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Star Trek: A Modern Myth?

I remember watching the firts episode of Star Trek on our black and white Phillips TV!

That was September 8, 1966.

Star Trek is a science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry that follows the adventures and exploits of the starship USS Enterprise(NCC-1701) and its crew. that TV show only lasted four seasons but the franchise is still ongoing in 2023 with Strange New Worlds.

It has become one of the most successful media properties of all time.

With that said is Star Trek a modern myth?

By definition myths have their foundation in the realities of the distant past. Realities that are alluded to in antiquity's histories and literature. Realities that came to be called myths that serve as ways for us to understand things that escape everyday understanding.

Can we then call Star Trek or Star Wars modern myths when they are not rooted in the distant pass?

Science Fiction & Philosophy: Star Trek's Deep Commentary with Damien Walter | Voices with Vervaeke

Video from John Vervaeke

Star Trek: A Modern Myth

"Science fiction author Damien Walter and Dr. Vervaeke delve into a fascinating exploration of storytelling, the concept of sovereign leadership, and the influence of Star Trek as a modern myth or metamyth. Walter articulates his insights about the relationship between science fiction and philosophy and the transformative power of narratives in shaping both the listener and the teller. The discussion evolves, touching upon the impact of shared mythic storytelling, the role of religious symbolism in narrative creation, and the complexities of learning intuition. As the conversation intensifies, the two delve into the implications of scientific revolutions on societal mythos and the role of science fiction in creating new societal narratives. They finish by setting the stage for a follow-up episode to explore how Star Trek bridges different aspects of storytelling, leaving listeners in anticipation for more insightful dialogue. Time-codes: [00:00:00] Dr. John Vervaeke introduces Damien Walter and sets the stage for an intriguing conversation about science fiction and speculative fiction. [00:01:45] Damien Walter introduces his proposal for the conversation around the concept of 'sovereign leaders'. [00:02:15] Walter presents the notion of starship captains as sovereign leaders, sparking an idea of Star Trek as a modern myth. [00:03:51] The relationship between science fiction and philosophy is discussed, marking a turning point in the dialogue. [00:08:02] Damien Walter reveals the influence of Star Trek on societal structures using the example of universal basic income. [00:10:12] An observation about the link between happiness and personal story progress offers a poignant reflection. [00:17:30] Dr. Vervaeke introduces the narrative practice hypothesis, asserting that narrative shapes moral and cognitive agency. [00:26:00] The conversation takes an insightful turn as the Christ mythos is explored as a bridge between the finite and the transcendent. [00:31:00] Dr. Vervaeke shares his thoughts on how intuition is acquired and the role of implicit learning. [00:32:30] The role of explicit context in learning and relating to material is examined, adding a new dimension to the dialogue. [00:38:39] The fundamental concept of mythos is discussed, highlighting its influence on our understanding and interaction with the world. [00:39:31] The impact of scientific revolutions on societal mythos is explored, making listeners consider the implications of such upheavals. [00:47:00] Walter presents Star Trek as a tool for understanding global civilization, marking a key moment in the conversation. [00:57:00] Postmodernism is introduced as a narrative engineering, shedding light on its influence on younger generations. [01:03:08] The potential for a follow-up conversation around Star Trek and storytelling is considered, stirring excitement for future episodes." from video introduction

Why Are We So Resistant to the Idea of a Modern Myth?

"Philip Ball: “Myths are promiscuous; they were postmodern before the concept existed.”

Why are we still making myths? Why do we need new myths? And what sort of stories attain this status?

In posing these questions and seeking answers, I shall need to make some bold proposals about the nature of storytelling, the condition of modernity, and the categories of literature. I don’t claim that any of these suggestions is new in itself, but the notion of a modern myth can give them some focus and unity. We have been skating around that concept for many years now, and I can’t help wondering if some of the reticence to acknowledge and accept it stems from puzzlement, and perhaps too a sense of unease, that Van Helsing is a part of the story. Not just that movie, but also the likes of I Was a Teenage Werewolf and Zombie Apocalypse, as well as children’s literature and detective pulp fiction, not to mention queer theory, alien abduction fantasies, videogames, body horror, and artificial intelligence.

In short, there are a great many academic silos, cultural prejudices, and intellectual exclusion zones trammeling an exploration of our mythopoeic impulse. Even in 2019, for example, a celebrated literary novelist dipping his toe into a robot narrative could suppose that real science fiction deals in “traveling at 10 times the speed of light in anti-gravity boots,” as opposed to “looking at the human dilemmas of being close up.” It is precisely because our modern myths go everywhere that they earn that label, and for this same reason we fail to see (or resist seeing) them for what they are. As classical myths did for the cultures that conceived them, modern myths help us to frame and come to terms with the conditions of our existence.

Evidently, this is not all about literary books. Myths are promiscuous; they were postmodern before the concept existed, infiltrating and being shaped by popular culture. To discern their content, we need to look at comic books and B-movies as well as at Romantic poetry and German Expressionist cinema. We need to peruse the scientific literature, books of psychoanalysis, and made-for-television melodramas. Myths are not choosy about where they inhabit, and I am not going to be choosy about where to find them..' from the article:

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