Friday 27 February 2015

Mr Spock and the Joys of Non-Neurotypicality

Many better writers than me have already been pretty eloquent in expressing the impact Leonard Nimoy and his creation of Mr Spock had on their lives.

I'm not going to bandwagon jump, nor am I going to pretend that Spock was some kind of inspiration for my love of sci-fi, spaceships and astronomy.

I've written elsewhere of where that came from - the artist Donald Rudd  - but what was actually going through my mind on hearing of Nimoy's death was a piece by Oliver Sacks in his collection "An Anthropologist on Mars". Sacks writes of two autistic people in that anthology, the artist Stephen Wiltshire, and the animal behaviourist Temple Grandin. I think it's in the Grandin piece that Sacks talks of how autistic people often stated that their favourite character from TV was Spock, and his latter day successor Data.

Sacks, who incidentally himself has stated recently that he is not long for the world theorised that it was the portrayal of a person with very non-human emotional needs trying to make sense of a very human environment that appealed to folk with autism. I think also that the fact that the tremendous contribution these people to those around them, and the fact that their colleagues valued them and treated them warmly when they were perhaps not able to respond likewise, would also be influential in this.

Perhaps also the Aspergic love of knowledge and information too would be an attraction.

Seven of Nine, a character who would also would have had "AS Appeal" in addition to her other obvious charms, was not around when Sacks wrote the article. Certainly sat where I am upon my Tourette's spectrum, where it dances with that of Asperger's, I found all these characters fascinating, and enjoyed their relationship with the neurotypical world, although I was and still am very suspicious of how the terms "Neurotypical" and "NT" get thrown around sometimes.

There is a whiff of contempt about it, I occasionally find...albeit a rather understandle whiff.

Still these are terms that have entered common (ish) usage. And it is to Leonard Nimoy "and the character I created" that a huge amount of credit must go to for making not just autistic - or non-neurotypical - people perhaps feel more comfortable in their skins, but anyone who felt that maybe you know, "knowing stuff" was more important than having cool hair.



  1. A great read, you write well Simon and an aspect I never looked at before.

  2. Really glad you enjoyed it, and that you think I'm capable of writing a coherent sentence or two.