Thursday, April 3, 2014

Emperor Palpatine (Star Wars Character Thoughts)

More Thoughts: Intro, C3PO, R2D2, Qui-Gon, Obi Wan, Anakin, Padme, Han, Chewy, The Emperor, Yoda, Vader, Luke


The Emperor is the Big Bad in the Star Wars universe. He doesn’t really need much explanation, really. He exists to be the bad guy. His motivation is power accumulation and nothing else. And yet, in many ways that is the hardest of motivations to understand. Why does he want power? What is he wanting to do with the power? In Vader/Anakin Skywalker, we see a reason behind his quest for power, as ineffectual and flawed as it ends up being. One can only assume that Palpatine’s original motivations were somewhat similar, but by the time of the stories we are left with a man who’s every action and strategy exists to grasp more power—to no perceivable end.


And yet, we all struggle with this same sort of senseless drive to accumulate power. It is easiest to see in the all-pervasive materialism in western culture. We fill our lives up with stuff that we don’t need or even really want. We are driven to accumulate money, often with no plan or need, but rather to simply have a pile. Money translates to power, or even better security. If you were to have a near limitless supply you would never need fear any eventuality.

That, of course, is a lie. There are plenty of eventualities in life that involve the loss of power, the loss of the money that could conceivably buy our way out of any problems. However, at some point we—just like Palpatine—fall into the trap of accumulating power, or money, or things out of habit. We don’t think about what we are doing or what our ultimate goals may be. And that is because the accumulation IS the goal. And THAT may be the clearest and worst form of evil in the world. The empty, meaningless, vacuum that is the quest for power.

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