Friday, 27 February 2015

The Lent Diary - Feb 27

Mr. Spock is dead.

It's not the first time he died. At the end of the movie Star Trek: Wrath of Khan, as any half-decent Star Trek fan knows, Mr. Spock sacrificed himself to save the ship by shoving his hand inside the dilithium chamber to re-align the crystals which gave himself a lethal dose of radiation. He acted logically in the emotionless way we've come to know Vulcan characters and yet he acted in the most human way possible, by putting the needs of the many ahead of the needs of the few (or the one).

I was devastated. It was the early days of computers and pre-internet so keeping that secret from the public was pretty easy. I went into the theatre completely blind to the outcome and it sent me reeling. Spock can't die. Spock. Can't. Die.

The Star Trek universe has been, for me and many others, an ideal to which I hold a lot of my standards. For instance, acceptance of differences comes from the way in which people of various backgrounds on earth as well as those from alien cultures was and continues to be portrayed on Star Trek. There was a fictional Russian at the helm of the Enterprise while the world sat arguably at the peak of the Cold War. An Asian beside him was entrusted with steering the ship while memories of the Second World War still lingered in the minds of the audience. And a woman, yes Lieutenant Uhura at the right hand of the Captain in a position of strength and control. Did I mention she was black? So much diversity in one show. I believe that's why it couldn't survive more than 3 seasons. I can imagine the network saying, "We gave you an inch, Gene Roddenberry, and you took a light year."

Star Trek was everything the world was not at the time, but strove to be. Bringing alien cultures into the Federation of Planets to coexist peacefully is the ideal of the sane. Why then do we still alienate our own human brothers and sisters? We are now at 45+ years past the original series and no closer to the Star Trek ideal.

The representation of what was and what could be was embodied by Mr. Spock. He was half-human, half-Vulcan. A mixture of what was (separation) and what could be (co-existence). He fought his natural tendencies and accepted his internal differences. He was zen before we knew what zen was.

In the non-Hollywood world, the real world, Leonard Nimoy was an actor. He was just a man. And now, because he's gone, we will no longer have any new experiences from his version of Spock. And I feel cheated. I feel like I did at the end of Star Trek: Wrath of Khan. Spock can't die and by extension Leonard Nimoy can't die.

Unlike in the fictional Star Trek universe where Spock was resurrected by a planet gone amok (see what I did there), Mr. Nimoy is gone forever and I am left to ponder why I am so deeply affected by his passing. The character will live on in a new actor but the original flame has gone out.

Mr. Spock is dead.

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