The UNUS MUNDUS forum of Psychovision (Remo F. Roth) invites discussion of theoretical and practical issues of a possible union of Carl Jung's depth psychology with quantum physical principles.
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 Beowulf as a Developing Archetype Image. 
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Joined: Tue May 05, 2009 8:18 am
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Location: East Sussex, England
Post Beowulf as a Developing Archetype Image.
This is my first post to the list. I am at the moment doing an MA Creative Writing at Portsmouth University and the text below is part of my critical essey on The Interplay between Creative Writers and Archetypal Images.

I have assumed this to be an example of an Archetype Image changing over time but I would really like to get the lists input as I've never had the chance to test my idea before with those more experienced hen me.



The Developing Archetype Image.

A modern film of Beowulf(Zemeckis, 2007) is an example of the hero becoming King and with the death of the King a transformation takes place so that the ancient tale is turned into a healing rather than a contest between good and evil. Before looking at this transformation and the corresponding change to the image of the archetype involved it would be as well to explain that the archetypes themselves are hidden deep within the unconscious and are seen only through their images(Ulanov, 2005, pp. 101-124). The difference between Jung’s archetypes and Booker’s basic plots is that the archetypes are not limited to literature but inhabit the whole of our emotional environment and form the mystical bond of participation mystique.

Jung gave the term Psyche to mean the whole of set of complexes and archetypes, which make up our being. He considered it to be self regulating and except for the ego to be unconscious. Among the archetypes, the Self is an image of the individual's full potential and an unconscious sense of their wholeness. It acts as a Strange Attractor(Wikipedia, 2009a) in guiding the ego’s path within the Psyche. It can be seen from Figure 1 the path of the attractor is not a simple orbit around a centre but a complex weaving of influences.

To explore the developments in the Beowulf plot from manuscript to the local Multiplex I first need to summarize the original story. Set in Denmark in the 6th century, King Hrothgar has a new mead hall. Grendel, the monster, attacks the hall and kills them all except the King. Beowulf arrives and agrees to slay Grendel and does so, he then kills Grendal’s mother. Fifty years later a dragon attacks the hall and Beowulf and his son kill it but Beowulf is morally hurt and given a Viking funeral.
Angelina Jolie as the Golden Woman in Beowulf.

The changes to the plot are that Grendel, is Hrothgar’s son and Grendel’s mother is a Golden Woman who, instead of fighting Beowulf, seduces him and gives birth to the dragon. In the final battle with the dragon, Beowulf tells Wiglaf the truth before he dies. The dragon is transformed by death and the ocean waves into a golden man, Beowulf’s son.

Later as Wiglaf watches the boat sink during Beowulf’s funeral he sees the Golden Woman come out of the water and embrace Beowulf, reclaiming her lover as he slips into the sea. The new and psychologically interesting development is that Wiglaf, who now holds the drinking horn given to the Golden Woman by Beowulf when he was seduced, walks into the sea, waist deep, and waits for her to approach him and claim what is hers.

Now, rather than the story ending with the death of all involved the tale continues in that Wiglaf, who is now King, has started a new relationship with the Golden Woman although the film ends with them just looking at each other, separated by a few feet of water. In as much as the sea is the archetypal Mother the Golden Woman can be seen as an image of the unconscious now entering into a relationship with the conscious personality. In effect her power flows out into life enriching it and fuelling the participation mystique of both writer and reader.

This shift in the plot changes the whole story from conflict to integration and healing of the land. The feminine is no longer the sinful Daughters of Eve but the rising Goddess(Whitmont, 1982) whose return brings the senses of instinct, feeling, intuition and emotion to the fore of our human lives. The Church saw the former attitude of conflict as a path to redemption, the modern view is the individual has a relationship with all the forces around them and is therefore responsible for the outcome of their own life. This major shift in attitude matches the modern person struggling to find meaning and purpose in their life. The archetypal image has changed and with it the Beowulf plot.

Sun Jan 10, 2010 5:50 pm

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Post Beowulf and 300
Saw these as related karma. Felt Beowulf movie was "shadow" of 300 as Rolling Stones are shadow to Beatles, Wuthering Heights shadow of Jane Eyre, Captain Jack Sparrow shadow of Harry Potter. Shadow is an indication that the original comes from the Unconscious and brings a purpose or initiative to the generation. As such, the original contains numinous effects which influence the culture within the generation's cultural package. While the archetypes in the other seem staged; furniture - a "feeling" sent to respect or pay homage to the original, but in this kind of desplay the archetypes are like statues or animals in the zoo rather than in the wild. Is a problem expressing the archetypal lit from one's own tradition - becomes a reenactment. Nevertheless, Leonidas, played magnificently by Gerard Butler in 300, works well. Notice in the picture he "comes with a sword." The tool of moral and aescetatic and spiritual discrimination for a generation. Problem today in college: The literature professors are often lawyer types or failed scientists who switched majors who inevitably chose the shadow over the original as it does not contain the numinous threats of the feminine that the Unconscious brings forth. This point was made by a famous economist: Lawyers always chose the Rolling Stones over the Beatles.


Tue Jan 19, 2010 5:41 pm
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Tue Jan 19, 2010 7:53 pm
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Joined: Tue May 05, 2009 8:18 am
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Post Beowulf changing archetype image from conflict to healing
Hi Jan,

I my research into Creative Writing and Archetypes I found that Jung made an important distinction between the Archetype, and the Image of the Archetype, which I think, is what has changed in the modern presentation of the film Beowulf. In other words, the Archetype does not change but its representation or Image does.

I think this change of Image may be an important aspect of our modern consciousness in that we, no longer see the Hero as anything but a phase on the path to understanding and wisdom.

Campbell's book 'The Hero with a Thousand Faces' may be great for film scriptwriters to use as a framework for their plots but given the damage active service in a war zone does to modern troops I feel the general population is developing a very different attitude to conflict. It is for that reason that the Archetype Image is changing from conflict to healing.

However, is this film an indication of a general trend or just a one off?



Sun Jan 24, 2010 12:27 am
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