I thought a lot about whether to post this. I mean, who cares really what I think of the passing of Leonard Nimoy? I’m a fan, sure, but not an acting critic or a movie expert. I’m certainly no one who stands in any regard to be able to objectively quantify what this man’s contribution meant to culture, movies, television or even science fiction.
But I was (and am) a fan of Mr. Nimoy’s, and this is my blog. I suddenly remembered that I write this stuff basically for myself…oh, and perhaps the other six of you who read this. So I’m going to discuss here what Mr. Nimoy and his passing meant to me.
There have been two people who I don’t know personally whose recent deaths had an affect on me beyond the usual “Didja hear So-and-so died?” “No. Wow.” The first was a few months back when Robin Williams took his own life. That bothered me intensely. It resonated with me as someone who has suffered from depression. It struck me–still strikes me–as wrong, horribly wrong. How can he be dead? He was so amazingly, joyously, raucously filled with life. How can that amazing essence be gone?
The second of these people is Leonard Nimoy. Didn’t know him. Never met him. But I feel like I knew him. I mean, I’ve known of him since I was three or four years old, watching Star Trek with my deceased and beloved grandfather, who loved it and passed that love on to me. I have known Leonard Nimoy for more than four decades, longer than I have known anyone outside my immediate family. Nimoy, in fact, recently began tweeting about his desire to be an honorary grandfather to anyone who’d have him. I immediately tweeted that I’d certainly take him on as mine. I never heard from him, of course, didn’t expect to, but it was a touching gesture to his fans.
But still I didn’t know him, just the characters he portrayed on television and in the movies. Of course, there was Spock. He wrestled with the effects this iconic role had on his career and on his life, but ultimately embraced it and the character. My belief is that Spock has become one of the greatest fictional characters in our culture. He was as American as anything, a noble mongrel, a man of two cultures, yet ultimately able to be more than the sum of his parts. He carried a quiet dignity and gravitas, and despite his claim of being non-emotional, we all knew, we all saw the heart within him, deny it as he might.
And here’s the thing. In the beginning of his role, the character of Spock was probably at least 50 percent due to the writers. But as the role progressed, Spock grew more and more because Nimoy poured more of himself into the character. By the end, Spock was Nimoy and Nimoy was Spock. Again, I didn’t know the man, but everything I’ve read speaks to a gentle man, noble, with a sense of fairness and equity, a strong sense of loyalty and, ironically, a wicked sense of humor. That this all managed to shine through in his artful portrayal of a supposedly unemotional man is testament, I think, to what kind of man Nimoy himself was.
I think we all reach an age where some iconic person from our cultural youth passes away and leaves a searing hole in our psyche. Leonard Nimoy was that person for me. I didn’t expect to be as moved by his death, touched by the final few Tweets he sent, saddened to hear the expressions of condolences and pure, aching sorrow from members of his Star Trek family and others. I want to watch a few Star Trek movies or have an In Search Of… marathon with my boxed set of the complete series, but not right now. It seems too raw, too sad to see this fantastic character and know that the man who imbued him with such life is no longer here. That there will be no more opportunities to hear his gravelly voice, to see his raised eyebrow.
And I stop to wonder if, as some writer who escapes me has said, I’ve reached the age where life stops giving me things and starts taking them away.
OK, well these are my late-night musings anyway, as the snow falls outside and all around is quiet, no traffic or airplanes high overhead or dogs barking in the distance. All quiet except for the gentle hiss of the falling snow.
Now, time for TheraFlu and bed!