Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

What child is this?

Posted on May 13, 2007 by jimparedes

May 13, 2007
Jim Paredes

Carl Jung, the eminent writer on the subconscious, says that every person harbors within himself certain ‘archetypes’—or primal characters that have existed throughout the history of mankind and we have all inherited. And he claims that all these archetypes of the past are embedded in mankind’s collective memory.

As examples, we carry within us the archetype of a ‘prostitute’ (which takes over us every time we decide what we will do for money), and the ‘saboteur’ (the one who warns us of our own recklessness). There are also the ‘hero’,’ teacher’, ‘child’, and others that dwell in us. There are millions of archetypes, actually, and each one of us is a jumble of characters waiting in line to express ourselves though our personalities and actions. And in time, they will.

This theory supposedly explains why we change, and what makes us suddenly behave in a contradictory manner, or the opposite of how we know ourselves. This is a really fascinating concept which other writers have explored in depth. Among them is Caroline Myss who wrote about this in her book ‘Sacred Contracts’.

The concept is intriguing as it is for experts to write voluminous books and articles about it. Allow me not only to throw in my two cents worth but to bring the idea a step further, at the risk of being reckless and superficial.

One of the things that intrigues me is this: Is it possible that, like individuals, countries, nations, races and peoples are also subject to archetypal influences and thus carry and act out the patterns attributable to certain archetypes at different times in their history? In other words, if nations were people, what would they be?

It is easy to imagine that Germany’s archetype is the strict disciplinarian obsessed with order. Take a look at its BMWs, Beethoven, Wagner, etc. During WWII, for example, wasn’t Germany acting this out in a perversely obsessive-compulsive manner? Wasn’t this evident in the way the Nazis wanted to rid the world of ‘imperfection’ (Jews) and establish the perfect Aryan race? Hitler had the death machine humming efficiently, just like the trains which were running on time. There was definitely ‘law and order’ and great efficiency.

Let’s look at America. What archetype is it acting out? Take a look at its politics and movies. Hollywood and the political establishments’ projection of America is often that of an aggressive, young and vibrant teenager with a lot of spunk, recklessness, chutzpah — a know-it-all with no distant past to learn from and temper itself. America is the source of rock and roll, the atom bomb and the Vietnam and Iraq fiascos. It can be both charming and destructive, and ‘vandalizing’ (like a teenager) of other cultures as well.

Japan. Didn’t Japan during WWII come on as the steely, disciplined warrior-samurai archetype complete with hara-kiri and kamikaze in its repertoire of heroic expressions?

I know I am speaking loosely and in very broad strokes. But you must admit it’s an exciting subject for speculation.

What archetypes dominate or rule the Philippines today? What can we observe from the way we behave as a people?

Don’t we tend to excuse our foibles and say that we are still a young country to explain why we are in the mess we are in? From all indications, we seem to be ruled by the ‘child’ archetype who refuses to look at things in an adult manner. Consider the following:

– We love to party—fiestas, salo-salo, barkada, ‘gimmick’, the longest Christmas holidays in the world, etc. We have A LOT of holidays in this country.

– We have very short memories. We are not great fans of history and we never seem to learn from it. We elect the same mistakes over and over again.

– We have an even shorter attention span. We do not hear of our government looking 20 years ahead. Even when other nations plan for the next 50 to 100 years, we don’t seem to go beyond the ‘5-year plan’. We like things ad ho