I just noticed that in Star Trek II, there's a no-smoking sign on the Enterprise bridge. (Or, at least, on the Kobayashi Maru simulator.)
This is amusing enough, but am I correct that Martia (Iman) in The Undiscovered Country is the only person ever to smoke on screen in Star Trek?
Update: I should have known there would be a Memory Alpha entry about this. And no, St. John Talbot in The Final Frontier also smoked. (As did a lot of characters in fake Star Trek shows like Next Generation.)
Out front of the Federal Trade Commission headquarters in Washington, D.C., is an interesting sculpture. It’s called, of all things, “Man Controlling Trade,” and it was made in 1942 by sculptor Michael Lantz. In a chunky, Diego Rivera style, it depicts a man pulling down a beautiful, powerful draft horse.
Whenever I see this sculpture, it calls to mind another theme depicted by many sculptors, painters, and poets: the chaining of Prometheus to the rock, for the crime of—well, typically it’s said that he brought fire to man, but that is not what Aeschylus says in his Prometheus Bound. According to Aeschylus, Prometheus brought not fire, but reason. In Edith Hamilton’s translation (my favorite):
The ways of divination I marked out for [man], and they are many; how to know the waking vision from the idle dream; to read the sounds hard to discern…. So did I lead them on to knowledge of the dark and riddling art. The fire omens, too, were dim to them until I made them see…. All arts, all goods, have come to men from me.
Prometheus is punished by Zeus for having given away so precious a treasure. According to the myth, however, man was so grateful that—through Hercules, who was later apotheosized—man freed Prometheus from the rock to which he was chained. In another version, Chiron the centaur gave up his immortality in exchange for freeing Prometheus, making clear that for Athens, unlike for Jerusalem, a temporary and risky life of reason was preferable to the unchanging, unchallenging, painless bliss of ignorance.
In Lantz’ sculpture, the incidents are the same, but the lesson is completely different. In his sculpture, as in the Prometheus tale, we witness the chaining down of a powerful symbol of life and strength. But this time it is not the gods, but man who will chain it down. It is revealing, too, that trade and industry are not represented by a symbol of precise and disciplined application of forethought (which is what Prometheus means) or labor, but as an animal that operates on instinct—a mindless, graceful, powerful, but ultimately brutish beast. Note that the man is not merely trying to “rein it in,” as it were. He stands in a posture no horseman would actually adopt with a horse that he hoped to protect, cherish, care for, or obtain cooperation from. The man is bringing this beautiful creature to its knees. Lantz does not denigrate the beast—but that he depicts “trade” as a beast tells us that he sees the wealth creator not as an object of gratitude, but as an object of sublime terror: a natural feature of the world with no source in human ideas, but a force that, like the wind or fire, can become useful to man only when it is made to serve. Lantz’ sympthaties are with the man seeking to break a force whose nature and characteristics he cannot know and with which it is impossible to communicate or bargain.
The Greeks, whatever their flaws, at least saw Prometheus as a great benefactor, to whom they were grateful, and as the victim of an injustice. “Injustice,” in fact, is the last word Prometheus utters in Aeschylus’ play. But to those who erected the FTC sculpture, the innovator, the creator, was a being whose gifts just came inevitably, and thus not a proper figure of gratitude. And justice meant forcing the creator to kneel. I cannot help giving names to the figures in this sculpture. I call the horse Prometheus, and I call the man Edward Covey.
This is my personal blog. The opinions expressed here are my own, and in no way represent those of the staff, management, or clients of the Pacific Legal Foundation, the Cato Institute, or the McGeorge School of Law.