Thursday, January 22, 2004

Then comes another key scene, on several levels: a dialogue between Kirk and Spock in Spock’s cabin. It begins with Spock alone, reclined in the darkness. His anger spent, he now confronts his own feelings and their cascading results: his prejudice towards a Vulcan that kept him blinded to her villainy, supported by his pride in grooming and then naming his successor, and then his anger at her, which was an expression of his anger at himself for these previous weaknesses. And before that, his arrogance in believing he could engineer an easy peace.

He tells Kirk this. Kirk, wandering around his cabin, idly examining objects in that Kirk/Shatner way, observes that they have both been acting characteristically---and in the process he restates the essence of their contrast through all their years. “You’re a great one for logic. I’m a great one for rushing in where angels fear to trend. We’re both extremists. Reality is probably somewhere in between.”

After Spock admits his prejudice in favor of Valeris, and Kirk admits that “Gorkon had to die before I realized how prejudiced I was.” It is at this point that Spock is to speak lines that Leonard Nimoy felt were expressions of both his character to Kirk, and himself to his acting partner for all these years, and now his closest friend: William Shatner. “Is it possible that you and I have grown so old and so inflexible that we have outlived our usefulness?”

As they discuss their mistakes, Kirk refers to the difference between taking responsibility as the Captain and taking responsibility as an individual human. Spock points out, as he often did, that he is not human. But Kirk doesn’t back down this time. Though his tone is almost whimsical, he utters the line that is the most central to this story. “Spock, you want to know something? Everybody’s human.”

Spock replies, as he often did, that he finds that remark insulting. But in a scene that for Nimoy already mixed the Star Trek universe with the other one (the “real” one) on several levels, this is the essence of what links the metaphorical Star Trek story with the world it is commenting on. On the earth of Russians and Americans, Europeans and Asians, Israelis and Palestinians, Americans and Iraqis: “everybody’s human.” It’s that same point that JFK was making in 1963: the ground of peace, the basis for the conspiracy of hope.

No comments: