“So much is happening in the world, earthquakes, revolutions and wars and you’re writing about the archetype of the Lover?” My reply: “Heck yeah, with all this chaos how do we approach what needs to be done without the passion of a Lover!?” She gave me a look of kind incredulity. “But the Lover? what could be more dreamy and ungrounded?”. I love my friend (pun intended), and her point is well made, the archetype of the Lover can be fluffy. The Casablanca version of this archetype is ubiquitous and needs little explanation, but to limit the Lover to only romantic endeavors would be carving out but a tiny slice of it’s potential expression.
At the risk of sounding like a tragically optimistic hippie – what the world needs now is love. There I said it. How about this – peace is sexy! Why does peace need to be a meek dove awaiting release from a cage? It doesn’t. It’s a succulent main course not a delicate dessert.
We’ve got war, strife, stress, anxiety and for some reason we fight fire with fire. That or we just tune it out with distractions. Both approaches take a lot of energy. The Lover is marked by passion, devotion and exuberance. All qualities we need to counterbalance the fear and confusion of the world scene today.
There are many forms of love and all can be expressed within the pattern of the Lover archetype. The ancient Greeks spoke of ‘agape’ or brotherly love as well as the erotic love related to the god Eros. It matters not which form, the Lover wants to be in touch with it both literally and figuratively. The Lover is about action and expression. It calls us to move out into the world or to at least take on a fuller more sense related (sensual) experience in our lives.
The 1989 film Dead Poets Society tells the story of the many forms of the Lover archetype. This 5 minute clip sets up the theme for the film which is centered around the ethos of the Lover – to devote oneself to passion and expression, in other words to love life and “Seize the Day”. It also tells of the potential cost of doing so in a society that might not support your efforts. Go ahead, watch the clip.
The film uses the context of a stuffy boarding school in the 1950s as a metaphor for the hemmed-in life of society’s expectations and boundaries. Robin Williams plays Mr. Keating the Teacher/Liberator encouraging the boys to be ignited by their passions, to devote themselves to what their souls call them to do. The many iterations of the Lover are portrayed in the film interlaced with archetypes: hopeful Knox Overtstreet madly in love with the blonde cheerleader, rebellious Charlie Dalton enamored with freedom and expression, Todd the painfully shy Invisible Child who longs to express himself and Neil, the Artist who finds his souls expression in acting. I won’t spoil the end for you but just as in life, requiring approval can be disastrous especially with an archetype such as the Lover. The shadow of the Lover looms large towards the end of the film and evokes tragedy when love leads to obsession, desperation and a loss of faith.
Love is not something that you can save up and put in a bank account. It can’t be bottled, lent or borrowed. By nature it’s fiery and must be expressed in some way. An energy that must move can be channeled into our daily challenges, both personal and social.
How much more connected to purpose can one be than when they are in love? Imagine what it would be like to love a problem. The Lover is able to see the essence of the beloved and can hold that image through thick and thin. I realize this goes against many notions of how to take action or work with something as fractious as the problems we face now, but the old paradigms are crumbling and we are in need of some new patterns.
Archetype Crib Sheet:
Films: Nicholas Cage in Moonstruck; Charles Denner in The Man Who Loved Women (Truffaut version); Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca; Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge, Dead Poets Society, John Hannah in Sliding Doors, Donna Reed in It’s A Wonderful Life, Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward in Moonrise Kingdom
Drama: Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare Books:
Fiction – Stealing Heaven by Marion Meade (Abelard and Heloise),
Non-fiction – King, Warrior, Magician, Lover by Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette
“The problem, if you love it, is as beautiful as a sunset.”~Krishnamurti
(With thanks to my client, Val for reminding me of this great quote!)
Here’s a great post on Peace is Sexy.