Thanks to WonderWaseda and Schwahn for the inspiration:
Within this post, WonderWaseda wrote:
Schwahn’s view is that the author’s intent definitively determines the meaning of the story. Since Square says that Rinoa doesn’t turn out to be Ultimecia, then this must be so. This theory of the primacy of authorial intent is a well-regarded and important form of literary criticism, and for a long time, it was the only form. If the author disagrees with you about the meaning of the work, sorry kid, you are wrong…
However, Roland Barthes’ essay The Death of the Author gave us a radically different perspective and one that agrees with GaryGrayII. Why should the author get a special privilege to determine the meaning of his/her work? For Deconstructionists, Post-Structuralists, and a bunch of other academics, any constructed meaning about a text is equally privileged. What does this have to do with R=U?
In my opinion, the game’s story is better if Rinoa does become Ultimecia. The Time Compression is suddenly important, Edea makes sense as an intermediary step, and Ultimecia only SEEMS to be a FF-style new villain thrown in at the last minute (Zeromus, Necron, etc.) As a corollary, Headmaster Cid is planning everything: he places all of the characters from the old orphanage together intentionally to put Squall in charge, because Cid has seen the future. This theory turns a lot of the plot holes in this game into successful and cool time-travel plot that makes sense and gives meaning to the game.
Who is right? Is Authorial Intent the Sole determiner of meaning? Are all meaning-making processes equal with regard to a text? We have hit on an important issue in postmodern literary criticism here. In my opinion, if Square Enix insists upon their reading, you get a worse plot. I think we, as readers, have equal authority to determine the meaning(s) of the game.
Interestingly, there’s a third theory here: Cid is a mastermind that controls events behind the scenes. Another interesting theory from a “poorly written” game”. But why? I want to expand on this:
“The author” is our traditional concept of the lone genius creating a work of literature or other pieces of writing by the powers of his/her original image. For Barthes, such a figure is no longer viable. The insights offered by an array of modern thought, including the insights of Surrealism, have rendered the term obsolete. In place of the author, the modern world presents us with a figure Barthes calls the “scriptor,” whose only power is to combine pre-existing texts in new ways.
While every Final Fantasy is a stand-alone title, the series has taken from a variety of sources, including D&D, Japanese culture, anime, Fighting Fantasy, world mythology, personal issues, etc. to produce something familiar in an entirely new way.
Final Fantasy VIII is no different. Several different “scriptors” create the story. Not just the story; the game and battle design, characters and monster design, music, scenarios, etc.
What if the vagueness was all apart of the genius for multiple interpretations spinning off from the core story? I imagine there were several drafts of Final Fantasy VIII. Including as many elements as possible is by keeping it vague and letting the viewer do the work. This way, we could see what we wanted to see. If you see too much or too little in one way, it’s bad. If you see what you want to see (and maybe even something unique in a new way), it’s good.
What emerges from the complex and often subtle story of Final Fantasy VIII? Multiple theories which we interpret. But is this evidence of terrible or genius writing?
This isn’t a defense of the Squall’s dead and Rinoa = Ultimecia theories.