Jim Morrison, John Paul II, and….. er… Zange-chan

By Nomad(The damn weather needs to pick something and stick with it)Otto

Jim Morrison (of the Doors) had a famous bit in which he he shouted, “When I was back in seminary school, there was someone who put forth the proposition that you could petition the lord with prayer…… YOU CANNOT PETITION THE LORD WITH PRAYER!” John Paul II (who, in addition to being a pretty good pope, is one of my favorite philosophers in the field of Labor Economics ), on the other hand, had a belief in the efficacy of prayer, but, at the same time, didn’t believe that prayer was “God’s telephone.” Zange-chan, of course, not only has a cell-phone, but does her best to answer the prayers of the masses, and listens directly to the confession of sins for the cost of 100 yen.  The reason for this could be that Morrison was a drugged-out musician, JP was the Pope, and Zange is a fictional character, and additional analysis is stupid. On the other hand, I’m writing this post, so I obviously think there’s something more going on, namely, that we interact with things on a human basis, and, moreover, that interaction makes us humanize things that obviously aren’t, from Godzilla to God. More after the jump.

Symbol of the follies of mankind or your new best friend?

Symbol of the follies of mankind or your new best friend?

All of the people we deal with are human. That’s a simple, basic fact. Moreover, being social animals, we have sophisticated mental machinery for interacting with human people. If I present you with a picture of faces, like the one below, you can tell, at least to a good first approximation, what the people in these pictures are thinking.

from the top, clockwise, hungry, constipated, and homocidal rage

from the top, clockwise, hungry, constipated, and "I'll swallow your soul"

This, in and of itself, is sorta weird. Brains are black boxes to the rest of the world- you can see what goes in, and what comes out, but you can’t really see what goes on inside. We fundamentally can’t know what other people are thinking (it can be argued that most people don’t know what they themselves are thinking).  Nevertheless, we develop complex theories of mind for other people, projecting upon them wants, needs, desires, thoughts- the whole lot.  This even extends to fictional characters and other non-human entities, like Godzilla, who goes from being an inarticulate force of destruction to a heroic creature, who, explains that his anger towards humanity is due to their unprovoked attacks against him.

This anthropomorphizing tendency is one of the reasons why I suggested that if you’re trying to make a horror movie, you need to have the creature or whatever interact as little and as briefly as possible with the other elements of your story, as the longer and more frequently your characters interact with something, the more human-like the thing becomes, at least in the minds of the viewers/readers.  This is also one of the reasons why, in general, I am against using non-human humanoids in science fiction and fantasy, since, sooner or later, they eventually just become people in funny suits, rather than truly distinct species of beings with a different way of thinking.

But just as this tendency causes people to elevate those things that are less than human, and warp things that are different from human towards human status, it causes those things that are greater, or, at least, are supposed to be greater than human, to sink to our level, or to become unrelatable.  The God of Abrahamic religions is distant and interacts with his followers only rarely (or, not really much at all, in the case of the New Testament…. and yes, I’m aware that that statement is ignoring the whole three in one thing, but,  if you care enormously, you can replace God with “God the father”), and, so, our ability to humanize him is limited, but, at the same time, that allows us to place him above ourselves. On the other hand, older, pagan religions have Zeus and co. basically acting like a bunch of overgrown humans, mostly because in pagan stories, Gods and humans live alongside one another, and the boundaries between the sacred and the profane are limited, if not non-existent. In contrast to both of these, we have Superman, aka Krypton’s Jesus, who not only interacts with humans every day, but, also, is so annoying goody-goody that it’s completely maddening. It’s the old pick two of three: characters can be close at hand, believable, or profoundly different from people.

This, in my opinion, explains in part the difference between Jim, JP, and Zange. Jim and his Holiness see a boundary between man and the divine, while Zange is basically a walking violation of that boundary. Therefore, in order for Zange to be believable as a character, she is assigned human characteristics, while the other two can have faith in a God that is profoundly different from the creatures he created.

If you are offended by this picture, my sympathy for you is zero

If you are offended by this picture, my sympathy for you is zero

This is also the reason why Belldandy, from AMG, is such an obnoxious character, while Skuld and Urd are much more interesting. The fact that the the three sisters live  with K1 means that we can, and do, attribute human feelings to them, and this includes not only good things, like love, and understandable things, like loneliness, but also much less endearing traits, like getting pissed off, or pride, or envy, or even having one goddamn independent thought that doesn’t revolve around a worthless gearhead. Two of the goddesses pass the test, and are understandable characters; one does not, and causes me to gag.

Anyway, this post was basically an excuse to post my horrible photoshopped last picture, as well as to mention Kannagi, which is Lol. Until next time, Saraba, waga shimobe!

I will kill the next person to bitch about their final grade in my class in this exact manner

I will kill the next person to bitch about their final grade in my class in this exact manner, except I will use the textbook, which you didn't bother to read.

2 Responses to “Jim Morrison, John Paul II, and….. er… Zange-chan”


  1. 1 suguru December 17, 2008 at 2:16 am

    > This is also the reason why Belldandy, from AMG, is such an obnoxious character, while Skuld and Urd are much more interesting.

    This is very true for me also…Belldandy has her fans, but I found Skuld and Urd just more interesting as characters. Also, mad props for working the Pope, the Doors, and Zange into a single post…

  2. 2 Sheba December 24, 2008 at 6:07 am

    I approve of Jim Morrison.

    This is also one of the reasons why, in general, I am against using non-human humanoids in science fiction and fantasy, since, sooner or later, they eventually just become people in funny suits, rather than truly distinct species of beings with a different way of thinking.

    Understandable.
    It can be faulted to the writers, professional or amateur, who cannot think outside of the human of the *insertcenturyhere* mindset. Worse, they becomes the projection of the author’s fantasies and ideals.

    This paragraph bring the following articles in mind:

    http://limyaael.livejournal.com/151278.html

    http://limyaael.livejournal.com/151562.html

    http://limyaael.livejournal.com/570375.html


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