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Addition, Subtraction, Preservation, Evolution

Banes at 12:00AM, March 30, 2023

In the latest episode of Star Trek Picard, a character talks about his efforts to prolong his own life in a way I won't spoil. He lets go of this idea, and in the message he leaves behind, he says "Evolution is not about preservation - it's about addition.“ He's talking about something specific to do with robotics/science, but the line jumped out to me.

I still have to rewatch the older episodes, but I'm pretty sure there was some discussion of older starships, and new components that were added, retrofitting them to be more up to date or improved. So with two mentions of this idea, I think we have at least one of the themes of this series.

These idea tie in to the approach the series is taking - plenty of older ”legacy characters“ are here, and written really well by the way, as well as several new characters with connections to those older characters. Also, the story itself in season three has roots in the previous Trek series, with new elements added in.

It's a contrast, at least in my opinion, to Star WARS, and the approach to that franchise at least during the main sequel trilogy. The Last Jedi had the line, ”Let the past die. Kill it if you have to.“ It was spoken in context between two characters, but also seemed to be one of the driving themes at work.

Even in the interviews leading up to the beginning of that trilogy, the creators were talking about ”clearing the decks“ of the older returning characters to make room for the new characters. The movies did play out that way, and leaving the past to move forward was a running theme, to some degree, in that trilogy.

The Star Trek line about ”Evolution is not preservation“ could be interpreted as saying ”we can't keep everything the same forever in we're going to move forward“. And saying ”it's about addition“ clearly means ”we add to what already exists to move forward.“

Now, I prefer the idea of ”Addition“ to the ”Killing the Past" idea.

My thoughts are that evolution (as in, creating new chapters in an existing franchise), is not about preservation - but it's also not about subtraction, either. We don't dismiss what came before - we honor it, and we add our own stuff to what came before.

Of course, ‘addition’ in terms of adapting, or adding sequels, spinoffs, and reboots can mean so many things. Adding bigger and bigger versions of the same threats as the original version - well, is that really adding something of value? It depends. These things can be challenging, no doubt about that!

“The Great Play Goes On,
And you can contribute a Verse,”

as Robin Williams quotes in Dead Poet's Society.

Anyway, some ‘Trek and ’Wars thoughts for the week.

Have a good one!

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RobertRVeith at 3:52PM, March 31, 2023

@DylanTale Comics. Agree with what you said. And I ran out of characters in my message before I said I love both properties. The Luke Skywalker character arc from idealistic farm-boy to real hero to disillusioned teacher angered a lot of fans, but I thought that was one of the most compelling things about the most recent trilogy. And I loved everything about Andor. Andor, in particular, took what we knew about the Star Wars meta narrative and added layers and complexity.

Ozoneocean at 6:41PM, March 30, 2023

@PaulEberhardt- there's repetition in evolution, records show that sabre-toothed tiger kept getting extinct and then evolving again I believe XD and there is convergent evolution where things tend to take different paths to a similar result... Big mammals evolved into dinosaur-like forms (rhino), you get racoons and then Racoon dogs that look like Racoons but aren't, Hyenas which evolved from cats but look like dogs, Whale-sharks that look and feed and behave like baleen whales etc

Ozoneocean at 6:36PM, March 30, 2023

@Banes- I think it's only considered "evolution" if it's passed on, so a single body doesn't "evolve", only in relation to it's antecedents. So in that respect You could almost say it's "about addition" afterall hahaha! Sort of in a round about way... though I still think they're getting the imperative of life to survive and continue mixed up with evolution Haha! It's be interesting to see the episode, yes

DylanTale Comics at 2:35PM, March 30, 2023

Also, @RobertRVeith, not everything in Star Wars has been completely familiar to what's expected. The first season of the Mandalorian introduced some interesting characters/lore. Star Wars Visions went in a new direction both with the differing art styles used and the stories that were told, which I loved.

DylanTale Comics at 2:33PM, March 30, 2023

I agree with Ozoneocean. Evolution changes stuff, which usually corresponds with adaptation. I wouldn't really use the sequel trilogy of Star Wars as the prime example, as that group of three movies were more about "We don't care if George Lucas doesn't acknowledge us (which to this day, he doesn't), we just love MONEY." I would use Episodes III (Revenge of the Sith) and IV (A New Hope) as a better example of evolution. Going from the Clone Army of the Old Republic to the Stormtrooper Army of the Galactic Empire, you don't see any addition, instead you see change happening. Order 66 changed everything in the galaxy and the galaxy evolved from a pseudo-peaceful, Jedi-filled democracy to a straight up dictatorship. That, in my opinion, shows more evolution than the sequel trilogy.

PaulEberhardt at 11:23AM, March 30, 2023

Ozoneocean takes the words out of my mouth. If I still know my biology, evolution doesn't work towards any kind of perfection but is an endless trial-and-error quest for an adaptation to the environment that seems to be a good idea at the time, and for some reason repetitions are not allowed. So if living conditions revert to those at the time of the dinosaurs, we won't have to worry about the robins in our backyard back-evolving to Jurassic-Park-like killing machines, partly because it'd take millions of years anyway. However, they may turn into something really strange, and that'd have to be fine. That's why for art and movies the evolution analogy fits perfectly: It's vital to keep breaking old habits, like RobertRVeith said. Just adding more stuff to the old one will result in a mess or get boring, as will trying to freeze it in time by repeating the same thing over and over again. However, change can't be more fast or drastic than the different generations of fans allow.

Banes at 8:50AM, March 30, 2023

@RobertRVeith - Oh wow, very well said!

RobertRVeith at 8:19AM, March 30, 2023

In my "day job," I assist in the continuation and preservation of traditional art forms. A Zimbabwean mbira player sent me this article about tradition which I took to heart—and it's also relevant to the conversation here. The gist of it was that for a tradition to thrive it had to be respected, yet constantly broken. A tradition which is only respected becomes frozen. You can't do anything new with it. You can only repeat what was done earlier in the tradition. On the other hand, if you only break the traditions, then you have no traditions. Star Trek has been more willing to evaluate its "canon" and take things in different directions than Star Wars. Since Disney got Star Wars, most of their properties have taken us down familiar paths with familiar characters doing much as we'd expect them too.

Banes at 7:55AM, March 30, 2023

@ozoneocean again - The character in question WAS a scientist, and speaking about prolonging his own life/identity into a new body. His change of mind was to decide to incorporate parts of himself into...well, I won't spoil. I hope you watch the Picard final season so we can discuss it. I think you WILL hate that monologue for the reason you've outlined, but I'll be curious to know!

Banes at 7:52AM, March 30, 2023

@ozoneocean - I'm out of my depth with scientz (see? I can't even spell it!), but when evolutionary change is underway - which is constantly, right? - it's not every cell changing completely, instantly, into something else. It's not a suit of clothes. I am talking about the central nervous system! I - oh, sorry, I slipped into Young Frankenstein there.

Banes at 7:48AM, March 30, 2023

@lothar - haha! That's a line that has haunted the studio, and will continue to haunt them.

Banes at 7:47AM, March 30, 2023

@marcorossi again - I hear you, and that is a definitive ending if there ever was one. Still, the expanded universe (in novels, comics and games) were moving the story forward after Return of the Jedi. I didn't read much of it myself, but it had plenty of fans. The sequel movies could have mined and adapted some of that stuff, or the spirit of it. It...didn't go that way...

Banes at 7:45AM, March 30, 2023

@marcorossi - in hindsight that might have been a better choice for them. I could go on and on about this (and have, and probably will again), but somewhere along the line, their wires got crossed. They wanted the legacy - as in, the popularity and built-in audience, but then they didn't want to deal with continuing the story and the characters. Not realizing that those beloved characters were money in the bank so to speak.

Ozoneocean at 6:32AM, March 30, 2023

I have to say thought that the line about evolution being about addition rather than preservation (as concerning evolution rather than stories) is absolutely, completely dead wrong. The writers were halfwits. Evolution is ONLY about change and nothing else. Not change to get better or survive or any goal, it's just change. They probably intended the quote to be about the survival of a species and they'd be wrong about that too- life only seeks to prolong itself and it doesn't matter how that's done, it can be "addition" (through reproduction), it can be cloning its own cells, or it can be just massive longevity, it's basically whatever works. If it was just about "addition" we'd be overrun with fanatically reproducing life. XD

Ozoneocean at 6:24AM, March 30, 2023

Interesting take on incorporating new ideas into old legacy material!

lothar at 3:41AM, March 30, 2023

Kylo Ren actually meant to say "let the franchise die. Lol"

marcorossi at 12:23AM, March 30, 2023

Re: Star wars, they could also let the old characters alone and just write a new story with new characters in a new setting. I think that a lot of the problems of the SW franchise is that the story as a whole already has a natural final, and that final is episode 6; Star Treck OTOH never had a single plot gonverging to a big KABOOM moment, it always was separate episodes, so it is easier to add to it.

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