We are assembled here today to pay final respects to our honored dead. And yet it should be noted, in the midst of our sorrow, this death takes place in the shadow of new life, the sunrise of a new world, and an inexcusably bad column by Matthew Continetti.
My Starfleet colleagues will not have heard of Mr. Continetti. Nor should they have. Suffice it to say he runs an Area Warmongering Kate Upton Blog for those who never wore the uniform, who never traveled the final frontier, who never went where no man has gone before. If you can’t land your own green Orion slave girl, then you read his stuff.
Our beloved late comrade never deigned to stoop to perusing this outlet, this “Free” “Beacon.” He did not feel this sacrifice a vain or empty one, and we will not debate his profound wisdom at these proceedings.
And yet, here, I must answer Continetti’s calumnies against the late Captain Spock. Continetti, you bloodsucker: you’re going to have to do your own dirty work now! Do you hear me? Do you? You’ve managed to slander just about everyone else, but like a poor marksman, you keep missing the target!
Where do we begin?
First is that Continetti’s primary complaints are not with Captain Spock, but with the writers and the plotting. That is hardly his fault. They have to write for me, after all.
Second and most important: four times in the films, and many more times in the TV show, Spock acknowledges that he is not at all the superior being, and that his logic-based pursuits are intrinsically limited. The examples are so easy to find, it is shocking that Continetti missed them. But then, perhaps we of the Enterprise are the only ship within range …. of Netflix.
Let us synopsize the case: In “The Motion Picture,” Spock’s entire character arc is the eventual rejection of Kolinahr — the attainment of pure logic. We also got him to ditch the long-haired hippie look. Heck, the climax of the film has V’Ger needing the merge with the human element (in the sacrifice of the insufferable brat Decker, just like his dad), and Spock drawing the appropriate conclusion.
Spock furthermore explicitly says in “Wrath of Khan” that he sacrifices himself for friendship and altruism — not self-interested gain. That’s why I’m delivering this exceptionally painful eulogy, after all. You all remember. You were there. Remember when the entire ship came to a stop so the command crew could mourn one of its own, despite having continued operations throughout the slaughter of dozens of trainees? Of course, it was this morning. Welcome to Starfleet, kids. We have red shirts to spare.
In “The Voyage Home,” Spock’s opening scene has him baffled by the training computer’s inquiry about his feelings — and his final line in the film, to Sarek, is: “Tell my mother …. I feel fine.” His character arc there, again, is toward the awareness of the insufficiency of total logic.
In “The Undiscovered Country,” Spock tells Valeris, in what is indisputably the culmination of the entire Spock character: “Logic, logic. Logic …. is the beginning of wisdom, not the end.” Bones, quit with the fist-pump, it’s unseemly.
I must put this in all caps, because seriously, time and time and time again we see that SPOCK UNDERSTANDS HE IS LACKING SOMETHING HUGE in the pursuit of the logical path. He’s not self-consciously superior at all, Continetti. He is a man in pursuit of a fullness that eludes him just as much as it does each of us.
Nevertheless, Captain Spock had the steel to do the right thing even at grievous cost. Continetti just glosses over the sacrifice at the Battle of the Mutara Nebula, I assume because he knows it demolishes his case. What about the personal loss at the betrayal of Valeris? What about the hurtful but necessary decision — directly enforced by Spock — to let Edith Keeler die? How I hated him for that! But look, who among us wouldn’t let Hitler dominate the world in exchange for a lifetime of sweet sweet loving from young Joan Collins? Anyone? No one? Just me?
Anyway, the point is: arrogant self-interest my ass.
Finally, Spock utters the most conservative line in all of Star Trek, confronting Valeris in the medical bay: “What you WANT is irrelevant — what you have CHOSEN is at hand!”
But ultimately: whatever. Spock is a liberal-technocrat icon only if you’re a dilettante fan who never really understood the character or observed his narrative arcs. Which is most of them. Which is the President of the United States. Which is Matthew Continetti.
But if you loved Trek, you know better. If you loved Spock, you know better. Of my friend, I can only say this: Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most … human.