Who Are Rice and Schultz and Why Are They Writing All These Nasty Things, or, We Never Promised You a Rose Garden

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Title: Who Are Rice and Schultz and Why Are They Writing All These Nasty Things, or, We Never Promised You a Rose Garden
Creator: Mandi Schultz
Date(s): July 1977
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
Topic:
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Who Are Rice and Schultz and Why Are They Writing All These Nasty Things, or, We Never Promised You a Rose Garden is a 1977 essay by Mandi Schultz.

It was printed in the sixth, and last issue, of Schutlz' perzine, Implosion.

Some Topics Discussed

  • Jane Eyre and her grit and tenacity
  • Schultz' interest in Trek is due to its emphasis on survival, even for the flawed characters
  • Schultz' lack of interest in what she felt most fans liked: the Kirk-Spock-McCoy relationship
  • comments about the controversial stories To Each His Own and Idols I Have Loved

Excerpts

Why did I write To Each His Own and Idols I Have Loved]?

At the time the idea cane for EACH, I had just read what struck me an the worst Joanna story ever written (altho I an aware of the fact that mine has struck people that way) and decided that I was going to write Joanna my way. There are times when I seriously wonder if a large portion of Trekfen grow up either in a vacuum or in Disneyland. Everything in everyone's created worlds is perfect, everyone's personality/character is clearly delineated, and nothing terrible ever happens. Nothing very complex ever happens either, and I think that's because a great many of us grow up with television, and we are all victims of the notorious '60-minute solution'. Mr. Dillon cleaned up Dodge City in an hour, Sgt. Friday solved crime in an hour, Perry Mason aided justice in an hour, doctors saved lives in an hour... everything was tidy. But oddly enough, everyone's complaint after a diet of this for many years was that television seemed to be existing in a stereotyped vacuum - no reality. Now, of course, everyone is complaining that the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction - too much sex, too much violence, too much reality. Still, I wonder if there is such a thing as a happy medium that will content everyone, I doubt it. But the fact remains that this notion - tidiness - has imprinted itself on a lot of people.

[snipped]

God knows, these midnight urges just cone over me. Why did I write it? Becoz it worked. It was certainly a different Joanna story, it poked and prodded and rendered and tore and questioned - it forced survival.

IDOLS was an almost instant follow-up, altho separately each of those chapters wore something like three months in the making, not counting rewrite and check-with-Cheryl [1] time. Yes, I know, the girl in EACH didn't have to be Joanna, I just wanted her to be. It made IDOLS work better. The Joanna incident is also a rather significant part of the mystery part of the series you might bear that in mind if you're following along. Both stories exposed a considerable amount of Chantal's character, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Whether or not the subject matter is offensive I feel is also subjective, seeing as how we've been exposed in Treklit to an array of "offensations” including torture and mutilation and, to some, homosexuality, and,to some, just plain sex. We do have some interesting cultural programming. However, we also have some very open-minded people in fandom who are interested in exploring a wide range of possibilities - and for them, those who would like more than the banal and mundane, I am truly thankful.
The basic theme of D&R is survival, I admit that I cannot even hope to explain the differences between living and surviving to someone who doesn't acknowledge that there could possibly be a difference. They'll never get out of their vacuum or their amusement park. Some people are allowed the luxury of simply living their lives, I wonder how many know how lucky they really are. Some people are not that fortunate but for all the struggles, hardships, broken dreams, and trials, I think most of them would admit that they learned more from life that way, I know I sure as hell did, I didn't realize just how much my life meant to me until [terrible personal info redacted].

Altho I started out as a Spockfan and eventually metamorphed into a Kirk fan, that was something that spoke louder to no than anything else, and why Trek has remained important to me for about 10 years. I believe in survival. I also believe one does not require perfection to accomplish it. Since I take all the blame for establishing the framework for D&R, that is where this overriding element comes from. Since Kirk is my favorite character - and fortunately also Cheryl’s - that is why he is our Everyman.

D&R is a lot of things. It’s a romance, a mystery, an adventure, an allegory, a morality play, and maybe a little magic, wishful thinking, and sublimation as well. I tend to question that very last one, tho. Even our fantasy world is not perfect, no Paradise by any means.

...you have to constantly bear in mind that this is not the Kirk of a 3-season series, This the 5th year Kirk, and he is definitely a man whose balance is shifting. I take exception with those who think think cannot happen. It can and will for most people walking the face of tho earth - and it moot certainly can for someone in Kirk’s capacity as Captain. Psychiatrically, I guess you could call it "executive burn-out." It is possible, even if you operate under the assumption that Kirk has been a paragon. Check out a local group therapy session and look at the variety of people you’ll find there - or the local chapter of AA. Psychological crisis is not very selective, it can happen to anyone.

That is what is happening to Kirk in our series, and what we intend to show is how it happens, with, some emphasis on why, and how he will survive it. Kirk has an obsessive personality, his preoccupation with his ship and crew only serve to display this. Yes, but you say, that’s what makes a good captain. Of course, and that is what Star Fleet would want for a captain. But one can operate/function only just so long at warp 9 before you do start to burn out.

Coupled with the background he has in D&R, which wasn’t picked up at a Disneyland novelty shop either, what’s happening to him is extremely plausible. I don’t think we’ve taken too many absurd liberties with his background, by the way, since there seems to be precious little dogma to go on.

Kirk didn’t need Chantal to trigger his crisis, he would have had it anyway in our universe. But obviously she’s going to complicate matters. If you stop and think for a moment, Matt Decker must have been been basically of the same stuff Kirk was, but everything went blooey when the pressure was too much. The same thing is happening with Kirk, only for different reasons. Perhaps it is no more than tho realization that his into middle ago and that ship is not going to keep him warm on cold winter nights. Under the givens in the DEADLY YEARS episode, one can safely assume that as far as the ST universe is concerned, humans do not have a longer life expectancy they would probably have in the 23rd century, since Kirk and McCoy went into what we would consider "old age" (even at an accelerated pace) and they were old. If he is going to do something in his life in order to share it with someone, he ought to do it soon; Man does not live by starship alone. Basically, I suppose one could say he’s having the middle-aged flimflams... that, coupled with the incredible pressures from the responsibilities of his position are all becoming more than his coping powers can handle.

But he has Spock and McCoy, you say. My answer is "but does he?" All right, I'm going to lay myself wide-open here but I'm telling you right now I am not going to engage in any debates on the subject. If you’re into the relationship and that's your thing, that's fine.

It's not my thing, and you’re not liable to argue me into a change of mind any more than I am you. I'm not trying to, I'm simply telling you what D&R comes from. I don’t go wild over the relationship becoz I don’t think there is anything that special about it (I know, everyone over at the CONTACT editorial offices just fell over dead.) It is extremely common that in stress situations -- i.e., the five year mission -- such "friendships" form. Obviously, it's a lot easier to get along with the people you have to work and live with for the next few years. However, remove the stress situations and you remove basic reason for that friendship. I was just recently explaining this to a friend, who after some thought, found a rather interesting parallel in her own life when she thought back about the close friendships she had in college many years ago, all with people who are gone from her life now and have been for some time - even tho at the tine they had an infinite number of things in common that held then together. So it is not an impossible thing to occur.
At the start of D&R, the problem is that everyone expects everything of him, and he's getting precious little in return beyond a bad case of nerves and some grey hair. Chantal Caberfae waltzing into his life is not going to help matters one bit, but in this state of confusion he's laboring in, hero floundering, looking for a life preserver, a thread of promise, anything. And this is where he'll make his biggest mistake, in putting ail his eggs into one basket, so to speak. It is wrong for him to assume that she can be everything to him (perhaps he too is a victim of the 60-minute solution), not just an error, but wrong to place such a burden on her. No one can be everything to another person. Besides, the lady has her own problems. Two people with problems seldom equal less than the sum of their troubles. Technically, Kirk and Chantal are the worst possible match. But happens happens, it is seldom prearranged, you don't often have the luxury of choice. When it happens you either run with it or away from it, either way, it's a matter of survival. Kirk, ever the hopeless idealist/romantic, will elect to run with it. After all, he's gone so far as to fall for that android, the poor man is desperate for his illusions. To someone in the state of emotional confusion he is in, ho wants a safe harbor, the love of his life and a job with little demands. After years of Kirk life serving others, he is entitled to something for himself. But he's making a bad choice in many ways.

It’s hard for me to describe Chantal, particularly without giving away a great deal of the story. All things considered, she is not a Marysue. I think we’d need a lot more perfection overall for her to be that. She is also not very superior to everyone else. For all her pretenses - she makes mistakes, and some bad ones. Like Kirk, her mistake is being disarmed by her emotions. Her balance is shifting too, and even tho she may be more aware of her problem than Kirk is of his, she’s handling it no better.

What you are seeing in D&R is survival. Yes, it’s a get'em story in that respect becoz they’re going to do everything but jump threw hoops emotionally before we’re finished with them. I don’t think I’m giving away too much to tell you that they do survive, and quite well, after all is said and done, altho not the way you might anticipate they will. We’re going to show then survive quite a lot and come out of it intact, perhaps even, as they say, better persons for it altho that cliche is so awful I shudder as I type it. Because that is tho real triumph, don’t you see, that they do survive. That every person has a great capacity for survival. Some less than others, believe me, I know, I live with my memories of a confused young man whose capacity was less than what he needed. Which is why I an so fixated by the kind character that does have the mercenaries, what makes Kirk special, what makes him a good captain even, what makes him such an admirable character, his ability to survive.

And that is more explaining of D&R than I’ve done in a long time to anyone at all.

References

  1. ^ Schultz' co-writer.