Tuesday, August 16, 2022

@PDXSag on the "Three Masculine Archetypes"

[From our CBS correspondent @PdxSag.]

I loved the Stewart Brand article that was in the most recent Thursday Links. Of course, everyone loves a man versus the sea story, but Brand’s je ne sais quoi comes from his recognition and exploration of the three masculine archetypes.

The first archetype in the article is the man who sets out despite a lean budget and less than ideal apparatus. This man, forced by circumstance, must trust his wits and will to carry him through. To be sure, it is not a fool-hardy trust. It is a trust earned through many real-life experiences, first as an apprentice and later as a journeyman on his own. This man has picked up a few knocks along the way, but the knocks were survived and afterwards he can take some personal pride, and find strength in them. The common metaphor for this man is that of forging iron into steel.

The second archetype is the man that chases his fancy woefully under-prepared and hoping Providence will magically carry him through. When the going gets tough he mentally escapes by ignoring his most pressing problems and concentrating on the things that make him feel good. Men such as these can go pretty far in life, often to the amazement of friends and acquaintances. However, when it ends it always ends in catastrophe. “Who could have known?” some men of the other two types will snigger to each other.

The third archetype is the man who conscientiously prepares nearly every detail in advance such that the test itself is almost anti-climatic. The question is not will he succeed. Barring an event of random bad fortune, admittedly always a non-trivial possibility in endeavors such as these, everyone expects him to succeed. The only question is how well does he succeed. Interestingly, the type 3 sailor did experience a bit of random bad fortune when his bowsprit became seriously bent following a freak collision with a freighter while passing packages of mail. And just as aptly, he experienced an anti-climatic ending. On the home stretch he realized he had no interest in winning and all the publicity that would be expected of the winner. So he sent a message that he was withdrawing and decided to sail on alone for another 3 months and 10,000 miles to Tahiti.

We all know types 2 and 3 as the proverbial grasshoppers and ants.

Type 1, curiously, has no well-regarded analog from the animal kingdom. Perhaps in times past this type was simply how most men were. Compared to the way of the ant, that’s not something you want to teach your sons. On the other hand, where would we be if we never embarked on a challenge unless and until we had everything perfectly prepared and the conditions, too, were perfect? So I shall nominate the first type as the honey badger. If you can’t always find it in yourself to be the ant, then be the honey badger.

No comments: