Saturday, February 3, 2018

What is the Force?

Yes, he is somewhat turning back the lightning. On his first try.
This move knocked out Yoda COLD.
But people say Rey's broken.
I would like to give the caveat that I'm not going to write exhaustively about the Force in this post, merely hit some of the spots that people seem to miss that I've noticed.

What is the Force? That's easy, it's the energy that is generated by all living things that holds them together.

The Force has two aspects: the Living Force and the Cosmic Force. As Qui-Gon tells Yoda when the two first meet post Qui-Gon's death:

"I am a manifestation of the Force, a Force that consists of two parts: living beings generate the Living Force, which in turn powers the wellspring that is the Cosmic Force [...] All energy from the Living Force, from all things that have ever lived, feeds into the Cosmic Force, binding everything."

Great, so there's two parts: Living (what the living creatures generate) and the Cosmic (what the dying go to so their energy can hold together the living). Or, as Luke says in The Last Jedi:

"It's the energy between all things, a tension, a balance that binds the universe together."

The Force is essentially the glue of the universe, on a particular and universal level. You can't help but interact with it. Nothing can be outside it because then it couldn't exist. This energy is us and yet is not us. It's a weird tension of saying that we are distinct from the energy that we supply and are supplied with. So, to the best of my knowledge, it's not straight up pantheism, although it does lean that way.

This energy can be accessed by certain individuals who can feel it and thus manipulate it. The way they do this, biologically speaking, is by the help of creatures called midi-chlorians.

Don't you dare put down the computer and walk away.

Yes, you.

No, flipping the table like a child and walking away is not helpful. Sit down and read.

Thank you.

Yes, there is a biological component to accessing the Force. For a lot of people this somehow seems to cancel out is mystical nature. But mystics across the ages have always used some physical component to help them focus better, whether that be posture, incense, drugs, lack of sleep, fasting or some combination thereof. The idea that somehow there's an aspect of our bodies that responds to a universal energy generated by said body is hardly contradictory. Actually, it seems inevitable, far as I'm concerned.

There are two basic ways to access the Force: Light and Dark. Notice I didn't refer to them as "sides", even though that's how pretty much every single movie and source calls them. That's because the "sides" really seem to operate more like approaches. Side sounds much too passive for what I'm trying to expound on here, so I hope you can forgive my slight modification for now.

The Light approach is one of accessing the Force while in harmony with the creatures who provide it. The Light values the good order of all life, allowing for a multiplicity of views and approaches, embodied by the differing lightsaber colors of its practitioners. Harmony in diversity is the ideal, reflecting on nature.

It's important to understand that this doesn't mean anarchy. Nature makes hierarchy. There are higher and lower approaches to life. But nothing is in competition with each other, for the cycle benefits all if we but stick to it. So, despite the multiplicity of approaches, all approach the same way and for the same reason. All submit in peace to the cycle of the Force. This is generally why you won't see Force Powers like lightning and choking, because in essence nothing wishes to actually harm anything else. The innate goodness of creation prevents it from wishing to inflict harm for its own sake.

And yet, still, that is too tempting of an offer to pass up.
The Dark approach, however, focuses on ruling others. Afraid of the natural cycle that all are a part of a Dark Side practitioner will exert himself over others unnaturally. Of course the only way to do this is to remove the differences between you and others, because difference you didn't create means a hierarchy that you didn't either.  And that means a threat to your independence from the cycle that all are a part of.

But that's not the worst part. This approach is so poisonous that it destroys itself, preventing it from propagating through its own merits. Instead a system of a single master and apprentice is put in place, because any more than two and the whole thing falls apart. The master picks the apprentice knowing that someday the apprentice will try to kill him and the apprentice prays he gets that chance soon. Even in rebelling from the natural cycle of life and death the Dark Side practitioner just makes another one, but control of any kind is precious to someone who has this approach and, so long as they get control over everyone else, they relish what little power they think they have.

It shouldn't be hard to see where this fits on an interior level. We're supposed to have multiple aspects to ourselves, all healthily in balance with each other, allowing for healthy integration. No healthy psychology or religion wants there to be only one aspect of a person. Order is not an interior fascism where all is dress-right-dress and push ups, but where all parts (Id, ego, super-ego, nous, incensive power, desiring power, WHATEVER you want to call it) are able to contribute what they can.

Something implied in the movies is that your power level in the Force is directly corollary to your connected-ness to people. The more connected you are, the more powerful. It doesn't seem to matter if that relationship is positive or not, but simply where you sit in relation to the universe itself, with the Force choosing those who seem isolated, but are not, or won't stay that way for long.

 Anakin is a slave on Tatooine who has managed to keep his compassion, despite his loneliness and the constant abuse from being a slave. His potential is unlocked by Qui-Gon Jinn who bets everything on him. Anakin goes from never having completed a pod-race before to taking first place. He then accidentally destroys the Droid Federation Ship that controls all the droids over Naboo, in a ship he's never flown before, which, even though accidental, is no mean feat, creating a ripple effect in the Force that saves Obi-Wan in his fight with Darth Maul.

Luke is an overly sheltered kid who keeps wanting to discover who his father is, possibly as a way of discovering who he is and why he's so different from his Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. Obi-Wan Kenobi believes in him, making him capable of not only reflecting laser bolts with a lightsaber but to land what is one of the most impressive Force-feats of all time, firing a torpedo from a ship he's never flown before down an exhaust (it pushes things OUT) port to blow up the Death Star. The fact that Luke can hear Ben at all, with no training, puts Luke into possibly the most powerful Force-user of all time. But we'll get back to that later.

Rey is a slave on Jakku who manages to live alone and unmolested for years, learning everything she needs to be self-sufficient and isolating herself, hoping that her parents will come back for her, trusting that maybe just maybe it was a mistake and they'll get her out of this hell and explain everything. But Finn offers his friendship and she flies a ship that she's never flown out of the atmosphere. Anakin's lightsaber reaches out to her, granting her a vision of who she is and where she fits (which she rejects) and Kylo Ren, by acknowledging their connection and offering to teach her, opens up Rey's potential in a way that was unknown in the series before.

The Force chooses people, based off of how much they stand to gain from having that power and whether it'll do them any good in the end. The three protagonists are people who need the reassurance that the world has not abandoned them and the Force answered this need by giving them the ability to feel the connection they otherwise don't have at the beginning of their stories. Those who are Dark Side users take their power; it's not given to them but they are also in a position where the Force would have sought them out.

Why did I write this post here, before actually writing on the episodes? Because Star Wars doesn't reveal how it all works at the beginning, but reveals it all piece-meal. Also, since so many people have been exposed to the EU, they accidentally fold in what they think they to know to Star Wars, which doesn't follow the same rules. There's more to the Force but we'll cover that as it comes. The point is that some aspects of the Force can be explained to help digest the myth faster, but that's really the only point of commentary on mythology to begin with, isn't it?

1 comment:

  1. I read your article, and I have to admit, I didn't saw so much longshot presumption and mental gimnastic in a long time. You take your explanations not from movies, that's for sure. You just made things up for fill the gap of yor ignorance. First of all, from original trilogy we knew, that Force competence rose with gain practice+knowledge. Obi-wan has instructing Luke in Millenium Falcon, and then Obi-wan use HIS OWN Force to reach Luke right before taking Death Star out. Luke was a pilot allready before taking dearh star, so he has practice in abilities, that was merely supported additionally by the Force. The same in case of Anakin:did you forget, that Anakins mother was impregnated by MIDICHLORIANS? He was half human and half the walking-Force-embodiement. And don't forget he was also a pilot with a practice BEFORE he take down the droid control station. ALL that info was stated EXPLICITLY IN THE VERY MOVIES. Rey, on the other hand, have to be patched in literature, since NOTHING IN MOVIES explain her many competence's- those Force based and trivial alike. So, you are simply lying, using presumptions as a longshot explanations. It's mental gymnastics, roughly speaking.