We Are All Spock

A fond farewell to Star Trek's immortal Vulcan

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Posted in , Feb 27, 2015

The Vulcan greeting, "Live long and prosper."

It feels like a little part of me died today. Sometimes when I am being hyper-rational, and especially when my wife is not, Julee will shout at me “Spock!”

Once at an after-Halloween sale I bought a pair of Spock ears that I would put on whenever I wanted to have a discussion with Julee about something and didn’t want it to turn too emotional. Sometimes it worked and sometimes the ears were thrown across the room.

Not that I actually have that famous Vulcan deficit in feelings. During sporting events, for instance, and especially during Michigan football games, Julee will sometimes say to me quite coolly, “Just pretend you’re Spock, honey,” while I gnaw on the remote.

I once had to turn in a remote for a new one I had gnawed it so hard. I told the cable guy the dog did it. He looked around nervously. “Don’t worry,” I said, “he lives outside now.”

Leonard Nimoy, the actor who played the immortal Vulcan, died today, far outliving the late 1960s sci-fi series that could only stay in orbit for four seasons but would go on to have a pop-culture afterlife that was a multi-generational phenomenon. 

Spock more than any other character was responsible for this. He was the archetypal rationalist, a being who had completely conquered emotion. His thinking was never distorted by feelings.

No wonder as a 13-year-old I wanted to be more like him than the crazy kid bouncing off the walls and discovering some very interesting new things about life...and the feelings that went with them. Like music and love.

Our emotions are both a blessing and a curse and we humans have struggled since the dawn of time to balance them with reason. It’s probably one of our most said prayers–or it is for me, constantly–to keep my emotions and my tongue in check. 

I think we admire Spock. But I don’t know if any of us would want to be him. As messy as feelings can be, they define us more than anything. They are the flesh of our humanity. They are God-given for us to deal with. And how could we love God back without them?

Julee was once in a crazy musical that won the Olivier Award in London (their version of the Tony). It was a campy mash-up of a low-budget 50’s sci-fi movie called Forbidden Planet and Shakespeare’s The Tempest with a lot of classic rock numbers and Star Trek references thrown in.

At the end of this silliest of shows, called Return to the Forbidden Planet, the cast would raise their hands in the Vulcan salute and shout “Live long and Prospero!” A horrible Bard/Trek pun. I think Spock would have got it. I wonder if he would have laughed, though. 

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