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Some incoherent mumbling about LoZ: Twilight Princess

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Feb. 28th, 2011 | 02:17 pm
music: Warren Zevon - Ain't That Pretty at All | Powered by Last.fm

This is all elanaranne's fault. I deny any responsibility for my getting sucked back into Legend of Zelda fandom when I have a ton of work to do. Nope. I'm not choosing to procrastinate, it is being forced upon me. Curse you, Naranne, destroyer of productivity.
(I'm pretty sure it's abundantly clear already, but just to be on the safe side: I'm only teasing and don't actually blame you for my inability to get anything done today)

  1. Wealth, Class, Status
    • Viability of commercial establishments for games/entertainment at Castle Town (STAR) and Lake Hylia (Rafting, being shot out of a cannon) suggest existence of a fairly broad set of people with disposable income.
    • Important to note: at no point in game do we actually encounter hereditary nobility outside the queen. No evidence that if there is hereditary nobility they exercise formal control over territories or land.
    • Shad, Auru, suggest however that the crown is perhaps very active in patronage in scholarly pursuits. No evidence of scholarship sponsored outside Castletown. Scholarly positions as quasi-nobility? (Important question: how much of Sheikah lore survives from OoT era? How well do Hylians know their own history?) To what extent does the monarch have authority to confer status on current non-nobility.
  2. Gender Norms, Family 
  3. Positive law.
  4. Mythos, Monarchical thought
  5. Popular opinion, and its influence
    • I have no damn idea how this works, the best I can say is that there doesn't appear to be a printing press in Hyrule yet and the elite may exercise a tremendous amount of influence on what knowledge is public, making popular opinion more malleable to elites than in our days.
  6. Miscellany/outstanding questions
    • To what extent are political elites (monarch/others) involved in promulgating doctrine (religious/academic)? How, in what circumstances? (Oddly, we see Princess Zelda spoken of in overwhelmingly secular terms, despite being one of the Goddesses' elect. Possibly Hyrule never developed organized religion in the same way as our world because the Goddesses made far less use of intermediaries and when they want a person to know or do something they see to it themselves? So maybe not so much religion, academic/scholastic doctrine is an open problem)
I'll be updating this from time to time, I think.

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from: reasonandmusic
date: Mar. 8th, 2011 12:29 am (UTC)

*grin* It may be completely my fault, but it's still pretty good! (Also, the amount that I had to zoom in to read the small print, honestly...)

On religion:

As far as I'm aware, there's never been any evidence in any game to suggest that there is even the tiniest bit of organised religion in Hyrule. (I might be wrong, though.) I think the closest Hyrule gets to any form of priest or monk etc. is the Sages. The biggest difference and the biggest thing to consider when musing on religion in Hyrule is the fact, I think, that there is proof of the Goddesses' existence. However, I think it'd be pretty interesting to explore the attitudes towards religion of many of the "every-day" sort of people, not Link or Zelda or anyone who directly has anything to do with the Triforce/the Goddesses. It reminds me, actually, of that part in Star Wars where Han Solo completely doubts the Force's existence, even though it's obviously rather real.

Despite the fact that she obviously believes in them, Zelda never really seems to rabbit on about the Goddesses or religion in general; perhaps, to her, they're just a solid fact of everyday life? Which isn't to say she wouldn't revere them, but she seems to be very comfortable in her spiritual beliefs and doesn't seem to have the need to elevate religion beyond/above anything real and tangible. Which is a lot different to monarchs in our past, where you had scholars saying stuff like: "The King on his throne is the image of God in heaven..." or... something, I can't quite remember. I also think that as Hyrule has had its fair share of actual, dark magic type evil, the Goddesses wouldn't bother with the trivial "sins" of ordinary people -- and in saying that, I don't think that Zelda would be the kind of monarch who would press onto her people the kind of religious fervour/enslavement that monarchs have in our past. Hyrule, to me, doesn't strike me as a society where someone would be sentenced to death for not believing in the deities.

Um, that kind of ran away from me a bit.

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from: troldtog
date: Mar. 10th, 2011 08:14 am (UTC)

I think this sounds exactly right. Part of this might be that Hylian religion -- I'd bet -- has a much weaker notion of providence and a preordained future than Christianity. Speaking of “God's The Goddess' plan" doesn't carry the same sense of inevitability as it does in our religious conversations. Rather, you've got this odd cycle where the same villain is resurrected over and over again and the future is very much dependent on the actions of a few specific individuals. It might be that the Goddesses are perfectly capable of planning and intervening in the Hylian world, seeing to it someone suitable to carry the triforces of wisdom/courage are born and the like, but those plans don't have the weight of “what they will, will happen." Long story short: I can't imagine people seeing the Goddesses as omnipotent (which is great because then no one has to worry about that theodicy stuff, and, really, spares us the existence of theology entirely -- thank heavens!).

At the same time, the fact that the Goddesses don't have absolutely unlimited power probably doesn't mean people don't appeal to them for small to medium sized favors. The question, if you believe this, is how you resolve the control the Goddesses have over these tiny details and the control they lack over the whole Ganondorf thing.

The other two points that are sort of half-formed in my head are whether the Goddesses have a clear role in morality the same way God not only enforces morality, but promulgates it (often in the form of comedically over-sized stone tablets). What if Hylian morality didn't depend on the Goddesses except as they enforced it against the grossest of violations? Really, I wouldn't be surprised if Hylian religion had large animistic components (see temples of Forest, Water, &c.) The other question worth investigating is what's counted as a sin in politics. When, if ever, do lies become acceptable? What about cruelty to those who are clear threats to public order? What does religion tell monarchs to do when normal morality diverges with the demands of court politics and desirable outcomes for the kingdom?

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