Leonard Nimoy died today. Since I didn’t know him personally, I’ll leave it to others to discuss the terrific guy that from all accounts he was. Instead, I’ll take a moment to thank him for embodying Spock for all these years. I was a lonely, introverted, mixed-race, smart kid who spent much of his childhood in places where at least one of those things was a reason people stayed away from me. For me, the introverted, mixed-race Spock, was someone to look up to and try to be like. He showed me how to be an outsider, how to cultivate a critical distance from those who fit more comfortably into one category or another. (It also helped that Star Trek showed this outsider becoming an accepted part of a larger group without forcing him to compromise himself. That’s harder to find in ordinary life.)
Many of the writers who created Spock are already gone–Roddenberry, Gene Coon, John D.F. Black. A few, like Dorothy Fontana, are still with us. But it was Leonard Nimoy’s skill that made Spock live for fifty years. He played other parts over the years, and he always did well. But Spock was his gift to us. To me.
Goodbye, Leonard, and thanks ever so much.