Last month I talked about a new comic book that's adapting the 1974 version of Star Wars, when George Lucas was still refining the basic concepts of the saga that would become a phenomenon three years later.
Part of the great fun of reading this mini-series from Dark Horse is seeing familiar elements in altered form, and perhaps one of the most intriguing is the version of the Force that knights of the Jedi-Bendu (which sounds like something out of Dune) use. The phrase "May the Force be with you" is famous from the completed film, but in this version it's modified with "the Force of Others" in it.
And it's made me think a little more about the whole concept of the Force.
I'm not sure how much thought anyone's given it beyond the fact that Yoda can wax poetic about it and even a scoundrel like Han Solo will reference it positively not so long after outright dismissing it, while Darth Vader has a hard time having his "hokey religion" (Solo's words, mind you) taken seriously, plus you get to have an awesome lightsaber and start training as soon as possible (which isn't always soon enough). When the prequels introduced the microscopic lifeforms that make a Jedi's connection possible, that seemed to be beyond the extent of the fan's interest in studying it further.
And yet there's that scene in Attack of the Clones where Yoda busts out "Jedi-fu" and then immediately hobbles back to his walking stick.
Force of others, force of will.
So, I started giving it some more thought. Clearly the Force gives its wielders, good and bad, special abilities denied most others, from telekinesis to thought influence and even clairvoyance (well, sometimes). I would have described it best as a force of will, personally, a little like how the comic book Green Lantern Corps uses a ring to channel willpower into tangible constructs, but the use of will differs quite a bit. The Force is used to manipulate one's environment, to gain greater control. One of little Anakin Skywalker's calling cards was his greater instincts in podracing (or it might have been that clairvoyance thing), at any rate certainly good in a fight (though not good enough to keep limbs from being lost on a routine basis, but then we're talking about electric swords here).
So when I first read about "the Force of Others," it gave me another idea. Instead of being a tool tailored to one individual, what if the Force is a literal translation of the "strength of ten men" effect? That's how I interpret at least this version of the Force, which may influence even the canonical approach.
What if a Jedi (or Sith) is able to tap into a collective will instead or merely their own? They gain the strength of others and are therefore able to go beyond the ordinary abilities of a single individual. It would be like a tug-of-war contest waged by one person against a whole team as if the one person had a phantom team around them for support.
Anyway, that's my idea, the mystery behind the mystical concept of the Force. When Yoda switches from bouncing here there and everywhere back to the frail sage we know and love, clearly he's just relied heavily on the Force. And maybe a little more.