A Dangerously Reassuring Sound; or, why I love Rin

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Scramblers
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A Dangerously Reassuring Sound; or, why I love Rin

Post by Scramblers » Sat May 16, 2020 5:26 pm

Rin is the only girl besides Shizune to find her way to my heart. So of course she deserves an essay. And I thought I might start this one with an epigraph.

“Beneath the uniformity that unites us in communication there is a chaotic personal diversity of connections, and, for each of us, the connections continue to evolve. No two of us learn our language alike … ”
– W. V. O. Quine

No … that doesn't quite do what I want it to. Let's try again.

“His great – and modern – subjects are indecision, bewilderment, estrangement, not-knowing, and the "empty space" between people: these are all experiences that cannot be written about conclusively.”
– Robert Macfarlane on M. John Harrison

I don't think that works either.

“It is shaped, sir, like itself, and it is as broad as it hath breadth. It is just so high as it is, and moves with its own organs.”
– Antony, Antony and Cleopatra

Okay, you know what what? To hell with it. Let's just plunge right in without an epigraph.

Rin is Rin. That's an empty statement, of course – which is rather the point. But what else can we say about her?

Hisao says Rin is honest. This is sort of right, but doesn't quite cover it. Rin isn't just honest. Her entire being seems devoted to authenticity. She wants to get at things as they really are.

Rin stands opposed to all the false and empty chatter that fills the world. This trait she shares with Shizune (which is probably what I like about both of them). But while Shizune is active and extroverted, Rin is passive and introverted. She simply can't engage with vacuity. She wants to see things as they are – Emi at her Emiest. And that puts her at odds with most of the world.

Take her comment on the label 22nd Corner. The first thing that strikes her: is it actually the 22nd corner? Note also that, while people seem to think that Rin isn't logical, or has her own logic or some such tripe, this is an eminently logical point. And here we also see Hisao's connection with her: We're not just asking after truth here, but trying to find the frame of reference that could make such a label true and non-trivial. This is the sort of discussion you might see in analytic philosophy.

Her way of thinking naturally plunges her into the dark heart of philosophy. She's concerned with matters of identity. Where separates change and destruction? This could come off as pompous and obnoxious, but her wit and subtle sense of irony on one hand and innocence on the other save it.

This innocence – for she is utterly guileless – makes her vulnerable. Nomiya, that fascinating hypocrite, is her foil. He talks about the authenticity and autotelia of art, but his actions reveal him to be worldly, vain, and a victim of his own self-serving illusions. For all that, he's not a bad person. He has his own troubles, his own worries, and he means well. But he draws Rin into his own self-aggrandising fantasy and, utterly blind to the warning of suicide he himself gives, nearly crushes her.

Rin is Rin. That's not an empty statement. She is thoroughly herself, while most of us project images of ourselves as we would like to be, or as others would like us to be. Like Nomiya, we live falsely. Rin does not.

But Rin's striving after true, genuine, real authenticity brings her into conflict a far bigger foe than Nomiya: Language itself.

When you dig deep enough into language, you hit a wall. Or, rather, a void. Words gain their meaning from the contexts in which sentences are used; change the meaning of one and you can make it up by changing the meaning of another while keeping the usage the same. This is what Quine called inscrutability of reference. But you see the same theme across philosophy, from Wittgenstein to Derrida.

So Rin, searching for authenticity in communication, whose entire being is devoted to getting at what lies beneath the veil, pulls back the veil of language and finds … nothing. This is intolerable. Her desire can't be fulfilled by the tools available to her. It's like trying to masturbate without hands.

Art is her substitute. It can simply be what it is, without explanation, without justification, without falsity. Part of being a good hypocrite is talking a good game, and this is what Nomiya says. But it is a poor substitute, because while being itself, it can't be a means of communicating meaning. From the beginning, Rin is frustrated with it. But unlike language, it still seems to hold some promise. It's a hole so deep she's at risk of losing herself while searching for a way to express herself.

So there is no escape there.

There is a fancy term from philosophy: Aporia. Literally translated, it means the lack of a way through, an impasse. More recently, it means an irresolvable contradiction, the point at which we can speak no more. In Plato's dialogues, aporia is the moment where the discussion just peters out without going anywhere, and everyone wanders off or gets drunk and passes out.

If I had to sum up Rin's theme in one word, it would be aporia.

She's littered with irresolvable contradictions. She's apathetic but obsessive. She is as blunt as an anvil, but is a superb ironist. She has trouble expressing herself, but has some of the most heartbreakingly expressive sprites in the game.

What happens after the conversation ends? Life goes on. You can sit tangled up in philosophy all day, but the world will move on without you. Objective reality does not care for the semantic hole you've dug yourself into. When speech fails, action remains.

How is Rin's impasse solved? By action. Hisao may not be able to understand her to the degree she wants, but he can dry her off, touch her, blow the seeds off dandelions with her. They find each other in those ancient mammalian interactions that predate language: Sex. And compassion. The simple but important acts of authentically caring for one another.

And what does Hisao find? That Rin is Rin.

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Oddball
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Re: A Dangerously Reassuring Sound; or, why I love Rin

Post by Oddball » Thu May 28, 2020 8:48 pm

Interesting take. I do think you're being a bit too harsh on Nomiya though.

While he did get caught up a bit much, he seemed fully interested in pushing Rin into stardom not not necessarily for himself, but because she so impressed him.

I don't think you should blame him for how bad Rin got either. He wasn't pushing her that hard. She was pushing herself too hard. Really if she had just stuck to art itself, she probably could have been okay. It wouldn't have been her best work, but it would have been something she could have accomplished.

What she was trying to do is to push herself, and redefine who she was, while already under pressure. For that matter, she went about the entire project because she thought that she could gain something for herself that nobody ever promised her.
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