The Borg and the Orc

It occurred to me this evening that there isn’t much difference at all between the Borg of Star Trek and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Orcs from The Lord of the Rings. They are the same essential critter. Their meaning is the same.





While visually comparable in their mutual deformities, the narrative of their origins and the origins of their deformities is quite similar also. The Borg were once human but were assimilated into their own technology. The Orc was once Elf, as Gollum was once Hobbit, but was perverted by the seductions of Sauron’s ring of power. Transformation may also be deformation.

The other interesting thing about these three representations of Borg, Orc, and Gollum is that they forgot who and what they once were. They became the “new normal” without consciousness of their origins. In that, they are like Narcissus. Gollum did not recollect himself until he was called by his true name “Smeagol”. None of them thought of themselves as corrupted or nihilistic types, or as being monstrosities; or as having fallen from a higher state into a lower one; or from quality into quantification, for generally they are portrayed as a mere aggregate or mass, having no individuality or distinct personality, or even social and civil relationships.

Ultimately, they are images of ourselves; of what Carl Jung called “the Shadow”, of what Robert Louis Stevenson called “Mr. Hyde”. Variations on a theme of what we may have, inadvertently and unwittingly, already become ourselves.



One response to “The Borg and the Orc”

  1. Scott Preston says :

    Didn’t want to afright anyone by suggesting “Orc ‘R Us”. But I can tell you plainly that the Borg and the Orc are amongst us already — the man who denies Africans suffering from terrible but curable diseases access to generic drugs because it violates “WTO rules” of intellectual property rights is arguing from Orc logic. The African must die so that the profit motive can be preserved as “principle”. This is human sacrifice.

    The man who insists that aboriginal people, or people of different traditions and cultures, must be “assimilated” is arguing Borg logic. In the one, all value is reduced to cost-benefit analysis or “net benefit”. In the other, hatred of diversity and variability evinces a fully totalitarian mentality.


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