Star Trek: Emanations of the Infinite

The Kabbalistic Tree of Life can be viewed as a model of organism and governance. Viewed as an organism it is often shown superimposed on the human body, emphasising how the spheres underpin the dynamics and functioning of a living thing. As a model of governance it employs the oldest metaphor for governance, that of kingship. At its heart (Tipheret) is the King. His crown is Kether, and his sword and sceptre are Gevurah and Chesed, the two primary aspects of leadership which stand traditionally for mercy and severity. His martial hosts are Hod and Netzach (hence the divine name Tzabaot) and the kingdom is Malkuth. The King is the One, and his subjects are the Many. When the Kabbalah began, the King with his subjects was the most pervasive form of collective human organisation.

To explore this idea of organism and governance further, I have chosen to look at one of the most popular contemporary ship narratives, the voyages of the U.S.S. Enterprise, as told in the television series Star Trek – The Next Generation. This is a useful example because most people have seen episodes and are familiar with the crew, their roles and their characters. They are more familiar today than the Greek, Roman or Egyptian pantheons of gods and goddesses, and the Star Trek script writers have clearly been inspired by the usual archetypes. Like most soap operas Star Trek attempts to address contemporary social issues � cultural diversity, variant sexual customs, non-interference and self determinism, core moral and ethical issues and so on. Whether it succeeds is largely irrelevant � emulating a lowbrow Plato, its dialogues are as close to a challenging ethical debate as many children are likely to receive.

From The Star Trek Tree, Colin Low’s 1999 explanation of the Kabbalistic concept of the Tree of Life, with characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation in place of the Sephirot, or emanations�the qualities by which Ein Sof or the Infinite reveals itself in the universe.

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