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The Father Archetype
Chapter 4 | Writer's Commentary
It’s Sunday again, and I am excited to be back in your inbox! Ready for Chapter 4?. It’s a sad scene this time, bring tissues when you read it.
A note for those who recently subscribed: I posted the first 11 chapters of the novel. Every two weeks I promote a new chapter with a commentary post like this and then an audio interview with someone that inspired the chapter. If you would like to start from chapter 1 click here.
In today’s chapter, Maskat returns from the ultimate adventure, to confront his father for the first time. Check it out here: Chapter 4 | Taurus Strikes
This chapter is largely about the father archetype but also male aggression and how it is shaped by the father-son relationship. It starts with Maskat’s father representing the bull in this story.
Just to be clear, the story in this chapter did not happen to me, I am lucky to have a father who never lay a hand on me. It is not the case with most of my friends though. When I first wrote the chapter, this scene between Maskat and his dad was purely verbal. After hearing several stories, one of which I will feature next Sunday in Ep04 of the “Gumpcast”, I decided to include a physical element to that interaction which will conveniently inform a huge part of Maskat’s psyche in the chapters to come.
Male aggression is not simply something that is a fault in our persona, but behavior that we as boys learn and are rewarded for early on. If you make a man feel ousted because of his aggression, then you’ve severed the connection between you and him. It’s interesting that we let the aggressive men in the world either have their way with us, or fight them back with equal part aggression and violence.
Here is a bit of a curveball for you: What if I told you that masculine aggression is a strength as much as it is a weakness? A male locked in full-body aggression, with pupils constricted, veins pumping, forehead sweating, and muscles contracted is just as naturally occurring as a lion roaring at its dinner, a bear showing its teeth to protect its cubs, or a deer running for its life from a predator.
These reactions are deeply wired within us, and for boys, aggression is frequently rewarded as a kid. What if we can use this magnificent force of nature in a way that helps rather than harms, one that protects rather than conquers, and a way that allows a man to be in his full glory, rather than an emasculated “nice guy” that is broken, weak and afraid of what people think.
When we give the signal to a man that his aggression is wrong, we are adding fuel to the fire by contributing to the shame that is attracting more of his aggression. What if we help men see their power and experience it in a helpful context rather than try to tame that wild side of them? Much more on this in next week’s audio episode!
I do not think it is a simple problem to fix and it is one of the themes I’m exploring with this novel.
The place where we can all heal is our past, and our families hold the keys to our salvation. The aggressive male is inherited in my opinion, not consciously created. As boys, we are groomed into it by our friends, our heroes, our media, and most importantly, our fathers (or father figures).
Enter today’s topic: The Father Archetype
Here is a summary of today’s archetype from Diane Hancox:
The Father archetype takes the form of God, any god, giant, tyrant, king, judge, doctor, executioner, devil, leader, holy man, boss, wise old man, and of course, father. As with any archetype, both light and dark aspects exist.
The positive aspect of the Father principle suggests law, order, discipline, rationality, understanding and inspiration. When our inner authority figure is supportive, dreams bring capable, benevolent and helpful kings, firefighters, healers and guides.
The shadow Father emerges when the caring guidance and protection turns into abuse of authority. The negative Father archetype involves rigidity, control and a cold intellectual way of relating. This leads to ego and intellectual inflation and a state of hubris.
I hate the phrase ‘toxic’ masculinity honestly. If this statement triggers you, that is ok. Here is the deal: the word toxic inherently creates disconnection. It’s like calling a drug addict a good-for-nothing piece of shit, you may feel better after telling him that, but it’s not very likely to make him kick the habit.
The word toxic does what its name suggests: It spreads hatred into the hearts of both men and women. How many years have we been calling it toxic masculinity? Is there any progress?
I don’t think the conversation is going to move forward unless we realize that masculinity has both a positive side and a shadow side just like the father can be a supportive mentor or a destructive force. Either way, he is a force of nature to be reckoned with, and we need not mess with the nature of that, rather direct this power towards community, compassion, and growth.
Us men need to step into our actual masculine power so that we can collectively stop trying to compensate for it by enslaving other genders, races, and religions.
How do we do that, you ask? I don’t know man. Get out of my head, you tell me in the comments. What purpose or goal in your community would you like to see men stepping into their power to build, protect and connect?
Professor Zemunke in chapter 4 is a father trying to do the best for his children but completely acting out of his own shame. The way he treats Maskat here is the way he treats his own inner child. He is saying out loud what he says to himself. The self-loathing and tightness are clearly a part of his character. He can’t afford to not be in control.
Mr. Zemunke is wounded, and he has not directed much attention to heal those wounds. He, therefore, switches from ‘benevolent father’ to ‘tyrannical father’ pretty quickly.
Tune in next Sunday for the launch of Ep04 | Aggression with my dearest friend, Khaled Sallam.