02 May 2005

Darth Vader's inner life

Some of my friends know that I have my doubts that the Jedi are the good guys in Star Wars. Inspired by David Brin's notorious critiques of Star Wars, I've started entertaining thoughts of writing a revisionist Star Wars novel, along the general lines of Maguire's Wicked or Gardener's Grendel.

Brin, for instance, observes that in The Empire Strikes Back, everything that Yoda told Luke was either a lie or categorically misjudged. I notice that in The Phantom Menace we learn that the Jedi rob parents of their children, don't object to slavery, fought a genocidal war against a sect with different religious practices, and even cheat at dice. And so on. There's another side to the story to tell.

I learn via DeLong that someone is publishing Darth Vader's blog. It's very clever, though I think it's trying to do too many things at once: the mix of Star Wars midrash with mockery of blog writing conventions with goofy humor doesn't always stay aloft. But it's fun. And there are some moments of true brilliance comparable to what I would like to do.

I told him I had reason to suspect the hidden rebel base would soon be in our grasp. In other words I lied. To my master. My quest became less the search for the Alliance and more the search for a single man.

Why did I allow my judgement to become so twisted? I gave myself twenty lashes before I was certain: I wanted in some way to love him. It made me sick to think about. Love is a path of meat, where the Sith is the path of the mind. I had rejected my old identity --- it had burned from me, hanging from my body in sizzling cobs.

There is no such man as Anakin Skywalker!

(And yet, there is such a man as his son.)

This is a reflection of the thing that Lucas seems not to understand about myth. They are stories for children, yes, but not only stories for children. Eventually we grow up and figure out that Theseus is a selfish misogynist, Red had reasons to want to tarry with the wolf, Romeo would have been a faithless husband, and Batman is pretty sick in the head. The myth is not diminished by these adult readings; the potential to read on different levels is what makes it myth.

1 comment:

TheWayOfTheGun said...

The difference in Lucas' work always seemed to me that "A New Hope" and "The Empire Strikes Back" were accessible to kids, while the other films pandered to kids. I can enjoy the former without reservation but the latter is annoying.

To be fair, I recently watched "Return of the Jedi" for the first time since the recent theatrical release. (Doing background research for an RPG setting.) I found that it was a better movie than I had remembered, but that may have been because my expectations were low this time out.