Beam Me Home, Scotty!: 03, The Mezzanine

Three days in a row.  On a roll.

Technically, we are coming to the end of what Shawn Coyne calls the “Beginning Hook.”  In terms of Christopher Vogler’s Hero’s Journey, we’re “Crossing the First Threshold.”

Put simply, there’s no turning back now.

After this episode, GI Jane ignores the warnings of her new mentor (see below) and of her old Ally, GI Joe, and demands to move forward to learn how she can “escape from the Villain,” i.e., get better from PTSD.

Oh.  Yeah.  So PTSD must be the Villain, right?

Perhaps.

Before reading, however, beware:  no story is told from a neutral viewpoint.  Every narrator has a point to make. Note that the Officers—the Reasoning Ones, the Cognitive Ones— have tried to keep Jane on or near the Bridge, assuring her that they can get her where she needs to go. Jane hasn’t bought what they are selling. Neither has Joe (though, admittedly, he remains far less ready to see what else might be out there).

So just what else might be out there?

Let’s continue.

By hovering the cursor over a Star Trek character or location, see corresponding brain function/site.

At the bottom of the steps, Jane and Joe find themselves on a large mezzanine, overlooking a larger space on a floor below.  As they approach the mezzanine guardrail, they recognize the lower area immediately as the Transporter Room.

“Maybe we’ll meet Mr. Scott?”  Jane asks.

“Possibly,” comes a woman’s voice behind them.

Jane and Joe turn to find a surprise bigger than any they’d met so far: before them is not just any woman—but rather Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Deanna Troi.

She smiles. “Yes, I know. Wrong version of Star Trek. But remember: the brain will surprise you.  Remember my job on ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’?”

“You were an ’empath,’ right?” Joe says. “Like the ship’s shrink?”

“Correct,” she replies. “So think of me, of this area of the brain as the body’s ’empath.’  Below the cortex lies a layer of brain tissue with many different names and functions, but our basic job here is to maintain an eye, a ‘feel’ on what is going on in the body. I’m a ‘mezzanine,’ with a full view of the floor, of the brain structures below, but I’m not like those structures.  I’m closer to the Bridge and the Cortical Crew in rank and function. Yet if you want to know about what really goes on in the brain, from this vantage point you can gather whatever information you need, from looking right down there.”

“So why not go down there ourselves?”  Jane asks.

LTC Troi shakes her head.  “Doesn’t work that way. Regulations against fraternizing: here on the mezzanine, as well as in the cortex, while our jobs are basically unconscious, in some ways we can become more conscious, more available to the conscious Bridge. But down there, in that Transporter Room and beyond? That’s an unconscious that can never be fully known by the conscious mind.”

“That’s where my combat experiences are, right?” Jane asks.

“In great part,” Troi answers.

“So that’s what we’ve got to learn about, down there, right?”

Troi looks at Joe.

“What?” Jane asks.

“Kid,” he says.  “You know I don’t get into psychobabble. But I have spent too much time with so-called therapists, and I can tell you:  what’s down there, you really don’t want know about.”

“And even if you do,” Troi says. “You must realize: everything you learn from here on can’t be unlearned. The brain doesn’t play games. Or necessarily follow orders.”

“I was a soldier,” Jane tells them both. “I want to know if PTSD can ever  get better. When I start a mission, I complete a mission. No matter where it takes me.”

“Well then, ma’am” comes a familiar Scottish brogue behind them, though at a distance.  “You’ve come to the right place.”

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