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LEFT: Procession march from Triumph of the Will. RIGHT: Throne Room march from Star Wars.
1 Julie Lim's excellent Star Wars Names FAQ
2 From Fen Kortiay's essay on The Force.net
3 From Joel Frangquist's Star Wars and Triumph of the Will website. At the risk of getting too abstract, I suspect that Lucas' "Journal of the Whills" (which preceded the film in early drafts and the novel even today) was subconsciously assonant with "Triumph of the Will." I've noticed that great writers tend to get ideas from their favorite stories stuck in their heads, until one day they find a way to combine them with other ideas and create something new. For instance, it seems possible that Tolkien's Lothlórien was unconsciously sonorous with "King Lot of Lothian" (Scotland) from Le Morte D'Arthur. Star Wars was strongly influenced by the Mars books of Edgar Rice Burroughs, in which the highest military rank is "Jeddak" (Emperor). My intuition tells me that Lucas didn't want to copy Jeddak exactly, but he loved the exotic sound of it as the title of a great warrior. Then when he visited Japan and heard the word "Jidai" (from Jidai Geki, literally "period drama" - movies about Samurai), it was close enough to the sound of Jeddak that it gave him the same feeling while also being different enough to not feel like copying. The two ideas clicked into his original word Jedi. Of course there's no way I can prove this theory, but it feels true. In hindsight I realize that the point of building this website was to gain an intuitive sense of how Lucas might have put things together, and it's okay that some of my guesses are probably wrong. Studying your favorite storytellers isn't about learning to understand their focus perfectly (which is probably impossible), only well enough that you can find a model for developing your own focus.
On the off chance this digression isn't obscure enough, what was Edgar Rice Burrough's inspiration for the word "Jeddak" in the first place? It was probably a variation on his own word Jed (king), which he probably picked up from the theosophy writings of Helena Blavatsky (1831-1891). Blavatsky made a big deal of the Egyptian Djed in her ideas about Theosophy, a belief system which attempted to tie all the religions and mystic systems of the world into a single system. Egyptologists still debate about what this pillar-like structure symbolized, but... well, it was pillar-like, associated with divine fertility and strength, and often depicted piercing an Ankh, which symbolized life. In other words, the Djed is probably a god-phallus. (Fascinatingly, this means the words "Jedi" and "Usul" from Dune might both ultimately derive from the same idea. How cool is that?) In fact the Djed looks just a bit like Obi Wan Kenobi's lightsaber, and I briefly thought Lucas might have followed this same line of reasoning. After thinking it over carefully, though, I decided I'd reached the point where I was starting to see patterns which weren't really there. This told me it was time for me to stop studying Lucas and start creating my own story.
Star Wars: Origins © 1999-2006 by Kristen Brennan,
part of the Jitterbug Fantasia webzine.