Bio for John/Dak

John Morton Dak Photograph
John Morton is best known as Dak, Luke Skywalker’s back-seater in the Battle of Hoth, The Empire Strikes Back.

He also appeared in the film substituting for Jeremy Bulloch as Boba Fett on Bespin when Boba utters his famous line to Darth Vader, “He’s no good to me dead.” Currently, he is a regular contributor to the Official Star Wars Blog.

Beyond the Galaxy

Fans know John from roles in epic films like A Bridge Too Far, Superman II and Flash Gordon and in the BBC television series Oppenheimer. A veteran performer, he appeared on London’s West End stage and New York’s Off-Off Broadway as an actor and musician. When not acting, singing or playing guitar, he was a lighting and sound technician affiliated with London’s White Light Electrics working on such classic productions as The Rocky Horror Show , the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Nicholas Nickleby and thought-provoking plays by celebrated playwright David Hare.

A Published Author

John’s Backstory In Blue: Ellington At Newport ’56 is a behind-the-scenes look at a legendary moment in American cultural history when a performance of the great Duke Ellington Orchestra almost caused a riot at the third Newport Jazz Festival. John’s plays have been produced in New York and Washington, notably his award-winning Hubris.

Washington Connections

In his current Washington reincarnation, John is a senior national security analyst with Gryphon Technologies under a contract supporting the Navy’s Aegis combat system modernization for the PEO Integrated Warfare Systems (IWS). He is also the strategic advisor to DomesticPreparedness.com and was a distinguished fellow and the homeland security lead for the Project on National Security Reform.

With over 25 years experience in complex national and homeland security issues, he has consulted and conducted independent research and analyses for among others: BAE Systems/Detica, Technology Strategies & Alliances (under a contract with the OSD Office of Net Assessment), Lockheed Martin Government Electronics Group, United Defense, L.P., Business Executives for National Security, Forecast International/DMS, the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the National Defense Industrial Association. John has been extensively published and has written for virtually every major defense publication.

More Details

A graduate of the George Washington University with a B.A. and M.A. in International Affairs, he completed his thesis research as a two-term student reader at the London School of Economics.

John is an honorary member of the 501st Garrison, Rebel Legion, Mandalorian Mercs and the Dark Alliance. He also helps the 501st with various charity events, most recently supporting the Travis Manion Foundation. In his work with these groups and at convention appearances, he provides particular support and encouragement to active and reserve military, veterans and first responders who are serving or have served community and country.

Each semester, John gives the introductory lecture to the homeland security elective students at Washington’s National War College, a component of the National Defense University. These graduate-level students come from the military and other security-related Federal departments and agencies. He has also given homeland security presentations to a number of professional associations, most recently the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) and the Security Industry Association (SIA).

Star Wars in the Classroom

As a member of the Star Wars in the Classroom Spec Ops Team, John hopes to partner and/or mentor research into the evolution of 20th century and next-generation American governance where he feels Star Wars Rebels provides an accessible analogy. He has used his “Toward a Premise for Grand Strategy” in Sheila R. Ronis, ed. Economic Security: Neglected Dimension of National Security? (National Defense University Press, 2011), pp. 13-61, as his starting point.

Dak’s Long Road to Echo Base

Part 1: Have You Ever Acted?

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin—with a verse of song from a Core World. Goes like this:

Marmite on the table I was fed.
Thought that I was born in the Chelsea Shed.
A football star is what I wanna be.
I don’t want no Pandas chasing me.

The Galactic Civil War was intensifying in this region of the Galaxy. It was the winter of 1974 in standard years. Revolution was in the air. For many months, class war had been raging between the striking miners and The Grocer. Short of coal to run the Battersea Power Station, Grocer Heath put us South Londoners on a three-day week and asked the country, “Who governs Britain?” In March, voters answered, “Not you, Ted.” Still—as in every age—we restless young had our dreams, had our ambitions and, yes, had our flaws and failures. But at our very best, we had ideals to realize by action.

At that precise time, Dak’s action was to go by Tube to north of the Thames to work in a precinct unconstrained by any three-day-week thing. In Soho, where the show must go on, it was six days a week, six hours a day—sometimes 12 with two shifts back-to-back when he could. And he would, all with the innocent, but hubristic assumption that he was well enough concealed from a Panda’s reach.

As some of you know, some years before, Dak had made his escape with a Rebel spy named Breg from a penal colony on Kalist VI, a small planet in the Outer Rim Territories. Breg had been gathering intelligence for the Alliance undercover by flying recon missions for the Imperial Surveying Corps. Busted for disobeying an order to transfer to the Imperial Navy, he got sent to Kalist VI. There he met Dak on a mine face. Still a teenager, Dak was then working as the head laser-drill operator in charge of a convict crew whose job was to blast away the ore that is the main constituent for transparisteel. Anyway, Breg would enlist the youth in a plan to hijack a prison barge and execute a hyperspace jump to Tierfon with its Rebel Outpost. If you don’t know the story, you’ll have to hear it another time. Right now, I mean to continue this thread from the point where Dak had made his jump to this region of the Galaxy.

See, once here, Dak put his thumb out on the road and found his way to 77 Dean Street by turning left at the London School of Economics. At the feet of his then-mentor, Ralph Miliband, he befriended an intensely cool and androgynous Scotsman named Robin Lang, who was into Floyd, The Dead, Poulantzas and Gramsci. Born on a tea plantation in what is now called Sri Lanka, Robin chucked it all in after getting his MSc. Failing to bring down the government and the country by direct action in ‘72, activist leaders had come to Houghton Street during the summer term. They told students to quit the streets. Echoing Red Rudi, they exhorted the longhairs to begin what they called the long march through the institutions.

So off Robin went with his Scots girlfriend, an opera singer in furs named Sheilagh MacDougal, an auburn-haired beauty with skin of pure alabaster, to work in strip clubs—one institution indeed. She to strip. He to stage-manage at Don Ward’s Nell Gwynn Club on Meard Street. At the outset, one would find him in the prompt corner, stage left with Political Power and Social Classes on his prompt table. In between set changes, he attempted to proselytise strippers on the quick as they passed on and off the stage. But in the end, it was he who was proselytised by the West Indian beauties—the truest of true believers. They led him from The Dead to Marley—prompting him to swap his Scottish brogue for a Jamaican accent. And so he took on a new identity as Black Robin. In Soho, all were concealing themselves from a Panda’s reach.

Notwithstanding these years of ferment and their effect on his ideals, Dak was anticipating some sort of political asylum in this London of exiles. But as a warrior rebel, forever on the run from the Empire, he was an illegal with his own past as a Kalist escapee and Tierfon Yellow Ace. To digress again, he was here because during one ill-considered attack on an Imperial freighter, several TIE fighters wounded his X-Wing and separated him from the rest of his squadron. Dak kicked in the hyperdrive and went into hyperspace on a course toward this region that he knew was populated by his mother’s people. He came out in a crash onto Clapham Common North Side which took out both his X-Wing and astromech. Thus out of action did he miss the assault on the Death Star. Grounded, his feet were now his only carriage. As both an idealistic student and former convict-miner himself, he was doubly drawn to the ramparts where students picketed with the striking miners. But when the men of the coal face returned to the pits, Dak remained into the new epoch, ABY (After the Battle of Yavin), until he was in a position to make the jump to Yavin 4, where ultimately he rejoined Luke, Wedge and what by then they were calling the Rogues.

***

There are born Londoners. And there are those who become Londoners. They do so to get ahead. Make money. Reinvent themselves. Join a conversation. From the benefit of hindsight, it can now be said that Dak was one who chose to follow Black Robin into Soho to join a conversation. But compared to the company he eventually found, he was untutored in the classics, an unpolished innocent from the Outer Rim who came to the party late, after the ball. Already, gifted late-20th century contemporaries of his generation had been eloquently responding to Pepys, Boswell, Dickens and the previous decade’s angry young men with their kitchen-sink dramas. Somehow they managed to earn a shot at privilege. These happy few went to Oxbridge. Coming down, they arrived in London as youthfully energetic and confidently entitled high-brows vested with assured access to the glittering prizes. In particular, I’m thinking of another Claphamite of the early seventies who lived a stone’s throw from Dak’s crash site on the North Side. Around the corner on The Chase, as I recall—yes, David Hare was one such with whom a number of times Dak would later work as a mere ruffian on the stair.

Before the year zero, a striving, still War-scarred London afforded low-brow rubes and ruffians like Dak the freedom—if they wished—to move in and out of Hogarthian worlds in hyperspace jumps. In today’s digital epoch, the high and low create avatars and click through virtual worlds. But in analog times, one navigated by the stars and three primary charts—the A to Z, Time Out and Alternative London—to take the everyman’s Grand Tour. And so consider, if we retrace one man’s jumps in the epoch BBY, how we might begin the weave for a rich tapestry representing a colourful part of the generation this side of The Pond that helped George Lucas bring Star Wars to life.

However we might romanticise upon reflection, the in-your-face focus for Dak was less on a game plan than the matter of survival. After the crash, he had made the initial clandestine connection with his Alderaanian cousins and louche conspirators in a series of night gatherings in Powis Square where, three years before, a lightsaber-wielding Turner famously sent his memo. In a cold, rundown Regency crash pad on Colville Terrace, to be exact, these thieves on the road, behind the moldy and crumbling stucco, nightly huddled round a double bed in the first floor sitting room. There reclined the wine-bibbing salonnière, Queenie by name, accompanied by attendants and her consort Will, her longhair publicist who forever wore a full-length coat of fur and dealt in contraband. Other members of this mob kipped in sleeping bags on safari cots insulated by wool sheep skins. They included the business manager of Time Out and one Frank Charles Hinsley—Dak’s connection—an LSE student and son of the Cambridge don and Bletchley Park cryptanalyst who wrote the official history of Albion’s intelligence services during the Big One, WW II. They taught him quickly to proceed softly, softly—to move among the people as a fish swims in the sea. But Dak arrived skint. In need of immediate lolly, he had to find his own hustle by bringing forth another side of his being. It was a time to believe that one could survive as an artiste, like those who glided in their Afghan coats by the stalls and head shops along the Portobello Road. After all, he had the example of another LSE veteran of a previous decade who left his studies to be the notorious front man for The Stones. Thus did Dak abandon Ralph Miliband to search perhaps for an alternate Cicerone to guide his first steps along the long road to Hoth.

And so the left turn was to Black Robin’s world. Dak’s intent was to make his way into the music business as a singer-songwriter of couplets, three chords and the truth. This turning was the first on a circuitous path of return, a step into a maze of Soho streets and onto a sporting board with more snakes than ladders. Without yet the benefit of an Ariadne to bestow upon this would-be troubadour a thread, Dak slid downward onto a shadowy stage of grime and grit where an unseen and unknowable director possessed of the Dark Side had blocked scene one to ensure that every player’s first position was at the very, very bottom.

Blocked—ah, there was a theatrical term with an altogether different meaning in the Soho of the day. Lisa—a clumsily coquettish stripper, at once vulnerable and rough, a teenage tease whom Dak fancied—used the term habitually. Fortified by a daily diet of whatever was going—white wine, uppers, downers—an unsteady Lisa by six o’clock was wont to cry, “God,” to Minos, or anyone around who bothered to listen, “I’m so blocked!” Was she playing a plea? Or a boast? The answer would depend on whether she ultimately escaped—or was devoured. One does not know. Anyway, for the rest of an evening until the last curtain-down at midnight, she would progressively confuse herself in her own frantic world. So much so she was entirely unreachable, as Dak was to find the night he asked her to join him between numbers for a quick drink at the corner pub.

In this nether-netherland, Dak was among players in a play with no subtlety. Unremittingly stark, Soho was a stage where the producers—especially the Maltese—understood that these players did not have to be there; nevertheless, they were—for whatever reason. And the pound of flesh producer demanded of performer was dearly bought. In truth, whatever Dak might tell himself about the whys, wherefores and when he really started in life, this down-and-out-in-Paris-and-London thing was it—at least on this planet.

Although his mother was an Alderaanian and like Mon Mothma spoke with a high-Imperial accent, Dak was born in captivity on Kalist where most spoke with the accents of Rebels. In London, his Rebel accent marked him. In those rare and nerve-wracking instances on the streets of The Smoke when cornered by a Panda, suspicious of his speech, demeanor and purloined donkey jacket as he studied Dak’s counterfeit green alien registration card, this alien human from south of the Thames would resourcefully employ a Jedi mind trick—learned from Breg (who was most definitely not a Jedi)—and thus pass for an off-duty stormtrooper in mufti.

You see, real identity is not always so obvious, despite what some suppose the milk-in-first indicators tell us. As they worked the face deep in that Kalist mine, Breg had well tutored him in a rough sort of way about fungible identities as the key means to survive in an uncertain, give-and-take world of turbulent change. Among other things, the rough-hewn Breg was a self-educated critical thinker, a Socratic. And in one memorable dialogue, he spoke to Dak of something he heard called the theory of the looking-glass self. Conspiratorially setting aside his laser drill, Breg whispered, “You are who you think I think you are.”

On his first day in Soho, Dak landed at the Sunset Strip, the Nell Gwynn’s down-market, street-level sister establishment on Dean Street, squeezed between the Quo Vadis restaurant and The Crown & Two Chairmen pub, right on the corner of Bateman Street. You must know it. Anyway, it was just after half-eleven in the morning. Curtain-up for the first show was at noon—every day but the Sabbath. Someone directed him to go downstairs to the theatre to meet with the board op and choreographer who were standing with another hire at the doorway to the lighting box. The club had two vacancies to fill: a second board op and stage manager. In short order, it was clear to all three that Dak was a South Londoner with little, if no experience—just the right qualification for stage manager. The other hire, on the other hand, was a professional theatrical. He was resting, at liberty, you know, in between gigs and drawing his dole money. But needing more, he wanted to work in Soho. Ergo as would become apparent, like many theatricals he had come to Soho to work on the lump. He got board op. Dak got stage manager.

That issue settled, the new hires had time to kill. Punters drifted past as they stood at the foot of the stair where the entrances to the lighting box and house intersected. Men in their sixties, retired clerks with furtive expressions, one dressed in ill-fitting tweed, another wearing a rumpled chalk-stripe and carrying a soiled bowler that he, like so many, would later clutch in his lap, and so on. In dribs and drabs, they descended the front stair and turned past the loitering pair to enter a dingy basement with its array of some 50 thread-bare, folding cinema seats pressed in four angled rows against a tiny thrust stage. There they sat, perversely proud of their bargain club memberships that entitled them to an unlimited number of shows through a subscription year, their sickly smiles and darting eyes lit by a couple of bare working lights. As two front-of-house spots, colour wheels rotating before their lenses, projected a light show that dressed the faded red house tabs, the Doors’ “Riders on the Storm” wafted from the sound system. Thusly mesmerised, each an automaton in a solitary bubble, a handful of stock-still punters here and there—but always three crouched together in the very front row, an arm’s reach to the foot lights across the knee—awaited the first show of the day, a two-hour set with perhaps a dozen strippers that repeated itself six times until midnight. Six days a week, the same show, for months on end.

Not long into this intermittent punter procession, the theatrical lit a cigarette and with a glance began to size Dak up. Dak did the same. It was a scene of two facing looking-glass selves reflecting men from different dream worlds into infinity. The theatrical, a thirty-something dressed in a tailored leather motorcycle jacket and tight jeans, his black hair closely cut and coiffed forward over his brow. And Dak—in his uniform of African sandals, jeans, chambray shirt, Levi jacket, batik bandana knotted against his throat, his blond hair tightly tied with a rubber band into a longish pony tail. Off-handedly this theatrical tossed Dak an impression, allowing that he did a bit of this, bit of that as an actor-writer-director. And how one regular gig was writing scripts for the well-established BBC Radio programme for children “Listen with Mother.” So what about you, Dak?

“I play guitar. I’m working in Soho to get some money together to go to France this summer to soundtrack a documentary film.” True…but only just.

Cocking his head and arching his eyebrows, the theatrical did respond, directing upward with his lower lip a smooth exhalation of cigarette smoke under his neatly trimmed moustache. Looking Dak straight in the eye, he asked, “Have you ever acted?”

So are you still sitting comfortably? ‘Cause I tell you true. If anyone ever asks you that question, always, the right answer is yes.

The Ralter Quaternity

I

Madam Sosostris Foretells of the Force-Awakened Fisher King

In early December, Dak and Ezra were in New York for WinterCon along with other Star Wars guests, the other three Fetts and the voice of Salacious Crumb, Mark Dodson. On the Friday before the con, Topps had the pair visit their Lower Manhattan headquarters for a box break and podcast. At the very end of the taping, when asked to comment on The Force Awakens by Topps Talk host Alex Birsh, they both demurred and spoke only in clipped platitudes.

Dak had continued to do the right thing for well over a month. Adrift off Scellecc, he played the Phoenician sailor and wrote with alphabets other than Aurebesh. To those who asked about the film, he reduced his comments to mutterings about the Bōjutsu talents of Rey’s doppelgänger Chloe Bruce and being home with Chewie.

He revealed nothing—until that post-con dinner party in Park Slope, around the corner from Artie Bucco’s Food Co-op on Union. All through the breaking of bread, his inquisitive hostess had studied him between the flickering candles on the refectory table that separated them. Through his craggy visage, she had read his anxious and unspoken ruminations. Finally with a mind trick, she occasioned a spoiler of sorts. “Speak to me of the Fisher King.”

Madam Sosostris is a Brooklyn Brazilian, a Jungian analyst, given to Candomblé. After several glasses of jabuticaba, which we and the others had freely consumed, she followed the greater plan. Knowingly she responded by walking him across the narrow catwalk over the fiery chasm beyond good and evil.

“Let me take you down,” she breathed, “‘cause you’re going to where nothing is real.” Peering into the future and its awakening force, she intoned, “There’s nothing to get hung about.”

Madam Sosostris, a most adept Jungian, free associates across scores of worlds with a knowledge that’s remarkably catholic. Where most of us see the random scatter of breadcrumbs, she sees patterns on the table and gives expression to their meaning.

After clearing the crumbs and remains of strawberry tops and place setting before her, she does her own box break. She has a wicked pack of cards. It’s true. All of it. Giving voice to the cards, she tells of a solitary island monastic. The Fisher King is wounded. In his possession is the ace of cups. Perceval climbs to him to present her healing sword. It’s a portent. Another new hope, perhaps?

Madam Sosostris pushes from the table and asks rhetorically whether all the hype is just about a $4 billion franchise. A tale that’s new wine in old wineskins, told by an anointed producer and her clever director, knowing and experienced screenwriters or a storied Story Group. Have you noticed how all the world-weary chit-chat has been only on the technicalities, the narrative, story arcs, diverse casting, the marketing, what will make money, what have you? Reaching forward and turning another card, she relates how this all merely feeds the beast. We could be talking about football—yes, American football. Elections. Who’s winning the debates. Ah, but all these supposed savants are merely conduits for a deeper mythos. On the one hand, they—you—all are cyphers. On the other, you have all become gods who strut and fret for us your hour upon the screen. But a greater power, she allows like Pope Joan, finger pointing upward, plays you all…so we may all apperceive. Then, catching a deep breath, she looks into the dancing flame of the near candle and exhales with Nietzschean finality, “The time for petty politics is past: this very century will bring with it the struggle for mastery over the whole Galaxy.”1

II

Madam Sosostris Channels Kylo Ren and La Forza del Destino

After a time of brooding into the sinister candle, that is to say the one on her left, she returns to the here and now. Awakened again by the Force, Madam Sosostris considers the table before her. The chain of her amulet growls against its edge, as she reaches to turn a far card, The High Priestess. She studies it in the context of the other previously upturned cards. Taking us to the heart of Starkiller Base, she tells of The Oedipal Marine, a bookkeeper’s son who crossed his old man back in Oregon (as similarly recounted by the Finse SAR team that assisted Dash Rendar in Dak’s retrieval on Hoth:

Behind his steely mask, inside the mechanized hum of another world where no sun is shining, this dan of questionable rank blindly images Slave Leia. A man of his mind can do anything. Removing his mask, he confronts his father on the catwalk over the chasm of fire. And the father, himself a cocky son of Erin, dares him insouciantly to release him from this franchise—be careful what you wish for. And lo, this conflicted Longinus doth pierce him with a lance to his side. With a look of utter pity and surprise, the smuggler Jack Ryan flies solo as he descends into the inferno. And in an instant this Nietzschean creature, this mannish boy of muddied waters now knows who he really is. Knows his destiny and how his action on that bridge of truth and fiction will rebound upon him. No matter, no mind.

Holy Mother of Rey! Name this child! Son of the Right Hand. Son of the South, your moment is a prelude to a philosophy of the future. Oh, ye gods, Madam Sosostris now chants, embrace the glory of the royal road to the unconscious!

At this point, unmindful of our spellbound weary, she enters the spirit of the bear of Bern as he descends backwards on a ladder from Ochwiay Biano’s Pueblo roof. She speaks in Churchillian riddles, each wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. She looks again into the near future, channeling the author and finisher of our work as he semiotically tells of the Hutts and white slavery in the name of the Rose. And how the elders of the tribes came to the emperor of mice in Sarayburnu who thereupon decreed an alchemical council in Nicaea to assay canon and legend. This cupellation will continue into Episode VIII and beyond. Si lunga tratta di gente, those spirits on London Bridge in life know neither good nor evil, she tells us. Yet upstream kinked together on another bridge, destined for Paradise, Terry and Julie gaze on a Waterloo sunset.

Fail not to seek Paradise, Madam Sosostris concludes in character, point final. She knows she has wearied us all with this postprandial gibberish that has collectively bound us to her hyper-reality. Do the exegesis, she commands. Follow my thread from the heart of the Minotaur’s maze, then follow the bantha tracks into the twin sunsets of your Tatooine.

Wilder, her partner offers to us in an offhanded pedagogical tone, he too found his destiny on the Bridge of San Luis Rey. Blank stares around the table. Rather like Eliot after the Great War, he hastens to elucidate. I mean, that is his Samuele met with the Cabala in the City of Seven Hills, and after that he was compelled to seek Hanan Pacha on the finest bridge in Peru.

Upon that unnecessary and matter-of-fact footnote, Dak politely steps forth to take his leave. And later passing the Park Slope Food Co-op on his eleventh-hour walk to the car, he returns to his own quest that at times seems increasingly like yet another Artie Bucco errand.2

III

The Force Awakens Another Who Interprets The Han Child

In this Galaxy, we people of the dream are drawn to one another. A fan stands before Dak’s autograph table at the December 2015 WinterCon. He’s an Upstate Iroquoian who wants him to sign his Black Series Boba Fett totem. He’s come to the Big A, where punters gamble not just on horses. On wheels and machines they now do risk their credits. On the WinterCon level, however, the trade is in oral histories, sacred objects and other repurposed items scoured from the Western Reaches to the Moriches in the East. Beside him is a young yakonkwe with a long braid in her hair, his daughter. I ask who is her favorite Star Wars character. Pulling herself upright, her eyes flashing, her face is a map of the world.

Rey, she replies.

Hanging from her neck, I note, is a large fragment of a tooth fossil. Her father says it’s Pleistocene. He’s a collector; she, a Padawan scavenger—both in pursuit of fossil legends. They are from a clan of followers who trek after uki prints in the sand. He points to the Mandalorian Krybes on my ring. We are of the same clan, he says; we hear the buffalo thunder. When you entered the Mandalorian form on Bespin, he continues, you became my brother. And as brothers, not of blood but of the spirit, we can enter each other.

Last week on his latest quest, he found me in Tierfon. He just appeared. He was passing on his way south to the waters off the Matoaka Cliffs. Carrying his wetsuit and snorkel on his back, he was in search of a megalodon tooth he said was the size of his hand. He spoke of what he knew and of what he knew not—which had until now unsettled him.

Sometime after we met in South Ozone Park, the Mother of Rey had appeared to him in a dream. With the voice of Ondinnonk, this stone-faced apparition is not of the New World. She is an exotic dancer of the Middle Kingdom. And speaking in a Scottish accent, she tells of her Han Child possessed with jade-like power and nobility who once took the form of blind dancer, a rebel of the House of Flying Daggers. Yet this daughter of canon, the Holy Mother tells him, had in his world taken the form of a fleet-footed warrior who famously battled a short-faced bear, the monster of his people. They call this creature of fossil legend nya-gwahe. And after the daughter of canon killed nya-gwahe, she entered into the spirit of a falcon and flew to present one of his tusks to her father who was in exile on the island of the turtle.

In his dreams, he says, he too has battled Nephilim in the realm of the known. And now, the Holy Mother of Rey calls him to enter the spirit of a thunderbird to fly below the blue cloud that is the shadow of the shark. She calls him to leave the epic conflicts that are in the comfort zone of his people and delve dangerously in the realm of the unknown. And so he will dive into the waters off Matoaka to do battle with Dagon, so as to kill him and surface with the prized tooth. Such tusks, he tells me, are magic medicine. They make the warrior invincible. The Han Child’s arrival at Scellecc is a sign, he says, he must pass along to others. And as swiftly as he appeared, he leaves, saying that’s why I’m giving it to you.

Until then, I had followed the tracks, as Madam Sosostris counseled, only to find they are not those of the Tatooine bantha. They are the footsteps to the future in Jakku sand. They go alongside the unbroken trail of a small magnetic-driven all-terrain vehicle. They are the Han Child’s prophesied first steps. They lead to the scrap trading settlement at Niima and ultimately Takodana where these visions of Johanna now conquer my mind.

Yesterday morning, I stop by Tierfon Base to walk around the hanger that in my day housed the Y-Wings on which we Yellow Aces trained. I am a phantom familiar from another century. A young trainee offers her view that Plutt’s mechanic is a chic geek. Looking over her shoulder while she and her astromech work on their X-Wing, she teases me. If she’s got the power to be, power to give, power to see, she says with a wink, she’ll not be stressing your now compressed hyperdrive flow, Dak. Suddenly I see. We have entered the era of Helens on their heroine’s journeys that promise to rebalance the Force. Madam Sosostris would approve.

Yeah, so last night, the Holy Mother of Rey enters me, dancing to the music of time. With her left hand, her darkling yin leads my sundance yang. Quiet, girl, the junk boss shouts into my ear, anxious to quell my rising anima within. To my right is my fellow clansman who waves the menacing Crolute away. He reassures me: we are in another country where on the plains of Lothal the sinews of the Amazon network have supplanted those of the iron horse. The sky powers, Thunder and Lightening, he says, have imprinted themselves anew on his daughter’s uki rocks. It’s a world where urchins and orphans, young Ezras and Reys, do use the Force before knowing what it is. The sky is darkening above Taos, he tells me. Can you hear the buffalo thunder in the distance?3

IV

Maz Kanata and the Land of Phoenician Dust

The true depiction of fantastic reality is often mistaken, yes, for the bogus renderings of the Yaqui way of knowledge. The poet among the lunatics is the traveler who sees what she sees, not the tourist who sees only what she has come to see.

Last night brought with it another visitation. This time, she appeared as a Steampunk E.T., a faded Takodana rose from millennia gone by. A Luo traveler, once enslaved north of the bayou country, she comes from a distant tribe of fishermen. She gives voice to our shared unconscious. For countless generations, she has followed the bantha tracks. She has entranced the shaggy lizard of the Iroquois. She has romanced the Wookiee. She has communed eye-to-eye with big cats. And she has seen the same eyes in different creatures. Needing adventure, she has sailed the seven seas. In search of treasure, she has lived on grander dreams. That is until the end of her pirate days when the first woman of all gifts opened her reliquary box, and evil took on many forms, and lightsaber visions rained down on Perceval when she prematurely reached for the sheathed Excalibur. And yet—this bespectacled Force sentient assures me—remains Elpis.

Grandly, this diminutive pirate captain then passes me a sabre-tooth and bids me take it. She says such prizes inform our imaginings and play, even our futures. Sailor, she now whispers. Come home. We abide within a magic circle, where we children play our games of chance until we are become warriors who can cross the rainbow bridge of imagination. In her airship, she says, she will take me to the mansion in the sky that I may comprehend all in its magnificent totality. In an instant, we are on the quarterdeck. And as we ascend, I look down and see I have left behind my shadow selves at the artist’s ghost ranch in the sands below. She eyes me reassuringly. They’re never coming back, she voices.

I am Marian, the New Eve, and I tell you: this epic story we are all in informs now all peoples. We owe it to ourselves and to them to understand fully what it means. Only a fool ignores this truth. We are stardust. We are golden. And we may not know who we are, but life is for learning. Yes, learning, as long as the line of our clan continues, primally proceeding through the waist-high waters of the marsh until the end when we traverse in majesty alone as the tallest of creatures on this Earth.

And thus she spoke as we did fly over antres vast and deserts idle, spying creatures of the air beside and creatures of the land and sea below—all on the move, all making their tracks in all their glory—as all the while her kinsman did sing of our dream of `afar, the land of Phoenician dust.4

Christmas ’73: Living in Dak’s Own Dream

Long before Hoth, crouching on the low wall in front of De Lane Lea Studios, he looked across Dean Street to the Sunset Strip, exhaling into the damp late afternoon air the last of the butt end of Black Robin’s herb. Alone now, picking a fret blister off the tip of his ring finger, he mused on a Sanborn solo, living in his own dream.

His little Bessie girl had returned to the States, abandoning him to the maze of Soho’s down and out, the seventies oil pan of London’s entertainment industry engine. Cocking his head down, hair shifting off his left shoulder, he gazed to the right, down toward Old Compton Street. Up the sidewalk strode Babs, the leggy and full-chested Jamaican stripper. She in her silky-wigged, long-eyelashed ebony beauty, high-heels and calf-length fur coat. Her slim, shapely legs evident to the knee in glimpses between the fold of her coat that she clutched tightly against the damp with her pocketed hands. She was striding to the Sunset for her 4:35 spot.

Everyday he grew blinder, down there, crouched on that low parapet supporting the black wrought-iron railing posts that guarded the dust bins and cardboard boxes outside the sound studios. They that housed their own discarded stories of the recent past, recordings, liaisons and the fag-end dreams of fame. That was all behind him.

Now upon him, Babs stopped, turned and faced him, towering not two feet from his eyes, as if she had so intended all along. He looked up, and she leaned forward, opening her coat to envelop him in fur and a wholly naked body, save her heavy gold choker and glittering ear rings, that he only knew from afar—from the other side of the footlights. From his lighting box, he lit her six times a day with primary reds and blues as she paraded on stage before the punters. Gently she pulled his face into her breast, into a timeless passage of lions, witches and wardrobes. After a wordless eternity, she released him from their private moment of sidewalk intimacy, crisply rewrapping as she withdrew. And on a dancer’s delicate turn, she then strode across Dean and entered the Sunset.

Thus did he apperceive: the strongest river can’t flow upstream to satisfy. And break over, thus did he slowly arise from his perch and follow her to return himself to his own labour beneath the wheel of life.