((Officers’ Mess, USS Invicta))
::The room was full as hunger drove people to partake in meals. Whilst one could feasibly replicate a meal in their rooms, most chose to congregate in the Mess and partake with friends. Alora was no different. She was a social butterfly, the sort who flitted toward others, particularly when those others included friends - and Saveron was one such friend. Saavok was nowhere in sight, which was a pity, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t approach the older Vulcan.::
DeVeau: Hey Sav, whatcha doooin’?
Saveron: ::Glancing up.:: Sochya, Alora. I am reading and eating. ::He said, master of the blindingly obvious.::
DeVeau: I see. Mind if I sit?
Saveron: I have no objection.
::He set the ebook down next to his bowl of plomiik soup so as to give Alora his full attention.::
::Alora settled into a chair and rest her tray upon the table. Unlike Saveron, she partook of meat and a decent sized slab of steak held a conspicuous presence on her tray. She unfolded her napkin, snapped it out to full size, then spread it upon her lap.::
DeVeau: So what are you reading?
Saveron: A work of Terran fiction entitled ‘Love Springs Eternal’ by one Anne Smith.
DeVeau: I don’t think I’ve ever heard of that one. What’s it about?
Saveron: It is part of an extensive genre called ‘Mills and Boon’. The grammar is sometimes lacking but the subject matter is fascinating. ::When Alora did not interrupt he continued.:: This particular example features a young woman recently emigrated to North America and a man who wrangles livestock as a profession. I believe that they are referred to as ‘cowboys’. It is set several hundred years in Earth’s past and focuses extensively on their relationship.
::He became aware that Alora was giving him a very unusual look and raised one eyebrow in silent query.::
DeVeau: Say...what? You’re reading a trashy romance novel?
::Alora stared over at the Vulcan, a chunk of meat pierced by the tines of silver that she clutched in her hand. While she did her best to keep laughter from spilling out, her mouth quirked and twisted with the effort. She cleared her throat and managed to stave it off by inserting the meat.::
Saveron: It is an extremely popular genre in Terran culture. ::He pointed out, almost sounding offended.::
DeVeau: Really? It just sounds...well, just not the sort of thing I expected you to read.
Saveron: I have read many examples of Terran literature, including Shakespeare. ::Which was what many people recommended to him.:: Many of the themes are markedly congruent.
DeVeau: That and Shakespeare? Congruent? Obviously I am ignorant, please enlighten me.
::Saveron gave Alora a long look. She appeared to be finding the conversation unnecessarily amusing. He chose however to humour her.::
Saveron: Themes of misdirection and misunderstanding abound in both, along with complex kinship ties, the impact of the loss of those ties, emotional entanglements and fascinating courtship rituals.
::Quite a lot from his point of view. She was still giving him that look.::
Saveron: A cross-genre comparison of a species’ literature may reveal important aspects of said species’ culture and psyche. ::He pointed out.::
::Well, Alora wouldn’t have really put the two together, but what he said made sense.::
DeVeau: I suppose when you put it that way...and what do you glean from this study of the genre?
Saveron: Terrans are obsessed with sex.
::He put his spoon in his mouth in a gesture of finality.::
DeVeau: Oh really? All Terrans?
Saveron: A representative proportion certainly.
DeVeau: Even me?
::He might not be particularly perceptive of cultural subtleties, but Saveron was at least aware of when he was being baited. And where young Vulcans in their twenties just shy of Pon Farr tended to get rather tongue-tied about the subject, the good doctor had grandchildren.::
Saveron: I cannot state with any certainty. I have no experimental data from which to draw conclusions. ::He replied dryly.::
DeVeau: Hm. Well, I can tell you I’m not obsessed with sex. At least, I don’t think I am.
Saveron: Within Terran cultural context, or a pan-species context? What is normal in one species may be aberrant in another.
::As a member of a supposedly sex-obsessed species she might not consider her inclinations abnormal.::
::Alora thought about that for a moment and tapped a finger against her chin.::
DeVeau: Well, since I don’t really know details about every species, I can only say with certainty, ‘within Terran cultural context’.
Saveron: Within the context of a species with a sex obsession, you consider your preoccupances normal.
::One dark brow rose again, and though his expression remained the usual deadpan, there was a certain light in those grey eyes. Who was laughing at whom?::
DeVeau: Kestra would say I’m completely abnormal.
::One of Alora’s own eyebrows arched upward to match Saveron’s, which was promptly lowered.::
Saveron: I am unfamiliar with this individual. ::He admitted.:: Are they an expert on the subject?
DeVeau: Kestra, my best friend. She’s a Betazoid...and according to her, yes, she’s an expert on the subject.
::But then, Kestra was more obsessed with sex than even most Terrans.::
Saveron: Then I will bow to her expertise. If you are abnormal, on which extreme of the scale would you fit?
DeVeau: To her, I’m a nun.
::That drew a blank with the Vulcan.::
Saveron: What is a ‘nun’?
DeVeau: They were, and are, women who dedicate their lives to God. They took a vow of chastity among other things.
Saveron: I am curious as to the purpose of such a vow. ::He admitted.:: Surely it is counter-productive. ::Literally.::
DeVeau: Well, they would be the first to admit that such a choice is not for everyone.
::And not for her, but, well, that was a whole ‘nother kettle of fish, so to speak.::
DeVeau: But they viewed it as a way of focusing every aspect of their lives on God. Wordly matters would get in the way, take that focus off of Him and so they, instead, decided to give up all worldly things to pursue something more spiritually fulfilling.
Saveron: Fascinating. ::It sounded not unlike Kohlinahr to him.:: And this was at the expense of ‘worldly matters’. Family, mates and such?
::It was clear that Saveron was having difficulty finding logic in this concept.::
DeVeau: Yeah, at that expense.
::She pondered for a moment.::
DeVeau: They felt it was more important to them to give it up for God. It’s definitely not a choice I’d make, but hey, if they want it that way, who am I to say they shouldn’t?
Saveron: Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. ::He concurred tactfully. He didn’t exactly agree with the extremes practiced in the Temple of Gol either.::
::They had somehow covered sex and religion in the space of four minutes.::
Saveron: You do however admit that your friend’s point of reference may be biased. The difficulty in judging an individual against a cultural norm is that it is always subjective, and often difficult to quantify.
DeVeau: Oh, but I know I’m not normal.
::A grin broke over Alora’s face. She shrugged and leaned back in her chair, then clasped her hands behind her head. This earned her another of those looks that would betray intense curiosity were it not for the Vulcan’s ability to control his features.::
DeVeau: That’s pretty much a given. I don’t mind though. Normal is boring.
::The doctor inclined his head in acknowledgement.::
Saveron: Professor Bakewell would say that ‘the universe would be very boring if we were all the same’.
::Which was a very Terran way of stating the IDIC principle. Still, he had to consider carefully whether it was an idle comment or whether she was attempting to make some sort of statement. He wasn’t certain.::
Saveron: Do you adhere to a religion?
::He asked out of interest.::
DeVeau: I believe in God, and I’d be marked as a Christian on my home world. From what I understand, Vulcans don’t really have any religion any more. I find it interesting that the temple still exists.
Saveron: ‘Temple’ is perhaps an artifact of translation.
DeVeau: But why continue to call it a temple if it no longer serves as a spiritual center?
Saveron: One may argue that it does. Certainly, amongst other species I have heard Vulcan mental discipline referred to as ‘mysticism’.
DeVeau: I never thought that. It hardly seems mystical to me.
::Indeed, there were probably many things that might seem mystical, but Alora found that everything had an explanation behind it. Well, almost everything - most of the time.::
Saveron: It is perhaps easy to ‘mystify’ something that one does not understand. Our ‘spirituality’ has turned inward to the mind. However I do think that ‘Temple’ is an entirely appropriate descriptor; it is central to those who have replaced the worship of old gods with the worship of Surak.
DeVeau: But Surak wasn’t a god.
::On that they were in agreement.::
Saveron: He was a man. An intelligent man with vision and a will to change our people for the better, but a man none the less.
DeVeau: True, and I can not find any argument with that, but it seems that he shouldn’t be worshipped. Should he?
::Saveron considered for a moment, and got that thin-lipped look he wore when he was considering less agreeable thoughts.::
Saveron: Mental discipline has by some been taken to extremes that Surak never envisaged, with outcomes he never imagined. Such has become central to certain cultures. I however cannot see that answers can be found by discarding parts of ourselves and looking ever inwards.
::That piqued Alora’s interest. She leaned forward and rest her chin upon her hand as she regarded the Vulcan. She had a feeling that most Vulcans she’d come into contact with would have found that statement to be the equivalent of blasphemy.::
DeVeau: So you have differing thoughts on Surak’s teachings?
Saveron: I have different thoughts on the extremes that have been derived from those teachings. T’Rel sought candidacy for the Kohlinahr; I do not agree with the practice.
::The revelation would shock others of his kind, Alora was sure, but she had to admit she was of similar thoughts. And yet…::
DeVeau: Yet you adhere to the teachings, do you not? Logic over emotion?
::In Alora’s mind, it was merely confirmation of her thoughts on the matter of Vulcans and emotions. They had them, they just suppressed them. Most she’d known claimed to have no emotion, claimed they could not understand. Saveron was different. She’d connected with him in a telepathically intimate moment and in that moment, she’d known that had not been the case with him. Surely it was similar with other Vulcans.::
Saveron: Affirmative. Surak’s primary teachings relate to the governing of emotion; expressed simply, emotion must not be permitted to dictate action. Such is logical. It was the fact that we were once governed by our emotions that nearly destroyed us.
::Vulcans had a violent past that had almost been their undoing.::
Lt. Cmdr Saveron
Lt Alora DeVeau
Chief Science Officer