In Wonder You Will Reign Over All Things

At my house we’ve been watching the original Star Trek, with which I was moderately familiar but which I’d never seen all the way through. And you know it didn’t take me many episodes before I fell hard for Spock.

1425058148-star-trek-spock-leonard-nimoy
This is Spock.

I could go on and on about the structure of the show (or lack thereof), and what one can (or can’t) glean about Vulcan culture from it, and the beauty of Leonard Nimoy’s speaking voice, but loads of people have done that better than I, even the last one.

But I just want to highlight one trait about everybody’s favorite science officer, one that recurs so frequently it almost becomes a clichĂ© or background noise. It’s Spock’s unfailing tendency to comment on just about everything with the word

Fascinating.

There are unseen violent beings on this planet!

Fascinating.

Aliens have taken over the ship!

Fascinating.

Starfleet may court-martial you!

Fascinating.

You’re stuck forever in an alternate-universe ice-age!

Fascinating.

We’re about to torture you to death!

Fascinating.

Spock is famously logical to the point of coldness, but if these reactions – all loosely drawn from actual episodes – are evidence of cold logic, then cold logic looks a lot like a constant state of awe.

Spock
This is Spock with his mind being completely blown.

If he weren’t so restrained in manner, Spock might respond more like

There are unseen violent beings on this planet!

Whoa!

Aliens have taken over the ship!

Can’t wait to see how this works out!

Starfleet may court-martial you!

Hey, this isn’t just another rainy Tuesday!

You’re stuck forever in an alternate-universe ice-age!

So much to learn here!

We’re about to torture you to death!

Well, that’ll be different!

One could infer from these more reactions that we don’t hear:

The captain wants me to check those readings again.

Awesome!

That song of Uhura’s is seriously stuck in my head now.

How about that!

Same old computerized food for supper.

Bring it on!

Dr. McCoy, in particular, gets frustrated with Spock’s lack of overt emotion. But why get upset about something that’s so interesting – even if it’s also awkward or unsatisfactory or painful? Spock is not so much a lesson in logic as he is a guide to seeing everything – actually everything – as an opportunity for wonder.

The title of this post is an old favorite from the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas that comes to mind when I contemplate wonder or awe. One of the striking things about Spock is that he is, apparently, fully content to be second in command. When Captain Kirk’s planetside or out of commission, Spock comfortably takes the chair, but he relinquishes it as soon as possible. Among the various reasons for this: when your wonder circuits are full to the brim where you are now, why rat-race for a different pay grade? In wonder, you already reign over all things.

Fascinating.

spock

2 thoughts on “In Wonder You Will Reign Over All Things

  1. Thanks! I grew up on Next Generation, and the spouse and I both enjoyed the original show more than we expected to. I see why so many people have found it – and especially Spock! – so inspiring over the years.

    Like

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