Sure, BTS is a K-pop boy band, but the South Korean group has served notice that it deserves to be taken seriously on an artistic level. (I say this knowing full well that BTS’s millions of fans already take the group very seriously, so don’t @ me, okay?)
The act’s forthcoming new album, due out next month, is called Map of the Soul: 7, a title that refers to American analyst and author Murray Stein’s book Jung’s Map of the Soul: An Introduction, which focuses on the work of Carl Gustav Jung, the founder of analytical psychology. Last spring, BTS released a similarly titled EP, Map of the Soul: Persona. Stein himself is aware that BTS has made reference to his work, and has in fact shouted the boy band out in return. Stein told the Speaking of Jung podcast:
I must say I’m thrilled that they are taking an interest in Jung and my book, that Jung’s message and Jung’s vision is being transmitted to people who otherwise would never hear about him or pay attention to what he has to offer. Because I think what Jung has to offer in this century is a vision of wholeness and a vision of integrity and human rights that, you know, it would be so valuable for people all over the world to come into contact with and to study and to integrate into their daily life. Jung’s message is a very hopeful one: that our conscious is a spark of light. It has much to offer us if we pay attention to it. It gives us inner guidance and, really, it has emphasis on the sacredness of the individual and the importance of the individual to take responsibility for the planet and for the world.
Jung described his concept of the persona as “a kind of mask, designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others, and on the other to conceal the true nature of the individual”. Exactly how deep BTS’s new album will delve into this, or any of Jung’s other ideas, remains to be seen.
What we can say for certain is that the group’s new video, for the single “Black Swan”, is a potent mix of art and psychology. The lyrics explore the notion that the act of creating art is life-sustaining for the artist. The inspiration comes from a Martha Graham quote: “A dancer dies twice—once when they stop dancing and this first death is the more painful.”
Given that Graham was a highly influential dancer and choreographer, it’s fitting that, rather than having them appear in the video themselves, the members of BTS are represented by dancers—from the Slovenian modern-dance troupe MN Dance Company—who interpret the song’s lyrics through their movements.
Map of the Soul: 7 will come out on February 21.