Thus disclaim-ed, this book was very helpful for me as a woman writer interested in creating believable heroes. It goes into the nuances of the male psyche that a majority of women- and, dare I say, men?- just don't understand.
but it seems like this book does fill a need, and that it acts as almost a checklist guide that folks struggling with enacting their masculinity can use to try to move into a kinder, stronger place.
Based on a recommendation from the Art of Manliness, I bought King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine from Bookmans. The archetypes help us to see what is best in ourselves, as men. I can easily think of people I know, or situations I have found myself in, and immediately see the application of these archetypes of masculinity. The chapter on the Lover talked about the Addicted Lover and the Impotent Lover, but many of the examples used for the Lover per se were really just as bad as the shadow forms. I see an interesting parallel between Moore and Gilette's four archetypes and the DiSC model created by William Marston. Each one of the four archetypes has a strong relationship to one of Marston's four mental energies. When we in the Anglosphere think of a King, we think especially of the English kings, men like Richard the Lionhearted or Henry VIII, who had big ideas and big appetites, bundles of energy that got whatever they wanted. However, what we are really talking about here is no mere king, but the Emperor. The DiSC model attributes empathy especially to the S, while KWML attributes this to the Lover.
The authors argue that in today's society, there is a crisis of masculinity because we have gotten away from ancient traditions centered around the four archetypes that make up the book title. It's seriously just like, "Shit's old. Prejudice against darker-skinned people is old as shit too but that doesn't mean it's right. They also make dangerous though typical claims about history and sacrifices made in the name of progress, which at times seems to justify human atrocities and brutal injustice all for seeming "progress." Then in their conclusion, they start talking about a cultural attack on men and how we have to defend ourselves from feminists, which makes them sound like dumbass men's rights activists. The whole book, I'm still generally with them like, "OK, there is a crisis in masculinity.
This appeared at the end too, pretty much out of left field, and made me do a legitimate double-take: "In this book we have been concerned about helping men to take responsibility for the destructiveness of immature forms of masculinity. At the same time, it is clear that the world is overpopulated with not only immature men but also tyrannical and abusive little girls pretending to be women. Did we really need to spend the whole book being largely innocent, and then suddenly spew that out like a repressed Men's Rights' Activist blog entry?
And so with this, Moore's and Gillette's resounding themes of not being ashamed of one's masculinity, and accepting that femininity can sometimes overwhelm us, were equally validating. What was also validating was the ways in which Moore and Gillette recommended readers do to put these ideas into practice.
I would have liked a little more in depth, but I can accept this book for what it is: written to be accessible for people who have little or no background in Jungian psychology.
It makes some women angry just to hear about it, so be careful when you tell a woman that you are reading book about men and the masculine psyche. The authors use many other examples to describe the healthy mature male psyche - my list is a poor substitute for theirs. The importance of reading this book, for a man, is to understand not just your own strengths, but especially to understand the parts of your life and personality that are underdeveloped and possibly dangerous to yourself and others, especially those you love, or think you love.