As I went deeper into my unconscious mind, I went from battling a mighty dragon that made me both manic and depressed as it pushed me to fulfill unrealistic expectations, to facing off against something far more insidious. A monster that is like a twisted version of myself; something that looks like me but isn’t me. Where I want to help others, it seeks only to succeed in endeavors for the sake of succeeding. Where I look to pursue meaning, it’s only purpose is to assert itself. In speaking about what they call the, “Infantile Hero” Moore and Gillette say, “Unlike the hero’s actions, the warrior’s actions are never overdone, never dramatic for the sake of drama; the warrior never acts to reassure himself that he is as potent as he hopes he is.”
For me, my Shadow Warrior is the most insecure part of my being – protecting itself in an armor of pride. It wishes to remain invulnerable to the outside world, so it puts on airs, and labors under what it presumes to be worthwhile pursuits, but are just palliative measures to sure up a false projection of its own greatness. What does that mean in practical, tangible terms, and how did this errant internal mechanism effect my behavior?
As you may know, I spent my teens and 20’s as a de-facto socialist. I would spout communist rhetoric, but something about it always felt wrong, and the words would get caught in my throat. When I was finally exposed to conservative ideas directly, instead of being TOLD about such concepts second-hand, it did not take much to sell me on them, because a lot of what I encountered “vibed” with my soul. Once I came to understand free market economics beyond what I was forced to recite in grade school, my mind lit up with awe. To think that humans had figured out a way to mirror natural systems of nutrient distribution in an economic model made my nerdy brain giddy with endorphins! Of course, capitalism is not perfect – it’s messy, with tons of collateral damage inherent to its machinations, but so is Nature. The same ground from which we can grow our food can swallow our cities; that’s just the way life is. After I stopped wishing for everything to be “perfect”, I accepted life as it was: fraught with peril in equal measure to outrageous potential. I stopped complaining about what I didn’t have, and rejoiced in what I did. This attitude helped me get sober too, as I rejected escapism, and embraced personal responsibility, stoicism, and rugged individualism. I felt exhilarated with new life, but not everyone had the same disposition.
Then I went to the opposite extreme. Shortly after I discovered the value of conservative ideals and discarded the socialist programming of my youth, I spent untold hours disconnected from my loved ones in the real world as I fought intellectual battles online to “wake up the masses of libtard sheeple snowflakes” (yes, that’s a direct quote). My Dragon of Grandiosity filled my head with delusions of greatness; that I would somehow, someway, someday drop the post or the comment that would wake my family and friends up to the delusions that THEY were living under. However, by the time I got into cosplay a couple of years ago, I had gotten the Dragon of Grandiosity largely under control. I had stopped getting myself into fruitless online arguments, and I accepted that not everyone was built with the same character as me; that other people had different priorities to mine and that these could potentially complement one another. My approach with others softened considerably as I learned to “just let people be”. Of course, if a chance came up for me to preach the “Gospel of Campbell” I would take it, without getting too dogmatic or pushy (at least so far as I could tell). I was either getting older and wiser – or just older and tired, the jury is still out on that. In any case, it would take more than a car accident to get me to see that I still had a long way to go.
A lot of the struggles I’ve been dealing with when battling my own Shadow Warrior were present back when I first wrestled with the Dragon of Grandiosity. In many ways the underlying problem is almost the same issue: Fighting ideological opponents for my own glory and entertainment. This is because, like our brains’ physical evolution, each layer of our personalities is built upon another. Additionally, every archetype has a shadow side, and after we overcome and integrate with one, we must then repeat the process with the next, and the next, and so on. It’s a hierarchy of systems that integrate with each other, with the most dominant on top, contrasted by the less dominant, but more insidious, character flaws on the bottom in a twisted reversal of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. (link below) So in a sense it’s no surprise that there is a degree of overlap when it comes to our own inner turmoil.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:
Like Stories of Old:
Like Stories of Old – The Archetype of the Warrior:
The Unexplored Depths of Spider Man 3 - Facing the Dragon of Grandiosity:
King, Warrior, Magician, Lover Analysis playlist:
YouTube intro: https://youtu.be/4mBCCi1SNLQ