This essay is from paraquem
Published on October 7, 2001
George Lucas & Carlos Castaneda in a Galaxy Far, Far Away
Jar Jar Binks, vegetation spirits and re:birth
This is by far the most out-there proposition of the Castaneda/Star Wars connections, but one that may have a little bearing on the creation of the character of Jar Jar Binks.
In Castaneda?s earlier books (see "The Teachings Of Don Juan" in particular), much is made of the importance of the vegetation spirit Mescalito with regard to the apprentices? quest for knowledge. He is described as both a protector (more on that in a bit) and teacher. Don Juan believed that Mescalito taught simplification of behaviour (this simplicity of behaviour seems applicable to Jar Jar somehow). He appears as something of a mischievous and jocular entity in the first instance; a dancing fool, which belies his true importance and nature - this of course is revealed as events transpire, and harks back to the earlier comparison of the Luke/Yoda and Castaneda/Don Juan meetings, and the certainty that the character, as first encountered, is not what it would necessarily appear to be.
Robert Anton Wilson recounts his own experiences of Mescalito in "Cosmic Trigger I". He describes seeing "a man with warty green skin and pointy ears, dancing in a cornfield". He then tells of reading Castaneda?s "The Teachings Of Don Juan" five years on from his experience, in turn realizing Castaneda?s description of Mescalito as being exact with the figure he saw. He suggests that Mescalito may simply be an archetype of the collective unconscious, placing him in the same archetypal group as the Irish leprechaun or of Mr Spock from Star Trek (I believe that some writers tie extra-terrestrial experiences into this grouping also). Incidentally, the description of the dancing and the warty green skin are a commonality of those who tell of seeing this "man". (As a side note, Wilson also posits that Mescalito may indeed be a spirit of the vegetation, citing the research Marcel Vogel and Dr Wilhelm Reich - it?s a most interesting subject in it?s own right, and I would urge anyone interested to read "Cosmic Trigger" as a starting point).
Admittedly, the comparison between Jar Jar Binks and Mescalito is a very slim one - Jar Jar doesn?t conform exactly to the descriptions of Mescalito as we see him in Castaneda and Wilson. He is not a vegetation spirit, per se - he is all too real (and in attendance far too much, for some). The points of confluence are worth looking at though - the character discovered in vegetation (or in the midst of nature), whose initial appearance tells but only a small part of the story - a deceptive character at the outset. Jar Jar?s introduction to us does conform in this aspect of course. In addition, if he is not the dancing fool of Star Wars, then who is? He is also the totally honest character of "The Phantom Menace", relative to his discourse with friends - a tie-in with Mescalito, one of whose powers is of giving honest guidance to the one who seeks knowledge.
One final aspect of this Jar Jar/vegetation spirits correlation may possibly come from a figure known as the Green Man. In Colin Wilson & Rand Flem Ath?s "The Atlantis Blueprint", there is a passage on this man -
" ... The pagan figure known as the Green Man seemed to be everywhere. In mythology he represents the rebirth of vegetation every spring ... ".
Bearing in mind then, Lucas? undeniable penchant for having his Star Wars characters broadly conform to mythic and archetypal figures, and his knowledge of such characters from the world?s mythologies, would it be unreasonable to ascribe a purpose other than merely comic-relief to Jar Jar Binks? character? While not denying the comic nature of the character, might not his other traits betray the characters eventual purpose.
Two words, I think, might denote that purpose - protector & rebirth.
One suggestion, which seems to permeate Star Wars discussion boards is that Jar Jar Binks may be the individual who protects the twin Skywalker children from peril in the early and very dangerous days of the burgeoning Empire. Might it be that elements of the Green Man & Mescalito have been combined (admittedly along with many other ideas) to bring into being a character that has been specifically designed as the figure that delivers the new hopes into the Original Trilogy? That instead of a cyclic rebirth of the vegetatation, we are dealing with the cyclic rebirth of powerful beings, and by extension, the possible rebirth of peace against tyranny? Only time will tell, I suppose, but it seems at least possible that Jar Jar has more going on than immediately meets the eye.