Monday, November 10, 2008

LOVE: Episode I

Anakin is the chosen one - the boy prophesized by the Jedi to bring balance to the force. However, along the way unfortunate events intervene. Though his Jedi powers are great they are of no use as his mother is slaughtered by vicious sand people inhabiting the outer-rim planet of Tatooine. Dreams of losing his wife - Padme Amidala - haunt him as the evil emperor seduces young Anakin with tales of the dark side. He promises him limitless power. He promised him a way to reverse the course of his soon-to-be-dead wife.

When Episode III was released I wondered how George Lucas was going to turn Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader. It's hard to maintain suspense when everyone knows how it's going to end. While I won't defend Lucas' story-telling abilities (wait ... he goes from reluctant Jedi to child-slaughtering Sith in 10 minutes?) there's something genuinely profound about the fall of Anakin Skywalker.

How does a farmer boy meant to embody light and innocence transform into the cowboy-western-esque man in the black hat - a man of darkness and cruelty. Let me stop and take that in for a second. That is an abjectly powerful philosophical question. You might as well ask where do bad people in the world come from? Hitler, Stalin, Tony Danza. Is evil merely a perception of differing perspectives or is the devil within us? Is he hiding? What the Anakin-Vader transformation asks is this: how does a good man become bad?

Never short on subtlety Lucas answers this in a conversation Anakin has with the great Jedi master Yoda:

YODA: Careful you must be when sensing the future, Anakin. The fear of loss is a path to the dark side.

ANAKIN: I won't let my visions come true, Master Yoda.

YODA: Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them, do not. Miss them, do not. Attachment leads to jealousy. The shadow of greed, that is.

ANAKIN: What must I do, Master?

YODA: Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.

What led to Anakin's downfall was a flaw in his character but one that we can all relate to - fear of losing that which we love. The relationship is systemic. The more Anakin loves Padme the more his fear grows. The more his fear grows the more he is consumed by the power of the dark side.

While I don't follow religion, I do follow Star Wars and so this got me to thinking -

Could it be that the root of all evil is .... love?

The answer of course is yes. The problem we have though is love is the root of all good and so far as humanity is concerned we're really up shit's creek on this one.

If you're a female reader of this blog or you just look like a woman, you'll be happy to know that I'll be devoting the next few posts on the topic of love. As a dude who hasn't had a steady girlfriend for upwards of two years don't expect Cosmo/Maxim writing meant to help you "get that guy/girl/transgender homeboy". Mostly it'll be wrist-slittingly™ geeky commentary on a topic I think about as I gaze at German school children (see last post). With luck I'll find a new way to depress and bore you each time.

Tune in!


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