Ni Var (glossary term)

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Ni var or ("ni'var") is a Vulcan phrase originally created by Dorothy Jones Heydt as part of her Vulcan language and culture and first seen in Spockanalia #1 in 1967.

It means "two form" and refers to an art motif in which two aspects of a single subject are compared and contrasted. Any form of art can be used to express a ni var.

Jones-Heydt's song lyric "The Territory of Rigel" (Spockanalia 1) was the first ni var published in a fanzine. It is reprinted on page 2 of Joan Verba's book Boldly Writing. Ni var and other terms created by Jones-Heydt were extremely popular in early Star Trek fandom and ni var itself quickly became fanon, with many people using it and creating their own ni var pieces.

Ni var in Spockanalia

Dorothy Jones wrote a brief footnote for The Territory of Rigel, the first published ni var, as printed in Spockanalia #1 in 1968:

This is a piece supposed to have been written by Spock, many years ago. The idea is that he was on watch aboard some ship or other, all alone on the bridge. It was in the middle of the "night" cycle and the bridge was relatively dark except for the instrument panels. Outside there was also darkness, except for the faint light of the stars and the brighter light of Rigel, which was nearby. The contrast of light and darkness appealed to the duality in Spock, and he attempted (no one being around to interfere) to express it in a Vulcan form called ni var.

Ni Var means literally "two form", and it is basically a piece comparing and contrasting two different things or two aspects of the same thing. (It need not be a literary work; a suitably-formed painting or sculpture or dance composition could be a ni var.) So in this piece there are two voices: one singing of light and the other of darkness; the little Vulcan harp accompanies them and plays short solo passages. The first voice is soprano and the second voice bass.

Although the ni var is a purely Vulcan form, Spock decided for reasons of his own to write the text in Terran. This was perhaps his undoing; Terran languages are by their nature more personal and less objective than Vulcan, and he found himself writing not only about the physical surroundings which he set out to describe, but also about himself - a totally unVulcan thing to do. He probably looked at the composition the next morning, blanched, and put the piece away, for thirty years.

Ni var in Kraith

Judy Segal included the expression ni var in the Kraith Creators' Manual. It appears in a list of "concept assignments to gloss Vulcanur sememes into English." She refers to it as "A t’seluret form in which two (or more) subjects are contrasted and compared. It may take the form of a poem, song, drawing, etc." T'seluret is Lichtenberg's Vulcan word for "art".[1] The word is broken down into its composite parts not according to Jones-Heydt's Vulcan morphemes, but Lichtenberg's Vulcanur ones:

/:N-/ time /-ee-/ pattern /-v-/ logical exclusion /-ah-/ now /-r:/ passive

"Somethings group to form a pattern: things which are excluded from the pattern." [2]
Ni Var is also the published title of a novella by Claire Gabriel. Originally titled The Thousandth Man, it is about what happens when Mr. Spock is the subject of an experiment which splits him into two people, one Vulcan, one Terran (although identical in appearance). It was published in Star Trek: The New Voyages in drastically cut form.[3] The full version is available at Gabriel's page on simegen.com.[4] In the introduction to the published version Leonard Nimoy expresses his (mis)understanding that ni var is "a Vulcan term referring to the duality of things: two who are one, two diversities that are a unity, two halves that come together to make a whole".

In the Enterprise episode "Shadows of P'Jem", the Ni'Var was a Suurok-class Vulcan starship, commanded by Sopek. The screenwriters confirmed that their use of the term came from Gabriel's story. They knew nothing of Jones-Heydt's original work.

Today, ni var is known only as a Vulcan philosophy term meaning "two who are one" or "two halves that make a unity". [5]

There are numerous fanworks incorporating this phrase and idea. Most if not all are associated with slash pairings.

Example Fanworks

"The Territory of Rigel", song by Dorothy Jones Heydt, originally published in Spockanalia 1 and reprinted in Joan Marie Verba's Boldly Writing, p. 2.

Some ni var art by Kathy Bushman was also published in Spockanalia, including portraits of Mr. Spock illustrating both his Vulcan and Terran aspects, and the Spock of the UFP universe compared with the one from the mirror universe. "While they are two separate personalities, they are joined by the combined symbols of their services."

Mary H. Schaub had a ni var in Saurian Brandy Digest 1, "Observations by a Vulcan Navigator, Starship Endeavor."

Abode of Strife #7 is a novel called "Ni Var: Reunion and Farewell"

References

  1. /:t’-/ creation /-sel-/ beauty /-u-/ from /-r-/ passive sign /-e-/ generic sign /-t:/ creation - More at Judy Segal, Kraith Creators' Manual, part 1.
  2. Judy Segal, Kraith Creators' Manual, part 2. Compiled from the pages of Kraith Collected, Volumes 1 through 4, and from several other stories included in the later collections, along with conversations with Lichtenberg.

    In the Creators' Manual, Ms. Jones-Heydt is not credited for originating ni var. Perhaps she gave permission in private mail. In a foreword to the dictionary in Understanding Kraith, discussing the borrowing of Kraith terms by non-Kraith writers, Lichtenberg wrote "...Kraith is a primary source: terms which appear elsewhere but also in Kraith were either established on the air, in THE MAKING OF STAR TREK, or in Kraith. Kraith does not borrow." Perhaps she means "does not borrow without permission." Interestingly, ni var does not appear in the Understanding Kraith dictionary, only in the Creators' Manual one.
  3. Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath, eds., Star Trek: The New Voyages (Bantam, 1976). Anthology of amateur Star Trek stories.
  4. The Thousandth Man at simegen.com.
  5. Vulcan Language Directory, accessed 12.22.2010