A Trekker pays his respects to Spock.
Leonard Nimoy – Spock on Star Trek – passed away on February 27, 2015. Like millions of Trekkers the world over, I took a deep breath when I heard the news, reflecting on his passing as if I knew the man. It was a deep loss; a fantasy had been shattered. Here is why.
My fascination for the actor and character was centered on the original series, which is where my heart has always been. I’ve enjoyed other versions of Trek but nothing quite compares to the original. Who can’t love a show that eschews seat belts, right?
So, what did Spock mean to me? In a nutshell, peace and tranquility, which may be a rather unusual answer. After all, if you look back at the original series, you’ll see that the popular episodes are ones where Spock’s emotions run amok, as it were. Everyone loves seeing that wall come tumbling down. That’s why episodes like “The Naked Time”, “This Side of Paradise”, “Amok Time”, and “The Enterprise Incident” are fan favorites: They reveal the human side of an alien who’d given his life to the Vulcan religion. (I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the heart-rending performance at the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.)
Strangely enough, though, these are not the episodes I find most appealing. They were awesome, to be sure, but it was Spock’s unflappable nature that I found fascinating. There is probably not a better example than Harlan Ellison’s award-winning episode, “The City on the Edge of Forever.” Widely considered the best episode of the entire 700+ episode franchise, Spock’s chilling reveal (“Edith Keeler must die.”) stands in stark contrast to Kirk’s deep, passionate love, creating a dramatic conflict that not only makes it the greatest Star Trek episode of all time, but one of the greatest television episodes of all time.
Why, then, am I captivated by stories where emotion is absent? Without getting too deep here I would say it’s because I have fought an anxiety disorder my entire life. Those who know me are often surprised by this (I don’t go around talking about it); my external calm tends to mask an inner turbulence. That is why I write. I don’t write for fame, which is good since I don’t have any, or fortune, God knows. I write to cast out demons. (Psst: I’m not the only one.) When I started watching Star Trek Spock represented the calmness, peace and serenity that I was often unable to find for myself. A fellow Trek fan once asked me, “Don’t you love how Spock smiled when he saw that Kirk was still alive [“Amok Time”]?” My answer, curiously enough, was, “Meh. It wasn’t for me.”
If you have not read Nimoy’s biographies, I am Not Spock (1975) and I am Spock (1995) I cannot recommend them highly enough. Moreover, the audiobook of the latter is narrated by Nimoy himself and may even be better than the print version.
In closing, I don’t think there’s a better way to pay tribute to Leonard Nimoy than to simply quote the actor’s final tweet:
“A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP.”
Live long and prosper, indeed. Until next time, peace.
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