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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.

Thursday, April 02, 2015


Graven Images as Expressions of Self

There is a strong tendency even among psychologists, to believe that the visual is presentational and external and therefore not really pyschological in the same way as linguistic thought.

There is no denying that the visual is external. The environment in which we were raised (Mori's fields and mountains), our faces or mask (Watsuji) are on our outsides as well. To say that the visual is psychological is not to deny its exteriority, but to assert the following:

1) One can imagine oneself and world of vision in ones psyche. This is obvious
2) In order to imagine oneself one needs the viewpoint of an Other who is physically external but simulated within the psyche.
3) Language likewise requires an other interluctor, who is external (or should be!) simulated within the self.

I think that the horror that (3) entails - that they are sharing their heads with someone, something else - is so great for atheisits at least, it tends to be rejected, or concealed behind claims of a metaphysical presence of "ideas," or "meanings."

Once one can accept these three assumptions however, it is clear that visual expressions are equally psychological and of self. In this video I introduce the dolls made by my wifes mother to express her aspirations for her granddaughters - things like health, wealth, happiness and a happy marriage - throught the use of graven images. In Japan I believe that these expressions are felt to be "paired-images" (guuzou,偶像) or like words, authenticopies of the aspirations which they represent. These are not worshipped in the same way as a Catholic worships Yahweh, but regarded fondly, important, and sincere. As such I think that they fall under the definition of graven image as defined by the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

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