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Sunday, May 7th, 2006

Time Event
8:12a
A fascinating little book ...
Sometimes I "stumble over things" on-line and see a reference and think "hey, I have that!", and this was one of those cases. I'd recently had a "men's workshop" recommended to me and was doing some background research on it, and saw Robert Moore & Douglas Gillette's King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine listed as one of the "mythopoetic" sourcebooks that they use. I really don't recall when/why I ended up getting this book (it appears to be one of the ones that has hung out in my to-be-read shelves for over a decade!), but I decided I'd check it out at this point.

This book started out with a lot of "resonances" for me that made me wonder if the authors had been with the Process Church ... they describe the mundane world as "grey" at a couple of points, they reference the work of Adler, they describe systems very close to "God patterns", and, heck, one of their names is the same as DeGrimston was born with! This never "went anywhere" that looked familiar, but it was striking, if only as coincidence.

Speaking of "never going anywhere", my main gripe with the book is that they spend 94% of it "defining the problem" and only 6% (of a rather skimpy 156 pages) making suggestions about what to do about it (ending with one "exercise", and three "approaches"), which makes this read more like a guidebook for setting up men's workshops than anything else! Also, the book is "very 80's", with frequent references to the original Star Wars and some global issues that sound mighty dated at this point.

That said, their premise is fascinating, arguing that our current society is developmentally stunted, frozen into "boy psychology" rather than "man psychology". As one would expect, King, Warrior, Magician, Lover deals with how those "masculine archetypes" are actualized in both adolescent and mature forms. They present a graphic representation of this, as two nested pyramids, each with four faces. Each of those faces has three points, the top being the "fully actualized" archetype, and the other two being the bi-polar "shadow" of the archetype, with dysfunctional manifestations, one weak and one strong. An example of this would be in The King's triangle, with the "actualized" King at the apex with "The Tyrant" and "The Weakling" at the other points. As an example of how the "boy psychology" evolves to "man psychology", the "Hero" archetype matures into "The Warrior", with similar shifts in the "shadow".

Now, on the surface, a lot of this sounds like so much newage blithering, however, as the "shadow" attributes are detailed, I doubt any man reading this would not feel uncomfortable flashes of recognition of how those dysfunctional patterns manifest in his psychology. What the authors argue, of course, is that we ALL are stunted in our growth from boy to man ... largely because our civilization has lost the initiating functions of earlier tribal societies ... there are no more "Wise Men" or "Elders" who know to guide us into fully realized Manhood. This is why the lack of "what then?" material is so frustrating here ... it's a bit like a doctor looking at an x-ray, telling you that you have a worrisome lump, and then sending you home with an aspirin! The authors have, of course, spun out a number of additional books (one series with a book on working with each of the archetypes), lecture videos, workshops, etc., but it seems a bit like "cheating" to not have a good section of "what then" material in this one.

Despite my irritation with the "leaving the reader hanging" aspects, I do recommend this for the very interesting analysis of the male psyche. I'm sure I'm going to have issues raised in this kicking around in my head for months. It appears that this is still in print ... Amazon has it (at a 34% discount) at a bit over ten bucks and you can snag a "like new" copy from the new/used vendors for about three (plus shipping) ... but you could probably find this at your local bookstore as well if it sounds like somewhere you want to go.


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