Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Vulcan Principles of Thought

A diminutive woman in a pixie ’do stands in an old saloon next to a red wall littered with antique signs and strings of Christmas lights. She opens a shaky mouth and out comes a voice channeling Edith Piaf exactly. The trombone, clarinet, and violin join in; followed by the upright bass, steel guitar, dusty piano, and drums. Time stops. We could be anywhere, at anytime, but we’re most likely ghosts right now; haunting a strange place in Manhattan while caught between worlds.

The woman hums and sucks air through her teeth so it sounds like a whisper before returning to the lyrics: “And then there suddenly appeared before me the only one my arms will hold,” she warbles. “I heard somebody whisper ‘Please adore me’—and when I looked to the moon, it turned to gold.” Her eyes cloud and she wipes at them quickly, smiling shyly.

I sit at a high table in the front row sipping my fifth PBR of the evening and racking my brain for answers. I lament: We are always sabotaging that which we believe on an intellectual level with these pesky hearts of ours. There’s a lot to be said for this condition in moments of extreme empathy, compassion, falling (hard) for someone, tender interactions. But in other instances, it is a service to oneself to maintain a Vulcan attitude, a Vulcan philosophical posture, and a Vulcan way of holding normative judgment next to godliness.

The major difference between Vulcans and humans (besides the ears) is the Vulcan principle of applying logic to the same scenarios humans apply emotion to. Spock was so valuable as a captain and commander because he could look at a problem without getting “muddled,” for lack of a better term.

Silly, silly humans.

The phone rings with an unlisted number for the sixth time. I take another swallow of beer, and put the phone face-down on the tabletop. It buzzes and vibrates across the table. I am trying to reject the compulsory impulse I have to take the call, whatever it may do to me. Now I look at the singer. Now I close my eyes. Now I exhale. Now the phone is ringing again. Now I am Vulcan. Paging Mr. Spock.

But I’m wrong. I’ve applied the principles incorrectly and missed the call from a desert hospital, and now I’m outside, and now I’m upset (sorry Spock), and now I’m saying “I love you’s” into the ear of a sleeping, maybe dying, man who will wake up and ask for me. Now I’m asking how I got here. Now I’m wishing for something unrealistic.

I sleep and I don’t dream. And today I wonder what a Vulcan might say from his or her outsider’s perspective about this particular human condition of mine.

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