I Am Not Spock is an easy read. As I recall, I finished it in one afternoon. I’ve followed Star Trek since I was 9 years old and really, Captain Kirk was my first man hero until my son was born. Almost too young to be besotted by stardom, I looked up to him for my values and my courage, like a Hollywood mentor. One line in Star Trek V spoken by Kirk is still on my mind today.
“Damn it, Bones, you’re a doctor. You know that pain and guilt can’t be taken away with a wave of a magic wand. They’re the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don’t want my pain taken away! I need my pain!”
This is one of an infinite number of script quotes that come out of Star Trek and into our lives as metaphors and little wisdoms. We have been bombarded with life meaning by Gene Roddenberry over the course of Star Trek‘s life. Admittedly, I am a “Trekkie.” So I read Star Trek. I write about Star Trek in their fanfiction. I watch Star Trek. Star Trek is my one vice.
Seeing Leonard Nimoy in person during a lecture while I was in my early college years, I grew a fondness toward him for his intellect and his perspective. So I finally picked up his book, I Am Not Spock. It is a light hearted commentary on his life with a double identity. He wrestled with the memories he has as Nimoy and the fictional character he plays as Spock. ”Fascinated” by losing his identity to Spock, he still recalls a former life when he was himself. Now he is known as “Spock.” When passersby see him in a crowd they might say, “Look, it’s Spock.” When mothers walk hand in hand with their sons and daughters, then turn to them and say, “That’s Spock,” The children look confused and holler, “No it’s not!” (It’s just not the same without the ears.) Whatever happened to Leonard Nimoy? This book reveals who the man behind Spock is.
As people do, they like to fantasize, and fantasize they do. They also often criticize. So criticize they do. Nimoy is Star Trek and to claim the existence of his real self is taken by some obsessives as a denial of his appreciation for Star Trek. When he wrote this first book, I Am Not Spock, he was criticized by his fans and labeled an “ingrate” for the character who gave him his identity. But wait. He is really Leonard Nimoy, after all. And so goes the struggle he’s had with his fame. You can read about it and the oxymoron he lives in I Am Not Spock
As an intelligent person might do when he is confronted with criticism, he revamped his book, “I Am Not Spock” in the sequel, “I Am Spock.” In an almost apologetic way, he reiterated that he is, indeed appreciative of those who identified him with Spock and he makes no bones about the fact that the character Spock has had an incredible influence on Leonard Nimoy while Nimoy has had an influence on Spock. In various discussions throughout this book between Nimoy and Spock, he stays in character through a fanciful and yet, realistic conversation between the two over ideals, memories, and judgments. Logic vs. Heart is a common theme. To say the least, it is “Fascinating.”
As I closed the final pages of Nimoy’s work regarding his two identity which he enthusiastically embraces, I realized that Spock is only a portion of the bigger picture of Leonard, yet not such a small portion. I had not realized how talented and versatile Nimoy is. I was most impressed with his efforts at directing and the details he reveals throughout the book; the challenges, the pains, the pleasures of it all. Besides directing the third and fourth Star Trek movie, he did other such delights as Three Men and a Baby and the tragic story The Good Mother. I have to admit that Star Trek IV was one of my enamored favorites. The theme came from an attempt to lighten up the voyages because Spock had already been killed, Kirk’s son, and the Enterprise had been completely destroyed. Looking for more versatility and a more upbeat attitude to Star Trek, Nimoy directed Star Trek IV, where the search for whale song dominated the theme amid the backdrop of modern day San Francisco tangled in time travel. The story is genius and it is pure fun.
Learning the details of the film was the most enjoyable part of reading about his personal experiences with directing. The scene in San Francisco where Chekhov was looking for nuclear wessles was delightful. In a genius attempt to smitten the audience with the mood, Nimoy chose to put the cast on the streets of San Francisco in raw foot traffic. Those people they are asking are just passing by. When their question was answered by a local, “Across the bay in Alameda,” the scene was prized. They pulled this local aside and gave her a contract then paid her for her spontaneous contribution.
From King Leer to King Arthur, from a Mission Impossible agent to Spock, from actor to director, Leonard Nimoy has found his niche. He talks about his follies, his heart break, his assertiveness to protect the image of Spock against directors who don’t know him as well as they should. He talks about what it is like to “die” then come back to life and the mourning that his counterpart, Leonard Nimoy tackles in the process of it all. He talks about it all.
You will leave these books with a feel for the bigger picture of Star Trek and become even more of a fan than ever.
Live Long and Prosper