The rim of star-light
I grok Spock. The green button I pinned to my grey school sweater for, oh, three or four years between about 1971 and 1975 said I grok Spock. Grok is a Vulcan word, of course, meaning to like, to understand, to empathise with. I really, really hoped that Spock would grok me when we met. Which I assumed we would.
The universe he inhabited held such fascination for me at that age. I was nine or ten when I first saw Star Trek, and I was instantly – not a fan, it was more intense, more visceral than that. I guess I was what we’d now call a wannabe. I wanted to be in that universe more than anything.
Is wand’ring in star-flight
I used to invite my best friend Jamie round to play Star Trek. He was better at math than I was, so he always got be Spock. I was more emotionally demonstrative, so I got to be Captain Kirk. We used my accordion, on which I was attempting to learn simple Yiddish folk tunes (my efforts at Tumbalalaika reduced a group of long-haired students to helpless laughter… I realised it was not going to work out), as a kind of tricorder device, which is ironic because Leonard Nimoy’s father wanted him to learn the accordion rather than be an actor.
My interest in Star Trek continued beyond the role-playing games. I wanted to be a science fiction writer (I once wrote Isaac Asimov and told him as much. He wrote back, wishing me “all kinds of luck” in my writing career. He could never know how true that wish would turn out) so I bought Stephen E. Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry’s The Making of Star Trek. It was the greatest book I ever bought. But I didn’t take heed of the lessons it offered, and joined a rock’n’roll band instead.
He’ll find in star-clustered reaches
In 2012 I attended the ‘Star Trek: Destination London’ convention in London’s Docklands district. I posed for photos in the transporter room, the Klingon rec, the shuttle hangar. I greeted green-painted girls, Andorian ambassadors, and endless Federation officers and scientists. I bought a pizza-cutter wheel in the shape of the USS Enterprise, and queued for over an hour to get William Shatner’s autograph. When it came to my turn, my heart was beating so fast I thought I would pass out. I totally believed that if I said something he would look up and know who I was. But my jaws clamped tight and he didn’t look up. I would have queued all night to be in the presence of Leonard Nimoy, but never got the chance.
Strange love a star woman teaches
I love Spock. His strength, courage, philosophical mind, musical prowess (remember that episode with the Vulcan harp?), and 3-D chess nous made him every inch the nerd/hero that I wanted so desperately to be.
Spock’s not gone. He exists forever, not just on celluloid and its digital derivatives, but in the human imagination, passed down from generation to generation. There are many parallels with other, older myths that exist just below the surface, not just of Nimoy’s character Spock, but the whole Star Trek shtick. But let’s not (boldly) go there.
His journey ends never
His star trek
Will go on forever
Leonard Nimoy has achieved immortality. He will be remembered for more than just Spock, of course, but to have been Spock… to be Spock… think of it, to be Spock! To live long and prosper, and bring such pleasure, such engagement, such hope… few will ever match him.
And so the song ends:
But tell him,
While he wanders his starry sea
Remember, remember me.
Lyrics to “Theme from STAR TREK” by Gene Roddenberry.