Thursday, 23 April 2015

Mr Data Soong

I don't think I'd personally like Brent Spiner very much if I ever met him, but I love his Mr Data character in STNG, and especially his fascination with being human. It isn't so much Data's inability to truly relate that gets my attention (he somehow connects at a deep level) but the natural grace and compassion that is built-into his sapiency (see, he is not just a sentient, self-aware automaton but able to act on his learning and gotten insights).

There is an episode where he truly shines. I don't recall the title of the episode but it's the one where a boy is a lone survivor of a ship wreck in a "dark cluster". The boy turns himself into a miniature Data to avoid facing up to what he thinks is his own fault, but throughout the course of the episode Data is able to draw him back into being human. It is not only Data who does that but Data working with Troy who encourages him to talk to the boy about his own fascination with being human.

There is something Christ- or Buddha-like about the Data character. I don't think it's the "outsider" perspective but the facilitator-function of the "man" that makes me think thus. Mr Data does not judge outside the parameters of a given situation; he is only interested in the person's ability to transcend person challenges and issues given a proper perspective. There is no cynicism nor moral judgement and what is left but a desire, an inspiration for self-improvement in those who get to know Mr Data: let him who has no sin cast the first stone. That is genuine compassion.

I, myself, am not good with strong emotions. I think I'm a compassionate person and integrity is held in high esteem in my mind. Mr Data is an ideal for me, really. It isn't the emotionless part, not the outsider part, but a genuine appreciation of the good. However that good is defined, it is a society of civilized persons.

And don't forget the exquisitely delicious irony that is Mr Data.

Jay

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