Friday, February 27, 2015
Tribute: Leonard Nimoy (1931 - 2015)
I can't believe this news is true.
I don't want it to be true.
But The New York Time is now reporting the death of Leonard Nimoy, the talented actor who played Mr. Spock in the original Star Trek.
It is impossible for me -- in this moment of disbelief and sadness -- to report fully or in any sense cogently about what Mr. Nimoy meant to my life, or to Star Trek fans, or to science fiction in general.
In his many performances as the half-Vulcan Spock, Mr. Nimoy showed audiences how they could love, appreciate, and respect someone who holds different beliefs than they do.
Spock had pointed ears, pointed eye-brows, green blood and no emotions, but he was, nonetheless, the dearest of friends.
And playing a (noble) alien, Mr. Nimoy's Spock showed us also what it means to be human. Spock exposed the contradictions of humanity in a way that was not threatening to hear, or to see.
He could make us see ourselves in ways we couldn't, or didn't want to. And again, we loved him for it. In his alien eyes, we recognized ourselves.
One might think that Spock was an easy or simple role to play...simply cut yourself off from your emotions, right? Be stoic!
But Leonard Nimoy persistently brought dignity, humor, intelligence, and sensitivity to the role. He could masterfully express how deeply Spock "cares" about his friends, or his parents, or his belief system without demonstrating anger or any other overt emotion.
In short, Mr. Nimoy took a character that could have been wooden or two-dimensional and transformed him into a magical, beloved icon of American pop culture.
I know it is wrong to write about Mr. Nimoy simply as Spock, since he had a rich career beyond that role, in productions such as Mission: Impossible, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), and beyond,
But Spock is the character with whom Mr. Nimoy will forever be associated.
He made that character his own, and offered the world a cool, intellectual, reasoned voice just when it was needed most -- at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, and other frissons of the late 1960s.
I don't think I can bear to say much else at this particular moment.
Not because Leonard Nimoy's life was unimportant, but because for so many of us, it was incredibly important.
Like so many of you, I grew up with Nimoy's Spock -- the lonely outsider who found a home on the starship Enterprise -- and so to lose Mr. Nimoy is a terrible thing.
We all knew the day was coming. And it is not logical to be taken by surprise by mortality, Spock might remind us at this juncture.
And yet still, Leonard Nimoy's passing is devastating.