Call Me Starbuck

Thanks to the commentors for all the great info- especially for filling in the details I spaced on in the podcast about Abraham’s sons – Isaac and Ishmael.

Now here’s an interesting one, if a bit of a long shot. The first line of Moby Dick is the famous “Call me Ishmael.” The first mate on Ahab’s ship, the Pequod, is Starbuck, a very spiritual (or superstitious, says the book) man who objects to Ahab’s quest for revenge on the whale.

We know that Starbuck, like many other shipmates on BSG, is relatively religious;we see herkeeping statues of the lords of Kobol in her locker and praying a number of times. She has more than once objected to or diverged from Adama’s orders – like the Starbuck in Moby Dick, our Starbuck often stands tall and alone in her beliefs. Galactica itself is likewise a ship on a quest, perhaps not of vengeance, but definitely persuing a great enemy. If indeed there’s any connection in the show to Starbuck and Ishmael, perhaps the writers had in mind the humans’ polytheistic religion as one that was separated at some point in time from the Cylons’ monotheism, but from the same original source, just as Isaac and Ishmael did.

5 Responses to "Call Me Starbuck"
  1. Armando says:

    A very interesting theory. Isaac and Ishmael, however, split off from early Abrahamic monotheism into…monotheism (be it Jewish or Islamic. Of course, Islam is a much more recent religion than Judaism, originating in the 3rd or 4th century [I think] and stemming out from a polytheistic/zoroastrian world view. Man, the history of religion can be really complicated!). I think a more apt comparison would be to the development of Christian monotheism from the combination of Abrahamic (Jewish) monotheism and Greco-Roman paganism. I tend to see the differences between Cylon and Colonial religion on BSG more along these lines, with the Cylon monotheism splitting FROM the Colonial polytheism.

    Interestingly enough, scholars/historians have traditionally viewed the move from polytheism to “ethical monotheism” as a move towards social advancement. This would mean, then, that the Cylons are actually more morally/culturally (not to mention technologically, but that’s besides the point) advanced than the colonials.

  2. Pike says:

    OK, hit the archives. Who came up with the ‘orgasmicly controlled cylon ships?’ They’ve got bragging rights for the month.

  3. Aram says:

    I though the same damn thing when I saw the hybrid Pike! That act of moving the ship into a jump certainly has some sort of pleasurable physical effect on her. bravo to that actress for being able to pull off that kind of role with such conviction.

    Actress playing the hybrid: “Wow…okay, this goo is cold. What is my motivation again?”

    Director: “You are the living, breathing extension of a massive starship that contains thousands of robotic lifeforms similar to your own. Every single process and function of the vessel is funneled through your mind…in fact, you are the ship. You also may very well be a direct link between God and the creatures that travel aboard you, so be sure to look like all the knowledge of the universes is known to you. Now, you cannot actually communicate with the creatures aboard you verbally, because the stream of consciousness that pours forth from your mouth on a near constant basis is largely unintelligible gibberish. Oh, and the act of jumping feels like an organism. Aaaand, action!”

  4. Dewey says:

    Armondo, I think you are on to something in saying that the monotheistic Cylons split FROM the polytheistic humans. There was that episode (the episode title escapes me) where the priestess made the comment that one of the god’s wanted to elevate himself above the other gods. The implication for the show is that the Cylons follow that god who elevated himself. (I think Six said as much at another time.) This would also have some analogies to the development of early Hebrew and Abrahamic monotheism: from a belief that there were many gods (each country/people having one), but that theirs was the strongest and best, to the eventual belief that theirs was actually the only God and the others were human-created idols.

    There are also some parallels to the story of Abraham itself, for the Cylons at least, in recent plot developments. Abraham was told by God to leave his country, relatives, father’s house, to a land that God would show him. God promised to bless him, and give that land to his descendents. The Cylons now believe (or appear to at least) that they are to leave the place they have known, go to the promised land of Earth, and are hoping to be blessed with descendents.

    There are also some parallels between Galactica and the story of the great flood: where humanity was wiped out for its sins but for one “ship” that carried the remainder of life. The end of the purification was signaled by a dove carrying an olive branch with a promise never again to shed human blood. Similar to recent “peace” overtures on the part of the Cylons.

    I don’t think the writers are trying to create a direct analogy. (For one, Judeo/Christian monotheism didn’t hold a belief in reincarnation.) They seem to be tossing bits and pieces of different belief systems into the mix and coming out with something new. It does appear, though, that bits of Abraham and Noah have been tossed into the mix.

  5. Starbuck64 says:

    Here’s a twist for the religious argument…follow the bouncing ball. The twelve colonies are modeled on the astrological signs and worship the Lords of Kobol, which appear to be modeled on the Greek and Roman deities as they are heavily referenced in the series (Athena, Apollo, Hera, Zeus, etc).

    The cylons believe in a single God, BUT there are twelve cylon models. Kinda makes you wonder doesn’t it? What if the twelve cylon models were made in the image of the twelve gods and goddesses from Olympus. Why twelve? Why not ten or fifty? I think it means something, something that will hopefully be resolved in Season 4.

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