Linguistic Analysis No.2 — Star Trek

Astute readers of this blog will note I have some form of affinity for Star Trek. To me, Star Trek is like a particularly stupid animal. Cute, but incompetent. My attitude towards the show ultimately stems from the gorgeous mythos of sci-fi and political/philosophical exploration. It is these qualities that render Star Trek lopsided. The sheer wonder of the universe is remarkable, and I love that. But the elements of political and philosophical exploration that the show meddles with are stupid. Or in any case the show does so in a manner that is stupid.

This leads us to a discussion of linguistics. Specifically, we must look at phonology, the production of sound. Indeed, we must literally look at phonology. We must pay attention to the way we shape our mouths as we speak. From this we gain the art of lip-synching and lip-reading. Combining these two, in a simply brilliant, comedic manner, is the following video (with some naughty language).

In my thinking, the creators of this video have hit nonsense language right on the head. Nonsense at its best forms a kind of quasi-narrative. This, however, is merely the effect of our brains trying to make a narrative where there isn’t one. Perhaps one of the best used techniques in the video is the repetition of one key phrase: apple juice. No explanation of “apple juice” is provided. It is merely there and we must try to fit it into our interior narrative for the scene. “Apple juice” is the call of the Other.

I am currently engaged in reading Emmanuel Levinas’ Totality and Infinity. It is painful. However, Levinas describes the scenario the Other puts us into in exactly the same terms I have described “apple juice.” It is a “signification without context.” There is content, but nothing to tell us what it means. The Other simply calls out to us. We must re-evaluate the way we see things to fit the call of the Other. Or we can ignore it.

And in the case of the “Happy in Paraguay” video, ignore it and laugh.

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