The Fractals of Obitine & Anidala (Part 5)
Lady Wisdom, the Pursuit of Peace, & the Voice of Truth
When you watch the Prequels and the Mandalore arc in their entirety, one thing becomes crystal clear: Padme and Satine are right. About pretty much everything. But their male partners...well, not so much. Granted, Padme and Satine didn’t see some of the flaws of their institutions until it was too late--but they were certainly more aware of the unravelling state of the galaxy than either Anakin or Obi-Wan.
But Satine and Padme’s reflections of one another go past merely seeing truth when their male counterparts are in the dark. In fact, their quests for truth follow similar patterns. This is particularly obvious when you compare Attack of the Clones with the Mandalore arc--you can see the reflecting fractals, see the repetitions and rhymes, and you can spot the areas of difference, where the reflections don’t quite match. And, most importantly, once you’ve spotted the similarities and disparities, you can begin to extrapolate meaning from these similar--but not the same--stories.
From the beginning of Attack of the Clones, right after surviving her assassination attempt, Padme suspects that the Separatists--particularly Count Dooku--are behind the attack, even though the (mostly male) Jedi around her dismiss her suspicions out-of-hand. In a similar way, when Satine is told by Obi-Wan that a Mandalorian saboteur attacked a Republic cruiser, she quickly realizes that Death Watch is likely behind the attack. I think that she was actually aware of this as soon as Obi-Wan showed the holo of the Mandalorian sabotaging the cruiser; her anger and hostility toward Obi-Wan, while in part due to her complicated past with him, is likely also due to the fact that she doesn’t want the Republic finding out about Death Watch. Case in point: It’s not until Obi-Wan reveals that his investigation on Mandalore was instigated by the Jedi rather than the Republic that she’s willing to speak privately with him about her suspicions regarding Death Watch.
It’s important to point out, though, that neither Padme nor Satine sees the entire truth in these scenes. Padme, though she’s right about Dooku’s involvement in her assassination attempt, she’s unaware of the fact that Palpatine is ultimately behind the plot. Also, while she correctly suspects that the assassination attempt has something to do with her opposition to the military creation act, she doesn’t realize that the purpose of this plot was to start the Clone Wars, with the ultimate intent of re-forging the Republic into the Empire. Satine likewise is correct in her suspicion about Death Watch; they were indeed the ones behind the attack on the Republic. But at first, she’s reluctant to admit how serious the Death Watch problem has become, and she’s even more hesistant to admit that Death Watch are in bed with the Separatists. She also has no idea that Palpatine is the one who’s been pulling the strings behind the mandalore plot. All in all, Padme and Satine, unlike the men around them, are aware that the events around them are being carefully puppeted by some external force--but they’re ultimately blind to the puppetmaster.
But ignoring the fact that Padme and Satine were ultimately deceived, it’s still hugely significant that these women saw more clearly than those around them. More importantly, they see more clearly than the men around them--by the mostly male Jedi Council, the male-led Senate, and even the men they love.
Consider, for a moment, the events of Attack of the Clones and Duchess of Mandalore. As I’ve already mentioned, Attack of the Clones makes it clear that Padme has more insight than the Jedi Council or Chancellor, despite the fact that they are dismissive of her. She also has insight into long-term consequences of the growing Separatist threat: A full-scale war, no matter how well-meaning, will be the downfall of democracy. And guess what? She’s absolutely right. The war slowly dissolves the freedoms of the Republic until they are no more. As Maul so poignantly put it in the Phantom Apprentice, the Republic fell even before the Empire rose to take its place.
The events of Duchess of Mandalore are similar. When a recording from Deputy Minister Jarec seemingly indicates that the threat of Death Watch is so great that Mandalore requires the assistance of the Republic, Satine understands that something isn’t right. She knows that the events unfolding around her aren’t what they seem, that someone is making intentional efforts to change the narrative. This conviction, this clarity, persists despite the fact that those around her--Palpatine, Mas Amedda AKA the lost member of the Blue Man Group--dismiss her assertions. Even Obi-Wan seems to doubt her (more on that in a later post), dismissing her beliefs as hysteria from the stress of recent events. But still, she persists. She fights for truth. And, in the end, she’s victorious: She thwarts Palpatine’s machinations and keeps her people free from the tyranny of Republic occupation.
Why is this significant? It’s significant that women are the ones seeking peace and truth in these stories. It’s not unheard of for women to be depicted as pacific or peace-loving; think of the women in Lystrata, or the many women in our own history who were involved in Anti-War movements. But it is unique that Padme and Satine are motivated to seek peace by their pursuit and recognition of the truth, particularly in a Western culture. Femininity and activism, after all, are typically framed by Westerners as emotional, irrational--not as people who grasp an elusive truth.
Now, notice that I said Westerners. Because this portrayal of the feminine as irrational, as easily deceived, doesn’t necessarily show up in other cultures. In fact, in Jewish wisdom literature, attributes such as Wisdom are personified as feminine.
This figure, commonly referred to as Lady Wisdom by Jewish and Christian scholars alike, has a clarity of understanding that surpasses the understanding of mortals, be they masculine or feminine. Even rulers and kings depend on her for guidance:
Counsel and sound judgment are mine;
I have insight, I have power.
By me kings reign
and rulers issue decrees that are just;
by me princes govern,
and nobles—all who rule on earth.
I love those who love me,
and those who seek me find me.
What I find even more incredible is that she even appears to be immanent--that is, she appears to be existing and operating within her own power, as if she herself is a crucial part of the eternal divine nature:
I was there when G-d set the heavens in place,
when G-d marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
when G-d established the clouds above
and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,
when G-d gave the sea its boundary
so the waters would not overstep G-d’s command,
and when G-d marked out the foundations of the earth.
Then I was constantly at G-d’s side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
rejoicing always in G-d’s presence,
rejoicing in G-d’s whole world
and delighting in mankind.
Now, I’m not an expert in Hebrew wisdom literature, but this certainly doesn’t sound like an irrational, gullible femininity to me. It sounds like a femininity that has something to offer everyone--even cis-het men. But the question is, will they be willing to listen? While Lady Wisdom implores all people to heed her voice, men often refuse to listen, both in our world and in the Star Wars mythos.
That’s what I take from this particular fractal--femininity brings necessary criticism to the world. It doesn’t just go with the status quo, but it questions, it deconstructs, and when needed, it rebels. To lose that in the world would mean a world where power isn’t questioned.
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