[EVA] Religion and Gainax was RE: [EVA] Moura interviews
frumious99 at yahoo.com
Sat Dec 26 17:04:42 EST 2009
I think that at most, Eva's characters' speak of "God" in the metaphorical sense of that in Godzilla: "we're trespassing on God's domain"....it was never meant to be about "religion"
The biggest problem is....if Evangelion *is* about religion, if Taliesin Jaffe's rants about the symbolism in it are on to something........
....if "the crosses mean something" and if all the religious references mean something....what is it, exactly?
I'm not being sarcastic, or doubting, I mean I honestly would like to hear, summarized into a paragraph or two, "what Evangelion was about and its message/meaning" if the religious symbols mean something.
i.e. I saw a video once where someone was explaining "the symbols in Eva" my pointing out that "Lilith" is "Adam's first wife in the apocrypha"....while in no way explaining what it meant in-story, much less, what the actual "message" of the show was.
Was Eva about religion? Did it have a religious message? If so, what was it?
Because my point is that maybe the reason "no one was able to explaining the ending of the series" for 14 years, is because during all this time, everyone kept trying to make sense of it in religious terms that simply did not fit it;
people asked for explanation and they got opinion
--- On Sat, 12/26/09, Carl Horn <once at ix.netcom.com> wrote:
From: Carl Horn <once at ix.netcom.com>
Subject: Re: [EVA] Religion and Gainax was RE: [EVA] Moura interviews
To: "The english-language evangelion mailing list." <evangelion at eva.onegeek.org>
Date: Saturday, December 26, 2009, 10:03 AM
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."
Well...I guess there's not much I can do against the combined authority of Sallustius, Montesquieu, and, of course, Nietzsche. In the future, if I wish to understand anything about Evangelion, I will try to reference only a.) the scripts--those scripts that wowed millions when they were published in Japan and created the Evangelion phenomenon; there was apparently some talk of developing them further into an actual TV series and movies, but nothing ever came of it--and b.) your posts. I really have to get out of this bad habit I've had since 1995 of referencing the anime ^_^
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.
Dammit, only one paragraph later, and I'm already questioning authority again! The Judeo-Christian religious tradition from which Evangelion borrows has--
to put it really, really mildly--
--a lengthy, complicated, and diverse record over the past three thousand-plus years, replete with instances of belief that the divine revelation and presence is metaphorical and immanent--not only literal and transcendent. It has been a thing of sedate pulpits and Sunday schools; and also a thing of prodigies, relics, saints, signs, wonders, miracles, crusades, visions, and apocalypses (including such ideas as God being multiple beings, or having children, or that these children could breed with human beings--consult that wacky fanfic called the Book of Genesis). Sects, cults, and heresies, so-called, have abounded throughout every branch of Christianity and Judaism, and continue to this day.
You seem to be deciding that Evangelion's characters (NOT ANNO NOT GAINAX EVA'S CHARACTERS) cannot be viewing material events in religious terms--that the notion involves a contrast which is philosophically untenable. That reflects an exceedingly dry idea of how religious tradition has manifested itself in human history. Am I describing only a distant past? Turn on your TV and you'll find megachurch preachers who believe they can match today's Middle East politicians with figures from the Books of Daniel and Revelation. Many of those settlements in the West Bank are being built in the belief they fulfill verses in Genesis, Numbers, and Ezekiel. If there's one thing human beings love to do and always have, it's interpret the material world and its battles as fulfillments of prophecy. A notion which even the naked script of Evangelion supports, unless we're planning to do a global replace on the words "Dead Sea Scrolls."
"So many skyscrapers
And everybody knows that
Each one of them is a spear and at the same time a shield
Far back in the past, man was trying to be God
And built a tower high enough to reach the sky
It, however, was broken down by the God
Those who have the names of angels
They are the faithful servants sent by the God
Who do they have to revel against God to satisfy their greed"
That is a (verbatim) excerpt from 2015: The Last Year of Ryokji Kaji, written by Hiroshi Yamaguchi, the co-scriptwriter of "Splitting of the Breast," "Don't Be" and "Rei III"--here again, spreading that never-ending misperception that many of Evangelion's characters described the events surrounding them in terms of conflict between man and God. Elsewhere in the book, Kaji speaks of Eva Unit-01 as "purple is the color of the priest costume," the Geofront as "the promised land," and "Longinus's spear, the only weapon to pierce God," "The Apostles, the messengers," "Second Impact, the contact with God."
Even limiting it only to the Judeo-Christian tradition, actual, historic human notions of man's relation to the divine have been broad in variety and interpretation. When we consider a fictional work like Evangelion, the possibilities become even wider. I see no more logic behind denying its fictional use of religion than I would denying its fictional use of mecha. Certainly you could write a series like Evangelion in which all such religious elements were replaced with non-religious ones. Would that make any real difference? Yes, it would. It would no longer be the series we are discussing--it would be some other anime series, different and perhaps perfectly good on its own. This theoretical series, however, is not Neon Genesis Evangelion. I don't even know what we would call it, since the first religious reference we'd have to remove is the name of the series itself.
I feel as if I am in the bizarre position of having to defend Eva--the actual show with its actual content--against some phantom series you postulate, that, if it actually existed--you know, the way Evangelion actually exists--would establish the inherent irrelevance of Eva's use of religion by demonstrating how those elements could be replaced by non-religious equivalents that would serve the same story function.
But even as a hypothetical idea, real world experience suggests that does not ring true. Religious words bring a different tone to events than strictly materialist words do. "I saw a UFO in the sky" and "I saw an angel in the sky" do not give identical impressions, nor does "I believe in the existence of aliens" and "I believe in the existence of God." Even if we consider a scenario where these are different words for the same phenomena, the choice of religious language suggests a larger meaning to events that scientific observations alone do not impute.
We can see also that human beings are quite willing to mingle these two concepts in the real world, so it is hardly unreasonable to suggest they might do so in fiction such as Evangelion. I spoke of Newton, but to name a prominent contemporary example, "creation science" advocates are, as their name implies, not claiming to be anti-scientific. Indeed, they assert that science actually supports the idea that the Earth was created as early as 6,000 years ago, and that the events described in the Book of Genesis really happened. They do this in part by claiming further that there are two kinds of science: "operative" science, and "historical" science, and, in a form of philosophical judo, say that evolution is not a valid theory testable by "operative" science, but rather a kind of belief system belonging to "historical" science (this idea that evolution is propped up only by stubborn tradition and not later experiments helps to explain the emphasis on
attacking Darwin, who died in the 19th century). There are millions of people in my country--some were even Presidential candidates in 2008--quite happy to use scientific devices, confident in the notion science bears out their religious beliefs--just as terrorists and activists use military and political devices with the same assurance.
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
In fact, red is used a great deal in The End of Evangelion; where Shakespeare wrote in words of the multitudinous seas incarnadine, Evangelion expresses this, like so much else, in painting. Generally speaking, painters choose their particular colors for a reason. What would Eva be like if all its instances of red were removed? Would that really be so important? Well, I can't honestly say without seeing this theoretical, re-animated version of Evangelion you postulate, the same one that has all the triangles instead of crosses. At the moment, I'm just trying to discuss the actual Evangelion.
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
I don't feel that I can make a definite statement as to how much Evangelion was influenced by Aum Shinrikyo. The media frenzy over them was still going strong when Eva premiered. However, the cult, and its apocalyptic beliefs were well-known in Japan several years before the show's premiere; in the early '90s, more than a dozen members of Aum ran for the Diet. At the time, his followers would parade in the streets in Shoko Asahara masks--sort of like if it was the Scientologists who wore the V disguises. ^_^ Aum was known in particular for their willingness to use SF, anime, and manga as recruiting tools and to illustrate philosophical ideas, not unlike the Heaven's Gate cult in the U.S. It was this sort of thing--and perhaps the fact Aum's pirate radio station called itself "Evangelion Tes Basileia" (a quote from the original Greek text of Matthew; it means "gospel of the Kingdom") that contributed to rumors at the time that Anno or members of Gainax
were themselves associated with Aum (they were not the only animators to fall under this suspicion; Mamoru Oshii has mentioned that the police interviewed him, apparently based on the content of Patlabor 2).
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