Modernism and the fourth archetype

John Bjarne Grover

I had been concerned with the phenomenon of archetypes when I wrote my 'red metre' ('My mention e Anna') from 2010 to 2012. I personally met the 'man-on-wagon' on the day when Hélčne Grimaud held her Mozart concert (two of Mozart's piano concertos) in München - the truth is that I had considered going to München for that concert but remained in Vienna. It is the concert published on one of her records - in fact the record was published on the day when China's whole government landed for an official visit in Vienna.

In volume 3 of my writings, on page 639, I mention the socalled 'fourth archetype' which I had observed in a street in Vienna and added to the three first fundamental archetypes I discussed in 'Poetic semiosis'. The three most basic and classic ones - they can be recognized also on one of the graphics ex nihilo which I made in early 2014 - can be briefly summed up as follows (for some more details see this file): 1) man-on-wagon (a normal-sized human head with spectacles and a little beard attached to a small corpus without extremities resting on a rolling board some 40 x 50 cm or thereabout), 2) dog's paradox and 3) the female archetype with a tube pointing towards the ground for her face, hairs around the end of the tube and long legs and curving hips, I found the 4th archetype in probably 2012. I described it as follows in 'Poetic semiosis' (I believed that I had published this earlier on the internet as well but cannot find it again):

'Fourth archetype': Coming along a street, I observe a man leaning a little forwards over a child or at least small person creeping around on the ground. It seems that the child is trying to walk upright but cannot really because of young age or uncoordinated or outright zigzag-shaped legs. I do not seriously consider the option that it is due to uncoordinated eyes or lenses of mine. I pass a car on my righthand side, it is parked in the roadside with one door or window open and one or two persons inside the darkness seem to be aware of the streetlife. As the man is leaning forwards, it seems that his trousers (pyjama style) are about to slip down his behind, but the distance is too large for me to see clearly and the exposed rectangular part has a certain raster-like character about it, before his backwards-flanged arm quickly pulls the waistband up again. Had I seen it - half way down the behind due to lax elastics - or was it an optic deception? The small person is creeping or rather moving around, the man is leaning forwards towards a white plastic bag he holds in his left hand, out of which he takes a yellow-orange newspaper (colour Financial Times or Der Standard, probably the last of these) which he puts to his nose as if smelling it, while the paper is still half covered by the plastic. Or maybe he was just reading the paper through his spectacles - he could be narrow-sighted. He then, after some to and fro, leans over the child again and lifts it high up in the air, the child swirls slowly around like a turning globe in the air, lifted in hand to about the height of the man's chest or shoulders, with a smile on its face, like an old Buddha. He puts it down again and the two start moving towards an intersecting road. The scene had taken place in front of a former window that had been closed with a concrete wall.

(I can add that I had the feeling that the small person was trying to escape but was caught by the bigger before he lifted him up in the air).

The interesting theory I can tell here is the idea that this fourth archetype - although probably not limited in time - is the same as the breakthrough of modernism in literature (and possibly other arts) from about 1923 onwards. I discovered this one day in an antiquariate in Budapest when I was leafing in Gábor Devecseri's collected poetic works ('Devecseri Gábor muvei - összegyujtött versek', 1974) - and discovered that there was hardly any poem of his which was not fundamentally rooted in this fourth archetype in some way or other - which convinced me of the high relevance of this archetype for understanding modernism and probably the third millenium. Devecseri started publishing poetry in 1932.

The fourth archetype can also be used for analyzing Arno Schmidt's prose work "Zettel's Traum" (1970).

These two examples should suffice for the relevance of the archetype.

See also this article for some related ideas - the fourth archetype is here called 'recursion'.

I had planned to make some studies of this type in a fourth volume but I dont know if I get the chance to make that, for which reason I mention it here.

© John Bjarne Grover
On the web 11 december 2016