Author Topic: Piecemeal Elements  (Read 1204 times)

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Offline Denial

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Piecemeal Elements
« on: October 05, 2004, 12:41:07 PM »
I've been pondering this for awhile now, but haven't really bothered to post about it until now.

Basically, the theory goes, a lot of the elements in Berserk are drawn from the real world. These elements are not just trivial things like historical background but might actually offer significant insight as to the direction of the story.

Now, what spawns this vague sort of pondering is a bit of reading I've been doing about Chinese art. I thought this passage was very interesting:

It was probably in Gandahara that, under these influences and encouraged by the great conference organized by King Kanishka (second century AD) of the Kushans, the first great development in Buddhist doctrine took place.

I wouldn't make too much of the reference if we didn't have such a strong reference that Berserk's Ganishka is based off of the historical one. What does it mean? Well, I don't know enough about Indian historical figures to tell you that. But I'm betting we could find out some interesting facts with a bit of research.

So, yeah, it's not as impressive using just one example of one thing. Well, here's another. How many of you here know what the Qlipoth are?

Here's a rundown. There's an ancient Hebrew text called the Sefer Yetsirah (Book of Formation). In this book, we see the first historical reference to what are known as the Sefirot Belimah (nobody really knows what this term means. P.S. Sefirot = Sephiroth for FF7 fans.). There are 10 Sefirot Belimah and 22 Wondrous Paths of Wisdom. A literal interpretation is that there are 22 Hebrew Letters and 10 numbers.
Jump forward a few hundred years and we have Kabbalah. Kabbalah is based on the Sefirot Belimah, which are typically arranged into a formation that is called the "Tree of Life." The tree of life formation is also supposed to represent the body of God. The ultimate, unknowable manifestation of God is called Ein Sof (Nothing), and that is located "above" and as the source of all the Sefirot.
Jumping forward a bit more in time, we have this guy Isaac Luria. Things get really complicated here. Basically, Ein Sof's creation of the Sefirot is interpreted to be the creation of the world. However, to explain the existence of Evil in the world, essentially an error occurs in creation. The Sefirot shatter, and fall into this amorphous abyss. But the divine light that was in the Sefirot is still trapped inside of their shells (Qlipoth). Eventually Ein Sof creates another set of Sefirot and this time everything goes according to plan.
The Qlipoth are, at least in this interpretation, the world(s) we live in.

Is it too speculative to try and draw some conclusions about Berserk from that? I'm not sure. It seems terribly unlikely that Miura is choosing actual historical figures and actual planar terminology at random. Anyway, I could probably point out a few more if I had the time to dig through recent Volumes, but I don't at the moment.


Note: Since I forgot to add this in there earlier. There are certainly issues of translation to consider. The entire endeavor of trying to look at material translated from the Japanese and examine it from that might be faulty. For instance, I have no idea how we can go from a Japanese symbol to an English transliteration of a Hebrew word (Qlipoth) unless the translator is taking liberties or unless there is some explicit indication of the Hebrew origin of the term in the usage.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2004, 03:19:43 PM by Denial »

Offline Denial

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Re: Piecemeal Elements
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2004, 03:12:40 AM »
Ah, yes, recalling one of my other suspicions.


Now, there's a pretty good chance that Flora's just a random name for a character that Miura liked. But there's the fact that she's a magic user, and that gets me thinking. There is a famous Gnostic text called Ptolomy's Letter to Flora, and I'm curious whether Miura might be drawing pieces of her identity from that. Some varieties of Gnosticism are associated pretty strongly with Hermetic magic, and, while I don't know enough about Hermetism to say with any degree of specificity, the general outlines of how we see Magic operate in Berserk tends to align with my understanding of Hermetic magical practices. (You could make the case that at the general level of my understanding, most traditional conceptions of magic resemble Berserk. Which is probably true.) There's also the issue that Ptolomy's Letter to Flora is, I believe, a Valentinian Gnostic text and therefore strongly Christian and not strongly associated with magic. However, that does not necessarily imply any beliefs to which Flora may ascribe, since this letter is written by Ptolomy, not Flora, so it's possible Miura could see the historical Flora as having Hermetic leanings. I am not sure if there is any evidence to back up that conjecture, but I will look into it a bit.

Offline Headless Death

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Re: Piecemeal Elements
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2004, 04:23:26 AM »
I have studied a little on hermetic philosophy, and I agree that many of the teachings of the hermetic axioms seem to be strongly relevant in berserk.  I figured that their relevance to berserk would have been a great question to the Idea of Evil, but it remains unsaid.  ;)
For it will not respond. :'(
Here was my post.

Offline Sparnage

Re: Piecemeal Elements
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2004, 06:38:23 AM »
If they were indeed based on what you say it would not surprise me, Miura has put in not only lots of different parts from history blended together but also cultural concepts. In particular Headless death, I believe the Idea of evil was based on a concept conceived by Aristotle from ancient greek philosophy.

I would like to hear more about his historical and cultural inspitations from where they originate from and how they tie into the story. That is ones not based on speculation but have been pointed out by Miura himself.