Lit A Cynical Walk Through the NJO

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Cynical_Ben, Aug 17, 2013.

  1. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    Technically, Ganner's role was the dashing, swashbuckling, puckish rogue of the holodramas.

    Knowledge:

    "What you call the dark side is the raw, unrestrained Force itself: you call the dark side what you find when you give yourself over wholly to the Force. To be a Jedi is to control your passion... but Jedi control limits your power. Greatness -- true greatness of any kind -- requires the surrender of control. Passion that is guided, not walled away. Leave your limits behind."

    Praxis:

    Ganner tried for so long, tried so hard to be what everyone told him he was supposed to be, tried to control his flair for the dramatic, for the elegant, the graceful, the artistic, tried to be a good son, a good friend, a humble man, a good Jedi . . .
    But in the archway, he finds the end of trying. There is reason no longer to resist the truth of himself. Playacting the hero's part is not only permissible --
    It is necessary.
    To hold the archway it is not enough to merely wound and kill, is not enough to be calm, and surgical, and grieving.
    To hold the archway, he must not only slaughter, but slaughter effortlessly, carelessly, laughingly. Joyfully.
    To hold the archway, he must dance and whirl and leap and spin, calling out for more opponents. More victims.
    He must make them hesitate to face him.
    He must make them fear.
    He had spoken the words: he had found a magical incantation to crack the dikes within him and unleash the flood.
    None shall pass.
    He wields the blade of a fallen hero, but now he is the hero, and it is others who fall.
    He is rising.
    The Force thunders through him, and he thunders through the Force. Letting slip the bonds of control, leaving aside conscious thought, answering only the surge of his passion and his joy, he finds power undreamed of.

    ***

    Do or do not. There is no try. Ganner found the end of trying. Ganner was.
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  2. stung4ever Force Ghost

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    Something I caught when I read through the NJO a few months ago:

    About the only good piece of evidence that Vergere was a darksider/Sith that wasn't created by subsequent authors twisting the message of the book. Vergere brings Jacen to the location of the old Jedi Temple, lets him feel the dark Force nexus, and asks why the Jedi would build on it. Then she claims it's just the Force, not actually something of the dark side.

    But the nexus wasn't dark until Lord Nyax died there, tainting it.
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  3. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    How do we know that Nyax died there before Jacen and Vergere reached it? Traitor starts at the same time that Dark Journey starts. Nyax dies two books after Dark Journey.
  4. Revanfan1 Chosen One

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    That's true, but wasn't it just described as a pure Force nexus before Nyax fell in?
  5. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    What is the point which Vergere is trying to make in that scene?

    Edit:

    Let's put it this way: Do we really know that the Jedi temple was a dark side nexus in that scene? The only evidence is Jacen's testimony, right?

    ****

    There were no words for the truth inside him; nor were there words for the horror that rolled into him, because he could feel the Force again.
    He could feel that she was right.

    ****

    So, was Jacen feeling the dark side? Or was he feeling the Force nexus that was the Jedi temple?
    Last edited by DigitalMessiah, Oct 25, 2013
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  6. Revanfan1 Chosen One

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    You got a point there. Maybe the sheer power of the Force he was feeling just seemed dark at the time.
  7. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    I believe the idea which Stover is trying to get across, and which he restates in his next novel, is this:

    A Jedi's connection to the Force amplifies everything about us: it invests our smallest actions with the greatest conceivable weight. It makes us more of whatever we already are. If we are calm, it gives us serenity. If we are angry, it fills us with the rage of a god. Anger is a trap. You might think of it as a narcotic, not unlike glitterstim. Even the slightest taste can leave you with an appetite that never fades.

    This is why we Jedi must strive always to build peace within ourselves: what is within will be reflected by what is without. The Force is One. We are part of the Force; it will always be, at least partially, whatever we are.

    ***

    Ergo, even in a pure Force nexus, such as the Jedi temple is, which is said in Stover's next novel, per Anakin Skywalker, to be the "greatest nexus of Force energy in the Republic; its ziggurat design focused the Force the way a lightsaber's gemstone focused its energy stream," if Jacen becomes angry due to the belief that Vergere led him into a room full of Yuuzhan Vong warriors, and a "hot tidal surge of red billowed through him," this feeling would be substantially amplified by the Force, even moreso than it ordinarily would be due to being in the most powerful Force nexus in the Republic. Because a nexus of pure Force energy is going to have both sides of the Force in it, and if Jacen is angry, which side is that going to draw out?
    Last edited by DigitalMessiah, Oct 25, 2013
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  8. Revanfan1 Chosen One

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    So what you're saying is, since he was angry, the nexus amplified his anger into dark side power?
  9. stung4ever Force Ghost

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    There's no evidence in Rebel Stand that Luke, Mara, or even Tahiri interpreted the nexus as dark. Later, after Nyax's death, Vergere said the place was "strong in the dark side", and referred to it as a dark side nexus. I've never been a fan of the "Vergere is a Sith" retcon, and the best OOU explanation is lack of communication between the two authors, but in universe...
  10. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    I would say that the Force amplified his anger. And if you're angry, and you draw on the Force, what are you drawing on? The Jedi temple is never said to be a "light side nexus," nor do I know that such things exist.

    Vergere's point is that the Force nexus didn't make Jacen do anything.

    "I can feel the dark side here. I touched the dark side, and it, and it, it touched me --"

    How do you know it was after Nyax's death?
    Last edited by DigitalMessiah, Oct 25, 2013
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  11. Revanfan1 Chosen One

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    Exactly. He drew on the nexus and because he was angry, the Force amplified the anger.
  12. stung4ever Force Ghost

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    Because, prior to Nyax, the energy was more or less trapped. Nyax's construction droid released it. And the timeline fits. At the beginning of Rebel Stand, it was a nexus of the force. During the book, Nyax dies in it, staining it dark. Come Traitor, Jacen feels it as dark, and Vergere refers to it as a nexus of the dark side.

    Pages 166-167

    "... but you do not see. Jacen ... why would the Jedi Council ... build its Temple upon ... a nexus of the dark side?"
  13. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    Is asking a question the same as making a statement?

    By the way, what was the answer to the question?
    Last edited by DigitalMessiah, Oct 25, 2013
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  14. Cynical_Ben Force Ghost

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    No. I inscribed most of the review at approximately 4 in the morning, so, while I have no idea how that got past my spellcheck, it's a simple typo.

    As for Nyax and the nexus, I like the sound of what DM says more because it fits with the overall message of what Vergere is trying to teach Jacen better. I did note that Ganner was present in both Rebel Dream and Rebel Stand, though, which makes the theory a little leaky. In fact, he's one of the Jedi who is noted as reacting to the opening of the nexus, nearly crashing a ship in the process. The only other option is that the nexus could be sensed and felt from within the temple before it was opened, but not drawn on in the way that they do in RS. Jacen could feel the nexus, just as Luke and Nyax could, but he couldn't draw on it, because it wasn't opened. He felt the presence of darkness, not the overwhelming power that Luke feels in RS. And I have a hard time believing that, after a Jedi temple existed on that spot for millenia, one battle was enough to "deplete" it.

    I submit that the darkness he felt was the darkness within himself, "coloring" the Force around him. Yes, Veregere refers to it as a "nexus of the dark side", but she's speaking rhetorically, asking Jacen why such a thing would be, how it could be so with his current understanding of the Force. And, remember, everything she says is a lie; taking her at her word for what the nexus is and then calling her a Sith and pointing out how she can't be trusted about this other thing she says is willful misinterpretation.

    I know that since the series was over, it's been accepted that Nyax corrupted the nexus and Vergere was either lying or manipulating Jacen. The fact that Traitor has very little internal chronology and a very unreliable narrator leaves it very open to interpretation either way. But what makes it interesting is the fact that Jacen never answers Vergere's question. She's asking with the emphasis on the unlikeliness of the situation, not actually looking for an answer.
  15. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    Jacen acknowledges that Vergere is right:

    There were no words for the truth inside him; nor were there words for the horror that rolled into him, because he could feel the Force again.
    He could feel that she was right.

    ****

    This would seem to suggest that the dark side nexus, isn't.

    I think if anything it's an author miscommunication, especially considering Nyax wasn't Allston's original idea. I don't think Stover knew that the Force nexus of the Jedi temple was going to be corrupted in the book preceding his. I question the idea that Nyax had any lasting effect on the most powerful Force nexus in the galaxy as well.

    I find the prevalent interpretation bizarre in a critical reading sense: even if we just assume that Vergere is trying to corrupt Jacen, it's through some sort of ploy in which she is trying to convince him that the "dark side" is not actually the dark side but the Force itself, and it's not followed up on. I don't think the intended lesson's meaning is changed if we accept that it was a dark side nexus, either. I think too much weight is put on specific moments when Vergere says things which are true from a certain point of view to elicit a specific response, in an attempt to support a predetermined conclusion. Perhaps that's a consequence of certain lines being taken at face value rather than an effort being made at discerning intent. That is a much easier way to read the book.
    Last edited by DigitalMessiah, Oct 25, 2013
  16. Gamiel Force Ghost

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    Dec 16, 2012
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    I just want to point out that Jacon is around sixteen years old. Sixteen years old. Most people at that age are just beginning to look outside of their sphere of safety; to say that he has been "blind for a long while" is unfair since he has just begun to develop his sight. It feels a bit like asking Siddhārtha Gautama to be Enlightened before he has even left the palace of his father
  17. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    I think Jacen did a better job of discerning Vergere's meaning than 99% of the people that read the novel. And that includes myself the first time that I read it. And the second. And the third.
    Last edited by DigitalMessiah, Oct 25, 2013
  18. Cynical_Ben Force Ghost

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    Well, yeah. He was the one who was supposed to get it. We're incidental, we understand that Jacen understands, but we aren't the ones getting the lessons, he is. If Vergere (and Stover) had wanted us to understand her crystal clear, they could have made it so. They didn't, and, thus, the Traitor conundrum. A fantastically written, deeper than the ocean book-length look at the philosophy of the GFFA, but one we have frustratingly little objective insight into. Everything we know about everything that Jacen learns is shown to us from his perspective. Thus, we're witnesses to a conversation that is only meant for one.
  19. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    Vergere is proud of Jacen at the conclusion of the novel, and we understand what Jacen learned. And that gives us a cipher to understand Vergere's, and Stover's, meaning. Plus back in 2002 Stover got all mad about people not making an effort to understand the book because it's easier to call Vergere a Sith and told us what he meant before he assumed his current stance of not commenting on the text.

    Here's Jacen turning to the dark side:

    All he wanted was a quiet place to die. Was that too much to ask? Hadn't he earned that? Why did everything have to be so hideous, so gruesome, so just plain rotten all the time? Couldn't he even die in peace?
    Did the whole universe hate him?
    There's only one answer when the universe hates you, whispered the shadow worm from the base of his skull. Hate it back.
    So he did.
    It was easy.
    He hated the universe. Hated everything about it: all the pointless suffering and empty death and all the stupid mindless mechanical useless laws and all the squirming blood-smeared ignorant life, hated the stony flesh under his feet and the air that he breathed, hated himself, hated even the hate he felt and suddenly he wasn't tired anymore, he wasn't confused anymore, everything was simple, everything was easy, everything made sense because hate was everything and everything was hate, and he didn't want to die anymore.
    All he wanted was to hurt someone.

    pg. 179

    He does not struggle.
    Instead, he opens himself. In his most secret center, that gap in his being that once fed him pain, he offers an embrace.
    Into the hollow in his center, he pours compassion. Absolute empathy. Perfect understanding.
    He accepts the pain he caused the dhuryam with his betrayal; he shares with the dhuryam the pain that betrayal had caused him.
    He shares with the dhuryam all his experience with the spectrum of life: the featureless whiteout of agony, the red tide of rage, the black hole of despair, the gamma-sleet of loss ... and the lush verdure of growing things, the grays of stone and duracrete, the glisten of gemstones and transparisteel, the blue-white sizzle of the noonday sun and its exact echo in a lightsaber's blade.
    He shares how much he loves it all: for all these things are all one thing: pain and joy, loss and reunion, life and death. To love any is to love all, for none can exist without every other.
    The Universe.
    The Force.
    All is one.
    The Yuuzhan Vong and the species of the New Republic.
    Jacen and the World Brain.
    When I betrayed you, I betrayed myself. When I killed your siblings, I killed pieces of myself. You may kill me, but I will live on in you.
    We are One.
    And Jacen cannot tell if those words come from him to the World Brain, or from the World Brain to him, for Jacen and the World Brain are only different faces of the same thing. Call it the Universe, or the Force, or Existence: those are only words.
    They are half truths. Less.
    They are lies.
    The truth is always greater than the words we use to describe it.

    pg.271-272

    Jacen was surprised by life.
    The teeth of the World Brain had not closed upon him. Its tentacles had not ripped the flesh from his bones. He had not drowned in the slime pool, asphyxiating on phosphorescent goo. No Yuuzhan Vong warriors swarmed around him to drag him from the slime and carve the life from him with amphistaffs.
    Instead, a bubble of air had formed around him, and tentacles had cradled him like a sleeping child, and lips had closed over sword-edged teeth to touch him with a kiss.
    Because he was the World Brain, and the World Brain was him, and each was everything else, and Jacen had learned that one can meet the Universe and all its irrational pain -- which means meeting oneself -- with fear, or with hatred, or with despair.
    Or one can choose to meet it with love.
    Jacen had chosen.
    But still, he was astonished to discover that the Universe could love him back.
    At the far end of an infinite distance -- which was the same as right here -- he felt an oceanic roll of the Force gathering an interstellar fortissimo of symphonic joy; at the same time, within the hollow at his center, he felt rage and pain and fierce hot combat, and he understood another reason why he was still alive.
    Ganner --

    pg.280
    Last edited by DigitalMessiah, Oct 25, 2013
  20. Jedi Ben Chosen One

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    Doubtful. Perhaps more than any other SW book, Traitor is one where, if you like it's games-playing, you'll love it; if you don't.... Some will consider the idea of an unreliable narrator written with deliberately imperfect and imprecise language as genius, others will see it as an author messing around. For all its said the book isn't understood, the book itself deliberately obscures.

    More importantly, if I take the notion that everyone "lies" due to the imperfections of language, perception and knowledge what conclusions does that lead to about the world? That people are liars the whole time? That cannot come across to me as anything other than a highly negative picture. Purple prose is an acquired taste and very much love-it-or-loathe-it, but, if it's being used on ideas it can cause problems like this which is a result of being attentive to its details of language.

    If anything I end up looking at Traitor and being amazed Jacen has to undergo such an ordeal to work out that which he really should have known in the first place, had he not decided to build himself into a philosophical cage of trying to get to absolute truth and perfection in a time of war. In a lot of ways it can be said that he should have been a lunatic after this!
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  21. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

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    Probably because "lesion" is a ( correctly-spelled ) word, I'd imagine. Just not the right word.
  22. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    I think you are getting too caught up on the words and I think there's a deeper point you are missing because it is being obscured by your exception to the word "lie."

    I honestly think the book is pretty straightforward if you take the time to examine it and this idea of deliberate ambiguity or deliberate obfuscation is something that was played up afterward but not intended at the time, at least to the extent to which it is played up. I don't think the novel is this unsolvable cipher without an "answer." Yes, I think Stover intended Vergere to be coy with Jacen because that was the point, that Jacen was supposed to develop insight on his own without being told it, that he can't be told it, that the world is too complicated for that sort of simple access to truth. This idea is incompatible with a lot of readers' worldviews, and I'm sure that has something to do with the book not working for those people, and maybe that's the case for you?

    And that's not to say that the point which Vergere is trying to get across is limited to "truth." The point she's making -- or perhaps more accurately, the point which Jacen reveals -- is interdependent origination, as revealed in the quoted text in my prior post.
    Last edited by DigitalMessiah, Oct 26, 2013
  23. Revanfan1 Chosen One

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    The first one I can see as dark side, definitely. The other two, not so much, though.
  24. DigitalMessiah Chosen One

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    I was being facetious. If anything, Vergere prevented Jacen from spiraling downward the same way that Kyp did for Jaina.
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  25. Revanfan1 Chosen One

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    Gotcha now. Sorry, it's hard to tell without vocal inflection. :p