Bella & the Beast.png

Welcome Aboard!

--"Izzy, how did you start dancing?"

--"What got you into martial arts?"

--"What kind of dancer/martial artist/writer are you?

--"How do you deal with brain damage, bodily injury and 

     C-PTSD, yet still dance, write, train, live the way you do?"

--"How do you still find joy and beauty amidst pain and loss?"

--"Wow, you should write your memoirs!" 

    This Is My Story

NSFW, 18+

Search
  • Bella Dancer

THE (S)HE-RO'S JOURNEY 2: Balance - The Disturbance In My Force

Continued from:

--MY 40-YEAR OBSESSION WITH THE GLADIATRIX

--THE YIN-YANG RABBIT HOLE SERIES - If you haven't at least read this opening sex, language & violence content warning with its (non)binary discussion of the Feminine & Masculine polarity, I suggest you do before reading any of this series. If you skip it...well...you've been warned.

--THE SHE-RO'S JOURNEY - Not Your Customary Character Arc



Y'all know how much I love Star Wars, right? As much as I wanna Force-choke it, I really do love it even more.


It all started when I was five years old, the day my parents took me to see what we now call A New Hope in that musty discount movie theater a few towns away. I became an instant devotee. All through my youth, my first bestie Johnny and I built the Lego sets and played with the action figures. It was perfect that he had an affinity for Luke Skywalker and Yoda. (Hmmm... Come to think of it, his Yoda voice was a bit similar to when he voiced the first sidekick/love interest I ever wrote, Norman the Og--also short, squashy and green.)


Anyway, Johnny's preferences left me free to be the characters I loved the most: Princess Leia, Han Solo, and Darth Vader. If you've been with us for awhile or you know me just a little, that should come as no surprise.


We played Star Wars in the sandbox (Tatooine), on the jungle-gym and caterpillar (asteroids), in 12 foot snow-tunnel forts (Hoth), in the woods (Endor), on the flag pole base (Jabba's barge), on the porch overlooking a bucket of sloupy sand (the Sarlacc pit), on the propane tank (the Death Star)...


Man, we played Star Wars everywhere!


As a kid, I pretended my blanket was Leia's long flowy hair and that I owned a blaster; as an adult I have frequently put my long flowy hair into dually-buns and I am wholly uncivilized. Star Wars movies are one of my classic birthday outings, and Vader growls at me from my phone multiple times every day that, "It is pointless to resist (my PT exercises)." Yes, indeed, the Imperial March IS my phone's ringtone.


And then there was this:

"If Leia Had Been a Belly Dancer"

My dastardly, irreverent dance at a sci-fi con in 2011

Collar, chain, Jedi Tit-Tricks and all



Alas.


There is a disturbance in my Force.


As we left off last time:

...All the things they had set up in The Last Jedi, all that chemistry, all that symbolism, all that potential for the true Union between masculine and feminine, dark and light, yin and yang--


POOF.


It broke my myth-devotee's heart.


And I am not alone.


"I personally do not want our mainstream stories to continue to reflect the American Monomyth. (3) They do not provide good, enduring lessons in my opinion."

~Wit and Folly (4)


Mine too. Limiting Puritanical morals, the American paradise fantasy (ignoring the price paid by all those who were crushed amidst its creation), redemption through martyrdom, the ultimatum choice of sex OR heroic power, the hero's need to take on darkness for the sake of all mankind and then disappear into sacrificial death or obscurity (with the ability to return if the box office figures--I mean, if humanity has need of them again).


I'm far more interested in stories that break from this long-enduring tradition.


Warning: Star Wars spoilers ahoy!


For quite awhile now, I've been trying to put into words what my issue is. Thank you, Wit and Folly, for show-and-telling my heart and mind far better than I ever could:


See, it's not the old-school Disney Love Story ending between Rey and Ben that I'm craving. Not at all. It's something else.


I search for this elusive thing over and over as I quest for it in myself, in the stories I read and watch, in the world around me, and in the worlds I dream up in my imagination. It has everything to do with navigating a balance between the Light and the Dark, and between the traits and aspects of life that have been divvied up as "Masculine and Feminine" or "Good and Evil." It has to do with my teeth-gnashing over the denigration of Darkness and everything on that side of the coin--the unknown, shadow, chaos, emotion, femininity, sensitivity, desire, vulnerability, surrender, destruction, and death--the empty void from which new life is created.


Star Wars talks a lot about Balance in the Force. But so often they don't actually DO balance. The seeds are all there in the base mythology, but when they go to enact it, they constantly get tripped up by those old black/white polarities. Not the yin-yang concepts that articles, interviews, and so many uber-fans try to convince me is at the heart. (6-8)


And it is.


But Taoist theory does not disparage darkness as evil and exalt light as good. The qualities embodied in each side are viewed amorally. They just ARE, and they are symbiotic. (6)


Personally, I'm tired of good vs. evil constructs. It's never really done much for me. Nobody is purely one or the other, so I'm far more intrigued by nuance, spectrums, complexity, and dichotomy. That's why I got really excited when they added in this concept of Balancing the Force.


I hear that Sith does not equate Dark Side, and that the Sith's purpothe--excuthe me--the Thith's purpose--dammit, try saying that five times fast.


That the Sith's purpose is the annihilation of the Light, which is "why they must be destroyed." Okay, groovy. And yet, I have sought high and low for the place where all the "good" Dark Siders hang out in this lore. It seems to be pretty much agreed that, no matter what people say about yin-yang being one of the primary inspirations for this world, in action, if you use the Dark Side of the Force, even with good intentions, it will always corrupt you with evil. (5)


That's fine if that's the story you want to tell. But then don't try to swindle me with all this "balance" crap. Don't try to tell me that Star Wars mythology doesn't adhere more closely to a Christian allegory of light=good/dark=bad than it does to yin-yang. George Lucas describes himself as a "Buddhist Methodist," after all, not as a "Methodist Taoist." (6)



THE MORTIS ARC: BALANCE IN THE FORCE?


I got super excited about the Mortis Arc from the animated series The Clone Wars. I was assured by my uber-fan buddies that here we would finally see how all this Balance in the Force stuff truly works. In this three-episode arc, our fabulous trio arrives in the strange Realm of Mortis, which is inhabited by three powerful beings, Force Wielders as described by Wookiepedia: (9)

  • The Daughter: "who represented peace and creation on Mortis and who was aligned with the Light Side"

  • The Son: "who represented the destructive and deadly aspects of the Force and who was aligned with the Dark Side"

  • The Father: "who maintained balance of the Force between the two"


The Father explains: "Too much dark or light would be the undoing of life as you understand it."


Okay, awesome! Sounds pretty balanced to me. I was in.


The symbol on the floor where Anakin is tested to see if he's The Chosen One is even a very yin-yang-esque symbol (Taijitu-esque).


Shweeeeet...so pretty!


In this test, Anakin Skywalker is forced to choose between the life of his master or his apprentice, who have each been captured by the Son and Daughter. Ani wields these beings like puppets on Force-strings, one in either hand. He tames them both and wins the release of both his friends. Woot! Chosen One: confirmed. Balance: established.


Okay, cool. I was wagging my tail to finally see this in action. But then they did this:


Father: "It's only here that I can control them. A family in balance, the light and the dark, day with night, destruction replaced by creation."


Wait a--


Huh.


I suddenly had a bad feeling about this.


Because he didn't say, "Destruction in balance with creation." He didn't say, "Harmony." He said, "REPLACED."


Yeahhhhhh...as if acts of creation aren't predicated upon a foundation of destruction, from the formation of a planetary system out of exploded star-guts all the way to every time I keep the creation of new cells going in my body by killing, tearing, rending, gnashing, and pulverizing my fellow plants and animals. Then to top it off, my digestive system annihilates them down to their molecular level, separates what it doesn't need, and poops/exhales/sweats/pees unwanted substances out so somebody else can use it for their own cell-creation. Ideally when I kick the bucket, I'll get obliterated and recycled into new life, too. (10)


Pretty cool system. Definitely violent and destructive. Highly creative, efficient and symbiotic (in its base design, when humans aren't messing it up).


But yet, Star Wars, for all its raging against The Machine in favor of Nature, demonizes half of Nature's cycle (the deadly and destructive half) into "evil" the moment they do this:


Narrator recap of Mortis Arc Ep. 1: "...the Daughter who allies with the Light Side, and the Son who drifts ever closer to the Dark Side."


Me in my best Leia voice: WHAT?!


This is not a fan summing up. That's straight out of Episode 2. "Drifts ever closer." Ummmm...so the Daughter is the embodiment of the Light but they're worried about the dangers of the Son embodying his full essence? And yet, "too much dark or light would be the undoing of life as you know it..."


Allow me to pull out my Trekkie card and raise a Spockly eyebrow. This is not the logic you are looking for. It's a good thing that I have developed that arcane art of mental dexterity called "Alar," whereby I am capable of holding disparate beliefs in my mind as simultaneous and equal truths. For example: Star Wars is the coolest thing ever; Star Wars is a messy pile of Bantha poodoo that continually pisses me off. (10, 11, 14)


"OMGs Izzy, chill! It's just a story, sheesh."


YES. It's a story.


Stories are important. Especially the long-enduring ones. Popular tales are quite telling about the culture that tells them. They tell us "what we think" about things like "good and evil" in a far more subliminal and heart-hooking way than lectures in dry environments that put us to sleep, or cringe moments while getting a talking-to. Especially when they get told to us as children.


Father: "You are growing stronger, my son."


Son: "Am I, Father?"


Father: "Vanity, however, is getting the better of you... You have done what is forbidden. You've chosen (CHOSEN?!) the Dark Side (I thought his nature WAS the Dark Side) and allowed it to feed your anger and desire for power... Do not do this, son. Do not become what you should not. Be strong, I implore you, or else I will be forced to contain you."


Then Obi-Wan chimes in: "But your brother is losing himself to the Dark Side."


Okay wait...why does nobody tell the Daughter to stop being so shiny this whole time when the Son is only starting to slip into darkness? How are we not unbalanced by this to begin with - in favor of the Light being too heavy? We all know what happens to life as we know it if we never get nighttime or sleep, right? Same with never being able to exhale. So if Balance is the goal, why is nobody telling the Daughter that she's slipped too far into the Light and needs to be contained? Why is nobody telling the Son that he's falling down on his job while he half-asses all his Darknessenceness? But they don't. They keep telling the quintessence of the Dark to Come Back to the Light, little butterfly!


We're really muddying and contradicting our imagery here. It's never been consistent from the Original Trilogy to what they're putting out today, and that's the problem I have with it.


Dying Daughter to Father about the Son: "Don't hate him... It is his nature." (But wait, I thought you said he chose it and it corrupted him. Gah! Make up your mind! No, no. It's his nature to...to fall into corruption? Yeah. Yeah, that's it. Poodoo!)


Father: "All is lost. The balance has been broken... There is no Light. Evil has been unleashed and the Dark Side shall consume her. There is no hope."


Anakin: "Yes, there is! There is always hope."


I surely hope so, Ani. I really, really do. But, alas:


Father: "As the balance in this world crumbles, so shall war escalate into your galaxy. As my son has descended into the Dark Side, so have the Sith gained strength."


And more from Ani: "What will you do now that your son has given himself over to the Dark Side?"


Descended into...given himself over...


At this point, I had long since thrown my remote, my blue milk, and my 1970s adult-size sippy-cup into the air in exasperation. They keep tripping over their own mythology, unable to truly decide what they're trying to tell me about Darkness. You wanna disparage it? That's cool. It's your flippin' story.


But please stop denying that. What you want is the annihilation of evil, not a balanced dynamic and certainly not symbiosis between Dark and Light. There's a really, REALLY big difference, and all your metaphors for the Heart of Darkness pretty much look like Hell. Every character that touches the Dark Side is "tainted, corrupted."


Father: "I love you, my son."


Son: "Do you?"


So after the Son murders Anakin's apprentice, the Daughter sacrifices her life-force in exchange. The Father kills himself to prevent the Son from claiming his throne (I sense a theme here), the Son has his "Nooooo!" moment and Ani stabs him in the back, showing us another Vader-in-the-making seed. Balance is established by eliminating everybody. We also get another opportunity to say to a dying Dark Sider, "I always knew there was good in you."


I would hope so. Your Forcey Taijitu already showed us this through its little blop of Light in all that Dark.


Father to Anakin at the last: "You are the Chosen One. You have brought balance to this world. Stay on this path, and you will do it again for the galaxy."


Okay, so we get the foreshadowing of this concept that, for Balance we might have to destroy both the Jedi and the Sith. I could totally get behind that, considering how the Father said that too much either way is unhealthy and both these entities have become corrupted by their unyielding polarization.


Know who else agreed that this was the way?


Kylo Flippin' Ren.


You know, a.k.a. Ben Solo, the other half of that Dyad I got so excited about in The Last Jedi? That Dark Side dude we had to pull back into the Light, then sacrificially snuff for his redemption because for a proper ending, Light MUST triumph over Evil. Excuse me. Dark.


In order to create Balance between them.


...s-somehow?


"Hey, man! All it takes is one tiny candle to banish utter darkness! Whereas one sliver of shadow, a raindrop, or a gust of breath cannot extinguish a blazing pillar of light."


Truth. And I do like to see Good trounce Evil. Still not Balance.


Finally, Mortis pounds one last nail into the coffin of the old-school black/white battle that I was raised under as a kid:


Father to Anakin: "But beware your heart."


Because emotions that lead to attachment, personal love, and--midi-chlorians forbid!--the stirring of sexual desire in the dastardly, voracious body (all realms of the Dark in many traditions) are "too tempting" and "corrupted" compared to the Almighty Mind and Spirit (the realms of enLightenment). (7)


Yoda himself sums it up: "Luminous beings are we. Not this crude matter."


Even the Jedi's deviation from our familiar sex-negative spiritual and religious paths adheres to this. Sure, the Jedi can boink. But they have to remain level-headed and detached about it. Just FWB. No kids. No fam. No bonding. Mind over matter. (7)


So as always in the American Monomyth:

"...the real choice is between what the hero wants--friends, meals, love, sex, potentially children--or what the hero's purpose in the story is: save the community through their special abilities. Through their strength. The hero is almost always having to sacrifice human qualities in order to fulfill this purpose."

~Myth and Folly - Star Wars and Hero's Journey: The Myth Is Broken


Huh. Isn't it the very sacrifice of our humanity that pushes us further toward being machines? Cogs and pistons. Exploitable. Expendable. Apathetically chucked and replaced when our crude bodies malfunction--excuse me, we get sick or injured. Rejected when we don't express only the "good" emotions the way we "should" according to entities who do not have our best interests at heart over their own greed and need to control.


"You have asked, 'Are we happy? Are we happy and effective?' Consultation with leading experts in the field makes it perfectly clear...perfectly clear. That we are now all programmed for perfect happiness...perfect happiness... Let us be thankful we have commerce. Perfect happiness... Buy more. Perfect happiness... Buy more and be happy. There are, of course, occasional technical or electronic errors in programming...which produce perverse exceptions... Touching...sexual acts... And the ultimate perversion: LOVE. Only isolation will do."

~A Love Story by George Lucas, filmed on location in the 21st Century (12):


DARK/LIGHT POLARIZATION VS. YIN-YANG BALANCE


Under this long-enduring elevation of spirit, light, masculine, and mind (but only a pure, innocent mind), Eve is tempted into eating the apple, she tempts Adam into being corrupted, and she damns the feminine (yin/dark/snake/dragon/Goddess) as "the origin of sin." Therefore, it is only proper--it's for their own good, we are here to protect them--to deny females education, agency, and rights. It is perfectly acceptable to subjugate, sell, rape, and murder them. Oh. And now, thanks to this malfunctioning Dark Side fallen woman, we all have to don those fig leaves because genitals = bad. (7)


Under this thinking, we also have villains wearing black hats and twisting dark mustaches, whereas heroes wear white hats and shiny stars so we can easily tell them apart and deal with them accordingly. Also, we're allowed--nay, encouraged--to enslave, ravage, and murder people who have black skin or even skin that has been "tainted" with darkness because Dark = Evil.


This is why I am soooooo tired of this trope.


THIS IS NOT BALANCE.


Neither is it a healthy mindset. Light at its extreme becomes blinding. Unyielding. Judgmental and oppressive in its own way, topped with self-righteous pride that shouts, "We're the good guys!" Kinda like the Jedi became at their worst.


The acknowledgment of this through Anakin's and Ben's points of view, and Rey's curiosity are a huge part of what got my hopes up that we might finally see the shift into a complex system more suited to navigating today's extremist factions in innovative ways. Not idealistic flower power pacifism vs. the cutthroat Cold War. Not simpering snowflake sensitivity vs. the War on Terror. But rather, something...else.


I had hoped for something new, based upon some very, very ancient concepts.


I was aching for Balance.


While writing the earliest drafts of The Adventures of Luke Starkiller--I mean, The Star Wars--George Lucas came across the works and theories of renowned mythologist Joseph Campbell, including The Hero With A Thousand Faces. (2) Set on fire with inspiration, the young counter-culture filmmaker purposely tweaked the family-friendly space opera he was crafting to follow the Hero's Journey arc. To the 1970s world into which I had been born, these were trailblazing notions.


In contrast, Maureen Murdock's Heroine's Journey (which has little to do with the gender of the protagonist) makes a sharp deviation from the Hero's Journey about a third of the way through its story arc. There is a great deal of time spent healing the Feminine and Masculine, followed by the integration of them both for a balanced dynamic. This journey includes a decent into Darkness and a dance with death in order to heal the wounds that lurk down there, festering--and it takes a lot longer than one rite-of-passage in a cave. This is a true initiation, which comprises the bulk of the remaining story. (1)


If you missed our compare-and-contrast last time, here they are side-by-side:


With the culminating Sequel Trilogy of the nine-volume Skywalker Saga, I had hoped for one brief moment that we were about to be taken on another trailblazer ride: Actually, folks, it turns out that the Dark Side really isn't "bad" after all. It was simply misused by evil people and oppressive entities. That's why we talk about Balance all the time. I'd hoped we were working toward an unorthodox symbiosis of previously warring opposites, rather than propagating more "Dark: It's Just Evil and Must Be Destroyed." (Or Red or Green or Yellow Stars or...)


There are reasons why there is a seed of darkness in the yang half of the symbol, and vs. versa. In the Taijitu, these two opposites are not enemies. In a balanced system, yin-yang is always in motion. At their extremes, they do not hunker down and become stubbornly static, faced off against each other, weapons aimed. Instead, light transforms into dark becomes light and so on, eternally... (8)


So it's all there in the base Star Wars mythology. But the delivery so often cuts itself off at the knees just when they're really starting to get something amazing going. Suddenly they slip out of the concepts of harmonious balance, back into these too-familiar images from the construct that was twisted to spawn the Crusades, witch-hunts, and missionary "good works" masking centuries of brutal oppression. The Immaculate Conception. The Chosen One. Temptation. The glorious angel fallen into the fiery pit to become the epitome of evil. Redemption through sacrificial death. "May the Force be with you." (And also with you.)


Now don't get me wrong. I adore so many of the tales about Jesus Christ. He's actually one of my favorite inspirational and revolutionary figures ever, and I reach for many life lessons from my birth religion whenever I need a model of how to be the best version of myself. But those things all have to do with compassion, mercy, forgiveness, kindness, acceptance, generosity, symbiosis, unity. They have nothing to do with annihilating eeeeevil.


Except within myself.


To me, that never should have meant the demonization of my body, passionate emotions, and sexual desire while exalting my naive mind, my spiritual devotion, the energetic resonance that animates my flesh, and my "pure" chastity. (Or if I must boink, my passive, cool, reserved copulation only within the sanctioned parameters.) It definitely shouldn't have meant the castigation and disparagement of my femininity or my dark hair and eyes. (7)


And let me assure you, I did despise all those things about myself for too many years, simply because that's what I was taught as a child. A huge part of that instruction was through stories and the adult interpretations of them. I've spent all but nine months of my official adulthood working to undo that damage. (After my 18th birthday, I still lived in my parents' house for another 3/4 of a year before I discovered some fascinating tools in my first semesters of college: psychology, philosophy, tantra).


There are so many places in Star Wars mythology where we could extoll these other paths that don't cram that polarizing crap back down my throat. The inspiration from Buddhism and Taoist mindsets is really obvious in the world-building. But in the Star Wars universe, Darkness still means evil. (5, 6)


It makes sense. When Star Wars (A New Hope) first came out, we were in the 70s where this black/white flavor of Christian morality was everywhere in movies, television, books, comics, the dollar bill, the Pledge of Allegiance we had to recite every morning at school. We were in the Cold War, searching for ways to easily decipher good people from evil enemies. Only later did midi-chlorians happen to the Force. Only later did we see that Jedis have their own dogmatic dark side, and people started arguing about the Gray Way. (5, 6)


Unless this lore is one of your passions, it all gets pretty murky. And even then, it's a fuzzball of contradictions. At the base of its mythology, there is so much amazing potential, but so many of these conflicting things come from having to backtrack, clean up "oopses", and explain the awful delivery via awkward scripts and altered plotlines. (14)


It also comes from falling into the American Monomyth (3) while trying to use non-warring, unification philosophies.


But this is Star WARS, not Star Symbionts.


Honestly, I'm just glad somebody was trying to think about Balance at all, even if this fledgling attempt to open hearts and minds in these innovative ways trips on its own feet sometimes.


Eh. Counter-culture is hard. Fusion art is hard. Rowing upstream as a dastardly hack-bastardizer can be a thankless job if you don't keep it in the closet until it's matured and "perfect enough" to withstand public scrutiny, because our society values Mastery over exploration and being a perpetual beginner. It values Marketable Products over the creative process. It values Answers of Certitude over questions.


Of course it does. Questioners, explorers, and experimenters are dangerous to The System. In a system built upon money and a scarcity mindset for the masses, art and healing become commodities, and people become really picky about what they spend their hard-earned money on.


I often wonder what kind of space opera we would have gotten from George Lucas if studio execs had gotten out of the way of an artist making art. If they'd handed Rogue Leader--not a choke-chain--but a bigger megaphone, this time to inspire the wide-eyed crafters of our future: the kids. (12, 13)


But childlike curiosity and rebel-force innovation is continually met with flack from numerous sides--often the very sides an innovator is trying to unite. Splattering and tacking together things that don't customarily dance in tandem means making a lot of mistakes and a lot of messes. It's gawky until you can figure out the smooth transitions and the Venn Diagram of the disparate pieces.


This is one of the many reasons why I cut my beloved Star Wars a lot of slack, even as I gnash my teeth, raise my fist, and shout, "Blast!" (6, 12, 14)


It's also why I hold out hope that someday the franchise might cycle back to holding foremost in its heart the roots of deep mythology, updated for the globalized networks of a planet where half the population is Yin, a small percentage is Light-skinned, and Nature is in revolt against The Machine.


gif


YIN-YANG & YANG-YIN


There is this myth in so many tales that the One Twue Way is to yoink all Dark Siders back into the Light. Yet with Rey and Ben we got to see, for one brief flash, the embodiment of what happens when Yin and Yang join forces. Ben is the male Skywalker heir of the Light trained in the Dark; Rey is the female Palpatine heir of the Dark trained in the Light. How friggin' brilliant was that!


They had it! Right there through Episode 8-of-9.


When Rey and Ben fought as One, they were unstoppable. When she refused to take his hand after that battle against the Praetorians, that didn't bother me. They still had too much to learn and too many ways in which they needed to grow. At that point, all I could wonder was what they would bring to the galaxy if they became Yin-Yang and Yang-Yin within themselves, then tried joining forces again.


But the Force is NOT yin-yang, no matter its symbol, and the Triple Trilogy did NOT complete the Hero's Journey that George Lucas started out writing. This myth has transformed over time, like they do. (2) Unfortunately, it has morphed into the American Monomyth. (3)


Le-siiiiigh.


The writers had actually uprooted these yin-yang seedlings way back in The Force Awakens. The annoying tendency to over-abundantly recycle phrases and plotlines from previous movies had already pushed Ben so far down into the Dark Side that who would have ever let him say, "Oops, sorry, my bad," and then go about his new life with Rey, questing for balance, joy, younglings, and peace?


Especially not in a culture dominated by the theory that the greatest acts of redemption come from a martyr's sacrificial death, rather than from living with one's mistakes--


And here's the kicker.


From truly and fully owning them, then doing the hard, agonizing work of purification. Transformation. Failing and trying again. And again. And a-fucking-gain.


gif

The Medicine for this kind of transformation still exists. Some of it is painted in sunlight shining through stained glass windows, moonlight gleaming upon crystals, or the glow of a TV screen flashing rainbow-brilliant imagery of a children's show. It radiates from strung-together chains of flowers or the rich hues of a feathered headdress.


Some of it hunkers quietly in the dank, scary shadows.


To access that kind of Medicine, we have to be willing to follow Luke into the cave and face what dwells within us--the good and the evil. We have to be willing to follow Rey down that dark vortex where a different kind of enlightenment awaits--provided we don't need to reflexively snatch her back into the Light before she's learned what she needs to learn down there. And provided we don't knee-jerk, then swat out of her hands what she's brought back up into the sunlight just because it's covered in cobwebs and is a little stenchy.


That's the other half of her heart there in her hands. Hasn't it been swatted and shoved into the shadows for long enough?



A NEW HOPE


Ben and Rey did team back up in the final installment of The Skywalker Saga. The writers teased it and touted it like always--ohhhh, Balance Balance Balance--but they never gave us that Union. They gave us more annihilation of evil. We got some more flashy fighting from two Good Guys with Lightblue sabers against a horde of Dark Siders. We got a vanquished Boss, a goodbye kiss, and--YOINK!--Ben's lifelong dream of being like his grandfather fulfilled. He got his soul salvaged in the last inning, and then got dead.


Woot.


I guess it's the movie version of everything going on in the world. Polarized extremes demanding capitulation by the other, only able to work together briefly when there's a major mutual threat. (If they can even manage that.) Otherwise somebody has to change sides because the Other is the enemy. Their way is "wrong."


It's also that classic cluelessness of how to write a stable, intimate romantic dynamic, and carry it through into a healthy relationship beyond The Big Kiss moment.


It's definitely the inability to give the powerful Warrior Woman the complete happy ending she wanted. Rey gets to make do with the fist-raised triumph of taking down another Big Boss Baddie. She comes home with a few magical treasures and gets hugged by the smattering of friends she has left, then walks into the desert, once more alone, to hang up her sabers (unless box office numbers tell us that she's needed again).


G'head. Roll your eyes at me because I want my romance, redemption, and epic quest arcs all purring together. I'm telling you, this is why I love the kinds of fantasies that I love, and why I emulate them in my own writing. I don't watch epic fantasy movies for a fish-slap of reality's disappointments and ho-hum make-do martyrish sacrifices. That's what I watch Drama for. I seek out Fantasy because I am constantly scrambling for any imaginative, unorthodox shred of Hope.


Not the hope that some external savior(s) will arise or descend from on high to fix all my and the world's problems with the touch of a purifying fingertip upon my forehead or in one decisive battle. No. I'm always hoping to discover how each of us, every day, can create symbiosis and balance--first within ourselves, then with our heart-people we're attached to, and finally, with the world at large.


Wasn't that supposed to be the root of the Star Wars mythos?


A New Hope?


Well, Luke and Vader didn't heal the galaxy in the Original Trilogy, the Prequels had major issues, The Clone Wars series helped with that. But then the Sequel Trilogy turned out to be what I had initially feared they were building up to: a shoddily recycled, threadbare plot trajectory I could never recover from without rewriting it in my head.


Which I do.


Because, blast it, I flippin' LOVE Star Wars! But when it goes beyond mere entertainment, into the deep mythology and life-changing lessons that it started out with, the writers keep yoinking away my hope like Sally with that football.


gif

There are stories that give me what I need. Next we'll be diving into one of my ultimate favorites that does this without any self-sacrificing death or even having to kill off the Dark Siders of the Evil Empire. Neither does it tout the unrealistic rosy-colored glasses of extreme pacifism. This story talks over and over about bringing Balance back to the world.


And in the end, that's what it delivers.


Perfectly? No. Perpetually? Of course not. Because yin and yang are eternally in motion, like life.


I shall leave you now with one more fascinating geek-out. Yes, yes, it's the creative process, the cutting room floor, the mixed-and-matched cringey and fascinating character name evolutions, and the repurposed salvages from the trash compactor. Let us now revel in the wondrous mess that is an epic tale in its infancy.


The Adventures of Luke Starkiller - I mean, Skywalker. I mean, The Star Wars:


CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE

--UP NEXT: THE (S)HE-RO'S JOURNEY 3: Villains and Dragons and Fire, Oh My!

--OR: All my writing about Writing

--OR: All my writing about Creativity, Innovation, and being a Dastardly Hack-Bastardizer

--OR: All my writing about She-Roes, Villains & Sidechicks

--THE NAVIGATION TABLE OF CONTENTS



EEEEEEE! DOWN THE GEEK RABBIT HOLE

1) The Heroine's Journey

--The book by Maureen Murdock


2) Joseph Campbell's The Hero's Journey.

--The Hero With a Thousand Faces

--Transformations of Myth Through Time


3) The American Monomyth


4) Wit and Folly

--Wit and Folly Ko-Fi Account.


5) The Force

--Star Wars: Balance of the Force - a theory about Dark, Light, good, bad, Jedi, Sith and the Force

--We need to talk about Star Wars - and the Force, Balance, Mortis, symbolism, religion, and writing inconsistencies.

--"Are there any good Dark Side users?"

--One of the gazillion conversations about midi-chlorians

--Gray Jedi


6) Star Wars, Religion & Spirituality

--Star Wars and Spirituality: Christianity, Buddhism, & the Tao

--Examining the Christian imagery in Star Wars

--Movies that are Christian allegories

--Yin & Yang in Taoism

--Taoism: Yin & Yang - Ancient Wisdom for a Modern World

--Buddhism & Balance

--The Middle Way

--George Lucas & Religion


7) Going To Extremes

--Dark & Light Dualism

--Denigration of the Feminine/Yin/Darkness: Eden and the Serpent was not about the "fall of man," it was about "the fall of the Goddess"

--Inanna/Ishtar and the Descent to the Underworld

--"Our Bodies Are Evil" - Gnosticism, Purity Culture and Its Complex Trauma

--Those Dastardly Emotions - Good vs. bad, mind vs. heart: it really is all about Balance.

--Yes, Jedi Can Boink: the Jedi's deviation from Earth's celibate and sex-negative spiritual traditions and religions.

--My thoughts on Eve, Temptation, Passion & Prayer

--My fiery, fanged, ferocious thoughts on the subjugation of the Feminine

--My thoughts on Salome: Another Dark Side butterfly redeemed into blonde, blue-eyed, white-veiled salvation, or reviled as a (prepubescent) Femme Fatale

--If *I'M* Not White Enough?! - my personal experiences in dark/light dualism growing up with French Canadian heritage in Northern MN in the 70s and 80s


8) Transformation

--Yin-Yang: Light becomes Dark; Dark becomes Light

--Lucifer: Light-Bringer, Satan...Venus?!

--Transformation of Myth Through Time: Why the Devil has horns


9) The Mortis Arc

--Importance of the Mortis Arc and some things that The Clone Wars animated series help smooth out and clarify.

--Filling in plot holes, gaps, dissatisfactions, and confusions...smoothing the way into the Prequels...transforming canon-fodder clones--and even battle-droids--into characters...one of my favorites in the Star Wars 'verse - The Clone Wars

--Speaking of the Prequels, just because: Jar Jar is a Sith Lord and a master of Drunken Boxing (thanks, J)


10) Nerd Alert: Acts of Violence & Destruction! RAWR!

--The creation of a solar system

--Stayin' Alive: Eating

--And Breathing

--Dead Stuff: It's what's for dinner! Oh. And poop, too.

--Bantha poodoo


11) Other stories I obsess over:

--The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss

--Alar: like the ocean in storm

--The Secret Garden

--The Velveteen Rabbit

12) Some stuff that was on George Lucas' mind before The Wars took over his life - stuff that is just as (even more?) relevant today:

--A Love Story filmed on location in the 21st Century

--Making of THX 1138

--How Hollyw🤑🤑d ruined George Lucas' unconventional, artist-driven first film


13) Every Star Wars movie ranked from Least to Most Kid-Friendly

--George Lucas defends the prequels: Star Wars was made for kids


14) Star Wars Inconsistencies:

--Doesn't Matter.

--Yeah, I know.

--I Still Love It.

--Fuck It:


(We get our best Star Wars stuff from J.) 😘🤓😘