“I have been, and always shall be, your friend.” ~ Spock
There are many things in life that we become irrationally attached to. There is no rhyme or reason as to the selection of the objects we feel a deep rooted connection. Be they a song, a person, a character, or our childhood comfort blanket we still secretly keep tucked away after all these years, we simply become bonded with them.
Some of these attachments are immediate. My life long crush on Alyssa Milano, or my debilitating weakness for redheads are two prime examples. Others, slowly build over time, becoming stronger and stronger over the passing years. This for me was the case of my attachment to Leonard Nimoy. Or rather should I say, for right or wrong, my attachment to Spock? It first began as a small child when my Mother and Grandfather would force me to watch the original Star Trek. Why did they torture me!. Then, a couple of years later by the time I discovered Star Trek: The Animated Series I was more than willing to get up all by my lonesome, far before the Sun on a Saturday morning to see the adventures of the crew of the Enterprise whilst munching on cinnamon sugar toast.
However, admittedly at a certain point, and for a few years, I became distracted by the phenomenon known as Star Wars. At that age Star Wars was much more exciting. In 1982, however, that all changed.
The Wrath Of Khan
When The Wrath of Khan came out I realized how important Spock was to me. I was already discovering a love of science at the time thanks to Carl Sagan's Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. Suddenly all those episodes of Star Trek came back to me, remembering Spock's devotion to logic, and to what I would learn later, critical thinking. I now began to understand the importance of these things. How to think things through, coming to the logical conclusion and acting accordingly. Sometimes it was to communicate with something, or someone, you do not understand before you throw the first punch, or phaser shot. Other times it was in order to keep yourself from jumping to the wrong conclusion, from allowing yourself to be fooled by exaggerated claims that in some cases could be harmful to you or others. Or perhaps it was to help you conclude that the needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few...or the one. To understand that your ultimate sacrifice will save countless others.
The death of Spock, his sacrifice, I found mesmerizing and brave. It stuck with me for a long time. I have seen such things before in film, literature, and even the daily news, but seeing Spock on the silver screen fade away while his friends look on on horror, unable to rescue him even though he is merely a few feet away? It changed me. I had seen death twice in my life before then, and this felt just as real to my ten year old self.
The Final Frontier
The Final Frontier is one of my favorites of the Trek films. Not because of the quality, mind you. but when you use it as a study into the friendship between Spock, Kirk, and McCoy, it becomes a fascinating story. I have been extremely close to a few people, but am unsure if I have ever been as close to anyone in the way those three were to each other. It was that band of brothers mentality, that experience (or experiences) that bonded people together greater perhaps than even any blood bond could be. They have been through too much, seen much of the galaxy in great detail, and been a part of an in-depth Trek history.
To me, that was very key. This is when Star Trek far surpassed Star Wars for me. It was a fuller and wider universe with characters I found to be more rounded. It became science fiction's version of Tolkien while Star Wars was more of the lesser world of Lewis, with its borrowed characters and far too choked with allegory for my taste. Like Tolkien's work Trek had a deep and well developed history with languages and tangible worlds. You could practically study these things in an academic way, and indeed eventually many have.
As a vague mythology taking place outside of our world, in fact far away from our place in the universe, Star Wars is great (I do tend to think of Wars as more science fantasy than science fiction). As an historical and human mythology spanning not only our past but our future, Trek outweighs Wars immensely. As a nerd I love both and hold them dear. I just don't let my adolescent self dictate why I prefer something slightly more than the other.
S'chn T'gai Spock
"Logic is the beginning of all wisdom, not the end." - Spock
Captain Kirk may have been a stud and brilliant commander. Bones may have been the best Starfleet doctor, wrapped in a gruff cynical outer shell with a grumpy disposition but at heart, a true softy. And Scotty may have been a mischievous fun-loving engineer with the penchant for lying to his captain. However it was Spock who kept it all together. He was the one that saw the whole picture, guiding his captain and friend to hopefully make the correct decision. With his logic and a nearly zen like quality he could keep the captain and crew from rushing in or losing control. With his well hidden humor, a bad habit picked up by those illogical and emotional humans, he could deceptively lighten the mood in most situations.
Spock was a scientist, a scholar, a leader, a commander, an ambassador, a warrior, and most importantly in the end, a peace maker. All these thing were also represented in Leonard Nimoy, the man who portrayed the character. A polymath, Nimoy dabbled in everything. He served in the Army Reserves. He had an MA in education. He was an actor, a singer, a writer, a photographer, and a director,
He said that playing the role of Spock so often, due to the long days and weeks during the series, it eventually began to influence his own private personality.
"To this day, I sense Vulcan speech patterns, Vulcan social attitudes and even Vulcan patterns of logic and emotional suppression in my behavior."~ Leonard Nimoy
Nimoy was also a strong supporter of the feminist movement and equal rights. His Full Body Project drew much attention. I wonder how much of the influence of Spock shaped his views or how much of it was all Nimoy from the outset? I don't think it truly matters. He and the character he created have, and will have, a great and everlasting impact on the world. They both changed lives for the better.
God speed, Mr. Nimoy and Mr. Spock, I hope you find enlightenment in Sha Ka Ree
Originally appeared in The Occasional Idiot blog