The first scene of The Bad Batch, the Lego Specials and Visions have got me thinking about why I enjoy canon continuity so much. Not so much the actual stories but the conversations they often bring up. I’ve spoken my piece about it before, especially the way I experience comics and novels having the same importance as films and tv. I think that’s the main difference between my own experience and that of my friends who don’t feel as connected to canon. Anyways, the ‘ol mind gears are turning about this topic once more. So here’s a proposition that I only partly believe, and not in the either-or way it’s presented:
Star Wars is not a mythology. It’s a history.
Again, I don’t really believe that. Of course it’s a mythology. It’s just that I don’t primarily experience it that way, with the fluidity, imagery and divinity that it entails. Star Wars for me is a history; even Jedi lore is a continuous story of cause and effect, an etiology that passes through High Republic to the Skywalker Saga to describe the “how did we get here” of Order 66, and the “where do we go from here” of Endor, Jakku and one day Exegol.
There’s the term: “etiology.” A narrative, presented in historical sequence, with an ideological, political or theological message that the storyteller is trying to drive home. I mean Bede’s and Eusebius’s histories. I mean, most of all, the Deuteronomistic history written to explain the Babylonian exile and God’s purposes of restoration. It’s written with a point, a purpose, but more concrete than a mythic “prehistory.” So, maybe continuities remind me of Star Wars’ fundamentally historical nature.
I’d argue that Lucas was trying to tell a real-world etiology through this fictional historical narrative, at least in part. How did we get to Vietnam and Iraq? Where do we go from the fall of the Iron Curtain, the rise (and hopefully fall) of qnon. And the questions I’m most interested in: how did we get to the end of Christendom, and how do Christians live faithfully and charitably now that we suddenly find ourselves a minority in so many more spaces than we used to? I think Qui-gon, Obi-wan, Luke, Ahsoka and Rey would have things to tell us—they have things to tell us—that light us on our way.
A final left-field thought. I’m reading Soccernomics, the premise of which is to apply economic calculations and principles to that other love of mine, Association Football. There’s also a chapter that contrasts soccer from North American sports. I won’t go into too many details here, but the chapter points out how the global sport has longer stretches of the season, and more opportunities for more teams, to play games that directly affect what happens to them in the future of that season, or the next. It also means that there are more games that are directly implicated by what happened in previous games. There’re simply less ways for this to happen in North American sports: if you’re eliminated from the playoffs, that’s it for now despite more games to play.
I wonder if that’s trained my brain to think a certain way: there’s an added oomph, a deeper interest, if a story is more directly implicated in what came before and directly implicates what happens next. In fiction, it also demonstrates the brilliant, satisfying, long-term planning of “show not tell” that I described yesterday. Finally, it’s realistic: something a character/person experiences at one point in their life will affect them later in life. We connect with, resonate with a character more when we see that occurring. We also get really excited when we hear something like the phrase, “I’m Cobb Vanth, the Marshall of Mos Pelgo.”
Or maybe I just love the way both Star Wars and Soccer are histories. Etiologies. Chicken or egg?