40 The Warrior Archetype

Episode Forty: The Archetypal Soldier

In this episode, we’ll go beyond the virtuous Spartans and the preeminent Alexander to a figure more like our own conflicted selves–my recurring fictional character, Telamon of Arcadia.

Telamon is the embodiment of the Warrior Archetype … unkillable, supreme in combat … but self-aware, self-questioning, self-tormented.

His ordeal is that he must answer, for himself and by himself, the questions the Spartans and Alexander could not.

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20 Comments

  1. Joe on December 31, 2020 at 6:55 am

    And we can’t leave out “Master Sergeant Vaughn Telamon of Arcadia, Mississippi…” in 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘗𝘳𝘰𝘧𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘰𝘯. I’m also intrigued by “the character that seems to show up on their own.”

    • Joe on December 31, 2020 at 7:07 am

      …his own; …her own; … their own. Werds is hard.

    • Andrew lubin on December 31, 2020 at 3:02 pm

      Joe; I’d forgotten! Seems I have some reading to do this weekend. All the best in the New Year// Andrew

      • Joe on January 1, 2021 at 1:17 pm

        You too, Andrew!

    • William Sweeney on March 11, 2021 at 1:49 pm

      Reading A MAN AT ARMS. Enjoyed the Telamon quote at the beginning.

  2. andrew lubin on December 31, 2020 at 11:57 am

    I might compare Telamon to Josey Wales; a modern-day warrior who accepts he has very little hope of surviving, yet it never occurs to him not to fight.

    Part of Steve’s excellent example of Telamon stripping down his soldier’s kit, is that a soldier needs to discard his hope. But not exactly abandoning hope of survival; it’s more of a warrior’s acceptance of his possible death. And I mean accepting it on an emotional and spiritual level, versus an academic level.

    I didn’t want to get whacked when I was overseas, but after being in a humvee IED’d in Ramadi, I was viscerally aware it could easily happen again. Yet I went out again, because that was my St Paul-to-Damascus moment, when I simultaniously I realized: 1-OMFG; I’m really in combat, 2- I had a son and grandson and really didn’t want to get whacked, 3-No way I was going to be a puss and not go out again, so 4: might as well accept it, go out, do the best I could, and hope it worked out. Did I abandon hope? No, but I accepted it might not work out – and I was OK with that result.

    It’s a challenge to write the above and think people will say, ‘of course; that makes sense’, because I’m sure to most it does not. But if you think of the scene towards the end of the movie when Josey is talking to the Indian Chief Ten Bears, and they’re discussing life and death – and they promise each other life. No emotions, no hysteria, just 2 warriors being honest with each other. Telamon’s the same, life is preferable, but you live rough, you stay ready, and you live a life w/no regrets. Like that photo of the cold and raqged young Marine at the Chosin Reservoir; when asked by photographer David Duncan Douglas what he wanted, “Gimme tomorrow’ the Marine replied. Yeah, Telamon would have replied the same.

    • Tyrus G on December 31, 2020 at 12:55 pm

      Well done, Andrew..!

    • Brian Nelson on December 31, 2020 at 2:53 pm

      Andrew,
      That was poetry. Happy New Year.
      bsn

    • Lee Mothershed on May 20, 2021 at 6:44 am

      The same reason I’m re-enlisting with the Guard after an injury forced me out ten years ago.
      I hear you.

  3. Brian Nelson on December 31, 2020 at 2:41 pm

    Steve,
    My military experience was post-draft. We were all volunteers. Contracted. I enlisted because I was Jeff Spicoli who got an ‘F’ in bookkeeping, after I had dropped accounting. Bookeeping was easy, then I stopped going to class because it was right after lunch, and this little Mexican restaurant would serve us beer–and got too drunk to do to class for a week straight. I thought the prof would drop me. He didn’t. He failed me.

    It was the first time I had ever received an actual ‘F’ on anything. “Why didn’t you drop me?” I asked. “Why didn’t you talk to me me?” he answered. Shame.

    I enlisted, even talked another kid (he was a year older, and even a bigger turd than me at the time) to join with me. We didn’t discuss it with anyone. I was certain my bestie, Ralph, would have taken one big drag, said, “The Army?!?!” and I would have reached over to grab the joint and say, “You’re right, dumb idea.”

    There was nothing noble about my intentions, nor in the way in which I joined the Army. My recruiter, after telling him how many drugs I had ‘experimented’ (if that means 3-5 times a week for the past couple of years…) said, “We don’t take druggies, but the Army cannot afford to do an FBI investigation on every recruit. Let’s start this questioning over…” So, we completed a new application.

    The best way to describe my next 8 years of service was ‘ETSing (Expiration of Term of Service) for 8 years’. I never fully committed. It was a means to an end. I thought I wanted to be a businessman. Wealth was my primary value.

    When I left active duty I became a businessman, while doing one weekend a month. It didn’t take long for me to FINALLY recognize that the Army Values of Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, Personal Courage meant much more to me than chasing the Dollar.

    It took a few yeas to recognize that prescription for life I learned in the Army: get up early, do PT, professionally develop, develop those around you, show up, be on time, be informed…were applicable outside of the military as much as when I was actively serving. I found my way back into the full-time military, and more importantly found a home I had denied for 8 years.

    Telamon is right. There is a big difference between studying war, and living the warrior’s life. I have seen 100s of Veterans turning their back on what they learned in the military, “I’ll never run again…I’m gonna smoke so much weed…I’ll never get up before dawn again…”

    The Warrior’s Life is simple but not easy. Clear. Puts others ahead of oneself. In so many ways, it models the path outlined in most spiritual traditions.

    I don’t think a Warrior’s Life is much different than ‘Adulting’ or ‘Turning Pro’. I am so grateful for what I learned (probably slower than most who served) from my military experience. At times I think a conscripted service would do our nation so much good. If only having a collective ‘American Experience’ from which we can all understand one another.

    Long post, but it is the end of the year. We can all learn from, and embrace the Archetypal Soldier in our civilian lives, and I think we would all be much happier/satisfied. The irony is that all ‘war stories’ include misery, suffering, extreme elements–but when retold, our eyes light up and we laugh and laugh about them now. It is never the 4 day pass we discuss.
    bsn

    • Andrew lubin on December 31, 2020 at 3:10 pm

      Brian- well said! We’re all products of our experiences; the difference between us and the Spicoli’s of the world is we had the interest to see what was beyond the next ridge. My plans include Norway and France; I hope you keep looking in 2021!! Happy New Year// Andrew

    • Andrew lubin on December 31, 2020 at 3:11 pm

      Brian- well said! We’re all products of our experiences; the difference between us and the Spicoli’s of the world is we had the interest to see what was beyond the next ridge. My plans include Norway and France; I hope you keep looking in the New Year// Andrew

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