An essay came to my attention this week Of Fuckboys and Men and I can’t help but to comment on this. The essay is loosely based on the book King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine by Moore and Gillette. The book is a classic analysis of male archetypes and is referenced often in modern publications and blogs, including The Art of Manliness.
I believe that the basis of the book, and especially this essay, is narrow-minded and most definitely not as relevant in our current society. Mind you, I’m coming at this from the perspective of a polyamorous lifestyle and these archetypes are practically based on the need for monogamy. And while I’ll address my view on that, it’s not my biggest problem with the theory; but it is too entangled to not be part of it.
My polyamorous views aside, the other issue here is the dogma associated with these archetypes and their balance. Anytime ideas become dogmatic in that people stop applying their own analytical thinking, I get worried. Blindly following a belief is a recipe for disaster. Full embracing a belief because you truly believe it, that’s the right path forward.
So let’s dive into two specific quotes from the essay that I think highlight the problems with this belief in modern society. First, this one (emphasis mine):
Simplifying our lives so that more of these needs are met by a single partner–rather than constantly being on the hunt or distracted by multiple complicated relationships or casual hook-ups–frees up more of our attention and energy to focus on our work.
The essay, and the book of basis, both highlight the need for a man to have lots of “brothers” in his life. That his time away from his female mate (let’s ignore the gender and sexuality limitations for today) should be filled by like-minded men who support him on his life’s journey. Otherwise referred to as “brothers”.
I have no qualms with brothers, but I have a million issues with what they are meant to represent and how this manifests in real life today. “Like-minded men” results in an echo chamber where no one actually grows. And if everyone is either a brother (there are allowances for sisters, too) that implies that this man has his mate and his mirror-image friends and that’s pretty much it. Everyone else is unimportant in his life. This sounds soul-sucking to me, and boring, and stifling.
Further, the idea that “complicated relationships or casual hook-ups are a distraction is patently wrong. Well, maybe for some this is true, but the basis of a polyamorous lifestyle is that to have people in your life that “fill in the blanks” of the person’s needs. No one person can fulfill everything for any one other person.
Second quote where I take issue (again, emphasis mine):
The shadow Lover is addicted or impotent. He’s either so lost in his pursuit of pleasure and aesthetic ideals that he’s of no use to anyone–including himself–or he’s so dry and chronically depressed that he’s just as useless. We may swing between these poles of the Lover shadow. Many men do.
I’m struck that the shadow Lover is basically to be avoided, yet the essay acknowledges that many men swing between these shadow Lover poles, yet doesn’t acknowledge the benefit of these experiences.
Overall, my issue with King, Warrior, Magician, Lover is that a proper man lives in such perfect balance, that there is nothing but balancing these four archetypes. I argue that, like the Buddhist journey toward Nirvana, we should all aspire to perfect balance, while embracing the real life imbalance we all experience. I’ll go further to say that a man (or woman) who embraces imbalance while striving for balance – THAT is the better person because they are learning from and appreciating their imperfections everyday.
I don’t fault the original authors, or the essayist, for what I see as errors in their teachings. Given alternatives, I’d rather all men follow King, Warrior, Magician, Lover than what I most see today (lack of tolerance and compassion in general). My fault is in taking such a preachy stance that this is the only way.
This entire blog stands in evidence that the polyamorous life of Viktor and Jeannie has benefited us both as individuals and as a strong couple. It’s hard to grasp and I get that, but that’s also why we’re writing this blog… to expose more people to the potential fulfillment that keeping an open heart for anyone and everyone can bring to everyone involved.
In fact, I’m already drafting a post about how New and Old relationship energy can fuel each other – and I think this will be a great example of a modern view on couples, and the masculine.