Amy H. Sturgis (eldritchhobbit) wrote,
Amy H. Sturgis

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Pure Vessels

I was recently reading Lois McMaster Bujold's The Curse of Chalion, and I paused at this passage:

I'd storm heaven for you, if I knew where it was.

He knew where it was. It was on the other side of every living person, every living creature, as close as the other side of a coin, the other side of a door. Every soul was a potential portal to the gods. I wonder what would happen if we all opened up at once? Would it flood the world with miracle, drain heaven? He had a sudden vision of saints as the gods' irrigation system, like the one around Zagosur; a rational and careful opening and closing of sluice gates to deliver each little soul-farm its just portion of benison. Except that this felt more like floodwaters backed up behind a cracking dam.

This passage reminds me of how the Force is described in Star Wars. ("On the other side of every living person, every living creature," seems to echo these words spoken by Obi-Wan: "The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.") The distinction Bujold makes between those who call upon the gods and those who open themselves to the gods led me to think once again about the distinction made in the Star Wars universe between those Jedi attuned to the Unifying Force, who wish to harness and use its power for "big picture" good, and those Jedi attuned to the Living Force, who wish not to use it but instead to be used by it, to become vessels for the will and movement of the Force "in the moment." These metaphors are very interesting to me, as they underscore the difference between being a directing, acting will and choosing to surrender will and become an instrument. Both paths seek the Good, but they do so in very different ways.

So, of course, I go back to the Qui-Gon Jinn character, who to me symbolizes the "opening up" that Bujold describes. (And who continues to be a source of curiosity for me, since we only received a tantalizing glimpse of him in The Phantom Menace.) I've been thinking about his relationship to the Force, especially since reading randomalia's recent "Force Ghosts and Ep 3 Speculation" post. Following randomalia's argument, I find it a very appealing irony to think that Qui-Gon's selflessness, his willing to surrender himself and be used by the Force, in fact actually preserved his individuality, his existence as a self after death. By offering himself in the moment, he was granted himself in eternity.

I find randomalia's theory about why Qui-Gon's body didn't disappear upon his death to be more convincing and at harmony with canon than the theory advanced in "The Pure Vessel: A Character Analysis of Qui-Gon Jinn" by Dedalus (Paul). In this article, Dedalus writes "I like the idea that Qui-Gon couldn't survive past TPM because he was such a pure vessel. Lucas has hinted that the balance of the Force will slip even farther in the two episodes to come, and that everything will become 'gray.' It is no longer a galaxy for Jedi such as Qui-Gon. He couldn't survive the 'dark times.'" I think much of Dedalus's article is compelling, but I'm not as convinced by this. If Qui-Gon is a pure vessel, then he is, in a sense, the Force. How can times become too dark for a power that is everywhere, binding the galaxy together, and (I assume) seeking balance, even when -- or especially when -- that balance has been disturbed?

At any rate, the main idea of this ramble is that I find the metaphor of the gods (Bujold) and the Force (Star Wars) fascinating in their tensions and conclusions. In particular, Qui-Gon's relationship with the Force -- to use Bujold's terminology, his desire not to storm heaven, but to be stormed by it -- is intriguing, all the more so because his perspective appears to be the maverick, minority view among the Jedi (and, I suppose some would argue, ultimately a tragic one, as well -- that's another discussion).

In support of this ramble, I've compiled a short list of some texts about Qui-Gon (and, as you might expect, Obi-Wan Kenobi, as well) I have found thought-provoking. If you know of any I've missed, please let me know. Thanks!

* Already mentioned above are randomalia's recent "Force Ghosts and Ep 3 Speculation" post and "The Pure Vessel: A Character Analysis of Qui-Gon Jinn" by Dedalus (Paul).

* randomalia's "Qui-Gon Jinn/Obi-Wan Kenobi" essay

* I've already talked about my view on foreshadowing in the Jedi Apprentice novels here.

* On a related note, from the author of the Jedi Apprentice novels, there is "Young and Old Alike - An Interview With Jude Watson"

* "Jedi Knight of Infinite Faith" by Paul F. McDonald and the other "Phantom Heresies" Essays

* "The Naming of Jedi" by Elizabeth (Mistress Qui-Gon), "'Be Mindful of the Living Force': Or Training to Be a Terran Jedi" by Astra, and the other Features

* "Why We Love Qui-Gon" by the fans at

* "Just Who is Qui-Gon Jinn, Anyway?" by Purple Dragon

* "Duel of the Fates and funeral scene lyrics from The Phantom Menace" (more relevant than it may sound)

* "More Hindu Themes in the Star Wars Saga" by Cie Sharp

* The Tao of Star Wars by John M. Porter
Tags: star wars

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