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On Jedi and Attachment

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A point of contention when talking about the prequels is the Jedi Order’s stance on attachment. A particular scene people often come back to is Yoda’s conversation with Anakin in RotS, where Yoda seems to give some questionable advice about grief. This issue was brought back to my attention by a scene at the end of one of the episodes of Book of Boba Fett, where Luke is shown to be carrying on that same anti-attachment philosophy.

There’s been a lot of back-and-forth on this, mainly on the question of whether or not this is a good philosophy, and if it’s not, whether that was intentional on the part of George Lucas.

For example, there’s the fact that the Jedi take on new members when they’re babies, because they don’t want prospective Jedi to develop attachments to their families. To me, this flies in the face of the argument that the Jedi are only against possessive, selfish attachments, since familial bonds don’t really fit into that category. If you accept that even the love between a parent and child is something that’s selfish and dangerous, then that leaves you to conclude that all interpersonal relationships are selfish and dangerous and lead to the Dark Side.

It’s true that Anakin consistently takes things too far in his obsession with keeping people in his life. His reaction to his mother’s death is odd in that he focuses on himself, angrily vowing never to fail again, and when he fears for Padme’s life, the language he uses about her is very possessive and dependent to an unhealthy degree.

Basically, Anakin’s relationships are an extreme negative example of the pitfalls of attachment, rather than what would be the norm for all Jedi. Ideally, Jedi would be coached in how to deal with emotions like grief, and how to come to terms with the loss of loved ones so that it doesn’t cloud their judgment. But instead of doing that, the Jedi try to keep their students from even having loved ones at all, and directly associate the act of mourning with negative emotions like jealousy and greed.

This whole issue is further complicated by the ending of RotJ. Luke refuses to kill Vader because of their relation, and it’s Anakin’s attachment to his son (and thus his desire not to lose him) that pulls him back to the Light and causes him to destroy the Emperor. So we have a scenario where familial attachment saves the day and brings victory for the Light Side, with the main difference being that Anakin acted on his attachment in a self-sacrificial way this time, though it’s not certain whether he knew the act would kill him.

This seems to suggest that Lucas’ intention was for the Jedi to be wrong about attachment. And this interpretation was inadvertently backed up by Luke’s portrayal in the old EU, where he’s fully open to attachment and allows it for his students. But there’s something important to keep in mind. The Jedi’s rules on non-attachment hadn’t been invented yet when the OT was being written, and therefore, the EU writers obviously didn’t incorporate it into their stories. By the time George was writing the prequels, he had changed a great deal as a person (as all people do), and therefore was approaching those films with a different perspective. The Jedi’s stance on attachment seems to be something he came up with in the gap between trilogies. And of course, he’s also spoken against the idea of Luke ever getting married in his version of events.

Keeping that in mind, when we look at Luke’s depiction in BoBF, things start to make more sense. BoBF is a project that Dave Filoni is closely involved with, and Filoni was especially close to George and seems to understand his vision and intentions. So, it’s fairly safe to say that Luke’s portrayal in BoBF aligns pretty closely with Lucas’ vision for a post-RotJ Luke.

TL;DR Luke being pro-attachment in the old EU was just a happy accident caused by George simply not having decided yet that attachment was a bad thing.

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 (Edited)

I think Luke’s depiction and philosophy in the old Expanded Universe are much more consistent with Lucas’ two trilogies than Luke’s depiction in The Book of Boba Fett.

It’s true that sometimes Anakin exaggerated, but it must be acknowledged that if the Jedi had not forbidden romantic relationships then Anakin would have been much calmer and quiet. Anakin tended to exaggerate in his behavior not only because of what happened in his childhood and what happened to his mother, but also because the Jedi forbade any kind of emotional attachment. If the Jedi of the Prequel Era had a philosophy more similar to Luke’s philosophy in the old EU, then Anakin wouldn’t have been forced to live under constant pressure and wouldn’t have to live in fear that they might discover his relationship with Padmé, he would have been much more calm, quiet, and happy, and he could have asked the other Jedi for advice if there were any problems. Therefore he would have trusted more in the Order instead of Palpatine. Anakin undoubtedly had emotional problems, but they could be solved if the Order practiced a freer philosophy and if Anakin could express his love for Padmé in the light of day. After all, feeling affection for other people, falling in love and wanting a family are perfectly natural things, they’re part of the human nature and the nature of many other humanoid species in the Galaxy. To forbid these feelings is to violate the laws of nature, so It’s a mistake regardless. In the Expanded Universe it’s shown many times how many Jedi have attachment-related problems, because they felt feelings they were forbidden to feel, so many Jedi of the Prequel Era often felt chained and imprisoned in themselves because of this. So it wasn’t an issue limited to Anakin, but It was constantly present in the Order, so much so that in the EU there were other Prequel Era Jedi besides Anakin who were secretly married and had children.

I think Luke’s philosophy in the old EU is much more consistent with the 6 original films because of this. Luke learned from the mistakes of the old Jedi Order and created a philosophy that doesn’t violate the Code, but at the same time allows people to express themselves freely. In other words Luke achieved balance, the same balance the Prophecy talked about, the same balance Anakin should have brought back, and that Indeed he brought back with his sacrifice in Return of the Jedi. I don’t care if this is a lucky coincidence or not. In my opinion it’s much more consistent with the films, especially with the Prequel Trilogy, although many of the old stories were written even before the Prequel Trilogy came out.

On the other hand, Luke’s philosophy In The Book of Boba Fett isn’t consistent with the films, because Luke proves that he has learned nothing from the mistakes of the old Jedi and conveys the message that what happened with Anakin was exclusively his fault, and not even fault of the dogmatic interpretation the Jedi of the Prequel Era had of the Code, a dogmatic interpretation that forbade absolutely normal feelings. In addition, I think Lucas’ quotes regarding the whole “Luke shouldn’t marry” thing should be contextualized, because they’re quotes dating back to the time when Lucas had his first divorce. At the time he had strong anti-marriage feelings because of this, so we shouldn’t take those quotes as if they were his immutable thought.

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The thing is, a lot of people have interpreted the prequels as saying that the Jedi were in the wrong, and that they were psychologically harmful to Anakin. But I don’t think George wrote the prequels with that in mind. I think, in his mind, Anakin was clearly in the wrong, and the Jedi were right. Anakin was written to be essentially an arrogant brat who throws a tantrum when he isn’t granted the rank of Master at 22 years old, a moment that was meant to show Anakin being ungrateful rather than the Jedi being mean to him. He repeatedly gets angry over perceived slights by the Jedi, but all those “slights” basically just amount to him not advancing at the breakneck pace he thinks he should be.

What I think happened is that the whole prequel Jedi philosophy simply didn’t gel well with modern audiences, so people came up with interpretations that placed the Jedi as the ones who wronged Anakin rather than Anakin just being in the wrong. It’s perfectly fine to choose to interpret the prequels as being critical of the Jedi. I just don’t believe that was George’s intention when writing them.

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It’s easy to read the PT as Lucas dealing with the fallout of his divorce through the journey of Anakin.

Also, Temple of Doom is a “breakup script” in the same way Phil Collins’ Face Value is a “breakup album.” With both, the dust of the relationship hadn’t fully settled and a lot of raw and ugly feelings had to come out.

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 (Edited)

What I think happened is that the whole prequel Jedi philosophy simply didn’t gel well with modern audiences, so people came up with interpretations that placed the Jedi as the ones who wronged Anakin rather than Anakin just being in the wrong. It’s perfectly fine to choose to interpret the prequels as being critical of the Jedi. I just don’t believe that was George’s intention when writing them.

Well, in the Expanded Universe continuity the Prequel Jedi are clearly wrong, and I support this idea regardless of Lucas’ thought. Also, I tend not to trust George’s statements about this specific subject, because they often contradict each other. So I prefer to give my own interpretation, which I think makes a lot more sense than the “Anakin was wrong” interpretation. No, Anakin wasn’t completely wrong. Of course he had his responsabilities, but the Jedi were wrong either in prohibiting something completely natural as the love between two people. Everyone has a certain amount of responsibility for Anakin’s fall: the Jedi, Palpatine and Anakin himself. It’s neither all Anakin’s fault nor all Jedi’s fault. Even assuming that Lucas wanted to convey the message that the Jedi were right and Anakin wrong, he did so in a way that doesn’t allow people to identify with the Jedi cause and literally leads everyone to see Anakin as a victim of circumstances, Palpatine’s manipulations and the Jedi dogmatism, rather than a victim of himself.

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 (Edited)

Servii said:

A point of contention when talking about the prequels is the Jedi Order’s stance on attachment. A particular scene people often come back to is Yoda’s conversation with Anakin in RotS, where Yoda seems to give some questionable advice about grief. This issue was brought back to my attention by a scene at the end of one of the episodes of Book of Boba Fett, where Luke is shown to be carrying on that same anti-attachment philosophy.

There’s been a lot of back-and-forth on this, mainly on the question of whether or not this is a good philosophy, and if it’s not, whether that was intentional on the part of George Lucas.

For example, there’s the fact that the Jedi take on new members when they’re babies, because they don’t want prospective Jedi to develop attachments to their families. To me, this flies in the face of the argument that the Jedi are only against possessive, selfish attachments, since familial bonds don’t really fit into that category. If you accept that even the love between a parent and child is something that’s selfish and dangerous, then that leaves you to conclude that all interpersonal relationships are selfish and dangerous and lead to the Dark Side.

It’s true that Anakin consistently takes things too far in his obsession with keeping people in his life. His reaction to his mother’s death is odd in that he focuses on himself, angrily vowing never to fail again, and when he fears for Padme’s life, the language he uses about her is very possessive and dependent to an unhealthy degree.

Basically, Anakin’s relationships are an extreme negative example of the pitfalls of attachment, rather than what would be the norm for all Jedi. Ideally, Jedi would be coached in how to deal with emotions like grief, and how to come to terms with the loss of loved ones so that it doesn’t cloud their judgment. But instead of doing that, the Jedi try to keep their students from even having loved ones at all, and directly associate the act of mourning with negative emotions like jealousy and greed.

This whole issue is further complicated by the ending of RotJ. Luke refuses to kill Vader because of their relation, and it’s Anakin’s attachment to his son (and thus his desire not to lose him) that pulls him back to the Light and causes him to destroy the Emperor. So we have a scenario where familial attachment saves the day and brings victory for the Light Side, with the main difference being that Anakin acted on his attachment in a self-sacrificial way this time, though it’s not certain whether he knew the act would kill him.

This seems to suggest that Lucas’ intention was for the Jedi to be wrong about attachment. And this interpretation was inadvertently backed up by Luke’s portrayal in the old EU, where he’s fully open to attachment and allows it for his students. But there’s something important to keep in mind. The Jedi’s rules on non-attachment hadn’t been invented yet when the OT was being written, and therefore, the EU writers obviously didn’t incorporate it into their stories. By the time George was writing the prequels, he had changed a great deal as a person (as all people do), and therefore was approaching those films with a different perspective. The Jedi’s stance on attachment seems to be something he came up with in the gap between trilogies. And of course, he’s also spoken against the idea of Luke ever getting married in his version of events.

Keeping that in mind, when we look at Luke’s depiction in BoBF, things start to make more sense. BoBF is a project that Dave Filoni is closely involved with, and Filoni was especially close to George and seems to understand his vision and intentions. So, it’s fairly safe to say that Luke’s portrayal in BoBF aligns pretty closely with Lucas’ vision for a post-RotJ Luke.

TL;DR Luke being pro-attachment in the old EU was just a happy accident caused by George simply not having decided yet that attachment was a bad thing.

Totally out of touch George Lucas actually thought audiences would like the PT Jedi and think they were cool.

But this topic always leads me to wonder about how the Jedi parent children. What history are they taught? How much free-play do they have? What is appropriate behavior towards the opposite sex? What are there values regarding topics like economics, bioethics etc.?

I think it is time for a TV series to explore the Jedi Order itself; follow a 5 year old from recruitment to full knighthood or something.

“It is only through interaction, through decision and choice, through confrontation, physical or mental, that the Force can grow within you.”
-Kreia, Jedi Master and Sith Lord