The Undiscovered Country
There were many sides to Leonard Nimoy. But there was one you may not have expected.

By Donald Riggs

First Bones died, then Scotty, now Spock. That is, DeForest Kelley, who played Dr. McCoy ("Bones") in the original Star Trek cast, died in 1999, then James Doohan, who played the ship's engineer with a Scottish brogue ("Scotty"), died in 2005. In 2008, Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, who played many parts in various incarnations of Star Trek but was perhaps best known as the voice of the US Starship Enterprise's computer, passed away. Now, on February 27th, 2015, Leonard Simon Nimoy, who played the half-human, half-Vulcan second in command ("Spock"), has died at the age of 83.

Nimoy was initially plagued by people's association of him with the "pointy eared" half-Vulcan character, and in fact his first autobiography was titled I Am Not Spock (1975). The fierceness of the fan reaction to that title led to his second autobiography's title, I Am Spock (1995), where he explains that Spock was his favorite character, and that much of his own being went into that character, but...they are not identical. I have started this essay in memoriam by placing Nimoy in the context of his fellow Star Trek actors because, despite a wide range of television, movie, stage, and radio productions as actor, writer, director, and producer, Leonard Nimoy is primarily known to me as Spock.

In the original series (1966-69), Spock was in counterpoint to Captain James T. Kirk, the libidinal, Iowa-born commander of the Starship Enterprise, as the superego is in counterpoint to the id. Kirk, of course, was highly intelligent and had a civilized self-control, but Spock inherited from his Vulcan father's genes and culture a strict adherence to logic, and an inability to be overwhelmed by emotion. Kirk was the "regular guy," while Spock was the classical science-fiction rational scientist. He was constantly saying things like, "That is not logical, Captain" when Jim would use one of the reasons that the heart has, but that reason knows not.

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