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The Force in the New Jedi Order
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 PostPosted: Fri Jul 01, 2011 6:53 pm Reply with quote  
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  Crash Override
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http://www.scifidimensions.com/Jun01/forcetaobutterfly.htm

There's the essay, it's from 2001, about the Force in Episode I.

The idea of the Unifying Force is essentially a Taoist influence on the Force; especially the idea that the dark side is equally as necessary as the light. This is in contrast to the Manichean dualism that originated in the Expanded Universe out of the original trilogy, but given Yoda's Taoist teachings in The Empire Strikes Back, I believe that arises out of a projection of Manichean dualism onto the source material rather than it already existing there, at least to the extent that the Expanded Universe took from it. The dark side is definitely more corresponding with evil than yin yang in Tao, for instance.

I also believe that the Unifying Force as a concept is inherent to the Force as depicted in the original trilogy. The Unifying Force is the Force. It's an energy field that surrounds and binds all living things. The dark side of the Force is a side of the Force, but "the Force is what gives a Jedi his power," not the "light side" of the Force. The dark side is only negative when used out of balance within the Force, or in excess.

As for the quotes, I'll go to Vergere's speech about the dark side in Traitor:

JACEN: "What do you mean? I can feel the dark side here. I touched the dark side, and it, and it, it touched me..."

VERGERE: "No. What you feel is the Force. This is the shameful secret of the Jedi: There is no dark side."

JACEN: "Vergere, I know better. What do you think just happened here?"

VERGERE: "The Force is one, Jacen Solo. The Force is everything, and everything is the Force. I've told you already: the Force does not take sides. The Force does not even have sides."

JACEN: "That's not true! It isn't... It's a lie..."

VERGERE: "No. Search your feelings. You know this to be true. The Force is one. Light and dark are no more than nomenclature: words that describe how little we understand. What you call the dark side is the raw, unrestrained Force itself: you call the dark side what you find when you give yourself over wholly to the Force. To be a Jedi is to control your passion... but Jedi control limits your power. Greatness -- true greatness of any kind -- requires the surrender of control. Passion that is guided, not walled away. Leave your limits behind."

When taken at face value, this sounds like Vergere is trying to fool Jacen into using the dark side freely, because if you don't control your passion and surrender yourself to it, especially if that passion is anger, you're becoming like Luke did on the second Death Star when he cut off Vader's hand. But Vergere's talking about the Unifying Force here, and is trying to impress upon Jacen the holistic nature of the Force itself. It does have sides. It encompasses everything, so those things associated with the light and dark sides are encompassed within the Force.

But it's also true that the Force doesn't take sides. The will of the Force isn't beholden to the light or dark sides of it. This is clear through the film saga itself.

As for the idea of surrender, this is echoed by Sekot, as I previously posted:

"Jacen, to tap deeply into the Unifying Force, we will have to surrender our desire to control events. We will have to unbridle ourselves of words and of thinking, because thoughts, too, are born of the physical world. We must refrain from analyzing the Force, and simply allow the Force to guide us. Our relationship with the Force must be impeccable, without the need to be supported by words or reason. We must carry out the commands of the Force as if they were beyond appeal. And we must do what must be done, no matter who attempts to stand in our way."

The idea even goes as far back as to Shield of Lies, in which Luke demonstrates a similar understanding of the Force:

"He then took advantage of the open space inside the bay to work his first complete set of Jedi training drills since leaving Coruscant. Working both with and without his lightsaber, he patiently went through the complex exercises which brought him to a profound state of restful clarity. It was in this state that he felt most keenly the truth and the wisdom of the simple words: There is no emotion; there is peace. There is no ignorance; there is knowledge. There is no passion; there is serenity. There is no death; there is the Force. The peace, the knowledge, and the serenity were gifts that came with his surrender to the Force and with his connection through the Force to all that was.

"Sustaining that clarity was always the challenge. In the isolation of a Dagobah, the Jundland Wastes, or a hermitage on a frozen shore, an experienced Jedi could preserve that inner state indefinitely. But the chaos of the real world was another matter. When ego returned, so did will. The surrender became tainted, the connection flawed. The clarity gradually slipped away under the continuous assault of elementary drives and passions. Even the greatest of the masters needed to perform the practice regularly lest they lose the discipline that made them what they were."

Compare this concept to Jacen's moment of transcendence:

"As his grandfather had done, he had broken through the apparent opposites that concealed the absolute nature of the Force, and found his way into an unseen unity that existed beyond the seeming separateness of the world. For a moment all the cosmic tumblers had clicked into place, and light and dark sides became something he could balance within himself, without having to remain on one side or the other.

"The consciousness that was Jacen Solo was strewn across the vast spectrum of life energy. He had passed beyond choice and consequence, good and evil, light and dark, life and death. All that had been required of Jacen was complete surrender -- a technique once mastered by the Jedi Order but at some point misplaced; transposed to an emphasis on individual achievement, which had opened a way to arrogance. In that the path was available to any who chose to seek and follow it, Jacen understood that the discovery was really a rediscovery."


And another discussion between Jacen and Sekot, in which I feel Sekot sums up entirely what Vergere was getting at all along:

JACEN: "And you'll exercise that power to defeat them?"

SEKOT: "If necessary -- but without contempt. If I defeat them aggressively, if I hate them for who they have become, then I will have separated myself from the Force, and permitted my ego to triumph over my desire to merge and expand my consciousness. I will have corrupted the light with my darkness, stained it forever. Self-awareness tricks us into believing that there is us, and that there is the other. But in serving the Force we recognize that we are all the same thing; that when we act in accordance with the Force we act in accordance with the wish of all life to enlarge itself, to rise out of physicality and become something greater.

"In that sense, all living beings are seed-partners, Jacen, passionate to unite with all life, and to help give birth to grand enterprises -- whether a starship, a work of art, or a deed that will echo through history as a noble action. I am no different than you in wanting to play a part in the evolution of the spirit. My consciousness yearns for this."

THIS

This perfectly encapsulates the theme of symbiosis and balance which Lucas was going for in Episode I with the midi-chlorians, the Gungans and the Naboo, and the Jedi and life and the Force.

As for Vergere's idea of control tainting one's path to greatness, control requires ego. Luke's pathway to complete surrender is incomplete because in his attempt to subvert his own darkness, he seeks to control himself from not feeling anger or hate, and allows his ego to prevent the loss of self into the vastness that is the Force. Vergere is proposing that anger is not bad in and of itself, and the darkness that the anger feeds can be eliminated through self-mastery.

If you know your inner darkness, instead of denying it as Luke did, one needs to come to know it so that it can't affect you. This is great writing, IMO, because it's taking another Jungian concept, integrating the shadow, which meshes so well with Star Wars because in addition to the Taoism that Lucas used, Star Wars is no stranger to the Jungian archetypes that Lucas used in the monomythic structure he based the series on.

So if you know yourself, when you surrender to the Force, you will be able to be subsumed by the Force completely. And now my appreciation for the New Jedi Order has increased tenfold. And I have some sense of hope in the sense that despite the ridiculous Vergere retcon, Sekot still exists with this knowledge, and hasn't been retconned into being a Sith Lord yet.


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 PostPosted: Sat Jul 02, 2011 8:42 am Reply with quote  
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  Reepicheep
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Crash Override wrote:

I actually believe it's plausible that Lucas had the idea in mind even when he was producing the original trilogy, because there's no mention of a "light side" in any of those movies anywhere. The Jedi are allied with the Force, not its light side.


Seriously? Shocked I'll have to look for it next time I watch the OT.
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 PostPosted: Sat Jul 02, 2011 1:34 pm Reply with quote  
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  Jedi Master Skid
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I really don't know what to think of Jacen/Caedus. I've only read him in the LoTF series when he fell to the dark side and it just reminded me of Anakin all over again.
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 PostPosted: Sat Jul 02, 2011 6:11 pm Reply with quote  
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  Crash Override
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Jedi Master Skid wrote:
I really don't know what to think of Jacen/Caedus. I've only read him in the LoTF series when he fell to the dark side and it just reminded me of Anakin all over again.


Jacen in the New Jedi Order has very little in common with Jacen in Legacy of the Force. I'm mostly speaking about his hero's journey in the New Jedi Order series, and how it was sort of a "fix fic" for the Expanded Universe as a whole to undo some of the assumptions made about the Force in the Star Wars universe following the original trilogy to bring it more in line with the Force as presented in the films.

Unfortunately, that was promptly undone immediately afterward, which is part of the reason why JINO has little in common with the Jacen that underwent the hero's journey.


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 PostPosted: Sat Jul 02, 2011 7:49 pm Reply with quote  
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  Werehunter
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Crash Override wrote:
I actually believe it's plausible that Lucas had the idea in mind even when he was producing the original trilogy, because there's no mention of a "light side" in any of those movies anywhere. The Jedi are allied with the Force, not its light side.


I agree, (though I'd have to look about light side not being mentioned in the movies for I never paid attention) but the thing is in large part what the EU described as the Light Side is what the Unifying Force has become. Yes there are some differences but it basics were the same. That's why I say it was unnecessary to bring into the EU like they did. In fact I'd say it was the NJO that changed the Light Side of the Force into something different.


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 PostPosted: Sat Jul 02, 2011 7:58 pm Reply with quote  
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  Crash Override
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Werehunter wrote:
I agree, (though I'd have to look about light side not being mentioned in the movies for I never paid attention) but the thing is in large part what the EU described as the Light Side is what the Unifying Force has become. Yes there are some differences but it basics were the same. That's why I say it was unnecessary to bring into the EU like they did. In fact I'd say it was the NJO that changed the Light Side of the Force into something different.


The Unifying Force and the light side as depicted in the EU are quite distinct. The Expanded Universe depictions of the light side leads to people creating a direct correspondence between Jedi = light side and Sith = dark side which simply isn't the case, because out of that interpretation stems the confusion over how Anakin restores balance to the Force by destroying the Sith.


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 PostPosted: Sat Jul 02, 2011 8:11 pm Reply with quote  
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They are quite distinct now, yes. But much of what the Unifying Force is described, is how the Force was described before they introduced the concept of The Unifying Force. Yes it was called the Light Side of the Force, but many of the qualities given to the Unifying Force was also given to the Light Side. Allowing the Force to guide you wasn't created once the Prequels came around, but had been used rather often by Luke and a couple other Jedi years before.

It would have been very easy to say that the Light Side of the Force as described in the books that take place after the movies was The Unifying Force but by a different name. Something that Luke did by mistake, which is easy to believe since he was only partially trained before Ben and Yoda died.

Here's something that you posted Sekot saying.

Quote:
But in serving the Force we recognize that we are all the same thing; that when we act in accordance with the Force we act in accordance with the wish of all life to enlarge itself, to rise out of physicality and become something greater.


That fits perfectly with the way Luke acted in regards to the Light Side of the Force several times.

As I said, yes there are some differences, but that's bound to happen when you have so many people working on an on-going series of books like this. By making the Light Side of the Force and the Unifying Force separate the way they did (something I don't think Lucas really did in the movies), it added a layer that I do not believe was needed and will only create confusion in many readers, especially since at least in Verege's case the author wanted her to be vague.


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 PostPosted: Sat Jul 02, 2011 8:21 pm Reply with quote  
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  Crash Override
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Werehunter wrote:
They are quite distinct now, yes. But much of what the Unifying Force is described, is how the Force was described before they introduced the concept of The Unifying Force. Yes it was called the Light Side of the Force, but many of the qualities given to the Unifying Force was also given to the Light Side. Allowing the Force to guide you wasn't created once the Prequels came around, but had been used rather often by Luke and a couple other Jedi years before.

It would have been very easy to say that the Light Side of the Force as described in the books that take place after the movies was The Unifying Force but by a different name. Something that Luke did by mistake, which is easy to believe since he was only partially trained before Ben and Yoda died.

Here's something that you posted Sekot saying.

Quote:
But in serving the Force we recognize that we are all the same thing; that when we act in accordance with the Force we act in accordance with the wish of all life to enlarge itself, to rise out of physicality and become something greater.


That fits perfectly with the way Luke acted in regards to the Light Side of the Force several times.

As I said, yes there are some differences, but that's bound to happen when you have so many people working on an on-going series of books like this. By making the Light Side of the Force and the Unifying Force separate the way they did (something I don't think Lucas really did in the movies), it added a layer that I do not believe was needed and will only create confusion in many readers, especially since at least in Verege's case the author wanted her to be vague.


The way that the light side was previously depicted was the same way it is depicted now, IMO. And it's downright inconsistent in terms of an organization like the Jedi in comparison to the Fallanassi. The author of the Black Fleet trilogy evidently had some idea of the deeper meaning to the original trilogy instead of falling into the trap of simplifying it the way that WEG, because the Fallanassi are the perfect example of a "light side organization" to contrast with the Jedi. The Jedi use violence, which is technically "dark." The light side is creation, the dark side is destruction. The Jedi aren't purely of one or the other, but try to stay balanced with the Force the way that the life cycle is balanced between the two extremes.

The Fallanassi go too far toward the light side, and as pacifists do absolutely nothing. When the Sith took over, they did nothing, and the Force remains out of balance if they were the only hope to do anything. The Jedi are more like the Unifying Force vis-a-vis the will of the Force, working to keep the Force balanced.

And I didn't get the vibe of that Sekot quote out of Luke's Jedi in Bantam... they were more about doing the self-perceived "right thing" than about service to the Force, and there was a definite Manichean dualism applied to the light and dark side with the Jedi being light side crusaders against the dark siders. Especially in books like Young Jedi Knights, they're all about moral lessons and that sort of thing. Those books just took on and injected a decidedly western slant into the Force in contrast to its more eastern depiction in the films, prequel EU, and NJO.

Edit: I can definitely see your point, and I agree to an extent that the distinction is minor, but there is a distinction. Whereas under Bantam the dark side is sort of the unnatural component to the Force that needs to be eliminated, the Force as depicted in the NJO and films is more about the individual placing his or her ego ahead of the collective and exerting his or her will, greed, and desires onto others. The light side is definitely more conducive toward maintaining balance than the dark side, as seen in the Mortis trilogy, because it's much more benign, but it's not balance in and of itself.


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 PostPosted: Sat Jul 02, 2011 8:30 pm Reply with quote  
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As for Young Jedi Knights, of course they were more about the moral choices. It was a book geared at young adults/kids. Pretty much each book had some great moral lesson.

And the Fallanassi did go too far, but I never thought about it too far towards the light side. The way it is now, I'd agree but not back then when it came out.

I also wouldn't say the darkside of the force is destruction, at least not in the Bantam books. Back then it was more about twisting the force to selfish means. I always look at the Dark Side of the Force not as a separate thing, but rather something created when someone twists and corrupts the Force for their own purposes. And becoming twisted and corrupt themselves in the process.

We'll just have to agree to disagree. Personally I'm happy it's largely been ignored.

Edit to comment on your edit.

THe Bantam books didn't have many dark side users. They really flourished after the books switched to Del Ray. At least for the post movies books, I can only think of a handful of examples. Jorrus for the Thrawn Trilogy. The Nightsisters for Courtship of Princess Leia, Exar Kun, and the Dark Jedi Academy in th Young Jedi Knights books.

Though I guess the comics likely had more but I've barely read any of them and don't think Bantam read or made much use of them.


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 PostPosted: Sat Jul 02, 2011 8:36 pm Reply with quote  
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  Crash Override
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Werehunter wrote:
As for Young Jedi Knights, of course they were more about the moral choices. It was a book geared at young adults/kids. Pretty much each book had some great moral lesson.

And the Fallanassi did go too far, but I never thought about it too far towards the light side. The way it is now, I'd agree but not back then when it came out.

I also wouldn't say the darkside of the force is destruction, at least not in the Bantam books. Back then it was more about twisting the force to selfish means. I always look at the Dark Side of the Force not as a separate thing, but rather something created when someone twists and corrupts the Force for their own purposes. And becoming twisted and corrupt themselves in the process.

We'll just have to agree to disagree. Personally I'm happy it's largely been ignored.


The problem with the Bantam depiction is this: it creates a direct correspondence between three distinct things:

Sith (Or Dark Jedi) = Dark Side = Evil

Jedi = Light Side = Good

The dark side, in and of itself, isn't wholly evil. It's the natural destructive part of the Force that's necessary for the life cycle. The Son, the embodiment of the dark side in the Mortis trilogy, loved his sister. Likewise, the Daughter was less benign than the Fallanassi and fought her brother to preserve balance. Each of their symbols has the other's inside it, similar to yin yang:


Now, the Sith, on the other hand, generally tend to be evil. I'm not going to make a blanket statement in case someone throws us a curveball in the EU, but Lucas suggests they are so it's probably a necessary attribute. They're the dark side in excess, they're all about destruction, but that's a side effect of their egotism and will, and the way they force that onto others.

And perhaps an argument could be made that Luke's Jedi are thus more in line with Daughter than Father in that regard, and the boon of Jacen's hero's journey was that ability to take on the Father role.

As for moving away from it, I think what we have now with the post-NJO literature is a lot worse than even Bantam, because some of the writers have adopted the stance that the protagonists of the story are simply protagonists because the writers chose for them to be, and so they can get away with doing morally questionable things just like the antagonists, but hey it's okay because they're the heroes!

And then we've got stuff like Mortis which basically lays it out.

Edit: Quite a few Bantam novels had dark siders:
Thrawn trilogy; Joruus C'Baoth
TCoPL: Gethzerion
Jedi Academy: Exar Kun
The Crystal Star: Hethrir
Children of the Jedi: The Ismarens
Planet of Twilight: Beldorian
The New Rebellion: Hethrir and Brakiss

I should also note when I say Bantam I mean the general EU c. 1983-1998, including the West End Games RPG which originated the misinterpretation with its extreme dark side points system.

Edit 2: And here's Father's symbol:


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 PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2011 6:45 am Reply with quote  
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  Life Is The Path
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Reepicheep wrote:
Crash Override wrote:

I actually believe it's plausible that Lucas had the idea in mind even when he was producing the original trilogy, because there's no mention of a "light side" in any of those movies anywhere. The Jedi are allied with the Force, not its light side.


Seriously? Shocked I'll have to look for it next time I watch the OT.


The closest it gets is the Ben hut scene, and Luke talking to Leia in ROTJ about bringing their father back to the 'good' side.
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 PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2011 3:56 pm Reply with quote  
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  Crash Override
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Perhaps I should make a cliff notes version of this thread in which I simply provide pertinent quotations that theoretically would be sufficient to make the message clear without any sort of additional explanation on my part.


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