“Muv-Luv” Asimov’s Psychohistory

"Muv-Luv" Asimov's Psychohistory

Issac Asimov’s “Foundation Novels” were a primary inspiration source for building the world of Muv-Luv. The author called science fiction as “the only literature of relevant ideas”, since its the only literature that is, at its best, firmly based on scientific thoughts. It’s not the only path to truth, but offers a way of determining the false. It does not make pretenses towards claiming overarching, global truth, however, it does allow a linear, rational method of elimination to get closer to the truth.

Psychohistory is a fictional science in Issac Asimov’s Foundation universe which combines history, sociology, and mathematical statistics to make general predictions about the future behavior of very large groups of people. It uses a statistical approach to foretell the course of great social and economic currents, by including considerations of items such as the known probability of imperial assassination and economic depressions, and at the center of it all was the bright mathematician, Hari Sheldon.

In this essay I will try to analyze Sheldon’s character and Motivations, and how they came to inspire professor Kouzuki Yuuko‘s rational and thought process in Muv-Luv, in addition to addressing how Asimov tackled the larger stakes and the specific question of how humankind comes to terms with the possibility of its imminent demise as a species. Asimov’s scientific and cultural attitude towards the potential decline and destruction of humans will greatly contribute to his protagonist’s character development arc, and how he perceives reality.

The Chaos Theory

Kouzuki Yuuko Muv-Luv Alternative Psychohistory

It’s important to map out how Asimov constructs his science fiction worlds. At the barest minimum, Chaos Theory is a field of mathematics that attempts to understand the complexity of reality. Scientists build theories of what constitutes reality upon mathematical formulas, but a one-to-one correlation between reality and these linear equations is not always applicable, hence the need to use different mathematical equations to account for the unpredictable (chaotic) nature of reality and observe it.

Within the literary and cultural realm, there is a major discrepancy between how each author views the unformed or the unordered. Some authors view chaos with a positive connotation, and accept it for what it is, the unquantifiable aspects of reality are as valid as those quantifiable portions. Meanwhile Asimov views chaos as an antagonist to order, and that leaving things unaccounted for will eventually lead to destruction.

Asimov’s attitude produces a certain attitude on how his protagonist handles death and destruction. It’s important to emphasize that Seldon (the character) is not Asimov. It may be better to read into Seldon as a demonstrative of the kind of attitude that comes with a worldview shaped by linear, rational models of science, and how it speaks volumes for the character of Kouzuki Yuuko and her many influences throughout the entries of Muv-Luv.

Road to Psychohistory

Ikaruga The Day After

As a matter of prefacing the discussion on Asimov, a bit of background on the foundation novels’ plot must be presented. Hari Seldon is a mathematician who is seeking a formula that would give predictive power to guide the actions of human kind and save it from devastation. His project is named “psychohistory” and this is the mathematical algorithm that will give him predictive power to best plan out humanity’s future actions.

He was looking for some system of mathematized logic, a stimuli-response kind of process. Given that fact, we can understand Seldon’s interactions with society as an information gathering process, and is comparing all of humanity to a microfarm (composed of unthinking algae and bacteria), compared to which humanity loses its individuality, and their fate is only maintained by a certain number of more intelligent purposeful farmers, who are always evolving constantly and never stagnant.

He created in his mind a power differential by which humankind is required to be cultivated and pruned as determined by a wiser faction of society, like cutting out a diseased tissue in favor of the non diseased ones. Even though he is the protagonist, his pragmatic sterility towards humanity makes it hard for a reader to empathize with him. It creates doubt that his worldview is correct, but at the same time, Seldon wishes for nothing more than to preserve humanity and ensure its survival, just like Kouzuki Yuuko in Muv-Luv.

The threat he is responding to (in theory), is the eventual decay of humanity, based on their current stagnant society. Asimov’s characters identify the missing component of their societies as not wanting to “become something“, its not in their hierarchy of priorities, and therefore, doom is inevitable. A paradox is created where Seldon’s decides the only means to prevent the inevitable is to impart certain knowledge upon a small number of history defining figures whose priority is “Knowledge” and “Becoming” above all.

The Intellectual Puzzle

Kouzuki Yuuko Muv-Luv Alternative Psychohistory

While other authors, like Hyperion’s Simmons are interested how humanity approaches the shift in power and order, and how to come into terms with how humans may not be so important in the face of greater, complex, shifting reality, Asimov calls his approach to science “A chess game” with well defined calculable moves and results. Even human emotions appear to him like a standard algorithm of set behaviors.

I want to reiterate again that Seldom does not lack care for humanity, as the plot is driven by a desire to depict how human kind can be saved, but he is operating on a very large scale (in the novels the galactic empire), and in Muv-Luv it’s the Earth, and therefore a certain amount of compromises is required. Seldon is constructed as a character that values knowledge above all else, and wonders why did so many people spend lives not trying to find answers to questions … or not even thinking of questions to begin with?

Seldom’s driving force can thus be characterized as a pursuit of knowledge, and while is end goal is noble, his emotions are not necessarily being triggered by invocations for humanity, but because of wanting to solve the intellectual puzzle of psychohistory, to the point he abandons his old life entirely, and is averted from romanticism or emotions even to his own wife and helper Dors Venabili, because he cannot effectively quantify these elements in practical reality.

Seldon’s project of psychohistory is based on a rational approach to a quantifiable reality, by which he attempts to solve the calculation problems of chaos, therefore, he is ultimately ignoring any complexity that would otherwise confound his calculations. He avoided being a revolutionary leader when proposed to because he was arrogant and cynic to the point he thought of himself as the chaotic break factor. If he himself participates in society, he won’t be able to calculate the paradoxical outcomes.

He kept thinking that there is order at the heart of the universe, but chaos grows out of this order, making it harder for humankind to understand cause and effect rationally. He also argued that we understand or remember things closer to that moment of history when the order was high like now, and that’s why humans forget things, because the past had more disorder and chaos than the present, therefore if we look back at the past as means to analyze the future, we can grab the cause and effect of everything that lays ahead.

A Lone Hero

Kouzuki Yuuko Muv-Luv Alternative Psychohistory

In his pursuit of knowledge, Seldon wrote entire planets and misfortunes off as a minor heavings, and justified the potential harm to others as it only would serve to hinder his broader project of preserving “humanity”. Seldon’s empathy seemed to function on an abstract level, where he can intellectualize the best means to promote humanity’s interests as a whole because he removed himself emotionally from the means to achieving this goal.

The result of his abstract view of humanity did not end well for his mental integrity. In his old age, on the day of his eventual death, Seldon reflects upon the past: “Was I so concerned with the grand sweep of psychohistory that the people and events that intersected my life sometimes seemed inconsequential by comparison? Through his closing thoughts he reflects upon his loneliness most of all.

“What I see before me, around me, is the future of humanity… This – this – was my life’s work. My past – humanity’s future. Foundation. So beautiful, so alive. And nothing can… Dors!” His mind paints a contradiction, as if saying nothing is more important than his work, yet he calls his wife’s name. His personal relationship with an individual human being intercedes and claims his attention, perhaps for the first time in his life.

Seldon’s death is a tragic one, particularly because of how Asimov depicts an old person who dies alone. His closest family and friends are alive, but are far away from his heart emotionally because of the great psychohistorical project. He recognized that perhaps he should have done more to avoid compromising the future of humanity, but at the same time improve the life of an individual who is dear to him. In the end, he thinks about true love.

These realizations only come to him a few moments before dying, and therefore he is never afforded the opportunity to do better for himself, or for others. His lack of empathy for individual human beings creates a deficit in his overall quality of life, and this is something that he can only address in retrospect. This is the mind of a person who went above and beyond for the sake of a future only he could see.

Reflections on Muv-Luv

Final Mission Alternative

The tale ends with a hollow echo and an overriding sense of melancholy. Seldon has effectively lived his entire life trying to control for adverse conditions for all of humanity, when he could not protect himself or his loved ones. The reader is left with the feeling that his attempts to control complexity have ultimately failed because of these crucial emotional lacunae in his thought process that he himself created.

The fact that Seldon’s psychohistorical project is so influenced by the ability to discern cause and effect can explain why Seldon had instinctively tried to remove himself from the actual workings of the world that he was trying to save, and why he did not have many empathetic connections to others. This also explains why he ends his tale feeling regretful, because its hard for him to connect to the humanity that he claimed the right to speak for.

I think its much more easier now for informed readers to understand the parallels and connections between Asimov’s Seldon and Kouki’s Yuuko. The Origins of the Quantum Causality Theory, Why the Kouzuki notes is very important to determining the future of humanity in Muv-Luv TDA, how was she able to remove herself partially from the after effects of dealing with the causality conductor, and also theorize on her inevitable breakdown in Integrate and the cost she has to pay for all her sacrifices.

Kouzuki Yuuko Muv-Luv Integrate Psychohistory

One of the fundamental axioms of Psychohistory was that it assumed humans are the only sentient intelligence in the galaxy, where this was not the case as extra galactic aliens and transhumans were introduced later, who are able to break away from the theory and the limits of causality. Therefore, neglect of factors that could not be accounted for was something Muv-Luv has tried to avoid through its complex character work.

Asimov has revealed a desire to utilize the sciences (as well as his literature) as a way to prevent humankind from being overwhelmed by external circumstances, by means to compensate for inherent human frailty in the face of a complex universe where human goals may not necessarily take precedence, and human death and suffering may very well be unnecessary components of reality, and thus deemed unneeded.

In other words, Asimov’s novels only briefly address the feelings of the individual in the face of impending death in Seldon’s closing moments, and most of the time it doesn’t take them into account, but authors like Simmons (Hyperion) has a greater focus on the psychological impacts of the limitations of humankind and their paradoxical desire to order and control for circumstances that would expose their mortal coils.

Jinguuji Marimo The Day After

At last, I would like to argue that Muv-Luv is the same, it doesn’t shy away from viewing humanity in a rather minimalistic manner through the eyes of Kouzuki Yuuko, but at the same time it address the psychological and emotional shortcomings of this worldview through many other characters and her interactions with them. Unlike Seldon, I don’t think Yuuko was ever truly alone or devoid of emotion, she loved others and was loved as much as anyone else, I have no doubt about that.

Muv-Luv currently has the best of both worlds. Asimov’s and Simmon’s, but to elaborate on how on how Muv-Luv transcends the source of its main inspiration, and shows us the struggle on a more personal level, it would need another full essay to explore the thematic similarities between the different approaches to the impending doom of humanity. In the mean time, thank you for reading so far.

References:

  • Asimov’s Psychohistory: Vision of the Future or Present Reality
  • The Tragic End of Humanity and How to Deal with the Cosmic Joke of Chaos: Issac Asimov’s Foundation Prequels and Dan Simmons’s Hyperion Cantos in Conversation with Complexity Theory. Thesis by Madhuri Vairapandi, B.A.
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