The late Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock, striking his famous split-fingered pose in a 1960’s vintage publicity shot.
When you reach a certain age, you come to realize that life is impermanent. You attend funerals ever more frequently, but you are comforted by the knowledge that if you are at such an event, you are there either as a guest or as the Guest of Honor... and most of us prefer the former. The little threads that make up the background tapestry of our lives begin to fray as the icons of our popular culture disappear into the Great Unknown, one by one.
Those are some of the thoughts I had upon hearing of the passing of Leonard Nimoy several days ago. Smoking-related COPD did him in at the age of 83 despite his having quit the habit decades ago, alas.
Nimoy, of course, is best known as the actor who portrayed the implacable and ever-logical Mr. Spock in the original Star Trek series, a role that both bedeviled and enriched him and which he came to accept, in his later years, with a certain amount of resigned and self-deprecating humor. It was in that unlikely role that he left his permanent imprint on American culture, what with his Vulcan catchphrase “Live Long and Prosper” (accompanied by a split-fingered hand gesture lifted directly from that used by the ancient Israelite priests as they bestowed their Priestly Blessing); his Vulcan Nerve-Pinch; and his emotionless reliance on logic.
The Audi ad below features both Nimoy and Zachary Quinto, his successor as Mr. Spock in the rebooted Star Trek movie franchise. It hits all the high notes of Treknis, even incorporating a sly reference to Nimoy’s infamous Bilbo Baggins video.
There was, of course, a lot more to Leonard Nimoy than the pointy-eared alien alter ego that brought him the most renown. He played numerous other roles in TV venues as diverse as Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Mission: Impossible, Rawhide, and Sea Hunt; as well as in films: The Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Them! just to name a few. He was a poet, a gifted photographer (his controversial book Shekhina was an exploration of spirituality and the feminine aspect of the Eternal, mainly by way of photographing women clad in phylacteries and little else), and, perhaps less successfully, a singer. Regardless, he was a man in full... and he will be sorely missed.
|Ditching this would have been logical.|
Postscriptum: My friend Kevin Kim’s take on Nimoy’s passing is here.