Implications for Pedagogy andCreative Writing Applications
Contents• I. Overview- Impact of Digital Information Age II. The (deep) Nature of Archetypes a. The Relevance of Archetypes Examples of Chief Jungian Archetypes b. The Relevance of Archetypes, cont’d• III. The Bodying Forth of Archetypes in Signs & Symbols • a. From Archetype to Symbol • b. The Chief Use of Symbols: Their Ideal Function• IV. Archetypes’ Relation to Technology• V. Several Case Studies (archetypes) • a. Case Study: Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird • b. Case Study: D.H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers• VI. Creative Options in Teaching and Student Work • a. Asking students to map the archetype(s) • b. Creative Writing Applications
I. Impact of Digital Information Age “… in a Babel of signals, we must listen to a great deal of chatter to hear one bit of information we really want. We discover that information can become noiselike when it is irrelevant or interferes with desired signals… All too often media and computers speed up the impact of information upon us without adding to its meaning for us. By taking in too much noise, a peson becomes cluttered, not integrated. The result for our information society is that we suffer a lag in which the slow horse of meaning is unable to keep up with the fast horse of mere information.” -- Orrin Edgar Klapp, Inflation of Symbols: Loss of Values in American Culture “About a month ago I began legging up my endurance horse…” [unnamed web source]
II. The Nature of Archetypes1. The Nature of Archetypes (their continuing relevance for self-recognition and cultural identification) Jungian Theory: Where do the archetypes come from? In his earlier work, Jung tried to link archetypes to heredity and regarded them as instinctual. We are born with these patterns which structure our imagination and make it distinctly human. Archetypes are thus very closely linked to our bodies. In his later work, Jung was convinced that the archetypes are psychoid, that is, "they shape matter (nature) as well as mind (psyche)" (Houston Smith, Forgotten Truth, 40). In other words, archetypes are elemental forces which play a vital role in the creation of the world and of the human mind itself. The ancients called them elemental spirits. How do archetypes operate? Jung found the archetypal patterns and images in every culture and in every time period of human history. They behaved according to the same laws in all cases. He postulated the Universal Unconscious to account for this fact. We humans do not have separate, personal unconscious minds. We share a single Universal Unconscious. Mind is rooted in the Unconscious just as a tree is rooted in the ground. [iloveulove.com]
a. The Relevance of Archetypes Substratum of All Human Experience, from When Signs and Symbols Emerge:“Archetypes form a dynamic substratum common to all humanity, upon the foundation of which each individual builds his own experience of life, developing a unique array of psychological characteristics. Thus, while archetypes themselves may be conceived as a relative few innate nebulous forms, from these may arise innumerable images, symbols and patterns of behavior. While the emerging images and forms are apprehended consciously, the archetypes which inform them are elementary structures which are unconscious and impossible to apprehend. “Being unconscious, the existence of archetypes can only be deduced indirectly by examining behavior, images, art, myths, etc. They are inherited potentials which are actualized when they enter consciousness as images [symbols] or manifest in behavior on interaction with the outside world.” [wikipedia]
Examples of Chief Jungian Archetypes Jung described archetypal events: birth, death, separation from parents, initiation, marriage, the union of opposites etc.; archetypal figures: “…great mother, father, child, devil, God, wise old man, wise old woman, trickster, hero - not to mention "Oedipus ... the first archetype Freud discovered" or "number ... an archetype of order"; and archetypal motifs: the Apocalypse, the Deluge, the Creation, etc. Although the number of archetypes is limitless, there are a few particularly notable, recurring archetypal images, "the chief among them being" (according to Jung) "the shadow, the Wise Old Man, the child (including the child hero), the mother ... and her counterpart, the maiden, and lastly the anima [female principle] in man and the animus [male principle] in woman". Alternately he would speak of "the emergence of certain definite archetypes ... the shadow, the animal, the wise old man, the anima, the animus, the mother, the child". [Wikipedia]
b. Relevance of Archetypes, cont’d Cultural Relevance: Archetypes help to provide identifying clues to our innermost impulses, thoughts, dreams– and so, link us to the human family, often across religions, cultures, economic status, beliefs… Personal Relevance (psychological/emotional development): Change/Risk dilemmas in adolescents can find direction in a myriad of natural identifications that can trigger access to archetypal senses of identity, and belonging. Archetypes (and symbols) can provide context and a sense of rootedness in culture(s) toadolescents perhaps facing feelings of upheaval in the midst of personal change…
From Archetype to Symbol Symbols range from high religious images and artifacts to cultural symbols, symbols based on animal life (as in early religions), or vegetative life (fertility/sterility symbols), and of course, nationalistic and political symbols, symbols of struggle and symbols of ease, symbols of national and state service groups and military organizations, professional symbols, professional clubs (kiwanis, masons, elks), athletic symbols, symbols of towns and neighborhoods, and so on… in other words– Symbols are what you make of them! (a teaspoon can be a symbol– see Eliot’s J. Alfred Prufrock)
The Chief Use of Symbols: Their Ideal Function So: Symbols provide a “context” in a work or art or meditative work in which to place an idea, conveniently enough, or archetype– “Stow your idea of beauty in me,” said the David, emerging under the master’s chisel … Symbols bring intangible ideas into tangible existence, No Small Thing! To challenge readers/viewers to think analogically…as the artist moves from idea to symbol, the reader moves from symbol to idea which then can be transformed symbolically through plot [actions or descriptions] that can enlarge/reshape/transform the symbol… so that Ideas Can Indeed Come to (analogic, figurative) Life!
Archetypes’ Relation to Technology These are rival authority structures. Archetypes exist historically in the flow of all cultural rootedness, where pre-existing relational archetypes, existing in Jung’s “collective unconscious”, help to direct emotional traffic and give ongoing meaning and context to potential emotional chaos. The problem today is, that such complications are considered to jam the information interface, and are ignored if possible. And yet, such willed ignorance may actually cause cultural amnesia if meaning is sacrificed to speed and “ease of transmission” such as data travels on the internet… and “fast horses of info. may easily outrun slow horses of meaning” (see third slide) unless cultural brakes are consciously applied, and “information distillates” are allowed to form such as grow thick enough to hold deeper, richer meanings in suspension… beyond/below the accretion of data bytes!
Several Case Studies (archetypes)Case Study #1: To Kill A Mockingbird – Atticus Finch thinks that justice can prevail for a black man in a white court house in deep-south Alabama in 1950, but Tom Robinson (defendant) is rooted (being a victim) in the archetype of hatred such as lynching and the atavistic need to “purify” the culture of black (African) influence and feared primitivism and tribalism that are perhaps RULING characteristics of Racist Culture. So Tom runs, trying to escape, disbelieving of walking free (in terms of the archetype waiting to be born) because he feels that such a miracle is unlikely, or will lead the prevalent racist archetype to rise up in vengeance. Though he sacrifices his life to this archetype, it rises anyway (great irony here) in the figure of Bob Ewell, who would kill Atticus’ children in a tribal way to maintain the archetype of cultural exclusion/racism such as may define Southern culture of the time-- at least in its desire to subjugate blacks as an archetype of hierarchy that poor whites especially might be likely to enact to claim their inclusion in white culture… and Only the Ultimate dispossessed outsider, Boo Radley, can come to their defense because he lives beyond race, beyond culture, in a private world where children may be lifelong friends and so, to a man his size, worthy of all protection, as being worth so much MORE than the culture they inhabit! Why Else wouldBoobe out in the woods on lookout fairly late on Halloween night?!! Did he sense that Ewell was looking for them? Can the innocent sleep at all when Racism is rampant, even in nature, even in the woods? Archetype Summary: Existing Racial Archetype Trumps New Justice Attempt in a Still Racist South (Atticus as Stymied Knight of Progress).
Case Study #2: D.H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers Paul Morel, son to Gertrude and Walter– In terms of the surface text, Paul bonds tightly with his mother (certainly an archetypal bond, as Oedipus is a key Jungian figure) and in opposition to his father, the coal miner who is too lower-class and grimy from the pit to fit into new middle class domesticity such as Gertrude represents (new archetype). YET: Paul suffers a loss of instinctive connection to male archetypes of power and position such as mining itself symbolizes, wresting a form of wealth from the earth, providing economically for the culture– and so suffers indecision and immolation in the arms of his two love interests in the book, vacillating between them, one beauty paradigm Miriam, mental energy predominant, one married and more animistic, Clara. Unable to root himself in the male archetype that his mother has effectively expelled from the family, Paul is held in an artistic but emotionally stultifying Oedipal net that nearly destroys him when Gertrude dies… Thus is the male archetype (providing gender stability and identity) denied to Paul, with nearly suicidal results (he’s depressive for all of the last chapter, Derelict, refuses Miriam again, spends lost time in bars, finally stumbles towards the lights of the city, alone, to attempt some sort of rebirth…) Archetype Surprise: The archetype of male role passed from father to son as abiding strength and rootedness is thwarted. [Paul’s crisis of identity]
Asking Students to Map Textual Archetype(s) Use of Tablet to “Map” (w/stylus) possible archetype(s) Underlay/ Background/Context/Overlay (3-D mapping software??) Size of Shapes on Screen related to amount of perceived influence– Shapes themselves suggestive of influence, power, flexibility, vulnerability Background Info (as rooted in/exposing archetypes) Family context: careers, education Local (town, neighborhood, city) Context Cultural context Historical context Crisis/Reaction/Revelation Points– Fast Archetype Arrival!
Prospective Creative Writing Applications Begin with Mapping (on paper, iPad, etc), adding and sizing elements such as: Map #1: Underlying Archetypes Family identity/struggle– at the center? the edges? Size, shape of neighborhood importance, influence Size, force of cultural context, influence• Map #2: Protagonist’s Characteristics Strength of character, force of will Knowledge of personal goals: well-defined or ill-defined Warmth: caring, compassion index Nature: Outgoing/Indwelling– extrovert/introvert index Religious/Spiritual Nature Romantic Tendencies, Leanings, Goals Composition Method: Choose Scenic Details (location, season, time of day, other characters present, etc)– then amalgamate a range of specifics from both maps and allow these to drive the character into the invented action…
Works Cited/Resources Orrin Edgar Klapp, Inflation of Symbols: Loss of Values in American Culture Symbols.com Wikipedia.com Iloveulove.com