On Darmok

On Darmok

I have increasingly been including my car, a 2010 Toyota Prius, in photos taken during my nighttime forays into aurora chasing. After doing it a few times, I decided I needed to come up with a name for the car.  I figured, in the interest of more colorful captioning, a name would be a good addition to the photo’s story.

I realized early on that I did not want to select a human name.  Part of it was that I wanted to avoid a gender-specific name.  Who am I to say what my car’s sexual identity is? Only it knows that sort of detail, and fortunately it does not share it with me. So I thought that I would look to legends and mythology, seeking out a name that would be synonymous with “friend” or “companion” or “buddy.” Some good ideas came out at first, and I even solicited ideas from the general public.  In the end, though, the idea I settled on came from a Tweet.

I was reading my Twitter feed one day, and I saw a Tweet from Wil Wheaton (@wilw) that referenced “Darmok” from “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” I knew then that I had chosen my car’s name.

If you are not familiar with the episode, “Darmok” aired during the 5th season of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” I will leave the full episode synopsis for your reading pleasure.  The highlight is that the Enterprise crew makes first contact with a race calling themselves “The Children of Tama.” Captain Picard is forcibly removed from the Enterprise to meet up with the other ship’s captain, Dathon, on the planet below.  It takes Picard a while to figure out what the other race’s intentions are because they communicate entirely through metaphor, drawn upon the stories of their own myths and legends.  Quite frequently, the other captain uses the phrase, “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.”  Darmok and Jalad were mythohistorical figures who met on the island of Tanagra and worked together to defeat a terrible beast, something that Dathon had hoped he could do with Picard in order to build relations.

So, naturally, I envisioned posting on Facebook or Twitter things like, “Darmok and Carl, on the road.” So, my first Tweet on my first aurora outing after the naming was, in fact, “Darmok and Carl, on the road. The aurora borealis, its sails unfurled.” Of course, you would have to have seen the episode to understand the “sails unfurled” reference.  I recommend you find it and watch it if you can.  It is definitely among the top ten of all episodes generated by the “Star Trek” franchise.

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