Bestselling self-help author turned Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson posted a Neon Genesis Evangelion meme on Facebook and Instagram, because apparently the otaku demographic matters.
Williamson made waves during the June 27 Democratic presidential debate with her closing remarks, proposing that Donald Trump could be defeated in the 2020 election by the power of love: "So, Mr. President, if you're listening, I want you to hear me, please: You have harnessed fear for political purposes, and only love can cast that out. ... I'm going to harness love for political purposes. I will meet you on that field and, sir, love will win."
You may guffaw, but the power of love can be great and terrible, which is where this Evangelion meme comes into play.
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The biggest problem with the world is that we do not show up for one another. We withdraw in judgement rather than extending ourselves into each other’s lives. There is literally nothing we could not achieve were we willing to join with each other at deeper levels. Some people say, “Stick with spirituality, Marianne; stay out of politics.” But that’s like saying to an artist, “Create something beautiful but never show it to the world.” Spirituality without application is dead. It’s in the world of politics that transgression against a spiritual sensibility is the most egregious and most dangerous. Humanity will literally not be able to survive itself, if we do not awaken to our oneness and come to the realization that in love and love alone are we at home. Evangeline created this meme, and I saw it online today. Those are indeed my words, and I think people turning them into memes is utterly fascinating. What a way for the mind to process something. The use of lightheartedness can be a very serious thing). #bigtruth
The image depicts Asuka within the blood-spattered cockpit of Eva Unit-02 during her climatic fight against the Mass Produced Evas in 1997's End of Evangelion. The meme reads: "Value does not derive from labor; It derives from self-actualization. Everything we do to help people express themselves at a higher level puts value into the economy." While that isn't an Evangelion quote, Williamson explains, "Those are indeed my words, and I think people are turning them into cartoon memes is utterly fascinating. What away [sic] for the mind to process something. I love it. The use of lightheartedness can be a very serious thing."
Although we wouldn't exactly describe Evangelion as "lighthearted," the accompanying text reflects Williamson's understanding of Evangelion: "The biggest problem with the world is that we do not show up for one another. We withdraw in judgment rather than extending ourselves into each other's lives." Here, Williamson references the hedgehog's dilemma, the philosophical question at the crux of Evangelion: During the winter, how does a hedgehog/human stay warm? Does the hedgehog endure the painful quills that come with getting close to other hedgehogs? Or does the hedgehog endure the cold alone?
Keeping in mind that Evangelion is already difficult enough to decipher on its own, how does the meme relate to the series? Well, the idea that one's value is dependent on their self-actualization as opposed to their labor summarizes Asuka's character arc. Initially the overconfident ace Eva pilot, Asuka's confidence became compromised when newbie pilot Shinji outpaced her. Throw in some FUBAR sorties, and Asuka becomes so insecure that she can no longer pilot. Because her self-worth was derived from being the best, Asuka falls into a deep depression. Realizing that her mother always supported her, Asuka self-actualizes in the most literal sense, maximizing the use of her piloting abilities and Unit-02's arsenal to brutalize the Mass Produced Evas.
The second half of the meme explains "the politics of love" that comprises Williamson's platform. As she states, "There is literally nothing we could not achieve were we willing to join with each other at deeper levels." This is SEELE's reasoning for enacting The Human Instrumentality Project: By removing the barriers that separate people, humanity can be united as single, perfect entity, thus erasing the insecurities and faults of each individual.
Unlike SEELE, we're pretty sure Williamson doesn't want to elevate humanity to a higher plane of existence by turning us into a primordial sea of LCL. On the other hand, "Humanity will literally not be able to survive itself, if we do not awaken to our oneness and come to the realization that in love and love alone are we at home."
We're not saying that Williamson is trying to fulfill The Human Instrumentality Project, but she is paraphrasing SEELE's manifesto.