Surprising, SubaHibi’s message isn’t as grand, as complex as I had initially took it to be. Its message is simple — everyone has the capability to live wonderfully. What’s noteworthy isn’t necessarily the general message itself, but rather, the method through which the work manages to convey the message, and the more intricate features of the message.
Now, how does the work goes about conveying the message?
Subahibi’s a work told primarily through the perspective of an entity by the name of Mamiya Tomosane. By the end of the work, the reader learns that Mamiya Tomosane is constituted of three discrete personas: Mamiya Takuji, Minakami Yuki’ and Yuuki Tomosane. Each of these personas (or split personalities) were created in order to cope with certain traumatic events. Medically-speaking, Mamiya Tomosane suffers on one hand, from dissociative-identity disorder. And second, his personalities were created as a result of post-traumatic stress (to whichever traumatic event). To further specify:
1.The first persona, Mamiya Takuji was conceived after the tragedies discussed in Jabberwocky (the death of the real Minakami Yuki being the largest of a series of tragedies — Mamiya Tomosane’s inability to protect Hasaki & the previous death of his father certainly added in worsening his mental health though). This particular persona is characterized as being an escapist who rejects reality (based originally of the original Takuji, the religious fanatic). We could think of this persona as a wish to ‘erase,’ or to hide the tragedies. Within the first few chapters of SubaHibi, this aspect of his is demonstrated by his obsession with anime (symbolic of a fantasy world) — in the later chapters, he imposes a false messiah-hood onto his classmates.
2. The second persona Minakami Yuki was presumably established around the same time as the first — she persists as the ‘ideal,’ or someone who’s very intelligent (being the literary bookworm), affable (works well with people), and strong (recall, she’s reputedly the only one who can go at arms with Yuuki Tomosane).
3. The third persona, Yuuki Tomosane, was established as a means to cope with the bullies. While we learn later that his character is based off of the true Mamiya Tomosane, this discrete persona is characterized as being first-and-foremost, powerful. He isn’t shown as evidently ‘good’ as Yuki is, but he’s by no means, ‘bad’ (as he still protects Hasaki; he also seems to exclusively target bullies — in a sense, he kept the bullies in check at the school).
Now, Mamiya had created these personas in order to gain some type of continuity. But then the question arises as to what continuity is, and why continuity is important
What is continuity, and why is it important?
We can think of ‘continuity’ as that which allows us to make sense of what we experience. A life without continuity would not be an intelligible life. For example, imagine the daily routine of an average male office worker. He begins his day when he wakes up. He gets up from bed, goes through his morning routine (e.g. brushing teeth, breakfast, reading news…), then commutes to work. Through his workday, he likely has a lunch, and after work, he commutes home then to bed after eating dinner & engaging in some leisure activities. While it would be oversimplifying continuity to hold it analogous to a chronological memory, it’s certainly an important part of it. It would be absurd to envision a continuous, office life which begins midway through work. This thought can be demonstrated by the way that our imaginations work. When we think of going to the park, we typically envision ourselves heading there through some means (e.g. foot, bike, car) — we don’t suddenly appear at the park; our continuity begins prior to this. In this sense, we could call continuity similar to a type of ‘awareness.’
In the case of Mamiya Tomosane, an entity which lacks continuity, he often ‘awoke’ as a particular persona (e.g. Mamiya Takuji) with no previous memory of his actions, and shrugged it off as being meaningless or found some minor fault with it. Because Mamiya Takuji is a fragment of the whole, he’s not continuous.
The question of why continuity is important is a more fundamental, philosophical question. I think that there are at least two main reasons. First, quite simply, continuity provides an individual with the most basic necessary conditions for living as something. Without continuity, an individual wouldn’t be able to live as an ‘I.’ After all, to be an ‘I,’ we need a certain set of sufficient requisites (e.g an experiential aspect of what it’s like to be any particular ‘I’/consciousness, perhaps memory and personality). Mamiya Tomosane, as any individual persona, does not live as an ‘I’ in the sense of being incomplete (As there are lacking parts). And second, continuity is perhaps, the most basic condition for ‘happiness.’ The majority of individuals born, even those born in poverty, have continuity (a clear past, present, and future — a clear awareness of their immediate surroundings). In fact, we could go so far as to argue that for happiness to suffice, that continuity is a necessary condition (note, happiness is not the same as pleasure — one’s transient, the other’s more perennial). After all, an individual can only be ‘happy’ if they exist for a moderate period of time. In the case of an individual without continuity, there are periods in which they not only lack awareness, but consciousness or existence as an ‘I.’
A Return to SubaHibi’s Message
So, with a rough understanding of continuity, what exactly does this do for Subahibi? Quite simply, SubaHibi tries to demonstrate that no matter how broken an individual is, an individual is still able to obtain continuity — and through continuity, they’re able to possibly attain a particular sort of happiness. We saw this demonstrated in the case of Mamiya Tomosane. Despite having undergone a series of traumatic events (any of which, had the potential to destroy the mentality of whichever individual), he had made an attempt to regain himself. Even were he to reject the present reality as it was (in creating realities that were different from reality as previously known), he was still creating a type of reality in itself (i.e. even if he rejects one reality, if he creates another reality, he still has the capability for continuity, then thus, the possibility of happiness).
So then, is SubaHibi trying to show that an individual should escape from reality altogether, and create their own, if it’s the better alternative? After all, if an individual is to choose between living in a world in which they’ve undergone several tragedies, and a world in which they’re the accepted messiah, then certainly, the latter’s more appealing. In answering this question, we’ll need to first, examine Wittgenstein’s philosophy:
Within SubaHibi, Wittgenstein’s the dominant philosopher credited with inspiring a lot of the ‘mechanics’ of the world. In particular, his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus was quoted on several occasions in order to demonstrate this. Let’s take a look at a few of his ideas:
1 The world is all that is the case.
1.1 The world is the totality of facts, not of things.
5.621 The world and life are one.
5.63 I am my world. (The microcosm.)
5.632 The subject does not belong to the world but it is a limit of the world.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein – Logico tractatus philosophicus
Under Wittgenstein’s picture, the world isn’t something which is in itself (external). The world is a totality of facts (internal). That is to say, things which constitute the world exist not as things meant to be perceived & interpreted, but what we perceive and interpret are things which constitute the world. As stated in 5.6 — the individual is the limits of the world; the individual is what dictates what they hold the world to be. For example, if an individual believes themselves to be a messiah, then that exists as a fact in their world (they will act, and live under the premise that this is true). It is not the case that the individual becomes a messiah because there’s some external checklist for being a messiah which the individual fulfills ‘externally’. In this sense, the only world which the individual knows of is what they directly know (their individual world), or what they choose to want to believe & see.
In this sense, an individual who views himself as a messiah would be within his rights as an individual with his own internal world, to live under a reality constituted by such facts. Consequently, it could be the case that there is no such thing as a ‘greater’ or ‘truer’ reality to abide by (recall, reality is what we think it is. Reality is constituted by what we think it is). So, my internal world (or my reality) as an individual is as complete, as meaningful as that of any other (be it a genius, a dullard, a mental patient, or an average Joe).
So then, to answer the previous question, is this to say then, that under Wittgenstein’s picture, an individual should escape from reality altogether and create their own if it’s the better alternative? I think the answer is a possibly, or a sure. The most immediate counterargument to this claim would be the fact that the escapist reality is a ‘delusion’ (as it doesn’t match the state of things in some ‘external world’). But, note that under Wittgenstein’s picture, we reject the notion of an external world (we only have our internal worlds). So, it’d be contentious as to whether delusions exist. After all, traditionally, delusions are what we call things that don’t ‘match’ with the state of things as they are (i.e. some external state of affairs). But, as far as I understand Wittgenstein, if there is no such thing as an external world, then this consideration is waived altogether (all that is real is within our internal worlds).
Delusions aside, it’s not to say that all internal worlds can be accepted under Wittgenstein’s philosophy. For example, absurd worlds cannot be accepted. As discussed, an internal world is constituted of facts — an absurd world would be a world in which there’s a logical contradiction among its facts. For example, in an absurd world, it may be the case that 2+2=4 and 2+2=3. Or in a more practical example, an individual cannot be at two places at the same time, when our systems require us to only be at once place (e.g. a human cannot be in Cuba and China at the same time).
Discussion of Mamiya Tomosane’s Continuity
So then, does Mamiya Tomosane have continuity? If he exists solely as a theoretical entity (in that we can say that Tomosane, Yuki, and Mamiya constitute it, but there exists no true entity which has the facilities of all three), then we can’t quite say that there’s any ‘true continuity’ (e.g. a group of people exists as an abstract entity, but does not actually exist continuously or consciously). This question is particularly important, as SubaHibi seems to want to show that people can obtain continuity (then happiness) through willpower, not merely they can attempt to obtain it.
In one of the endings (The Sunflower Hill), we do see an apparent Mamiya Tomosane. While it’s ambiguous as to whether he has his past memories entirely intact, this point, even if negative, is insignificant (as continuity is required only for the present and future — not necessarily the past). What’s more important is that he has control of his person as a whole (not shifting from persona to persona). The fact that he converses with Minakami Yuki doesn’t really affect his continuity, granted that he’s able to maintain control of his reality (i.e. not slipping in and out of consciousness). Because SubaHibi is a work that necessarily lacks a ‘true ending’ (merely alternative endings), we could view this is as a sufficient condition in showing this idea — that is to say, humans, even after traumatic events (at points when they hit rock bottom), can regain footing, even if the trip back up is messy.
Nonetheless, while this does an adequate job of showing SubaHibi’s main theme, there are still several unanswered questions. One of my personal larger ones initially concerned the fate of Zakuro. I was confused as to what her role in the scope of Subahibi was — certainly, she couldn’t have existed merely as a plot device (in order to move the plot). It didn’t make sense. Nonetheless, after her route, she’s virtually never referred to again.