What the hell is the book of life?

Discussion of the new series of Evangelion movies ( "Evangelion Shin Gekijōban", meaning "Evangelion: New Theatrical Edition"). The final instalment made its debut in Japan on March 8, 2021.

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What the hell is the book of life?

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Postby Archer » Wed Sep 15, 2021 2:02 pm

When I watched the movie I just assumed Kaworu was being metaphorically flowery, but people here seem to refer to it as something with actual narrative significance. What is it and what exactly are the implications of your name being in it?

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Re: What the hell is the book of life?

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Postby Axx°N N. » Wed Sep 15, 2021 2:36 pm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Life

It's a religious term being used out of its original context and repurposed, like fruit of knowledge, but without the benefit of having an entire scene dedicated to establishing it or making sense retroactively based on prior events. That is, unless your initial assumption, which was and is mine as well, is true, and it's metaphorical/metatextual above anything else.

If it is the explanation for anything, it's slipped in there before you can even begin to process what it's supposed to mean. But Kaworu's loop doesn't make any sense outside of metaphor/metacontext either. Why is he looping from a physics standpoint? Why the coffins? Outside of metaphor it doesn't really fit together.
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Re: What the hell is the book of life?

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Postby Konja7 » Wed Sep 15, 2021 2:44 pm

View Original PostAxx°N N. wrote:If it is the explanation for anything, it's slipped in there before you can even begin to process what it's supposed to mean. But Kaworu's loop doesn't make any sense outside of metaphor/metacontext either. Why is he looping from a physics standpoint? Why the coffins? Outside of metaphor it doesn't really fit together.

I think the coffins in 1.0 are how Kaworu is created in his current life. In 3.0+1.0, the coffins work as a symbolism for his eternal loop.

Kaworu being trapped in the loop explains his motivation for his wish to make Shinji happy. He is miserable in that loop, so he wants to make Shinji happy (since he sees himself reflected in Shinji). So, it couldn't be just a metaphor/metacontext.


Also, why do you need physics standpoint? Many things in Evangelion don't have physics standpoints.

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Re: What the hell is the book of life?

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Postby Axx°N N. » Wed Sep 15, 2021 3:09 pm

View Original PostKonja7 wrote:Also, why do you need physics standpoint? Many things in Evangelion don't have physics standpoints.

For me, no conflict and restriction makes the storytelling less grounded and thus less relatable; everything becomes like a whim, created on the spot by the creator out of need, shattering suspension of disbelief. Raw emotion and experimentation that trumps narrative structure still very much can either feel earned and consistent, or not. Something like Kafka's writing creates its own rules, but they are rules and they have their effects. Even if you radically play around with it, storytelling is more or less a math game.

And it's not as if NTE's attitude is "explanations are pointless," because there's long scenes in Shin that are purely explanations, and at that explanations for things that (to me) didn't really need to be spelled out so much. Meanwhile, the Book of Life is gestured to in the vaguest way possible as if to say it's only meaningful in the application it proceeds to use it on, which is as an idiomatic way to refer to Kaworu's bond with Shinji.

YMMV, but Kaworu looping either has an explanation, which it really doesn't, or it's intriguing because it's kept a mystery, except it's not intriguing, because there's no mystery to its function as metaphor, which is obvious, nor the takeaway, which is spelled out. There was no reason not to explain it, because there's no ambiuguity it could harm, except maybe because of time constraints.

NGE didn't have real-world physics, but its own physics where the workings of everything could be reasoned out, and even the psychodrama of Instrumentality had set-up and build-up that it worked as a payoff to. We knew enough of where Kaworu came from to connect dots, and yet we were left with an ambiguous and inscrutable personality whose significance required thought (or discussion) to fully tease out. But with NTE Kaworu there's mystery just because of withholding of information, and no elaboration on why things work the way they do, but no real mystery as to what he thinks and feels at all. Like Mari, he's mysterious where it doesn't matter and obvious where it counts.

It can be summarized as "it's a metaphor" and the conversation seems to die. I wish that weren't the case, and I asked questions hoping to be proven wrong. The only thing left to talk about is why the loop exists, where it came from, how it works, etc., but I've yet to see a compelling case for that in the many posts I've read trying to.

To me it's a "having your cake and eating it too" situation. I don't think the calculation of leaving Kaworu "mysterious in designation only" improved his character.
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Re: What the hell is the book of life?

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Postby Konja7 » Wed Sep 15, 2021 3:33 pm

View Original PostAxx°N N. wrote:And it's not as if NTE's attitude is "explanations are pointless," because there's long scenes in Shin that are purely explanations, and at that explanations for things that (to me) didn't really need to be spelled out so much. Meanwhile, the Book of Life is gestured to in the vaguest way possible as if to say it's only meaningful in the application it proceeds to use it on, which is as an idiomatic way to refer to Kaworu's bond with Shinji.

There are a lot of things that NTE doesn't really explain. The Book of Life is only one of the things that aren't explained (I still don't know why Rei's soul has long hair).

That said, there is some information to theorize about the Book of Life. My initial assumption was that Kaworu and Shinji are inside the loop, because they have their names written in the Book of Life.



View Original PostAxx°N N. wrote:NGE didn't have real-world physics, but its own physics where the workings of everything could be reasoned out, and even the psychodrama of Instrumentality had set-up and build-up that it worked as a payoff to. We knew enough of where Kaworu came from to connect dots, and yet we were left with an ambiguous and inscrutable personality whose significance required thought (or discussion) to fully tease out. But with NTE Kaworu there's mystery just because of withholding of information, and no elaboration on why things work the way they do, but no real mystery as to what he thinks and feels at all. Like Mari, he's mysterious where it doesn't matter and obvious where it counts.

I guess this depends what aspect of the character we want to be a real mystery.

I like to know what Kaworu thinks and feel, it makes him a more complex character (to me). I prefer his mystery is from his backstory.

That said, I doubt the lack of information about the loop is due to time constraints. I think Anno just wanted to leave that to the audience to theorize.



View Original PostAxx°N N. wrote:It can be summarized as "it's a metaphor" and the conversation seems to die. I wish that weren't the case, and I asked questions hoping to be proven wrong. The only thing left to talk about is why the loop exists, where it came from, how it works, etc., but I've yet to see a compelling case for that in the many posts I've read trying to.

How the loop could be summarized as a metaphor? It's directly mentioned that Kaworu and Shinji have meet many times.

Also, the idea of Kaworu's loop was planned from 1.0. I know fans discussed a lot about this (due to the "sequel" theory), but the idea was clearly there.

The most likely is Anno never planned to explain so much about the loop, but this was always going to be used as Kaworu's motivation.

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Re: What the hell is the book of life?

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Postby pir2confusion » Wed Sep 15, 2021 5:07 pm

View Original PostArcher wrote:When I watched the movie I just assumed Kaworu was being metaphorically flowery, but people here seem to refer to it as something with actual narrative significance. What is it and what exactly are the implications of your name being in it?


This is probably a rough idea. Usually God is who writes names in the book of life. Righteous people are written there. It has roots in a lot of the middle eastern religions and I think might have been mentioned or something close to it in the Gilgamesh. For the Jewish religion it is god who will open the book between the ten days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur where god looks at all things everyone has done and decides if the good deeds or sins has more weight and if they stay inscribed in the book for another year. Their fate is sealed for the year. For christian religions the names are written at creation and if the name hasn't been crossed out they go to heaven, get saved during judgment, go into the next world etc.

For eva nothing beyond the name is mentioned so I think it could mean that Kaworu was or is god if Kaworu was writing in the book but also that they both were working as part of gods plan. It also can mean anything if they ever make more evangelion and gives something for future works to go into or appear as some easter egg in a future ps vita game. :rolleyes:

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Re: What the hell is the book of life?

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Postby Gendo's Glasses » Wed Sep 15, 2021 8:18 pm

Konja7 wrote:There are a lot of things that NTE doesn't really explain. The Book of Life is only one of the things that aren't explained (I still don't know why Rei's soul has long hair).


I'd say there's surely a connection with the scene of Mari cutting Asuka's hair, which is still growing despite the Curse of Eva freezing everything else.

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Re: What the hell is the book of life?

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Postby Konja7 » Wed Sep 15, 2021 9:23 pm

View Original PostGendo's Glasses wrote:I'd say there's surely a connection with the scene of Mari cutting Asuka's hair, which is still growing despite the Curse of Eva freezing everything else.

Yeah. There should be a connection with that aspect in the Curse of Eva.

However, it seems weird, because Rei is only a soul inside Eva-01 (Rei lost her body when she was eaten by 10th Angel), so her hair shouldn't grow.

Perhaps her long hair is a symbolic representation of the passage of time.

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Re: What the hell is the book of life?

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Postby Zoop » Thu Sep 16, 2021 2:36 am

Exactly, as soon as I saw Rei with long hair I thought to myself "holy shit, she's been in there all this time? poor girl", I guess that what it's meant for and for me it worked.
I'd say it's one of the least confusing things that would need explaining, imo.

My theory: Kaworu is supposed to be quite literally God, he's been at the Golgotha object and thus has had a major influence on how events played out. He was omnipotent/omniscient until he took (or was forced?) mortal form by stepping out of one of the coffins. Then in 3.0 he wast cast down by Gendo so Eva13 could take his "seat" as God, and thus later allowing Gendo to play God and go to the Golgotha object for his own plans. Thus, "writing in the book of life" is done at the Golgotha object, shaping reality, writing fate and whatnot.

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Re: What the hell is the book of life?

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Postby Archer » Thu Sep 16, 2021 6:44 am

I didn’t think long-hair Rei needed any explanation. It was pretty obviously just a visual symbol to tell us that she was in the core the whole time.

And yeah, I’ve pretty much gotten the confirmation I wanted that there’s no evidence the “book of life” is anything more than Kaworu being flowery and philosophical.

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Re: What the hell is the book of life?

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Postby Konja7 » Thu Sep 16, 2021 9:33 am

View Original PostArcher wrote:And yeah, I’ve pretty much gotten the confirmation I wanted that there’s no evidence the “book of life” is anything more than Kaworu being flowery and philosophical.

Kaworu saying their names were written on the Book of Life could be flowery and philosophical.

However, Kaji saying Kaworu wrote Shinji's name in the Book of Life seems to imply something real.

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Re: What the hell is the book of life?

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Postby T. K. Simon » Thu Sep 16, 2021 10:09 am

Since we have no evidence of how the book of life works, I imagine it like this:

Like a book, it has leaves, each one tells a story in order (that is, when one ends, another begins), but as the page turns, time continues to flow likewise in the finished story.
the ending of EoE ends with a "Neon Genesis "(I mean a new beginning for humanity)

The first story would be NGE, the second story is rebuild (as far as we know, there are no others). But Rebuild has a cycle that repeats itself endlessly (a story that starts over at the end)

The divergence in the previous cycles and the last one? It may be the 3.0 hit, in which a reboot is forced. The third impact (which we never see), or that Shinji never remains in lcl in 2.0, the story continues normally until the third impact out of the 14 years of Rebuild.

Who forces these restarts? The only 2 that could be are Kaworu or Shinji.
---------------------
Or:
With the NGE story finished,
Maybe kaworu with his past experiences (NGE), he wrote Shinji's name in the book of life for a new story, so that he and Shinji would always meet again, but RoE's story always ended badly, therefore, Kaworu forced a restart to do it again, failing at every opportunity (because Shinji never changed, and people must change to be happy).
Kaworu because of this, he got caught in a loop

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Re: What the hell is the book of life?

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Postby Axx°N N. » Thu Sep 16, 2021 5:51 pm

View Original PostKonja7 wrote:How the loop could be summarized as a metaphor? It's directly mentioned that Kaworu and Shinji have meet many times.

I don't see how those two things contradict.

The vast majority (or maybe even virtually all) of the discussion on the Book of Life I've seen has shared a pretty uniform view on the metaphor. To reiterate:

Kaworu looping is (as is basically confirmed by his dialogue elsewhere) a cosmic version of a more simple codependency, or cycle of repetitive negative behavior. He wants to make Shinji happy, but that's impossible, and so it's doomed from the start, but he can't (until now) let go of it. Such is also the problem of Anno being stuck in the purgatory of Eva never finishing. He's stuck like the rest of the characters are stuck, it's just that the self-destructive, repetitive nature of Kaworu's problem is mirrored in the fact he's aware of multiverse timelines. But there's no real difference between how claustrophobic, inevitable, and endless that feels and how someone might feel if they're simply unable to get past their bad habits. Kaworu's looping is part of the extended "Anno is in depression/analysis paralysis" metaphor, with the one difference being that his problem is reduced to misplaced desire.

View Original PostKonja7 wrote:However, Kaji saying Kaworu wrote Shinji's name in the Book of Life seems to imply something real.

I also don't see how this contradicts. Kaji has never been a strictly literal character, he speaks in sly metaphor and there was even an entire book of poetry written by him in-character.
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Re: What the hell is the book of life?

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Postby Konja7 » Fri Sep 17, 2021 12:42 am

View Original PostAxx°N N. wrote:I don't see how those two things contradict.


You're right that the loop really existing in Rebuild story doesn't prevent finding metaphorical meanings as well.

Thanks for the detailed explanation. I've understand your point better now.

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Re: What the hell is the book of life?

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Postby DantesInferno » Sat Sep 18, 2021 5:58 am

View Original PostZoop wrote:My theory: Kaworu is supposed to be quite literally God, he's been at the Golgotha object and thus has had a major influence on how events played out. He was omnipotent/omniscient until he took (or was forced?) mortal form by stepping out of one of the coffins. Then in 3.0 he wast cast down by Gendo so Eva13 could take his "seat" as God, and thus later allowing Gendo to play God and go to the Golgotha object for his own plans. Thus, "writing in the book of life" is done at the Golgotha object, shaping reality, writing fate and whatnot.


This is the explanation that makes the most sense so far. At the very least, the book is something metaphysical that alters/determines reality/fate (e.g., Kaworu meeting Shinji every time), so it has to be related to the Golgotha object and/or negative space.

So the First Angel is a privileged position, and whoever sits there gets to be "God". Why Gendo would cast Kaworu to the 13th makes perfect sense; it is the How that is hard to understand. I mean, we operate under the assumption that angel numbers are given by "order of appearance"; Why is Kaworu re-numbered by the DSS choker, instead of being re-identified as the first?

Unless Kaworu no longer is the First at that point, physically, because he has at some previous point lost 'something' that determines your position as God... say, The Key of Nebuchadnezzar? Therefore, the choker mistakes him for a new angel, and out of options, assigns the impossible (by Dead Sea Scrolls standards) number 13.

---

EDIT OK, recap, putting together the ideas from Zoop's theory, and filling in some details:

So initially, Kaworu is God. The first angel is God, and occupies a special place with respect to the other angels (so does Lilith, who is Fruit of Knowledge-based). When Seele talk about 'exterminating all the angels to fulfill the covenant with Lilith' they exclude Lilith (of course), but also The First (this explains how they can cooperate with Kaworu and not try to kill him like they do with 3-12). The First angel is not out to exterminate/compete with FoK-based life either (he likes the lilim very much). So rephrasing Gendo in 3.0+1.0:

"To humanity, who ate the Fruit of Knowledge, The First Angel gave two options: Be exterminated by the FoL-based 3-12 angels, or exterminate them, give up the FoK, take in the FoL and occupy the 3-12 angel's place as children of the First Angel." (*Not clear where Lilith fits in here...)

(if this God is indeed Kaworu, why force such harsh choice on Humanity? Perhaps he thinks the only way to make Shinji happy is Instrumentality?)

As God, Kaworu was once at the Golgotha object, in negative space, where reality can be rewritten (especially back then when the spears were available), and therefore a metaphysical/magical entity such as the Book of Life, in which the stuff you write becomes reality/fate, can make sense. There, he wrote Shinji's name on the Book, so they would meet every time. He is also the one who left the Golgotha Object, the Adams, and the spears behind for the lilim/Seele to find.

---

Then something happened, perhaps during Second Impact or as a consequence of it, that caused Kaworu to become separated from that which made him God: The Key of Nebuchadnezzar. This was later retrieved by NERV/Seele, but for some reason only Gendo seems to know/care how important it is.

Having lost the key, Kaworu is physically equivalent to a 'normal' angel (i.e., 3-12), although for the most part he is 'dormant': he does not use his powers/AT Field, and thus cannot be detected as pattern blue. But he still is the (historical) First Angel, and refers to himself as such.

During the events of 3.0, Gendo tricks Kaworu into using his AT Field to try and wrestle back the controls of Eva-13, from which he had been conveniently cut off. The DSS choker identifies his signal as a new angel, not the (known) First, due to his lack of the Key, and solves the contradiction in the only possible way: by assigning him the 'impossible' number 13.

Gendo, on the other hand, incorporates the Key and becomes the new First Angel a.k.a. God (whether this happens in 3.0 when Near Fourth Impact begins, or later during 3.0+1.0 makes little difference).

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Re: What the hell is the book of life?

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Postby Raikyu » Sat Sep 18, 2021 7:19 am

That's an interesting interpretation DantesInferno. I think that everything you said makes sense.

I just want to add that Eva-13 could possibly be Kaworu's original body, just like in the original show Kaworu is the reincarnation of Adam. Considering that Asuka calls that unit "God's Eva", it is consistent with Kaworu's previous god status and how Gendo was able to merge with said unit. The initial lack of AT-Field could mean that its soul is no longer present, because it reincarnated in Kaworu. Then, during the fight between evangelion 13 and unit 01, the first one presented an AT-Field, because it now has a soul, which is Gendo's soul.

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Re: What the hell is the book of life?

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Postby Konja7 » Sat Sep 18, 2021 7:32 am

View Original PostDantesInferno wrote:"To humanity, who ate the Fruit of Knowledge, The First Angel gave two options: Be exterminated by the FoL-based 3-12 angels, or exterminate them, give up the FoK, take in the FoL and occupy the 3-12 angel's place as children of the First Angel." (*Not clear where Lilith fits in here...)

(if this God is indeed Kaworu, why force such harsh choice on Humanity? Perhaps he thinks the only way to make Shinji happy is Instrumentality?)


This is one of the reasons why I don't think SEELE'S God is Kaworu. SEELE's lnstrumentality in Rebuild includes humanity giving up the Fruit of Knowledge. There is no way Shinji could be happy that way (Shinji wouldn't even exist anymore).

Also, in 3.0, it's pretty clear Kaworu doesn't want the Fourth Impact, which "purify" the souls (and it's the last step in SEELE's plan).

Not to mention that Kaworu's friendship with Kaji implies that he was always on WILLE/human side.

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Re: What the hell is the book of life?

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Postby Anchorhead » Sat Sep 18, 2021 8:07 am

Has anyone considered the idea that the Golgotha Object itself may be the Book of Life? I mean, it's the big mysterious object covered in godly writing that allows one to alter the course of reality. Kaworu placing his and Shinji's names together in the Book of Life is said to be why they keep meeting -- in other words, the Book is not a record of what is in the universe, but rather, the universe is what is written in the Book. I think that jives pretty cleanly with the Golgotha Object's purported properties.

There's also been some pretty heavy implication throughout Rebuild that Kaworu is not only the First Angel but also, literally, God, or at least a god, and a primordial one at that. I mean, the First Angel must have manifested before Lilith, given that Angels' numbers are a measurable physical property and not just something humans assigned them; therefore, Kaworu is billions of years old at minimum. The Minus Space is the realm of the gods, the Golgotha Object is the instrument at its center that can change the nature of reality; If anybody in Eva would be familiar with the Object or have used it before, it would be Kaworu. The "Book of Life," then, would just be the Object's true name, or at any rate the way that Kaworu chooses to refer to it.

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Re: What the hell is the book of life?

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Postby Konja7 » Sat Sep 18, 2021 8:40 am

I totally agree that the "Book of Life" isn't literally a book. The "Book of Life" being the Golgotha Object is a pretty good theory.


View Original PostAnchorhead wrote:Kaworu placing his and Shinji's names together in the Book of Life is said to be why they keep meeting

I should mention that it is never said that Kaworu wrote his own name in the Book of Life. It's only said that he wrote Shinji's name in it.

That's said, it seems Kaworu placed Shinji's name next to his name.

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Re: What the hell is the book of life?

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Postby T. K. Simon » Sat Sep 18, 2021 11:59 am

That's said, it seems Kaworu placed Shinji's name next to his name.


The book of life being the real name of the golgota object is a big assumption

But that kaworu wrote the name of Shinji so that they always meet, can kaworu manipulate the story?

When they refer to episode 24, Kaworu tells Shinji (that Shinji tells him that he remembers being there so many times), he tells him that it is because of the book of life. Did Kaworu already have knowledge of the golgota in NGE?

After EoE, did Kaworu write Shinji's name for the new story (RoE)?


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