06: Archetypes cont’d

with 6 comments

Further positively-framed examples of the Warrior include the shifting tactics of fencers and guerrilla soldiers, and the split-second decision making of “a good Marine.” Just as readers seeking to evoke the King archetype are directed towards “swords and sandals” cinematic references, for the Warrior Moore and Gillette suggest inspiration can be found with the exemplar of Yul Brynner in The Magnificent Seven who, “says little, moves with the physical control of a predator, attacks only the enemy and has absolute mastery over the technology of his trade.” Moore and Gillette even co-opt religiosity into their search for the universal Warrior, citing Jesus and Buddha (as they both had to endure temptation) and Islam which, “as a whole is built on Warrior energy” (one wonders if this would have been so enthusiastically employed in a post-9/11 world).

There is a stylistic and structural element to Moore and Gillette’s presentation of archetypes that also appeals to a commonly accepted (in other words, conspiratorial) model of masculinity. Their introduction states, “our purpose in writing this book … has been to offer men a simplified and readable outline of an ‘operator’s manual for the male psyche.’ Reading this book should help you understand your strengths and weaknesses as a man and provide you with a map to the territories of masculine selfhood which you still need to explore.” The Mars-like masculine characteristics suggested by John Gray in the Relationships chapter are evident here: the “operator’s manual,” and the “map to the territories.” Moore and Gillette divide their archetypal map up into four quadrants, which offers a model suggesting some kind of systematic or scientific rigor, and which shares a commonality with Ken Wilber’s map of the human psyche, as referred to in the History chapter.

The four quadrants do not just map out different types of archetypes, but balance elements both within and between archetypes. Moore and Gillette aim to be cautious, reminding us that archetypes need to be offset by other archetypes to produce full and rich personalities. For example, the Warrior might be offset with the lover to produce depth and nobility to what might otherwise be a rather mono-dimensional “real” person (Winston Churchill, Yukio Mishima and General Patton are referred to in regard to this particular combination: make of that what you will). The balancing element is also addressed with the notion of the “shadow,” which is when an individual over-identifies with an archetype, or has mobilized archetypal energies in negative ways due to insufficiently addressed neuroses or character flaws.

In sum, there are very clear messages to be had about masculinity and archetypes from Bly, Moore and Gillette:

  • Archetypes are inescapable character templates that are rooted either in the depths of the human psyche or the reptilian brain.
  • Masculinity is defined by a particular set of archetypes: namely the Wild Man, King and Warrior (echoing those repeated themes of masculinity being about aggression, assertiveness, leadership and the public domain).
  • Modern society is out of touch with these archetypal energies and must re-connect with them via a process of initiation to solve our social ills.
  • Masculine archetypes must be combined or balanced with other archetypes in order not to manifest the “shadow” or negative character traits.



Written by Joseph Gelfer

July 5, 2011 at 10:34 am

6 Responses

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  1. I note once again the use of the metaphor “map”. It is a POLITICAL map, a map OF the conspiracy. It is not a geological map displaying genuine features of that heterogenous group, “Men”. However, its appeal lies in its accurate mapping of the conspiracy. You CAN maneuver in the conspiratorial landscape using these maps, but you can’t understand the geology, the true structure beneath the politics, using them. The features are colored and gerrymandered to produce confirmation bias.


    July 12, 2013 at 9:06 am

    • I think you would be well positioned to write The Femininity Conspiracy: seriously, go do it. (it’s a trickier book to write though as the pathologies behind masculinity are more obvious).


      July 12, 2013 at 9:16 am

  2. Hi Joseph,
    The definition of the Shadow is not even close to a typical Jungian definition. Shadow has nothing directly to do with archetypes. It has to do with the repressed desires/instincts of an individual. ‘Shadow work’ would consist of bringing consciousness to the shadow element within the psyche. To take a typical fella under the conspiracies conditioning, he may have learned to repress his compassion for others because he got picked on for displaying it, and became uncaring as a result in his behaviour. This tends to happen very early in life, until perhaps a woman comes around who wants you to go to therapy to deal with this neurosis, or she is out of there. etc etc.
    An archetype would be qualified as negative or positive, within a context of an emotional response to it, otherwise known as a complex. The mother complex, is short for the negative-mother complex. The mother archetype contains all elements of things we might associate symbolically with ‘mother’, etc.
    Not sure if that was helpful, it’s just such a fine body of work, both yours and Jung’s, that it needs some help with this chapter’s ‘givens’.


    March 28, 2012 at 10:27 am

    • Yes, that is helpful, thanks. I was using Moore’s definition of shadow there, as the discussion is in his context. But as you demonstrate, so much in these books is so way off, if you rely on them you frequently get mislead.


      March 28, 2012 at 10:31 am

  3. Wikipedia and IMDB spell his last name with a y: Yul Brynner.

    Apel Mjausson

    July 6, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    • Thank you, corrected: I have made the same error in Numen, Old Men. Bugger!


      July 6, 2011 at 2:57 pm

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