The world of cinema lost a great and talented man today.
Leonard Nimoy, 83, was a versatile and talented actor, active Jew, and a personal favorite of the sci-fi world.
My personal attachment, the same as for many others, was for his portrayal of Mr. Spock.
Mr. Spock was one of my heroes – intelligent, brave, unequivocally logical, and handsome.
He represented a niche of people with whom I strongly identified as an adolescent – the intelligent outsider. Those who do not “human” in the same way as other people, and find it hard to relate. The character once said, “I have a human half and an alien half at war with each other… I survive because my intelligence wins”.
That quote fairly well summed up my adolescence. I was a geeky girl (an anomaly in itself), a homeschooler, freakishly tall, and more scholastically inclined than my peers. I even (*gasp*) liked math.
This character was a hero because he triumphed over bigotry by overcoming social conformity (he joined Starfleet instead of the traditional Vulcan Academy), accepting his differences, and creating meaningful, lasting relationships with those he differed from.
Even his dark, bearded alter-ego was able to overcome hatred with logic.
Mr. Spock epitomized the possibility of harmony despite differences. Logic triumphing over hatred and bigotry. Tolerance, and hope for the future.
He was one of my childhood heroes.
Heroes are not supposed to die, dammit.
Unfortunately, they do; and with more frequency than those less worthy.
I didn’t think that the passing of someone I never met could affect me so much. How could it? I didn’t even know him.
In a way, though, I did. I knew him as Mr. Spock, the life he gave to the character for so many years. His active voice and presence in the Jewish community. The continued support of the franchise, and the charisma he lent to the re-imagining of the series. He had been a constant companion in my imagination for the last 22 years.
I remember watching Star Trek as a little girl of three years old – myself, my sister, grandpa, and father would all pile up on the couch, eat “black cookies” (aka oreos) and watch Star Trek ToS. They were happy times.
Now I live in a different hemisphere from my father, and an even further distance away from my sister. I never see my grandfather anymore. Star Trek is one of the ways I still connect with them. Those memories keep me close, and I treasure them.
So when I say that I feel like a little piece of me vanished when I heard the news of Leonard Nimoy’s passing, it is the absolute truth. I felt as though the air had been sucked out of my lungs; I couldn’t believe it. I lost a vital piece of my childhood heart. His contribution to the world of cinema and television helped shape my childhood, my tastes, and myself.
It is with great sorrow we say goodbye.
Goodbye, Mr. Spock.
Live long and prosper, travellers.