The Four Archetypes of the Masculine

The Art of Manliness has a series starting that is inspired by the book, King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine

I am looking forward to this. Of the two great forefathers of modern psychology, I find Carl Jung more interesting than Sigmund Freud, although both are well-deserving of their fame. Two of my favorite authors, Tim Powers and John Reilly, have integrated Jungian archetypes into their work. The Jungian archtypes themselves are more interesting than modern derivations like the MBTI, which I continue to find uninteresting.

From Masculinity Movies, here is a brief introduction to the masculine archetypes:

The King

The King is the source of order in the kingdom. If he is a wise and just king, the kingdom prospers, people eat well and are safe from harm. In the kingdom of the wise king, laughter rings through the lands, the crops shoot up high, joyful celebrations keep the woods awake, merchants travel with overflowing carts to lively markets. The king is the harmonizing principle, the subjugator of chaos, the uniter of opposites. He is the channel through which the gods communicate, and he channels divine blessings to his people and the lands (to whom he is «wed»). He is selfless, and puts the good of his people above his own needs. When the King grows weak, darkness threatens the borders of the kingdom, the sun disappears from the sky, and the crops wither and die. When the king dies, he knows, he is merely replaced by another in a lineage of divinely blessed kings, which humbles him Remember the saying «The King is dead, long live the King.»

This archetype may be better known as the Fisher King, forever associated with King Arthur. Last Call by Tim Powers is a powerful embodiment of the Fisher King in modern terms, and of course the masterwork is T. S. Eliot's The Wasteland. Powers based his work on Eliot's, but Last Call is far more accessible.

The Warrior

The warrior is a powerhouse of energy, the source of which is a transpersonal commitment. He is fiercely loyal to his warrior code – which is his honor – and to the king, who mythologically represents his purpose. The warrior is not concerned about his own comfort and security in pursuit of his goal, as his training teaches him to live with death as his constant companion. The domain of the Warrior is the battlefield – be it a battlefield of war, of spirituality, or of moral ethics. The Warrior’s purpose is often to destroy, but the mature warrior destroys only that which is negative and harmful to the world. He is a master tactician, knowing at all times his limitations, and finds creative ways around them. The warrior is not a thinker, he is a doer. Thinking is his enemy, because it inhibits his ability to act swiftly and with force. He trains himself not to think, and becomes a master of his mind, attitudes, and body. The warrior is detached from life, with an almost infinite ability to withstand psychological and physical pain in pursuit of his goal. He is a little «unhuman», always chasing the shadow of the attainment of his next big purpose, always putting emphasis on his mission as opposed to his relationships.

In American society, the warrior is actually an easy archetype to find if you know where to look. All cultures have their military heroes, but in modern America, the military is the one government entity that actually works well.

If you need an example, think Conan the barbarian.

The Magician

The Magician is the wise man, the sage, the knower of secrets. He sees and navigates the inner worlds, he understands the dynamics and energy flows of the outer. He is a master of technology, engineering, mathematics, mysticism, and logic. He reads the stars, navigates the soul, and writes the laws. In the legends, he is the King’s close advisor, who stops the regent’s anger with cool rationality before he acts rashly and channels to him knowledge from hidden sources. The Magician is the thinker, and all knowledge that requires special training is his domain. The Magician has the capacity to detach from events – the chaos of the world – and draw on essential truths and resources deep within him. He thinks clearly in times of crisis, and enables us to take a broader view of things. He governs the observing ego, and is the meditator that reveals the truth of the universe, the shaman who communicates with the ancestors and stars

This is of course Merlin.

The Lover

The lover is finely attuned to the realm of the senses and worships beauty. He is a musician, an artist, and a lover of all things, both inner and outer. He is passionate, and delights in touching and being touched. He wants to always stay connected, and does not recognize boundaries. He wants to experience the world as one ongoing big orgasm of hearts uniting as One. He is the mystic who feels everything as himself, and the source of all intuition. Through his feeling capacity, he is finely attuned to people’s energy, capable of reading them like an open book. His desire for love and connectedness considered, feeling into other people and discovering dark intentions is a painful experience for him. He is opposed to all structures that maintain separateness – of all law and order that keep hearts lonely and isolated. He is, in other words, opposed to all the other archetypes. The Lover is crucial in keeping the other archetypes energized, humane, and in touch with the ultimate purpose of love. The Lover keeps them from sadism.

This is the balancing feminine element.

Learning Styles Debunked

Having recently suffered through a corporate software training class facilitated by someone with an extensive miseducation in how people learn, I appreciated this article in the Chronicle of Higher Education critical of the received wisdom on learning styles.

The gist of the journal article referenced in the Chronicle is that learning styles don't have much to do with how well you learn from a given presentation, but rather how much you like learning it. The critical issue is that kinds of presentation are better suited to certain subjects. You will never learn much real science if you never spend any time in a lab for example.

The main criticism advanced against this article is that the authors failed to adequately reference the field, a scientific faux pas. However, the rebutters failed to answer the charge that most education research is poorly done, and thus cannot adequately answer the question. Unless the uncited papers are vastly superior, we will be just seeing more of the same. I noted that the authors specifically said they were not attempting to survey the entire field, which is quite large at this point.

There was quite a bit of interesting tidbits near the end of the article. I had not known that the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and learning styles have a common lineage, and a common either/or type of categorization. I have been a bit critical of the MBTI, so my dislike of learning styles is not surprising given this common root. There was a brief review of a number of interesting attempts to sort students by ability and then check to see whether different teaching styles have an effect on students of high or low levels of ability. There is a bit on personality types and learning as well, but even the authors call this research fragmentary. I'll have to ponder the results of this some more.

h/t Jerry Pournelle