Friday, June 17, 2011

41 BBY: Jedi Apprentice: The Death of Hope

It seems that everything Qui-Gon has told Obi-Wan about love has been correct, as he is now a living example of how such passionate feelings can make one lose control. Yoda’s description of the path to the darkside to Anakin in TPM is fitting here. Fearful Qui-Gon is of losing Tahl. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering (a notion which is Buddhist to the core).

With his love now dead, Qui-Gon is failing miserably at handling the emotional fallout. By the end of the book he is vowing revenge, a response which is a deeply human trait, but a trait not shared by the Jedi (a line more eloquently put at the back of The Call to Vengeance).

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while probably know my stance on Jedi marriage. I’m not exactly against it, but I think it’s better if a Jedi were to remain unmarried (I use the term “unmarried” loosely here. I basically mean single and celibate). I feel that a life of celibacy is the highest call for the Jedi, and the highest ideal. To be a Jedi requires sacrifice. Jedi have been given a great gift, and they must share that gift with the universe devoting their life to peace and nonviolent conflict resolution. However, in our modern world sacrifice is a hard concept to sell. Admittedly I’m influenced by Christian scripture when I say this, and when I think of the idea of Jedi celibacy, I think of St. Paul’s words from his first letter to the Corinthians when he writes: “He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord-how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares about the things of the world-how he may please his wife” (1 Cor 7: 32-33). I palimpsest this to mean that if a Jedi remains unmarried, he has unhindered devotion to the Force, and may concern himself with only the matters of the Force: the training of his padawan, the maintenance of peace in the galaxy, and meditating on the will of the Force. But if a Jedi is married, he may lose his “spiritual” focus, and forget things like his call to justice, his obedience to the Republic, or otherwise become too concerned with “earthly” matters, and interest himself with only “pleasing his wife”. Where would a Jedi’s first priority lie? With his vocation, or his family?

I know that in the past the Jedi Council never had an issue with Jedi marrying (I’m thinking around the time of Nomi Sunrider), but in my examination of Star Wars history to date it hasn’t been made clear exactly when the Jedi began to forbid this practice. (I may have missed something, so if you know when the Jedi as a collective put the kybosh of Jedi being married please let me know).

From what I do know of marriage, and I can say this with absolute certainty, is that love and marriage elicit powerful emotions, both positive and negative. The positive is fine, but what of the negative? How does an extremely powerful being, like Qui-Gon Jinn, deal with the negative side of unjustly losing the one he loves the most? Does he then get to decide the fate of the beings responsible for that death and fill the role of judge, jury, and executioner?

It evident throughout the text that Qui-Gon is barley maintaining his composure, almost falling to his dark emotions on numerous occasions: “Thinking of Tahl helpless, her mind active but her body deteriorating, made him want to rip the room apart” (19). And when faced with delay, his calm Jedi centre is nowhere to be found: “Another delay. Qui-Gon wanted to bellow his rage to the sky” (69). Finally, when the thing he is attached to the most (when compassionate detachment is a Jedi ideal), he begins to slip down the dark path: “He felt her breath go in, then out, soft against his cheek. Then it did not resume…Qui-Gon looked down at Tahl’s lifeless body. His hand still clasped hers. ‘There is only revenge’” (149,152).

There is no emotion, there is only peace. But peace is a lie.

My next post will take me to Qui-Gon’s revenge, and we’ll see if the Jedi Code will be able to return him to his senses in book 15 of the Jedi Apprentice series, The Call to Vengeance. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.


  1. I think that there were always a school of thought who didn't like the Jedi to be married, and that thought spread fast after the Exar Kun War. In Shadows and Light (3993 BBY) two Jedi were accused of passionate love, and it was told that the Dantooine Council would not like it.

    Now I found the quote from Malak in KOTOR comics:
    "Don't—Jedi refrain from…"
    "Emotional connections? Physical contact? No. Oh, there's a school in the Order that's always been pushing for that—wherever there's three people, there's one who thinks the other two shouldn't have any fun. Their voices have become louder since the Sith War. Turns out the children of Jedi are often strong with the Force."

  2. It was Socrates who once said "we write in order to forget, not remember".

    In one of his dialogues, Plato quotes Socrates saying: "The fact is that this invention (writing) will produce forgetfulness in the souls of those who have learned it."

    Alas how Socrates is right, because even though I have read and written about those two sources, it is precisely because I have written about them that I have forgotten very important parts of their story.

    Your recalling of those two scenes: the episode from Shadow and Light where Duron Qel-Droma and Shaela Nurr have been chastised by Guun Haan Saresh for their secret relationship, and the intimate scene between Malak and Jarel in the KOTOR comic, highlights much of what we've been discussing this past week.

    Firstly, I knew I knew there was a specific point in Star Wars history where there was a decree put out by the council that the Jedi were forbidden from forming intimate relationships. Thank you for reminding me. Interestingly, Guun Haan Saresh, in his chastisement of Qel-Droma and Nuur from Shadows and Light has an element of 1 Corinthians in his words when he says: "Jedi do not behave like this. We do not form attachments. We protect a way of life that we can never have – that is our sacrifice. ‘There is no passion, there is serenity’ – sound familiar?” It’s his use of the word sacrifice which has caught my attention here, and it is this idea of sacrifice I was attempting to highlight in my post. A Jedi without attachments can have an unhindered devotion to the Force. What is more, this is the Jedi’s sacrifice for the gift of the Force – to protect a way of life he or she has chosen to give up.

    Secondly, the scene you’ve recalled between Malak and Jarel from the KOTOR comic (I don’t remember which volume it’s contained it, my sources are not readily accessible right now) has so much to unpack with regards to the Jedi’s philosophy on forming “passionate” or “intimate” relationships. Malak’s line that: “Children of the Jedi are often strong with the Force” carries with it so much baggage. It is precisely because children of the Jedi are often strong with the Force that collective Jedi wisdom chose to forbid it. If the Jedi began to exclusively breed with each other, there would, over time, create a first and second class of galactic citizens. The first class, the Jedi, would wield the power, and I think eventually subjugate those who are not force sensitive into some form of a galaxy wide feudal system. I think the Jedi establishment and Buddhist philosophy would do its best to avoid this, but at some point some Jedi would have the idea ‘since I have been blessed with the gift of the Force, I must use that gift to my betterment and the betterment of my family’. Maybe some Jedi would believe they could rule the people justly and with wisdom, but such a system would likely form itself into a self- serving model, where those without the power of the Force serve those who have the power, and not a self-sacrificing model (which is the current model of the Jedi Order) where those with the power of the Force serve and protect those without.

    What is more, Malak’s line ‘children of the Jedi are often strong with the Force’ lends credence to the work of Demagol and Zan Arbor. It’s obviously the Force has a genetic quality to it (though not exclusively, as we know the Force can manifest itself into any being anywhere in the universe regardless of genetic makeup), so it’s no accident that these two scientists are looking to unlock the Force’s biological component, because it’s obviously there – midichlorians the obvious example.

    Anyway, thanks for pointing out these two sources, I forgot how richly packed they were with discussion.

  3. The worry that Jedi might create a superior class and try to rule is embodied in the behavior and actions of Jorus C'baoth in Outbound Flight. I look forward to your thoughts on that novel.

  4. I've always found this character interesting. He's even more interesting now.