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SPOILER "Let the Past Die" Is a Dangerous Motto

Discussion in 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' started by JediMasterRobert, Dec 21, 2017.

  1. JediMasterRobert

    JediMasterRobert Rebel Official

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    Not really a spoiler if you've watched the trailer, where Kylo Ren says this:

    "Let the past die. Kill it if you have to."


    This is a potentially very dangerous and self-destructive motto.

    It's certainly tting for a character such as Kylo Ren, of course, who has a motivation to mentally block-out (to himself) the path behind him, but this is not something which should, as I have now seen it mentioned at various websites and social media, be widely and enthusiastically adopted as a philosophy of life.

    The past holds vast educational value for all future generations.

    Let us examine this a bit within the realm of Star Wars, which has periodically meditated on the past, present, and future.

    In Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon Jinn admonishes Obi-Wan Kenobi, early on, to focus on the present:

    Obi-Wan Kenobi: I have a bad feeling about this.

    Qui-Gon Jinn: I don't sense anything.

    Obi-Wan Kenobi: It's not about the mission, Master. It's something elsewhere, elusive.

    Qui-Gon Jinn: Don't center on your anxiety, Obi-Wan. Keep your concentration here and now, where it belongs.

    Obi-Wan Kenobi: Master Yoda says I should be mindful of the future.

    Qui-Gon Jinn: But not at the expense of the moment. Be mindful of the living Force, my young Padawan.


    In Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda admonishes Luke Skywalker indirectly:

    "This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmmm?! What he was doing!"

    Mindfulness of the moment is a rather essential thing to the Jedi.

    So it is with our world: we would do well to strive for awareness of what and why and how things are, around us, within us, and beyond.

    To lose sight of that is very much akin to "distracted driving," even if we are still and appear to be going nowhere: it's not merely about active choice, motion, and apparent direction.

    It is also very much about inaction: what we choose not to think, not to say, or not to do. Causality happens with or without personal participation, and always remain part of that larger set of decisions (and indecisions) which cause the world to be as it is at any moment.

    To be "mindful of the moment" though does not imply for us to ignore or reject the past, to pretend some things never happened, or to refuse to acknowledge or learn about the path behind us.

    How we got here, to this moment, is no inessential thing.

    If everyone were mindful of each moment, then, eventually we'd be living both a mindful present and a mindful past, as each present moment slips back into history.

    And this could better prepare us to be mindful of the future, to be more ready for the moment after this -- less apprehensive though greater awareness and appreciation for the natural flow and Force of all things.

    We see, from Obi-Wan's response to Qui-Gon, Yoda has encouraged Obi-Wan to be mindful of the future.

    We also know, from TESB, that the future is hard to see, "always in motion," as Yoda puts it: this is because things have yet to be decided (in a universe where "free will" can be said to reign over apparent destinies).

    Now, in The Last Jedi, Luke

    tells Rey about the Jedi, their failures to detect and prevent the rise of Darth Sidious. He also lamented his detection of the Dark Side in a yonger Ben and realized he (Luke) was wrong to think, even for a fleeting moment, to act against what has not yet happened. But, by the time Luke realized that and powered down his lightsaber, the damage was already done: Ben noticed, also acted out of fear, left Luke in Rubble, went after Luke's Jedi academy, and crossed over to the Dark Side to become Kylo Ren.

    Each choice is partly informed by past, present, and future.

    Without knowledge of the past, we might very well allow some otherwise avoidable situations to happen all over again.

    Philosopher George Santayana said it far more eloquently: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

    Without awareness of the present, we lose focus, context, and miss all the big and little things and reasons which actively make the world and ourselves as they are right now. Then we blindly step (or drive) into the future.

    Now, add unreasonable fear to that equation -- undue apprehension for what has yet to transpire -- and this leads to all sorts of dangerous thinking. Even worse if you throw anger in there. Worst of all if hate gets involved as well.

    We can see the results of fear of the future throughout Star Wars, up through The Last Jedi.

    We know, from Episode VII: The Force Awakens, through Rey's reading of Kylo's mind, that he remains fearful of not being as powerful as Darth Vader.

    Even earlier in the saga, we know the very creation of Darth Vader was predicated on a future fear yet to materialize: the death of Padme in childbirth.

    Palpatine and Snoke used such fears to subjugate and emotionally manipulate their apprentices.

    Vader even taps that in Luke in ROTJ: "If you will not turn to the Dark Side, then perhaps she will."

    Palpatine held too much stock in his own visions of the future: "Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen."

    In each of the these examples, we can find a fatal imbalance in terms of mindfulness: people either beholden to their past, people blind to the present, people looking off toward horizons or an uncertain future.

    We must acknowledge and value and preserve the past to, at the very least, be able to learn from its many teachings.

    In The Last Jedi, Yoda tells Luke, "The greatest teacher, failure is."

    Nor must we allow ourselves, or our society, to be trapped in the past. Until Luke came along, Vader was metaphorically and literally trapped in his deathly suit, which nearly permanently encased him in his sadness and hatred and regret since Revenge of the Sith.

    We should be mindful of the living moment.

    We should be mindful of the future, allowing reasonable concerns to inform our decisions (or indecisions) along with the teachings of the past and the present:

    something among the most difficult balance to maintain in the mind, but ever necessary nonetheless.

    Yet, while it might seem to take nothing less than a Jedi to achieve such a balance between past, present, and future, I believe everyone could achieve that ability if they allowed themselves to clear their minds from the daily grind, from the incessant whirlpool of distractions within and around us, to be still enough for a few moments to become more in tune with life -- the Living Force.

    We already have all the information to live such better lives, make such better decisions, do such better things, to create such better memories, and to enable potentially better futures for ourselves and others.

    It is within your powers to do that, and I do hope you do!
     
    #1 JediMasterRobert, Dec 21, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2017
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  2. Withred

    Withred Rebel Official

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    +1

    Kylo needs to face the past and accept it than kill it.
     
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  3. Dawn

    Dawn Rebel General

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    Hold on...So people are taking life advice from Kylo? The one person who could make all therapists in a galaxy far far away quit their jobs? That's....unwise to say the least. He might make a great life coach some day, but NOT NOW.
     
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  4. Mr Hux

    Mr Hux Rebel Commander

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    "Let the past die" is very nietzschean.
     
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  5. SW Rogue Juan

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    The movie espouses this philosophy even through Yoda himself. He burns the tree of knowledge and advocates for the end of the Jedi religion. The past must die. Tradition must die. Nothing to be learned from the Jedi books of old because they were not page turners and everything Rey needs both metaphorically and literally is with her.
     
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  6. master_shaitan

    master_shaitan Jedi General

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    I like to think Yoda knew Rey took the books though...
     
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  7. SW Rogue Juan

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    I understand. That's why I said the books are literally with her. Luke doesn't know that though, so the impact and symbolism of burning those books are still there.
     
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  8. JediMasterRobert

    JediMasterRobert Rebel Official

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    From Friedrich Nietzsche: Philosophy of History (http://www.iep.utm.edu/niet-his/) some notable Nietzsche quotes highlighted there:

    "If you are to venture to interpret the past you can do so only out of the fullest exertion of the vigor of the present: only when you put forth your noblest qualities in all their strength will you divine what is worth knowing and preserving in the past."
    (from On the Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life)

    "History belongs above all to the active and powerful man..."
    [the fuller quote continuing to say "to he who fights a great fight, requires models, teachers and comforters ,and cannot find them among associates and contemporaries." Also from On the Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life.]

    “[W]e need to know about the conditions and circumstances under which the values grew up, developed, and changed..."
    (which originally starts as a discussion of the "value of compassion" and continues to say "morality as a cause." From Genealogy of Morals.)



    Of course, there is much more to Nietzsche than nihilism, historical or otherwise, or any few quotes outside of greater contexts, such as the arguable relevant to TLJ "Will to Power" or "Eternal Recurrence." History is but one thing he grappled with throughout his life with no final answers, for him or for us.

    For further exploration: http://www.iep.utm.edu/nietzsch/

    And, well, Nietzsche is as good an example as any philosopher when it comes to evaluating philosophies in the greater context of the current age.

    Not all ideas make it through to the present, and for very good reason!

    Nonetheless, awareness of their presence and influence or potential relevance, to begin with, can contribute some much-needed illumination on current philosophies and more general perspectives -- our own and the others' points-of-view.

    The past, particularly for all its recorded failures, can be a phenomenal source of potential wisdom for the future.
     
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  9. nightangel

    nightangel Rebel Official

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    Let the past die = let the old fans die out :(
     
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  10. Ammianus Marcellinus

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    I like how there's a truth in it for Rey as well. And when you think about it, Luke as well.
    --- Double Post Merged, Dec 21, 2017, Original Post Date: Dec 21, 2017 ---
    I'm an old fan, but you got that right, I am dying. :)
     
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  11. JediMasterRobert

    JediMasterRobert Rebel Official

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    In TLJ, Luke also

    says something incredibly important and heartening to Leia:

    “No one's really ever gone."

    This much we know from the Force.

    Even in our world: energies exerted throughout one's lifetime, even at the level of thought, effect the cosmos in seemingly significant yet eternal ways, for the universe is forever changed as a result, if even simply at a quantum level.

    It all matters, even if it was something thought to be relegated to the past.

    *The past, after all, in simplest terms, what has happened.

    The present: what is happening.

    The future: what might happen.

    Three divisions of the *perception of time.

    Time, itself, being merely a word, something illusory as the material word.

    "Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter," as Yoda reminded Luke in the original trilogy.


    ADDENDUM:

    *It is wiser to understand the past is still happening: its influence over the present is never to be underestimated or dismissed. Its causalities play out indefinitely.

    Likewise, the prospects of the future (personal or societal) can exert its own influences on the present, helping to shape the past.
     
    #11 JediMasterRobert, Dec 21, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2017
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  12. Grand Admiral Kraum

    Grand Admiral Kraum Force Sensitive

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    It's no myth that these lines (especially the ones used in the trailers) are aimed at telling Star Wars fans what to think, feel and accept about these films.

    Even "just let it in" from the TFA trailer, was such a blatant way of telling people to just accept it.

    "Let the past die, kill it if you have to" is basically "The original films are still overshadowing ours, so we'll destroy the meaning behind them."

    I'm not letting this trilogy affect my perception of the superor original trilogy and characters :) Luke is a hopeful character, and i'm not a fan of Rey for attacking him without properly listening to his side. Rey is a psycho for putting what remained of the Jedi on the line..
     
    #12 Grand Admiral Kraum, Dec 21, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2017
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  13. Legend Knight

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    Yoda did not burn books. He says Rey has everything she needs. This is literal. You see the books aboard the Falcon at the end of the movie. Yoda is not a book burner lol.
     
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  14. JediMasterRobert

    JediMasterRobert Rebel Official

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    Luke
    imparted concise wisdom and experiences to Rey, who also learned and experienced things on the island.

    Personal experience often exceeds information imparted by others, but, preferably, one can glean wisdom from experiences beyond one's self.

    Knowledge, it all its forms, from any source, is always potentially valuable and educational.

    Hopefully Rey can do both, which is best:

    learn enough about the Jedi so as not to repeat their mistakes and also to trust in the Force and herself to guide her forth.
     
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  15. SW Rogue Juan

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    I know that, but perception still matters. Luke does not know the books were in there.
     
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  16. Legend Knight

    Legend Knight Force Sensitive

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    I know that is why Yoda thinks it is so funny. Pulling the wool over young Skywalker one more time. Typical Yoda.
     
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  17. JediMasterRobert

    JediMasterRobert Rebel Official

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    It would be funny if

    early into IX, Rey loses the books, frets, and this is how we first meet Force Ghost Luke, who smiles and suggests to her, "You don't need those anymore."
     
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  18. Dawn

    Dawn Rebel General

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    Yes, but here we're talking about people who are paying attention to Kylo's version. And he talks about letting the past die on a personal level. There wouldn't be anything wrong with that, it's actually good advice, but then he adds "Kill it if you must." These 2 statements are actually contradictory. Letting the past die means accepting it and moving on. Meanwhile, killing the past implies a (figurative or literal) forceful action performed in lack of any other options. It's the exact opposite of acceptance, and only good for someone who is in a desperate situation and can apply it literally, more specifically Kylo himself.
    He kills Snoke because he has no other way out, and of course, that's just the first step towards real freedom. He didn't let the past die, he fell back into his old patterns. Thankfully, he used this belief in a positive way this time. Because last time he tried to kill the past, he killed his father. My point is, the only healthy way to deal with the past is acceptance. "Killing" it, which means trying to ignore it forcibly, won't do much for the average person. Not to mention that no one should try to kill any part of themselves. Kylo is an expert at attempting to do just that, so again, he's not exactly wise. And by the end of TLJ, killing his own past involves killing Snoke, Luke, the Resistance, and pretty much everything that breathes and bothers him. And when Luke implies that Rey will be the last Jedi, he gets so mad that he rants about destroying her and everything. Which of course, implies destroying himself too. So you see, people really shouldn't listen to him.
    There's a big difference between his idea of letting go of the past and Luke's. When Luke burned the tree, he let the past die for good. The Jedi were already gone, the gesture was symbolic. But when Kylo says "kill it", he actually does it. And unless you're being held hostage by an evil monster and you need to kill in the literal sense of the word, following his advice can only cause trouble.
     
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  19. JediMasterRobert

    JediMasterRobert Rebel Official

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    The most curious thing about Kylo, in the midst of his own suggestion, is that

    while he is instrumental in eradicating Snoke, and while he later suggests to Rey about the Sith and the Jedi, to let it all go, he still squarely stands in the shadow of Darth Vader, especially at this point as a failed wannabe, as Snoke devilishly rubs in right before his final scene.

    Perhaps in IX, Kylo will have grown into his own persona.

    But, even there, his past is inescapable.

    Lor San Tekka mentioned that early on in The Force Awakens.

    Failure to acknowledge Kylo's true past only prolongs his tortuous future.

    He has yet to fully come to terms with his decisions from TFA up to now.

    He still comes across as someone very eager to prove himself and to cast away the past.

    Perhaps his wisdom, if attainable in IX, will be to embrace who he was (a la Anakin) so he can truly become who he could be.

    Right now, as the quote from the TLJ trailer stands, he believes his current poisonous view will enable him to realize his potential.

    Perhaps it might come to pass, in IX or beyond, that Rey can be instrumental in some way to help him move past his own shadow and step back into his true self, maskless, and see things as they truly are, not as he fears or wishes them to be.

    Only then can true self-redemption become a possibility.

    And perhaps he ultimately is the only one who can redeem himself to himself, beginning from within.

    The past, when most carefully regarded, can have a healing power as well, depending on the situation in focus.
     
  20. Withred

    Withred Rebel Official

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    He tried to get Rey to do the same. By pushing the truth of her parents onto her and forcing her to acknowledge it. Then she was all "no bro" (not literally) and left him.

    I'm hoping Kylo learns from Rey in IX.
     
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