Do transformational archetypes reflect who we are?

To what extent are we moulded by our movies? 

Films, Books, T.V Boxed sets, have so many transitional archetypes, such as the bibles fall of Lucifer, along with the spiritual transformation of the disciples, there's the u-turn of Saul to Paul, who was temporarily blinded by the divine light of the alleged resurrected Christ. 

Change themes in various super hero origin stories are common, consider that of Bruce Banner/Hulk or Bruce Wayne, the Batman.
Avengers hulk
Other examples are Beauty and the Beast, or the story of Anakin Skywalker who transformed into Darth Vader. None of us Brit's are a stranger to Doctor Who, the regenerating time lord. Our mythology and lore across Europe, has shape-shifting pagan gods along with werewolves and vampires. Further east the narrative of the Buddha's awakening is easy to find. We could compile a huge list. 

However, transformation, the complete alteration of a person in the mundane world we live in, doesn't usually involve super powers, gods or aliens, but onset mental illness can feel just as dramatic. Sudden mental illness can be one of the most life changing experiences an individual might undergo. Anxiety disorders, diagnoses of mood or thought and other conditions of the mind, can re-write someone's world. 

Films such as a beautiful mind, help depict our struggles with Mental illness fairly. It follows Professor John Nash of Princeton university who had a significant diagnosis. Another interesting example, is the 2002 film, The Hours, starring Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman. It portrays the lives of three people from different times, in various parts of the world, all of whom are connected by Virginia Woolf's fictional novel, Mrs Dalloway. We see key historical moments of Virginia Woolf's transition into illness, while she tries to write the book that impacts on the other characters. It is chaos theory, showing the interconnection between fact and fiction; overlapping time and distance. 

When creative teams within the art's use story arcs, archetypes and play on scenarios wisely it can result with direct change in the real world.

The Buddha
No matter what torments us, learning to be self-reflective and able to recognise our own unhelpful beliefs or ideas, is good for personal growth. 

I'd like to think that most of us have our journey-like processes; not unlike those transformational archetypes we see in fiction

Actors study and imitate people in hope of nailing that Oscar winning performance; likewise, on the other end of the spectrum, when we feel deflated, we tend to watch them to feel better. Empathic creatures we are; our brains are packed with mirror neurons and as individuals we might borrow another persons idiosyncracy, buzz phrase, mannerisms or jokes. It's fair to suggest single guys have tried the Eugene Fitzherbert smoulder from Disney's Tangled. Maybe Disney took insiration from from them?
Fitzherbert doing the hero look
Adopted mannerisms that hold charm or sexual appeal may well be recycled. However, these bevaviours will more than likely furnish us with a temporary sense of self, the sort we look back on with embarrassment. As a kid I modelled myself on Rambo. I tried invoking his accent as well, to become just like the war hero, but the head master asked my mum if I'd acquired a head injury!

Han Solo types are imperfect personalities or the 'lovable rogue' or an 'anti-hero,' a non-conforming rebel, with a flawed character. Ignorant of norms and appealing to the empathy (and sometimes the envy) of the viewers. Growing up in the eighties, it was clear how many boys wanted to be Han Solo or Indiana Jones. It wasn't just me who wanted to be like my hero. 

Han Solo pulling off the hero look
Alan Watts, omnist and modern philosopher said: 

'Our normal sensation of self is a hoax, or, at best, a temporary role that we are playing with our own tacit consent, just as every hypnotised person is willing to be hypnotised. The most strongly enforced of all taboos is the taboo against knowing who or what you really are behind the mask of your apparently separate, independent, and isolated ego.' 


Watts illustrates how 'the feeling of' who we are, in itself, is a self deceptive illusion. Through time, who we believe we are, morphs into something else; I certain don't want to wear a red head band and kill soldiers for the US anymore! Self image is malleable. This is just our outer superficial self, and we pay it lots of attention. 


Unnecessarily, certain people work outside of contracted hours for free, because of their corporate identities. Concerning themselves with business matters of Chief Execs and upper management who earn way above their pay grade. A cage of ones own making. This is an example of when redifining yourself as person who is not you, is unhealthy and goes against the current. 

Phoenix Joker dancing inbthe toilet
As we see with Arthur Fleck/Joker the anti-hero, but also a victim of societal injustice. In reality, here in the UK, the unfair distribution of wealth is also a daily torment; tired, numbing psychiatric treatment that Fleck righteously perseveres with, earns him the audiences sympathy. Our mental health care is awful, viewers can resonate with this film. The transforming factors of Fleck/Joker rests on his limited life chances and the harsh existence, which the corrupt city provides. Thomas Wayne is the face of the super rich and surrounded by politicians, businessmen, and subordinates, who unapologetically, live extravagantly well in the presence of poverty.

Wayne thinks nothing of speaking out against the under-privileged on television. In the DC comic books, the philosophy of the Joker, in essence, explores how it only takes one truly bad day to become like him, a super villain. In the 2019 movie, Joker, Fleck experiences something akin to this process—like many people today. This anti-hero is the largest grossing movie; is this because the Joker resonates with our modern world? I believe so. 

A modern scrooge
The redemption of Ebenezer Scrooge
A lonely, isolated, miserable, penny-pincher who undergoes an awakening and begins to live with compassion. The Charles Dickens novella, A Christmas Carol, was carefully written. Described as hard and sharp as flint, we see Scrooge follow a karmic arc of change, a 'we reap what we sow' moral. The name Ebenezer Scrooge was chosen wisely because of what it signifies. It's a Hebrew place name meaning 'help-stone,' a monumental type stone of religious significance. 

In the book of Samuel, Eben-Ezer is where the Israelite's fought the Philistines. It's as if Charles Dickens was seeking out a name that showed conflict; battles were fought at the religious help-stone, the duality of Ebeneezer's nature is sealed in his name. Weird right? 

In Old English, the word Scrooge means 'to squeeze'. This is exactly what he did through the story. He denied his employee, Bob Cratchet time off for Christmas and paid the man very meagre wages, giving no festive bonus for his poor family. However, this conflicted help-stone, the sharp, hard flint of a man, did not start out this way.
Scrooge
On one, well all know, he is visited by what Dickens described as ghosts. If we peel back these dramatic embellishments of the misers experience, we're left with something different entirely. A lonely, isolated and stubborn old man, who lost friendships and family. Haunted by his mistakes and regrets, but too hard faced to accept them. He seems to be experiencing a crisis. 

In the solitude of his house, he can hear the city celebrating outside and he resists, and he denies the sentiment, bah humbug! Memories and personal truth are his only company. Scrooge is not the person he thinks he is, but instead, he became someone who identified with a life-style he justified with poor reasoning. The three ghosts are polished and fanciful in the Novella and T.V productions for entertainment purposes, but; on a more realistic note, what Dickens described here is a man re-discovering himself and his life! A man reflecting on his ruined past; an old unpleasant snarler finding self-liberation and piety through self realisation. Do you know who you are? This is what some mystics call awakening.














Thomas Corbet: The Raven Baron and the Perilous Politics of 13th-Century England

Thomas Corbet heraldry

Thomas Corbet The Raven Baron



This man was born around 1182 and became a loyal supporter of King Henry III. He lived to a ripe old age during the barbaric thirteenth century, the age of castration, torture, religious fanaticism, be-headings, quartering and burning people alive. 


A compelling character admired by non-other than Winston Churchill, published work on the man. 


This Royalist Baron was as a military commander in the Welsh Wars of the 1250s. Baron Thomas Corbet was quite special. He descended from the Norman blood, who had been marrying into Welsh and English noble families almost since they arrived. In contrast, up until this time, it wasn’t common place for nobility to take an English bride in mainland England—in the Welsh Borderlands, things were different. 




Hugh le Corbeau was the first Corbet in England and he was most likely at Hastings. Hugh built Caus Castle in Westbury. His sons Roger and Robert FitzCorbet are listed in the Domesday book of 1086 as vassals under the Marcher Lord Montgomery. 
Artist Impression Caus Castle
Artists Impression of Caus Castle


After 1102, however, Earl Montgomery’s failed rebellion against the king cost him land and power. Consequently, Henry I took Pembroke Castle and built another fortification in Carmarthen to tighten his grip on Wales. He entrusted the Corbet family with extra borderland territory. The family did well. 



The name Corbet is an old french word for ‘Corvid’ or ‘Raven’ which we can see is used in Thomas Corbet’s family heraldry. Roger is believed by some to be the first Corbet Baron of Caus (Hugh named it after Pays de Caux France). 




Robert Corbet succeeded when Roger died. Many years later, in 1222, we see the death of another Robert Corbet who left Thomas his lands. Thomas Corbet would become Sheriff of Shropshire in 1249, his lands stretched as far as Devon.




Over a decade later, in the Welsh Marches bordering Shropshire, he faced attacks from Llewelyn the last; Simon de Montfort made moves against his castle and fellow Royalists during the war against King Henry III. Thomas Corbet faced violence on both sides of the border. He remained true to his king, even though he saw retainers, as well as another Robert, a Corbet of Wattlesborough, betray him and join the traitor Simon de Montfort. 




What sort of person was Thomas Corbet? It isn't hard to picture him as a strong loyal royalist because who also faced pressures to join the rebellion. A chain-mailed man of condiderable age—he certainly wasn't stupid but very bright. In his day, diplomacy and politics required multilingualism, simply because numerous languages and dialects existed in England. Diversity of language may have been more common along the Welsh borderlands; soldiers, men-at-arms and knights all sent to fight, brought various dialects of the French language with them. Flemish was increasing too, there was an established Anglo-Saxon language with regional variation, not forgetting Latin used for legal and religious purposes. Our modern language began teething and crawling; born from the displacement of the Anglo-Saxons in 1066. Another important language we should respect is Welsh, spoken by those Brythonic Celts and the Corbet family. 




Life was a cycle of fighting, alliances, litigation and rebellions; ongoing family tension, not only between the Welsh and English but sometimes between other Marcher Lords. 




It’s easy to call thirteenth century English combatants bloodthirsty ruffians, when measuring their era to ours. On the other hand, comparatively, I imagine Julius Caesar’s Rome as being a much more civilised, despite it being over a millennium older than the twelve hundreds. The old Raven Baron had a lot of responsibility both legally, and with local domestic disputes regarding tenants. He often gave witness to various deeds, writs and other documents along with other nobles across many counties.




A fact based on narrative following a family called Page:


Robert Page was a free man, but ageing and tired. He lived opposite his large fishpond in a town called Drengeton, modern day Drointon, in Staffordshire. The attacks from the Welsh was common news, any day or at least very soon, he expected Baron Corbet to show up at the village to ask the Meverell’s or the de Staffords for soldiers. 


Lord Bagot of Newton, would be a formidable enemy for them; especially with the likes of Jorvard de Cotes, Richard Pas or sadly, his own son William Page. The poor blighter had not been married long and he would likely end up going out there, he feared. Several years later, in 1256, Aston Rogers, Welsh Marches, Shropshire; only a couple of miles away from Caus Castle.




The Testimony of My Ancestral Grandmother Amice Page:


Our Liege Lord Sir Roger de Eston, holding a knights fee under Baron Corbet, went blind and suffered a slow painful death—it made things uncomfortable. My husband William and I had maintained our fiefdom the longest and had gotten accustomed to the attacks. It was our first place since leaving Drengeton, in Stowe and, it had not been smooth, given we have very young boys, Henry and Stephen. Margery de Eston, Rogers widow, readied herself to sue all of the people who lived on her late husband's land; tenants who worked the soil and held it firm, ready to defend it. 


Dismissing their plights and efforts, Margery wanted a third of her land back, it was her dowry. Complaints circled about how unfair she was being and then, inevitably, the Raven Baron Corbet got involved. Richard Pas maintained thirteen acres of land for his troop, but Jorvard only had four which was considerably smaller than the half a virgate we Pages worked.




Luckily, William and I were dismissed from the land grab straight away; Lord Roger gave Will his fiefdom before he married Margery. Margery de Eston also made claims of Roger de Eston’s heir and nephew; he was only a minor, and thankfully in custody of Baron Corbet. Lord Corbet said the other tenants would be safe if they provided charters of feoffment by Roger de Eston. Everyone respects Baron Thomas Corbet, the Raven Baron. 




Personal Feuds and Vindictiveness


Early 1256, in the assize roll, Thomas Corbet entered into another dispute with a man known as Fulk FitzWarin IV. Fulk accused Thomas Corbet of taking Alberbury from him, a sizeable 120 acres. Thomas wanted him gone, driven off the land like the scoundrel he saw him to be. 


At the assizes they exchanged insults, childish name calling. Thomas Corbet was witnessed being angry and emotional about honour and principles. Unnecessarily, the Raven Baron insulted FitzWarin's dead father, calling him a traitor. Fulk didn't lose his land in the end, he won. 




In truth 1256, is an example of a bad year in Thomas Corbet life. Of course, he refused to accept Fulk winning and tried to regain Alderbury. It sounds like he was quite the battleaxe in his twilight years. On the contrary, I suppose his stresses would cause any modern person to crack, perhaps he was not coping.




Llewelyn ap Gruffudd was increasing in power and audacity. Roger de Mortimer (a knight extremely talented at violence) waged war with the Welsh warrior after his men inevitably invaded Mortimer.




Below is a fact based narrative from ane enfeoffed Salopian, William husband of Amice Page:


In 1263, Caus castle is being upgraded with towers. The Welsh Marches have become more dangerous. The idea of losing Amice or one of the boys to these Welsh raiders is unthinkable. Llewelyn king of Gwynedd has been trying to force us out of Wales and has failed so far. Robert Corbet has postponed taking his knighthood to support us. 
Thomas Corbet of Caus, the old Sheriff of Shropshire and our Lord, did something smart—he wrote to the King, which was understandable, we didn't really need protection—de Montfort and Llewelyn are out for our blood, true; he was just showing the King Henry definition of his loyalty.




He put me and my friend Richard Pas in the letter; as well as Jorvard’s son, John de Cotes. I cannot help but wonder, perhaps we're important now?


Names of retinue in ancient writing
Over the following couple of years, Henry and Simon the younger, sons of the Earl de Montfort, resumed fighting against the us. Cancellation of Jewish debt is one main excuse for the rise in the violence. Llewelyn joined Earl Simon de Montfort and started taking castles across the Marches. During the battle of Lewes in 1264, Fulk fitzWarin IV drown in the Ouse river. Robert the Corbet of Wattlesborough, betrayed us all and aided our enemies. 


Eventually, Simon de Montfort found himself surrounded by rivers during the fighting at Evesham decisive battle. The army of Prince Edward closed in on the Earl. Roger de Mortimer, 1st Baron of Wigmore, personally decapitated the man, hacking off his limbs. As an award, the king let Mortimer take de Montfort's head and limbs to be spiked at Wigmore.
By the end of 1267, Llewelyn surprisingly became the Prince of Wales after the treaty of Montgomery. After raiding his relatives lands with the Welsh, betraying trust by siding with de Montfort; Robert Corbet of Wattlesborough was forgiven by Thomas our liege lord and sire. The bastard was also pardoned by the king! 


Several years later, Thomas Corbet died. It was 1274 and  a very sad time. He was succeeded by his son, also called Robert, but after his father. 




Consequently

The Corbet family continued to play an important role in English politics and society for centuries, and their legacy can still be seen in old buildings and landmarks that they left behind. William Page survived the wars and his grandson Richard was given land in Eaton, Shropshire. 
Llewelyn faced the wrath of the vicious King Edward I, hammer of the scots, a brutal monarch who declared war against the prince of Wales in 1282. The welsh prince did not survive, neither did Roger de Mortimer.







Vladek Spiegelman, Maus.

Maus cover Graphic Novel
•Vladek Spiegelman•Vladek Spiegelman•Vladek••Vladek Spiegelman••Vladek Spiegelman••Vladek Spiegelman•
Years ago, Art Spiegelman set to work, hoping to create a personal meaningful book; a comic book, depicting the horrendous experiences endured by his family in Poland during the late thirties and WWII. The book shows Art taking direct accounts and reflections from his father, Vladek; who had first hand memories of what life was like during that time. Throughout the story, we see that Vladek Spiegelman did not share his information with his son as smoothly as he could have at times. The Holocaust, the survival strategies used in his Jewish community, every part of it holds a sobering sadness and a warning that such evil once existed.


The Art of Art


Cartoon mouse cartooning
This is not just Schindlers List crossed with the Beano. Admittedly, I remember opening Maus for the first time. After reading many modern comic books, which are now created by multiple collaboraters who utilise excellent computer aided techniques; I wondered what earned this basic, hand-drawn graphic novel such a great repuration—then I continued to read it. Yes, indeed, it's the only graphic novel ever to win a Pulitzer to this day, but the real wizardry is that the book feels alive, somehow. As if the spirit of that very Jewish-Polish community was transmuted into the books pages. I imagine, Alan Moore would most likely agree, the magic here rests with Arthur Spiegelman.


Vladek Spiegelman: a compelling character


Old Vladek is ballsy, sometimes cantankerous, and we can see how he made people around him feel.
Maus book cover
An old mouse; one who once lived besides predatory cats, as well as other hungry and unpredictable creatures in very hateful times. I could visualise the real man, a survivor hardened by a harsh, traumatic life. Some may have expected such a person to have turned into a sociopath after suffering the intolerable horrors of that diabolical period. A damaged Bruce Wayne-type archetype almost. In his prime, young Vladek Spiegelman didn't wear spandex or fight crime in the streets as a Batman or Wolverine type anti-hero—his life was real, but he was heroic by necessity, in his story to Art.

For the Jews, from the nineteen thirties onward; their standards of life, social standing, employment and their rights, were gradually becoming squashed under Nazi oppression.
Mice with their necks in nooses
From a family of factory owners and businessmen, Vladek Spiegelman was reduced to trading all sorts of cheap tat on the black market to support Anja, his wife who he loved dearly. He learnt to disguise himself, to wheel and deal and negotiate his way around people who would otherwise kill him. Vladek Spiegelman helped his Jewish community as much as he could—he fought the evil regime, despite being powerless. However, how the evil regime got to Vladek is open to interpretation.

Upon arrival in Auschwitz – a place that was garnished with hellish rumours – Vladek immediately sought out opportunities for betterment, to indulge his wife whenever possible. Treated like vermin, with not enough food or money, Vladek Spiegelman had to employ his networking skills, buy, sell, steal, work with allies.
Artwork of Spiegelman
During the most harsh and ungodly of times, his attitude was to be thankful for his luck.
It is in his senior years, however, when this altered Vladek, medicated, and poor in temperament, shared his past with Art, his son, something clicked with me. I suspected something. Maybe, Vladek developed a kind of dark worldview in his later years—something specific and personal haunted him that he could not put to rest. We know that beneath the physical injuries acquired in the camps there was invisible psychological strain.

His determination to survive the war, seeing friends executed, fear, guilt and conflicting thoughts; surely, it changed his cognitive behaviour in later life. Paranoid daily living, dangerous transactions in Auschwitz or Nazi Poland could alter many things in a person. Camp lifestyle was an institutionalising experience; possibly reprogramming how Vladek conducted himself with his new freedom. Sadly Anja took her own life, at home in the USA years after avoiding Nazi execution. It was damaging for the family and Vladek Spiegelman's mental wellbeing is not illustrated or explored in-depth, but; he was distraught at her funeral. The human mind has a self defense mechanism against facts or situations we are too ashamed or cannot accept—it dissociates.

In his later marriage, Vladek was tight with money, overly technical with every domestic job, one such task was counting every one of his pills, for example. Perfectionism.  In his young days, Vladek helped his wife, Anja through her darkest days against strong suicidal desires. A very good husband.
The Spiegelman family
Much to his son's disappointment; Vladek got rid of Anja's Auschwitz and war time diary's. In the graphic novel, Art portrayed his father's modus operandi during the war as strong, to soldier on, to struggle and to never give up—ignoring the pain, while carrying his wife. It is sad that the writings of Anja Spiegelman are absent.

Only Vladek Spiegelman knew what happened to him and his peers during that vile period in history. I hope his account helped him defeat some of his demons. Regardless, all survivors of the Holocaust deserve everyone's utmost respect.


The Mind Link: A Vivid Encounter with an Extraterrestrial Presence The Incident... One evening, while drying off in the shower, I experience...