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Author Topic: Xenosaga Episode III: Also Sprach Zarathustra  (Read 30344 times)
Ramza
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« Reply #135 on: October 12, 2006, 02:21:51 AM »

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The Japanese really don't understand Christianity.


Demifiend,

add yourself as part of the audience for the rant I posted above:

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*takes in a deep breath* ... *exhales the breath and prepares for a sermon filled with curse words*

Go take an introductory anthropology course, asshole. Who in God's good and holy name are YOU to suggest that a Japanese person is unable to comprehend the intricacies of Judaism, Christianity, or any other Western religion? You ethnocentric little twat! Get some brains and come back when you're ready to talk sensibly!


Let me reiterate:

all because someone grew up in another culture, that doesn't mean they cannot take the time to study it. It seems to me that Takahashi's understanding of Judeo-Christianity is far beyond the "Evangelion lite" many chalk it up to be. The deeper theme of sacrifice and redemption is written ALL OVER Xenosaga (whereas it's hardly found in Evangelion)...basically, as one who has steeped himself in Western religion since day one, I think it's safe to say that I can judge Tetsuya Takahashi as one who "gets it."

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« Reply #136 on: October 12, 2006, 10:58:39 AM »

Wow, what a rant. But I agree. While videogames are entertainment, it doesn't mean that they can't be a spring board for great discussion. I mean, movies and plays are entertainment as well, and people devot their lives to discussing the meaning behind simple plays.
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« Reply #137 on: October 12, 2006, 04:38:42 PM »

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It certainly would be. That's why I said:

Which is why YOU said:

So I don't know what that final jab in your last post was all about...


I was just raising a possibility, which we both agree it seems.


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Anyway, that's great that you think you're above a "videogame" attempt at depth. What Xenosaga does is take normal, even shallow characters, with their own sets of motives and wills, and meshes them into a plot that looks not entirely different from what we see today.


You see, I could agree with that, I really could, but that's a totally different discourse than your previous "OMG, that's an amazing game, the plot is just so deep and marvelous, you can't belive, you will see when I write my review!"
Yes, Xenosaga is full of normal, shallow characters, with a plot that is not really groundbreaking, albeit interesting for the fact it is built upon misteries, which always make people wanting more.

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Certainly there is *nothing* groundbreaking about any statement or character revelation in the entirety of Xenosaga. Xenosaga is built on history, culture, art, philosophy, and religion. It is a collection of allusions (not ILLusions, ALLusions) with the framework of an average Sci-Fi story.


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.
I am not a Sci-Fi digger, admittedly, but the little I know about other Sci-Fi works, there is hardly as much nonsensical symbolisms as does Xenosaga, which I think it's totally uncalled for, considering how little they know western religion, culture and philosophy, and the little they do "know", seems a bit skewed.

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Let's take a look at your criticisms:


Let's begin with the obvious jab: thank God you're not the one writing scripts for any videogames. I don't even know what the first semicolon is there for, as the two sentences don't seem to have any common ground.


I don't know what that has to do with anything, and I don't feel like justifying myself.

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Now then, let's break this bit of stream-of-consciousness complaint down into pieces and consider what it is you have in mind:


Refer back to the quoted definition of "pretentious." You're using the word well out of context. The player is not made to assume that Shion's strained relationship with Jin is some all-powerful, all-consuming force that drives the story. It's one element of the story.


You really don't seem to understand it. Let me make it clearer. Something which tries to be deep and profound, but falls flat, is certainly pretentious.
I don't know where did you get this idea of all-powerful, all-consuming, but that's certainly not the use I have in my mind for saying it is pretentious.

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You may not like the way in which it is executed, but it captures one of the more fundamental problems of human nature: sibling rivalry. This part of the storyline is not meant to be some incredible display of human depth or emotion; rather, it exists to help further along character development. The reasons for their strained relationship are fleshed out in the final chapter, by the way, and the situation is resolved in a way that is definitely moving, to say the least. This isn't your typical soap opera, the sort of thing that one *may* be qualified to call "pretentious."


Exactly. I don't like it's execution. And you mentioned an important detail,  which is what makes it pretentious: it is supposed to be an attempt of touching "one of the more fundamental problems of human nature: sibling rivalry." Don't you think that's pretentious? I mean, sometimes there is a thin line that separates pretentiousness from talent, and that's exactly the successfulness - or in this case utterly failure.
Let me break down this even more to you, when you try to dwell on "one of the more fundamental problems of human nature." you are either a genious if you do it right, or you are just another pretentious guy full of yourself if you do it utterly wrong.
Considering I don't like it's execution, AT ALL, it's pretty clear in which side of the border I think this game is.

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You're the one who tacked on the idea that these human emotions are "profound," not the creators of the game. Indeed, they are the stuff of everyday life. The difference between this game and most others that emphasize story is that this game has a plot that considers the *worth* of these everyday "common sense and cliché" events...are they even worth having around? Is humanity worthy of existing if all it amounts to are these consumerists with sentimental drivel leaking out of their lips? It's a very important question to consider, and not at all pretentious!


I think Albedo and Rubedo relationship is what I had on my mind when I wrote this. Unless you want me to say this is "everyday life"? You must live in a truly exciting place if so.
Regardless, I don't think this game does anything different - except for going farther, at least it tries to. There are many other games doing the exact same thing; maybe not for brother and sister, but for father and son, friends and the like. I don't know where you see all this difference.
Dude, you actually considered if humanity is worthy of existing playing Xenosaga? Fuck, maybe I need to recommend a few literature pieces to you. ;)

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It's Allen, and "that robot maker" is Kevin (just to clear up who I'm about to talk about...). The substory regarding Shion and her two possible mates (Kevin, who supposedly died, and Allen, who is exhorbitantly effeminate and bashful) is not within itself something that should make you think about the meaning of life. This argument is essentially a non-sequiter and otherwise nonsense. That wasn't the point of my statement, nor does it follow any sound line of argument.


You miss the point. Just saying how Xenosaga can be stupid and nonsensical, and these characters are some examples - out of many. My point? I don't really think they fit in a game which tries so hard to be insightful in so many important issues such as religion and philosophy. Classical western culture and japanese POP culture just don't mesh quite right; the result? Xenosaga.


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The purpose of the little love triangle, again, fleshes itself out in the third title. Up until then, I too was annoyed to death by Allen; he, however, becomes a major player by the end, and is someone with whom many "underdogs" and "hopeless romantics" may sympathize. And, there's nothing wrong with that. As for Kevin, his story alone is worth checking into; he holds an interesting past.


I really worry about Allen being a major character in the next game, but I will try to approach it with no prejudice on my mind.
Dude, to someone to sympathize with Allen, he needs to be a complete and total loser.

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All because the game is deep doesn't mean all the characters have to be scholars. Jr. represents raw aggression: the kind of kid who will shoot first and ask questions later. As a person, he too plays an important role in the tale that Takahashi weaves. That doesn't mean Jr. has to sound like frickin' Nietszche himself! (indeed, Nietszche is quoted more often by the villains, including Margulis in the first episode and Wilhelm throughout the series).


What I said before: this mixing just don't sound too right. 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. Hell, I think LOTR is pretty deep - don't take me wrong, not dense as in utterly philosophical, but the discussion isn't about Tolkien - but yet there is a lot soft and mellow moments. However, Jr is just, well, POP. Angry POP kids just don't combine with a "nietszchean" plot. Maybe if the Japanese developers would not try - ALWAYS - to make POP culture references, insert comic relief characters and moments - which seldom are not out of place and forced - I would take the games supposed to be deep more seriously.

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Giving up, are we? Let me rattle off some not-so-stupid characters, and why I think they aren't stupid.


Not quite. Want me to mention them all? Well, some off the top of my head: Jr; Allen; the robot maker and his assist; some other villain - first game -I forgot the name. That's more than you gave me - good characters I mean - and you have just played the game.

I won't quote everything you have written about the characters to not take too much space, but what I have to say encompass all of them: I don't think any of them are stupid, but they don't impress me either. Ziggy is the only one I think is above average.

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Note that very few of these character bios make them sound like "original" concepts. In our day and age, it's very difficult to invent ANYTHING truly original (assuming you're a Christian, which it seems you would be based on your post, you should know this: Ecclesiastes claims there is nothing new under the sun). What makes these characters so wonderful is what they say, what they choose to do, and what they are forced to experience in Takahashi's fictional realm.


That I have to agree with, I just don't think they are so wonderful.

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Well, that's great that you can feel free to label the references as "nonsensical" and "confusing," but until you take the time to flesh out what it is that makes them nonsensical or confusing, your point is invalid.


Well, maybe they can make some sense in the end - I will only know next  year anyway - but still they are just a bunch of symbolisms which range from a misconcepted view of Christianity, a poor knowledge of Nietszche philosophy, and japanese POP culture elements. Ain't that a great mixing?
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As a pre-emptive strike, here's a look at what makes the religious and philosophical references of Xenosaga TRULY deep and worthwhile for the thinking person:


I read line after line of your coded message to avoid any spoilers, and I got as far as the HP reference - gladly nothing was spoiled to me - but WTF?! 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". If you are willing to read something a little more dense than HP, I advise you to check on Kirillov, which can be found on "Demons" or "The Possessed" - original Biesi. Dostoievsky book. He is THE Nietszche character - and he is not a villain for the record; I don't know why people associate Nietszchean characters with villains necessarily. Oh, by the way, this character came before Nietszche, and it is no secret he - Kirillov - was a major source of influence on Nietszche works later on, actually, he shaped his views on God and the like.


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Let's look further at what you said!


No, I won't give you a break. Those lines are not a revolutionary display of human feelings, and I never said they were. They are a display of human feelings, but they are certainly not revolutionary: nor are they meant to be. Jr.'s anger, if you weren't following, is generally roused by the villains to unleash a "Red Dragon" wave within Jr. that can be used for all sorts of lovely destructive purposes. The real-life application here is that allowing yourself to go out-of-control may make you more powerful, but when you are not in control of your own will, someone else may freely make use of you with their own will. It's a common lesson, but it doesn't hurt to have it as a lesson within Xenosaga...does it?


I already said above everything I had to about Jr. For the last time, if a game is advertised as a deep story worthy of Nietszche's philosophy, I don't expect to see characters such as Jr. within it, full of his "I hate you lines".
I call that false advertising, or in the least a pretentious attempt to draw people into the game.

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It's not a groundbreaking theme. It's an archetype. We see it in Pinocchio and plenty of stories before that as well. Is there a problem with Monolith Soft using this archetype to help the storyline move into even more interesting territory? (I am refering to what happens in XS3 here...).


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.

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Generally, people who do find it are looking for it. I confess, I'm one of them. You can find meaning (or ascribe meaning) to all sorts of things. Even if you don't like to do it, it's probably good for any person to try it as an exercise in thought and...dare I say it...belief.


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.

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*takes in a deep breath* ... *exhales the breath and prepares for a sermon filled with curse words*

Go take an introductory anthropology course, asshole. Who in God's good and holy name are YOU to suggest that a Japanese person is unable to comprehend the intricacies of Judaism, Christianity, or any other Western religion? You ethnocentric little twat! Get some brains and come back when you're ready to talk sensibly!


Haha. Ethnocentric little twat? Aren't we getting angry? 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.

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Who is Tetsuya Takahashi? Well, Tetsuya Takahashi was a former Square employee who started in graphics (for SNES titles including FFV, FFVI, Seiken Densetsu 3, and Chrono Trigger), but eventually caught a break and created Xenogears. He then went on to found Monolith Soft and did created the Xenosaga series. (source: wikipedia).


That's not what I asked. I did not ask for his biography. I want to know what makes him an "expert" in western culture. Maybe he have read Davince Code and decided he knows a lot on Christianity.

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As for Takahashi's knowledge of religion and philosophy, I only wish I had the resources to pay for the flights so that the two of you could meet and discuss things, because I'm sure the man knows a hell of a lot more than you do.


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.


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And HERE surfaces the fundamental difference between you and me. You believe games can and should ONLY entertain. They are essentially time-killers. They cannot contribute to the betterment of humanity, and they sure as hell shouldn't be called "art", right? Well here's my take on it:


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.
And yes, I already said that before, when games start to bear some "philosophical" - let's put it that way - meaning, worthy being parallelize with the highest forms of literature pieces, then maybe they can be regarded as "art". Till then, they are purely entertainment and time killers.
Contribute to the betterment of humanity? You are on drugs dude.


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Videogames, particularly RPGs, have text. You know, writing? Though different from a book, these videogames can and do tell stories. Many a non-fiction writer has pointed out that some of the strongest points, some of the best arguments, are made better through a work of fiction than by some sort of philosophical diatribe. David Hume wrote fictional dialogues, Camus presented his philosophy through very depressing novels, and our old pal Nietszche was certainly fond of switching (without warning) between himself as the speaker and some fictional "other" as the speaker.


Yes, and I take this Takahashi genius is the modern day Camus, Hume or Nietszche, and his Xenosaga tale is the modern day "The Stranger"; "A Treatise of Human Nature"; and "Beyond Good and Evil" respectively, right? Bwhahahaahahahahhaahahahaha!
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?
So, leave your illusions aside and wake up to reality.

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If a story can impact the way others think, and if literature can be considered art, so too can videogames encompass this feature. The presentation of a story is only one facet to a videogame, which is a multi-faced multimedia experience, covering not only the realm of literature, but also fine art (graphics), music, and tactile stimulation (the controller in your hands). If all of this is created and used only to entertain, then we are all going to hell in a handbasket. You sound like Cipher from the Matrix, you know? Just give me a good time while I'm alive so I don't have to think about how shitty my life really is. I can only pray that videogames (particularly RPGs) will be seen as something more than sheer escapism by our descendants.


Read above. Till that happens - which ain't very likely - this is just one more sophism.
You see, anything can be true when supported by a well constructed discourse - I am not playing with relativity here, I don't believe in it, I am just saying anything can look veracious, not that are many "truths" out there. And your point is not that much articulate anyway. Let's see, you said games can change the way people think - it never happened with anyone that I know, but that's beyond the point - and that's the sole common ground it has with literature, but that alone is enough to equalise both as art.
You see, a good speech can make one change his views much more likely than video games. Is Speech an art? Before you say it is, it is not, it is a technique, which is a whole different thing.
Even gestures can make one reconsider some things, and gesture is not art either.
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.
I don't fucking know who "Cypher" is, and I don't know where did you get this idea about my "philosophy of life". So far, the only thing you can assume for sure is that I don't look for the meaning of existence in video games.

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Pleasure is the ultimate goal, then? (If only I could enjoy his books more!!) There's a weighty question for you. Maybe Salvatore's skewed vision on good and evil *aren't* worthwhile, but Salvatore is just one man. I don't have much experience with his work anyway, but I think it's safe to say that you present yourself as more of a refined hedonist than one who has genuine respect or understanding of the arts.


More wrong assumptions. I am not a hedonist. I am an Orthodox Christian, and both are mutually exclusive.
I read Salvatore's books because I like fantasy, period. To have some fun, yes. But when he starts his lectures I cease having fun, it's pretty simple.
That makes me a hedonist? Hell no. Entertainment is part of life, so when I feel like having a bit of fun, I will do something that I like. When I want to think about the meaning of existence, or about other very important issues, then I look for something a little more weighty then Salvatore or Xenosaga.
What is enough to entertain one is not necessarily enough to make one think.
Pleasure is the ultimate goal in life? Damn no! Is pleasure the ultimate goal in Salvatore books and in games? Yes.

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(Surely, that's quite a bold assertion to make, given I only know you from a few rambling paragraphs made against one particular videogame. But, should you want to prove me wrong, go ahead!)


Yes, pretty bold and untrue.

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A final question for you:

List them, and tell me what makes them superior, to say, Xenosaga, which is essentially a story written by a fairly intelligent Japanese man and then incorporated into a videogame which has its own elements of strategy and puzzle-solving.


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.
Maybe this guy is intelligent, don't know really, but intelligence does not accounts for knowledge, necessarily.
I can appreciate his work as it is meant to be, a piece of entertainmet. If it has an engaging story, puzzle-solving, good gameplay mechanics, all the better.

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And indeed, I never said anything about Xenosaga aiding you in DETERMINING the meaning of your existence. Certainly, I would hope I'm not saying that the meaning of life can be found by playing Xenosaga. Far from it. But it certainly does stimulate us to ponder the question, and it perenially reminds us that, however much despair we face, it IS a question worth asking from time to time!


More than anything, I think it is a matter of knowing where to look for. Maybe Xenosaga can raise a few questions - it did for you, it does not for me - but the fact of the matter is, I play it to have fun. There are other sources to look for it.

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Unless you take time to answer me coherently, I think we can all assume that I take your low opinion of the series far more seriously than you would like me to. In the end, I'd still say that it's egg on your face for making plenty of poorly supported statements.


Well, I took the time and did. I shouldn't, but I can't resist.
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OMFG I'm in a message board argument guyz! That means it HAS to degrade into a flame war and never get us anywhere! (oh wait...behind the computer we're all still people...let's have this mean something, k?).


I don't intend to turn anything into a flame war.
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Eusis
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« Reply #138 on: October 12, 2006, 04:42:43 PM »

... My god, what a gargantuan mess this is. I only saw the size of the posts (and the pre-requiste 'japanese can't do Western Religions justice' bit). I'll thoroughly read through that stuff after I get and beat the game. Personally, I don't go into a game expecting deep meaning or for it to be thought provoking, but if it can deliever, than that's good. Also, I was expecting Xenosaga to get a bit silly with religious symbolism after playing through the first two parts.
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« Reply #139 on: October 12, 2006, 05:01:11 PM »

It'd be funny if nobody bothered to read what he wrote and it all went to waste.
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« Reply #140 on: October 12, 2006, 05:06:22 PM »

Quote from: "Leyviur"
It'd be funny if nobody bothered to read what he wrote and it all went to waste.


You have a point. But I am assuming at least Ramza will, considering he asked me to do so.
Anyway, writing something down is not a total waste of time, even if no one reads it.
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Ramza
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« Reply #141 on: October 13, 2006, 02:15:35 AM »

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:

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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.


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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!!!!

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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...

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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.

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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.



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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.

Ramza
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« Reply #142 on: October 13, 2006, 02:46:36 AM »

It would all be so simple, if we just could agree that Xenosaga Episode III is a game, nothing more, nothing less. I did not bother to read the last few pages of this thread in their entity, but I'm wondering, why you just can't let Pat (Ramza) enjoy the game. Damian apparently enjoyed it as well and odds are I will probably like it too, once I get around to play my Japanese version. That's called opinion. If you don't like it, fine, you are entitled to your opinion as well, but can't you just accept that another person has a different take on this damn game.
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« Reply #143 on: October 13, 2006, 02:57:39 AM »

I thought Ramza was pretty much on track, I just didn't appreciate him calling Bogatyr (and by extension, me it seems) a twat, even though I strongly disagree with his perspective on the series. My thing was that it seems like the Japanese don't seem to get Christianity all that well, or if they do, then I wonder why God is always represented as either the archenemy of humanity (Shin Megami Tensei), or some nebulous, non-thinking entity (Xenosagagears). It just seems like they think the elements are "cool" and use them as props. While it doesn't really offend me, it certainly seems like they are digging into the more esoteric parts of a religion that they don't share, and it frequently comes off as weird and convoluted. And distinctly Japanese. I don't see Christianity in such complicated terms when western writers use it, even if they put it in a less-than-favorable light.
By the way, those two game series are my favorites ever put on consoles.
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« Reply #144 on: October 13, 2006, 02:13:44 PM »

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It would all be so simple, if we just could agree that Xenosaga Episode III is a game, nothing more, nothing less. I did not bother to read the last few pages of this thread in their entity, but I'm wondering, why you just can't let Pat (Ramza) enjoy the game.


Well I think the biggest problem may be that I've gone and called the game "art"...that it is more than "just a game," because it's *that* good and very different from what I'm used to in a game.

So...I think that's why people are arguing with me. It's possible that I'm in the wrong, but so far I still think I could have a valid point here. :)

Ramza

PS - sorry for the word "twat"...I usually don't get that upset...it's just that I think it's very important that we don't think other people can't "get" us because they're different. I think, in their writing, it's what they choose to display as what gets us. They do it to be interesting, and the fact that they generally don't allow God to be a *good* sentient being...I dunno...but I guess that's a good point (though Romancing SaGa has God as good and sentient! Great conversation you can have with him at the end of the game!).
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« Reply #145 on: October 14, 2006, 09:26:34 PM »

Potential Soilers Ahead, Stay the Fuck Out

The real question is: Is this Christian, or is it much, much broader than that? I'm leaning to the latter.

Now, I'm not going to go into whether or not Takahashi and co. have any profound insights into Christianity, or whether they understand it. Not important, not valid, doesn't make this any more or less than it is, because you can get the Jesus story out of Chrono Trigger, has some people have shown.

But I don't feel Xenosaga is a "Christian" story, nor does it concern itself exclusively with Christian mythology. Things like Ormus are clearly Persian. Zohar has nothing to do with Christianity as a whole, largely because as a collection of books, it wasn't brought to light until the 13th century CE, nor does its authorship claim to be any older than the 2nd century. As such, while it may precede formal Christianity in terms of a wholly organised and thriving Church, it certainly exists after the alleged period of Christian founding, making it a wholly Judaic teaching with no connections to Christianity whatsoever.

Most of the references made are Old Testament, which may be construed as either Jewish or Christian, but lean more towards the former. The general brutality with which the story is told is also lifted, I feel, from the spirit of the Old Testament, regarding "God's Wrath" and so forth as themes which are frequently questioned in the story. Shion's conversation with Kevin on whether humanity should exist or not as per the universal will seems to be an allusion to this.

There are also plenty of Buddhist references present, such as Margulis' skills being named for various Bodhisattvas. Aizen Magus himself bears the name of a popular Bodhisattva of love, omitting the surname of course. Kukai Foundation is a reference to Kobo Daishi, whose real name was Kukai and the founder of Shingon (re: Esoteric) Buddhism in Japan. Even the Kukai Foundation's headquarters looks like a white lotus blossom, a recurring symbol of Buddhist and Hindu schools of thought. Jin himself is quite obviously a Buddhist, or possibly a form of Taoist (though I'm leaning towards the former, given the whole connection to Margulis).

Further, KOS-MOS, chaos, T-elos; these are all references to classical Greek thought and mythos. I'm unfortunately not that well versed in this field, but I'm fairly sure that KOS-MOS refers to "order", chaos to "discord", or similar terms, and Telos to "purpose". Where kosmos represents a spiritual truth, Telos represents existentialism, and chaos would represent resolution (the nature of chaos defined by the Greeks, although meaning discord, does not necessarily place it as a popular opposite of cosmos, but just as another primal force in the universe). Again, anyone who cares to elaborate or correct me on this is welcome. I'm just not that well read.

So really, the whole bickering about Christian vs non-Christian, whether Takahashi and co. "get it" or not is pointless. It's not a Christian tale, it does not use wholly Christian iconography or mythos, and it draws on a source much larger than that. The overall pool seems to be monotheism in general, although the Buddhist and Greek influence does step outside of this. It may just be buzzwords and abused mythos, but at least it's being used in an interesting fashion.

Edit: I also came across a comparison for the UMN. The Hindu concept of Akasha, of universal memory is comparable. The UMN records everything that has ever happened since creation began. The same is applied to Akasha, although I think it goes a bit deeper than that.
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« Reply #146 on: October 15, 2006, 12:41:03 PM »

Ramza,

Sorry, have been busy. You are right, we have already messed up the topic too much, so I won't give you a new full lenghty reply, just make some points.
First of all, I can agree with your new post a lot more than the previous ones, just some observations:
I really don't think "outsiders" can fully grasp another one's Culture. I say this out of personal experience, considering the ammount of total crap I have read from westerns about my people and our Culture is just overwhelming, and I don't mean average joe six pack here, I mean intellectuals. Take for instance Oswald's Spengler Decline of the West. He was brilliant, a genius, no doubt much more intelligent and cultured than anyone around here, but yet he just fails wholly trying to preach who we are. He says a lot of common place nonsense, which might make some sense in the eyes of a western, but it just isn't true for someone who knows from the inside. I dare say that one of our humble peasants wouldn't be so inaccurate. Let me re empathize Spengler was way above average, and was not entirely ignorant on our Culture - that's not the point - but he missed just the most important. Call it a blood, cultural, spiritual link, or whatever, but I do think it does exists, and it can't never be replaced. But I guess if you want we could discuss this in another thread in another forum session.
More in-topic though, let me say I did enjoy the first game of the series a lot, and thought the second one kinda boring, and I am expecting the third one to be more like the first one, so I am not a series hater. I like the game, I just don't think it's art.
Regarding the importance of games, for the reasons I have mentioned I doubt it can ever be as meaninful as books are, but let me say - maybe I was misunderstood, or just failed to mention it before - I do think a game can make one emotional, and I do think it can make one think, albeit more in the context of the game itself, or maybe consider some other minor "question" - for lack of a better word - I just don't think it can really change the way someone looks into life, or shake one's belief.
Yes, you are right, I am an elitist, I can't argue that point.
As for writing a review, I could never do, as I lack the proper technical knowledge, and would just make a totally amateur thing.
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« Reply #147 on: October 15, 2006, 02:09:41 PM »

While to some extent I believe that everyone has a national link to culture on a spiritual and/or psychological level, to assume it is only your own and that it isn't shared with other nations seems to me a serious oversight.

Every so often I run into someone who'll ask me about my culture as a Canadian. I define it as best I can using terms like "peaceful", "agreeable", and "multi-ethnic", and move on. I live in a highly shared culture, that while different from say, American culture, is still similar in that it has shared values. This is not so true as you head East (or West, depending on where you consider things), but there is always the sign of foreign incorporation.

Chinese culture is part of my heritage. I feel strong connections to some of it, yet I know that while we call it "Chinese", it isn't just that. Who exactly /are/ the Chinese? Han? Hmong? Jurchens? Each of these subgroups has added to the larger whole. There's even a sharing with Turkish culture from back in the T'ang dynasty (8th century) seeing as Emperor Li Shih Min was half Turkish.

So really, how much of one's culture is influenced by another's? It stands to reason that anyone can learn and be part of another person's culture, and adopt that same spiritual/psychological link if it lies in their emotional state. Will it be utterly the same? Not necessarily. You carry part of your traditions with you, no matter what. That much is true. Still what about a Chinese-Indonesian living in Holland? Are they still connected to their own culture, or having been raised in the Netherlands, are they now more adjusted to that culture? Where does the connection really lie?

I don't believe that there are "outsiders". I think that term is incredibly racist and the antithesis of what really goes on. Culture is being shared all the time, people are being influenced by each other all the time. I don't expect the average Nigerian to "get" Canadian culture, but I think he could if he wanted to.
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« Reply #148 on: October 15, 2006, 05:57:09 PM »

With all due honest, I don't worry myself with being PC, if the term sounds "racist", I can do nothing about it. That's the way I see, I could say aliens, outsiders, foreigners, they all mean the same, and if telling the truth makes one "racist", well, what can I do?
Anyway, I don't know enough about China, I don't really care about how it is in Netherlands, but I do know how things are in my own Nation, and I stand 100% by everything I have said. I know my position "offends" a lot of people, but I do have a lot of experience to affirm foreigners, aliens, outsiders - whatever you wanna call them - can't fully grasp our Culture and people.
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« Reply #149 on: October 15, 2006, 06:30:48 PM »

Heh... What country are you from anyhow? I betcha if you look into your history, you'll find a shared culture. Even isolated islands like Japan have a shared culture at one time or another that utterly defies what you're saying.
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