Alyssa comes a bit late to Star Trek: The Next Generation:
The first time I ever watched Star Trek was in the wake of a very difficult breakup several years ago. I went to visit my friend David, who shepherded me through a weekend when I was too stupid with grief to function. On the last day of my trip, he showed me "The Measure of a Man," the episode where Data's humanity is placed on trial. Something about that structured argument, Data's struggle to assert himself through the rationality of programming, and the confusion of an attack on his right to control his life, snapped me back to myself. For recovering nerds like me, Data feels like another self, one who reflects back how foreign human behavior can be, even to smart, analytical people. When Data tells his girlfriend that he's not sure what he's doing wrong because "I'm drawing on various literary and social resources to help define my role," it's all too familiar. But it's also kind of a relief. If the smartest robot in the world can't just figure out human relationships, we're off the hook for not getting it right immediately. But if an artificial human keeps trying to be his best self, we have an obligation to keep trying too.
1.) Alyssa's blog is great. Over the past month this space has heavily leveraged books, meaning less opportunity for link-love. I'm working to get the balance back.
2.) This post reminded me of the intersection between love and Star Trek. Young nerds out there--people who say Star Trek turns off women, are talking about the wrong women. When I was young, a preliminary knowledge of Mr. Data was not a bonus, it was a requirement. Come on now--Ya'll don't know about Marcus and the barest essence of the Trek?