One advantages of the endless delays in the making of Trek Nation was that it afforded me the time to research some of Gene Roddenberry’s ideas. One idea in particular that held my attention indefinitely was that of the famed Vulcan philosophy IDIC.
This philosophical concept was of special interest to me because it offered a clue to an existential riddle that had plagued me for years. Are artists, scientists, and moralist seeking a similar truth? Aren’t we all ‘pattern-seekers,’ as I used to say to all my scientist friends? My current documentary, The Good, True, and Beautiful hopes to answer this question and many more.
“Beauty is truth, truth is beauty, that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” – John Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn
The IDIC pendant was first showcased on Spock’s lapel in Star Trek’s Original Series episode, “Is There In Truth No Beauty?” The IDIC symbol represents the Vulcan philosophy of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations – a belief that beauty, growth, and progress all result from the union of the unlike. This episode along with “All our Yesterdays” are two of my favorite Original Series episodes, largely because they explore Spock’s inner struggle to contain his human feelings. (These two scripts were the only teleplays that librarian, Jean Lisette Aroeste, ever wrote. Strange, but true.)
Shatner, in his book Get A Life, claims the IDIC pendant was written into a script by Roddenberry to simply sell more props at his merchandising company, Lincoln Enterprise (now run by his son under the name of Roddenberry.com). Probably so. But is there more to it?
It’s quite likely that GR was attempting to capitalize on Star Trek’s wide audience, but I would also like to think he had an interest in something greater than material gain. Besides, who would get caught wearing one of these things? So my search to find a deeper meaning began.
Where did Gene find his inspiration for IDIC? Having stayed at the Roddenberry house numerous times, I often found myself scanning his library. I noticed he enjoyed poetry, so I thought “maybe he found it in Coleridge or Keats?” He also had a multi-volume Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Perhaps he found his inspiration there? Who knows, since there are no shortage of thinkers who’ve explored the concept of unity-in-variety.
Aristotle coined it the Golden Mean, calling it ‘the desirable middle between two extremes.’ Confucius called it the way of Zhongyong, or the constant mean. And Buddha called it the Middle Way. Unity-in-diversity can be found in much of pan-Indian philosophy, at the heart of classical Chinese philosophy, ancient Greek and Roman societies, and in modern times with the ecological movement.
Another popular rephrasing of the IDIC concept, is the Law of Complexity/Consciousness, first formulated by Teilhard De Chardin, an oft-quoted Jesuit priest and paleontologist … that’s right, it took the unity of a priest’s spiritual curiosity and the empirical data-finding of a paleontologist to uncover one of the great universal patterns of evolution. He noticed that matter tended to complexify upon itself — from inanimate matter, to plantlife, to animal-life, then to human-life. And for Teilhard, human beings continue to complexify in the form of better organized social networks. This was further expanded into the concept known as the Noosphere.
As human beings converge around the earth, he reasoned, they will unify themselves in ever more complex forms of arrangement, which will make consciousness (or awareness) rise. This sort of ‘collective consciousness’ is what he called the Noosphere. Now you know why he earned the title of ‘Patron Saint of the Internet.’
So it was this IDIC philosophy—and the endless delays in post-production—that put me back on the road again … that endless road to discover who I am, and who WE are. Have a look at some interviews for my upcoming documentary, The Good, True, and Beautiful. You will see how a silly pendant on a fictional character’s shirt drove me to make a film about it.