I never met Leonard Nimoy, yet he was an important part of my life. My mother introduced me to Star Trek through reruns in the 1970s. She had watched the original (and I think may have secretly had a thing for Mr. Spock). As a young boy, I naturally identified first with Captain Kirk, the swashbuckling hero. But there was always something about Spock that kept bringing me back to reality. Spock represented the logic they were trying to teach us in school, the emotional restraint we were expected to demonstrate in life, and the utopian ideal society was striving towards as we firmly raced through our first space age towards the computer era.
In 1982, I watched Spock die, and cried. In 1984, I cried again at his resurrection. I reveled at each appearance of Nimoy’s Spock in subsequent series and films. Star Trek couldn’t lose Spock. Nor could the public. We needed him. We still need him. What began as Gene Roddenberry’s strange alien, a foil to the emotionally driven human characters, quickly became something we all could identify with. Spock was both what we aspired to and what we feared. Spock, himself half human, represented the very real struggle of a world struggling to keep its humanity. As Kirk says in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, “Of all the souls I’ve encountered in my travels, his was the most…human.”
The loss of Mr. Nimoy was of course inevitable. He faced the same fate that confronts all of us. Even Vulcans die. But Nimoy brought something special into the world. Nimoy’s Spock was more than a character, he was an archetype for the late 20th century. He played everything from the wise sage to the split personality. He even was at times the traitor and the very embodiment of logically-justified evil. More often than not though, his logical perspective saved the day, be it the ship, planet, galaxy, or universe.
Oh, how I wish for the fantasy of Star Trek III: the Search for Spock. But to launch Leonard Nimoy into the Genesis Planet, to make whole what was lost would indeed be illogical. Perhaps in this loss, we also find the truth in a Spock quote from the original series:
“Change is the essential process of all existence.“
Thank you, Leonard Nimoy, for your portrayal. Thank you for your artistry. And thank you for the mirror reflection back to us.