[EVA] Moura interviews with Gainax people & others
gwern0 at gmail.com
Fri Dec 25 21:55:42 EST 2009
On Wed, Dec 16, 2009 at 10:59 PM, <once at ix.netcom.com> wrote:
>>And as I said, NGE's people are not occultists or even esoteric
>>scholars! They are scientists who have inside info and techniques
>>which lead them to mock their more timid, less skilled
> Yes, they indeed have many of the aspects of scientists, including, of course, psychologists. Which met Kabbalistic ideas via C.G. Jung, someone not unknown to Gainax, although I personally regret that at no point in Eva does the following exchange occur--
> Misato: What is it supposed to mean?
> Shinji: I don't know, sir!
> Misato: You don't know very much, do you?
> Shinji: No, sir!
> Misato: You better get your head and your ass wired together or I WILL take a giant shit on you!
> Shinji: Yes, sir!
> Misato: Now answer my question, or you'll be standing tall before the man.
> Shinji: I think I was trying to suggest something about the duality of man, sir!
> Misato: The what?
> Shinji: The duality of man! The Jungian thing, sir!
> Misato: (pause) Whose side are you on, son?
> --that's why I compared them to scientist-occultists like Kircher or Newton--but "inside info and techniques"--that's the meaning of words like occult or esoteric; that is, dealing in secret or hidden knowledge. By contrast, scientists in the real world, as a general rule, seek to keep their research open, in the world of peer review. They frequently discover things that were heretofore secret, but they don't form a cabal and keep it secret; they reveal things about what they have learned. You don't get taken seriously as a scientist otherwise; they want to "see your work." Nobody has ever won a Nobel based on research they kept secret. Also, I imagine listing "the secret Dead Sea Scrolls" as a reference wouldn't fly in most real-world biology journals; that's more of an occultist, esoteric scholar move.
Esotericism is not just inside info and techniques. Those are mere
secrets. Esotericism conveys sense of development, that the
knowledgeable are superior by virtue of having striven to attain &
understand that knowledge. The mystic doesn't merely know a few
formulas, any more than the alchemist merely goes through some
mechanical steps. See Wikipedia, or Jung; Eco knows it in _Foucault's
Pendulum_; religions have always warned of knowledge being learned by
the unknowledgeable. Leo Strauss founded his career on this.
Sallustius: "There is this first benefit from myths, that we have to
search and do not have our minds idle. . . . To wish to teach the
whole truth about the Gods to all produces contempt in the foolish,
because they cannot understand, and lack of zeal in the good; whereas
to conceal the truth by myths prevents the contempt of the foolish,
and compels the good to practice philosophy."
Montesquieu: “One must not always so exhaust a subject that one leaves
nothing for the reader to do. It is not a question of making him read
but of making him think”
Nietzsche: "The misfortune suffered by clear-minded and easily
understood writers is that they are taken for shallow and thus little
effort is expended on reading them: and the good fortune that attends
the obscure is that the reader toils at them and ascribes to them the
pleasure he has in fact gained from his own zeal."
Esoteric learning that doesn't change the learner is not esoteric. It
is merely obscure.
Gendo and NERV are no more esoteric than the Department of War.
>>Visual motifs, empty allusions all. I asked for what religious
>>substance there was, and you pass off as good specie these impostures
> I'm not actually arguing for religious substance per se. I don't believe in Kabbalistic ideas, and I don't believe that Gainax does either. I also don't believe a positronic rifle would be a practical or even safe weapon in Earth's atmosphere, or that a giant being shaped like an 8-sided die could hover over a city with no apparent means of support. Yet I can see the function these things play in the series as it was actually made; I don't have a problem with bullshit science for the sake of fiction, or bullshit religion either, or, in Evangelion, a problem with the mixing of the two.
The bullshit science always serves some end, else it would not be
included. (Chekhov's gun.) It lets someone survive, or presents a new
obstacle. What function do the cross-shaped explosions or Lilith's
cross or the sentient spear being named 'Lance of Longinus' subserve?
> Evangelion is not a novel, consisting of its words. You wished to show something about religion in Evangelion by doing a search on the word "God" in the script. I wished to show something about religion in Evangelion by searching its iconography in the actual anime, a work which begins--but certainly does not end--with its script and dialogue.
"Errors using inadequate data are much less than those using no data at all."
"You would prefer another target, a military target? Then name the system!"
I worked with what there is. Dozens of dialogue lines illustrate a
metaphorical or materialistic 'God' that is in stark contrast to the
religious traditions (from which the imagery is borrowed) in which God
is most certainly neither metaphorical nor immanent. Analyses of
Shakespeare, surely as visual as NGE, have hinged on far less.
If one aspect vaguely gestures in one direction, and another strides
away, who to follow?
> Evangelion is not equivalent to its script, nor its dialogue; I dare say it would have had a much smaller audience if it had remained a script. Evangelion's visual elements are not a secondary expression, in a dependent relationship to a core meaning that lies in its script and dialogue. The visual elements are as equally "Evangelion" as anything spoken in the dialogue--equally significant to any words spoken. On what basis shall we argue otherwise, in a deliberately visual medium? Most especially deliberate, because in animation, it's not like something can wander onto the set?
> (This also suggests the limitations of comparing the fandom of Lord of the Rings with that of Star Wars or Evangelion. In the first instance, the original work was created as a novel and experienced as a novel, and existed only as such among the public and scholars alike for decades. A much stronger critical argument can be made that the Rings films are an adaptation made at some remove from an original. But whereas Tolkien's novel is a work in itself, the scripts and dialogue for Star Wars and Evangelion are not completed works--nor, of course, being film and TV scripts, were they ever intended to be such).
> Again, Evangelion is not a novel, or a radio drama. Despite its reputation for talkiness, there are extended scenes (and not just to save money) where reading the dialogue would tell you nothing about what happened, because there is no dialogue. If dialogue was not seen by Gainax as the only element that can advance the narrative, it seems dubious to view the series' visuals as meaningless until proven otherwise; or to fail to apply the reverse standard, and say what is in the script cannot likewise be empty.
A picture is worth a thousand words, but it's the rare picture that
can describe a thousand words. The visuals are important, and when
watching I am routinely amazed by the visual echoes and reflections
between characters and situations (the recent analyses of the TV
ending and Misato's sexual relationship with Shinji come to mind as
showing remarkable dexterity and subtlety of the sort I associate with
But what can a cross-shaped explosion tell us? _In hoc signo vinces_?
But Jesus is never relevant, no one saves anyone but themselves, the
original sin is what it means to be human - Adam is literally inhuman
- and those conquered no less worth of conquering than their
conquerors, nor is there a God.
If I relegate the sights of NGE to irrelevance as far as the cosmos
and meaning go, and elevate the barren cold cosmology presented in the
dialogue, it is not sans rationale.
>>Cross-shaped explosions. Enough said.
> Actually, if the explosions had been the only use of the cross, I would have agreed with you there. But I discussed a whole paragraph's work of other examples above. The image is continued, in various forms, almost into the final minutes of the film. It would be interesting to go back and make a version of EoE where we cut out every scene where you can see a cross, and see how much footage we have to remove.
The liberal use of crosses makes that akin to 'let's cut out every
scene the color red is used; this obviously shows that red is really
important to NGE's symbolism'. A better suggestion would be, 'if EoE
were re-animated to use triangles or Triforce shapes everywhere it
uses a cross, would it be any less meaningful to an ignorant/naive
>>> But if one takes what Gainax says about there being no religious elements in
>>> Evangelion too literally--and then bothers to watch what they actually put
>>> into Eva--it becomes like that old Groucho Marx joke: "Who are you going to
>>> believe--me, or your own eyes?" All I'm saying is that nobody would have
>>> ever bothered them about religion in Eva in the first place if, you know,
>>> they had simply managed to avoid accidentally putting in all that stuff in
>>> the plot about crosses, crucifying, spears, Angels, sephira, fig leaves,
>>> apples, serpents, the number of the beast, heaven's door, God.
>>How much would we lose if all the demons were replaced by dinosaurs?
>>Would Gunbuster/Diebuster have been better if they were *demonic*
>>aliens? If not, then why would Evangelion have been worse if they were
>>not angelic aliens?
> I didn't say better or worse; it would be different, and the differences are not to be assumed as arbitrary in purpose or meaningless in effect. If the world is going to end because of a natural disaster, that's one kind of story. If it's going to end because of an apocalypse induced by a secret cult raving about a Red Earth Purification Ceremony, it's not like that's interchangeable with "hit by a giant meteor" and it makes no difference to the kind of story you've made. Particularly, that tone made a difference to Japanese audiences after 1995.
It probably did, but how much was NGE influenced by Aum Shinrikyo?
Wasn't it mostly designed *before* the gas attacks, and by EoE Gainax
didn't need to worry about anyone censoring it for looking too much
It may make a difference, but was it one the creators foresaw and
planned? It would be foolish to enquire about the meaning of art on
centuries-old Indian ruins while assuming the reversed swastikas were
deliberately conveying a Nazi message.
> Let me put it another way. I apologize if this is untrue, but I assume that "Gwern Branwen" is not the name you were born with--that you chose it for yourself deliberately, because you liked the particular character of that legendary name, its associations, and its overtones, as opposed to choosing some other name from some other tradition, or going by something more prosaic, like "Carl Horn." ^_^ I might say, "How much would you lose by calling yourself Bellerophon, or Gareth of Orkney? They were sons of kings, too."
I'm afraid my reasons for picking Gwern are quite prosaic.
It's an essentially unique name (there is one other active Internet
user named Gwern, on Facebook, as far as I can tell), it's very easy
to type, I happen to like the _Mabinogion_ (but ironically, not the
section Gwern & Branwen are in), and using Welsh names is a personal
idiosyncrasy of mine. Bellerophon is right out as being untypable, and
Gareth looks too common.
The only negative aspect of Gwern as a pseudonym is that some people
read it as 'Gwen'. :)
(If I had been reading one of my other books when I needed a new
pseudonym, no doubt my accounts would currently bear the name of an
obscure dwarf listed in the _Elder Edda_ or something.)
> In fact, I don't think I'm reading anything about religion into Evangelion, so much as simply pointing out what the series already contains in this scene, and that scene, and...If Gainax was really concerned about people misinterpreting the religious elements in Eva after the TV series aired, they had a strange way of showing it when they made EoE, because the film ratchets these things up tremendously.
> In fact, an interesting way of describing the difference between the TV and the film ending is that the TV ending not only lacks the action and apocalypse, it also lacks the religious tone and iconography of EoE. Certainly Evangelion can be viewed as a psychological analysis, but I would argue from that perspective, the TV ending is the more "relevant" one, because it relies more or less entirely on human discussion, reflection, and analysis, rather than apocalyptic spectacle.
This is actually a really good point - 'the TV ending is purely
psychological because there was no time to add the visual trappings
etc. like they could for EoE; they only had time for the raw core'. I
like that idea: TV as skeleton key to EoE.
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