What Does a Vulcan Listen To?

In the Earth year 1957, a Vulcan research vessel went down in CarbonMoodies Dead Can Dance Creek, Pennsylvania, with four crewmen aboard. Although the captain perished, officers Stron and T’Mir were later recovered without incident, but the fourth crewman was inadvertently left behind, believed by the Vulcan authorities to have also perished and his body adequately buried or incinerated.1 But this Vulcan male, anthropologist and navigator Mestral, managed to live on Earth for over a century before he was detected. He was promptly recovered after First Contact.

On April 5, 2063, the crew of the T’Plana-Hath not only detected Zefram Cochrane’s warp-drive signature but also Mestral’s life-signs and were directed to make contact with humanity and to retrieve Mestral. He was brought back to Vulcan for debriefing before the High Command, which was not only curious about his first-hand experience living among humans, but was also anxious to learn how much human behavior had polluted Mestral’s Vulcan bearing. At that time, many in the High Command had little hope for humanity and viewed humans with contempt.

The transcripts of the interviews with Mestral have just been declassified. Below is a segment covering a topic many humans find fascinating: what do Vulcans listen to? Or, more precisely, what human music does a Vulcan living on Earth in the late twentieth and the early twenty-first century, far removed from the culture of his homeworld, find acceptable and even…pleasing? This segment of the interrogation was conducted by Minister Sepek, who not only taught at the Vulcan Science Academy as Professor of Xenopsychology, but also served as Secretary for Offworld Affairs.

Sepek: Forty billion terabytes of data classified as music have been recovered from your personal devices. This unprecedented amount suggests that you spent considerable time listening to Terran music.

Mestral: That is a correct assumption.

Sepek: Do you find it…enjoyable?

Mestral: Yes.

Sepek: We selected for review two songs at random from the collection labeled “Popular Music.” They are titled Wild Thing and Disco Duck. We found no reason to preserve this category of Terran music in the Vulcan Archives. And yet you have collected 4,256,172 songs, including songs which predate your arrival on Earth. Enlighten us.

Mestral: I might point out, Ministers, that your sample size – given the extent of the collection – was inadequate and therefore your summation inconclusive. Terran popular music is highly varied in its presentation.

Sepek: Be that as it may….

Mestral: If you will allow me to present some further samples, I can demonstrate to you the high degree of skill and, in some cases, “Vulcanness” in popular Terran music.

[A brief discussion ensues among the High Command. The consensus is to allow Mestral to continue with his presentation. Links to the popular Youtube site containing the selected songs are embedded in this transcript.]

Sepek: Continue.

Mestral: The first group of Terran musicians I would like to present to you is the Moody Blues, active from the mid 1960s and into the early decades of the twenty-first century. Their music was hailed as “the thinking-man’s rock ‘n’ roll” and it was most popular during the Vietnam War.

Sepek: The name of this band suggests that its members or their music are highly emotional.

Mestral: Indeed. Many humans found their music a way to explore and go beyond their emotions to achieve a higher level of consciousness.

Sepek: Such a practice is dangerous. In order to achieve a higher state of consciousness, one must suppress the emotions.

Mestral: If I may demonstrate, Ministers, here is an example every Vulcan explorer can relate to.

[The assembly listens to Gypsy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWuwUhSis1U]

Sepek: It is evident that you identified with the singer of this song.

Mestral: Justin Hayward?

Sepek: His name is not in question here, nor is the Vulcan emotional state evoked by this song. It is your judgment.

Mestral: If I may continue, Minister, I believe I can demonstrate that the Moody Blues represent humanity’s higher understanding of the universe.

Sepek: You may continue.

Mestral: Consider this sample.

[The assembly listens to Tuesday Afternoon http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3aphxaDZMg ]

Sepek: Correct me if I’m wrong, but this song dates to 1967, the very height of the counter-culture’s experimentation with psychedelic drugs. Does humanity need to ingest mind-altering substances to reach a higher state of consciousness? Is this humanity’s understanding of the universe?

Mestral: Not at all. Consider the work of the Dalai Lama.

Sepek: We are considering the work of the Moody Blues. Have you anything more to say about these Terran musicians?

Mestral: A good deal more. This next song demonstrates that these five musicians from England felt the interconnectedness of all humanity and humanity’s ultimate connection to the universe. Although the song is performed in a minor key, indicative of great loss and urgency, the lyrics suggest hope that all mankind will understand this oneness. It is then that hostilities will cease.

[The assembly listens to A Simple Game http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlnExthvVQE]

And if you will indulge me by listening to one last example by the Moody Blues, Ministers, this poem demonstrates that humanity is capable of understanding Surak’s teachings.

[The assembly listens to The Balance https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBZ7-NUZoJc]

Sepek: Perhaps, but these are just five humans out of 256 billion. You spoke of a “Vulcanness” you found in Terran popular music. Please clarify.

Mestral: This next group of modern musicians known as Dead Can Dance….

Sepek: An ominous name.

Mestral: Their music features influences from multiple cultures and ancient traditions. This first song could have been written by a follower of Surak. Due to the deep echo effect, you may not be able to hear the lyrics, but the opening stanza is this:

We scaled the face of reason

                                To find at least one sign

                                That could reveal the true dimensions

                                Of life, lest we forget.

                                And maybe it’s easier to withdraw from life

                                With all of its misery and wretched lies

                                Away from harm.

 

[The assembly listens to Anywhere Out of the World https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdjqIBZoIEY ]

 

Surak teaches us, “It is not the withdrawal from our world that will save it, but instead the desire to go out and transform it.”2

Sepek: Indeed. I think we can all agree to mark this song for preservation. [There is a consensus among the High Command].

Mestral: I have other examples from Dead Can Dance, which several musicologists agree mimic ancient Vulcan traditions. This song, known as Cantara, is very close in instrumentation, vocalization, melody, and rhythm to the te-Vikram dance ritual used to evoke a state of euphoria. Only their priestly castes of the deep desert are allowed to perform the song, and until recently, it was a closely guarded ritual of the Brotherhood. Yet here is something very similar from Earth.

[The assembly listens to Cantara https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFcWwHPVy3s]

Sepek: Fascinating. Do you have an explanation as to how this close parallel between Vulcan and Earth music occurred?

Mestral: I do not. Nor can I explain how the song The Arrival and the Reunion resembles the chant performed in the fal-tor-pan ritual, in which the katra is reunited with the body.

[The assembly listens to The Arrival and the Reunion https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJRsWErKCxA]

Sepek: Remarkable.

Mestral: I have two more examples of this parallel musical expression. I understand, Minister, that you listen to the compositions of the Vulcan flautist Selar.

Sepek: I do on occasion.

Mestral: Then you may hear some resemblance in this next instrumental piece by Dead Can Dance to his composition entitled The Hot Wind of Kir.

[The assembly listens to Windfall https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kg4AEPC4uqw]

Sepek: Truly astonishing. Are you suggesting, Mestral, that there has been a connection between Vulcan and Earth prior to First Contact and prior to your violation of the Prime Directive?

Mestral: I make no suggestions, Minister, only observations. Within the scientific community, the hypothesis put forth by the noted archaeologist Professor Richard Galen is generally accepted, namely that many humanoid species were seeded on their home planets by the ancient race referred to as The Preservers. Ancient Vulcan texts speak of the Vhorani, the Ancient Ones, who came from Vorta Vor, the Wellspring of Creation.3 And here, perhaps Dead Can Dance sing of them or of their offspring in this song.

[The assembly listens to Children of the Sun https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Z4uITELiqw . There follows a lengthy debate among the ministers until a consensus is reached.]

Sepek: We shall retain the recorded files of popular Earth music within the Vulcan Archives for future study. Your efforts to understand the human mind, Mestral, are noted here.

________________________

SOURCES

1ENT: Carbon Creek episode: http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Carbon_Creek_(episode)

2 Sherman, J. & Shwartz, S. (2004). Exodus. (Vuclan’s Soul: Book 1). New York: Pocket Books, p. 48.

3 The Way of Kolinahr: The Vulcans. (1998). Culver City, CA: Last Unicorn Games, p. 18-19.

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Vulcan Personal Names (Part 9)

VULCAN MYSTICISM

Previously, we saw how nature has been revered in Vulcan names. In addition to the totem animals of tribes, names such as Stonn (stonn = “antler”), Tuvok (tu va’khen = “way of the mountain raptor”), T’Lara (t’sai lara = “lady blue desert bird”), and S’laron (s’lara-yon = “from the blue firebird”) show a reverence for wildlife. Likewise, the wind was respected for its strength, the seeds it carried, and the relief it brought from the heat. The element arev (“desert wind”) appears in several names: Evoras (arev-vohris = “desert breeze”), Aravik (arev vik = “well of the desert wind”), T’Ara (t’sai arev vakh = “lady bold desert wind”), Evekh (arev ekhlami = “surrounded by desert wind”), and Surev (s’uralaun arev = “from the singing desert wind”). The element salan (“wind”) as in T’Sala (t’sai salan = “lady wind”) was also used in naming traditions but less often.

Thunder occurs infrequently on Vulcan, but when it struck in ancient times, it must have been a terrifying force – painful to sensitive ears – to comprehend. Names such as T’Rama (t’sai rahm vakh = “lady thunder”) and N’Evran (nei arev-rahm = “seed of the desert thunder-wind”) pay homage to this natural phenomenon. Some scholars believe that the word for “thunder,” rahm, might have originally referred to the rumble of an earthquake or volcano.

Phenomena of the celestial realm did not escape Vulcan notice or fascination. The name element yel (star) is still common today. Selon (s’yel-yon = “from the star-fire”), Selik (s’yel’iki = “from the soul of the star”), Sorel (tsoraya-yel = “star cache”)1, and Selek (s’yel-ekon = “from the star-god”) are some of the oldest recorded Vulcan names, as is T’Pau (t’sai pau = “lady corona”). Other names also reference light: T’Shael (t’sai s’ha’gel = “lady from the light”), T’Hen (also rendered T’Hain, from ha’ge-igen = “lady sky-light”)2, and the curious name S’harien (s’harr-igen = “from the tail of the sky,” an expression thought to refer to the phenomenon of a sun pillar).

Vulcan personal names also point to a pantheon of prehistoric gods. Like many cultures on Earth, it was considered sacrilegious to take the name of a god or goddess. One was, after all, a servant of the divine. Examples of these names include T’Nedara (t’sai Natara = “lady of Natara,” god of water), T’Kosa (t’sai Khosaar = “lady of Khosaar,” a god of war), T’Gra (t’sai Gratan = “lady of Gratan,” a desert spirit), Serevan (s’Reah-van-kal = “from Reah’s ceremony,” a goddess of death and loss), and Refas (Reah-vash = “Reah’s terror” – a favorite among the te-Vikram brotherhood).

From the temple traditions come the names T’Sanik (t’sai sa’nikh = “lady from out of the Eye”)3 and T’Vria (t’sai vre-ha = “lady life-vessel”). But no name is more mystical than T’Plana-Hath (t’sai pla-nahan-a’Tha = “lady return-thinking to the direct experience of the Universe”). The only bearer of that name was the head of a school of Vulcan historians during the Sudocian Wars. Her History of Logic remains a standard text in Vulcan universities. Surak was one of her pupils.4

Next week, I’ll wrap up our study of Vulcan names with a list of the most common personal names and their meanings.

1 An early expression for “galaxy.”

2 i.e., a light in the sky, not an overhead window.

3 A reference to T’Khut, Vulcan’s sister planet.

4 The way of kolinahr: the Vulcans. (1998). Culver City, CA: Last Unicorn Games, p. 15.