Friday, 3 June 2011

162: M is for Microscopic Lifeforms

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

The A-to-Z of the GFFA.

...Or Midichlorians to you and me. Yes, the M word. Between 1977 and 1999, The Force was a mysterious thing, almost religious in its ambiguity, unable to be explained in the physical universe. We knew little-to nothing about the Jedi Order, the lineage of the Skywalker family, or how/why The Force manifested itself in some people and not in others.

'Tick in the appropriate box for a boy or a girl...'

The door was opened a little with The Phantom Menace in '99. We saw the Jedi Council, a monastic organisation in that they have a dedicated place of study/meditation and a policy of non-attachment. The knock-on effect of this policy means that, generally speaking, the Jedi don't marry or populate. The most obvious exception to this, of course, is Anakin Skywalker, who did both of those things. It almost goes without saying that Anakin didn't go down the 'usual' path, but it at least proves (as if we didn't know already) that when Force-sensitive beings have children, there's a strong chance that they too will share the same connection (bear in mind, Luke Skywalker had a talent, but his sister Leia's powers were far weaker).

'If you think the hand's good, you should see what your old man's got fitted...'

So, if they're not having children, where do baby Jedi* come from? Well, you've got to figure they've been 'chosen' by The Force, which brings us back to the mystical aspect. As if The Force is a higher, collective consciousness, able to reach into the physical realm to try and maintain the order of the galaxy. There's certainly an element of that suggestion throughout the films, which only increases in the prequel trilogy, with mention of 'the will of The Force', 'the living Force' and 'the unifying Force'. So, when the Jedi arrive at the house of a non-Force-sensitive couple, to test their child and determine suitability for a life at The Temple, how do they go about it? How do they measure the potential of the infant (or adult for that matter)? Do they sit around for a couple of years and wait for the little one to start moving cups about? Think of it another way, when you take your son or daughter to Clarks' for their first pair of shoes, does the assistant look at their feet for a minute and say "Oh, that looks like a size 2 to me. Yep, size 2."? Of course they don't, they use measuring equipment.

That's where Midichlorians come in.

On Tatooine, Qui-Gon Jinn meets a boy that he can sense in The Force as being potentially powerful. But depending on the sensitivity of the tester, surely this power will be interpreted as different each time? Qui-Gon takes a sample of Anakin's blood and runs a test, discovering that he has a high Midichlorian-count. The higher the count, the more potential the subject has for training in The Force. Every living organism has some Midichlorians, but a certain level is needed for Force-sensitivity. Anakin Skywalker has loads of Midichlorians, and this was determined in under a minute of screen-time.

Takin' a swab from little Anni.

People didn't like Midichlorians. People thought that Midichlorians robbed The Force of it's mystical nature. I've even heard it said that pre-1999, the films had suggested that anyone could become a Jedi by skill and training alone, and that Midichlorians changed the game so that 'you have to be born with it to be able to join the club'. After all, the Original Trilogy doesn't suggest otherwise. Mind you, going from the OT, in order to be a Force-user, maybe you had to have at least one red-headed parent. The films don't suggest otherwise there, either. Along with other (if anything, more justifyable) aspects, Midichlorians have been viewed as part of the downhill-slide of Star Wars.

'It's either Midichlorians or Mumps, I can't tell...'

Now, thinking 'in-universe', do you really believe that in a society such as the one depicted in the GFFA, where all manner of intelligent alien life-forms, plasma-beam weapons, and faster-than-light travel are commonplace, that not one person has brought up at the Friday-meeting: "You know the Jedi? You know how they can do things that the rest of us can't? And you know how we can't explain that yet? Do you think there must be something different somewhere in them? Even if it's just at a cellular-level? If you don't mind, I'm going to spend the next week analysing the blood samples of Jedi and non-Jedi." we can replace three limbs and build in a life support system, but we can't tell what blood-type he is?

It stands to reason that if there is a difference, society would have found it. After all, the Jedi have been a presence in the GFFA for at least 4,000 years (that's when the earliest expanded-universe material is set). Think what humans have achieved in a couple of hundred years. Think what we've learned. Think what we'll know in 3,800 years if we make it that far. If there was a group of people who could bend spoons with their minds, it wouldn't take us long (even now) to determine if there was something different in their biological make-up.

So that explains the presence of Midichlorians, but what about the implication? Well, read above. It makes no difference to your personal interpretation of The Force at all. It's like saying the mystery of aeroplanes has been ruined because someone's explained to you what type of fuel is in the tank. The reason that Jedi exist in the first place, the reason that some are more powerful than others, the way that Jedi are born to non-Jedi parents, becoming one with The Force, the netherworld that Qui-Gon discovers and that Obi-Wan, Yoda and somehow Anakin learn to transcend to... none of those things are explained by the presence of Midichlorians.

...and yet no-one questions the magical properties of Bacta, do they?

Naysayers: Your mystery is intact, nothing has changed. If anything, the implication that Darth Sidious' master Darth Plagueis had manipulated The Force to impregnate Shmi Skywalker? That should be setting your alarm-bells ringing...

*I'm only going to say this once. The plural of Jedi is Jedi. Like sheep, fish, deer, etc. It pisses me off no end when people say "Jedis". Not once in seven films is the plural referred to in this way. *seethes*

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• Photos and videos appearing in this blog post are for informational and reference purposes only, and no ownership of copyright is claimed or implied by me. The intellectual and physical copyright of such material belongs to its creators and owners.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organizations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

No comments:

Post a Comment