It'll get too confusing if I continue the trend of responding to each and every statement with a counter. Though it's more thorough, we'll both end up getting lost. Though, Bogatyr, I do appreciate you doing so!
I'll just make a few quick statements, mostly in defense of myself:
Exactly. All about Xenosaga is average. That hardly accounts for such marvelous experience as you implied it was.
Actually, reading your post now, which is far more restrained then the previous ones, I really don't know why you made such a deal about the game. Yourself seem to agree everything smells average and shallow in this game.
Just because something is deep - which Xenosaga isn't, and youself said in the beginning of your post that it is shallow, which confuses me now - it doesn't mean it has to be serious all the time
You've definitely misunderstood me on this point (inference/implication problems). I said that the characters had everyday-style conversations and conflicts (though they're in these inflated fictional settings), and I admitted that some of them may be mediocre. Now, you claim that I've done a 180 and gone from calling Xenosaga an amazing work of art and actually arguing that it is "average" and "shallow." The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
My love for the series comes primarily from its surprising contrasts in who finds humanity worthwhile and who likes to use humanity as toys. Speaking of!!!!
You example of a "Nietszchean" villain is Voldemort?! I take HP is another deep and dense story? You got to be kidding me?! Do you think just because someone thinks along these line: "There are those too weak to attain power, and those who are willing to make sacrifices to hold it" he is an übber Nietszchean character? You think his philosophy was that shallow? You think it all comes down to "there is no good or evil, so everything is allowed, as long as you are willing to do what you must"? Dude, there are all kinds of lowlife, small-time criminals out there who think exactly the same, and they are not in the least Nietszchean".
When I call Voldemort a Nietszchean Villain, I do not mean to say that Voldemort thinks and acts like Nietszche. That's pure nonsense, and that is certainly not what I meant. From the bit of lit. crit. that I've come around, when people talk about "Nietszchean Villains" or "Orwellian Dictators," they're refering to characters from stories written by those authors.
Nietszche himself argues, I believe in his essays Der Wille Zur Macht and/or Jenseits Von Gut und Boese, that a mankind freed from the shackles of religion will produce two generic kinds of people. Guess what those two were? "Those with power, and those too weak to grasp it." Voldemort says this, and hence is a Nietszchean villain. That doesn't mean I think Harry Potter is some immaculate work of art--there's plenty of interesting stuff in it, though I am worried about how it will end (endings mean A LOT in my mind)...but yeah, HP to me is not nearly on the level of depth as Xenosaga.
So do you get my point here? I wasn't even praising the HP series, I was just pointing out that "pop culture" references back to classic statements can help make "pop culture" ... well ... art!
You are right that there are all sorts of lowlife criminals who thought the same way Voldemort did. Nietszche saw that and wrote about it. It's just a part of his writing...not who Nietszche himself was. I know that, you know that, we don't need to argue that.
Dude, to someone to sympathize with Allen, he needs to be a complete and total loser.
Look a-fricking-round. That's the world we live in. I worry that, indeed, you *are* too high and mighty to see the plight of the common man. There are lots of "total loser" guys out there, agreed? And I bet a few of them played this game (don't take the easy jab at me: I'm happily married with a son on the way).
Dude, you said this game had an AMAZING plot, so deep and complex that some "morons" probably couldn't get it and trashed it. I expect a little more other than archetypes - the ones most recurrent even - from such a game.
You should be pleased to know that you're probably fairly more cultured than the writers and cast of the TV show XPlay. I wasn't calling you a moron, as we've established. :)
And Xenosaga certainly does more than dish out archetypes. For starters, it blends and intertwines them in a way that is beautiful in its own way. You seem to have this extreme dislike for modern Japanese pop culture, as though "older" equals "better." It is one more culture, and its blending with these older themes not only make it more palattable to today's audience, but also make a new perspective for us to consider the cultures and religions of the past (and present...not saying any religions are *dead* per se).
Xenosaga, along with the archetypes and their blending, ALSO makes solid use of emerging scientific concepts: ones that go well beyond "popular science." With the dual blessing/curse looming upon us that is genetic engineering, the talk of the intrinsic worth of cloned individuals is another topic WORTH considering. What are *these* creatures worth to us? To God? The novels of the past can't do much to touch on that (Mary Shelley's Frankenstein goes into it a bit, since man creates its own creation there...)...so we needed something for now. I'm sure others have said plenty, but I was startled to see the subject treated so well in the game.
Yes, you can ascribe meaning to all sorts of things, but meanings are dished out in layers of complexity, no doubt about that. So far, games - JRPGs are no exception, quite the opposite - have been in the lowest layers.
A true elitist you are. Though plenty of JRPGs *are* on the lower (dangerous to use superlatives here) layers, I don't think Xenosaga is, for the reasons I've tried to convey. At the end, I think I'm missing it. There was a feeling, an inkling, a premonition, that there is something very "right" about this story. When you beat it, tell me if you share this inkling. It's so hard to describe, I'm probably incapable of doing it without mapping out all my thoughts ahead of time. To me, that suggests the meanings here ARE dished out in layers of complexity, and the layers stack medium-to-high with Xenosaga.
Haha. Ethnocentric little twat? Aren't we getting angry?
Yup. I got angry. Unfortunately, reading the rest of the paragraph, I didn't get much happier...
Well, if Takahashi is any indication, I don't think they can.
Anthropology course? Well, if I wanted to write a book about the theme I surely would; just like this Takahashi fellow should had taken some classes on western religion and philosophy so he would not make a total fool and pretentious "twat" out of himself.
And I am saying some BASIC knowledge, because the intrincacies of one's culture - as you call it - can't be understanded by an alien after a few introduction lessons. I dare say, it can't never be comprehended, unless you spend some long years living with this people to truly know it "wholly".
In his case, and that is truly unfortunate, he lacked even the most basic knowledge, which can be enough to fool some Japaneses who know nothing about it, but when the game reach our shores, it's hard to keep the farce.
No, no, and more no. The fullest, most deep understanding of a culture is certainly only held by those native to it...partially because they are what DEFINE it (I am with the school of, say, Clifford Geertz on the definition of culture). However, even the "armchair anthropologist" who gets his knowledge from books and discussions can pick up plenty of basic knowledge and wield it in a way that is fitting to foreign cultures.
My suspicion (I could be wrong) is that you don't like the Judeo-Christian symbolism particularly because it does stray from an authentic, orthodox understanding. I also suspect that Takahashi was and is well-versed in the now-dead (or renewed in a masked guise) GNOSTIC understanding of Christianity. The third episode, certainly, would assert this. As for Takahashi reading the DaVinci Code, I'd remind you that Takahashi had this whole thing planned out before the book was published.
The man knows absolutely NOTHING about my religion and my culture - maybe he thinks so inside his head.
I could sweep the floor with him. I would gain nothing discussing with him for any ammount of time.
What Takahashi doesn't know is merely your perspective on your religion and culture. What he DOES know is factual history and plenty of literature on the subject. That goes a very long way, whether you'd like it to or not.
I think the difference between us is that you believe Voldemort is the utmost Nietszchean villain, and I take this for the BS this is.
Contribute to the betterment of humanity? You are on drugs dude.
I didn't call Voldemort the utmost Nietszchean Villain, quit putting words into my mouth. As for contributing to the betterment of humanity, I cite an oft-quoted motto from Episode III: A single human thought can change the course of history. Unless you're a fatalist, it's probably a worthwhile statement. As for being on drugs? Yeah, I'm on happy-pills (Paxil, Xanax, whatnot) because I had a nervous breakdown near the end of college. I hated taking them because I thought it made me weak-willed. And maybe I am weak-willed, and maybe I only think this game's amazing because I have some glossy sugar-coated perspective of the world now. But I'd LIKE to think I find Xenosaga to be an amazing game because, despite its "awkward" bend of JPop Culture and religion/philosophy, it has a strong truthful statement about the nature of humanity and the universe that many other stories don't even dare to tackle. I don't think it's pretentious: I simply think it is good.
Well, besides the obvious fallacious nature of your "point", let me assure you why games won't ever be pieces of art, in the manner of the ones mentioned above: It is a huge industry, concerned solely about making money. First aim is to make money, second - far behind - is to pass on a message, maybe, if "we are really inspired to do so". None of the great geniuses had making money as their priority, meaning their pieces was 100% genuine. The message was the one and only aim.
Ain't that ironic that the game we are discussing is a winner example for my point? What happened between the development of the first and the second game? In fighting, money vs creativity. Do I need to say how it all ended, and who had the last word on it?
You're right, it's an industry, and it is a SHAME that money was the last word on how this series played out. But the man behind it all, Tetsuya Takahashi, was clearly *not* interested in the money, but rather his story-telling. I think that may be why I find so much more in Xenosaga than I do in most RPGs.
So, leave your illusions aside and wake up to reality.
No. I refuse. Your reality sucks because it doesn't give anyone a chance to find the good in what may be quickly tossed aside as garbage.
So you need to offer me more to convince me games are as much art as literature is. Otherwise, you just have a half assed sophism, which can be easily twisted to prove many other things.
Okay, fine. How about this: I don't think the content (and, more importantly, the meta-message) of Xenosaga is made to simply construe a point that seems veracious but is ACTUALLY just twisted crap. This isn't propaganda, nor is it a persuasive sophist speech. Finish the series and see what I mean. As an Orthodox Christian, you'll likely agree that the nature of the entire story is "true" within your worldview.
This, of course, is only what makes it capable of impacting how others think...and helping them see things "rightly" may only be one such bonus. I still argue that if literature is a form of art, than videogames, or at least their scripts, may be added to the ranks as "art" for the same reasons.
Books basically. Or my Churchs theology. Those are my sources. You want me to list all of them? I mostly read Russian literature, but I am not all that much ignorant on western classics either. That should give you a fair idea.
It certainly does. I have plenty of in-person and online-only acquaintances who are Orthodox Christians. Nearly all of them show your level of intelligence, but you are the first to be so keen on stubbornly arguing against the things I've had to say. Dare I say it...I respect that about you a lot.
Other than the standard Dostoyevsky that's required reading in many colleges today, I haven't read much Russian Lit. Orthodox Christian theology, on the other hand, is something I love, though I still struggle to understand it compared to any other sect of Christianity. I've found myself strongly attracted to Catholicism, though I remain Evangelical Protestant.
Well, I screwed up. I ended up responding to each one of your statements (pretty much), though I said I planned not to. Looks like it's egg on my face now.
With all this writing and thinking, I'd like to see you submit a reader review (or heck, apply to staff if you like talking about videogames a lot) to counter my Xenosaga III review (which will be up any day now). You can pull me off my high horse and expose the Xenosaga series for the "pretentious" show it really is. Go ahead, do it. Most people will probably agree with you anyway. I still stand by my claims, and my extremely high scores I gave it.