Debunking the “Tragic Asshole”: Eirikrjs Lied about the Kabbalah References in SMT Nocturne

Table of Contents for Debunking the Tragic Asshole

This post is debunking Part 2 of Eirikrjs “Maniacs Retcon Woes” which it titled “Skeletons and their Not-Menorahs”

When researching this, I wasn’t sure how much info was too much and how much would seem too brief in my explanation debunking Eirikrjs. So, I cut them into two parts for this specific rebuttal.

If you want to just read a brief explanation for why Eirikrjs is wrong, please use the CTRL + F keys to move to “TLDR Debunking” below. Also, Major Spoilers for Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne in both debunking explanations. 

If you want to read a thorough explanation or have objections to the tldr section, then please enjoy my explanation for why I’m writing this and then move to the full debunking afterwards:

In the process of writing this, I’ve unfortunately suffered a complete and total collapse of my keyboard’s functionality and now require a new laptop to use. I’m currently typing with an external keyboard and have had to use a third-party program to manually shut down the question-mark key on my keyboard to prevent it from going haywire by infinitely repeating itself any time I click certain other mouse keys. In the mean time, I’ve used the number seven as a sort of stand-in for the question-mark and then replaced it with Word’s auto-replace feature. If I accidentally leave that in, then I hope you don’t mind too much and my sincerest apologies for the confusion. Over the past few days, I had been eager to finish this up quickly, but with the current predicament I wasn’t sure if I should and debated putting it on hold until I acquired my new laptop. But it hasn’t completely broken down yet and the issue is somewhat manageable at the moment. So, barring my current laptop completely falling apart, I’ll try as best as I can to continue writing these blog posts that shed light on Eirikrjs ignorance and lies.

Some might ask “Why do this?” and why not just allow Eirikrjs to continue corresponding only to his echo-chamber of angelic darlings who uncritically agree with everything he says? Why not just ignore him? Well, unfortunately, the assumption that ignoring bad faith arguments makes them go away is an unproven one and – judging from my own experience and observances – it seems contrary to actually putting a stop to idiotic beliefs, arguments, and ideas. When you ignore stupid ideas, they become louder and go on unchallenged to eventually negatively impact things that you care about. So, I do think it is important to challenge the very disgusting lies that Eirikrjs spews that Atlus Japan is anti-Semitic. Moreover, judging from extensively reading his question and answers session, I’ve come to the conclusion that after three years of keeping silent on Eirikrjs more . . . unpalatable views . . . that he is legitimately a racist against Japanese people. The way he talks about Japanese people is frankly disturbing; he treats their “reasoning” as if it is always connected to some hyper-nationalist and racist viewpoint. Even if a Japanese person is showing appreciation for Western culture, he repeatedly interprets it in the most negative way possible and accuses them of hyper-nationalism and general stupidity as if they’re incapable of thinking otherwise. Even more disturbing is that this racist viewpoint of his is being accepted as unquestionable fact by both his tumblr followers and some people on the reddit forums in general who call his racist views “nuanced” when they’re not. It’s to the point that I’m genuinely worried what extent this man’s views will be inspiration for any future White Nationalist movement, if left unchallenged. That may sound facetious, but his views don’t stick to criticisms of the games themselves; they become this ridiculous attack on Japanese people’s intelligence, this xenophobic response of accusing them of xenophobia as a pretext without evidence, and his lack of actual response to criticisms – while claiming to accept criticisms and ask for other people’s thoughts – seems to be to defend his racist views that he tries to portray as “social justice” by making baseless accusations against Japanese people and Atlus Japan. As a result, I think the only fair thing to do is debunk his credibility, so that he won’t hold so much sway. I decided to leave this alone because I had been so annoyed with his 2017 blog post on Hijiri that I shamefully acted inappropriately by disparaging SMT2 and calling his blog post stupid. I still don’t know what he’s talking about regarding his identity crisis blog post and he’s never clarified when I asked. Nevertheless, he’s continued to make “additions” that only seem to show his own ignorance and it seems to me that he lied to fans about even playing SMT Nocturne.

People tell me that he’s “falling out of love with the series” and to just let him continue because it’ll end shortly. I’m not sure if any of you who mention this have realized . . . but he’s been “falling out of love” with the series for three whole years now and continues to make baseless complaints about it that only seem to show that he’s never actually played any of the games that he’s complaining about. So . . .  I think people need to rethink his expertise. I’ll delve into that aspect more in the next Debunking post. For this one, I’ll stick to his false aspersions on SMT Nocturne’s usage of Kabbalah Mythology.

I feel it is necessary to mention one point of difference from where Eirikrjs and I view Kabbalah. Eirikrjs and I are both biased, but we come from diametrically opposed views of bias. I don’t know his religious views, but judging from his blog when he mentions Kabbalah, he seems to value Kabbalah as a real and legitimate practice that he sees as complex and intense. Perhaps he sees it as a real connection to spiritual beliefs that he may have. By contrast, I see all religious stories as pure mythology unless they have accredited archaeological backing or a good historical basis in the context of ancient societies cultural practices to support them. I believe that the “supra-rational” that Kabbalah and any other religious belief purports is thoroughgoing anti-intellectualism and sophistry unless it can be defended with demonstrable scientific evidence that can be replicated in multiple scientific studies. I think it is a positive trend when religious myths like the existence of Yahweh are put into video games. because that is where I believe that they belong. Religion is mythology. That is not to say that we shouldn’t have ritualistic practices, read the books, or identify as communities. That is all part of our identities and culture; they can still be meaningful traditions that we feel deeply connected to, even if they are based on nothing more than ancient people’s imaginations. All that is to say that Kabbalah is mythology and needs to be treated as mythology. They are human stories that we feel connected to, so we should craft new interpretations or contentions to them to create new forms of meaning and understanding through our modern art and for me personally, video games are the highest form of modern art. That is my perspective on religion.

Also, I want to be clear that I respect everyone’s human rights and I will treat them equally as human beings, but I don’t value religious beliefs equally. I believe some are more damaging than others. I think the Dharmic faiths as a whole and Judaism are mostly superior to other religious faiths, because they mostly accept atheism as a credible point of view and don’t encourage violence or discrimination against atheists. They all have their own unique failings, but on the whole, I think Judaism and Dharmic faiths cause less problems and have worked to lessen the issues that arise in their religious beliefs like misogyny. Casteism (in the case of Hinduism in particular), or whatever else.

TLDR Debunking

It wasn’t the Jewish Kabbalah’s Tree of Life of 11 Holy Sephirot. It was Christian Kabbalah’s 11 Unholy Qliphoth from the Tree of Death. That’s why six of the eleven Fiends are references to Christianity’s End of Times. The Qliphoth is sometimes understood to be “World of Chaos” in Christian Kabbalah and each Fiend’s background (or in Dante’s case, his actions) fit with the warnings of each of the impure Qliphoth. In some of Kabbalah mythology’s teachings, people end their journey at whatever point on the Kabbalah itself and not on the specific point of Kether because it is suppose to be a deeply personal experience. You go where the journey for wisdom reveals itself to you and it is not a set path; which is why the Demifiend can fight them in different orders. It’s you crafting your own journey. Eirikrjs seems to ignore or not know about the 32 Paths of Wisdom since he only cites the 22 Paths of the Tree of Life which doesn’t work here because it is the Tree of Death. Finally, even if you use the “set path” interpretations of Kabbalah, it surprisingly still doesn’t fail because it is the reverse of the Tree of Life’s pathways. In some Kabbalah teachings, Kether is both the beginning of the journey and the end of the journey, likewise the Demifiend begins with Malkuth as his first Candelabra and finalizes the ritual by giving away Malkuth on the final pillar before the final Kalpa. This further discredits Eirikjr’s JJCAT nonsense, because it is demonic Christian symbolism mixed with Dharmic symbolism and not Jewish per se. Also, courtesy of Larrue, I added developer documents from Atlus Japan pertaining to SMT Nocturne’s Kalpas and the Fiends at the very bottom.

Full Debunking:

Almost everything he said was based on faulty assumptions and it’s mindboggling that he didn’t realize it when he put the evidence together himself. This is actually even more confusing for me because Atlus Japan didn’t stray further from the most basic definitions for each, so I don’t understand how he missed this. This is what Eirikrjs himself beautifully put together:

Now here is what he said and I’ll explain why he’s mistaken in my response to the statements in the blog image (please click the image below to read it fully):

There are two different Trees in the mythology of Kabbalah, the Tree of Life and the Tree of Death. The Fiends in Shin Megami Tensei games generally represent death. In some interpretations, the Tree of Death – that is, the Qliphoth – is understood to mean the World of Chaos. When given a Kabbalah metaphor with Fiends who unequivocally represent death, is it a more fair assumption to view SMT Nocturne’s usage of Kabbalah as the Tree of Life or the Tree of Death?

Long story short, this isn’t the Eleven Emanations of the Sephirot representing Ein Soph (YHVH before he self-manifested). It’s the Qliphoth, the Tree of Death and World of Chaos. Moreover, Eirikrjs either isn’t aware of or discounts the 32 Paths to Wisdom when examining the advancement. Although, arguably neither the 22 Paths of the Tree of Life nor the 32 Paths of Wisdom matter for a specific reason . . .

His assumption on Kether being the goal seems to have been his own misunderstanding. Now, to be clear, Kether is the goal in some Hasidic interpretations of Kabbalah, but it is surprisingly a fairly new conceptualization compared to the other Kabbalah related material. Moreover, the Chassidist (Hasidic interpretation), Christian Kabbalah, and all other interpretations begin with Kether in the Tree of Life. The journey of wisdom is suppose to be deeply personal, so the purpose is to find where your search for meaning and wisdom takes you so that you are closer to the “supra-rational” of the Abrahamic God’s eminence. You can end-up concluding on different parts of the Tree because it is just suppose to be your own journey of wisdom. Demifiend could have ended-up anywhere on the “board” as Eirikrjs calls it and it wouldn’t have mattered since it is just depicting our own personal journeys as the Demifiend by individually finding and defeating the different Fiends.

Judging from what I researched, it seems people make “new meanings” from their own personal Kabbalah journey all the time and conclude wherever they feel the journey is suppose to take them on the Tree in the more esoteric and older interpretations in search of meaning and wisdom. The idea of a preset path is flawed and seems to only be true for Hasidic and Christian interpretations of Kabbalah. Yet, even from these interpretations, we can conclude that Atlus did it correctly. All this to say, on the most basic level of Kabbalah mythology, so long as Demifiend began and ended with the same Qliphoth, then Atlus did it correctly. Demifiend began with Malkuth and the last Candelabra\Menorah that he gave away for the ritual was Malkuth. It’s a reversal of the Tree of Life beginning and ending with Kether. So, how was this incorrect? Even more perplexing, how could Eirikrjs have missed the very obvious symbolism to the Qliphoth, the Tree of Death when the Fiends themselves quite clearly symbolize death?

It only gets worse from there. When completing the True Demon Ending, it is not a stretch by any means to interpret the Demifiend as the SMT equivalent of an Anti-Christ figure. Well, that idea was only further reinforced when researching the placement of each of the Fiends and please remember that six out of the eleven are specifically from Christian mythology of the End Times. It seems Atlus Japan did indeed take great pains to avoid any notion of anti-Semitism, because the placement of the Fiends on the Qliphoth follow Christian Kabbalah’s teachings. This makes perfect sense when you recognize the Fiends aren’t derivatives of any Jewish mysticism, but purely Christian in their theological underpinnings. It further explains Lucifer’s placement as he would obviously be the one ruling the Tree of Death based on Christian mythology and it neatly explains why the Demifiend is an Anti-Christ metaphor upon completing the True Demon Ending. It is possible that Atlus Japan may not have even used any Jewish mysticism as its main source material, but rather utilized the freely available and far less obscure Christian Kabbalah and only referenced Jewish Kabbalah when the Christian Kabbalah proved unusable. For example, the Christian Kabbalah version for Nezach only references one of the “fruits of the Holy Spirit” as a metaphor for living a Christian life and doesn’t seem to have any Qliphoth version mentioned from what I checked, so Atlus probably utilized Jewish Kabbalah in this instance and had the representative be Daisoujou, who is Buddhist in origin.

Most of these seem to be direct references to Christian Kabbalah’s Tree of Death and the Christian variants of the Qliphoth. Unless otherwise stated, most of these should be understood as Atlus Japan referencing Christian Kabbalah. I’ll begin with Kether and end with Malkuth:

Kether: In the Jewish Kabbalah, Kether represents what is entirely incomprehensible to humanity. Essentially, it is seen as beyond the human mind to even understand. In the oldest Jewish Kabbalah text, the Zohar, it is referred to as “the most hidden of all hidden things” and represents “Nothing” because it has no content within itself. Kether is understood to be invisible and “Colorless” to humanity. The Sephirot version is suppose to mean the Abrahamic God’s absolute compassion for humanity, but Atlus Japan switched this with depicting the fourth horseman of the Christian End Times. Pale Rider fits with the Colorless meaning of the Sephirot, but the most intriguing aspect is that Atlus Japan flipped the meaning of what is incomprehensible and Nothingness with Pale Rider symbolizing Death. Death can also be seen as incomprehensible for the human mind to understand which is why we have so many fantastical beliefs about afterlives and it can also symbolize Nothingness. It’s a clever mockery of the concept by using the End of Times, which the Abrahamic God brings upon humanity.

Interestingly enough, one of its Qliphoth variations, seems to give the “revelation” of those cursed by God. Kether’s Qliphoth version of Cathariel symbolizes the “Fearful Light of God” and “The Broken” referring to angels who have fallen from failing to usurp God by using the power of Aleph. After the fall, they become “the Polluted of God” for opposing the Abrahamic God. Within the Fourth Kalpa, Demifiend learns of Hijiri being cursed for eternity with atonement for his unforgivable sin. Later in the True Demon route, when the Demifiend kills Kagutsuchi, Kagutsuchi and Lucifer both tell him that he’ll bear the curse of atonement as well. Since the Qliphoth version of Kether symbolizes the story about angels who were cursed forever for using the power of Aleph to usurp the Abrahamic God, this seems to offer more evidence that Hijiri is indeed the reincarnation of Aleph and that his curse was for killing the Abrahamic God in Shin Megami Tensei 2.

Binah: In Western esotericism, and not exclusively to Christian Kabbalah, Binah represents channeling our boundless creative power and providing positive structures and shapes via following the Divine will of the Abrahamic God. The Qliphoth variant of Binah, Satoriel, signifies death of the creative energy in favor of a lifeless eternal structure. Atlus Japan is cleverly providing a sarcastic rebuttal through Red Rider because following the Abrahamic God’s structure leads to the End of Times whereby war will ravage and destroy the world.

Chokmah: This one represents overflowing vitality of God, while its Qliphoth counterpart of Ghogiel represents going forth in a “Place Empty of God” which is represented by the Black Rider. Additionally, Chokmah is suppose to be the First Seeds of Creation and the Black Rider in the Christian End of Times symbolizes a Food Merchant who brings Famine.  Thus, it can be interpreted to mean a double-rebuttal.

Da’at or Daath: Da’at has several different meanings for its Qliphoth variant due to being a special case as the Sephirot\Qliphoth that Kabbalah mythology enthusiasts accept or reject. It doesn’t seem to have a Qliphoth name from what I was able to look into, but it does have Qliphoth symbolism and Atlus Japan seems to have used them separately for the Demifiend and Dante (I can’t judge the Raidou version as I’ve never played it). For the Demifiend, it symbolizes the obstacle (Dante) preventing him from continuing his quest for knowledge and power by blocking his path through the next doorway as an allegory. For Dante, it represents losing the actual intent of the journey and being trapped in a web of secret information. Dante comments on his contempt for the Candelabra\Menorah before handing it to Demifiend, perhaps noting a contempt towards the knowledge itself.

Interestingly, Kether and Da’at are often interchangeable depending upon the specific Tree of Life or Tree of Death format used. Since Malkuth is in Kether and Kether in Malkuth, it thereby stands that Malkuth is in Da’at and vice versa. This seems to symbolize that Demifiend is independently acquiring knowledge and surpassing death when he chooses to progress through the Kalpas and defeat the Fiends. All of which is self-explanatory, so how did Eirikrjs miss something so obvious?

Hesed or Chesad: In its Sephirot form, it is alternatively known for Mercy or Lovingkindness in the Jewish Kabbalah. In Western esotericism and Christian Kabbalah for the Qliphoth, this view is flipped to refer to the Ga’ashekelah which translates to “The Smiting Ones“, “The Breakers“, or “The Devourers” and symbolizes wasting away the bountiful energy of the Divine Will causing exhaustion and suffocation from either misuse or misplaced love. White Rider is the first of the Four Horsemen of the Christian End of Times; he alternatively represents Jesus Christ, the Anti-Christ, or pestilence that devours the land and wastes it away. Incidentally, the Jewish Kabbalah symbolism for White, which refers to Lovingkindness and Mercy is changed to the mythology of Christianity’s symbolism for the color White which is warring against those who don’t accept Jesus Christ, spreading plague, and conquering their lands.

Gevurah: This one represents Yahweh’s absolute judgment upon humanity by strictly imposing punishment and humanity acknowledging its own limitations by accepting the Abrahamic God’s judgment. It is also symbolized by fire, which can imply damnation in hellfire. The Sephirot symbolism is supposed to mean ruling by righteousness, but it’s Qliphoth counterpart is Golachab which refers to “Burned Bodies” and symbolizes those who wish to force their will upon others through their own Strength. Atlus Japan is cleverly mocking the very notion of the Abrahamic God’s judgment making any coherent sense since Trumpeter is meant to call for the End of Times in Christian mythology. The End of Times clearly contradicts ruling by Righteousness and is imposing the ill will of Yahweh upon others by force. Additionally, Demifiend ending his battles with Trumpeter being the last fight for the Candelabra\Menorah of Godliness represents overthrowing the the Absolute One’s judgment and breaking his own limits to surpass the Abrahamic God.

Tiphereth: represents beauty. The Qliphoth version, Thagirion, represents ugliness and a revolt against God. That perfectly fits Mother Harlot’s background. I doubt much more needs to be said on this one.

Nezach or Netzach: It’s Qliphoth variant is Theumiel, which is the “Fouled Substance of God” since Daisoujou is a reference to a terrible Buddhist practice called Sokushinbutsu whereby a monk’s body would be entombed and exhumed a thousand days later, and if relatively intact would be hailed as a God.

Hod: Hod’s Qliphoth variant is Theuniel (not to be confused with Theumiel with an m), which symbolizes “The Filthy Wailing Ones of God” and also refer to failed creations. They use Hell Biker’s motorcycle roar and the homage to Ghost Rider to symbolize this.

Yesod: the Sephirot form refers to communication, connection, and contact with the external. The Christian Kabbalah evidently claims this was from Jewish Kabbalah, but it seems to just be their own appropriation which was then altered to match-up with Christian beliefs. Atlus Japan obviously reversed the Sephirot symbolism with Matador symbolizing brutal competition and violence. The Qliphoth variant of Gamaliel apparently infers either sexual violence or an unpalatable sexual desire. Atlus Japan seems to have chosen to flip the Christian Kabbalah view of communication and connection by having a brutal competitive fight to the death and strayed away from anything sexually explicit.

Malkuth: This one is the most intriguing Sephirot and Qliphoth to me. This is Demifiend’s first Candelabra\Menorah in the game and the symbolism for the Qliphoth can certainly be seen here. The Sephirot of Malkuth symbolizes worldly matters, but also placing all ten other emanations of the divine into a single point of materialization for Malkuth which is said to be analogous to a King ruling the subjects of his Kingdom.

The Sephirot of Malkuth is also symbolic of a Bride who will be united with their Bridegroom. Recall that the first person who actually had the Candelabra of Sovereignty was the Lady in Black. Evidently, it was more than just window-dressing. The Qliphoth of Malkuth, referred to as Nehemoth which means Night Specter or Whisperers, is explained as a location where the Archdemon Namaah is sitting upon a throne atop a double-cubed altar with a veil over her face. The description of the double-cubed Altar and a veil over the woman’s face fits entirely with the Lady in Black standing at an altar with double-cubed flooring while she tells you about the secrets of the multiverse. Namaah is most well-known as the sister of Lilith and is sometimes incorrectly confused with a woman of the same name who is a sister to Tubal Cain. The most bizarre aspect of learning this is that the Demifiend should technically be married to the Lady in Black upon completing the Fifth Kalpa and meeting Lucifer and the Lady in person. Atlus Japan may not have used that particular part of the Christian Kabbalah mythology, but there is another aspect that they probably did use and this time for Demifiend. The power and shape of Malkuth’s Qliphoth equal to the culmination of all prior demonic forces and is signified by a legion of demons. This neatly coincides with the True Demon Ending’s final scene.

Perhaps most damning is that this completely discredits Eirikrjs’s nonsensical JJCAT theory insofar as SMT Nocturne since the Kabbalah symbolism would heavily infer the New Testament God and not the Old Testament God as per his wild and erroneous accusations. I’d like for you all to reflect on how outrageous and possibly dangerous it was for Eirikrjs to irresponsibly and erroneously charge Atlus Japan with accusations of anti-Semitism without thoroughly factchecking his own so-called evidence. Not only was it filled with nonsensical quips that only he himself probably found funny, but his disposition and arguments come from a place of accusing all Japanese people of being ultra-nationalist, accusing them of being filled with hatred for other cultures, and when people criticize his views, he ignores the criticisms. He only responds to the people who agree with him; why exactly? In order to protect his racist views on Japanese people. I’d bet that’s the real reason that he doesn’t respond to criticism at all; it’s because he doesn’t want to let go of his hatred and racism for Japanese people in general. I think his maligning of Atlus Japan with false accusations and refusing to accept criticism when he’s wrong for discriminating against an entire ethnic group more than prove this point.

But wait! Perhaps you think I’ve gone too far. Even if I’ve convinced you that Eirikrjs points about the symbolism obviously being a reference to the Tree of Death and not the Tree of Life is probably true; that doesn’t make Eirikrjs wrongful statements an act of racism. Perhaps he didn’t know about the Tree of Death and the Qliphoth? Unfortunately, his Questions and Answers responses show otherwise:

See that latter part? “I’m convinced that if you’ve only ever seen the Kabbalah in games, anime, and the like, you’ve never actually seen it correctly implemented or represented; its theming tends to be little more than window dressing.” Ask yourself, if he was really being sincere, how did he not even think of applying the Qliphoth and Tree of Death to SMT Nocturne? It’s not difficult and if anything, the Fiends should have made it glaringly self-evident. Just consider the possibility that he deliberate lied. I say this because honestly, how could he not have put it together that Fiends who symbolize death would thereby symbolize the Tree of Death when he understood what the Qliphoths were?

To conclude on a positive note: If you wish to learn more about how Kabbalah works in a concrete manner, I personally don’t see it as anything more than a more studious form of Tarot reading or Horoscope reading with a religious veneer after learning how it works, please read a Jewish Rabbi’s explanation for it from a Reformed Jewish website. With all due respect, beliefs in rituals that summon angels and demons aren’t deeply intense or intellectual, they’re mythology that people should place into the entertainment industry where they belong. Jewish Kabbalah itself has three different methodologies from its ancient traditions and none of which have any coherence or criteria apart from people having “revelations” about the mythological beliefs that have no scientific evidence to support them.

If you’re interested in more positive SMT related content, please take a look at how SMT Nocturne brilliantly utilized Friedrich Nietzsche’s Ubermensch philosophy. SMT Nocturne itself seems to be a homage to Nietzsche’s magnum opus, his philosophical fantasy novel known as Thus Spake Zarathustra. Otherwise, take a look at how at the extent Atlus Japan translated an obscure 17th century Occult European text to utilize in early SMT games.

Update: A fellow MegaTen fan, Larrue, provided me with scans of his copy of the 25th Anniversary edition of MegaTen Maniacs where Atlus Japan shared their development documents. All credits go to Larrue for this:

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2 thoughts on “Debunking the “Tragic Asshole”: Eirikrjs Lied about the Kabbalah References in SMT Nocturne

  1. Pingback: Debunking the “Tragic Asshole”: Why JJCAT Only Proves Eirikrjs is Looking for Racism when there is None | Jarin Jove's Blog

  2. Pingback: Debunking the “Tragic Asshole”: Debunking Eirikrjs “Maniacs Retcon Woes” without any snark | Jarin Jove's Blog

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