J a p a n e s e    C u l t u r e

Modern and Traditional Japanese Culture: The Psychology of Buddhism, Power Rangers, Masked Rider, Manga, Anime and Shinto. 在日イギリス人男性による日本文化論.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Self Esteem in the Autoscopic Land of Manga: Jimanga

Self Esteem in the Autoscopic Land of Manga: Jimanga by timtak
Self Esteem in the Autoscopic Land of Manga: Jimanga, a photo by timtak on Flickr.
First of all I am a Yoshinori Kobayashi fan. I often agree with his opinions and when I don't I am glad that he has expressed them. Secondly I do not hold copyright for any of the three images above, found by searching for the manga artists name on google images (here and here) and I am more than happy to cease and desist. 取り下げご希望でありましたら、下記のコメント欄かnihonbunka.comからご連絡ください。

Another reason why I like Kobayashi is because he presents a theory of self not unlike that found in Social psychology and Lacan: Having a self is not innate. One has a self by virtue of internalising self views of others, so self or individual is dependent upon other or "public" in his words.

It is a shame however that the takes the usual logocentrist position of the self being primarily structured by language. This enables him to take a more nationalist view of the self since he believes the self is formed in language, specifically the Japanese language, so the "public" upon which his self is dependent is the community of Japanophones, including some Taiwanese (who he admires).

I wish he would be more Naclanian and to an extent at least universalising since it seems to me he has a autoscopic, specular self: a self created in the gaze rather than the ear, or rather linguistic recognition, of the other.

Not only is he clearly an excellent manga artists with command of images, and viewpoints, and can draw himself, looking at himself in a mirror from a viewpoint behind his own head but also he shows the most give away sign of having a self-in-the-visio imaginary; he draws his own representation in a very postive way. Please compare the two images on the left. The one above in the bottom corner of the manga on the left is Kobayashi's representation of Kobayashi. As you can see the graphic representation looks rather younger, perhaps even more handsome, than the eloquent reality.

This tendency of manga artists to represent themselves in a postive way is far from unique to Kobayashi. In all the self representations or jimanga (a painful pun on "self-manga" 自漫画, and "picture of which one is pround" 自慢画) that I have seen, all appear to be positive. And there is no reason why not.

These jimanga are just one of the many ways that Japanese express that which in language is called "self-enhancement" (Heine, 1999). We westerners have a far stronger tendency to self-enhance when we talk about yourselves. Confined to linguistic self-representations, the Japanese seem to have entirely realistic self-appraisals and comparatively low self-esteem. As my research on autophotography and numerous photographs here of Japanese visual self-representations, Kobayashi as other Japnaese have healthy visual self esteem.

Let is be noted that the Japanese have an autoscopic (Metzinger, 2009) self view, they can see themselves (as Koyahashi's manga on the right shows and see Heine, Takemoto, Moskalenko, Lasaleta, & Henrich, 2008) so their postive self-representations in the visual domain are for self-consumption, as is all healthy self esteem.

Kobayashi, Y. 小林よしのり. (2000). 新・ゴーマニズム宣言SPECIAL 台湾論. 小学館.
Kobayashi, Y. 小林よしのり(n.d.)「愛子さまが皇太子になれるよう皇室典範改正を」 .Infoseek ニュース. Retrieved from http://news.infoseek.co.jp/article/postseven_9592 (I can't find the reference to the manga)
Heine, S., Lehman, D., Markus, H., & Kitayama, S. (1999). Is there a universal need for positive self-regard?. Psychological review.
Heine, S. J., Takemoto, T., Moskalenko, S., Lasaleta, J., & Henrich, J. (2008). Mirrors in the head: Cultural variation in objective self-awareness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34(7), 879–887. http://www2.psych.ubc.ca/~henrich/Website/Papers/Mirrors-pspb4%5B1%5D.pdf
Metzinger, T. (2009). The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self (1st ed.). Basic Books.

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This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.