OreGairu Season 2 Episode 8 – The Ineffability of the Human Experience

I’ll once again open with the post-episode editorial, because this episode’s write-up is so very long, and you might just want to read the bottom line. Well, lines, I expect there’d be quite a few of those. I know myself, which is a large part of this show’s theme, appropriately enough.

(Note: Click here for the full episode notes, where I broke down almost every single utterance or statement as I watched the episode. It’s long.)

I often find it useful to start from the end, because a single journey can lead to more than one conclusion, and it is by the conclusion that you look back and retranslate everything’s meaning.

OreGairu S2 episode 8 anime - Hikigaya Hachiman knows some things can't be understood by being thought of

Speaking of translation and words, we have some pretty cool words for things that cannot be said, words such as “ineffable”, often said as “the ineffable”. Even the word “Sublime” often refers to an experience that transcends, not understanding, but words. Sublime works of art if they use words may use many of them to describe something, but that experience in the end is given to what is merely hinted at, pointed at, experienced.

The sublime, the ineffable, is often seen as “beyond the human experience,” until Lacan who treated it as the core of humanity, and unlike Freud who tried to translate everything, he pointed out its inherent ineffability, its resistance to translation.

Hachiman is Freud. He reads between the lines. He ascribes deeper meanings and ulterior reasons to everyone. He does it so he wouldn’t have to deal with their true natures. Hikki is afraid of not understanding, so he does away with the need to understand, in part by keeping everyone away, and so locks understanding even farther away.

This episode’s final part, from the moment Hikki spoke of his desire and Yukino said she doesn’t understand was very messy, and not entirely logical. I’m not using “not entirely logical” in the sense of “things did not follow one another,” but in the more formal sense, of people saying and doing things that while rational, are not “cold-logic based” (I wrote a 20 page paper on “multiple rationalities” several years ago, so let’s not get into “logic == rationality”, please). Hikki knows what he wants is impossible, in part due to his nature, but not entirely – you can never really know what people are thinking, you can’t ever be sure of your own thoughts, so others? Forget about it. But even knowing he can never understand people, and thus that true closeness, which he says is not what he wanted are impossible, he still wants it, and is still willing to strive towards the impossible goal.

OreGairu S2 episode 8 anime - Hikigaya Hachiman knows he'd reject others' sincerity

As an aside, Hikki is not suddenly free of his nature. No one ever is. He says he doesn’t seek friendship, only understanding. But does he seek understanding for friendship, or friendship for understanding? He seeks it all because he’s afraid. He knows he is. He knows Iroha is afraid, and Tamanawa is afraid. He knows everyone’s afraid. But if the goal is to stop being afraid, you can use friendship as well as your shield. Hikki’s biggest realization which he said, but did not spell outright is that he blinded himself with his “truth”, to make sure he doesn’t have to stare at the actual truth in the face, a truth which gives others their own agency and motivation, which put them beyond his ability to understand.

Hikki’s biggest concession, his biggest change in this episode isn’t that he’s willing to try and understand, which is impossible, but his acceptance that he does not understand. How does it work? If you think you know everyone and everything perfectly, there’s no need to understand people, because you do. Hikki is willing to accept the fact he’ll never understand, that he’ll always be in that dark place, but that he won’t run from the darkness, but try to fight it back, try to give and take strength from his fellow travelers on this starless night, his fellow humans, his friends. Yes, all of them, whom he’s trying to help.

Yukino doesn’t understand what she’s expected to do, what she’s being relied on for, how to expose her weakness to others, how to take down her shell, and how to react when others take their shells off in front of her, without her being able to brush them away for having ulterior motives, because they’re her friends, and that’d deprotagonize them, it’d void them.

OreGairu S2 episode 8 anime - Crying Hikigaya Hachiman wants something genuine

This isn’t logical. There’s nothing clear-cut here, there are no well-written lines that give you sudden revelation into the nature of the universe. This is not sublime literature, but very human literature instead. Literature that focuses on the human condition, and the inability to say wise things, smart things, logical things. Humanity that sometimes breaks down and cries, because it tries to reach for the ineffable, and there’s nothing more ineffable than the hurt itself, for which we don’t have words, but sounds.

And when you do try? You end up with Sensei’s words, many of them sounded positively fortune cookie-esque. Sensei understands, and Sensei has empathy, and she has maturity (which Yui is making great strides towards as well), but Sensei doesn’t have words any more than anyone else, so she just tries to point at the direction. Her words appeared clear and full of cool lines, but that is exactly where they missed the point. They weren’t “good”, but they were the best she had. Sensei too knows about the ineffability of pain, the pain of the human condition, the ineffability of it, and that all you can do is keep trying.

Keep trying at being human, and keep trying at putting it into words. Others may not understand, but wanting to be understood, and wanting someone to walk these dusky paths with us is the core of the lonely, and terrible, and oh so ineffable, human experience.

(As before, I’d like feedback from readers on splitting this piece. This is a more general piece that could be more universal, so I wanted to split it from the episodic notes in order to help engender discussion even from those who aren’t as interested in reading every single moment being broken down.)

Return to the OreGairu S2 Episodic Notes page.

3 comments on “OreGairu Season 2 Episode 8 – The Ineffability of the Human Experience

  1. sonicsenryaku says:

    Great write up. I would add that hikki real problem with trying to understand is that he thinks understanding is black and white. if you understand, you win; if you dont, you lose. This is the core issue that surrounds hikki; this is why he is a victim of his own self-conscience; a self conscience monster as haruno put it. This is why he is so baffled and confused when he sees that hayama’s clique is getting along so well regardless of the fact that each of them were so close to being pulled apart by drama a few episodes back. He thinks they all have shallow relationships, and yea to an extent, he is correct about that. Due to that stipulation, the logical progression of events should be that a clique like that should eventually fall apart, but it doesnt.

    What hikki doesnt understand is that emotion is the one thing that cannot be systemized because like shizuka put it, if that was the case, emotions would have been digitized a long time ago. Thinking he understands gives him comfort, and even tho he does understand people, the fact that his methods of solving people’s problems was only a temporary solution is a major illustration of how understanding is really not black and white. Now he actually understands that being in the know is not the end-all-be-all, because the human condition is not completely quantifiable.

    Yes, there is a certain shallowness to hayama’s clique but that doesnt stop their desire to still want to be with each other. That is what hikki is starting to understand. he may not understand yui and yukino all the time, but his desire to want to be with them is real; he cant run away from that and he’s been arguably doing that 9 volumes because he could never wrap his mind around that concept until now. It’s like a people gong through a difficult marriage; the two people in the marriage could hate each other’s guts and while logic says the two should split, for some reason, they desire to be together. Humans are weird

    • Guy says:

      First, I broke your comment up, a single paragraph just made it harder to read. I’d also nitpick before going into the comment itself that it’s “self-consciousness,” consciousness from awareness, rather than “conscience,” which is about morality.

      I’d rather not address Sensei’s line about how feelings can’t be understood or they’d be digitized, because it just might be wrong on both levels, both on them being as not understood as presented, and that if they were understood it’d mean we can digitize them, rather than there being other issues. Also, who’s to say that we can’t approximate digitizing it? But that’s a topic for an entirely different day, and while Sensei understands people, she’s neither a neuro-scientist nor a philosopher dealing with consciousness, so we’ll put that aside as her belief, rather than a truism.

      Hikki is definitely seeing things in black and white, and this brings us back to the classic formal logic most people know, which is binary. Things are either true or false. The Logical Positivists of Vienna’s 1920s and 1930s tried to turn everything into logic, to make it clear, to make it understandable. Introducing ambiguity and nuance is scary. Greys make things ambiguous.

      And Hayama’s circle (not a clique, but a group of friends) is getting along together not because they ignore the illogical nature of their relationship, but because almost every single one of them is fighting to keep their group together. Hayama and Ebina’s request to the Volunteers Club/Hachiman, and Miura in the shop.

      You can understand and account for emotions when making plans, but Hikki has reasons to not admit to the powers of feelings, or to allow other people to have agency, because that’d mean he’d have to treat them with respect, and accept he doesn’t understand them fully. Hikki has always understood this, he just didn’t accept it. Would not.

      • sonicsenryaku says:

        ” it’s “self-consciousness,” consciousness from awareness, rather than “conscience,” which is about morality”

        hehehe im very aware of that; was kinda half asleep when i was writing the comment.

        “I’d rather not address Sensei’s line about how feelings can’t be understood or they’d be digitized, because it just might be wrong on both levels”

        to which i absolutely agree but im approaching the topic from the perspective that we dont know enough about the human mind to claim that we CAN digitize emotions. Most literature (by literature i mean stories that delve into this concept) that tackle this topic come to the conclusion that there are things about humanity that you cant represent as binary even though in their fictional world, it has become entirely possible to do that.

        Serial experiments lain sort of argues that human connection cannot be substituted by digital information (or in their world, the wired) no matter what you do; though perhaps that conclusion came about because of the writers limitations in being able to fully explore that question; who knows but shizuka makes that statement of digitization not because she’s stipulating that it’s impossible, but rather it hasnt been done yet because the human condition is too complex. Who knows when it could happen but she argues that if it was that easy to systematically understand people, we would have digitized that information ages ago and then there would be no need for putting your heart on the line.

        “And Hayama’s circle (not a clique, but a group of friends) is getting along together not because they ignore the illogical nature of their relationship, but because almost every single one of them is fighting to keep their group together”

        which hikki could not understand as to why, or maybe accept why a seemingly shallow group of ppl would fight so hard to stay together. Looking from the outside, their relationship has no substance; but who’s to say that should prevent them from still wanting to be around each other. Oh n they were referred to as a clique in season 1 as well as the light novels so i kinda just used that term out of habit but yes i understand they are a group of friends…and i think that’s kinda what the narrative wants the audience to see as well; that they arent just a clique.

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