For Dining Between Novice And Master

[22:15] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> [In a pleasant, quiet cafe overlooking the Seine, two people sat. One, an attractive, violet-haired young lady; the other a well-dressed old gentleman, a plate of escargot and a frothy, ice-cream-and-strawberry thickshake in front of him.-
[22:16] <Gilles`de`Orleans> "And, well. I was up all night." Said de Orleans, chuckling to himself. "I still managed to get an A- on that essay, but leaving it to the last moment just goes to show how reckless I was."
[22:20] * Yanmei was giggling. Only a day or two since her temporary imprisonment at the hospital, and she had come to the meeting expecting still more stress… but it was a pleasant conversation to her relief. One that she could relax in. "I’m never quite so fortunate when I scramble to do things at the last minute. You must've really been studying hard up to that point." -
[22:22] <Yanmei> In front of her was a small ham sandwich and some raw veggies, both of which bore the marks of a few nibbles. Her own drink: a mug of black tea.
[22:23] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Not as much as I should have. I am a terrible role model for a young girl such as yourself." Said de Orleans, sipping his milkshake. "I made the usual mistakes, you know."
[22:25] <Yanmei> "Oh?" she grinned at him. "And I dunno. I can think of at least a dozen worse role models that I chat with regularly at work. Some military guys have awfully foul mouths."
[22:26] <Gilles`de`Orleans> "Ah, well. That -is- a risk with those soldier boys." Said de Orleans, chuckling indulgently. "But, ah, you know the ones. -Those- mistakes. Little things seem a lot more important at 16."
[22:29] <Yanmei> "You think so? Ah, I mean, of course." She nodded firmly, quickly adopting the air of someone who knew it all already. "Sometimes you have to wait for kids to grow up a little to get better perspective."
[22:32] <Gilles`de`Orleans> "You do." Said de Orleans, chuckling to himself. "But, that’s fine, that's fine. It's all part of the experience of being young."
[22:36] <Yanmei> "Maybe. It can be a little frustrating for those of us doing the waiting, though." Yanmei slipped her fingers around the handle of her mug and raised it to her mouth for a moment. "By the way, I'm glad that we could meet today. I apologize for being so tied up lately."
[22:38] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Oh, it was my pleasure." said de Orleans. "What’s tied you down?"
[22:39] <Yanmei> "Personal matters. A friend in the hospital that I'm trying to support. And, ah. Recovery from the latest battle, of course."
[22:39] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Ah yes." de Orleans let his face crease a little in sympathy. "It took quite a toll on you, didn’t it?"
[22:44] * Yanmei hesitated, recalling the fightlogs she had gone over. She had given up during the final end of the battle, shutting her eyes against the gore in the recorded footage. "I got off lightly in comparison to the other pilots," she said with a little smile. "It's nothing to be too concerned about."
[22:45] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Yet nevertheless suffered, no?"
[22:47] <Yanmei> "Not exactly? I can’t remember most of it this time around, so…"
[22:47] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Ah, well. That’s not too bad then, I suppose." Said de Orleans reasonably. "But what's this I hear about 'shadow men'?"
[22:52] <Yanmei> "From what I was told, it's something that happened to the ground and air troops." She placed her cup down and held back a sigh of relief. Thank goodness for changes in topics. "The Evas and their pilots were attacked by illusions, apparently. Shadowy versions of themselves that inflicted some mental trauma on them. The same thing happened to the support troops, on a personal scale. Some fought and were able to defeat their
[22:54] <Yanmei> "- counterparts. But others were eaten by them, and they changed. Became more violent. No one knows what to make of this."
[22:55] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Troubling." Said de Orleans, shaking his head wearily. "Things like that, well, they’re like out of some story book or computer game. So strange… What do you think about it?"
[23:00] <Yanmei> "I'm not sure." Yanmei stared into her mug. "The Angel that created those shadowy versions of them was defeated, and yet its effects still linger behind. Maybe being eaten was a way of unlocking some part of those soldiers personalities that they had all along? But…" -
[23:01] <Yanmei> "It's hard to tell without talking to them, isn't it?"
[23:03] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Hmmmm." de Orleans nodded. "Have you spoken to them yet?"
[23:06] * Yanmei shook her head. "I put in a request to our Operations Director, Major Lachapelle, but I don’t think he was too keen on the idea? He doesn't look like it, but he can be a little overprotective at times."
[23:06] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "A little overprotective, you say~?"
[23:11] <Yanmei> "He totally is. I think it’s because if we get hurt, he'll have fewer people around to tease." She winked. "But yeah. He did have a good point about one thing. There's nothing we - the pilots, that is, - can really do that NERV's trained specialists can't do better for those guys."
[23:13] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Hmm. But then again, you pilots were affected by it too? So maybe you might have some insight!"
[23:15] <Yanmei> "Maybe. Or at least the other two might?" Yanmei frowned a little. "I can’t remember. I can't remember any of it."
[23:16] * Gilles‘de`Orleans frowned, and rubbed his pointed chin. "Hm… Well, I’m sure it'll work itself out…" Murmured the old man. "Are your fellows capable?"
[23:18] <Yanmei> "I would say so, yes." Likely more capable than herself, it hurt to say.
[23:18] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "What’re they like?"
[23:22] <Yanmei> "They both excel at what they do, and what they do are different things. De Pteres, the pilot of 01, specializes in melee. He's a bi- well, a lot spacey. Not so good at socializing. But he's fairly easygoing, save for some exceptional moments."-
[23:24] <Yanmei> "Blanc is the pilot of 00, and specializes in AT fields. She seems to be studying them and the EVAs beyond piloting as well, and has a knack for most science. Hopelessly idealistic, though." She rolled her eyes a little. "Maybe because she's immersed herself so deeply in academia."
[23:25] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Idealistic?"
[23:30] <Yanmei> "She doesn’t comprehend negative behavior. Why people fight or act cruelly to others. She expects everyone to get along naturally. Give her an example of someone hurting someone else, and she'll just assume that the aggressor is 'broken' somehow, or something equally simplistic. I can only imagine how she views global politics."
[23:33] * Gilles‘de`Orleans chuckles. "You make it sound like you can justify violent behaviour."
[23:37] <Yanmei> "I can understand why people engage in it at any rate." Yanmei chuckled with him. "You can’t force people to get along. Sometimes conflict is unavoidable."
[23:38] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Ah, but why is it unavoidable?"
[23:48] <Yanmei> "It comes down to people being in positions that are so opposed to each other and so rigid that neither can give without losing something they desperately want or need. A prison inmate wants to be free, but the guard standing outside of his door can’t let him go without risking his job, the safety of the people beyond the prison, and the prison system itself.-"
[23:50] <Yanmei> "The prisoner isn't wrong for yearning as he does, and - presuming that the prisoner is guilty of his crimes - the guard isn't wrong for doing his job. Regardless of how they view each other on a personal level, they're simply in opposing positions.-"
[23:53] <Yanmei> "When survival plays a part, things get even worse. If you throw two starving people a morsel that can't be divided, they aren't going to calmly and rationally debate who should get it. No, in most circumstances, one's going to try to bash the other's brains in so that he can survive. Situation may change a bit if they're not strangers, though. Or if the person cannot go through with it for personal reasons.-"
[23:54] <Yanmei> "Really, most conflicts are unique because of the people involved in it. So it's difficult to make sweeping generalizations."
[23:55] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Interesting. An interesting statement." Said de Orleans. "You’ve a good head there."
[23:58] <Yanmei> "Heh heh. Thank you." She took another drink. "I've given it a lot of thought. Unfortunately, I don't know if I can go into everything in a single conversation. There are some people that appear to harm others for no reason as well, but…"
[23:59] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Well. Perhaps those people -are- broken?" Said de Orleans. "Or perhaps there -is- a reason we simply cannot see."
[00:01] <Yanmei> "I prefer to assume the latter in those cases until proven otherwise. People are complex."
[00:03] <Gilles`de`Orleans> "Aha. Does that make you more forgiving?"
[00:04] <Yanmei> "More understanding, maybe? But forgiveness is a different creature."
[00:04] <Gilles`de`Orleans> "Oh?"
[00:06] <Yanmei> "Sometimes a person can be hurt so deeply, or wounded so many times by someone else, that forgiving that person is impossible even if they know why that pain was inflicted. Wouldn’t you agree?"
[00:09] * Gilles‘de`Orleans dwelt on that, leaning back and sipping on his thickshake. "No, I daresay I would not."
[00:10] * Yanmei blinked at that. "No?"
[00:12] <Gilles`de`Orleans> "Forgiveness…" de Orleans. "Is a higher function. So that means that nothing renders it impossible~"
[00:14] <Yanmei> "…" It took a moment or two to find something to say to that. "I’m not really sure what you mean by a higher function. Forgiveness, revenge, grudges… aren't they at the same level? Different responses that depend on hearts of the people involved in a conflict."
[00:15] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "No." de Orleans winked. "Silly me. I should explain what I mean, shouldn’t I?"
[00:16] * Yanmei nodded, leaning back a little.
[00:17] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "You have to eat, yes?"
[00:19] <Yanmei> "Of course!" She nodded toward her own plate, and snagged one of the carrot sticks resting there, as if demonstrating.
[00:22] <Gilles`de`Orleans> "Of course." He said. "So a starving person will eat food if it’s given to them."
[00:24] <Yanmei> "Yes, naturally, if that person wants to live."
[00:26] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "So, what happens when people like Potti Sreeramulu come about, hmm?"
[00:29] <Yanmei> "That was a person who cared more about his ideals than his own survival. In that case, I would categorize him as a person who doesn’t want to live." She paused, frowning a little. "No, that doesn't feel completely right?"
[00:33] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Hmhmhm." de Orleans chuckled. "No, I do believe that’s accurate. The question lies in the action: how is that possible?"
[00:37] * Yanmei seemed to be struggling with her thoughts for a moment. "Because… his ideals were important enough to transcend everything for him?"
[00:38] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Hmm, but how is -that- possible?"
[00:39] * Yanmei fought with the question for a while longer. "I’m not sure," she finally said.
[00:44] * Gilles‘de`Orleans chuckled. "The human mind. That’s it! That's all it is. See, humans are, basically, animals." de Orleans sipped his thickshake for a second before continuing. "We eat, we sleep, we reproduce. But." He tapped his forehead. "The moment you bring thinking into it- logic, abstractions- things change. The human mind gives us -willpower-. The ability to control our own actions. In this case, it simply means suppressing your own instincts. That is what I mean by a higher function: something that can only stem from a human mind. So, logically, it follows that -all- humans should be capable of using higher functions like forgiveness, yes?"
[00:49] <Yanmei> "Well, yes." Yanmei nodded. "Willpower is pretty strong? But… I wonder. Lately I've been wondering if maybe a person can only suppress their own instincts for so long."
[00:49] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Oh? Why is that?"
[00:54] <Yanmei> "Using your example, a person willingly starving to death for something as abstract as a political ideal is pretty incredible. Not everyone could do it. At some point, the urge to eat would be so strong that it would break that self control." Yanmei looked away, avoiding eye contact. "Is Sreeramulu an extraordinary person? Or are those who would give in and eat less human… less capable of using higher functions?"
[00:58] * Gilles`de`Orleans chuckled again. "Oh, no doubt Sreeramulu -was- an extraordinary person. Most people couldn’t, you know." He swallowed one of the escargot. "It's natural for your willpower to give out eventually. What it -does- do, however, is give humanity a general bar to aspire towards. A bar we rarely fulfil, unfortunately." de Orleans sighed. "Which leads us back to my original point regarding violence: you -can- justify violence, but it can only be justified thanks to a higher function, with ethical backing. If you hurt someone just because, or because you felt bad or because it made you feel good, that's nothing better than submitting to your animal urges. It's unavoidable, usually, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't -try- to avoid it."
[01:06] <Yanmei> "Y-yeah." She nodded, and poured a little more confidence in that response. "Yes, of course. You're right. A person who hurts others for a higher goal exercises more mental power than someone who hurts somebody because it feels good." Saying it aloud… that killed her. Still, she refused to grimace.
[01:07] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "That’s right." Said de Orleans cheerfully, immune to Yanmei's discomfort. "Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean it's -right-."
[01:09] * Yanmei blinked up at him at that. "Violence is still violence, you mean?"
[01:10] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Of course! And violence is inherently a bad thing. It takes more than simply a higher goal to make it worthwhile."
[01:18] <Yanmei> "I understand. So…" a little hint of teasing now, "say you’re in a military organization charged with protecting the world. Is that enough justification for inflicting violence on other entities that stand in its way?"
[01:20] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "Ohohoho." de Orleans smirked. "Only if those other entities impede your mission to such a degree that it becomes genuinely threatened with failure, and there is absolutely no other course of action besides violence."
[01:23] <Yanmei> "Such strict guidelines~ But it probably would be nice."
[01:23] <Gilles`de`Orleans> "To what?"
[01:28] <Yanmei> "To have human rights be a big part of NERV, I suppose? We work to save the world, but many of us seem blissfully ignorant of the people who inhabit it."
[01:28] <Gilles`de`Orleans> "Really?" He blinked.
[01:30] <Yanmei> "Not that we’re going out with armies to crush and conquer cities for resources, of course," she chuckled. "But I wonder if they would if there weren't things like the UN peeking over its shoulder."
[01:31] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "I suspect it would be a world controlled by NERV instead of the UN." Said de Orleans dryly.
[01:32] <Yanmei> "I’d believe it." Yanmei sighed. "No disrespect to NERV itself, of course. Or its charming Commander."
[01:33] * Gilles‘de`Orleans chuckled. "Ah, Commander Fontaine is a competent woman. And she has no real aims for world domination. She is nothing if not loyal, in her own way."
[01:34] <Yanmei> "Loyal?" To her dead husband and his delusions, perhaps.
[01:35] <Gilles`de`Orleans> "Commander Fontaine wants to protect the world. We can’t ask for anything more than that."
[01:37] <Yanmei> "…" Yanmei smiled pleasantly. "Yes, of course."
[01:38] * Gilles‘de`Orleans cheerfully finished off his plate. "I say, that was rather fantastic."
[01:39] <Yanmei> "It was, wasn’t?" Yanmei grinned genuinely now. "We should come back for another serving sometime soon. Like~ say, maybe sometime next week?"
[01:39] <Gilles‘de`Orleans> "I’d partake in that!"
[01:42] <Yanmei> "Great!" Yanmei pushed away from the table a bit and politely stood up. Her own plate was still more than half full, but she could request a doggy bag at the register, no problem. "Thank you for the meal! And the enlightening conversation."
[01:43] <Gilles`de`Orleans> "I should thank you." He stood up, finishing off his thickshake as well. "Have a good day now, Mademoiselle Yanmei."
[01:45] <Yanmei> "You too, Mr de Orleans."

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