06: Archetypes cont’d

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The psychological and even biological basis for archetypes is more explicitly articulated by Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette in King, Warrior, Magician, Lover. They describe archetypes as being “hard wired” in the reptilian brain. While Bly focuses on the Wild Man archetype, Moore and Gillette focus on the King and Warrior (all four archetypes referred to in their book title are explored, but it is notable that the Magician and Lover—which resonate far less with stereotypical and combative models of masculinity—have gained far less attention in the men’s movement).

Moore and Gillette claim the King archetype “is primal in all men” and “comes first in importance.” We are told the King is based on creative principles, inasmuch as he literally creates the world (his kingdom) around him. To the individuals who reject the King’s world he says, “you are chaos, demonic,” and more than this, “you are noncreation, nonworld.” The King, then, is a reality-defining entity which Moore and Gillette intend to be of a generative or benign nature: his leadership principles are similar to the model of servant leadership discussed in the previous Fatherhood chapter (the father, if you like, is a domestic King archetype). There is a definite majesty behind the King archetype—and thus in masculinity—in every sense of the word: Moore and Gillette describe its return in our barren contemporary culture as an, “intuition of holiness … both dreadful and wonderful by virtue of its power … It drops us to our knees with the force of its holiness.” Should readers require music to help evoke this kingly drama, Moore and Gillette direct them towards, “soundtracks from ‘sword and sandals’ movies like Spartacus or Ben Hur.

Just as the King is inherent in the male psyche (indeed, of primary importance within it), so too the Warrior archetype, which Moore and Gillette identify in numerous domains, both natural and fictitious. Moore and Gillette appeal to the great apes to explain what they perceive to be the natural basis for the Warrior archetype. They cite Jane Goodall’s study of chimpanzees, who initially were thought to be peaceful but ended up being Warrior-like (brutal), the suggestion being if the chimpanzees cannot remain peaceful, how can men? (You may remember how the appeal to the animal kingdom was discussed back in the History chapter.) They go on to argue, “What accounts for the popularity of Rambo, or Arnold Schwarzenegger, of war movies like Apocalypse Now, Platoon, Full Metal Jacket and many, many more? We can deplore the violence in these movies, as well as on our television screens, but, obviously, the Warrior still remains very much alive in us.” The prevalence of violence, both in the human and animal kingdom, is seen as evidence for the natural and rightful role of the Warrior as a defining characteristic of masculinity.



Written by Joseph Gelfer

July 5, 2011 at 10:32 am

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