Adventures of Tintin - The Shooting Star VI

And a savior appears.

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THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN: Volume 6, by Herge, Little, Brown and Company, 1976, pp 188-9.

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We each have this inner resource/rescuer. It lurks in the bleakest, most isolated and frozen wasteland of the psyche. It’s a resilient part of the Self, a part not fully human - more like a hybrid beast-person. Tradition calls it by many names: the Tibetan Migou, the Nepalese Yeti, the English Abominable Snowman. This creature lives wild and is unable to join or communicate with the society of the Self. But it recognizes helplessness and distress. It takes hostage whatever lost piece of soul might crash in its inhospitable corner of our being. This hostage-taking is usually benign. The creature keeps its captive alive but under primitive conditions, separate and apart and deeply hidden from the conscious attention of the Self.

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Burroughs' invented species

Edgar Rice Burroughs conjured the same creature to rescue infant Tarzan. Burroughs invented a species of Great Ape he called the Mangani, sub-human, but with its own culture and language. His story told about the feral child, so his isolated environment was the hot, moist, fecund jungle.

Herge’s beast-person, as drawn for Tintin in Tibet, is predictably more buffoon than monster, a shy, lonely, gorilla-type creature, more fearful than aggressive. In its possession, Chang is as helpless as a baby except for the one thing a baby can do, which is cry. Chang sends his call for help through the thin atmosphere of the dream world, and a snoozing Tintin picks it up.

Chang’s call is the signal needed to galvanize the conscious mind: somewhere in the wilderness is a lost piece of itself. Like the shepherd of Christian symbolism, if even one lamb is missing from the flock, the Hero Self must go out into the dark night and retrieve that orphan.

And since this is a Tintin story, no one will be surprised to learn that against all odds, Tintin rescues Chang (by shining the camera-light of consciousness on the Yeti) and is reunited with his friend. That resolution happens in 1960. And we already know how the symbolic reintegration calmed Herge’s soul.

What is astonishingly unbelievable, beyond the scope of the most outrageous Tintin adventure, is that twenty years later, in 1982, the real Herge and the real Chang Chong-jen come face-to-face in the real world. The odds against this are so incalculable that the event is worthy of Tintin’s permanent expression of utter surprise.

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Chang and Herge 1982
Each man, in separate parts of the world, endured the greatest upheavals of the gory twentieth century, and after decades of violence, dislocation, and death, managed to find the other and reconnect. To put perspective on how incredible this was for them to survive and then to meet, read on for some numbers from The Great Big Book of Horrible Things: The Definitive Chronicle of History’s 100 Worst Atrocities by Matthew White. (I recommend White's book as an antidote to self-pity and complacency.)