The Dragons and Nihilism — Guild Wars 2 Forums

The Dragons and Nihilism

perilisk.1874perilisk.1874 Member ✭✭✭✭

Theory: The Elder Dragons are meditations on different philosophies of (or about, or opposed to) nihilism, as identified by their secondary domains. Not a philosophy major, so if anyone knows better than me, please jump in and correct me. Also, I haven’t spent more than an hour or so thinking about it, so maybe I’m way off base with some of this.

Zhaitan - Nietzsche, not surprising that the person people immediately think of when they hear “Nihilism” also gets first crack at the story. Even the name is basically a mashup of Nietzsche and Shaitan. "Shadow" is a deep spiritual darkness that stands in opposition to the blinding light of the Six (and is distinct from the mere absence of that light in fallen gods), and it's no surprise that the Dragon sits on the city of the gods and proclaims “the gods are dead” -- in fact, it’s indicative of authorial intent. Zhaitan represents an assault on higher meaning, in favor of an endless, empty life of mere flesh and blood and endlessly repeated routine (witness the eternal recurrence of the Risen continuing to work as they did in life, without purpose).

Mordremoth - My best guess is Kierkegaard, or rather it represents a sort of anti-existentialism? It’s not exactly solipsistic, but thematically there is a rejection of the distinction between self and others (which works for Mordremoth since the Sylvari minds, both Dream and Nightmare, are all part of the same gestalt as its own mind, and similarly it views its body as the entirety of the jungle it controls and corrupts), and as far as the Mordrem are concerned, there is a suppression of authentic individuality into perfect sameness. The dragon fails to properly conceive of itself as a particular embodied individual consciousness in a separate world populated by more of same. I’m not super sure about this one, but this sort of intuitively works for me.

Kralkatorrik - Buddhism (or Schopenhauer if we’re sticking with Western philosophy) make the connection between desire and suffering which is very much wrapped up in Kralkatorrik’s Fury -- his unbridled will to consume which directly causes his suffering.

Jormag - Heidegger. This Dragon addresses the political side of the discussion -- it corrupts via the Will to Power. Here is a picture of Bangar.

Primordus - Kelvin (he's a natural philosopher). Think about it.

Sclerybda, or Selbbub, or whatever - No idea, obviously. We can never know. Oh, well, there you go. I like the vaguely Lovecraftian notion people have suggested of a dragon that literally corrupts knowledge and memory, even remotely, through poorly understood means. The dragon of bitrot, the monster in the realm of Forms. It’s sort of a really aggressive take on epistemological nihilism that goes beyond philosophy into applied information theory -- the deliberate erasure of knowledge and meaning to create absolute uncertainty.

Comments

  • ugrakarma.9416ugrakarma.9416 Member ✭✭✭✭
    edited October 1, 2019

    I have a foot in philosophy and I liked the comparisons.
    Lorewise we have no direct evidence of such influences/relation, but perhaps theres some a bit of "happy accident"?

    in this topic, i made some comments about similarity between Tyria and a "tragic existencialism" worldview:

    unfortunately the current Tyria is drawn as a world based on a tragic existentialism (whether intentional or accidental I don't know), so it is not surprising that all races are drawn as erratic or dumber. In this kind of existentialism, which may be called epicurianism, the gods have abandoned us, the world was "created by the chaos" and has no big purpose, we exist merely because we think we exist so we be anything we think we can be.. this is unfortunately a very anti-theist setup and cosmology..... Particularly I do not like existentialism, I am just recognizing how the world of Tyria was designed. For those like us, who are into Gods related lore is a really bad news....

    About Schopenhauer, theres elements of "misoginy" in him, (but im not bashing the philosopher cuz its a long history), the origin of desire is life, so the woman by perpetuating the life, they perpetuate the suffering(according to the Budhism influence), It is something that would clash with Dwayna the goddess that perpetuates life, its can feed a narrative about a hipotetical "anti-Dwayna" villain.

    main pvp: Khel the Undead(power reaper).

  • perilisk.1874perilisk.1874 Member ✭✭✭✭
    edited October 1, 2019

    @ugrakarma.9416 said:
    About Schopenhauer, theres elements of "misoginy" in him, (but im not bashing the philosopher cuz its a long history), the origin of desire is life, so the woman by perpetuating the life, they perpetuate the suffering(according to the Budhism influence), It is something that would clash with Dwayna the goddess that perpetuates life, its can feed a narrative about a hipotetical "anti-Dwayna" villain.

    And of course, Kralkatorrik ended up being the one whose line was propagated, through daughters and granddaughters, in a way most directly analogous to mortal reproduction. Another happy accident? Of course, neither purified Glint nor Aurene suffered from his Torment (yet, that we know of) -- but that could always just be taken as philosophical repudiation of his (Schopenhauer's, not Kralkatorrik's) misogyny.

  • I kind of feel like any philosophical overlap is accidental at best, and stretching it at worst. There's not really much about Zhaitan and the risen that is nihilism. If the risen are to be believed, and their actions any shown hint, then Zhaitan's goal was to make an eternal kingdom to rule over and proclaiming that death is needless. This feels like the opposite of nihilism, which proclaims our actions in life to be meaningless. With the whole "the gods are dead" - really this just applies to Lyssa (something interesting to consider when brought up with PoF), and it feels like the Priestess of Lyssa's take on the whole commonplace "risen make proclamations to demoralize their enemies" - no one but the Risen Priestess of Lyssa and the High Priestess of Lyssa claim "Zhaitan eats gods".

    And yes, there's the whole "stare into the abyss and it stares back" via Zhaitan's domain of shadow and relations to darkness, but I feel this fits more with the Nightmare rather than any of the Elder Dragons, as how Faolain fell to Nightmare was pretty much exactly that - she and Caithe were exposed to the Nightmare during their travels, and Faolain stared too long thus becoming irrivocably twisted by the Nightmare. Though such can be said for Jormag, as this is a parallel of Jora's and Svanir's story as well - Jora and Svanir both touched Jormag's power via Drakkar, but Jora looked away quickly while Svanir didn't and it took hold of Svanir. Obviously that's a more literal interpretation of Nietzsche's line and not what the line actually means, but it's the closest thing I see between Nietzsche and Guild Wars.

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