[Ming Pao News]In 2021, the “Attack on Titan” manga will be completed. I wrote an article “To this cruel and beautiful world: Farewell to “Attack on Titan”” in “Sunday Life”, with the words of anthropologist Jarrett Zigon Propose theories about dwelling and dismantle the description of the so-called “cruel world” in the work. In the past two years, the world has changed several times: Russia invaded Ukraine, Israel and Palestine resumed bloody wars, all of which make people lament the absurdity of the Anthropocene; and my personal view of world affairs has also changed again and again, gradually becoming pessimistic and nihilistic. Today the “Giant” animation also comes to an end. Watching the ending again, I really have another experience. The so-called “cruel world” may be the inevitable result of human beings forming a collectivity. Therefore, the pursuit of peace may be an ideal that can never be reached.
The most clever thing about “Attack on Titan” is its plot twist. First of all, readers and viewers are allowed to immerse themselves in the pattern of good and evil, thinking that black and white are clear (humans vs. giants), and then follow the protagonist to pursue freedom and liberation. When the enemy is an ugly giant (non-human), all killing becomes justified, and the killer does not need to feel any scruples or guilt. However, in the middle part, the world suddenly changed. It should be said like this: The world set in the story has not actually changed, but the protagonist and the audience discovered that the real world in the story was not the world they had always believed and understood. Giants are humans, and the confrontation is no longer “humans vs. giants”, but “Eldians on Parady Island vs. Mare people outside the island and all other people in the world.” The giants who massacred people on the island at the beginning turned out to be spies sent by the Mare people. They were people of Eldian blood who lived under the rule of Mare. The grievances and hatreds between the island and outside the island can be traced back to thousands of years of history. The historical entanglement, coupled with the current massacre, formed an irresolvable blood feud. Both sides find reasons to kill and retaliate, but at the same time, readers will find that neither side can actually find absolute reasons to prove that their side is absolutely right. For example, the Mare girl Jabi firmly believes that the Eldians are the descendants of demons and once ruled the world with the power of giants. Therefore, it is reasonable and legitimate for Mare to send giants to bloodbath Parady Island. The Eldian girl Kaya once witnessed her mother being eaten by a giant, and asked Jabi: Why was her mother killed by a giant when she had never done anything? What does the crime of our ancestors have to do with ourselves? Jia Bi was suddenly speechless.
Old and new grudges are entangled
On top of old grudges, new grudges often accumulate. Perhaps the killings 1,000 years ago or 100 years ago should have nothing to do with him, but when the knot of the past cannot be untied, new revenge will inevitably arise, and it will never end. The knot is becoming more tangled and tighter day by day. Even if the killings 100 years ago had nothing to do with you or me, there was a massacre not long ago. This inextricable hatred inevitably reminds people of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. There is of course a gap between the story and reality, but we can really feel how desperate the blood feud between Israel and Palestine is. I have been thinking these days: Is there any way to resolve the hatred between the two sides? I simply don’t have enough imagination to imagine a peaceful future. (I must say: I am definitely not neutral. I stand on the side of the Palestinians. The Israeli state’s violent colonization of Palestine is obvious to all. The hypocrisy of Western countries is really contemptible. But this does not mean that I can Approval of Hamas’s massacre of civilians.)
Back to Giant. After the Eldians learned the truth about the world, they proposed three plans. The first is the “Eldian euthanasia plan” proposed by Xue Ke Yeager, which uses the power of the ancestor giant to change the body structure of all Eldians and make them infertile. Without childbearing, there will be no next generation, and the spiral of hatred will disappear. This is a suicidal plan to seek peace through self-destruction. The second plan is the annihilation plan that the protagonist Eren Yeager decided to implement. Allen originally thought that the world outside the wall was freedom, but later he discovered that there was a sea outside the wall, and on the other side of the sea were people who hated his own clan. After on-the-spot investigation and efforts in conversation, he finally discovered that mutual understanding was impossible. Therefore, he decided to activate the “earth cry” after seizing the power of the ancestral giant, and use countless giants to eradicate everything outside the island. Allen’s thoughts are complicated, and in the end we are not sure whether he intends to destroy the world. But in any case, the plan was supported by many people on Parady Island, and a fanatical “Yager faction” was formed within the government. The last plan is Armin’s plan to seek peaceful coexistence. I also mentioned in my previous article that some readers characterized Armin as a naive pacifist. But the content of the story clearly shows that he had no absolute objection to killing, and when it was unavoidable, he also used the power of a super giant to kill many people. But he firmly believes that human beings can understand each other, and reason and thinking can resolve feuds. Xue Ke’s plan was obviously not accepted, so the story reached the final stage and became a dispute between Allen’s plan and Armin’s plan.
Peace is extremely fragile
Coming to the finale, author Hajime Isayama didn’t have a clear choice between the two options. Allen carried out the “earth roar” to annihilate the world, killing 80% of the human beings in the world. In the memory that emerged, he told Armin that on the one hand, the killing was to disarm the countries, and on the other hand, he was killed by Armin and Mikasa, so that the Eldians on the island could become the saviors of humanity. hero. But he also admitted that he wanted to flatten the world no matter what, and he couldn’t explain why he did it. Many things in the world are so unclear. At the same time, Armin also thanked Eren for becoming a killer for them. And Allen also made it clear: the person who saves humanity in the end will be Armin. After the destruction of the world stopped and the Titan’s power disappeared, Armin stopped the conflict from continuing as “the person who killed “Attack on Titan” Eren Jaeger” and ended the “War between Heaven and Earth”. However, after the war, the Eldians on Parady Island were worried about retaliation. As a result, the Yeager faction gained power and formed a regular army to encourage war sentiments. Armin leads an ambassadorial delegation to return to Parady Island on behalf of people outside the island to seek mutual understanding. If it is peace, it is only a very fragile and short-lived peace, which will always end in war and destruction.
Friction between groups
The so-called “cruel world” certainly involves the forces of nature. Natural disasters are ruthless and cannot be controlled by humans. However, the crueler aspects of the world are often caused by humans. We often think (or hope) that there is always a big devil behind evil. To make evil disappear, all you need to do is destroy the big devil. But evil is often collective and not even necessarily intentional. This is the cruelest part: you cannot make the world a better place forever by eliminating one or two people or groups. Hitler is dead, but Nazism can revive. People always live in their own lifeworld (“life world”), and everything seems to be taken for granted. And when people come together, they build a collective, and the collective has a collective lifeworld. When one collective lifeworld collides with another dissimilar collective lifeworld, friction occurs. To be able to maintain a collective, there must be centripetal force and continuous self-realization. When the world you understand “naturally” operates this way, then the way the different lifeworld next to you operates is unreasonable. These groups may be ethnic, racial, religious, national, or institutional.
How can different collective lifeworlds coexist peacefully? Some people have proposed the theory of universal values, but even if a common language is accepted at the most basic level, there are countless areas where conflicts can arise. I suddenly thought: Has there ever been a day without war in human history? I immediately looked it up online. Dr. Robert Simpson of University College London has the answer: no. Even the so-called “peace” era after World War II was actually only relative peace in Western Europe and North America (and this “peace” only means “no war” and does not mean no domestic oppression in each country). If we want to define the “essence” of human beings, perhaps “proneness to war” is one of them. And various collectives continue to consolidate our “essence”. The larger the collective, the more unbreakable the bad karma becomes.
Recently, Haruki Murakami was asked about his views on the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He said that he could not simply comment on who was right and who was wrong. As a result, some people said that he was beating himself up and denied his “egg and high wall theory.” In fact, Murakami’s speech on “Eggs and High Walls” in Jerusalem many years ago was also a question to the collective: “Then each of us, to a greater or lesser extent, must face a hard high wall. That high wall has a The name is called “system” (システム, system). That system is supposed to protect us. But sometimes it kills us on its own, and makes us kill people: coldly, efficiently, systematically. ” Murakami’s speech also spoke of the dispute between individuals and the system. We create the system, not the system creates us. The novelist’s wish is to use his novels to bring out the dignity of the individual soul so that the light can shine on it. Novelists have their idealism, but the cruelty of facts never ends. As described in “Giant”, the real high wall is not the high wall between humans and giants, but the systematic lifeworlds built by various races due to generations of grievances and hatreds. These lifeworlds overlap and collide, intertwining into a “cruel world.” Within it, an individual may feel detached for a moment or even detached for a time, but in the end he cannot completely get rid of it. A Palestinian living in Hong Kong and a Jew living in Hong Kong may be able to put aside their belongings for a short time and communicate honestly. But the ghost of national identity hangs over our heads. I used to consider myself a communitarian, but no longer. I used to see more of the good in the community, but now I see more of the evil, shackles, and vanity of the community. But at the same time, I no longer believed in individual rationality, and gradually developed strong nihilistic emotions. I still appreciate Armin’s persistence and believe that he should always keep thinking, but I am also more and more sympathetic to Eren’s choice.
Since there are no evil monsters, there are no superheroes either. Everyone in the story of “Giant” knows this fact clearly. The “Attack on Titan” was killed and the power of the Titan disappeared, but people still have the ability to be armed and are still bound by the nation, history and state. Therefore, the “peace” at the end of the story is just a temporary absence of war. At best, it is a kind of negotiated peace, or a fragile mutual check and balance. The scales tilted slightly, and smoke started to spread. After all, does “peace” have a chance? If the peace we hope for is for everyone in the world to love each other from now on, then I dare say that it is definitely impossible and we will not see this day before the end of the world. A viable peace can, at best, reduce conflicts on a limited scale with mutual checks and balances. This may be the fate of mankind.
Text by Mo Zhewei