Let’s talk about John Wick.
Have you seen the movies? There are 3 of them now (soon to be 4). They all star Keanu Reeves.
They’re Westerns even though they’re set in the present … and the character of John Wick is a classic Western hero. He’s otherworldly handling a gun. A typical shootout in a John Wick movie has Wick dispensing with twenty ninjas/assassins/bad guys via gunplay, kung fu, you name it.
He’s heartbroken. He mourns a lost love. He’ll never find another.
He has a dog. The dog gets killed by the bad guys. Etc. Etc. A videogame-like fantasy. Fun to watch. No doubt fun to make as an actor.
But again, a Warrior Archetype dead-end fantasy that could never happen, and even if it did would be ridiculous.
Now let’s consider the REAL Keanu Reeves.
He has a company that builds motorcycles. Have you seen them? They’re amazing. They’re works of art. But more importantly, they evolved out of Keanu and his partner X’s passion for beauty and for something creative and new.
He acts in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
He has a sense of humor.
He doesn’t take himself overly seriously.
He’s brave in his artistic choices.
He follows his artistic passions.
He has a family.
He participates in politics.
He’s part of the real, messy world.
When we move beyond the Warrior Archetype, you and I … we can still have fun. We can still be “manly.” We can still jump out of airplanes and run 100 miles barefoot across the Mojave.
But we can also teach … and mentor … and help. We can participate in the wider world. We can be, as Pericles said, “the rightful lord of our own persons.”
We can be, not what others want us to be or expect us to be … but our own selves, no matter how nutty or unorthodox that is.
We can apply the warrior virtues of courage, endurance, selflessness, love of our brothers and sisters, the willing embrace of adversity, aggressiveness, patience … the virtues that the Spartans embodied, and Alexander, and the Romans and a hundred other cultures including our own … we can apply those in areas beyond the aggrandizement of our own ego.
We said in an earlier episode that we mature from archetype to archetype. The Warrior is succeeded by the Mentor, the Teacher, the Father, the Husband, the King, the Sage, the Mystic.
Each archetype expands its view of itself and of the world. Each is more inclusive. Each moves further beyond its own self-interest. Each embraces more and more of the wider world.
The Warrior Archetype is appropriate, even imperative, for a certain stage of our evolution. But at some point it becomes obsolete. We must move beyond it.
Is there a war?
Do we need to be warriors?
But the war is inside us. And the enemy is between our own ears.
1 COR 13:1-2
Appreciate your brevity, Jim.
From Warrior to Mentor to Sage and perhaps beyond; it’s all about maturing. Thank you Steve, for making making it so clear!
Sparta is not a model for today. Please drop this violent archetype.
I’m with Andrew on this progression being related to maturation, to a degree. Some of the archetype shifts, you can fall into by accident. Whoops… now I’m a father (a role we then have to mature into after having arrived). Other archetypes, you have to pursue with intent, and sacrifice in order to embrace them. To become a mystic and a sage means giving up other things, leaving things or people behind.
The thing that’s intriguing to me (which goes to the Keanu/Wick example of “playing roles”), is how so many of the experiences we have in these short lives involve “personas that we assume.” A suit of clothes we don in order to play a role. “I’m a vegan.” “I’m a gun guy.” “I’m a citizen of this country and not that one.” “I’m an artist.” “I’m a mountain man.”
Thinking how in many dreams (for me, anyway), it’s possible to “see behind the curtain” and recognize that the dream is a stage production: “That was okay. Let’s run it again. Scene 4, Take 3., and…. ACTION!” We’re playing roles, actors on a stage.
And lastly, how that little core of persona — the ego, the sense of “self” — can be quieted… through deep meditation or breathwork or with help from plant medicines. By whatever mechanism, that “default mode network” that seems to be a seat of ego is down-regulated, allowing us to perceive without boundaries. Maybe putting us in a place where we’re all of archetypes, all at the same time. I dunno… I’m just making stuff up here.
Nicely put Joe. Even if you’re making it up, I like where its going.
Sure is great to read others’ insights to Steven’s posts.
This all seems coincidental-maybe serendipitous is more accurate-
First, watch Warrior Archetype about being/growing into different archetypes, then listening to a fun book by John Scalzi called “Redshirts” (twofer sale at Audible this week). The story is about how the characters in this sci-fi book are real, and based on a tv show in 21st century. . In this book the ‘fictional’ characters come back 400+ years and meet the actors who are playing them on and the screenwriter who keeps killing off the actors with shoddy writing. It’s fun, but similar message.
Then I’m listening to the Lex Fridman podcast with Matthew Johnson about Psychedelics, he’s one of the Docs at Johns Hopkins. Ego dissolution, connection, growth, ineffable experiences that many say they experience the Jungian Archetypes…
Lastly, coming back to the site to read the wisdom of crowds. Maturation. Evolution. Growth.
When Matt Johnson was describing some of the subjects’ reports of their guided psilocybin journeys one brought me to tears, and it was about how much they loved their family/friends.
Jim Gant nails it simply with 1 COR 13: 1-2 …without Charity/Love…
So much effort to get back to the place we were as infants.
Maybe the Warrior Archetype gives us the fuel to ‘fight’ the real fight. There are no shortcuts. All of us are worth the effort. Love isn’t just a warm feeling, but an action verb. Both for ourselves, our ‘art’ (whatever that may be), and others. Half-assed effort/work is not loving. It is patronizing at best, and evil at worst.
I’m getting hit with the same message from all corners today. Pay attention Nelson!
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I will need to watch John Wick’s films to see the connection to the Western motive. I love Keanu Reeves.
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