmony. But there is usually a cost.

    ds9paradise

    Skipping forward to DS9’s season 2 episode, Paradise, Cassandra who has engineered the community, brings her authoritarian leadership with her, not even mentioning that it is a community based on a lie. Paradise is a sham.

    But is it necessarily always the case? We hope not. We hope that there is a Utopia out there for us somewhere, some when. We keep looking and trying, planning and scheming, digging and dreaming.

    LLAP

     
  • Mrs Chakotay 1:20 pm on April 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: DS9,   

    Move Along Home 

    Just a quick update to tell you that we have moved – we were very blessed to be offered something so quickly: not a Council house, but a Housing Association property.

    There were a few sleepless nights when we weren’t sure whether or not we would get what we needed, but in the end we got the place that we asked for.

    Pretty amazing really, when you hear about families being held in B&Bs because no houses are available.

    It’s not ideal – there is hardly any garden at all, and there’s no garage and very little storage (we have had to put at least a third of our belongings, including the children’s trampoline into a storage unit); plus, since it is a brand new house, there are no floor coverings at all, just concrete and bare boards, and no curtains (not even curtain rails), and since moving house is an expensive business, money has ran out completely this month.

    So I’m feeling mostly bright but with the occasional low.

    If you are a praying person, please do pray:

    • that our previous landlord will refund us with the complete deposit so that
    • we can get curtains and floor coverings (we would prefer laminate or vinyl to carpets)
    • that we will be able to get a BT landline soon so we can have phone and internet again

    I can’t post any photos because I am limited to my mobile phone with a poor signal (I am missing wifi!)

    The title of this post is a reference to a Star Trek DS9 episode, where Commander Sisko, Dr. Bashir, Kira Nerys and Jadzia Dax become trapped in a dangerous game, where they are the pieces being moved around by the players, and they have very little control. They just have to try and make sense of the clues and work their way throught the maze. I must admit to feeling a little bit like that. But in the end, the game is over, it all comes good and they’re all saved.

    I’d like to breathe a big sigh of relief, but I feel like the ‘game’ isn’t quite over yet and I’m waiting for normal life to return.

     
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