You what bugs me about Star Wars? No, I mean aside from the fact that George Lucas managed to screw it up. No, what really irritates me are the Jedi. For all their posturing and self-righteous talk, the Jedi are little more than cowards: too afraid to confront their darker emotions, choosing instead to withdraw into a shell of arrogant detachment.
You remember on Hoth, when Luke is trying to see the future and catches a glimpse of his friends suffering at the hands of Darth Vader? Yoda’s advice is for Luke to forget his friends and keep training. Oh really, Yoda? That’s the way of the Jedi, just abandon your friends to horrific suffering and continue your quiet contemplation in the middle of some stinking swamp? I don’t know about you, but I refuse to follow any philosophy that considers compassion, loyalty and friendship to be evils that lead to the dark side. That’s not even getting into the whole celibacy thing either, that alone would make me go Darth Vader on the Jedi Order.
And you know the worst thing? The Jedi philosophy of peaceful contemplation is exactly how we got into this mess in the first place. In the admittedly horrific prequels, Anakin goes to Yoda asking for advice because he’s having dreams of Padme dying. He’s clearly disturbed on a level that, if a modern psychologist were analyzing him, would have ended up with a straight-jacketed Anakin being confined to a cell with padded walls. What was Yoda’s advice however? “Hey man, don’t worry so much, just meditate.” Only he said it in that backward way of his, to make it sound wise.
Furthermore, let’s look at the Jedi Code:
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.
Oh you can just go straight to hell. First of all inner peace comes from confronting your darker emotions and dealing with them, not burying them under a lot of white robes. Second of all, how boring is that? No passion? No emotion? At least the Vulcan’s have the excuse that it’s their cultural heritage…and the fact that their emotions turn them into a bunch of wild, murderous animals with pointy ears. The Jedi just can’t be bothered to deal with normal emotions because they’re difficult to deal with. Well guess what? That’s part of life.
So where is this going, I can hear you saying? Is this the final semi-coherent rantings of a man gone mad? Will the next post be a manifesto about how the mole people have formed an alliance with interdimensional lizards to conquer the world? Well yes, actually it is, but only because the mole people have accelerated their timetable for the invasion of the overside. But I’m also going somewhere with this.
Where I’m going with this is the importance of exploring our darker emotions and the critical part that plays in writing good stories. Stories are, if nothing else, a way for people to explore emotions or situations we normally don’t get to experience. Ernest Hemingway used his depression and experiences in the Spanish Civil War to become one of the most well known writers of the 20th century. Likewise Mark Twain used his experiences of living in the deep south to give us stories about prejudice right alongside innocent boyish fun along the Mississippi river. Life is a series of constant trials, emotional and physical. And while yes, sometimes you can just ignore them by cloistering yourself away in some god awful swamp surrounded by droid eating alligators, you won’t be doing a whole lot of good.
Admittedly it isn’t easy to look at those dark recesses of human nature, or into our own painful pasts, but I think it’s a healthy and necessary part of life. That’s part of why I loved Spec Ops: The Line, it took a normally enjoyable kind of violence and turned it on its head, showing us the horrifying, brutal reality of war, suffering and madness. It grabbed me by the hair and forced me to stare deep into the maddening recesses of mankind.
If you want to be a writer, you shouldn’t be afraid to explore the darkness. It’s by no means easy, and I myself have had trouble doing that very thing, but in the end it’s all worth it because you can not only find out some cool things about yourself, but also craft some gripping and believable stories. The makers of Spec Ops: The Line definitely had to go to some uncomfortable places to create the game, the writers had to craft believable characters that are driven to the point of madness by the horrific violence lovingly rendered by the design team and some very talented actors gave voice to those same characters. Art through Adversity as they say. You don’t need to go experience a bloody civil war in order to write about one, you just need to go deep enough inside yourself to see what you might do in a situation crazy and violent enough. You need to let yourself imagine what you would be like in the circumstances that your character finds himself in, or if your character is the complete antithesis to you, put yourself in his shoes. I’m not a genetically engineered alien bred for war and conquest, but that doesn’t mean I’m not writing a book about that very character.
You need to become a Sith Lord:
Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
Through passion, I gain strength.
Through strength, I gain power.
Through power, I gain victory.
Through victory, my chains are broken.
The Force shall free me.
So I guess what I’ve been saying this whole time is that all writers should be trying to conquer the galaxy.
Note: Sorry this came so late in the week. The exceptional heat and busy schedule have kept me pretty busy this week. Next week I’ll be coming back with 3 new posts: A review of Star Trek: Enterprise, a look at my upcoming Science Fiction book, and hopefully, a review of The Dark Knight Rises when I finally get to see it!
I enjoy e lot your articles, they give me a lot more to think about then any other analyses and reviews on these topics.
That being said, I really hope you are working your way towards Deep Space 9 and the new Star Track movie.
I’m not a huge Star Trek nerd, but I find the comparison between them a very interesting case study.
I don’t see how Jediism is one of the fastest growing religion today when their philosophies seem so flawed; that’s exactly what we need now is another flawed religion based on a work of fiction like Scientology and Christianity. I think most people don’t like exploring their darker sides because their afraid of being consumed by it. I’ll have to pick up Spec Ops sometime.
Congratulations on the up coming book!
Interesting opinion you have! 🙂
It’s true, Jedi are lame sometimes, but from their point of view, they are right. If they want to maintain their Order and doing their job well, they have to keep some distance and can’t let their emotions to be their guide, otherwise everything would fall apart as it happened to the Sith, when they have had the opportunity to fight each other. Obviously, from the outside, this practice seems to be arrogant and unnatural, but creatures with such a great power need some form of control over their power, and without an effective outside control, it has to be an inside control.
One more issue: in many Star Wars stories Jedi are fighting their darker side, but those stories are written by other people (like Timothy Zahn for one), not by G.L.
I was mostly just using the Jedi as a playful scapegoat for the article. I wanted to address the importance of exploring dark emotions and I got a bit too wrapped up in the Jedi lol. It wasn’t really meant as a criticism of the Jedi, though an article on the Jedi might be interesting.
This was a really interesting perspective. As a kid I read tons of Star Wars books, and I remember when the young Obi-Wan Kenobi books (can’t remember what the series was called) came out after the prequels, I picked some up to see if they were any better than the movies. They weren’t, but there was an interesting… I guess ‘philosophy’ that came up in them that always stuck with me about the Jedi. During his training, whenever he experienced a lot of negative emotions, Obi-Wan was advised to ‘let them go into the Force’.
And he did. Every time he felt something bad, he’d push it into the Force.
The Force. Which is the fabric that combines all living things in the universe. And standard Jedi practice is to push all of their bad feelings into it.
I remember reading that and thinking, ‘am I the only one who sees a problem here?’ I think the moment stuck with me because it opened my eyes to a whole web of possibilities that are never really explored in regard to the Light Side, the Dark Side, and the Force in the Star Wars universe. Because it seems to me like if an entire order of people are always banishing their ill feelings (they did it with pain, too) into the universe, then that negativity has to go somewhere. And maybe the reason why the Dark Side is such a black pit of insanity is because once a Force sensitive opens the door to those feelings, they get flooded – not only with their own strong emotions, but with all of the pain, misery, despair, lust, greed, envy, fear, and everything else that the Jedi deem too unpleasant to entertain, too. And maybe the Sith instinctively despise the Jedi because they know, on some basic level, that they are the ones filling the pot to overflow.
Personally, though, I always loved the scenes with Yoda and Luke in Empire. Because for all that the Jedi philosophy encourages one to abandon the darker emotions, it seems like Yoda is being controlled by his fears far more than Luke is. Yoda is afraid of Luke, because Luke is simultaneously their best hope for defeating Vader and the Emperor, and also the greatest risk for becoming something even more dangerous than his father. He’s an unknown quantity, inextricably tied to the same emotions the Jedi traditionally reject. Yoda’s intended trial for Luke is the trippy sequence in the cave. But Luke’s real trial with Yoda is ultimately his defiance of him – because when Luke leaves to go rescue his friends, he both abandons his training and redefines it, as well. And I think Yoda finally realizes that when Luke comes back; that’s why he tells him he has nothing more to teach him. Whereas before he was all ‘you need to stay and learn’, when Luke gives into his emotions but not to the Dark Side, Yoda finally realizes that what the galaxy needs is not another Jedi like him and Ben, but something else. Something that can push through the darkness, rather than avoiding it altogether.
The old Jedi never confronted their own demons, as you excellently point out. If you don’t confront your demons, you can’t overcome them, and if you can’t overcome them, then they will eventually overcome you instead.
Wow. This got… long. Sorry. ^^; Anyway, what I meant to say was great job, thought-provoking stuff. Clearly.