I was never a big “Star Trek” fan, either of the original version or its various spin-off iterations. It’s certainly in the cultural zeitgeist: the term “Trekkies,” various Shatner impressions, KHAAAAAAAN, and of course, the recent film reboots with Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto. (I especially enjoyed JJ Abrams’s subtle use of lens flares in every single scene).
But despite my muted (at best) fandom of “Star Trek,” I was still saddened to hear of Leonard Nimoy’s passing. He has recently made cameo appearances on “The Big Bang Theory” and in the Abrams-helmed reboots. But to me, his most indelible appearance will always be from “The Simpsons.”
A quick tangent: When I was a sophomore in college, I took a course in the Philosophy of Language. We talked about the philosophical understanding of language – how sentences phrased differently can convey the same meaning; how language evolved as a survival mechanism (“Water,” “food,” “shelter” were likely early words) and then became useful as a tool to describe the intangible (“Love,” “hunger,” “Outrage that ‘The Lego Movie’ wasn’t nominated for an Oscar”). Mostly, we talked about the truth. What does it mean to say a sentence is true? Is a sentence only valuable if it is true? (If you’re interested in this topic, try this for starters, and then leave me a message in the comments and I can point you to some other interesting books). When my professor asked for our end of semester papers, I did what I always did before writing my college essays – looked at my notes, went over the important passages of the assigned texts, and outlined what I thought would be a strong paper. And I think it probably would have gotten me a decent grade. But I could not get Spock’s voice out of my head. I asked my professor if I could attach a CD with my paper, that would contain a short video (in 2002, pre-You Tube, this seemed like my best bet). He obliged, and read my paper. He asked that I come see him in his office, and told me that the video I included was the first time he had ever laughed while grading a paper.
In case the link above gets taken down, I want to preserve Mr. Nimoy’s words in full:
“Hello. I’m Leonard Nimoy. The following tale of alien encounters is true. And by true, I mean false. It’s all lies. But they’re entertaining lies. And in the end, isn’t that the real truth? The answer is: No.”
Thank you, Mr. Nimoy, for helping me get an A on that paper, and for your contributions to popular culture. You truly lived long and prospered.