A happy return to the old ways

I was able to get out and watch Star Wars: The Last Jedi last night in Roppongi. It was a pretty impressive movie, though it certainly has some faults. That won’t stop me from watching it a few (dozen) more times when it comes out for purchase.

It seems almost de rigeur to have some conversations about the nature of the force after watching a new Star Wars movie. As a much younger man, my friends and I would often talk about how the Force was something akin to Buddhism or Taoism, and the Jedi as samurai or Chinese Taoists.

However, these conversations were suddenly made moot in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace where Jedi master Qui-Gon Jinn provides some exposition that the Force was brought about through a symbiotic relationship with sentient beings called “midi-chlorians” that inhabit all living things. Although it nicely wraps up the Force in a pretty box that tries to explain the origins of Anakin Skywalker and his extraordinary abilities, it also created a host of other problems — including that the Force was no longer something cultivated by ancient mystical practices. After Episode I, the Force became something you were born with.

So, I was quite refreshing to find Chris Plante’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi fixes one of the prequels’ worst problems. In this article he shows how the Star Wars franchise, under Disney, has moved to re-expand the Force to the available-for-all, mystical practice we encountered in the original trilogy.

Also, I couldn’t help but smile when I came across these two pieces in the last couple days:

The Jedi as samurai vs. the Jedi as ninja by Matthew Bortolin

“The Last Jedi” cranks up Star Wars’ Buddhist themes by Tim Carmody at (the always great) Kottke.org

I hope that this Force-as-a-practice trend continues. I think it would be nice to use this device as a lever to finding out more about other characters’ backgrounds in the future.


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