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In my character's case (The Case of Juan Rafael "Jack" Villanueva, so to speak) you have a man who, despite his original field of study, is a hard-headed and practical type -- who has in fact been praised as a statesman for those very qualities, in relation to his contribution to putting the world back together after Second Impact... and yet he shatters like a dropped wineglass the minute things like NERV and Angels and conspiracies and the truth about Second Impact start coming down on him, things that are just too big for him to handle rationally. When the world suddenly refuses to make sense anymore -- when it won't stop confronting him with things he can't possibly face on his own terms -- he falls into angst and self-sabotaging behavior, flailing like a swimmer dragged out to sea, until Third Impact finally pulls him under.
As a metaphor for clinical depression and high-functioning autism, I think it reflects some aspects of me very well... I'm very familiar with that drowning-swimmer feeling.
Followed immediately by what I experienced in Instrumentality.
And yeah, Jack is still echoing in my head too. I think he's gone for good, though -- he won't ever be coming back from Instrumentality; like I said, there isn't enough of him left. I imagine a lot of other ex-people are in the same boat.
Shinji needed to see Kaworu, to know that he hadn't destroyed him entirely.
Other posters sent farewell messages from locations where they thought they could wait out Instrumentality -- and it probably doesn't speak in their favor that those were their last posts in the thread. Some even went so far as to mention who Rei appeared as to them -- in one case, it was a character's long-dead girlfriend; in another, it was his mother; in yet another, a character who literally stepped out of the TV. This last one, I think, is worth quoting in the context of Evangelion as a whole; it does a remarkably good job of summing up one of the show's primary themes.
"I ran, to add this to my post. Whatever defenses you think you have, it won't be enough.
"She is watching, waiting for me to finish, just as I would expect of her.
"You can try to wall out the world, but eventually, it will punch in through your defenses, and then you can either fight like a maniac or reach out.
I can't fight any more."
I don't think Gendo would have chosen the same Instrumentality as Shinji or even at all. He wanted to move his soul into Unit One/bring Yui out/merge with Yui.
He might still have let Instrumentality occur. What happened to the rest of the human race -- dissolving into LCL, or something even worse -- would be completely irrelevant to him.
Which is unfortunate, given that some of the lyrics are really appropriate:
And any time you feel the pain, hey Jude, refrain
Don't carry the world upon your shoulder
For well you know that it's a fool who plays it cool
By making his world a little colder