“How do you feel?”

Spock is the center[1] of Star Trek. Many others have written (or videoed) about this, either about Spock himself (and Leonard Nimoy’s excellent portrayal), or the ‘part-human’ outsider archetype that has been present in every Star Trek show/movie.

Perhaps my favourite Spock scene (or at least the one that I find myself quoting most regularly) is this one from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Shortly after having his katra rejoined with his body, Spock is working through a set of tests of memory and problem solving across numerous disciplines, when, after successfully navigating through and solving myriad technical problems three at a time, he is blocked and stumped by the simple and very ‘human'[2] question: “How do you feel?”

Screenshot of the "How do you feel?" scene from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Screenshot of the “How do you feel?” scene from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

I suspect that many other neurodivergent folks also saw a lot of themselves in Spock. Whether it was aspirational (such as his ability to quickly solve problems across disparate disciplines very quickly in critical situations), or because we connected with his ‘outsider’ nature (his slow learning to be more in touch with his human side, or Data’s yearning to be more human), or even because we also wanted to be part of a tightly-knit team, where the science officer would figure out part of the problem, and pass it off to the leader, who would assemble it into action and a solution.

Much of this blog has been about chronicling my journey to better understand myself, from my first post on paying more attention to and bringing out fleeting thoughts, to my entire category ‘Thoughts on Thoughts‘. Through all of this, I continue to search to understand how I feel and why I feel the way I do. In a way, I think[3] that working to understand how one feels is fundamental to the human condition, and we do ourselves a disservice by not investing in investigating ourselves in this way.

There are fundamental questions humans have been asking ourselves since time immemorial: ‘Why are we here?’ and ‘What is our purpose?’. Perhaps a lot of the answers boil down to ‘How do you feel?’

[1] Many of the meanings of ‘center’ are applicable here, whether it’s the logical ‘heart’, or the ‘focus’, the self-insert for an otherwise under-served audience, or even the person or archetype that many plots revolve around, whether it’s solving problems or being put in peril.

[2] This is part of Amanda Grayson (Spock’s mother)’s work to help Spock reattach his human side, now that his katra has been reattached ‘in the Vulcan way.

[3] Or feel?

See the entire scene here:

How do you feel?” (new window)


You can also see Spock’s answer to the question at the end of the movie, showing that he now better understands friendship and himself (source for this insight):

I feel fine.” (new window)


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