Much is taken, much abides…

I’m revisiting Babylon 5 at the moment, just into season four. A man Earth president who schemed to get power, who conspired with dark forces to get that power, who establishes a cabal to enforce his rule, suspecting anyone who offers criticism of being disloyal, harping on about alien influence ruining the purity of Earth and of “fake news” spreading anti-government propaganda. Twenty two years old and it seems very sadly relevant to today.

This evening I just reached the point where, preparing for a final battle he may not return from the captain quotes from Tennyson’s Ulysses: “Though much is taken, much abides; and though We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are, One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

It’s a harkening back to previous generations, measuring ourselves against their historic deeds and considering ourselves unworthy of them, not their equals. And yet this looking back to a lost, golden age of great heroes who strode through all problems with their mighty deeds is a peculiar faculty of humans that we have had going right back to at least the time of Homer – the Iliad and Odyssey are replete with those ancients even then looking back to the centuries before them, marvelling at great heroes and deeds with a “we shall not see their like again” feeling for their own era. And yet each of those eras too had their own great turmoils, and usually those generations too overcame them. Which gives us hope for our own troubled times. We must not yield.

New Babylon 5

Came across some news that J M Straczynski is going to be making some new Babylon 5 tales for the direct to DVD market, using some of the original actors (alas not Richard Biggs or Andreas Katsulas since they have passed on, Biggs , who played the doctor, shockingly young). I’m cautiously optimistic – I want to see them because it was such an exceptional series, building an incredible, connected story arc over years, but I’m a little worried because earlier sequels to the main five-year series all proved disappointing. This ongoing story approach influenced Trek to produce the much better later seasons (notably the Dominion War arc) which were more satisfying than the normal standalone episodes; arguably the fine new Battlestar Galactica also owes some debt to Bab 5.