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Article Pokémon Historia #04: Truth and Ideals

Discussion in 'Pokémon General' started by Absolute Zero, Apr 29, 2016.

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  1. Absolute Zero

    Absolute Zero The second seal

    Level 19
    Mar 17, 2015
    So I've been working on playing my first Gen V Pokémon game, Black 2, for how long now? Six months, and I haven't touched it since November? I need to get back on that. I mean I haven't even met Zekrom yet! You know, that awesome dragon who is a mythic representation of... no, not evil. Why do people think that? In fact, the source of Zekrom's and Reshiram's origin, Daoism*, doesn't even acknowledge good and evil as being things or concepts worthy of recognition. The entire philosophy of Daoism is built on opposites, but good and evil are not among those opposites, and color schemes can hardly imply morality. After all, what are colors beyond wavelengths and amplitudes of radiation?

    *Some sources spell/pronounce this Taoism, but my preferred book (and I have three translations) spells it Daoism. It's just an effect of the Chinese language being not directly transliterable to a Latin-alphabet language like English.

    Anyhow, the plot of the Unova games makes a repeated reference (dependent on which side of the pair you're playing), to bringing forth the power of truth or ideals, or as I would like to interpret it, reality and fantasy, or life and dreams. Back to that Dao reference above, truth and dreams fit right into the concepts of Dao commonly referred to as Yin and Yang. Rather than being good and evil, they might be better described as "things that are emphasized in being a proper person, especially a person living in Zhou Dynasty China". The Dao De Jing itself, the main text of Daoism (written by Laozi circa 400 BCE), absolutely refused to acknowledge that either side of Yin and Yang is good on its own, and the best option is to blend any two extremes for moderation. To pull some lines from Chapter 28: "Know the male, yet safeguard the female ... Know the clean, yet safeguard the soiled ... Know the white, yet safeguard the black." In these pairs, the first of each is a trait emphasized by proper Zhou culture, and the latter is the opposite of that. Zhou Dynasty China's image of an ideal citizen would be male, absolutely healthy, and exhibiting personality traits related to the color white: openness, friendliness, honesty. Laozi suggests that too much of that is a bad thing. It's okay to be male, but also acknowledge feminine approaches to life. It's good to be healthy, but maybe you can learn the suffering of the ill. It's nice to be those white-color personality traits, but also beneficial to occasionally be quiet, spend some time alone, or tell a lie with good intention. Really, the best way to wrap it up is "everything in balance and with moderation".

    Going into the gameplay aspect of Reshiram and Zekrom, we can see this opposite-but-not-different trait in their stats and typing as well. Their stats are the same, but differently distributed: Reshiram has a bias toward Special Attack and Special Defense, while Zekrom is more physically oriented with the same raw values. Special and physical aren't good and bad (tactically or morally), but maybe Zhou Dynasty China would encourage a more refined approach of Special Attacking, as opposed to a "barbaric" approach like Thunder Fanging your foe into submission. And there's a reason why these two aren't Dragon plus Rock and Poison or Grass and Steel. Fire and Electric are both high-energy types, just in different variety. Literally, let's look at the science of it: Temperature (fire-type) is a measure of the speed of vibration of molecules in an object, otherwise known as its energy; and electricity is electron transfer which is directly connected to the aforementioned energy of molecules. They're both energy, just different manifestations of it. While we're on the topic of science, there's something else I want to bring up, so keep this subject in mind.

    So, this whole time we've been talking about Reshi and Zek, but we've entirely ignored their, uh, brother? Triplet? Clone? Shell? Friend? I don't know. We've ignored Kyurem this whole time, that's what I'm trying to say. In addition to Yin and Yang, there is a third part to that the Daoist symbol of Taiji. We all know there's the white segment and the black segment, as well as the circle within each symbolizing that each side still needs the other, but what part of that symbol are we missing? Look at the symbol again. Do you see it yet? It's the circle around both of them together, keeping the complete yin-yang in that perfect shape. Yin and Yang are a fluid thing, and as such, they need to be held in a circle. When Reshiram and Zekrom broke off into their own presumably white and black sections, that circle was left behind: Kyurem, the Boundary Pokémon, the empty circle keeping the other two in their cohesive, mutually supportive forms. Speaking of emptiness, do you remember that thing I mentioned about typing from before? Reshiram and Zekrom both have a secondary type representing a manifestation of energy, because they represent opposite-but-equal approaches to life. Kyurem, on the other hand, has a secondary type of Ice. Coldness, scientifically speaking, doesn't exist. Rather than being a thing, it's just the lack of a thing, in this case energy, similarly to this is how darkness is just the absence of light. Reshiram and Zekrom both have their active approaches to life and their own energy (so to speak), but Kyurem, being the empty shell left behind, has no energy of its own. It's an empty shape, the boundary circle that keeps Reshiram and Zekrom's black and white half of Taiji in shape.

    Back to the cultural aspect, in Unova lore, there is a legend that Zekrom and Reshiram were once a single dragon. Back when they were first created, they were as one, a single dualistic organism (who probably looked like a black-and-white Taiji) with shared control and friendship from two brothers with differing goals: the elder sought truth, that the world should be defended and maintained as it is; while the younger sought dreams, the world should be moved forward with the chance to grow for the better. If Laozi heard this legend, he would surely say that the elder brother, with his focus on the world as it is, would be on the white side of this dichotomy, and would be a proper Zhou Dynasty citizen, focusing on the sureness of life, as opposed to just fantasies of what it might become. Not because reality is morally good, but because it's emphasized in proper life. Laozi and his students, in contrast to the typical Zhou citizen siding with Reshiram, would see the benefit and power to having this combined, more whole creature in the world, and would make an effort to have Reshiram and Zekrom work together, to keep the stable reality of this world, but also move toward realizing the dream of what it may become. Maybe that's what N's fallacy is in Black and White: he was too focused on just one side of this split, and as such, his plans fell through. With some balance, maybe his goals would have been healthier, and he would have succeeded.

    So what do you think? Despite the Daoist idea that we should keep balance in all things and that the motivations of Shiro-Kuro are best, do you think think we should be focused on maintining the world as it is, or taking a chance and following our dreams? Could N have succeeded if he had a more tempered and balanced approach? Does Kurem's emptiness reflect Buddhism's (here unmentioned, but perhaps later discussed) positive focus on emptiness? Let me know in the comments below?

    One more thing: I was doing independent research for no reason at all lately (not for school, not for a Historia, not for travel plans) and came across the temple of Abu Simbel in Egypt, seen in the link here. I stared at it for almost a minute wondering where I've seen it before before it finally clicked to me: Snowpoint Temple in Sinnoh. I haven't seen a mention of this correlation anywhere at all, and I'm wondering if maybe it's just a coincidence. Abu Simbel has four prominent statues of Ramesses II, one of which is destroyed, and Snowpoint temple has four prominent pillars (each with a braile-like symbol matching one of the Regi trio), one of which is destroyed. Is the fourth Regigigas, or is it a fourth part to the Regi trio that was actually a quartet? I plan on discussing the Regis next, and I appreciate some desk-chair archeology help when offered. Let me know, okay?
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    shinygiratinaz likes this.
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