Space, the final frontier of the campy and inane? Not always. Bear with me here.
The most thought-provoking and conversation-elucidating Star Trek episode all time, by far, was a story from Season Five of “The Next Generation” called Darmok. Our intrepid Space-Farers, living in a future where there simply was no energy crisis, unresolved Middle Eastern conflict, global warming, national debt, or obesity, encounter a powerful alien species and endeavor to communicate.
The aliens are chatty enough, but what they have to say is completely nonsensical. As the TV audience gradually learned at the same time as the Enterprise crew (which is a writing style that made Star Trek great, when pulled off), that they speak in metaphors. Metaphors, all the time. Nothing but metaphors. With the TV audience as bewildered as the crew, one astute Starship crew member remarks that the alien conversation is as though when meaning “romance”, the words used would be “Juliet on the balcony.” A grounding in the culture and history of the alien world would be necessary for comprehension, even if the words themselves could be translated (and in the Star Trek world, a universal translator exists).
Even the metaphors, used frequently enough, were shortened to the first word. Much like the court case that established the rights of the accused being called Miranda. Out-of-context and without cultural references, Miranda means nothing. Try “tea party” – a political effort to reign in excessive government spending and its manifestation of taxation. Not obvious, from the words. We know because we are familiar with the words being metaphorical for a philosophy favoring smaller and less costly government.
Ultimately, through trial and error with the TV audience learning right along with the crew-members, some halting basis of communication was achieved and a potential war was diffused and the credits rolled. So let’s try this means of communication out in the world of dieting and weight loss. It might go like this:
1. Hindenburg – I ate so much I feel I could explode.
2. Richard Simmons wear – tight, fitting, shiny spandex gym clothes
3. Perrier Poisoning – Overdoing water consumption in an effort to be healthy and pee off the pounds
4. Bugs’ Plate – lots of raw veggies, like Bugs Bunny would have eaten
5. Jake and Elwood – Four whole fried chickens and dry white toast (not a good diet)
Bonus entry – “All the calories she had had had had no effect on his effortless attainment of his weight loss goal.”
Now you try it. Do better than me. Be metaphorical, alliterative, or grammatically accurate if in a most incongruous way!
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