May You Live Long and Prosper: Kraith Open Letter

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Open Letter
Title: May You Live Long and Prosper: Kraith Open Letter
From: Jacqueline Lichtenberg
Addressed To:
Date(s): written January 1, 1973, published February 16, 1973
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
Topic: Star Trek and Kraith
External Links: online here
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Kraith is the popular and popular alternate universe created by Jacqueline Lichtenberg and others. It generated much attention and controversy. In 1973, Lichtenberg addressed one topic in an open letter that was printed in Kraith Creator's Manual.

The Letter

letter as it was printed in Kraith Creator's Manual.

A point has been raised by one of the Kraith Critics, and I would like to take this opportunity to tell you about it.

In Kraith there is a recurrent pattern to which some people have reacted positively. It is no wonder question whether this pattern is the source of much of the antagonism toward Kraith.

The pattern consists of an introduction of some new facet of an alien (usually Vulcan) culture couched in language which is highly ambiguous, but which is normally interpreted at face value. Later in the Series, it becomes apparent that the face-value interpretation is incorrect.

Example, many times we are shown Vulcan ceremonies. The narration is in the language normally used to describe rituals and the overall impression (deliberately fostered] is of some sort of mystical rite. Later the explainations for the actions gradually emerge, and the reader discovers that there is nothing even remotely mystical about the activity.

A Kraith Critic has recently said that this later revelation leaves a "cheated" feeling, an acute discomfort, as if the author were not playing fair.

The question I would put to you is, "Do you feel cheated when learning that your initial interpretation is invalid?" Any discussion of this question would be appreciated.

The reason that this pattern is built into Kraith is that Kraith is attempting to point out the semantic fallacies inherent in interpreting the actions of aliens in terms of human standards. Kraith was originally conceived as a counter statement to the most prevalent type of fan-fiction presentation of Vulcan. It seemed that fans could not stretch their minds to see Vulcans in any other light than as anthropomorphic cripples deprived of "normal" emotional outlets.

True that aired ST did leave this question open. They presented data, but in most cases did not interpret it for you. The obvious interpretation which Hollywood no doubt wanted us to make was that Vulcans were simply humans with exotic customs. However, if we view the tv screen as a window into an actual tomorrow and attempt to observe like good xenologists, we MUST NOT project our own human-centered concepts onto genuine aliens. Kraith attempts to point out several other valid interpretations of aired St's basic data.

In order to do this, I have resorted to the ploy of inducing the reader to mistake my initial descriptions in exactly the same way that Hollywood induced you to mistake their descriptions. I then attempt to point out the disastrous consequences of such an error. Does this make you feel cheated? Or does it open new vistas for your mind to explore? IN PEACE AND DIVERSITY, Jacqueline Lichtenberg.