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 PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 3:07 pm Reply with quote  
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  Crash Override
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Well, you're assuming that the Jedi use the light side based on the premise that Vader uses the dark side. But since the prequels showed the Jedi follow the will of the Force and are concerned with maintaining its balance, that is shown not to be the case, further reinforcing that the omission of the light side in the OT was deliberate.

Edit: when I get a chance to dig up some quotes, perhaps I can articulate it in a way with which you would agree.


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 PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 3:24 pm Reply with quote  
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  Reepicheep
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Did you see the quote I added to my previous post from Wookieepedia? I added a few minutes after I posted.

That's a good point about assuming the Jedi use the light side simply because Vader uses the dark side.

These ideas are interesting, but I think Lucas added them way too late in the game and it just comes across as awkward. I'd like to know what exactly Lucas thought of Force philosophy when he made the OT vs. when he made the PT vs. when he made the Mortis trilogy.

The thing I still don't get is how the yin and yang duality between the light side and the dark side magically transforms into a good vs. evil duality when individuals use the light side and the dark side. Would an excessive user of the light side, then, be considered a Sith? Or at least a threat to the balance of the Force?

Avatar: The Last Airbender does a much better job at portraying balance as good and imbalance as evil imo. Fire is never the evil element, but because the Fire Nation is overstepping its boundaries, thus upsetting the balance, they become the bad guys. At the end, the Four Elements are balanced (or are, at least, on their way to being balanced). The end of RotJ sees the defeat of the dark side, not the balancing of light and dark. Based on the movies, I can't help but think of the dark side as the evil side.
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 PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 3:36 pm Reply with quote  
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  Cerrinea
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"I wanted to have this mythological footing because I was basing the films on the idea that the Force has two sides, the good side, the evil side, and they both need to be there. Most religions are built on that, whether it's called yin and yang, God and the devil—everything is built on the push-pull tension created by two sides of the equation. Right from the very beginning, that was the key issue in Star Wars."

Here you go, Reep. That's George Lucas quoted from an interview in 1999. Here's what he had to say about Sith.

"A Sith is somebody that is absolutely obsessed with gaining more and more power - but for what? Nothing, except that it becomes an obsession to get more."
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 PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:30 pm Reply with quote  
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  Reepicheep
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So GL is (was) saying that there is a good (light) and evil (dark) side to the Force.

Yin/yang and God/devil aren't interchangeable though. Yin and yang are equal opposites corrosponding to push/pull, male/female, hot/cold etc. but as far as I know not to good and evil. God and the devil are not equal opposites (God is the uncreated Creator and the devil is a mere creature). The devil's evil is also a corruption of good (e.g. he was once an angel). In this view evil doesn't exist for its own sake. Also yin and yang must be balanced for harmony and the devil must be defeated for harmony.

Thanks for the quotes, Cerrinea.
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 PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 6:00 pm Reply with quote  
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  Crash Override
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Regarding Wookieepedia, that's fan created content which is only as reliable as its sources (or anything that I say!).

I think the problem people have is that they project a Manichean duality onto the Force, when the dark side of the Force itself is natural: the Sith use of it is what is unnatural. Unfortunately, a lot of the early Expanded Universe took this same approach, which is why we have fans on Wookieepedia whom have adopted that interpretation and use their canon examples to endorse it, which I suppose that you're free to do if that's how you choose to interpret the films.

I think that the OT is ambiguous in that regard and the PT more definitively leans toward a Tao pantheistic interpretation. For what it's worth, as a Pantheistic entity, the Force embodies existence, thus since good and evil exist, they exist within the Force, because it embodies everything.

From my perspective, a big part of the New Jedi Order's raison d'être was to take the status quo of the Bantam Expanded Universe, which largely presented that Manichean duality and only touched upon the Force superficially in most cases, and bring it up to date with the presentation of the Force in the prequel films, which by the conclusion of the series it had done. Evidently there was fan outcry about that, resulting in the subsequent backpedaling.

I wrote this almost exactly two years ago here:

Crash Override wrote:
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.


http://www.eucantina.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=1337&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=9

I suppose an amendment that I would like to add is that bit with Vergere and her claim that there's no dark side, I believe now that her purpose in stating this specifically at this particular point in the story, beyond illustrating the point that a Pantheistic Force encompasses all, is in response to Jacen's claim that the dark side touched him, and it was intended as a kōan to make Jacen question whether he was truly influenced by the dark side or whether he was acting from within himself. He was projecting his own inner darkness onto the Force and blaming the Force for his dark deeds, rather than recognizing that it came from within. Hence the statement. Unfortunately, this led to a rather large mess.

Edit: And that's what Luke was doing as well, which is supposed to explain why he would become exhausted when he did something powerful such as collapse a dovin basal with the Force. But I'll note that OOU I think this is unfortunate because I think to some extent this is a lesson that Luke actually learned in the Bantam EU, but was undone by later novels. For instance, that quote above from Shield of Lies with Luke shows this understanding of the Force, which was supposed to flow out of his experience with the dark side in Dark Empire, as can be seen in commentary by Veitch on the story:

“From my point of view, I think it’s profoundly important to “penetrate the dark side and learn its secrets.” That’s the hero’s main task, in fact — not simply killing off his enemies. A personality that is divided into warring opposites must somehow become whole and complete. Carl Jung would call it “integrating the Shadow.” The three existing Star Wars films are about the battle of the hero and the Shadow in the form of the dark father. If there are ever to be filmed sequels to the current trilogy, it would be logical and mythologically satisfying to somehow depict “integrating the Shadow.” In psychological terms, that would be inevitable, as part of the process of reunification of the galaxy and the re-emergence of the Jedi Knights. If the dark side is simply suppressed, pushed into the unconscious, then it will surely rise again.”

Whether he successfully executed that within the story is debatable, I suppose, but Shield of Lies went with it.


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 PostPosted: Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:34 am Reply with quote  
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  DarthMRN
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Cerrinea wrote:
Joseph Campbell published The Hero With a Thousand Faces in 1949 so idk how you came up with it being released after Lucas wrote his scripts. On the contrary, Lucas wrote a third draft of the Star Wars script after reading Campbell's book in 1975.

My bad. I was conflating it with another book supposedly having influenced Lucas.

The point I was getting at still stands, though. ANH was not inspired by Campbell to any significant degree, even by Lucas' own admission:

George wrote:
I was going along on my own story. I was trying to write whatever I felt. And then I would go back once I'd written a script, I would go back and check it against the classic models of the hero's journey and that sort of thing to see if I had gone off the deep end, and simply by following my own inspiration, the thing that intrigued me the most is that it was very close to the model.


http://www.scenebyscene.net/i/tpmbbc3.rm
(near the end)

Now, the other two OT movies were likely inspired more by Campbell. But how much of that was a result of the narrative 180 is anyone's guess. The Flash Gordon serials the man was originally trying to emulate were unlikely to be as open to Campbellian myth structure as the new and epic story twist Vader represented was.

Reepicheep wrote:
But then the Jedi use the light side of the Force and the Sith use the dark side of the Force and the dualty between Jedi and Sith is good vs. evil... but in the previous duality goodness meant balancing the Force, not having a surplus of light. Wouldn't a truly good Force user, then, use both sides of the Force, thus balancing it? I don't see how the Jedi preserve the balance of the Force any more than the Sith, much less how Anakin brought balance to the Force.

Thank you. I was looking for a good Lucasverse-only argument to this effect.

Yes, on its face Mortis clashes with the thematic implication that the Jedi are the good guys, and that the Chosen One is actually bringing balance to the Force by removing the Sith. Which is why I like your comment about Lucas wanting his cake and eating it too. He clearly had a dark and light, yin/yang duality in mind from the beginning, with the para-Force of Bogan and the Force of Others and that jazz, but come TPM Ani is suddenly a holy being born to eradicate the dark side of the equation. It doesn't make much sense on its face.
But in the Mortis Trilogy Father changes his mind at the last minute, it seems. His old beliefs having been wrong. After Daughter (Light) dies protecting Father (Force), Father (Force) sacrifices himself to weaken Son (Dark), so that in this one moment of vulnerability the Chosen One, already a thrall of darkness, can backstab him. Just like in the movies (the Sith destroy the Jedi, Ani falls, then Palp inexplicably turns weaksauce at the plot-appropriate moment, allowing Vader to kill him).
After which Father says Ani has brought balance to Mortis, and that he will return to the galaxy to do it again. One could argue this is Lucas narrating his own philosophical evolution from a yin/yang perspective, to a perspective where the light equals balance, the dark an unwanted cancer. That is about the only justification I can think of for letting someone as authoritative on the Force as Father be so wrong in the beginning. Cause otherwise it would be terrible use of an obvious author mouthpiece.

So fortunately Mortis doesn't actually screw up the complete message of the movies.
It is all the uber-silly stuff on the sides before this little revelation that muddies everything. The point of Father's original convictions. The mystical support they got. The fact that the there is no movie equivalent for Father comitting suicide. The fact that these representations of the Force can die at all, without affecting the galaxy. Stuff like that. A bloody mess, that even if my hypothesis above about Lucas philosophical evolution is correct, still doesn't justify the in-universe nonsense it leads to.
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 PostPosted: Tue Jun 25, 2013 10:35 am Reply with quote  
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  Reepicheep
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@Crash/DarthMRN: I'm going to bow out of the discussion for a while. I've really been enjoying this thread, it's the best Star Wars debate I've had in a long, long time, but it's made me realize that I need to re-watch the entire Saga, the Mortis trilogy and re-evaluate them. I'll maybe read The Episode I novel and Cloak of Darkness too. I'll try to wipe what I know, or what I think I know, from my mind and go into the movies with a clean slate.

One last thing regarding the Wookieepedia quote. Wookieepedia isn't written by George Lucas, granted, but it is written by fan consent. That means that the majority of Star Wars fans agree with that statement and, in my experience, that is indeed the case. I also find it very ironic that the remaining minority who doesn't think that the light side = Jedi = good and the dark side = Sith = evil are usually heavily influenced by the EU (e.g. the post Crash quoted two years ago depends on the EU), but Lucas considers the EU "fanfiction". It almost seems like, to properly understand the Star Wars Saga, a knowledge of the EU is required. Hmm...

I'll probably be back when I re-watch the movies and the Mortis trilogy, but don't hold your breath.
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 PostPosted: Tue Jun 25, 2013 2:25 pm Reply with quote  
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  Crash Override
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Reepicheep wrote:
@Crash/DarthMRN: I'm going to bow out of the discussion for a while. I've really been enjoying this thread, it's the best Star Wars debate I've had in a long, long time, but it's made me realize that I need to re-watch the entire Saga, the Mortis trilogy and re-evaluate them. I'll maybe read The Episode I novel and Cloak of Darkness too. I'll try to wipe what I know, or what I think I know, from my mind and go into the movies with a clean slate.

One last thing regarding the Wookieepedia quote. Wookieepedia isn't written by George Lucas, granted, but it is written by fan consent. That means that the majority of Star Wars fans agree with that statement and, in my experience, that is indeed the case. I also find it very ironic that the remaining minority who doesn't think that the light side = Jedi = good and the dark side = Sith = evil are usually heavily influenced by the EU (e.g. the post Crash quoted two years ago depends on the EU), but Lucas considers the EU "fanfiction". It almost seems like, to properly understand the Star Wars Saga, a knowledge of the EU is required. Hmm...

I'll probably be back when I re-watch the movies and the Mortis trilogy, but don't hold your breath.


You have an optimistic view on Wookieepedia. I'd say it's more like the consent of the sysops...

As for the EU, I was merely using it to provide clarification of my perspective in a way that's consistent with the films. The light side isn't mentioned in the films, so the EU is the *only* place to get that interpretation. I mean, the very top of the quoted post is an essay someone wrote back in 2001 based upon Episode I and has nothing to do with the Expanded Universe that says the same thing.


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 PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 10:18 am Reply with quote  
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  Reepicheep
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Allright, I’ve rewatched all six Star Wars films. Crash, you viewed the Jedi as serving the Force in its entirety and I viewed the Jedi as serving the “light side” while the Sith serve the dark side. For simplicity’s sake I will refer to your view as “Taoist” and mine as “Manichean”. I watched the films in release order, starting with A New Hope. I’ll go through my notes for each film, trying to clear my mind of everything I “know” about Star Wars and the Force and try to piece it together from the ground up. I haven’t planned this out or come with a conclusion ahead of time. Here we go:

A New Hope

Obi-Wan tells Luke that the Force is what gives a Jedi his power. The Jedi are described as the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy (in other words, they’re the “good guys”, the ones the audiences’ sympathies are supposed to lie with). The Force is described as an energy field created by all living things. This is important. The Force is created by living things, so it is in a symbiotic relationship with life. Presumably, the Force would not exist if life did not exist.

Later we learn more about how a Jedi receives power from the Force. A Jedi can feel the Force flowing through him. There is a stong emphasis on feeling in the Star Wars saga – often in favour of thinking (e.g. Let go your conscious self and act on instinct). This is rather interesting because most philosophy I’m familiar with (i.e. Western philosophy) emphasizes thinking over feeling. The Force both controls your actions and obeys your command. Again, the Force is in a symbiotic relationship with life. At this point, I would even go so far as to say the Force isn’t to be revered in the way a deity might be. It seems to be life’s partner, not its superior.

All this is sounding very Taoist... but there’s something I haven’t mentioned: the dark side. Obi-Wan says Vader was seduced by the dark side of the Force. Very vague phrasing. Later Obi-Wan feels a disturbance in the Force as Alderaan is destroyed. Knowing what we know about the Force (e.g. it is in a symbiotic relationship with life), and forgetting about the elusive dark side for a minute, it makes perfect sense. However, later, Darth Vader feels a disturbance in the Force when Obi-Wan enters the Death Star. This disturbance isn’t as clear cut as the Alderaan one. It would appear the Force doesn’t play favourites, as both Obi-Wan and Vader sensed a disturbance in the Force, and they’re on opposing sides. I won’t harp on this though, because it can be easily explained away.

The Empire Strikes Back

Enter Yoda. From Yoda, we learn that becoming a Jedi Knight requires great discipline... the deepest commitment, the most serious mind. Yoda shoots down Luke’s naive view of the Jedi as “great warriors” and tells Luke that a Jedi doesn’t crave adventure or excitement. Furthermore a Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defence, never for attack. Being a Jedi is more sobering than it may have appeared in ANH.

Yoda then tells Luke to beware the dark side. The ways of the dark side are anger, fear, and aggression. Luke wonders how he will be able to know the good side from the bad, and Yoda tells him he will know when he is calm, at peace, passive. I could recite these lines, but I never noticed how they went together until I saw it in writing. Calmness is the opposite of anger, being at peace is the opposite of fear, and passivity is the opposite of aggression. It’s a duality of two diametrically opposed sides. One side of this duality (anger, fear, aggression) is named, the dark side. The other (calmness, peace, passivity) could be reasonably called “the light side”. Yoda is guiding Luke away from the dark side and towards the “light side”. The training Luke is undergoing requires great discipline, but those who fall to the dark side take the quick and easy path. When Luke refers to these parts of the duality as the good side and the bad, Yoda does not correct him. Really this is the best evidence of the Manichean view and, coming from the lips of wise master Yoda, this hits pretty close to the core of Star Wars.

The cave is described as being strong with the dark side and a domain of evil. The dark side once again appears to be equated with evil.

Also the duality of dark and light seems primarily to be about passion vs. serenity, not life vs. death, creation vs. destruction etc. Fear, leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering. A Jedi must become detached lest he fall prey top these passions and use them for evil. Obi-Wan warns Luke to not give in to hate, which leads to the dark side. Vader tempts Luke by telling him to release his anger and to use his hatred to destroy his enemy.

Luke running off to “save” Han and Leia show that Luke both lacks discipline (he’s taking “the quick and easy path”) and has much attachment. Ultimately, Luke accomplishes nothing (Leia escapes without any help from Luke) and Luke learns that Vader is his father before he’s mature enough in the Force to take it. In this case, I think Yoda was right in telling Luke to complete his training.

Return of the Jedi

At Luke’s first appaerance there are forebodings that Luke is dangerously close to the dark side (he’s wearing black and he Force chokes Gammoreans – a power only used by Vader so far in the saga).

The tension comes from Luke’s attachment to his father, Vader. Obi-Wan seems to condone a detached confrontation with Vader, ending in Vader’s destruction. Obi-Wan warns Luke that his attachment could be made to serve the Emperor. Luke however, believes there is good in his father and manages to influence his turn away from evil. Ultimately, I think Star Wars is about the triumph of love (boy that sounds cheesey Razz ), over an overly-philosophical detached attitude... but that’s a whole other can of worms. All I’ll say is that it’s interesting that it isn’t really the three attributes of the”light side” that Yoda mentioned that saved the day, it was love – a passion.

One of the things that really struck me in this viewing was the way the dark side was portrayed as an addiction. Deep down Vader knows that his use of the dark side is evil, but he’s been at it for too long and he feels that it is too late for him.

Anyway, the “good guys” win.

Overall, the sense I get from the OT is that the Force as a whole is “neutral”. I mean this in a way that, if two gods, one good, one evil, controlled the universe, the gods would be “neutral” because they cancel each other out. The Jedi use the side of the Force made up of calmness, peacefulness, and passivity and Darth Vader and his master, the Emperor, use the the side of anger, fear, and aggression. However, I don’t necessarily get the sense that these sides are equal opposites.

The Phantom Menace

Here’s where things get interesting again. Early on Qui-Gon tells Obi-Wan to be mindful of the “living Force” – a new term... and a very vague one. I’d be tempted to think that the “living Force” is the name of what I have hitherto referred to as the “light side”. There’s very little to go on.

Enter Anakin, the boy with the impossibly high midichlorian count. We learn that midichlorians are “carriers” of the Force and they reinforce the idea of life and the Force living in a symbiotic relationship with each other. Midichlorians apparently communicate the “will” of the Force... which is weird because, like I said, I got the sense that the Force is “neutral” i.e. it has two sides at odds with each other, and no collective “will”.

The idea of the Chosen One, the one who will bring balance to the Force, is one of the most confusing parts of the saga. What exactly does “bringing balance to the Force mean”? In light of the end of RotJ, I always assumed it must mean the defeat of the dark side – or at least the defeat of the Sith, though it isn’t specified in TPM. In light of the “will” of the Force, it might make sense if this meant balancing light and dark, but I don’t see that attitude in the OT, particularly ESB. The only way I could see it is that Luke and Anakin’s act of love (that sounds awkward Confused ) balances the Force because it is a passion, normally an attribute of the dark side.

Qui-Gon’s philosophy is evidently unorthodox, because he hasn’t been granted a seat on the council. Is it because he thinks the dark side should be balnced or “integrated” rather than outright destroyed? The Jedi are portrayed as being a bit misguided, in need of reformation. They don’t recognize the Chosen One, their temple is in the middle of a Metropolis etc.

Attack of the Clones

Easily the weakest film in terms of Force philosophy.

The Sith have thrown a cloak of the dark side over the Jedi, diminishing their ability to use the Force, and clouding their judgment.

Anakin mentions that compassion is central to a Jedi’s life but attachment is forbidden. So, Jedi do good to others, but aren’t attached to them. Luke seemingly opposed this view in RotJ, refusing to let go of the good he can sense in his father rather than “selflessly” destroying him.

Yoda mentions Dooku “joining the dark side”, again enforcing the Manichean view of two opposing sides. There is no Qui-Gon to balance this view.

There are some other things concerning the Force in this movie, but most are covered in a different Star Wars film.

Revenge of the Sith

Anakin has had major attachment issues throughout the PT and no moreso than in RotS. Attachment is forbidden for a Jedi (because it leads to fear, which leads to anger etc., and jealousy, which leads to greed). Anakin is haunted at the thought of losing Padme, but the Jedi are of no help to him. Yoda tells him that death is a ntaural part of life and to mourn not and miss not those who transform into the Force. “Transforming” into the Force seems to be a Nirvana, drop-of-water-in-the-ocean experience. Padme will cease to exist when she dies, and Yoda is telling Anakin to accept this like a Stoic... which, of course, he can’t.

Obi-Wan refers to the Chosen One as the one who will bring balance to the Force and destroy the Sith. Previously it was only to bring balance to the Force. For me this doesn’t make a lot of sense, because while the Jedi were awaiting the Chosen the Sith had been extinct for a millenia, so what’s the problem? Sure the Republic is corrupt, but that’s a political matter not a specifically spiritual matter (although the two seem to be linked, once the Force is brought into balance the Republic is restored). Again, what exactly is the Chosen One expected to do? Turn the galaxy into Paradise?

The Sith, of course, offer Anakin a path to save Padme. Palpatine accuses the Jedi of fearing their loss of power as much as the Sith fear losing theirs. Anakin mentions the Sith relying on their passions, thinking about themselves, and the Jedi, are detached from themsleves, only thinking about others. This reinforces the ESB duality ofdark side and “light side”, Jedi using one, Sith using the other. Palpatine tells the ability, that some consider to be unnatural, of creating life, saving others from death etc. Is possible but not from the teachings of the Jedi.

Later Plapatine reveals that his teacher, who we now know is Plagueis, taught him everything he knew about the Force, including the dark side. Palpatine tells Anakin that to understand the Force he needs to study all its aspects, rather than just the narrow, dogmatic view of the Jedi. Palpatine appears to be taking a Taoist stance while the Jedi seem to be taking a Manichean stance, “dogmatically” only focusing on the light side. Of course, Palpatine is hardly a reliable character. It is still very significan t though. If Qui-Gon viewed the Force in Taoist terms he was the excption to the rule.

Obi-Wan has the strange line about only the Sith deal in absolutes... which is itself an absoulte statement. I never really understood that line or what it’s relevance was.

Finally Yoda tells Obi-Wan that he has been communicating with Qui-Gon, the unorthodox Jedi who has learned the path to immortality. Both Yoda and Obi-Wan will learn Qui-Gon’s secrets and indeed both characters appear as Force ghosts at the end of RotJ, apparently avoiding the Nirvana fate and maintaining consciousness of a sort. If Qui-Gon taught Yoda and Obi-Wan his “enlightened” Taoist view of the Force, it is only noticeable in Obi-Wan’s dialogue in the OT. I still view Yoda as a staunch Manichean.

These ar just loose thoughts and I haven't really come up with much of a conclusion. Overall, these movies seem vague and open to interpretation regarding the Taoist and Manichean views of the Force Differnt films seem to emphasize different views and different characters seem to hold to different views... that is until Mortis came along and swept away the Manichean view. I haven't re-watched the Mortis trilogy yet btw.

Whew. That’s enough writing for now.
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 PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 10:46 am Reply with quote  
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  Crash Override
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I don't have time to write a full reply and I will also reread what you wrote when I do, but I think I should note that I think Luke in ROTJ is following Anakin's line from Attack of the Clones. Luke feels unconditional love for his father, despite his father doing a lot of immoral things and causing personal harm to Luke. This is in contrast to Anakin's conditional love for Padme, which ceased as soon as he believed she betrayed him.

Compassion, or unconditional love, is essential to the life of a Jedi, as Anakin says, so Luke was really acting in accord with what a Jedi should be.

I rewatched the Mortis trilogy last night and realized a lot of stuff I hadn't noticed or forgot which also gives some further insight into the cave. I'll just say for now that Anakin is told to know himself quite a bit throughout.


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 PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:36 am Reply with quote  
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  Reepicheep
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^ Interesting. I always inferred from the "unconditional love" thing that a Jedi should be compassionate indifferently, while Luke was anything but indifferent concerning his father. It does make sense what you're saying though. Maybe Luke was acting how a Jedi truly should act, in a way that the Order had lost sight of.
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 PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 9:28 pm Reply with quote  
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I don't think that Qui-Gon is a "maverick" or the now apparently disused term "Gray Jedi" because of his view of the Force -- I think his view of the Force was the same as the rest of the Jedi. The way in which he differs from the rest is that the Jedi Order has become a Republic bureaucracy, so if there is a difference in the view of the Force, it's that Qui-Gon disobeys -- or creatively interprets -- government mandate to follow the path the Force sets before him, as he did when he found Anakin. Dooku tells Obi-Wan that Qui-Gon would have sided with him because he knew about the corruption in the Republic. Qui-Gon served the Force more than the Republic, and that is what set him apart from the rest of the Jedi, and that service to the Republic is what put them in an untenable situation with the Clone Wars.

Obi-Wan's "Let go your conscious self and act on instinct" is echoing (or in RL, being echoed by) Qui-Gon's "Feel, don't think. Use your instincts."

http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Taoism/The-Tao-Of-Star-Wars.aspx

Here's a link about Taoism in The Empire Strikes Back. I think the Taoist wu wei or wei wu wei, action without action or effortless action is best symbolized by the way that the Jedi use their lightsabers to deflect their enemies' attacks back at them. There's another example at the conclusion of The Unifying Force that I won't spoil.

With regard to the cave on Dagobah, which was followed by the novel Traitor, and then the Mortis trilogy, each of these is an example of Katabasis, or the descent into the Underworld for self-knowledge and enlightenment. In Overlords, the Ones are trying to get Anakin to release his guilt and realize who he is. In Ghosts of Mortis, Son specifically tells Anakin to know himself. Anakin couldn't handle the knowledge of who he was.

The thesis of Traitor is the question asked by Vergere (as questions are more useful than answers): Who is Jacen Solo?

It's rather interesting to see these three different takes on the concept. The cave on Dagobah is the most minimalist, but I think it's effective.

Edit: I forgot to mention that the way I would reconcile destroying the Sith as balancing the Force is through viewing the Jedi as a force of balance and the Sith as a force of chaos, rather than forces of light and dark.

This ties back into Qui-Gon vs the order -- the corruption of the Republic resulted in the order's legal authority to act in a way of maintaining balance being marginalized, so that Jedi like Qui-Gon would have to act independent of the centralized order in order to go about righting wrongs and so forth. This was further worsened by the Sith stirring the pot all the while, which is why balance has been lost at the time of the prequels. The government is corrupt and the corporations like the Trade Federation are victimizing planets and the conditions are right for civil war.


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 PostPosted: Tue Jul 16, 2013 1:56 pm Reply with quote  
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  Reepicheep
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The concept of wu wei seems to fit really well with Star Wars. The idea of balance seems pretty universal. If I had to pick one thread that goes through all (or nearly all) religions/philosophies, I think it would be balance. I find it interesting that Sith have similar Force powers as Jedi, but they aren't balanced, in your definition. A Sith could lift a ship out of a swamp, but Sith, again by your definition, don't have balance ala wu wei. Why do you think that is? And what about how they do differ. Is Force lightning, Force choking etc. inherent in imbalance?

One of the biggest sticking points for me is the repeated idea that the dark side is evil.

e.g.

"Beware the dark side"
"Once you start down the dark path forever will it dominate your destiny"
The cave = a domain of evil
"Don't give in to hate; that leads to the dark side"

The way Palpatine attempts to seduce Anakin almost sounded Taoist. "If one is to understand the great mystery one must study all its aspects; not just the dogmatic narrow view of the Jedi. If you wish to become a complete and wise leader, you must embrace a larger view of the Force." It seems like Palpatine is condemning the Jedi for having a Manichean view of the Force, favouring one side over the other, and telling Anakin to embrace the Force in its entirety.
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 PostPosted: Tue Jul 16, 2013 2:57 pm Reply with quote  
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Effortless action requires you to act by your nature. That's why there is no try; trying is effort. A Sith is about exaltation of self and is acting in a more conscious and ego driven way. It's the whole "feel, don't think. Use your instincts" and "let go your conscious self go and act on instinct." Sith don't do that, they force their ego and will onto the Force, they don't surrender themselves to the Force.

Edit:

Here's a scene that you may find interesting:

Vergere touched his arm, and with a gesture directed his attention toward a thicket of what looked like coniferous shrubs — though the electrobinoculars' range and azimuth display indicated the smallest of them stood more than ten meters tall. On the slope around the thicket, a small herd of agile hoofed reptilelike creatures sprang from rock to rock, cropping nervously at the sparse moss. An instant later he found out what had been making them so nervous: one of those massive bipedal tentacle-faced predators lunged out of the shrub thicket with astonishing speed.

It seized the nearest of the hoofed reptilians in powerful prehensile forepaws, its blade-tipped mouth-tentacles stabbing and sawing to swiftly slay and disjoint the captured animal, carving it into bite-sized hunks. As the rest of the herd bounded away, the predator settled down in the slanting sunlight to devour its kill.

"That is why this place is so dangerous," Vergere said with a hint of a challenging smile. "It is filled with what you would call the dark side. I should say: the dark side is very, very powerful here, more powerful than anywhere else on this planet. As powerful, perhaps, as it is anywhere in the galaxy."

Jacen lowered the electrobinoculars, blinking.

"That's not the dark side," he said. "A predator hunts to feed itself and its family. That's just nature."

"And the dark side isn't? I thought the danger of the dark side was that it is natural: that's why it's easier than the light, yes?"

"Well, yes, but..."

"Is what you have seen not the exemplar of the dark side? Is this not what you fear so much: aggression, violence, passion?"

"You want to know what the real dark side would look like? If that predator had slaughtered the entire herd, just for the fun of it. For the joy of killing."

"Do you think this predator takes no joy in its successful kill?"

Jacen looked again through the electrobinoculars, watching for a moment as the predator seemed to shiver with delight in its meal. He didn't answer.

"Kill one, it's nature, kill them all, it's the dark side?" Vergere went on. "Is the line between nature and dark side only one of degree? Is it the dark side if that predator kills only half the herd? A quarter?"

He lowered the electrobinoculars once more.

"It's the dark side if it kills more than it needs to feed itself and its family," he said, heating up. "That's the line. Killing when you don't need to kill."

Vergere cocked her head. "And how do you define need? Are we talking about the line of starvation, or simple malnutrition? Is it the dark side if they only eat half the slain animal? Does a predator partake of the dark side if its family is a few kilos overweight?"

"It's not about that..."

"Then what is it about? Are we back to why? Does intention always trump action? It's not the dark side for that predator, say, to slaughter the entire herd and leave them to rot, so long as it thinks it needs them for food?"

"It's not that simple," Jacen insisted. "And it's not always easy to describe..."

"But you know it when you see it, yes?"

He lowered his head stubbornly.

"Yes."

Vergere uncoiled her fingers toward the blood-smeared predator on the slope below.

"You didn't this time..."


I would think that Mortis would be to your liking, as it seems to allegorically permit both interpretations at the same time: the Daughter represents the light side, and she is selfless and obedient to the Father, who is interested in balance. The light side doesn't seek to cause imbalance; only the dark side does. So really, in serving one, you serve the other.


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 PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2013 8:38 pm Reply with quote  
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  Reepicheep
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To be honest, I'm trying to ignore the EU right now and just focus on the six movies (speaking of which - it should be interesting to see how the new movies portray the Force, dark side etc.). What did you think of the Anakin/Palpatine dialogue scene I mentioned in my previous post?
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