The Duality of Leonard Nimoy

With all of the STAR TREK cast members Ive had the sheer pleasure of meeting over the years, the only time I had a chance to speak with Leonard Nimoy was during his 2010 appearance at Dallas Comic Con. I was doing some studying up on a panel (I think it was the FLASH panel with John Wesley Shipp and Amanda Pays), when Nimoy stopped into the Green Room for a break. Knowing it was likely my only time where Id see him that weekend, I waited for an appropriate moment (where he wasnt eating or drinking anything), introduced myself, and asked about his love of photography.

Over the last 40 years, hes had numerous art installations of his stunning portraits, but the one that I was floored by was his series of black-and-white shots of women as goddesses through various cultures. He positively beamed, and mentioned that he had the luxury of being able to put another project he had been working on called SECRET SELVES, where he asked people from all walks of life Who do you think you are? and shot the resulting answers. (That exhibit has since been published, and well worth your time and Amazon dollars.)

Not once did either of us mention TREK, Spock, or sci-fi. The moment passed, and I had already intruded far too much on his time. I thanked him for his vision, and left him to his break.

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Growing up as a fan of STAR TREK, there are things you latch on to. Kirks bravado. Scottys mania. McCoys hissy fits. Uhuras grace. When it came to Spock, we latched on to something else his duality. His constant struggle to maintain composure and heritage, while working with hundreds of sentients who were the epitome of bellowing chimpanzees when compared to Vulcan stoicism. When he would skewer someone (usually McCoy) with a deliberate barb, it was to not confuse his calculating nature for aloofness or dispassion. Later, when Kirk (prematurely eulogizing Spock in WRATH OF KHAN) said his [soul] was the most human, it broke us, because we knew the dichotomy of the statement rang truest of all.

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As a child, I spent accumulated days in front of my mirror working to arch my left eyebrow. DAYS.

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When Nimoy reprised Spock for the Abrams TREK films (Spock Prime, hes called), it serves as a vision of the Vulcan / Human at peace with himself. It reminds me of how Nimoy finally came to terms with his dual nature, where there was everything else he did charity work, acting in MANY other roles, directing, and the photography and there was Spock, looming over everything else. The two most successful books Nimoy produced were his 1975 autobiography I AM NOT SPOCK and his 1995 counterpart tome, I AM SPOCK.

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I cant eulogize Nimoy, as I only knew him from his work, and our five minutes of conversation. What I can say is his passing leaves a hole in my heart, and the hearts of legions of fans worldwide.

Prove It. All Night.

We’ve got the technology, on a consumer level, to create some amazing entertainment. For $30,000, we can shoot, edit and distribute feature-length films that are ready to go on a big screen. This also allows fans who take issue with the cut and clarity of existing films and TV shows to go in and alter the tone, pacing and content of anything, from THE PHANTOM MENACE and STAR TREK: THE FINAL FRONTIER to the final episodes of LOST and HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER.

And, it has got to stop.

I have zero issue with people who dislike Jar-Jar Binks, or the twist ending of HIMYM. All art, and perception of same, is subjective. But just because you can go back in and delete entire sequences from pieces *doesnt mean you should.* If you really, really hate the way a show goes, instead of taking a straight razor to the work of dozens of actors, writers, directors, editors, et al PROVE THAT YOU CAN DO A BETTER JOB AND MAKE YOUR OWN DAMNED SHOW.

I mean it. Youve already proven you have the capability to edit video (in some cases, pretty well). Time to put the rest of your hobbyist time where your mouse is. Write a script or, rather, take the time to learn what it takes to write a 22-minute sitcom script. Cast it, with people who know how to deliver lines without chewing excessive amounts of scenery. Shoot it, with decent lights and solid sound.

Once youre done, post it online. Encourage people youve never met, and have no reason to blow sweet nothings in your ear, to watch it and give their unvarnished opinion of the product of weeks of your spare time. Then, when they suggest that you completely remove the second act because it doesnt ring true and question your choices on just about everything else I think you get the idea.

Watch your shows. Enjoy them, or rail against them, to your hearts content. Just stop hacking them up and patting yourself on the back when you think youve done a better job.

Don’t We All?

I keep going back to the Doctor Who episode (reboot Series Six, ep four) ‘The Doctor’s Wife.’ Its Neil Gaiman’s writing, which would make me happy regardless. However, there’s one bit of dialogue between Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill that I simply love. It encompasses Smith’s tenure as The Doctor:

Rory: So as soon as the TARDIS is refueled we go, yeah?
The Doctor: No! There are Time Lords here. I heard them and they need me.
Amy: But you told me about your people and you told me what you did.
The Doctor: Yes, yes. But if theyre like The Corsair theyre good ones and I can save them.
Amy: And then tell them you destroyed all the others?
The Doctor: I can explain. Tell them why I had to.
Amy: You want to be forgiven.
The Doctor: …don’t we all?

There’s so much pain in that one line from Smith. So much promise. People who dont like Smith’s run as Eleven just dont get that line.

All that said: I think it speaks to me because I want to be forgiven as well. I know the pain I’ve caused people over the years. Everything I do now, I do because I want to be a better person. Better than what I was, when I was a rampaging heathen in my twenties.

Look. I know I’ve held on to a lot of grief, and guilt. Longer than I probably should have. But I know that there are a lot of people I owe apologies to. I’ve tried to make things right, but I will never be able to shake the feeling that I can do more. I can fix things. I can use the voice I have, loud and ringing, to fix things.

If I can explain things, can I be forgiven? Religious dogma aside, can someone like me find peace when there was so much callous behavior in the past?

Here’s where another piece of sci-fi comes to the forefront of my memory: Ivanovas piece from (close to) the end of Sleeping In Light:

Babylon 5 was the last of the Babylon stations. There would never be another. It changed the future and it changed us. It taught us that we have to create the future or others will do it for us. It showed us that we have to care for one another, because if we don’t, who will? And that true strength sometimes comes from the most unlikely places. Mostly, though, I think it gave us hope, that there can always be new beginnings. Even for people like us.

I’ve had a new beginning. Being with Manda, knowing our future will always be intertwined, has given me hope. I’m 43 years old, and I’m only now realizing my adult life is underway. I still have my friends from 20 years ago, and through all of the bumps, bruises and horrifying choices, we’re still alive and raging against the dying of the light.

What I think I’m trying to say, now, is I will always hope that I can be forgiven for my past but I’m not chained to it. My adventure continues.

Idris: Whats wrong?
The Doctor: It cant hold the charge. It cant even start. Theres no power. Ive got nothing.
Idris: Oh, my beautiful idiot. You have what you’ve always had. You’ve got me.