Prologue | I | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII | VIII | IX | X
Title: Zahvan T’Masu
Fandom: ST TOS
Characters: T’Nis, Starek, Cash, Amber
Warnings: Rambling on the nature of æsthetics.
Notes: Discussions on the nature of language and poetry ensue. In this chapter, Starek’s glass mysteriously disappears, due to a failure on the writer’s part.
As the twilight deepens, the house begins to light itself in subtle ways.
Starek returns to the music room, having appropriately arranged himself and smoothed his features. Abstraction and idle curiosity, he thinks, will serve him well, at this point.
With an almost imperceptible nod to T’Nis, he investigates the beverages Amber has brought, in his absence.
Alongside his host are Amber and a lanky young man of mixed heritage. He is reading from a digital display showing an older Golic script. He wavers as Starek comes in, but continues reading to the end of the verse.
"Though I go to you
ceaselessly along dream paths,
the sum of those trysts
is less than a single glimpse
granted in the waking . . . exterior?"*
"The waking world, Cash." It is Amber who corrects him. She smiles up at Starek. She also steals an olive from one of the dishes he is perusing and pops it into her mouth.
The would-be poet switches back to Standard and scratches his bushy hair. "Pre-Awakening text is so complicated," he complains.
T’Nis lifts one brow. "Would you rather read a more modern poem?" She fixes Starek with a look that clearly says "watch this."
"No way. Those don’t even have —" but he catches himself and stops.
T’Nis gets up. "Do me a favor you two. Please entertain the Commander while I go get changed and see about dinner. Your poems from today are good enough."
The next query is for her guest. "Can I get you anything before I disappear?"
"Thank you, no. I am certain I will survive until your return." Starek lets a faint hint of amusement play across his face, as he selects a glass of a relatively harmless-looking liquid. His eyes shift to Cash, with a hint of ironic approval. "Your Vulcan is not entirely appalling, boy. More than I might have expected."
"Thank you," he manages, with wide grateful eyes.
Amber grabs another couple of olives and pads over to where some pieces of parchment are laid out on a table. She selects two and hands Cash the smaller of the pair. "Want to read yours first?"
"Um, all right." He tugs at the hem of his T-shirt and clears his throat.
with the push of the winds
yet my thoughts are calm
despite the thunder."**
There are several more verses in this vein.
"I find that, while a logical world is an infinitely better place, the literary arts have suffered since the reformation. The physical arts are unharmed because beauty and practicality are easy companions, but when a language strives to encompass maximal meaning in minimal syllabary, it begins to lose many of its finer features. In that regard, I believe the Romulans may have one up on us — but indubitably only in that regard."
Starek turns one hand palm up, looking into it briefly, before turning up the other palm. "But, then, literary aesthetics are usually a sign of a far more emotional culture than we will admit to having, these last few centuries. It is a shame, in some ways, that the deterioration of the Vulcan language prevents not only the discussion of emotions we have no use for, but also the description of the finer points of the physical arts, as well. Such are the perils of excess, and even in the guise of logic and efficiency, it comes upon us."
He looks up at Cash. "Sorry, your readings got me onto a subject I rarely have sufficient inclination to discuss. I did not mean to — how do humans say it — ‘step into your limelight’."
Amber’s expression is open and bright. "I totally get what you’re saying, Commander Starek. But I dunno, I mean, the simplicity of modern Vulcan, isn’t it kind of a virtue sometimes? It’s like Latin. I mean, not — y’know — the scholarly or the church kind, but the kind that people just used in their everyday writing. You can say such amazing, profound things with it, and it’s so short that the concepts just, I dunno, they stick."
She has the grace to blush a little. "I mean, I know I’m just some Terran wannabe, but, here, can I read you my poem?"
Cash, who had been standing up until that point sits back down. But Amber doesn’t rise. She merely recites from memory, hugging one knee and rocking a little."
To destroy, atoms
Fill the primeval void.
Make the stuff of
Stars and ancient nebulae.
Heat, collide, to
Form T’Khut, T’Khasi,Home."‡
There is more to it. She goes on to describe the rise of life and sentient beings, ending with the arrival of Surak and the subsequent era of peace. She has left the parchment on the floor in front of her and Starek can see how the calligraphy harmonizes with her thoughts.
He holds forth. "Simplicity is noble in the pursuit of the sciences and other formulaic things. In fact, it is viable in even an emotional context, if one’s desire is to put a point across solidly and unmistakeably. But, I find it is not so easy to pun in Vulcan as it is, in say, Klingon or an old Terran language called Japanese. Multi-layered meanings are less easily induced, in most places. I find Vulcan a rather sterile language, but that is not to say I do not enjoy it — I especially enjoy it when it is used in wholly unconscionable ways." Starek draws a lengthy iron needle from his sleeve and spears an olive with it. He had watched Amber eat one with her fingers, earlier, but that would hardly be appropriate behaviour.
"Your poem seems bent on simplifying an epic timespan — not that it cannot be done, but it seems, in this state, like a young tree, cut to make a staff, but never wholly smoothed. Twigs of ideas still jut from the core, distractingly." He chews the olive thoughtfully, then tucks the needle back into his sleeve. "It isn’t a bad poem, it’s just … distracted. Let me try one."
Starek folds his hands into his sleeves, closing his eyes, meditatively.
"Subatomic striations begin
The swirling of the all begets a star
And the light reveals a world therein
Compression drawing galaxies apart
In the dust, some thinking thing arises
Aware and territorial, at best
War and language from it are its prizes
With tools and talk it stands above the rest
And from this race a man of logic stands
Offering his gift to all his own
Most accept the wisdom from his hands
But, others seek and find another home
With clarity and purpose, open hands
We now accept the gifts of other lands"
Starek’s eyes open. "English sonnet. A Terran form. It lends itself to tales with stages."
"Oh wow," says Amber "I like that one!"
Cash nods his agreement. "Crazy. Plus, I never expected a Vulcan to call his own language sterile. Do you have a lot of debates about it, when you’re at home, I mean?"
Starek draws the needle out again and spears another olive. They are oddly addictive, as far as food goes, and he attributes that to the salt.
"If by ‘home’, you mean Vulcan, I do not go there. The climate and I disagree. My home, now, is my starship, and it serves me well." Two more olives disappear into his mouth, and he swallows before speaking again. "I suspect that I am full of exactly the sort of revolutionary ideas that would make me entirely unpopular."
The students are curious about his revolutionary ideas, as well as his ship and Starek decides to indulge them — to a point. The conversation flows easily as the night deepens. Another door chime interrupts it, however."
"Dude! That’s gotta be Spock!" Cash looks a little worried.
"Come downstairs with us, Commander. We’ll show you where the dining room’s at. Then we gotta go change real quick"
Starek’s eyebrow lifts in smug amusement, but he follows the two to the dining room, smoothing the look off his face, before reaching the destination.