Thursday, June 28, 2012

Review: Manga Jung

It's often been said that the Japanese are more attracted to pictures, and Americans to words.  If you compare English and Japanese versions of the same webpage, this distinction becomes fairly blatant (but not always). This may be one reason why illustrated classics and biographies never really caught on in the U.S., whereas they're a big industry in Japan.  Kodansha Publishing has it's Plus Alpha line of books, and in 1997 they released "Manga Jung". (Reprinted in 2003.)

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

Shinsoushinrigaku Nyuumon (Deep Psychology Digest), by Osamu Ishida, Grade A, 227 pages, 580 yen.
Ishida isn't coming up much on a google search. The only other manga credit for him is a book on Newton.  In either case, Ishida is a good, solid artist and he does a good job in portraying an overview of Jung's personal and public life.  Unlike with many western illustrated books, the characters actually look like their photos.  I can't comment on the accuracy of the personal details, or on Jung's views of psychotherapy, but the manga doesn't really go into serious depth on the science side.

(Jung with his first patient.)

The story starts with a dream where Carl Jung, as a child, is confronted by sexual images centering around his mother. It then switches to his consultation of a woman suppressing memories of having killed her child with a man born after she'd married someone else. This is followed by his recognition that an old woman in an asylum is suffering from schizophrenia.  From here, there's a flashback to when he first met, and then later married Emma Rauschenbach, and then when the two of them went to Vienna for Carl's first meeting with Sigmund Freud.  This section continues up to when Jung and Freud had their falling out in 1913, as well as his affair with Toni Wolff.

(Jung and Freud. Jung discusses what he claims was a psychic event, and Freud dismisses it.  The break between them occurred because Freud strictly believed neurosis stemmed from repressed sexual thoughts, while Jung believed that more was going on within the subconscious than just sex.)

In the next sections, Carl starts noticing that certain symptoms (such as seeing a tail coming from the sun) and dreams have been recurring in different cultures over the centuries, leading to his belief in archetypes and a collective subconsciousness.  He visits an Indian tribe in the western U.S, takes a trip to Africa, and begins studying eastern beliefs, including mandelas and the I Ching.  This is followed by a chapter revolving around the dreams of one patient, Heinrich, and the discussion of the analysis of each one with Toni, as Jung concludes that Heinrich was suffering from a mother complex but is now cured and living happily with his wife and 3 children.  There's a short encounter with Hitler's Nazis that only lasts a couple of pages, and is followed by Jung's collapse in the snow while hiking in the hills one winter at age 69.

(African trip.)

The scene picks up with Jung in a coma in a hospital, fighting complications from having broken his leg.  He dreams of flying to an asteroid, where people in white tunics welcome him. But, the doctor arrives right behind him and talks him into returning to those waiting for him on earth.  He then recovers from the coma.  He's seen next in his office writing in a notebook, when he is visited by Toni.  She's getting on in age and her leg trembles when it's cold.  The fact that she chain smokes cigarettes and Jung always has his pipe with him doesn't help her health any. Then, in March, 1953, on the eve of the 40th anniversary since her father had died, Toni passes away in her sleep.  Jung is unable to travel due to his health and Emma attends the funeral in his place.   Later, at a party, Jung is introduced to Laurens van der Post, and they talk about their own times spent in Africa.  In 1955, Jung is walking outside with Emma, talking about his success professionally, when he casually thanks her for all the help she's given him.  She begs off, returns to the house, and is soon found by their nurse, dead in her bed.  It's only now that Jung says that he wanted her to stay with him.  From here, he continues building his own house, goes on TV, and generally becomes a household name.  Finally, on June 6, 1961, on his deathbed, Jung says "the preparations for my life are complete".  As he dies, Van der Post, in Africa, claims to see Jung saying goodbye to him.  (Van der Post was one of the sources of "close associate" biographical writings on Jung, but at least some of it has been discounted.)  The last 6 pages is a chronology for Carl Jung.

(Final farewell.)

Summary: Japanese illustrated biographies on famous people tend to be much better drawn, more detailed and better received.  They may not always be 100% accurate, due to cultural biases, or literary license, but they're usually an improvement over what shows up in the west.  I doubt anyone is going to find a copy of this specific book, but I recommend that you check out similar illustrated manga biographies if you have the opportunity.  In the meantime, read about Jung in English, either on wikipedia, or at the library.  "He's a shmott guy".

1 comment:

milo-blogofthenorthstar-com said...

Interesting. This reminds me of some illustrated philosophy books I read back in high school. The only examples I can remember by name are Introducing Evolutionary Psychology and Foucault for Beginners. They weren't organized narratively like a traditional comic, but they were very enjoyable graphic guides to dense philosophical concepts.

Now that I'm out of high school and college, the idea of reading manga biographies or illustrated philosophy guides is even more appealing, as free time comes at a premium, as does the mental energy required for these things.