Monday, February 21, 2011

Chrono Trigger Part I: Zealots Abounding

Chrono Trigger, released in was a great triumph from the wizards at Square.

Chrono Trigger's graphic design was made by Akira Toriyama, the same man who designed Dragonball Z, and the interconnectedness of Japanese children's entertainment shares parallels with many esoteric systems. In future posts I will examine this connection in greater detail, but on to the game!

In Chrono trigger you gain control of Crono, a well spoken (actually, completely silent) young man who is soon pulled into a time vortex. You and your anachronistic party of adventurers, who span from a prehistoric cave-girl to a futuristic robot strive to avert the apocalypse by destroying Lavos, an alien force who is slowly devouring the world from within, utilizing it as fuel for its offspring. In order to do this, they must pass through time gates and travel through the various ages of man.

One of the most interesting parts of the game is the party's journey through the 'Magical Kingdom of Zeal.' This land, similar to Final Fantasy VI's 'floating continent,' soars above the clouds in perpetual bliss, powered by magical energy.
The Magical Kingdom of Zeal, in full glory.

The rest of humanity is stuck on the ground, freezing through the remnants of a terrible ice age. However, in her lust for power and immortality, Queen Zeal decides to tap into the power of Lavos with the 'Mammon machine.'

This ill - advised ploy causes Lavos to awaken prematurely, and the resultant energy shock obliterates the entire kingdom, leaving the scattered survivors to unite with the commoners in a world newly bereft of magic. The in-game date for all this was 12000 BC.

There is compelling evidence that the 'Magical Kingdom of Zeal' is analogous to the Lost City of Atlantis. Many esoteric traditions firmly believe in a lost civilization that dominated the prehistoric world through the use (and eventual abuse) of high magic, and Chrono Trigger's 'Kingdom of Zeal' lines up with their descriptions on a number of key points.

First off, in Gnostic alternative histories the kingdom of Atlantis was a glittering synthesis of high technology and magic, with airships, gilded palaces, and luxury as far as the eye could see. Atlantis was at first a benign government, but eventually its rulers became corrupted by the magic they sought to control, and were corrupted into pacts with dark energies in a source for ever greater power. This lust for power corrupted their civilization and brought the world out of balance. Eventually, the priest - rulers of Atlantis summoned a force which spiraled out of their control, and the resultant cataclysm wiped their civilization from the map in an explosion of fire followed by a great flood. What few survivors of the great cataclysm struggled to rebuild civilization relying only on their wisdom and mechanical knowhow, but without the power granted to them by their black magic, efforts were labored at best.
The kingdom of Zeal, after the Fall.

Let's continue with the date given by Square for the fall of the Kingdom of Zeal - 12,000 BC. Keep in mind that Chrono Trigger's 'present day' is 1000 AD in the game, so if their world is analogous to ours, it would correspond to 11,000 BC. All this still puts Zeal's fall well before any established civilization, at least as far as modern archaeologists are aware, as the earliest cities are currently dated only to 8,000 BC. As the fall of Atlantis supposedly predated the establishment of our modern world, the timeline holds up.

For harder data, let's look at bestselling author Mark Booth's The Secret History of the World, a work that purports to chart an esoteric history of man from the dawn of our conception of time until its inevitable dissolution thousands of years into the future. In his history solid matter was not fixed into its present Newtonian state for some time, and before this event took place, the ancients were free to manipulate matter to suit their whims. According to many Gnostic and esoteric groups, Atlantis' great works could be seen throughout the far corners of the world, from incredible stylae in southeast Asia to the engineering feats of stonehenge and the pyramids, to the 200 ton stones at Maccu Piccu that even our largest modern cranes could not budge. Booth puts the solidification of matter at the Sothic cycle marking the Age of Leo, or at 11,451 BC. In Booth's history, the Sphinx was built to commemorate this event, the decline of the age of magic and the rise of the age of matter. Geological data may actually support this timeline, as the Egyptologist and geologist Schwaller de Lubicz first noted over a dentury ago and several other geologists have corroborated. The erosion on the Sphinx shows telltale signs of severe water damage, and the climate shifted from jungle to desert at around 7,000 BC. From the amount of erosion that has taken place, a build date of 10,000 BC or earlier is well within the realm of possibility.

Plato put the fall of Atlantis at around 9,600 BC, reliant only on the testimony of the Egyptian priestcraft. However, Booth claims the literal 'fall' of matter took place two thousand years before. Both dates inter mesh nicely with the current archaeological data (or lack thereof). However, I am not trying to make any substantitive claim as to the origin of the Sphinx or the fall of Atlantis in this blog, but merely that both dates line up with the story of the Kingdom of Zeal presented by Square in Chrono Trigger. From this, I gather that they are either conversant with the mythology and are using it to add gravity to their storylines, or that someone within the company is trying to express their esoteric beliefs of world history in the mechanism of a fictional world. Of the two possibilities, I think the latter is far more likely, given the depth of the esoteric, gnostic and kabbalistic symbolism contained within Squaresoft's works, especially in the fecund period between 1992 and 2002.

For more on the deeper meaning of Chrono trigger check out this excellent blog. Written from an existentialist perspective, it offers incredible depth and clarity through a comprehensive analysis of Square's epic work. Blogger K. Newton offers an academic level analysis of Chrono Trigger's most pervasive themes, and if he hasn't been published yet, he deserves to be.

Many thanks to square for making this amazing game and for Masato Kato for composing the storyline, and for K. Newton for his awesome blog and brilliant in-game screenshots. Great work all around!

1 comment:

  1. anything chrono trigger gives me pangs of nostalgia... sigh