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"Balance" in the Force and the Dark Side

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Story and Lore
"Balance" in the Force and the Dark Side

Darth_Advent's Avatar


Darth_Advent
09.10.2012 , 12:19 PM | #1
I created this topic in Star Wars Discussion a few weeks ago but it didn't generate much interest, so I figured I'd see if the regulars in the Story and Lore forum would like to ponder this.

t's been a common misconception among Star Wars fans for years that the so-called "balance" in the Force referred to the equal, counteracting dichotomy of light and darkness. Many mistook the Force for some Taoist yin-yang concept in which good and evil, peace and passion, and serenity and violence had to be in some kind of metaphysical equilibrium. The lore does not support this analysis, and in fact portrays the dark side as an unnatural corruption that eats away at the Force from the inside like a cancer. It's not supposed to be there and the galaxy would be better off without it gnawing away at the Force and life itself. Anakin Skywalker brought balance to the Force by destroying the Sith Order and vanquishing the darkness, not bringing light and dark into parity.

And then early last year there was an story arc in the Clone Wars cartoon about a planet called "Mortis" in an alternate plane of reality inhabited by creatures called "Force Wielders." They are former Celestials who became living embodiments of the light side, dark side, and the "Force in balance." Considering that originally there was no "light side", and this was a fan term created to contrast the corrupt and unnatural dark side within the Living Force, it's kind of surprising to see avatars of darkness and light. The dark being is called "The Son", the light being is "The Daughter", and balance is "The Father." Basically, The Father keeps his children on Mortis because it's the only way he can assure that their powers remain in check. He says during the course of the story that too much darkness or light will destroy reality and doom the galaxy, so he needs to make sure that The Son and the The Daughter don't overpower one another or fight too harshly.

That's pretty much the exact opposite of what the Force was portrayed as being up until that point. The Jedi believe, and their belief is canonically the "most right" perspective on the Force according to LucasArts, that the dark side is what unbalances the Force. This would indicate that the Jedi are completely wrong about something pretty important and that destroying the dark side is ultimately a bad idea.

The Mortis characters and ontology get revisited in a book titled "Apocalypse", which was the most recent book in the "Fate of the Jedi" series and hit stores about a year after the cartoons aired. In the book, Luke Skywalker and his Jedi allies team up with Sith to stop a potent space aberration doing what ancient interstellar abominations do. Luke concludes that Anakin's decision not to replace The Father as the one to keep equilibrium between the light and the dark caused ripples in the Force that lead to most of the conflicts 60 years after Anakin went to Mortis in the Clone Wars cartoon. He also decides that the Jedi and Sith orders themselves must become the new Daughter and Son to maintain balance in the Force.

I then considered that the words of characters are not essentially canon. Characters are not necessarily correct nor are their opinions representative of lore facts unless affirmed by the creators. Then I learned that in the DVD set for the 3rd season of Clone Wars, Lucas says, "The Core of the Force. I mean you got the Dark Side, the Light Side, one is selfless, one is selfish, and you want to keep them in balance."

So does this mean that big G has swung 180 degrees to the other side an changed the Force back from a black & white medieval morality play in space to Lao Tzu in space? I'm finding it pretty hard to reconcile this conflicting data, unless I'm missing some Leland Che spin-doctoring.
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Lucas is more than merely "okay" with the Mortis arc. The Clone Wars aren't like the EU, where he just skims things over for anything outrageous and waves it off otherwise; he personally supervises each episode. That story didn't get through without his full sanction. I also reject that it happened but it didn't happen, because it's clear that it wasn't any more of a metaphor than anything else in greater story. The Ones inhabited a world existing in another dimension created through the Force specifically so that the Father could keep his children from wreaking havoc. It wasn't all a dream that Anakin had because he drank too much blue milk, and even it were a Force vision, then it shouldn't have shown him something completely opposite of the nature of the Force. Mainly, The Father wouldn't have been the agent of balancing the scales between light and dark, yet he was just that.

I'm not going to dismiss the EU books because some call them BS, because that doesn't change the fact that LA considers them a part of canon. EU material is only not canon if overruled by LA or Lucas himself, and the man in charge is pretty serious about correcting anything that messes with his vision too much. In the past, they've had to write books where the Potentium was discredited so that there could be no doubt that the light and dark side are physically real and not just a flawed way of categorizing powers. The Potentium and theories like it were in direct conflict with Lucas' vision and how he wanted the Force to be portrayed. If Apocalypse had Luke Skywalker, probably the most important Jedi in Star Wars, saying something totally off about how the Force works then I'd expect Lucas or Leland Che to veto it in the draft phase.

And yet they didn't. It seems like they're going back to the Western overview of certain Eastern notions and saying that the dark side has to be a part of the Force somehow.
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As a final note, there's now a comic series called Dawn of the Jedi that explores history of the Je'daii precursors to the Jedi Order. They similarly strive to keep darkness in light in literal balance because Tython breaks into violent storms if either side of the Force gains too much strength. Je'daii go so far as to banish those too attached to light or darkness to one of Tython's two moons in order to regain their balance through meditation and contemplation of the opposite moon to which they're assigned. For example, a dark sider is banished to Bogan and encouraged to reflect on Ashla's luminescence.

We know that the Je'daii transform into the Jedi who believe that the Force in balance is light, but one must also consider the events leading to that change in dogma. The Rakata Infinite Empire is led by a race a Force-sensitives who rely on the dark side and use dark side-powered hyperdrives. Their existence probably kicks the influence of the dark side up to 11 with heavy bass, so it would make sense if the Force had to find equilibrium by converting the Je'daii into a light side organization as a means of long term damage control.
May the Force serve you well.

Bydandii's Avatar


Bydandii
09.10.2012 , 04:00 PM | #2
First, if Lucas was wildly inconsistent in his world building is not a shocker of any magnitude.

Second, I am surprised the concept of balance meaning balance is a misconception. How can elimination of the other end of the counter-weight in any way be thought of as balancing? The Yin-Yang nature has seemed a natural expression of what all elements of Force discussions eluded to, and fits numerous philosophical, religious, and ethical concepts that Lucas would have drawn upon for his fictional creation.

Third, I've always considered that Luke brought balance to the Force by walking the edge of the Light and Dark sides, embracing his anger at times, but controlling it with calm - balancing.

Edit: I suppose Fourth, since my youthful days in the theater for the first film releases I have always considered balance to mean balance, and the "Light-only-no-Dark-means-balance" argument holds no water for me.

CephalicRex's Avatar


CephalicRex
09.10.2012 , 05:56 PM | #3
We argued this to a great extent in "Code of the Grey Jedi" in the Star Wars General Discussion. I think the issue is a lot of the "older" fans of Star Wars have a hard time reconciling that George Lucas changed horses midway through the race. It happens. Stories change and ideas evolve.

Meanwhile we have a newer generation of fans that grew up in an era where it was taken for granted that the light and dark are two sides of the same coin. There is a tension between these two schools of thought and it rubs a lot of fans the wrong way that both philosophies exist in the same universe. Some would rather it be either one way or the other rather than take the new cannon as a new cannon and dismiss what they thought Star Wars used to be about.

I think the main issue at hand is acceptance. Lucas changed his mind or Is using the new themes to reach a broader audience at the expense of his older audience's perception of what they believed Star Wars to be about. At any rate, he has already irrevocably changed Star Wars fundamentally and it is up to you if you accept the changes and go with it or remain a staunch defender of the old guard.

Uluain's Avatar


Uluain
09.10.2012 , 06:09 PM | #4
Quote: Originally Posted by CephalicRex View Post
Lucas changed his mind or Is using the new themes to reach a broader audience at the expense of his older audience's perception of what they believed Star Wars to be about. At any rate, he has already irrevocably changed Star Wars fundamentally and it is up to you if you accept the changes and go with it or remain a staunch defender of the old guard.
Speaking as someone introduced to Star Wars by its original big-screen debut, I'm not buying it. Lucas has been consistent in his Force philosophy. If you feel you are losing your way, trust Yoda to lay it all out. Ben? Well, Ben was shading the truth pretty heavily. Yoda might not tell all he knows, but one to prevaricate, he is not!

And if you can't follow it from there, just fill in the rest with Buddhism and you won't fall far off your mark.

The Force is balance, harmony, synergy. But these can only be defined by contrasting opposites: imbalance, disharmony, parisitism. Dark side adepts not only abuse Force powers for self-aggrandizement, they abuse the Force itself to extract power from these antitheses. The Jedi Order has its flaws, and is far from perfect in realizing its ideals, but Sith are evil vampires and dark Jedi are misled vampires, and the dark side is itself imbalance. And it has been all along.

CephalicRex's Avatar


CephalicRex
09.10.2012 , 06:32 PM | #5
Well regardless of what Geroge's personal view of the subject is, I'm not here to argue the force. That was never my intention. Done it enough times and it is a dead end road.

Just sayin' the Star Wars universe has changed since the 80's. If it didn't we wouldn't' have characters like Revan blasting away at people with the light and Darkside at the same time. Lucas doesn't really help the case any by not calling shenannigans whenever a Grey Jedi rears his head.

Uluain's Avatar


Uluain
09.10.2012 , 08:12 PM | #6
Quote: Originally Posted by CephalicRex View Post
Just sayin' the Star Wars universe has changed since the 80's. If it didn't we wouldn't' have characters like Revan blasting away at people with the light and Darkside at the same time. Lucas doesn't really help the case any by not calling shenannigans whenever a Grey Jedi rears his head.
Okay, I can see what you're saying. This is actually why I have a hard time liking the whole Revanite enchilada. It's pretty much a blank spot in my headcanon. Then again, my first introduction to EU was the Star Wars Holiday Special, so I have had practice.

Darth_Advent's Avatar


Darth_Advent
09.11.2012 , 11:23 AM | #7
The cinch for me that things had changed is that the confusion of how "balance" can mean the elimination of the dark was a problem of semantics. Lucas and Che used to say something to the effect that the so-called "light" is the natural state of the Force. The dark side is an unnatural presence that causes imbalance. Of course, now that we have top canon sources saying that the dark side must always be around or problems will occur, that rule would appear logically ret-coned.

What's also telling is that now the light is emphasized as selfless while the dark is selfish, as opposed to plainly good and evil. It's something more universal to say you'd want to balance selfishness with selflessness than to balance good with evil, I think. Consider that if you're too selfish you make everyone an enemy and cause misery, but if you're too selfless you become an exploited doormat and get yourself and your friends in trouble.

Thanks for showing interest. I remember this caused endless fighting in the forums back before launch, so it's nice to see a degree of polite acceptance between the Star Wars Discussion and the Story and Lore forums alike.
May the Force serve you well.

Jaigen's Avatar


Jaigen
09.11.2012 , 12:32 PM | #8
Quote: Originally Posted by Uluain View Post
Speaking as someone introduced to Star Wars by its original big-screen debut, I'm not buying it. Lucas has been consistent in his Force philosophy. If you feel you are losing your way, trust Yoda to lay it all out. Ben? Well, Ben was shading the truth pretty heavily. Yoda might not tell all he knows, but one to prevaricate, he is not!

And if you can't follow it from there, just fill in the rest with Buddhism and you won't fall far off your mark.

The Force is balance, harmony, synergy. But these can only be defined by contrasting opposites: imbalance, disharmony, parisitism. Dark side adepts not only abuse Force powers for self-aggrandizement, they abuse the Force itself to extract power from these antitheses. The Jedi Order has its flaws, and is far from perfect in realizing its ideals, but Sith are evil vampires and dark Jedi are misled vampires, and the dark side is itself imbalance. And it has been all along.
If their is a darkside then they cannot be parasites because the darkside is a part of the force.

Kylerp's Avatar


Kylerp
09.11.2012 , 08:37 PM | #9
Our friend George is rather terrible at Lore Keeping, take the Clone War for example, and him just taking a crap on all of Traviss' work. In my opinion, she did a much better job at adhering to lore than the Clone Wars do. Lucas doesn't seem to realize that for many people, inconsistencies matter to us. He sees Star Wars as more of an investment and Hobby that he can do anything to, because he created the spark for its creation. Don't get me wrong, I love his work, but sometimes he upsets me. As for balance, I believe that the force is present in all beings, and beings are inheirently evil, or good. There are good people, and bad people. The Jedi destroying this Sith in my opinion, would be close to bringing the force into this Taoistic form, as even with the Sith gone, there are still evil people. So now we have a ton of lesser evils combating a smaller group of extremely goodies. Make sense?

losdia's Avatar


losdia
09.12.2012 , 01:59 AM | #10
I literally just finished watching Red Tails, so I think I can safely say Lucas has better things to do than sit around stroking a cat in a Bond Villain-esque way while coming up with ways to screw with "canon." Don't get me wrong, while I like Clone Wars, I didn't really think the mando story arc was fair to the EU when Karen Travis had just finished doing a lot of very interesting things with mando culture. But that is a very different conversation than talking about how the EU got so "yay darkside."

A big part of the problem is that, whatever else you wish to say about him, Lucas is something of a genius and a lot of the people who have built the EU... aren't. That isn't to say there aren't excellent creators who have done work in the Star Wars verse, but simply put they don't have the same background as Lucas. If you've never heard it check out Lucas talking about Joseph Campbell and his ideas of the one world mythos sometime, it is truly fascinating. Lucas is regarded as an expert on the history of cinema, world religion (to an extent), and the nature of story telling. That really can't be said of say, Louise Jones and Tom Veitch (a couple of writers who created a huge chunk of the EU with their work on SW comics).

Wookiepedia is another part of the problem. The nature of any franchise wiki is that all sources have to be treated as at least somewhat equally canon. There really isn't a problem with that until creators start using it as a crutch. Anything on Wookiepedia is written by a fan and only reflects a sort of loose consensus of interpretation of a given story. That doesn't mean it reflects anything resembling how a writer intended their work to be read.

The biggest problem is that people don't view Star Wars as a setting where there is an absolute morality. A major element of the prequels was to establish the idea that the Jedi were wrong in how they viewed The Force, and once you accept this view it seems that the Sith view must be an equally valid. This is where the other problems I mentioned come in. The fandom accepts the view that all sides are wrong in their view of the Force. So if "light and dark" can't be used as measures of morality it must be interpreted by the actions the of individual characters and once that happens creators start using that interpretation. The problem with that is Word of God from Lucas is that Qui-Gon, (canon)Revan, (canon)Exile, and Luke were right in their in-verse view of The Force (accepting rather than rejecting emotions without being ruled by them and seeking total guidance from the force in the manner of RL Wu Wei). Balance in The Force was established when all of the groups that were misusing The Force were wiped out and only the True Believers were left standing. Accepting that means a lot of the EU is wrong in how it treats those characters. It actually drives me a little crazy in Legacy and FOTJ how the NJO is treated as just an extension of the old order rather than a group trained in the "new way" by Luke. TOR is bad about this too with how Revan is depicted.

In the end I think it all comes down to what you let in your personal headcanon. If you want to accept every little thing ever written on the back of a box of cereal as canon that's your choice, but don't expect it to be coherent. For me it is getting to the point that just about everything beyond X-Wing, The Kotor Series, and Thrawn have been blasted from my head.
"Say, Mike... Did we just do something horribly wrong?"
"Yeah, I think so."
-MST3K, Invasion USA