Leonard Nimoy is dead.
This comes on the same day that Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was murdered, proving that we haven’t even time for a deep breath and a moment of mourning before we plunge back into the insanity we called human existence.
Nimoy – or more commonly known as Mr. Spock – became an icon of sanity in the mid-to-late 1960s when I struggled to find myself. If not quite a father figure, then an example of male sanity I could not find in my own family.
I could not model myself after him partly because I am too much like another character in the Star Trek universe, Captain Kirk – somewhat reckless, often irresponsible, known to leap off tall buildings with a single bound and no parachute.
Like Kirk, I needed someone that was grounded, even if that someone happened to be floating in the imaginary universe of a future outer space.
Spock-like characters did not exist among my friends – although one or two liked to think so, leaving me to rely on the same character as Kirk did for some of this.
I never became a Treky or Trekker (as Nimoy liked to call them), no more than I could become a Deadhead, unable to give myself up to any cult like following. I believe too much in Groucho Marx’s philosophy that I would not belong to any cult that would have someone like me as a member.
But there is a kind of collective sadness with his passing that even I can’t avoid, this huge sense of loss the universe will not make up for, like a black hole in wisdom that can’t be filled up again, and must be lived with, existed around, with those of us who temporarily survive, forced to rely on memory as a poor consolation.
This news came also when I learned that my step mother (who until a few years ago I didn’t even know I had) had suffered a set back in her recovery from cancer – and I once more ache for the relief that Bones McCoy once offered in bringing us advanced medicine that did not leave people worse off than when they started.
We are born to our own period of time, forced to live with the good and bad of what technology offers during that period when we live. (this a rip off idea from Lord of the Rings, of course) and so we must make the best of what we have, and hope that our children will have better to offer.
In some ways, the Trek world offers more hope than most of the other futuristic fantasies of our generation.
Lord of the Rings is about a past we can never get back, Harry Potter, a party we are not invited to attend, Star Wars, a universe beyond our ability to achieve. But Trek was always a world view we could share because it was never so alien to us that we could not connect with the characters – even someone so apparently alien at Spock. Even had his character not been half human, we would have connected to him because we needed that part of him to balance the insanely human part inside ourselves we cannot control or will not or must not. For ever Kirk, we need a Spock.
And now we don’t have him.