Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Fitting Tribute To Leonard Nimoy [1931-2015]

Science Fiction & Fact

Leonard Nimoy as Spock: Although considered Vulcan, Spock was Vulcan on his father’s side
and Human on his mother’s side. He represented, to a large degree, what is best in all of us.
Photo Credit: AF Archive; Alamy

Source: New Yorker

Although Leonard Nimoy, who died two days ago at age 83, will always be defined by Spock the Vulcan, he was greater than one any one role, Joshua Rothman of The New Yorker writes in “Postscript: Leonard Nimoy”:
Spock always played against type. He was supposed to be cold and logical, but he ended up being funny, angry, passionate, loyal, dangerous—even, from time to time, seductive. The same was true of Nimoy. It was a great pleasure to see an actor you’d loved for so long branch out in such surprising ways, writing poetry, recording (terrible) albums, publishing (beautiful) photographs, directing “Three Men and a Baby.” He was always recognizable, with his rich voice, craggy face, and gentle manner, even as he explored new enthusiasms. Some people seem to transform through life, throwing off older, outdated versions of themselves. Nimoy set a different example: he grew, in a slow, natural, and unpretentious way, more capacious.
We have comedy; we have satire, but we do not have much irony in evidence today. Irony takes confidence in one's abilities without taking one's self overly serious. It takes acting without fear and without the extreme bravado displayed by many today who are likely full of fears, hence the anger and the mock outrage in “The Age of Fear.” 

Most of all, it takes a belief in humanity and a hope for humanity that defined Star Trek and many of the actors who were a part of this franchise. As Gene Roddenberry, the show’s creator, said in 1986: “Perhaps one of the primary features of Star Trek that made it different from other shows was, it believed that humans are improving — they will vastly improve in the 23rd century.” (Entertainment Tonight, 20th Anniversary)

If we mourn the loss of Leonard Nimoy—as many have done and continue to do— we mourn not only the loss of a man who taught us something, but also the loss of something that he was part of, which does not seem evident today. I was a fan of the Star Trek franchise, and I wrote about its importance and its lasting positive influence on society in a 2011 post, which you can read here (“Star Trek: The Prime Directive”; January 7, 2011).

Thank you Leonard Nimoy for giving me (us) this hope through your fine acting and your understanding of human nature. For those interested, here is an interview, part of the Wexler Oral History Project (of the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, MA), with Leonard Nimoy where he explains Judaism’s influence on the Vulcan greeting and “Live Long and Prosper.”

Born: March 26, 1931, West End, Boston, Massachusetts
February 27, 2015, Bel-Air, Los Angeles, California

For more, go to [New Yorker]