pon farr for the course
(originally posted 8/24/2012)
I’m not exactly sure what got me thinking about the Amish and their coming-of-age ritual called rumspringa, but once it started rattling around inside my head I couldn’t think of much else. Well, until I started to think about the Vulcan psychological condition pon farr. For those of you who are unfamiliar with one or both of these, I will elaborate… although if you don’t know who Spock from Star Trek is I’m not sure I can help you. I’m not saying that you need to be a fan of the show but if you’re unfamiliar with Spock you’re probably not from around here or, even worse, Amish.
Rumspringa refers to the window of opportunity for an adolescent to break the rules a bit to see if he or she is really cut out for the Amish way of life. It is not uncommon to see such crazy behavior as driving automobiles, using telephones, wearing brightly colored clothes and doing drugs with an underage black prostitute before engaging in oral and anal sex. After a certain period of time they then decide whether to go back into the community and accept baptism within the Amish church or head for the fucking hills.
Pon farr on the other hand occurs every seven years and causes Vulcans, both male and female, to go into a fit of uncontrollable rage until such a time as they can procreate. They are prone to violence and will actually die unless they can get some.
We all know that feeling, am I right?
I guess we know now why there aren’t any Amish Vulcans. You get a rumspringa running smack dab into a pon farr and it is on. Everyone on board the starship will be sprinting away from the ruddy-cheeked bearded guy with pointy ears and suspenders!
I guess I can’t imagine any space-going vessel having use for a crewmember who can’t use a computer, won’t fight a Klingon (ghuy’ lo’laHbe’ghach amish jaghla’), and absolutely refuses to beam anyone up in the first place.
If you’re thinking that I’m just going to spend the rest of this story making fun of the Amish, then your instincts are dead on mister. The question is where to begin. What can you say about a culture that refuses to educate itself past the 8th grade level? Keep ’em dumb and they’ll stay on the farm, is that the idea?
Perhaps a more interesting way to pass the time (instead of just making fun of those barn-raising simpletons), would be to note that Gene Roddenberry, creator of the Star Trek series, was a highly educated man who completely embraced technology and envisioned a future where scientific advances lifted humanity up and improved the quality of life for everyone. On the other hand Jakob Ammann, the Swiss Mennonite leader who led his followers away from traditional Anabaptist teachings (which he felt weren’t heavy enough on the church discipline and shunning aspects of faith) and out into the Pennsylvanian countryside, was as dumb as a brick and taught that technology was something to be shunned. See? Right away he got some shunning in. He wasn’t out in the fresh air more than five minutes before he was off and shunning.
So, of course, the question that first springs to mind is this; which one of them would win in a fight?
Wait. Not where I was going with this at all. Ok, maybe it’s the second question that springs to mind. I think you might need to lay off the UFC and martial arts movies a bit. Really? Your first question would be who would win in a fight? And then you wonder why I don’t try harder writing these stories.
Anyway, a question that immediately springs to mind is this: is there a connection between the Amish and Vulcans? Both reject pride, both place a high value on calmness and placidity and both are reluctant to bring attention to themselves. They both prize order above all else.
Let’s face it, Spock is one beard short of being a buggy-driving, hat-wearing Amish guy. Was this intentional on the part of Roddenberry? While it is widely known in nerd circles that the character of Spock was based on former Los Angeles police Chief William H. Parker and his calm demeanor (Roddenberry was a LA cop for awhile and worked under Parker), there might also be something else to this Vulcan-Amish thing. Although Parker did in fact desegregate the LAPD during the civil rights movement he was also blamed by many for the Watts Riots because of the department’s alleged brutality towards the black community.
Here’s the weird thing. The Amish from way back have had, quote, “Little time for either Negroes, lawyers or rum.” I realize typing the word quote followed by the apostrophes is redundant but I wanted to make it perfectly clear that those were their words not mine in case my alcoholic black attorney ever reads this.
Do you see what I’m trying to get at? Me neither. Am I trying to say that Spock secretly hated Lt. Uhura? Most people agree that she disliked him in the original series. Racial tension perhaps? Didn’t he picture her briefly in a bonnet and apron in one episode during his pon farr?
Whooooah. This has really gotten away from me.
I hope they answer some of these burning issues in the next Star Trek movie.