An Addendum on Star Wars from AVI

And therefore, I said, Glaucon, musical training is a more potent
instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way
into the inward places of the soul, on which they mightily fasten,
imparting grace, and making the soul of him who is rightly educated
graceful, or of him who is ill-educated ungraceful; and also because
he who has received this true education of the inner being will most
shrewdly perceive omissions or faults in art and nature, and with
a true taste, while he praises and rejoices over and receives into
his soul the good, and becomes noble and good, he will justly blame
and hate the bad, now in the days of his youth, even before he is
able to know the reason why; and when reason comes he will recognise
and salute the friend with whom his education has made him long familiar.

-Plato, Republic III
Commenting on Mike's recent post about Star Wars, AVI says: "At one level, I can't believe this needs explaining. The Rebels are the good guys. The Jedi are the good guys. The music and the costumes didn't give that away?"

He has a fuller examination of what's going on with the imperfections in the morality of Star Wars that is worth your time.

It occurs to me that his first take is the right one, though: it's the music of Star Wars that really carries the morality of the plot. You could dispose of perhaps every single line of dialogue, and still understand the movie perfectly just by hearing John Williams' soundtrack. The flaws come out of what was said in the screenplay. The real moral structure is musical, and perfect. It's only when someone -- Lucas, I suppose -- began to try to think and put it into words that the errors began to creep in.

Somehow we grasp the moral truth better through music. Plato's trust in the capacity of musicians to convey moral truths, provided that they were devoted to doing so, is perhaps if anything only understated. Trying to say the truth is very hard, as everyone who knew Socrates came to find out when he put them to the test when asked to define goodness or justice or piety. You can hear it expressed in music, though, and somehow understand exactly what is meant. For most people and most purposes, including to guide the soldiers of his model state in their moral decisions, Plato seems to have thought that this would do.


Ymar Sakar said...

Plato should have written the Star Wars chronology and lore. He would have done a better job than the moderns.

Ymar Sakar said...

And maybe he did, but the Muslims burned all of it at Alexandria.

MikeD said...

The music, cinematography, lighting, costuming, and dialog are all supposed to lead you the conclusion that the Jedi and Rebels are good. The problem is, the films fail to make them so. The Republic Senate in the prequels is corrupt and ineffective. The Jedi lie to the government they are supposedly beholden to. The Jedi operate in a manner that could best be described as "cavalier" (and not in the good sense) in those films. And the Rebels, while perhaps sympathetic operate in pretty questionable ways as well.

Basically, my point is while the deck is stacked to present the Rebels and Jedi in the best light possible, they still fail to come off as truly "good". And that can be laid at the feet of Lucas (in my opinion). The man can't write his way out of a wet paper bag.

Ymar Sakar said...

Lucas was lead writer, lead creative director, director, and production manager (a lot of hats) in the films.

People like him need a realist or pragmatist, like a banker or lawyer, to ride herd on them. Otherwise they tend to go decadent and come up with very illogical and unconnected bits and pieces.

The 'big ideas' person usually should be paired with an engineering minded practical realist, if people expect things to get done, within a reasonable limit of the budget.