Reset: A New Archetype?

  Just had a quick thought about an emerging archetype. Now I know enough to realize there theoretically aren't new archetypes, but have to keep pushing against this immutable law as it strikes me as a breakdown of the theoretical validity of archetypal modes. That said, I was thinking about the modern advent of 'Reset' as being a previously undeveloped narrative mode. Technology affords us the ability to zero out what has been done, particularly electronic narrative forms such as the video game, and start over with little trace of what occurred before. I suppose it could be crystallized within the strange concept of "Extra Lives" (when you start unfolding this one as a psychological mode, reality begins to lose it's trajectory). At the very least, the horizon of time begins softens. Perhaps this is an inevitable product of radical empiricism: the 'truth' of narrative could unfold any number of ways given the opportunity. Can anyone think of myths that embrace such an archetypal narrative?

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  • Thank you John for this excellent entry! Let me first clarify, archetypes are not 'presentations,' not even 're-presentations,'but as Jung says, "the archetype in itself is empty and purely formal, nothing but a facultas praeformandi, a possibility of representation which is given a priori."
    There are archetypal energies and patterns that constellate into (archetypal) images, from which we deduce the archetypal "possibilities of representation."
    Thus, the elements that constellate into the computer reset are not new or unique, but their constellation in 'reset' is. And I believe the reset has a series of serious impacts – one is, that with reset, nothing has a 'real' impact (take the 'nothing' as less than absolute).
    I have elaborated this in a recent paper in the Jung Journal, "Destruction of the Image and the Worship of Transiency," and in a more extensive lecture I gave at the Assisi Conference in July; mentioning for instance, "When the car in the computer game overturns, there are no consequences, just reset and start, no pain and no suffering, no harm and no wounds, no guilt and no responsibility, no depth of feeling and no feeling of relatedness. There is only the excitement of instinctual satisfaction. The true danger emerges, when the individual comes to relate to reality as if it is merely a computer game."
    I have seen some young people, grossly involved in computer games from an early age, who have not realized the true weight (physical and psychological) of the car they drive, and that their driving may have some very real consequences.
    The possibility of reset, of undoing, is related to the experience of the puer and the puella, in whom everything is in potential, with little consequence, because often a different path, or different relationship, can easily be chosen – but the reset, based on undoing and therefore transiency, makes this puer condition permanent – a constant possibility to start anew, which causes disconnection from the Self, the archetype of meaning. Again, thank you, Erel Shalit
    • Erel, thank you for your reply, I learned a great deal in reading your response. First, the explanation of "a possibility of representation which is given a priori" offers much insight into my own biased pursuit of archetypes. I have been trying to reconcile the psychological with the causal, drawing on falsifiability as a parameter for validitiy. My assumption erroneously presupposes that the psychological must "fit" in the scientifically falsifiable paradigm, when in practice, the two paradigms are ontologically parallel to one another.

      As for reset and the puer/puella, I wondered what your thoughts are on an engagement with the Dionysian? Reset (as well as pause, fast forward, rewind) is an augmentation of consciousness, an alteration of reality. This is also true for the personas assumed in video games, consciousness changes to permit actions otherwise impossible. A sort of digital inebriation. While the function of reset permits the continuing transiency of the puer, might the another danger be the threat of Dionysian madness? Or is it that the Dionysian allows an over-identification with the puer archetype?
    • John, your observation that the whole mechanism of reset, pause fast forward and rewind (and I would include the ease of copy, paste and delete) pertain to the puer/puella and transiency seems valid. With all their benefits, they all entail the dangers that I mentioned in my previous reply, including transiency and as-if. I believe you are right that around the corner lurks Dionysian temptations and danger of madness. I would be glad to see you elaborate on this! Thanks, Erel
  • "Reset" may be truly a technological "new" concept but the idea "can we start over" afresh is a stock line in many romantic comedies and school math classes. In human experience, I do not believe we ever reset as is imaged by technology. Even the video game player resets but retains the last experiences of the game in order to reset and, with this new knowledge, play the game as a wiser player. Hindu reincarnation might be seen as a reset but even then the previous life determines the next. Love lost and then regained is often seen as a reset of the potential for "true" love yet often such a naive approach leads to the same disaster as before (just ask me, I'll tell you). Such a sense of reset is often used by those who are damaging the nature around us as they state the earth/nature can always reset no matter how deep or long lasting the damage might be. Also knowing that archetypes are based upon/formed by deeply held and repeated emotional experiences over time, it would seem that the reset button helps us avoid such repetition and deep emotion. Indeed, one needs little courage and commitment and willingness to suffer for a "higher" good if all one needs to do is hit the reset button every time things get difficult.
  • Actually, wondering if "extra lives" takes on the archetypal form of reincarnation? Not so much in the Christian sense of reincarnation being part of a continued narrative, but rather similar to samsara? While these are worlds apart, I am wondering if there is a corresponding effect of the conceptualization of the ego-self and the telos of reality when reset is internalized as an existential mode?
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