SaltyJoe wrote:Now, why did i consider this to be tangential to the thread?
Because ultimately, the personality shaping facets of the interactions between Shinji and Rei have little to do with the question this whole branch of discussion sprouted from: that is, how much does Shinji actually know about Rei (little, precious little) and is it dangerous for him to grow so attached to someone he knows so little about (yes, it is).In the face of a sweeping revelation, Shinji might even start to consider Rei a different person compared to how he knew her up until then. The person that is Rei in Shinji's mind might be completely rewritten. And that's the Rei that ultimately matters, when discussing Shinji's character.
Thank you for your impressive argumentation. My compliments on the extensive work this required.
For now, I return to the core of the issue.
I agree with you that the knowledge that Rei is an Angel soul in an artificial body (or whatever Rebuild-Rei ends up being) can have potentially vast repercussions on how others view her.
Apparently, you agree with me that social interactions (most notably with Shinji) have shaped Rei's personality, where previously she had little character.
Another point where we agree is that Rei is conflicted between her true nature (that is kept mostly hidden from her), and the personality she acquired through social interaction; which of the two is the "real" her? Nature versus nurture, as Kendrix puts it.
Where we disagree is the outcome of this dilemma.
You quote EoTV-Rei III as ultimately choosing to reject nurture and embracing nature, Gendo's "purpose for which she was created". EoE-Rei III instead embraces her nature of being Lilith. Both reject the personality of Rei II.
However, Rei's choosing one does not mean that she is also right. Let's discuss a similar dilemma in Shinji, from Episode 26. This is a thread about Shinji, after all.
The scene right before the "alternate universe" "Girlfriend of Steel" sequence starts:
"Then the construction of the place changes to a white void, where Shinji exists as a drifting pencil sketch. He interprets this as a world of nothing, but his own voice comes back and says that it’s a world of perfect freedom. But perfect freedom is perfect nothingness, for there is nothing to hold on to, nothing to orient himself in. Gendo Ikari will give him a restriction: a horizontal line that defines ground and sky. Shinji has lost the ability to fly, but now feels more secure as he has something to walk on. In any world, things change, the person changes, and the person can shape the world, through the shaping of perceptions. Yet this must also be in the presence of others. Shinji in this white world feels that he is disappearing, and it is because he can’t know his own shape without other things to compare it to, and there is nothing else there. Shinji knows who he is, but other people must be there shape his mind as well in order to form a complete self. That is the truth."
Source: http://wiki.evageeks.org/Episode_26, emphasis added.
(Unfortunately, I don't know where to find a reliable transcript, so a summary will have to suffice.)
While you may point out that "Shinji knows who he is" before other people come in, but he is also losing himself because of the lack of an "outside", until ultimately nothing will be left of him.
This is the point: Individuality requires others to be separate from, or there is no individual, and thus no identity.
By this point, Shinji decides that he wants a reality with others in it, because he wants to exist. And he can exist only as an individual. Which is why he imagines/creates the alternate school reality (including the heavy emphasis on sexuality of a typical teenage boy). In short, Shinji has accepted this argument as a decisive one.
I believe that Episode 25 serves as a "deconstruction", where all characters are picked apart, until hardly anything remains of them. Episode 26, by contrast, is a "reconstruction", where Shinji rebuilds not just himself, but also his will to exist. Until the walls of Instrumentality shatter and Shinji has refound both himself and his place in reality. ("Congratulations!")
So while you follow Rei's inner struggle and accept her outcome as truth, I hold that Shinji's inner struggle and its outcome are another truth. And, given the structure of Episodes 25 and 26, a preferable
, higher order truth, at that.
One thing I still have to answer is why I believe this discussion on Rei to not be tangential to this thread about Shinji in Rebuild.
The reason for this lies in the social interactions we see between Shinji and Rei in Rebuild 2.0. We already agree that these shape Rei's personality (or the "nurture" side of who she is).
However, I will also stress that Shinji's interactions with Rei (and other characters, but Rei is very
prominent among these) also shape his
personality. I am not quite sure if you would agree, but I perceive Shinji at the start of Rebuild 1.0 as rather empty character, and it is only through his interactions with others that he "fills up" with character traits, such as kindness, loyalty, guilt, and self-loathing, which all together make him recognizable as Shinji to us.
I believe his interactions with Rei are very interesting and relevant to this thread, because what happens is two
characters with very little personality shaping each other's personality, and in doing so they also create their own.
So what goes for Rei also goes for Shinji. And I don't think it would be fair to say that Misato, Asuka, Rei, Toji, Kensuke, Mari and just about every other character other than Gendo have no real relationship to Shinji, just because they don't know his "true nature" of being born from the woman whose soul now (presumably) resides in Unit-01. In fact, I would say the opposite is true: Gendo is the only other character who does not
have a real relationship to Shinji.