When ever I want to not think, I put on an episode of Star Trek. It never works. I always end up thinking. Last night I was thinking about the character of Lwaxana Troi.
I’m kind of fascinated with mythic characters in popular culture. I even wrote a paper on it. If you ask someone they will likely point to some Star Trek captain, a Klingon, or Q – a blatantly obvious and shallow trickster god. But people over-look Lwaxana Troi, which is to a large extent the point of her character. She is easily over-looked by those who don’t understand. She embodies all of the feminine archetypes in one character; appearing simple on the surface, underneath she is complex and mysterious.
Here are just a few feminine archetypes, see if you can recognize them in this character or some other character you know personally:
The BOSS: a real go-getter, she climbs the ladder of success. This is a “take charge” female, who accepts nothing but respect. Reaching her goal post the most important thing in life to her, and she isn’t bothered by a few ruffled feathers along the way.
The Seductress: an enchantress, she gets her way. This is a lady who is long accustomed to sizing up everyone in a room the minute she enters. Mysterious and manipulative, she hides a streak of distrust a mile wide and ten miles deep. Cynicism guides her every action, and her tough sense of survival gives her the means to do whatever is necessary to come out ahead.
The SPUNKY KID: gutsy and true, she is loyal to the end. She is a favorite of many writers, and for good reason. You can’t help but root for her. She’s the girl with moxie. She’s not looking to be at the top of the heap; she just wants to be in her own little niche. She’s the team player, the one who is always ready to lend a hand.
The FREE SPIRIT: eternal optimist, she dances to unheard tunes. Playful and fun-loving, she travels through life with a hop, skip and a jump, always stopping to smell the flowers and admire the pretty colors. She acts on a whim and follows her heart, not her head.
The WAIF: a distressed damsel, she bends with the wind. She’s the original damsel in distress. Her child-like innocence evokes a protective urge in the beastliest of heroes. But don’t be fooled, because the WAIF has tremendous strength of will. She won’t fight back; she’ll endure.
The LIBRARIAN: controlled and clever, she holds back. She’s prim and proper, but underneath that tight bun lurks a passionate woman. Dressed to repress, she might be the know-it-all whose hand is always up in class, or maybe she is the shy mouse hiding in the library.
The CRUSADER: a dedicated fighter, she meets her commitments. No shrinking violet, no distressed damsel, here. This lady is on a mission, and she marches right over anyone in her way. Tenacious and headstrong, she brushes off any opposition to her goal.
The NURTURER: serene and capable, she nourishes the spirit. Not always Suzy Homemaker, this lady takes care of everyone. She is a wonderful listener, and a joy to have around, this heroine takes care of everyone. She’s serene, capable and optimistic.
Somebody did their homework really well when they created this character and it was probably Majel Barrett-Roddenberry. She is best known for her role as the original first officer of the Enterprise, Nurse Christine Chapel in the original Star Trek series, Lwaxana Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and for being the voice of most onboard computer interfaces throughout the series. She was also the wife of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.
Shows that appeal to us in spite of their campiness usually do so because they speak on more than one level. Think of Star Wars, The Matrix, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Tron. This also why some video games, like WoW, appeal to people . It seems to me that we need stories like this because in today’s culture we cannot accept a real person for any more than their surface attributes.
Lwaxana Troi: Every one of us has a thousand different kinds of, of little people inside of us. And some of them want to get out and be wild, and some want to be sad or happy or inventive or, or even just go dancing. Th-that’s why we all have so many different urges at different times. And all those different little people inside of us… we must never be afraid to take them with us, wherever we go. I mean, who knows when we, we may need one of them to pop up and rescue us from ourselves?
Lwaxana Troi: Variety, my little Alex – the great secret is not the variety of life; it’s the variety of us.
ALEXANDER ROZHENKO: I’m supposed to do everything right all the time. I don’t know how.
LWAXANA TROI: [sighs] To tell you the truth, little warrior – neither do I.
LWAXANA TROI: Isn’t it wonderful how things worked out, Alexander? I wanted to teach you how to grab the joys of living; and you turned around and, uh… and taught me to not let go of them. How very mutual.
Like the Star Fleet Technical Manual, this work is framed as 23rd century information (in this case, Christine Chapel’s personal recipe notebook) accidentally leaked to the 20th century. The recipes are generally for Terran ethnic food, albeit in some cases tweaked a bit to suggest non-Terran cultures. The introduction includes what is purportedly a food synthesizer algorithm for Dr. McCoy’s favorite dish; in fact, it is FORTRAN source code for a program that prints the message, “CHICKEN 3.14159 SKEPTIC.”
The Klingon section is quite different from Klingon cuisine as presented in canonical sources; it also includes a description (but not a recipe) for a gelatin dish with bits of exceptionally pungent cheese floating in it, covered with a sauce described as resembling mint-flavored milk of magnesia.
The appendix consists of recipes the author had requested from various stars of the series; also included is a recipe for what is purportedly an approximation of Saurian brandy (essentially vodka, flavored with a mix of orange zest and maple syrup).
In case you’re board at work and really want to geek-out today: http://memory-beta.wikia.com/wiki/Lwaxana_Troi, http://www.startrek.com/database_article/lwaxana-troi,