Knowing that the best kind of knowing comes from personal experience, I often draw on my experiences with people to get a sort of knowhow about people and things that I think is relevant. I meant, it is relevant, by derivation, since they are examples of themselves in action– that means the underlying theories of paradigms behind the way they act MUST be applicable, because they are living proof, they are the examples.
I was watching End of Evangelion last night at about 1 in the morning. For those of you who don’t know the series, it’s one of those classics of the North American anime revolution. I don’t know how popular it is in Japan anymore, since the series ended a long time ago, but it was one of the first big production animes ever translated for North American consumption and it played a pivotal role in how I look at the world. It’s one of the first ‘entertainment’ things that I’d seen that really put the core of human existence right there in front of you.
The main character is one Shinji Ikari– a character who I felt, at times, that I held a lot in common with, and at other times, I felt like I really wanted to jump into the screen and kick the shit out of him. Maybe the two instances are actually the same– they do say, and I do often beleive, that what we find to hate most in others is what we secretly hate about ourselves.
Watching End of Evangelion brought back all those memories of where I really started thining about things, about what it is to beleive in something, what it is to have faith in others, or the human race, or even in oneself. It also gave me the sense that yes, people are really screwed up in their heads– in a funny way, it was comforting, because few movies, much less animes, will really dare to present the human mind with any sense of honesty.
Now, I know that a lot of peoplve have actually seen Neon Genesis Evangelion, the series, and they’ve got their opinions of it. But I firmly beleive that, as Borges pointed out, the reading is perhaps as important as the writing– meaning, that I could and have made Evangelion significant to my life by internalizing it and anchoring it in my own experience.
There was a time when someone I knew said that he could understand Shinji, the main character. Shinji’s just a kid, who’s been given this insane task of piloting what is essentiall a giant robot, to save mankind against what are essentially extraterrestrial threats. But, in the head, he’s totally screwed up: he has no mom, he’s scared shitless of his father and yet he longs for his recognition. He has no meaningful relationships with anyone. The people who he does come to care about are also screwed up and dealing with a very complex set of character flaws– or, they simply get killed off. Basically, he’s got about as tough a life as they come.
But what makes matters decidedly more complicated is that Shinji is no hero. We’d be reluctant to even call him the reluctant hero. Time and time again, he demonstrates selfishness and hipocrisy, like a spoiled brat just looking out for his own hide.
But who can blame him? Who can say “God damn it kid, the world needs saving and you’re the only one who can pilot that machine, so go out there and kick ass for us!” Who has the right to demand of him anything? Does the fact that only he can make it his responsability?
Now, it seems to me that external obligations are one thing, and internal ones are another. I have, for example, external obligations to people. At the core though is an internal obligation to myself.
I try to tell people that people should make helping others into something that means helping themselves. But this doesn’t translate… helping oneself is mutually exclusive to helping others, at times. Some people, quite simply and honesty, don’t care about anyone but themselves.
Are they selfish?
And if they are, so what?
I know some people who really, truly, only think about themselves, in the sense that their actions benefit themselves only. They might not steal from someone, they might not get in the way of others or kick people down to get ahead– but they won’t do anything for others. They chose to be ‘introverted’ and seculde thsemselves from the world for whatever reason. It is the person who sees the opportunity for ‘courage’, but choses ‘cowardice’.
But is cowardice really wrong? Who does it hurt?
And is life all about hurt or avoiding hurt anyhow? Who says we have to get anywhere with anything?
Is any of this wrong?
Or perhaps, the very selfishness which I think is theirs is in fact my selfishness, at wanting them to see the world the same way as I do.
Perhaps it is my selfishness that puts me in the same scenario as Shinji, at the End of End of Evangelion– strangling one of the people he loves.
Not that I want to commit murder. But there are times where I do wish I could engage in an action of pure violence. It’s the dark side of me that’s been there since I was young. It is this lingering frustration with the world which is never quite out of my mind– but I know the kinds of moments when the frustration doesn’t hurt, and that’s usuaully at some point where I feel my mind is in oblivion.
Those sorts of moments are few and far between, because they are the points in my life when I am in what one might call an ‘unbalanced’ state of mind.
But who says there has to be a balance? What if one did give into the Dark Side?
This is, after all, my life– isn’t it? Can’t I get to chose what I want to do?
Out of anger, I might shout out “Shinji, you fool!” but really, this assumes I know something he doesn’t. Do I?
I call people like Shinji “S-Types”.
I know more S-Types than I would like to… but they’re not even true S-Types because they’ve not even developed their identities to that.
W-Types are wannabes. The ones who are afraid or too apathetic to develop their own personalities. And by that, I mean that they don’t develop any real feelings for themselves– be it love or hate– they just subscribe to popular templates.
My mind wanders to the saying “Keep it Real”.
An S-Type is a very infuriating person to spend time with. Yet only in an S-Type is there really that possibility of total redemption. The S-Type knows hardship, knows every bad human vice from selfishness to pettiness from the inside out– and that means that if they can turn it around they can be so great.
But an S-Type doesn’t always chose to do this. In fact, they seldom do.
Hope, I think, is about reversals of faith. It has to do with acheiving that which is impossible. People hope for a lot of material things like walking on the moon or making a milion bucks. That’s not really an important sort of hope, if you ask me– the real kind of hope, the most significant kind, has to do with the fundamental 1 or 0 of human nature, that defining yes or no at the root of a person that decides, or is decided by that person, that allows for change.
Change is so important. If it weren’t for change, the concept of hope would be groundless.
But is change necessary?
They say that change or adaptation is necessary to survive. But do we need to survive?
Does anything matter?
Are the unchanging S-Types the greatest fools, or the greatest kings?
Maybe ‘fatalism’ is right.