Choosing the Dark Side — Mauricio Jullian

anakin

In the formal definition offered by Zizek, the “Event” is an occurrence that, by breaking into a horizon of a certain meaning, presupposes its own causes in such a way that the Event adopts the form of a miracle. In its irruption it alters in such a way the existing symbolic coordinates, that it signifies the causes that generated it. This does not mean that the Event cannot be redirected to previous causes, but, in some sense, that they are surpassed by the Event.

Is not Star Wars, in its three trilogies, an explicit example of this formal structure? We start with the Luke’s trilogy, which presents the story of our first hero, Luke, who fights against the tyranny and power of a Sith lord and his empire. Then, we return to the past, where we are told “how” Luke’s world emerges, through the mythical trilogy of Anakin, Luke’s father. Finally, we find ourselves in the Era of the “third” trilogy, in which the constitutively antagonistic opposition of Siths and Jedis; between the “dark” side of Force and the Ashla, the “side of light”, becomes diffuse.

The irruption of Luke’s trilogy broke into the film world in such a way that it imposed not only a sequel, but also the need to account for the past, for the conditions in which something like Luke’s world could emerge.

But Star Wars offers us more than the external structural equivalence of the Event in the development of its films. It is not simply a question of ascertaining the possible analogy between the Zizekian Event and Star Wars’ capacity to unfold both in sequels and prequels. Anakin’s own mythical story; his shift to the dark side, signified the whole story of the plot, altering the conditions under which it is possible to understand the Force, and the role of the Jedi in their ideological struggle with the Sith.

Let’s start with Jedi doctrine; Jedi are an order of “protectors”, united by the ability to influence and use Force adhering to the “light side” [1]. Jedi morality aspires to a state of inner peace by moving away from emotions, which are associated with the dark side. In this way, it is possible to notice the deeply Kantian and Buddhist character of Jedi ideology;

“Passions are cancers of pure practical reason and, more often than not, incurable; because the sick person does not want to be cured and withdraws from the only principle by which this could happen. … Hence passions are not merely like emotions, unhappy feelings, which are pregnant with many evils, but bad in themselves, without exception, and the appetite of a better nature, even if it is directed to that which corresponds to virtue (by matter) inasmuch as it becomes passion is (by its form), not harmful in a merely pragmatic way, but also objectionable from the moral point of view.” [2]

The Jedi balance is transcendental. It entails the maintenance of an Order corresponding to the stability of the cosmos; in short, the Jedi subject protects this order by maintaining and protecting its fluidity. Fixation is rejected, in the words of master Yoda “fear is the way to the dark side, fear leads to anger, anger leads to hatred, hatred leads to suffering”.

The Sith order, although not properly an order, structures its concept of the Force according to desire, and the Sith fully assumes the consequences of its desire. The dark side is considered seductive, and a Jedi must maintain vigilance to avoid falling into the dark side. [3]

In short, the cleavage between Jedis and Siths are emotions and their attachment in the form of desire. In philosophical terms, we can recognize in the center of the Sith teachings, the famous Hegelian quotation,

“Therefore, we have to say in a general way that nothing great has been accomplished in the world without passion.” [4]

The markedly Jedi accent of the trilogies is noteworthy. In this sense, Star Wars is a series of films that tell the story of a Sith (Anakin) and a Jedi (Luke), from a Jedi point of view. However, the doctrine presented by Jedi ideology is called into question when we look more closely at Anakin’s story. Partly, because Anakin is the chosen one, the actor whose agency materializes the prophecy of bringing “balance” to the Force. [5]

This antagonism, which intertwines the characters and the plot of the three trilogies, is challenged, in the form of the Event described by Zizek, after Anakin’s conversion. The reason for the importance of this conversion (far from being the most relevant conversion in the long list of Jedi converts) is that, with it, the Jedi ideology is exposed, exposed in its truth within the form of totalitarianism.

There are two arguments that we can explore in this sense. The first is the very form of the Force (F1) and the second is in the history of Anakin (A1). In F1 we can notice that the Jedi prophecy is fulfilled, only not in the way the Jedis expected: The Force achieves a balance when it adopts the form of a totalitarian system. That is, the “equilibrium” desired by the Jedi, in which the contradictions of harmony (indifference) and emotion (fixation) are resolved, can only be achieved through totalitarianism regime. We can replicate here the experience of Soviet communism; the “historical” overcoming of all contradictions is only produced in the synthetic figure of Stalin, he, as the leader, represented the dialectical overcoming of the “left” and “right” deviations. [6]

It is possible to observe that the dynamics of the Force are linked to the imbalance produced by the different antagonisms of the plot. In the opposite case, when we see that one of the parts triumphs over the other, totalitarianism becomes the expected balance of the Force. The Republic needed this dynamic imbalance; when this imbalance is lost, totalitarianism arises.

Therefore, in F1 we notice the horrendous effect of the “equilibrium” of the Force. The plot resolves the contradictions only when an antagonistic figure appears and unbalances or disturbs the initial equilibrium. In the mythical trilogy, Anakin embodies the imbalance expressed in the tension of Jedi’s teaching and his emotions, mainly by his love for Padme. For his part, the love he feels for Padme unfolds the process by which the Sith plot is unveiled; since she is the artifact that triggers the conditions for Anakin to realize his own Sith condition. In this sense, there is a fundamental relationship between the “states” of the Force and the unfolding of the plot. In a way, to speak of the love story between Padme and Anakin is to speak of the “history” of the Force.

In this way, it is possible to notice that in the terms of the Zizekian Event, Anakin’s story presupposes the conditions that account for its transcendence in the other two trilogies. In this sense, is not the early Luke a character who breaks into the “equilibrium” of the Force precisely to bring it back to the state of light? Is not the late, skeptical Luke of the “Last Jedi” the one who understands that the Jedi doctrine is irremediably wrong?

Finally, F1 leads us to take note of A1. Anakin’s process signifies the entire argumentative qualification of the trilogies, his conversion bursts into the scheme of the plot as one that calls into question the entire Jedi posture.

Then is not Anakin’s conversion (materialized in “The Revenge of the Sith”) the Event by which we can read under a new paradigm all the argumentative narrative of the trilogies? Anakin’s story reveals to us the true character of the Force; it is not possible to avoid desire. The “equilibrium” of the Force is not achieved through the suppression of desire, but through its correct mediation. Thus, in a transcendental turn, both the first Luke and the late Luke are expressions of the cause that gave way to Anakin’s conversion, expressions of the Force’s impossibility of finding correct mediation in the Jedi doctrine. By observing the early Luke and the late Luke we can explain with certainty the prophetic -irremediable- character of Anakin’s history.

For this reason, in the third trilogy the antagonistic struggle between Siths and Jedis is obsolete. In this new state we realize other problems that cannot be reduced to the symbolic coordinates of the first two trilogies; like Kylo Ren’s “drive for light”, or Luke’s skepticism about the Jedi order. In a sense, we can say that after Anakin, the director was forced to fully integrate the Sith’s option, giving us a third trilogy in which the characters must deal with their emotions, and the costs involved within. There is no longer a “Great Order” to preserve, there is no balance; Anakin’s Event forces us to look with skepticism at the naïve Jedi call to protect the cosmic order. Now it is not a question of protecting it, but of taking it to its limits.

Mauricio Jullian is a law student in University Alberto Hurtado, Santiago, Chile.

Notes:

1. http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Jedi

2. Immanuel Kant, Anthropology (1789), §81.

3. http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Dark_side_of_the_Force

4. G. W. F. Hegel, Reason in History (1824)

5. In the Canon the argument ratifies the anointing of Anakin as the chosen one even having become, in the words of The Father: “You are the Chosen One. You have brought balance to this world…” The father “was a mighty possessor of the Force residing in the kingdom of Mortis. His sons, the Daughter and the Son, represented the light side and the dark side of the Force, respectively. The Father maintained the balance between them until his poor health forced him to seek a successor.” (http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Anakin_Skywalker)

6. Zizek et al.

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s