Dr. Nick wrote:This goes to show that there are different types of fans; like I've said many times before, I'm one of those boring, practical-minded people who are only interested in the story itself - I couldn't care less about any metatextual dimensions or whatever. And I kinda think this attitude is shared by a large, silent minority.
I think this is a fair assessment of the current situation (except I take your self-description of "boring" with a pinch of salt!).
Dr. Nick wrote:Why should we relate it to our lives? Most people, I argue again, don't feel such urge. I don't watch anime to find life-altering messages, I enjoy anime for its own sake.
I tried to explain why we should
in the last post: "... because what Anno tried to portray are personal psychic processes transpiring in real life, not in the world of Evangelion. Therefore, if we just decipher the plotline with no reference to our real lives, then I would say a large chunk of meaning is lost for us."
I cannot say that all anime should be mined for the meaning of life, but specifically
for NGE, there is a lot it can tell us, and this is the case whether the majority of people care for this meaning or not.
Dr. Nick wrote:The interpretative approach you describe makes the show meaninful for you, but you shouldn't assume it works the same way for everybody. Your approach is purely subjective.
The approach I described gives meaning concerning how humans think and act. This, I would argue, has meaning for not just myself, and hence is not purely subjective.
Dr. Nick wrote:
I've seen people who claim Evangelion needs to be interpreted from a Freudian framework, or from a buddhist framework, or from a framework of "service-sector, gender and information revolutions sweeping across Japan and the core economies of East Asia". No, I'm not kidding.
But in all those cases the wording is wrong: one does not need
to interpret the show that way. One can
interpret the show that way. And that's why I have a slight problem with you "advocating" your Jungian model. It makes about azzobillion times more sense than Dennis Redmond's psilocybin-induced descriptions of alien sex, but it's still subjective.
I have also read essays on far-out frameworks such as "the state of post-war Japan in the context of Evangelion" (but your link was a new one).
What is evident is that many frameworks have been used for Evangelion. But why I "advocate" a Jungian model is not just to add to this morass of perspectives: I also claim it is the best
(external) framework, insofar as it manages to give greater meaning to a substantial part of the anime which cannot be derived solely from the context of the anime, without doing damage to the central focus of the story. Not all the frameworks are on a level footing with respect to being relevant to the themes in Evangelion, and if there are strong reasons for a framework being the most relevant, then choosing such a framework is not a matter of whim, but has a kind of objective measure - the amount of relevance.
Dr. Nick wrote:And since when has this forum been "stuck" with its mostly-literal, down-to-earth reading of NGE? After innumerable debates, most of which of course remained deliciously pointless, I claim we today have a rather clear idea of how the main plot plays out. Details remain, some will obsess over them, some will not. Neither have we needed any external frameworks to be able to extract the Big Meaning, "Choose life!", from the story (in before irony etc.). Methinks you don't give enough credit to us boring literalists.
I am not suggesting that this forum is benighted just because it predominantly discusses the "mostly-literal" meaning (taking your word for it as I do not know first-hand). Debating the plotlines in itself is not pointless. Having a grasp of the literal story is vital for any interpretation, and of course credit to all the literalists in that respect. I also agree that we can get the broad message "Choose life!" from just the story in the context of the anime.
I also agree that the plot of Evangelion in the anime context has been well delineated - so again credit to those who have done so.
Hence, I am not denying the value of the literal approach. I just think adding a relevant framework on top of this adds greater meaning
to the results of the literal analysis (which already
has meaning, but has extra meaning locked away, which can be accessed using a suitable external framework). The literal and the external framework approaches give results which complement each other. For example, I propose a Jungian framework because it can clarify and give extra insights into the process of how Shinji "chose life," by means of rendering a meaning to symbols such as "Angels" in a new light which is commensurate with their literal role in the anime. By this, I do not mean just a simple, brainless, arbitrary Angels = X relation, but carefully drumming out the relevant aspects and roles of Angels, as depicted in the anime, which would make it reasonable to construe them under a new light in a different framework - this means there is a tangible link
between the literal aspect and the external framework concept. Without this link, which involves a consideration of the main themes of the anime and taking into account the literal aspects, then the external framework would be just a matter of taste. But if these links exist, and the concepts they connect gives greater meaning to Evangelion, then why should someone ignore what the framework can tell us? Especially when this greater meaning pertains to our lives? After all, none of the literal meaning has been pushed aside and the meaning has been augmented, through a non-arbitrary process. All the literal insights gained are not being pushed under the carpet, but built upon. Another possible outcome of the external framework approach is that it can form stronger links between literal aspects when they are viewed in a different light (e.g. Asuka and Shinji both without a mother but with their mothers' souls in their EVAs [literal aspect 1] and why the pilots need to be immersed in L.C.L. [literal aspect 2]).
Just a note on what I mean by "greater meaning" - one part of this "greater meaning" is that we can find evidence to suggest
that the creators wanted to show something (a meaning which is deduced by virtue of said framework), and thus created linked concepts and characters in Evangelion to show this meaning (the literal story). In this way, the external framework analysis can also help to make us more aware of the reasons why the literal story is as it is, i.e. what the creators (a source which is even more "primary" than the literal story) wanted to show. An example to make this clearer: by using a Jungian framework, I claim that Kaworu together with Rei are "crucial" in retaining individuality, which would make the introduction of Kaworu by the creators reasonable (as opposed to a gimmick to confuse viewers late on in the anime). This goes back to the point of trying to get at the "personal psychic processes transpiring in real life" which Anno tried to portray.
Dr. Nick wrote:(Also, comparing the (potential) symbolic depth of Evangelion and Christian religion seems a bit overkill to me.)
I brought up the Jesus story analogy not to make a comparison between the symbolic depth of NGE and Christianity, but just to make the point that a story, which can be interpreted in the literal sense, can have greater meaning if interpreted in a different sense, and that this new interpretation is not totally divorced from the literal aspects.
Dr. Nick wrote:To demonstrate in a very simple way how all outside-framework interpretations are always secondary, think about this: would you be here putting forward these ideas of yours if you didn't have some sort of basic grasp of what's going on in the story in a literal sense (and your grasp seems way better than just "basic")? After all, there are lots of people who think EoE is just a collection of random special effects. Your theorizations are an offshoot of what I'd at least like to call the "objective" bedrock of analyzing and understanding this crazy, fuxored-up cartoon.
If I read you correctly, you are taking the anime in itself (definitions in the RCB, story as depicted without any external frameworks) as the primary material, from which any analysis is objective. However, here you are defining "objectivity" as having no bias towards an external framework (the aim of any such "objective" analysis is to do so from the primary material), and choosing to use this definition of objectivity is a subjective decision
(why use that definition of "objectivity"? - i.e. why just stick to a primary analysis if an external framework can render greater meaning on top of it, and even complement it? ). I can take "objectivity" to be to try and render as much meaning from NGE as possible, but in a non-arbitrary way, in which case I can use an appropriate external framework, and
achieve a greater objectivity (you would call this framework "secondary" to distinguish it from the primary material: this is fine, but the "secondary" does not have to denote some sort of unecessary tool if the objective is changed).Originally posted on: 07-Nov-2006, 16:12 GMT