Guess who?

“In addition to the term ‘complex’, **** also coined those of the ‘collective unconscious’ and the ‘archetype’.”

Before I go any further, I have to mention that these are key terms in modern usage. “Collective unconscious” and “archetype” might be a little… precious, but think of how often you hear that someone has a “Napoleon Complex,” or an “Oedipus Complex.” Maybe I keep odd company, but I would suggest that it is also common to create descriptions of new “complexes” in conversation.

It makes me want to investigate exactly what it is I am talking about when I say “complex.”

“Specific contents of the collective subconscious were, he considered, archetypal images, such as the ‘Great mother’, the ‘Serpent’ or the ‘Shadow’. On his ethnological expeditions, **** had observed that these images occur in all cultures and must therefore be anchored in the human brain.”

Then he has to go and claim something like this, which is a little troublesome and disconnected. It has nothing to do with the terms– that sort of rigid nomenclature is innately suspicious–but that he sampled three almost universal experiences. Exhibit A: Everybody has a mother. This does not have to be “anchored in the human brain” to be as obvious as it is. Exhibit B: Serpents are also called snakes, and there are snakes pretty much everywhere. Desert, mountains. Garden snakes, for christ’s snakes. Exhibit C: As in Exhibit A, everyone has a shadow. The same reasoning applies. ****’s logic is not convincing.

But accidentally, a different point is raised: these universal experiences are the groundroots of our psyches (as opposed to the groundroot of, as **** here suggests, our singular psyche). Then we get access to our own seemingly unpredictable thought processes, and only because we have gained what I will call “points of investigation.” A point of investigation can be many things: a memory; an image; hard data gleaned through the most rigorous and exacting methods; a philosophical state; absolutely any extent of self-knowledge; in short, a clue.

****’s clues are the Shadow, the Serpent, and the Great Mother. The  provenances of these (dare I?) archetypes are pretty well mapped-out. (Off the top of my head:) The Serpent refers to that serpent that goes around the world in Norse or Chinese or something Mythology; that serpent around the tree of life Yggdrasil (How can you forget a name like that?); that snake in all those fables that slithers out of the woods to misguide Early European shepherds. Etc. In ****, (my guess goes) The Serpent is that one thing in your life that always slithers out of the woods to tempt you, or every moment in which your allow your naivete/desire-to-maintain-a-state-of-innocence corrode your judgment. Pretty easy.

But what other archetypes are there, besides those mentioned in ****? I don’t see any reason why **** has a monopoly on these, or any reason why we shouldn’t be allowed to elaborate on ****.

I’ll go first.

The ocean? Pardon me. The Ocean? Deep, vast, etc. Problem: too many cultures without notion of ocean (rhymes, therefore must be true.) Can’t be universal.

Time? Visualized in too many different forms to really be considered a single “archetype.”

Okay, maybe not so easy as I thought. I hereby welcome nominations for the No Record Blog’s Contributions to the Theories of ****. Elaborate, or don’t, to your heart’s content.


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