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Manga - the symbols of cultureManga - the symbols of culture

Manga - the symbols of culture

I don't consider [manga] pictures. I think of them as a type of hieroglyphics...in reality I'm not drawing. I'm writing a story with a unique type of symbol. —Osama Tezuka What part of our work represents a cultural hieroglyphics—where the thing itself isn't is really a representation of something else? How does the insight of this manga artist transfer to other forms of cultural creation that we engage in? We generally thing of our work as simply carrying out the function that must be done as part of an exchange of work for pay.

Milton Friesen
1 minute read
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Milton still learning to draw

If you take time to review the shelves at Indigo, you'll find a significant amount of shelf-space devoted to manga and it's close cousin, the graphic novel. While waiting for three of my four children to finish off their choir and acting commitments last week, I sat at a local library reading and drawing my way through a How to Draw Manga book. This quote caught my eye:

I don't consider [manga] pictures. I think of them as a type of hieroglyphics...in reality I'm not drawing. I'm writing a story with a unique type of symbol.
—Osama Tezuka

What part of our work represents a cultural hieroglyphics—where the thing itself isn't is really a representation of something else? How does the insight of this manga artist transfer to other forms of cultural creation that we engage in? We generally thing of our work as simply carrying out the function that must be done as part of an exchange of work for pay.

We don't often think, when we speak of our work, that we are telling a story that goes beyond our accomplished tasks. We usually say we are writing or planning or developing budgets or managing a project or travelling to a meeting—not engaging in stringing together cultural hieroglyphics in a meaningful way.

Could we, however, consider other aspects of our making and doing as telling a story rather than being something that we accept as functionally reducible to isolated acts? Is mowing my lawn a simple act or is it part of telling a story? Seems kind of strange to think of it as telling a story but if it isn't, where is the line where I move from telling a story in some aspect of my culture making/participation to just doing something randomly?

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