I Am Not Spock

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Title: I Am Not Spock
Creator: Leonard Nimoy
Date(s): February 1976
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Trek: The Original Series
Language: English
External Links:

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I Am Not Spock is a pro book written by Leonard Nimoy.

cover of the book showing Spock and the "Live Long and Prosper" Vulcan gesture
another version of the cover, this one portrays Nimoy rather than Spock

Some fans criticized this book, believing Nimoy was rejecting the character Spock. In reality, Nimoy maintained he was only clarifying the difference between himself and Spock, a character he enjoyed portraying.

Fans were generally unhappy with the book, feeling that he was dismissing the character, and by extension, them.

It didn't help that Nimoy had been seen recently on television as an ad spokesperson. There is a long LoC from a fan in The Propagator #18 (February 1976) who wrote of her dislike of celebrities hawking products in commercials and was especially angered and horrified by Nimoy's recent "selling out" in an ad for Western Airlines despite the fact that he stated in his book, "I Am Not Spock," that he wouldn't degrade his character for money because "drama is a kind of spiritual crusade."

In 1996, Nimoy published I Am Spock. One of his core objectives of "I Am Spock" was to undo the effects of "I Am Not Spock" and the impression that he was bitter at being typecast.

Summary from the Book

If I am not Spock, who is?

For years now, Leonard Nimoy has lived with an extraterrestrial who occupied his body, wore his face, used his voice. Only he can know what it means and feels like to be Mr. Spock, the Vulcan officer of the Starship Enterprise.

I Am Not Spock reveals what it was like to be so identified with a role that it becomes a part of you. Spock is the most intriguing character on Star Trek for many reasons. Leonard Nimoy tells of his reactions to the many aspects of Spock, the struggle within himself, and the final acceptance of the mixed blessings the alien brought to him.

I Am Not Spock is a complex portrait of an actor and how he uses his own skill and expertise to create a role. It is a book in which you can come to know the man, the actor and the formidable alien, Spock.

Fanwork Rebuttal

See ...And I Am Not Leonard Nimoy.

Reactions and Reviews

Responses: Fanart

1975

For many months the Star Trek grapevine buzzed with anxious anticipation, awaiting the publication of Mr. Nimoy's latest book. We puzzled over the title when we first heard it - "I Am Not Spock". Was this to be a denial; was Mr. Nimoy rejecting the character he himself had so carefully nurtured and brought so much life to? What of the growing legions of fans who have taken to emulating the mannerisms and philosophy that made Mr. Spock more than just another character on a television series.

I am not Spock says Mr. Nimoy. Then why does he feel pride and a sense of warmth whenever he hears or sees the various compliments being paid to the Vulcan? He says he smiles, but still says I am not Spock. "But if I'm not, who is? And if I'm not Spock, then who am I?" Mr. Nimoy stated recently. Mr. Nimoy states that he wrote this book not just to explain and examine this remarkable alien, but as more of a catharsis for himself, to help himself understand and come to accept this alter-ego, this phenomenon called SPOCK. In the book, we are presented with the growth of Spock from the rough, crude first episodes to the super-intellectual, wry-witted half-breed whose interactions with the characters of Captain Kirk and Dr. McCoy, helped make Star Trek what it became. Secondly the book goes on to give us a complex portrait of Leonard Nimoy as man and actor, an actor who has played such diversified roles as Sherlock Holmes in THE INTERIOR MOTIVE and Tevye in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF. We are given some insight into the man that is Leonard Nimoy. A difficult, highly talented man who can become, as he did with the character of Mr. Spock, so totally and spiritually immersed in character development that it may take him days to withdraw from that character. But it is this total involvement that gave us Mr. Spock, because it is as Mr. Nimoy says; only when an actor casts a shadow that is not his own, does he know he has succeeded not only in giving his fullest to the audience, but most important of all, he has reached the perfection of his art. But all is not seriousness. Sprinkled periodically throughout the book are conversations between Leonard Nimoy and Mr. Spock, plus some amusing stories from his experiences on the Star Trek set. Mr. Nimoy makes several statements regarding the development of Mr. Spock and how by creating the personality he began to develop a new outlook toward the human condition. He was viewing the world through alien eyes and took pride in being different and unique. When queried about trying to get away from being totally associated as that guy on Star Trek with the pointed ears, Mr. Nimoy replies that Spock will always be around, not only in the physical sense but also in the spiritual sense. He will continue to be, no matter what Nimoy does or what should happen to him.

All in all this book gives the reader good insight into one actor's metamorphosis and I believe is well worth the price. I would not, in my opinion, recommend this book for those who are just Spock fans. I believe this is a book to be appreciated by older trekkers and students of drama or those just interested in the world of an actor. To sum up, this book might help all of us in Star Trek fandom to understand and accept Leonard Nimoy just a little more as a man and actor. [1]

1977

Whether or not [Nimoy] really is indispensible is a fact that we can only judge when we get to view the new series. I write this as a confirmed Spock fan. I myself find it hard to visualise a STAR TREK without Spock. I love the character and love the dramatic possibilities that such a character offers to the scriptwriters. However, my feelings about Nimoy himself are less positive. I think I am a bit hurt that he cannot see the fact that is so obvious to all his fans: namely, that Spock is his finest dramatic creation and the role upon which his reputation is really built. I am sure that, in spite of the way he goes on in 'I Am Not Spock", he really secretly despises the role and probably, by extension, the fans themselves. Otherwise, why did he not jump at the chance of recreating the role in STAR TREK II when he had the opportunity? [2]

1991

As I am sure everyone out there knows, I Am Not Spock was published in 1976 and was at the time the subject of some controversy. The title, and quotes from the book taken out of context, were deemed to indicate that Nimoy wished to disassociate himself from the role of Spock and that he was tired of being linked with the Vulcan. In reality, the book explores the impact which playing the role had on Leonard Nimoy's life and career; it is also a fascinating insight into the relationship between actor and role, particularly when the role is a long-term commitment,

Leonard Nimoy's relationship with the character Spock is examined in some depth. The thesis goes something like this; Leonard enjoyed playing Spock, got to know him; developed the character, and as the role developed, found his own thinking and approach to life affected by the logical, controlled being he had created.

"...the relationship with the character of Mr. Spock has given me a constant guideline for a dignified approach to life as a human being."

When the series came to an end, the creation, Spock, continued to exist, recognised by passers-by, greeted with the Vulcan salute. Nimoy tells one anecdote about the role of Caligula which he was playing - "We are resolved to be logical" was one of his lines, and he explains that he dreaded coming to the word because it belonged to Spock and the audience tended to laugh. Another anecdote concerns the reception given to Leonard Nimoy's poetry. A common reaction was to describe it as "surprising" that a "cool, rational, pragmatic, logical" person could write so sensitively. So Spock's character was being grafted onto Leonard Nimoy by the public. The experience of being identified with your creation by the public to the point at which you are not allowed a life or personality as an individual must be an experience that many actors share. Leonard Nimoy does not set out to present the Nimoy/Spock relationship as negative or destructive. The book seems to be a search to come to terms with the power of the relationship, a power which surprises the actor himself.

"Six years after having completed the role... I sense Vulcan speech patterns, Vulcan social attitudes and even Vulcan patterns of logic and emotional suppression in my behaviour,"

As the book progresses many other anecdotes demonstrate public reaction to the role, and in the telling of the anecdotes there is always a sense of Nimoy being amazed yet again by this reaction. One of the absolute delights of this book is a series of imaginary dialogues between Spock and Nimoy in which their relationship is explored, Another is Nimoy's analysis of Spock's popularity, and his setting of the character in a literary and dramatic tradition.

Apart from its philosophical side, I Am Not Spock is a commentary on the production of Star Trek, and on the details of the development of the Spock character. Anecdotes give insights into the day to day problems of putting TV episodes together, and Leonard Nimoy discusses his favourite episodes, viz: This Side of Paradise; City on the Edge of Forever; Amok Time; Dagger of the Mind; The Menagerie; Devil in the Dark; Enemy Within. Lastly, but not least, the book covers Leonard Nimoy's career from his decision to become an actor up until the point of writing. I found I Am Not Spock fascinating (sorry) and reading it has left me wishing that Leonard Nimoy would write a sequel bringing his career to the present day. He is a natural raconteur which makes the book entertaining as well as informative,

Spock is my favourite character in the Trek universe; it was a delight to gain these insights into his creation. [3]

1992

When I started to read I Am Not Spock I couldn't put it down. It was 'fascinating'! I learned things about Leonard Nimoy I didn't know before, and there were quite a lot of nice pictures in it. I would love to see him as Sherlock Holmes -- he would make a smashing one. This book is entertaining and informative... Get it if you can; borrow it if you can't buy it. Great stuff. [4]

2010

If Leonard Nimoy could go back in time to retitle this book, I'm sure he would. It caused a lot of hard feelings at the time. It is really a decent little autobiography and examination of an actor's relationship to the character he has been identified with since the mid-sixties. He later wrote a sequel entitled "I Am Spock", a fitting complementary volume. [5]
It's entertaining (to me, at least) to read reflections on Star Trek and its influence from relatively early in its existence. Less a renunciation of the Spock character than a combined exploration of Nimoy's experiences as Spock and in the years immediately following Star Trek, this is a fun little snapshot of a time when Trek, while definitely already a force to be reckoned with, was a long way from the four-decade juggernaut it is today. [6]

2011

I really only read this because I wanted to be able to compare and contrast the opinions of 70's Nimoy with that of 90's Nimoy. This isn't a bad book (at times it does get a little pedantic), but Nimoy isn't far enough along in his journey to have enough perspective yet. My guess is that I'll enjoy I Am Spock a lot more. The book is most interesting viewed as a relic from a time when Star Trek was as yet still only a brief, almost forgotten memory kept alive solely by reruns and obscure, underground fan cults long before geek was considered chic... [7]
Awesome look into the life of Leonard Nimoy and how he and the fans perceived his role as "Spock." He pretty much whines alot about being typecast...20 years later in the book "I am Spock," he decides..it's not such a bad thing to be Spock. [8]

References

  1. from Bellerophon v.1 n.4 (December 1975)
  2. from fan in 1977, commenting on the casting politics of the time -- from Star Trek Action Group #26
  3. from IDIC #18 (1991)
  4. from IDIC #21 (1992)
  5. 2014 comments at Goodreads
  6. 2010 comments at Goodreads
  7. 2011 comments at Goodreads
  8. 2011 comments at Goodreads