The Contradiction of Vulcans



By | Posted on 02 January 2013

So there I was, over the New Years weekend (is that what we’re calling it right now – let’s run with it) and alternating spending time writing a new novel and watching all the Star Trek: TOS movies in order. Just bing, bang, boom. There goes the Motion Picture (now with more slow pans) and hey look it’s Khan (Spoiler Alert: The Genesis Device contained zero Phil Collins) and now we’re Searchin’ for some Spock and suddenly it hit me:

The Vulcans are full of shit.

They stand around the talk about how they value logic above all else. How they want to purge emotions because those are lesser things. Jokes aren’t cool to Vulcans, they don’t get them, they aren’t logical. Except it’s all a ruse.

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For a race that shuns everything not logical they sure do have a whole lot of mysticism and ceremony, don’t they? Where is the logic in the guy who hits the gong every time the High Priestess (and yes that is her credited role there guys) utters some Vulcan hoopty-doo? Why are there women whose only job is it to hold their arms at the right levels and increase symbology?

Is it logical that everything we see of Vulcan in these films is basically rocky crags of religion and prayers and mystic proclamations? How do Vulcans synergize these two halves of themselves? I’ve never heard a Vulcan discuss the unfortunate religious base on the planet. They don’t seem to even notice it.

I’ve got a theory as to why.

The entire “We love logic most” is a joke. It started back when they first found humans. “Hey,” they thought, “let’s see how long they buy this act.” and well – we bought it. We bought it so hard they had to keep it up or be revealed as the biggest jerks in the galaxy.

Except then we go off into the galaxy and we meet Klingons and Romulans and everyone else and they all treat humans like backwards fools. That’s because they’re in on it. They keep waiting for humanity to get wise, but no, we are in so deep we can’t even see the punch line from where we are.

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The only other reason I can think of in here is that the Vulcans truly think this much pomp and circumstance and religion is 100% logical. Which, hey nothing against religion here, but it doesn’t fit pure logic. It just doesn’t. And the mental leaps it would take to do so would put Kirk Cameron in line to be the first Vulcan.

So either the Vulcans are so deeply flawed that think useless ceremony is logical but jokes aren’t or they’re the biggest jerks this side of V’Ger. You decide. I’ll be over here, mind-melding with a beer.


Eisner & Harvey award winning editor, writer & tired person. Co-Writer of AMELIA COLE, ARTFUL DAGGERS and ACTION CATS. Editor of Jamal Igle's MOLLY DANGER. Writer of lots of other comics, novels & essays.

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  • http://bit.ly/Pcd0hZ Traci Loudin

    Your argument is most logical. >:-)

  • http://twitter.com/gh_schuster Falling Skies Blog

    I agree that some of the pomp and circumstance of Vulcan religion doesn’t exactly square with pure logic. But, one could argue that it is logical to keep with tradition, for the sake of a continuity of society and civilization. Also I’m not entirely sure it IS a religion, as they don’t really venerate any gods or pray to actual deities.

    Plus, since it was shown in The Search for Spock, Voyage Home, and a few episodes of Enterprise (I’m sure it was discussed in other series, just can’t remember off the top of my head) that Vulcans have the ability to transfer their memories, consciousness, what some might call their souls, to other people and live on basically forever in that way, maybe there is something to be said for their “religion.”

  • http://twitter.com/lartist Lar

    I love this. I love this hard. But while I agree Vulcans are largely jerks, I don’t think this is why.

    All that ritualism? It’s not religious. That’s science class for them. Those are probably their school uniforms.

    Every other TP race in Trek seems to be loopy and joyful. Imagine the Vulcans acting like Betazoids? Nope. Or those rapey ones from TNG? Or the druggy ones from Voyager? I bet the Vulcans invented the ‘fist bump’ to minimize casual contact. No, Vulcans are all like “mind melds are intense! Let’s lock this sh*t down!”. The rituals etc, are just a means of meditation and focus. And it’s *great* for the tourist trade.

    Of course, they don’t like Spock because he keeps outting their hypocrisy with his “Yay! Emotions!” lines.

    Just thinkin’ out loud. Thanks for the great post!

  • Gary Iacobucci

    I was thinking this the other day. “Amok Time” I think is the only time in Star Trek this contradiction is sort of addressed by a Vulcan:

    Spock: “How do Vulcans choose their mates? Haven’t you wondered?”
    Kirk: “I guess the rest of us assume that it’s done quite logically.”
    Spock: “No. It is not. We shield it with ritual and customs shrouded in antiquity. You humans have no conception. It strips our mind from us, brings a madness which rips away our veneer of civilization. It is the Pon farr, the time of mating.”

    Couple stuff like that with the notion that hotheaded Romulans are just Vulcans who never fetishized logic, and you walk away with the idea that strict ritual is seen by Vulcans as a necessary and logical expression of self-control.

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