Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Crate Expectations

Reading about this endless election is a lot like crawling through wet sand with a cement block on your back. Apart from the wonk takes, where the tiniest policy position is pure mother's meth, accounts about the remaining candidates range from the semi-religious to the snarkiest celebrity dish, all of it mind-numbing.

You wouldn't know how deeply buried in corpse-choked shit we are, rattling about in our respective veal crates, looking for any distraction from the slaughterhouse on the hill. Right wingers are divided, awaiting to see how the post-Bush fall out will affect them. Liberals are anxiously dreaming, insisting that it's their birthright to have a Dem prez elected this year, and when that happens -- and it must happen, do you hear, it MUST HAPPEN -- the universe will begin to right itself. At least, they hope that's the case. Contemporary American liberalism is all about hope. They turn their sad cow eyes to their keepers, trusting that the blades being sharpened aren't intended for their throats.

Little wonder that Obama has most of them spellbound. His oratory is sweet music among the crates, bovine heads bobbing to the beat. Hillary simply spooks the room, putting everyone on edge, even though, if it comes down to it, the veal libs will take her over any GOP keeper. But Obama spins a much gentler yarn, elevating captive moods while keeping all in place. He's the most logical choice to run the abattoir for the next four-to-eight years.

To those who admonish me for being so pessimistic, what can I tell you? I didn't chose this mood, for it eats away at me and drains my creative energy. If I truly believed that there was a real chance for change in this election, brothers and sisters, I'd be out there waving my placard. But our imperial system does not require change, merely an executive who can help run it more efficiently. Obama is emerging as that executive. Like Reagan and Bill Clinton, Obama becomes who you want him to be, at least in your own head. That's an important political gift. Bush was and is too polarizing. A system based on lies, theft, alienation, and murder needs a steadier hand. That's what the Obama campaign is all about. He has arrived at the perfect time. The guy may very well pull it off.

I've been watching the first season of "Enterprise," the most recent offering from the Star Trek franchise. I enjoyed the original series, as well as "The Next Generation," but after that, I lost interest. "Voyager" and "Deep Space Nine" put me to sleep. "Enterprise" grabbed me because it dramatizes the dawn of human intergalactic exploration, which in Star Trek time is the mid-22nd century. I've always liked the beginning of narratives, and in "Enterprise" we see how awkward the first human space steps are. The crew is helped by a Vulcan officer, who naturally looks down on humans, but must smooth their path since they are now part of the deep space community.

The interesting thing about "Enterprise" is that it takes place before the James T. Kirk/Spock era, and so cannot appear more advanced than the show from the 1960s. Impossible to do -- the computers alone make the original show's consoles look like Mattel toys. But as with most science fiction, one must ignore such unavoidable contradictions. (Time travel narratives, my favorite sci-fi genre, are contradiction fests.) I suppose what I like best about the whole Star Trek franchise is the conceit that humans somehow, some way, rid themselves of war, famine, greed, money, and united to explore space. This was never fully explained (though "Enterprise" hints at Vulcan influence, as that stiff, logical species advised humans for 90 years, until they were ready to blast off), and perhaps cannot be explained. Again, sci-fi doesn't have to make total sense to entertain.

I recently watched the "Fridays" episode that William Shatner hosted in 1981. It's a pretty solid show, the running gag being that James Kirk is thrown back in time to the ABC lot in Hollywood, and until Spock can fix the situation, Kirk must pass for Shatner, performing in sketches, dealing with the cast backstage, etc. When Spock informs Kirk of what year he's in, Kirk explodes, "You've got to get me back! This culture was insane!"

"They're your ancestors, Captain," Spock calmly replies.

And so we are.

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