"The man within the woman, like the woman within the man, slumbers in the head of contemporary humans, waiting for a Spock to help them emerge," says Karin Blair in her book, "Meaning in Star Trek" (Warner paperback, $2.25), an interpretation of the television series based on the principles of Swiss philsospher-psychologist C. G. Jung.
Spock, in Blair's view, is much more than a TV idol with unusual ears to those fans who have faithfully followed the program and are now waiting to see the movie. The Vulcan-human who so successfully blends the familiar with the alien is an archetype, a model of total personality integration, a "catalyst for the future."
For Jung, the human psyche is made up of male and female elements. To the extent that a man does not embody the feminine quality (anima) and the woman's masculine feature (animus) remains unintergrated, the individual feels alienated. Archetypes mediate between the conscious and the unconscious, offering a pattern for the achievement of wholeness.
The entire "Star Trek" series, Blair says, is part of our creative mythology. "Its inner logic is episodic," making it "a work in progress, the enterprise of individuation of soul-making."
The series in unique in that, unlike other "mythological expressions of the human psyche," it transcends specific cultures, reflecting no single worldview. hThe episodes allow the viewer to "range through different times and spaces and encounter, on various other planets, achetypes previously thought by some human beings somewhere to reveal the essence of the universe."
Earlier archetypes like the Garden of Eden acquired the immutability of scripture, Blair says, whereas the revised archetypes in "Star Trek" encourage the audience to write their own scripts, using a "vocabulary of characters" presented in the Enterprise crew.
In her view, Spock is the central character in that cast, though his role is complemented by those of Captain Kirk and Doctor McCoy. She sees the doctor as "the distillation of the past." as the culture-bound Western Mother, whose frequent skirmishes with Spock result from the latter's alomst-total reliance on mental powers, as opposed to emotions, to resolve conflicts.
While the tension between Spock and McCoy symbolizes the struggle to integrate the past with the future, Kirk provides a "solution for the present." Since he is a more even blend of conscious intellect and unconscious emotion, Kirk represents a character compromise between Spock and McCoy.
Demonstrating often-contradictory aspects of a single personality, the three struggle to resolve the conflicts which stem from "inner dualities" (youth/age, male/female) and "outer oppositions" (matter/antimatter, positive Enterprise-negative Enterprise). In the Jungian framework, they are regarded as inevitable and potentially constructive facets of existence.
In "Star Trek" those polarities are confronted and resolved within the microcosm of the ship, which for Blair has "archetypal resonance." She cites the unique manner in which circular shapes, symbolic of the feminine, are related to the linear, traditionally associated with the masculine, in the physical structure of the ship.
This imaginative circular-linear arrangement, she says, suggests a turning away from "outworn notions of the feminine as unconscious and edenic" and points toward a "forward-looking embodiment of the feminine within what humans can consciously understand and construct."
"Star Trek" therefore has special significance for women in their struggle for a complete self-identity. The non-authoritarian animus projected by Spock is, Blair feels, one to which women can readily relate, as evidenced by the overwhelming popularity of the Leonard Nimoy fan club, which is 95 percent female.
The anima -projection of the female characters in the series is less encouraging and less relevant, however. The women are quite consistently "disposable" and are incapable of existence apart from the numerous father-figures in the episodes.
The mother-figure has many manifestations. Whether portrayed by a corporate being, a gaseous cloud or a cosmic amoeba, the maternal role is variously depicted as monstrous, omnivorous, nurturing, illusionist, protective.
Whatever the form of those alien, female presences, though, it is Spock who establishes contact through his own alien (Vulcan) powers. Such communication reaches beyond the individual "Star Trek" episodes and beyond the movie itself so that, for Blair, "Spock becomes a model for imaginative encounters with the buried self and encourages the process of critical imagining that can lead to psychic integrity."