Datalore: An Old Story

Something I’ve always found unnerving about TNG is just how clean everything is. It’s too perfect, too good to be true, too devoid – on the human end of the story – of the very struggles which make us so human and mortal and fallible. And this episode finally made clear what bugs me about it: too little respect for storytelling versus science.

In this episode Data meets his elder brother Lore, capable of human emotion and guilty of the worst vanities a human can possess. What’s most telling about this episode is their names. Data is all facts and figures and some hints at true consciousness while Lore is a liar and spinner of yarns.

The Victorian age was when we began to see our children as precious and began to fervently create literature especially for them to show them how precious they are and needed to stay while also learning their facts and figures. Some people decided that fairy tales and the such encouraged children to become liars since they did not deal with science – which was all the rage then – and went so far as to write tales warning children of such.

Spinning yarns leads to weaving deceptions. This is what is taught by pitting stories against science. Instead of letting them work together with true sisterly devotion we end up with sibling rivalry as old as Cain and Abel.

Even now we hear Cain’s name and picture his weapon, while Abel’s death feels like such a waste. It’s probably worth noting that a major stumbling block for those currently seeking to create sentient machines is getting a computer to understand stories. Also worth noting is a certain quote from Ray Bradbury:

If I’m anything at all, I’m not really a science-fiction writer – I’m a writer of fairy tales and modern myths about technology.

I appreciated Picard’s assertion that we humans are machines though our mechanisms be more electrochemical. I appreciated Wesley being able to discern the truth. I do not appreciate demonizing stories.

So I’ve composed a sonnet for Lore, a plea to all storytellers for the greater good.

Awake your very remnant now;
your tales – once told – reveal a truth,
that one deception will allow
the sweet divining of a youth;
you do dishonor to your name
to treat your brethren as a game,
dismissing each as humble pawn
though king alike to box is drawn;
could you but tell a different tale
how noble might you make yourself,
unworthy of the dust or shelf;
could you but tell a different tale
how noble you might make us all,
so from sweet grace none e’er would fall.