Tuesday, May 3, 2016

[AVW 004] The Anima and the Animus

Previous: [AVW 003] Archetypes and the Subconcious

"If you are boys, your God is a woman.
If you are women, your God is a boy.
If you are men, your God is a maiden.
The God is where you are not.

-CG Jung, The Red Book

I showed you this image in the previous post:

Let's review: Individual instances of Archetypes (a particular dream, a particular character) are expressions of the Archetype, not the Archetype itself. Isis is not the Light Mother, but she is an individual expression of the Light Mother pattern. Got it? Good.

Now Jung and Campbell and all the others have their own lists of Archetypal figures: the Light Mother, the Dark Mother, the Light Father, the Dark Father, Tyrant Holdfast, the Princess of Sleep, the Old Man, and so on ad infinitum.

Unfortunately, we don't have enough time to discuss all of the different Archetypal characters identified by this scholar or that scholar. But since we're only concerned with the Damsel in Distress, we only really need to talk about one: the Anima/Animus.

The Anima/Animus represent the totality of the Unconscious, the totality of all that the Conscious mind is not. For men (according to Jung), it takes the form of the female Anima; for women it takes the form of the male Animus. As Jung says, "the God is where you are not."

This makes a certain amount of sense, even to the logical, Conscious mind. If you want a symbol for all that your Conscious mind is not, what better than the polar opposite of yourself: for the young man, a mother; for the old woman, a young man.

The journey of the hero is not to liberate the princess from the monster (or indeed, to reinforce social control over female bodies), but to liberate the soul from the forces that imprison it. It is an error to identify real-world women with the princess, for the princess is an aspect of the hero. Mario does not save Princess Peach, the Consciousness liberates the Unconsciousness from repression.

This is the basic pattern, but stories that subvert the pattern can also be psychologically compelling. For example, the Tragedy subverts the pattern by having the hero fail in his quest (usually due to some character flaw). Hamlet does not save his mother or Ophelia, and dies. MacBeth is led down the road to ruin by his wife, and dies. Oedipus slays the monster and marries a queen, only to find she is his mother.

But the pattern remains. The failure to save the princess, to rescue the soul, ends in terror, tragedy, and death. Each unhappy family may be unhappy in its own way, but the wages of sin are surprisingly constant. The pattern can be subverted, but ignoring the interests and desires of the Unconscious mind entirely results in unconvincing dreck.

The purpose of this series is not to argue that Women should be passive objects. The argument is that being a passive object is the psychological purpose of the Damsel. And while there are issues with the representation of women in media, the answer isn't to create media that fails to be psychologically satisfying.

Don't ignore the patterns. Learn from them and create something psychologically satisfying.

Next: [AVW005] Flipping the Script (Men with Tits)

1 comment:

  1. Having some weird problems with links in this series. Thought I'd let you know.

    Otherwise, quite interesting.