Rabbit Holes and Archetypes

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Who is the Samurai in the virtual world? Well, that’s easy: he’s a virtual Samurai. He’s been culturally appropriated for the purposes of an imaginative exercise — without apology by the way: as cultural appropriation, or imitating archetypes, is how we learn.

The next question might be: what is real about your Unemployed Samurai then? Isn’t he just a ‘social construction of patriarchy designed to oppress the masses?’ Well, no. He is alive and real in the creative imagination; he is a living experiment, a male warrior archetype. — No, I do not think that all men of power are tyrannical oppressors. And yes, I am taking him out of the Japanese context, with only a summary knowledge of what the real Samurai were all about. This is not scholarship, it is existential exploration and fun, with a serious underbelly — like a cartoon strip. Art is ritual, and all ritual is virtual. It links one to the archetypes by imaginatively invoking them.

Archetypes are both ancient and very much up to date, and just because they are virtual doesn’t mean that they aren’t real. Archetype is a term that is both misunderstood and abused: An archetype is not some kind of absolutely fixed or ideal form of being, it is a fluid and evolving narrative structure that allows us to describe experience. In some sense, it you can’t go beyond the archetypes: they are composed of strict limits; they are the parameters of fate, the larger blueprints which shape us. At the same time, with a coherent narrative structure you have infinite potential for variation. Archetypes are like musical structures. Once you lay down rules for the archetypal game, you can begin to play. That is to say, you can only be free from within the archetype, or the mandala, or the cosmic city, or however you want to describe the underlying metaphysical structure.

They archetypal stories are those which describe reality to such a level of perfection and justice that they endure centuries, and their depth is inexhaustible. It’s like the circle without periphery or centre that is at the same time a circle, a pure paradox. It’s a sort of impossible perfection, which can’t be encompassed by human knowledge, but constitutes the sources from where human knowledge emerged. At the same time archetypes are easily misread. The danger is to reify or solidify the story, without touching the electric edges or periphery. That is why the archetypes need to be constantly renewed and resurrected.

While we circle around the same themes, each swoop reveals a deeper and more refined layer to the story. There is a basic simplicity to the narrative, but it can be told in infinitely subtle ways, as long as we don’t lose the thread. And even if we diverged from the main path story seriously and travelled to an avant guard nether world, it would still be our reference — the archetype would still haunt us, in other words. That that is why there can be dissonance and contrast — a counterpoint to harmony.

Without the archetype, the container, the vehicle for expression, there is nothing but chaos and white noise. But that doesn’t mean you can go off the main track or fall down into various rabbit holes. In fact, getting lost is also part of the structure of the archetype. You can’t escape that totality, which is, in its realized form, pure freedom.

Compressed scraps of angel melody, stories, essays, rants against reductionism, commands from the deep.

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