auronlu: (Blah)
I was just pondering Justira's Clarion yet again — mobile version looks lovely on iPad Kindle reader — and was once again struck by how much more unseelie, sinister, callous is her view of FFX's Bahamut  than my more naive view.

I fixed on Bahamut's "don't cry" and "I'm sorry" to Tidus at various moments in the story, making me see Bahamut as a gentle, tired, perpetual-divine-child figure who wants things to end but exhibits compassion for Tidus. But Justira is right too: Bahamut is a manipulator. He's dangerous. And FFX's Bahamut is about the most benevolent incarnation in the franchise.
  • need to start over, I forget
  • FFVII... various scary-ass summons. Like Justira's Jecht says, B always seems to resemble a dragon that had an accident with an airship.
  • FFVII:AC... Bahamut summoned by villain to terrorize Midgar Edge.
  • FFVIII: Dangerous dungeon to reach it. This Bahamut seems a little more benevolent than usual, less scary than the often equally-scary-ass Odin (another figure from RW myth who has morphed into his own unique FF archetype.) Tellingly, VIII's Bahamut says, "Using my powers... It is you humans I fear." If that's Yoda word order, then this B is concerned about how his powers may be turned to evil.
  • FFIX: Originally Garnet's Eidolon, but Queen Brahne extracts him and uses him to wipe out the Great Tree. Then Kuja hijacks/rides Bahamut and uses him to wreck further havoc, threatening to destroy Alexandria.
  • FFX: Creepy kid. Manipulator. Aeon of BEVELLE, capital of lies, manipulation, and control under the guise of religion.
  • FFX-2: Dark Bahamut appears in a heartwrenching scene where Yuna has to fight an aeon. Real B. later apologizes to Yuna, revealing the aeons have been dragged into darkness by the Big Bad and are now "no better than fiends."
  • FFXII: Bahamut is an airship, but more than an airship: it feeds on Mist, is awakened by the terrible explosion at Pharos, is coopted by the Big Bad as a doomsday weapon, and nearly destroys Rabanastre.
  • FFXIII: Eidolon of Fang, who almost plays the usual role of Bahamut HERSELF.
  • FFXIII-2: Same Eidolon bound/fused with a Guardian who has gone so far towards the defender-of-his-summoner-seeress side of things that he's now a Big Bad. 

In sum, Bahamut usually seems to be a supremely powerful force gone rogue, often loosely on the side of good but coopted by the Big Bads for destruction. Usually targeting the Home the party is fighting to defend. 

I am vaguely reminded of Godzilla/Gojira in his less campy incarnation: a monster created by nuclear fallout, yet sometimes a defender of Tokyo, albeit a very destructive one. I can't quite put my finger on how Bahamut embodies Japan's ambivalent fear of nuclear energy, but I have a feeling Bahamut and flare are yet another manifestation of this common mythic theme in anime and Japanese video games.
auronlu: (finishthatsentence)
D'oh. You all probably realized this already, but.

-- Yuna's ultimate weapon is Nirvana.
-- Nirvana is a state of Enlightenment/Eternal Calm achieved by breaking the cycle of reincarnation and escaping life's suffering.
-- So the moral of FFX is: ditch dogmatic religions like Yevon and become a Buddhist, or you'll never get anywhere.

auronlu: (Blah)
I'm hesitant to post this while the discussion's ongoing, but I wanna file away my thoughts on the topic on my own LJ.

[ profile] muggy_mountain asked three FFX questions on her LJ, including, "What happens to the Unsent when they die? Phoenix Down works on them, but...aren't they dead?"

Disclaimer: The following essay is uber-geeking, based on the premise that the game is presenting consistent, fully-thought-out canon, not simply things that look cool or are convenient for gameplay.

My Unified Theory of FFX Metaphysics )
auronlu: (Default)

10 minute break in class on N. and professor Christine Downing just summarized one of the points of commonality between Freud and N.

Religion and metaphysics are illusions created by the deep human longing to fulfill 3 unfillable needs:

1) that the world be ordered.
2) being good and being happy are linked.
3) death is not the final word.

In FFX, Yevon gives #1, but it's definitely an illusion. The Calm is the result of Summoners' noble sacrifice, which is actually in vain. And death ISN'T the final word, but it turns out that Spira is much worse off because death dominates so much.


Jul. 23rd, 2006 05:16 am
auronlu: (Default)
I was writing a lengthy essay on the special appeal and qualities of Auron, Lulu, and the pair of them, after [ profile] muggy_mountain challenged us on [ profile] aulu.

I first noticed the similarities between Auron and Odysseus: wiley, well-respected fighters who nevertheless are a bit suspect in their unorthodoxy and sideways manner of doing things; also, Odysseus is astray for ten years after Troy.

There's a lot of Tenneyson's Ulysses in Auron (much as Babylon 5's Sinclair was Odysseus, and John Sheridan Telemachus).

But if Auron is the Odysseus archetype, then Lulu is Circe.

I had been seeing them as Orpheus and Eurydice (save that in this case, it's Eurydice who returns), but that's fun too!


Jul. 16th, 2006 12:34 am
auronlu: (Rage)
Elements. Some of you have seen how I write them instinctively when trying to get inside Lulu's magic, one of several aspects that drew me to the character. Previous Final Fantasies had the various elemental magics among other spells, but at least in those games I've played, the big four weren't set out quite so explicitly in elemental form: earth, air, fire, water (with lightning instead of air).

The trouble is, there really is so much power in them that they are highly dangerous. Science calls them liquid, solid, gas, plasma, and pretends we don't do elemental magic any more, but we do.

Fire. Lightning its close cousin. I write lightning, rain, and thunder most because I grew up with them and miss them, having moved to a part of the world which is nearly desert, and real desert just inland. I am also known for playing with fire -- making candles, making fires in places where it's safe to do so. My job when camping back east is to build and create the fire, because I can do it even when it's raining, if I have any dry wood at all. (Or at least some candle shavings.) The one time I've ever visited Hawaii, I spent my time with the volcano, not the beach.

Disjointed ramblings on fire, the desert, and the wounded earth )
auronlu: (thatslife)
I was just pondering archetypes, psychology, mythology again. There's a common thread that runs through a ton of fantasy and science fiction.

1) Invent a fantasy world with a system that's been in place for a long time.
2) Create heroes who push through the chinks in the system, discovering its flaws, and (usually) showing it to be corrupt.

If you think about it, it's kind of funny. Old myths tended to be about heroes creating or building culture, establishing traditions, or doing things in the traditional way.

Nowadays, we've got the rebel against tradition, who finds a new way of getting things done and overturns the old. It's obvious, and yet it's not.

Why do creators keep setting up cultures where we get to be indignant about how they operate, where sooner or later, we're going to be outraged by some aspect of the world we're trying to save? (think of our righteous indignation on Yuna's behalf.)

I haven't played many of the Final Fantasy series, but just from the ones I've played:
spoilers to X-2, X, VIII, VII )

auronlu: (Default)
This is an edited repost of a topic I first posted on the AFF forums (2/24/06) which got deleted during their routine cleaning.
Dreams, Death, and the Underworld: a thoughtful discussion of FFX )

Also, if this sort of thing interests you and you missed my earlier post, check out my quick explanation of What the Heck is an Archetype?


Apr. 20th, 2006 11:28 am
auronlu: (lulu)
Psyche's story is told in Apuleius' The Golden Ass. It's a long romance.

The early part is in an odd way the paradigm for the Beauty and the Beast story. Psyche, youngest and most beautiful of three sisters, is carried off by Cupid. She winds up in a castle with invisible servants and never sees her husband, she only feels him at night. He commands her never to look upon him. Eventually he lets her invite her sisters for a visit, but they are secretly jealous of her wealth, and sow the seeds of doubt: what if her husband is a horrible monster? So she lights a lamp while he is asleep and discovers he's not a monster, but a god; unfortunately hot oil drips on his shoulder, and he flees.

Then we get the wicked stepmother story. Psyche yearns to win her lover back, but she has to undergo several awful ordeals first. Aphrodite won't give up her son easily. All the ordeals are supposed to be fatal, but Psyche keeps getting aid from unlikely places. The ants help her sort a bag of mixed grains. An eagle helps her get water from the Styx. I can't remember what helps her pluck wool from the golden carnivorous goats (another odd staple of Greek myth).

At any rate, the last task is for Psyche to go into the underworld and retrieve a box which Aphrodite had loaned Persephone (or possibly the other way around). Psyche gets past the ferryman and Cerebus and faces all the dangers of Hades alone. On the way back, however -- as Aphrodite had intended -- Psyche can't resist a peek in the box. She is killed instantly.

Cupid can't stand it any longer. As a god, he's not supposed to become too attached to mortals -- he has duties, he is NOT mortal. Zeus' idle flings are the only acceptable form of immortal/mortal intercourse. One isn't supposed to fall in love with them. But when Psyche finally dies for him, he throws all that to the wind, swoops down, scoops her up in his arms, and restores her to life, duties be damned.

I have been thinking of Orpheus and Eurydice all along while writing the Resurrection story, but I see a few faint parallels with Psyche's ordeals as well.

Like most archetypes, though, there's a great many differences too. :)

The odd thing is, I'm suddenly taking a very deep and thoughtful class on psychology and the Orpheus myth and the way Orpheus continues to manifest in poetry and life to this day.

auronlu: (Default)
Part of the beauty of myth is the way old archetypes can recombine and produce new, unique individuals, like DNA.

Auron: the ronin warrior, the curmudgeon, the experienced older teacher, the dead psychopomp. Lulu: the sorceress, the ice bitch, the vixen, the mentor (rather Athena-like the way she befriends and instructs the male hero).

Square had Greek myths in mind, giving them Mars and Aphrodite as their symbols. Here are two others.


"Odin sacrificed himself for knowledge by hanging on the world tree, Yggdrasil, which means Ygg's horse. Ygg is a name for Odin and horse is a metaphor for the gallows. He thereby learns the runes. Another sacrifice he made for wisdom was his eye. He gave it up in order to drink from the Well of Mimir which bestowed great knowledge. Because of this, he is typically depicted as having one eye. He is also depicted as wearing a cloak, being old, having a long grey beard, and wearing a wide brimmed hat down low over his face to conceal his one-eyed visage." Norse Mythology

Obviously theyr'e not the same, since Odin is more fully bearded, but Auron sacrificed his eye for wisdom (the hard way, not on purpose) and he, too, died and returned, although not being a god he could not stay. Self-sacrifice for hard-earned wisdom is the theme here.

Her face is half beautiful, half dark. In Hel's case she is both living and dead, not simply veiling half her face, but Lulu definitely has a hint of the death- goddess about her:

"She [Hel] is half blue-black and half flesh-color (by which she is easily recognized), and very lowering and fierce." ~ Norse Edda translation, Wikipedia
"Daughter of Loki. Queen of Helheim, goddess of death. Harsh but not unfriendly.Leads 'the Wild Hunt' (In Norway, 'Asgardsreien'). Some say she represents the dark side of Freya. [Norse equivalent of Aphrodite]" ~ Norse Gods

Also, interestingly:
Ull: "God of winter, the chase and ritual combat. Spends the winters hunting with Skade, and the summers in Helheim with Hel. Harsh, but still approachable. Represents the Northern winter."
~ Norse Gods

Let me tuck this behind an Lj-cut for those who are curious about a term I keep using:

What the heck is an Archetype? )

auronlu: (Default)
Kitt on the semi-moribund Auron x Lulu yahoogroup mentioned something which a onetime classics major like me should've spotted immediately.

Mars Crest/Sigil (god of war) = Auron
Venus Crest/Sigil (goddess of love and beauty and sex) = Lulu

In Greco-Roman mythology, these two deities were famous for their love affair, although (unlike all other divine couples I can think of) they never married.

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