TROI: So you like horses for the romance?
PICARD: It goes deeper than that. A fine war mare would sleep in a bedouin’s tent, carry him into battle, feed his children with her milk. There’s a bond which is created by mutual need. Hello, beautiful.
TROI: Now I understand. You don’t want the comfort of a pet, you want a companion.
(Picard hands her his riding crop while he tacks up)
PICARD: Thank you. I don’t want to anthropomorphize anything. It seems that some creatures have the capacity to fill spaces you never knew were empty.
Well, Jean-Luc, I have nothing to add. What a stud. The horse, I mean.
That exchange went down on the holodeck, which can somehow bend our perception of space such that Picard can ride a horse across endless fields. You’re exploring the far reaches of space, grappling with the unknown, and then you relax riding some creature through the (tamed) wild. I wonder every time about just how complete the holodeck illusion is, and if the computer can hijack the crew’s senses as easily as does reality. Illusion upon illusion and all that.
The post was originally called ‘Filling Space’ – a reference to the Enterprise madness and also the devastating chapter of As I Lay Dying with the phrase “a space to fill a lack.” Discussions about that book nearly a decade ago still resonate. It’s a monster.