Mr. Spock and Dr. McCoy

The Head and the Heart of the U.S.S. Enterprise

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The images above are spiritual portraits, or Grojas.[1] They depict the personalities of Dr. McCoy and Mr. Spock from the Original Star Trek series.

Spock and McCoy

As a half-human and half-Vulcan Chief Science Officer, Mr. Spock uses logic to suppress his emotions. As the starship's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. McCoy is more knowledgeable about people than things.

The two are archetypal characters on a classic show, and they demonstrate a powerful dichotomy in the human psyche. The contrast between these images shows a fundamental difference in the way people make decisions.

The Green in Mr. Spock's spiritual portrait depicts his preference for making logical decisions. He is highly intelligent, and has dedicated his life to understanding science and knowing how machines work. Spock’s cool, calm mantra is It’s logical. As one of Captain James T. Kirk’s most trusted advisors, he functions as the Enterprise’s head.

The Red in Dr. Leonard McCoy's spiritual portrait depicts his preference for making emotional decisions. He is passionate and has dedicated his life to working with and healing people. McCoy’s heated, passionate mantra is I'm not a [fill in the blank], I'm a doctor! As another of Kirk’s most trusted advisors, he functions as the Enterprise’s heart.

Green and Red

The decision to use Green to represent what Carl Jung called the Thinking mental function was a no-brainer. As the painter Wassily Kandinsky observed, Green is the most restful color, lacking any undertone of joy, grief, or passion.[2] It is the color of chlorophyll and hence the color of plants, which are necessary to support life as we know it on the planet.

Green is the color of Mr. Spock’s blood and, in American culture, it is the color of money. Is it mere coincidence it is the color associated with the cold logic of Saint Patrick’s day, if you don’t wear Green, then you will get pinched?

Most importantly — at least when it comes to visualizing personalities — Green is the opposite of Red.

It is likewise only natural to choose Red to represent what Carl Jung called the Feeling mental function. Red conveys warmth, and is the color of fire and blood, of the heart and of love.

Red is the color of the passion we feel for someone, regardless of whether it is someone we hate or someone we love. It makes us feel warm, as blood flows increase and prepare us for fight, flight, or love-making. In our culture it also happens to be the color of Valentine’s Day and the “red-light” districts, where people can exchange cool, Green money for warm, Red love.

Head and Heart

Mr. Spock exemplifies the cool, calm, rationality of logical decision-making, and his spiritual portrait reflects this with its massive amount of Green. Spock's image also contains some little bits of Red, reflecting how he does have some emotions. Due to his Vulcan heritage and upbringing, though, he does his best to keep these emotions to himself.

As Captain Kirk's First Officer and Chief Science Officer, Spock knows about and is responsible for all of the starship's essential systems. Spock is the head of the Starship Enterprise.

Dr. McCoy likewise exemplifies the warm, fiery, passion of emotional decision-making, and his spiritual portrait reflects this with its ample amounts of Red. His image contains very little Green, indicating his preference for the emotion of humans is as strong as Spock’s preference for the logic of the Vulcans — if not stronger.

As Chief Medical Officer, McCoy knows about and is responsible for the health and well-being of all of the starship's personnel. McCoy is the heart of the Starship Enterprise.

What They Share

The Yellow in both Dr. McCoy's and Mr. Spock's portraits represents how both of them share a preference for pragmatism. This helps them work well together despite their differences. They tend to see things the same way, they just frequently differ on what to do about it.

Although much is made of the differences between Spock and McCoy, they share some important goals, such as the desire for peace rather than violence. They both show concern for others, and implicitly seek to understand and appreciate alien cultures rather than conquer them. It's easy to take these commonalities for granted when everyone on the ship — and many in the audience — implicity holds similar values.

Perhaps most importantly, both McCoy and Spock work for, and are friends with, the same boss: James T. Kirk.

Working Together

Captain Kirk is wise to seek the advice of two people who have such different temperaments. As a leader, he frequently sides with Mr. Spock, because often the logical thing to do is indeed the best thing to do. But Kirk also values Dr. McCoy's opinions, and he always considers the lives of his crew to be more important than his own.

Soon after the Original Star Trek series began airing, viewers responded very positively to Mr. Spock’s character. Spock's popularity is fueled by his conflicts with McCoy in episodes such as The Galileo Seven, in which the pair and several others get stranded on a planet in a shuttlecraft. This is because many of us feel this conflict between logic and emotion within ourselves, in everyday life.

Dr. McCoy and Mr. Spock personalize the inner conflict many of us feel. Watching these two opposing characters voice their opposing views and find a way to resolve them gives viewers a model for resolving our own inner conflicts.

In this light, McCoy's and Spock's fictional relationship is similar to the optimistic vision of Piet Mondrian's Pure Plastic art. And it's exactly what I seek to do by creating these Grojas.

See More at SeeOurMinds.com

To see full-size images of the personalities of Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, Captain Kirk, and other characters — including Scotty — on Star Trek, see the Star Trek gallery at SeeOurMinds.com.

Star Trek TOS on DVD

These portraits are based on the DVD box set containing all 79 episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series. Each episode has been digitally remastered, and the results are awesome.

The remastered disks include new special effects sequences, and a new recording of the theme using the original score — both reworked using the latest technology. The disks enable you to switch between the original and updated special effects sequences while watching an episode.

As my good friends these days know, commentaries are one of my favorite features of watching any series or movie on DVD! I am a lifelong fan of art history, and I love watching these and hearing the behind-the-scenes stories of any show! Show creator Gene Roddenberry makes an appearance in some of the special features, and they include segments about what the main players are doing in their later lives.

The special features include interviews with the people who worked on the special effects and with some of the writers for the series — such as David Gerrold, who wrote The Trouble With Tribbles, and D. C. Fontana, writer[3] and script consultant for the series.

Seeing the special features always make me want to watch the episodes again, in light of the new information. As I write this, I am rewatching the series for the third time, and can say I have definitely gotten my money's worth in buying this box!

I heartily recommend the box set containing Star Trek: The Complete Original Series, Remastered  to everyone!

Tom W. Hartung

 Buy It Now! 

Notes

  • 1  A spiritual portrait or Groja — for Graphical Representation of Jungian Archetypes — is an image representing the personality of a person. Inspired by the abstract art of Piet Mondrian and Wassily Kandinsky, Grojas seek to demonstrate harmony in rectangular shapes of opposing primary colors. The colors in the Grojas depict the pairs of opposing personality functions Carl Jung detailed in his writings about psychological types in the early 1920s. For more about these images see the About page at Groja.com.

  • 2  From Concerning the Spiritual in Art, 1912.

  • 3  Something about the way D. C. Fontana speaks makes me want to figure out some way to draw her spiritual portrait. Perhaps I will reach out to her someday and politely ask whether she'd be interested in something like this!