Down With Power Audiobook!

L. Neil Smith's
Number 811, March 1, 2015

Live Long. And, Prosper!

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Lenorad Nimoy
Leonard Nimoy at the 2011 Phoenix Comicon in Phoenix, Arizona.
Photo by Gage Skidmore

Leonard Nimoy
by L.Neil Smith

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

This week we lost one of our most familiar and welcome figures of popular culture, Leonard Nimoy, who, for just short of fifty years had been bringing a unique character, the Vulcan half-alien Mr. Spock, to us. At 83, he died of COPD, although he stopped smoking thirty years ago.

For the past few days, and for weeks to come, I imagine, people who unconsciously imagined that he would never die, have been reflecting in a state of shock and grief just what the significance of this man was. The love, peace, and kiss-a-tree crowd will want to claim him as their own, and, to an extent, it's true. Spock dutifully reflected his creator Gene Roddenberry's phony, empty, cliched liberal values.

But Mr. Spock and Leonard Nimoy went far beyond that. For at least half my life,I've been trying to figure out why the most beloved and durable character in English fiction (I know that Germans love him, too) is Sherlock Holmes, misogynist, self-repressed recluse, and, according to one of his grandest portrayers, a "high-functioning sociopath".

The conclusion I've come to is that Holmes argues with us that, despite its weaknesses, the human mind is efficacious, and that the universe is lawful and knowable. We need to hear that, as often as possible. The monsters who think they own us, who parasitize what we produce, steal our future, and use us to do their unclean bidding all over the world, depend on us to think that reality is unknowable, so that what they want doesn't seem as insane as it is. Holmes would maintain—to his own brother, the master bureaucrat, if necessary—that, like Keynesian economic theory, this is nothing but self-serving gobbledegook.

Mr. Spock reassured us of exactly the same things, even in the face of "older, wiser" heads (including, in the spirit of the times, his own father) ruling the decaying Vulcan culture, and the continual mocking of his shipmates. When Captain Kirk was chewing up the scenery, and Dr. McCoy was loudly bemoaning the inhumanity of it all, and Scotty was down in the basement fighting the furnace, they all depended on Spock to maintain his cool and keep his wits about him. And with only one or two exceptions (Jill Ireland being the most understandable and forgivable) that's exactly what he did, reliably seeing through all the smoke and mirrors the universe could use on him.

The fictional Spock once claimed descent (presumably though his mom, Amanda Grayson) with the equally fictional Holmes even quoting him. "Once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever is left, however mprobable, must be the truth." It was in Star Trek:The Undiscovered Country.

It's up to us, now, to reassure the next generation. And we will have Holmes'fictional adventures (preferably in the beautifully simple writings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) and the recordings of Mr. Spock to help. And manfully, in the most Vulcan way I can manage, I will miss Mr. Nimoy and Mr. Spock with a heartful of tears I will try not to show.

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