Although I planned to write something different today, I can’t stop thinking about the death of Leonard Nimoy. I’ve actually learned some new facts about him from this NYT piece. I’m usually reluctant to speak about the deaths of celebrities because I don’t actually know the person. But the character he played, as well as the movies he wrote and directed, played a huge role in my socialization and how I view the world today.
Many of my earliest memories include the crew of the original Starship Enterprise. My mother watched the show in the 1960s when it aired, and she recorded reruns on VHS in the 1980s and showed them to me. I was a young child, but I’m not even sure how old I actually was at the time. Mom stayed up late to record them. It was a treat to watch the shows. (In fact, she called me a few minutes ago to talk about Leonard Nimoy. I was happy to be able to share with her Nimoy’s last tweet.)
As a child, I loved the episodes with robots and Tribbles, as one might expect, but, even as a girl, I also appreciated the ones that developed the friendship between Spock, Kirk, and Bones. As I aged, I appreciated Spock more and more, and then, Leonard Nimoy, himself. There’s a danger of conflating a character with his (or her) actor. Leonard Nimoy was so much more than just one character on a TV show. Yet, for me, I’m feeling a loss right now that’s hard to articulate.
I feel the character of Spock is great example of a loving, masculine figure. The relationship between Spock and Kirk in the original series (and movies) looks more what a relationship between men should be like. Spock and Kirk were two people with considerably different philosophies and personalities, who taught each other and loved each other. Isn’t that what friendship between any two people should be like, including two men? Both men changed through interacting with one another. Furthermore, they both represented different aspects of masculinity and helped to bring more balance to the other. Spock embodies the traditional masculine roles of rationality and not showing much emotion, while Kirk embodies the dominant, brave, action-oriented side of masculinity. Through their interactions, they both become less extreme, possibly displaying more traditionally feminine traits. I’d love to go back and watch some episodes to develop this idea further. This scene between them, right before Spock dies in “The Wrath of Khan,” is one of my all time favorite scenes. I don’t have the sense that these types of loving friendships are shown between men in our media today. Even in the new Star Trek movies, I feel that there isn’t enough development of the loving nature of the relationship between Spock and Kirk. Nimoy played a huge role in shaping the character of Spock, and I’m grateful that I was able to grow up watching him. (And it appears from reading, that the character of Spock shaped him, too.)
I’m impressed by how the people who actually knew Nimoy as a person talk about him, and I think I may get a copy of his poetry to read as I didn’t know it existed before today. Leonard Nimoy’s last tweet is a treasure that we should always remember: “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP.”