A GPT-4 conversation about NGE
Spoiler warning for Neon Genesis Evangelion stop reading if you've not watched the show, and don't want anything spoiled, this conversation takes place after a viewing of the show, and so discusses specific details.
I'm currently underwhelmed by the LMMs, they're neat parlor tricks, but I always seem to hit a wall, they're confident idiots, the most dangerous kind.. A glorified search engine at best.. But I digress, I'm actually interested in them, as potential, future tools for thought, as assistant brains, who know everything and is a million times smarter than me, to help me think better!
By now I hope to have convinced you that I'm not trying to sell you on GPT, yet anyway, and I'm not terribly impressed by what I've seen so far (this conversation included).
I recently re-watched Neon Genesis Evangelion, and episodes 25 and 26 are always a bit hard for me to understand. I've somewhat given up on the idea that they can truly be understood, but lot's of people have tried. I find them valuable additions to the events we see in End of Evangelion, I don't think they should be skipped, and I don't think they should stand alone either.
Having just seen the "original" show (+ End of Evangelion) It thought it might be interesting to see what GPT-4 could tell me, there is, after all, a lot written on the show. While it's repeating itself all the time (just like me!) which makes for sometimes dry reading, I did find the conversation enjoyable, and it even managed to clarify a few things for me, and correct at least one false assumption (near the end of the conversation).
Generally, the conversation leads me to believe that I've gotten a good understanding of NGE, then again, I have my doubts as to how much my leading questions influenced the answers, so it might be that it simply looks like I understand it because GPT is telling me what I want to hear? One of the flaws of the technology in its present form, I don't KNOW when it's just making things up, I guess we should assume that it always does, but just so happens to also get it right once in a while.. Then again, that's probably not too far from how humans do it? I guess I want my AI to be able to speculate, and also be aware when it does.
Without further ado, here's the coversation, terse as it is:
How much do you know about the anime show Neon Genesis Evangelion and the philosophy within it ?
Neon Genesis Evangelion is a critically acclaimed anime series created by Hideaki Anno and produced by Gainax. It originally aired between 1995 and 1996, and has since been followed by multiple adaptations, including films and manga. The show is famous for its exploration of complex themes, including psychological trauma, depression, and the nature of human existence, as well as its use of religious symbolism and philosophical references.
The show is set in a post-apocalyptic world where teenagers pilot giant robots called Evangelions to combat monstrous beings known as Angels. However, the series is not just a typical mecha action show; it delves into the inner struggles and emotional turmoil of its characters, making it a deeply psychological and philosophical work.
Here are some philosophical elements and themes present in Neon Genesis Evangelion:
- Existentialism: The show explores existential themes such as the search for meaning in life, the nature of existence, and individualism. Characters struggle to find their purpose and cope with feelings of alienation, which mirrors the human condition.
- Freudian psychoanalysis: The series incorporates ideas from Sigmund Freud's theories, particularly the concepts of the id, ego, and superego. Characters' personalities and relationships reflect these concepts, as well as the idea of the "Oedipus complex" and other aspects of psychoanalysis.
- Hedgehog's Dilemma: A recurring theme in the show is the Hedgehog's Dilemma, which is a metaphor for the challenges of human intimacy. It represents the idea that people want to be close to others but fear getting hurt, like hedgehogs who want to huddle together for warmth but risk injuring each other with their sharp quills. This dilemma is at the core of many characters' struggles to connect with others.
- Religious symbolism: The series incorporates various religious symbols and themes, primarily from Christianity and Kabbalah. While some of these references have thematic significance, others may serve as aesthetic elements without deeper meaning. Nevertheless, they contribute to the show's enigmatic atmosphere.
- Instrumentality: One of the central plotlines revolves around the "Human Instrumentality Project," a plan to merge all human consciousness into a single entity, transcending individuality and eliminating pain and loneliness. This concept touches on ideas related to collectivism, self-actualization, and the nature of individual consciousness.
While these themes are an integral part of Neon Genesis Evangelion, the show is also known for its dense, often cryptic storytelling, leaving ample room for interpretation. As a result, viewers' understanding and appreciation of the series' philosophical elements may vary depending on their own perspectives and experiences.
Summarize the last two episodes
The last two episodes of the original Neon Genesis Evangelion series (episodes 25 and 26) are a significant departure from the earlier episodes in terms of storytelling and presentation. Instead of continuing the plot in a linear fashion, the episodes delve into the psychological states of the main characters—Shinji Ikari, Rei Ayanami, Asuka Langley Soryu, and Misato Katsuragi—as they undergo the Human Instrumentality Project.
Episode 25, titled "Do you love me?", primarily focuses on the internal struggles of the characters as they confront their deepest fears, insecurities, and traumas. They are subjected to a series of introspective dialogues and abstract visual sequences. These explorations reveal the core issues that have plagued the characters throughout the series, such as their desires for validation, feelings of abandonment, and difficulties forming genuine connections with others.
Episode 26, titled "Take care of yourself.", continues the psychological exploration and presents an alternate reality where the characters lead normal lives without Evangelions or Angels. This alternate reality highlights the potential for personal growth and the importance of self-acceptance. In the end, Shinji is able to come to terms with his existence and embraces his individuality. He realizes that his reality and self-worth are shaped by his own perceptions and choices. The series concludes with the other characters applauding Shinji, congratulating him for finding his own path and affirming his decision to accept himself.
These episodes have been the subject of much debate among fans due to their unconventional and highly abstract nature. While some appreciate the psychological focus and the exploration of the characters' inner worlds, others find the episodes confusing and unsatisfying as a conclusion to the series. In response to this mixed reception, Hideaki Anno and Gainax later released the film "The End of Evangelion," which provides an alternate ending to the series that is more in line with the earlier episodes' narrative style.
So, when Shinji finally comes to terms, is that because he cease to exist as an individual as the instrumentality completes or does instrumentality ultimately fail and leave him as an individual ?
In the original TV series ending (episodes 25 and 26), the focus is primarily on Shinji's psychological journey and self-discovery. The outcome of the Human Instrumentality Project is not explicitly shown or addressed. However, the conclusion suggests that Shinji, by accepting himself and embracing his individuality, has chosen to reject the idea of Instrumentality, affirming the importance of individual existence.
In "The End of Evangelion," the alternate ending provided by the film, the outcome of the Human Instrumentality Project is depicted more explicitly. Instrumentality is initiated, and all human beings are merged into a single collective consciousness called LCL. However, Shinji ultimately rejects Instrumentality and decides to maintain his individuality. As a result, the process is reversed, and it is implied that those who wish to reclaim their individual existences can do so by finding their way back from the LCL.
In both endings, Shinji's decision to accept and embrace his individuality is a pivotal moment. He chooses to face the challenges and pain that come with being an individual, rather than dissolving into a collective existence that would erase his unique identity. The core message is the affirmation of individuality and the importance of self-acceptance, regardless of the challenges and hardships one might face in life.
Did the rest of humanity have this option to reject instrumentality and retain their individuality too, or was Shinji uniquely privileged to do this ?
In "The End of Evangelion," it is suggested that the rest of humanity also has the option to reject Instrumentality and regain their individuality, but the choice is not as explicitly explored as it is for Shinji. Shinji serves as the primary decision-maker during the Human Instrumentality Project, and his choice to reject it sets a precedent for others to follow.
When Shinji decides to maintain his individuality and accept the pain that comes with existence, the process of Instrumentality is reversed. Rei/Lilith, the being responsible for initiating Instrumentality, disintegrates, and the sea of LCL is formed. It is implied that those who wish to reclaim their individual existences can do so by finding their way back from the LCL, as long as they can imagine themselves in their own hearts and minds.
While Shinji's choice is central to the narrative, the possibility of others making a similar decision is left open, allowing for individual choice and self-determination. However, the extent to which other characters or humanity as a whole exercise this option is not explicitly depicted in the film, leaving it open to interpretation.
But not Rei ?
Rei's fate in "The End of Evangelion" is more ambiguous than that of the other characters. As a key figure in the initiation of the Human Instrumentality Project, Rei is central to the process. During the film, she merges with Lilith, an ancient being that plays a crucial role in the project, and becomes a god-like entity known as Rei/Lilith.
When Shinji rejects Instrumentality and decides to maintain his individuality, Rei/Lilith disintegrates and releases the souls of humanity back into the world in the form of LCL. Rei's existence as an individual is seemingly lost during this process, as she has merged with Lilith and effectively ceased to exist as a separate being.
However, Rei's presence is still felt in the aftermath of Instrumentality. Throughout the film's final scenes, there are multiple sightings of a ghostly apparition resembling Rei. This suggests that while Rei may no longer exist as a distinct individual, her essence or spirit lingers in some form, watching over the world and the characters she left behind.
The nature of Rei's existence and her ultimate fate are left open to interpretation, much like many other aspects of the film and the series as a whole.
How about Misato ?
In "The End of Evangelion," Misato Katsuragi meets a tragic fate before the completion of the Human Instrumentality Project. As NERV is under attack by the JSSDF (Japan Strategic Self-Defense Force), Misato takes on a protective role for Shinji, guiding him to the Evangelion Unit-01.
During their attempt to reach the Evangelion, Misato is critically wounded. Despite her injuries, she encourages Shinji to face his fears and make his own decisions. She shares a final, intimate moment with Shinji, kissing him and promising that they would "do the rest" when he returns. Shortly after Shinji leaves to board the Evangelion, Misato succumbs to her injuries and dies in an explosion.
Misato's death occurs before the initiation of the Human Instrumentality Project, so her participation in it is not explicitly depicted. However, since the souls of humanity are merged during Instrumentality, it could be assumed that Misato's soul is included in this process. With the reversal of Instrumentality, individuals have the option to return to their separate existences if they can imagine themselves in their own hearts and minds. Whether Misato is able to reclaim her individual existence after her death, though, is left open to interpretation.
But she couldn't reclaim, because she died before the instrumentality, if she could, it'd mean that everyone who died before instrumentality in the history of mankind, would have that option ?
You raise an interesting point, and indeed, the matter of whether Misato, or anyone who died before Instrumentality, could reclaim their individual existence is ambiguous and open to interpretation.
The End of Evangelion does not explicitly address the possibility of deceased individuals returning to life after the reversal of Instrumentality. The film focuses primarily on Shinji's experience and choices, leaving many questions unanswered.
In the context of the Evangelion universe, it is unclear whether the Human Instrumentality Project involves only the souls of the living or if it also encompasses those who have died. Consequently, the extent to which Misato or any other deceased individual could potentially reclaim their existence remains uncertain.
As with many aspects of Neon Genesis Evangelion, the outcome is left to the viewers' interpretation and imagination. Different viewers might have different opinions on the matter based on their understanding of the series' themes and narrative.
You're welcome! If you have any more questions or need further clarification about Neon Genesis Evangelion or any other topic, please don't hesitate to ask. I'm here to help!
If you review our previous conversation on this topic, did Seele actually achieve their goal ?
In reviewing our previous conversation, the ultimate goal of SEELE, the secretive organization behind the Human Instrumentality Project, was to merge all human consciousness into a single entity, transcending individuality and eliminating pain and loneliness.
In "The End of Evangelion," SEELE's plan is partially successful, as the Human Instrumentality Project is initiated, and all human beings are merged into a single collective consciousness called LCL. However, the plan ultimately fails because Shinji, who plays a central role in the process, decides to reject Instrumentality and maintain his individuality.
Shinji's choice to embrace individual existence and accept the pain and challenges that come with it leads to the reversal of Instrumentality. It is implied that those who wish to reclaim their individual existences can do so by finding their way back from the LCL.
As a result, SEELE does not achieve its goal in its entirety, since the unified consciousness they sought is not sustained. The ultimate outcome leaves room for individual choice and self-determination, allowing humanity to decide whether to return to their separate existences or remain part of the collective consciousness.
Where do Gendos agenda differ from that of Seele ?
Gendo Ikari, the commander of NERV and Shinji's father, has a different agenda from that of SEELE, even though he appears to be working with them initially. While SEELE aims to initiate the Human Instrumentality Project to merge all human consciousness into a single entity and transcend individuality, Gendo has a more personal goal in mind.
Gendo's primary motivation is to reunite with his deceased wife, Yui Ikari, who was absorbed into Evangelion Unit-01 during a contact experiment. Gendo believes that by manipulating the events surrounding the Human Instrumentality Project and controlling the powerful beings Adam, Lilith, and Rei Ayanami (a clone of Yui with the soul of Lilith), he can achieve his objective.
In essence, Gendo's agenda is driven by his desire to be with Yui once again, even if it means betraying SEELE and manipulating the course of events to serve his own interests. This divergence in objectives leads to a conflict between Gendo and SEELE in "The End of Evangelion," as both parties strive to realize their respective goals through the Human Instrumentality Project. Ultimately, Gendo's plan fails when Rei Ayanami chooses to merge with Lilith on her own terms and initiate Instrumentality according to her will, rather than following Gendo's plan.
How is Gendos plan incompatible with that of Seele ? Why are they in opposition ?
Gendo's plan and SEELE's plan for the Human Instrumentality Project are fundamentally different in their objectives and execution. While both plans involve initiating Instrumentality, their goals and the consequences for humanity differ.
SEELE's goal is to merge all human consciousness into a single entity, essentially creating a state of collective existence where individuality and the pain and suffering associated with it would be eliminated. They believe that this outcome is the next step in human evolution and will lead to a more perfect existence for humanity.
Gendo's plan, on the other hand, is driven by his personal desire to reunite with his deceased wife, Yui Ikari. He intends to manipulate the events surrounding Instrumentality, using the powerful beings Adam, Lilith, and Rei Ayanami, to achieve this goal. Gendo's plan doesn't prioritize humanity's evolution or collective existence; instead, it focuses on his own interests and desires.
The opposition between Gendo and SEELE arises because their goals are not aligned, and their plans for Instrumentality cannot coexist. Gendo's actions to pursue his personal agenda threaten SEELE's vision for humanity, which creates a conflict of interests. Additionally, Gendo's secretive nature and manipulative tactics create mistrust between him and SEELE.
In "The End of Evangelion," the conflict between Gendo and SEELE comes to a head as both parties attempt to initiate their versions of Instrumentality. Ultimately, neither Gendo nor SEELE achieve their goals entirely, as Rei Ayanami chooses to follow her own path, initiating Instrumentality on her terms and allowing Shinji Ikari to make the final decision regarding humanity's fate.
Wouldn't Seeles plans achieve what Gendo wants ? If all humanity is united, then he would also be united with Yui.
While SEELE's plans would indeed merge all human consciousness into a single entity, Gendo's intentions and desires are more specific and personal. He wants to reunite with Yui as an individual, preserving their unique identities and the bond they shared. Merging all of humanity into a collective existence might not fulfill Gendo's desire for a genuine reunion with Yui, as their individuality would be lost in the process.
Gendo's plan involves manipulating the Instrumentality process to create a scenario where he can be with Yui while maintaining their distinct identities. In contrast, SEELE's vision of a united humanity would dissolve the individual identities of everyone, including Gendo and Yui, making their reunion less meaningful in Gendo's perspective.
This difference in the desired outcomes for Instrumentality is what ultimately puts Gendo's and SEELE's plans at odds. Gendo's personal goal conflicts with SEELE's vision for humanity, leading to their opposition and eventual confrontation in "The End of Evangelion."
So the difference is that Gendo wants to reunite with Yui without merging with her ?
Yes, the primary difference between Gendo's and SEELE's goals lies in the nature of the desired reunion with Yui. Gendo wants to reunite with Yui as individuals, preserving their unique identities and the connection they shared. He aims to manipulate the Instrumentality process in a way that allows him to be with Yui without losing their distinct selves.
In contrast, SEELE's plan of merging all human consciousness into a single entity would eliminate individuality, resulting in a collective existence where the separate identities of Gendo and Yui would be lost. While Gendo might technically be "united" with Yui in this scenario, the meaningfulness of their reunion would be diminished due to the loss of their individual selves.
Gendo's personal motivations and desire to reunite with Yui without merging with her are what set his plan apart from SEELE's vision for humanity and lead to the conflict between them.
Yui died before instrumentality, but if Gendo can be reunited with her, it means that everyone who died before instrumentality can effectively be brought back to life ?
The nature of Yui's "death" in the Evangelion universe is unique compared to other characters who died before Instrumentality. When Yui Ikari participated in a contact experiment with Evangelion Unit-01, her body was destroyed, but her soul was absorbed into the Eva, essentially becoming a part of the giant humanoid. As a result, Yui's existence continued in a different form, which made the possibility of Gendo reuniting with her more plausible within the context of the story.
In Gendo's plan, he aims to manipulate the Instrumentality process to reunite with Yui's soul, which is still present within Unit-01. His plan does not involve resurrecting the dead in the conventional sense, but rather focuses on reestablishing a connection with Yui's soul.
The situation with Yui is specific to her circumstances and doesn't necessarily apply to all individuals who died before Instrumentality. It is unclear whether Gendo's plan or the Human Instrumentality Project could bring back others who died before the process, as the Evangelion series does not explicitly address this issue. The fate of deceased characters and the potential for their return to life is left open to interpretation, much like many other aspects of the series.
In the original ending, what actually started instrumentality ? Do we actually see it start ?
In the original TV series ending (episodes 25 and 26), the focus is primarily on the psychological journey and introspection of the main characters, particularly Shinji. The events leading up to and surrounding the initiation of the Human Instrumentality Project are not depicted explicitly in these episodes, and the process itself is not shown in a straightforward manner.
Instead, the episodes present a series of abstract, introspective scenes that delve into the characters' thoughts, emotions, and struggles. While it is implied that the Human Instrumentality Project has been initiated or is taking place during these episodes, the exact trigger for the process is not clearly defined.
The original ending leaves many questions unanswered, which led to the creation of "The End of Evangelion" movie. The movie provides an alternate ending that depicts the events leading up to and during the Human Instrumentality Project more explicitly, offering a different perspective on the conclusion of the story.
Is instrumentality a metaphor for personal development ?
The Human Instrumentality Project in Neon Genesis Evangelion can be interpreted as a metaphor for personal development, although the series contains multiple layers of symbolism and meaning that can be analyzed from various perspectives.
From the standpoint of personal development, Instrumentality represents the process of breaking down emotional barriers and confronting one's inner struggles. As individuals merge into a collective consciousness, their personal boundaries dissolve, forcing them to confront their deepest fears, insecurities, and desires.In the original TV series ending and "The End of Evangelion," the main characters, especially Shinji, undergo a deep introspection that leads to self-discovery and personal growth. Instrumentality serves as a catalyst for this transformation, allowing them to confront their psychological issues and consider the value of individuality, relationships, and human existence.
Ultimately, the choice to accept or reject Instrumentality becomes a reflection of the characters' personal development. Shinji's decision to reject Instrumentality and embrace individual existence, despite the pain and suffering that comes with it, signifies his growth and newfound understanding of the importance of self-determination and genuine connections with others.
While Instrumentality can be seen as a metaphor for personal development, it is essential to note that Neon Genesis Evangelion is a complex work with numerous themes, symbols, and philosophical ideas. The series can be interpreted in many different ways, and the meaning of Instrumentality may vary depending on the viewer's perspective.
How does it relate to Hideakis depression ?
Hideaki Anno, the creator of Neon Genesis Evangelion, has been open about his struggles with depression, and many elements of the series, including the Human Instrumentality Project, can be seen as reflections of his personal experiences.
The series explores themes of loneliness, identity, self-worth, and the difficulty of forming genuine connections with others, which are issues that can be closely tied to depression. The Human Instrumentality Project represents the merging of all human consciousness into a single entity, which can be seen as a metaphor for the desire to escape the pain and isolation of individual existence.
Anno's depression likely influenced his portrayal of the characters in Evangelion, who each grapple with their own emotional turmoil and psychological struggles. Shinji, the protagonist, is a prime example of a character who embodies the feelings of worthlessness, anxiety, and isolation that are often associated with depression.
The process of Instrumentality, which forces the characters to confront their inner fears, desires, and insecurities, can be interpreted as a reflection of Anno's own journey through depression and the process of self-examination and growth that often accompanies it.
In this context, the ultimate rejection of Instrumentality by Shinji and the affirmation of individual existence, despite its inherent pain and suffering, can be seen as a message of hope and a testament to the importance of personal growth, self-discovery, and genuine human connection. Neon Genesis Evangelion, through its exploration of these themes, serves as an expression of Anno's personal experiences and his journey to overcome his depression.
Can episodes 25 and 26 be considered different perspectives, and as such, important, to the events depicted in End of Evangelion ?
Yes, episodes 25 and 26 of the original Neon Genesis Evangelion TV series can be considered as different perspectives on the events leading up to and during the Human Instrumentality Project compared to "The End of Evangelion." The original ending and the movie complement each other in many ways, and both can be seen as important to understanding the series as a whole.
Episodes 25 and 26 focus primarily on the psychological and introspective aspects of the story, delving into the characters' thoughts, emotions, and struggles as they confront their inner selves. These episodes provide valuable insight into the characters' mental states and the process of personal growth they undergo during Instrumentality.
On the other hand, "The End of Evangelion" provides a more explicit and detailed depiction of the events surrounding the Human Instrumentality Project. It presents an alternate ending that offers a different perspective on the conclusion of the story, showing the external factors and physical events that lead to the initiation and eventual reversal of Instrumentality.
Both the original ending and "The End of Evangelion" contribute essential elements to the overall narrative of Neon Genesis Evangelion. The TV series ending allows for a deeper understanding of the characters' psychological development, while the movie provides context for the broader plot and events of the story. Viewing both the original ending and the movie can offer a more comprehensive appreciation of the themes, ideas, and messages presented in the series.
You're welcome! If you have any more questions or need further clarification about Neon Genesis Evangelion or any other topic, please don't hesitate to ask. I'm here to help!