August 3, 2023
This is part 2 of the blog series: The Marvelization of Man
I began this series talking about Marvel’s reboot of Morbius who is a character created in 1971 by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane. Morbius is a “Living Vampire.”
As a child, Morbius suffers from a disease that cripples him and makes him frail and weak. There are others like him; all will die young. But young Morbius is a smart kid and becomes a doctor. He finds a cure for his illness. And you guessed it, the cure comes from the genes of vampire bats.
Marvel hoped for another BIG blockbuster after the smashing hit of Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021). This movie earned $1.1915 billion US dollars. Morbius debuts in 2022 with a production budget of $75 million dollars but it only earns $163 million worldwide, with only $74 million dollars earned domestically, as reported by Forbes.
In short, Morbius was a great disappointment both financially and critically. Many critics said the plot was not well-structured.
While this may be true, I think Marvel also missed the mark of what Morbius’ character embodies. All movie character are symbols. This is why we like them. They remind of us of ourselves in some deep fundamental, eternal, and mysterious way.
Magic of Symbols in Storytelling
Marvel, and every other marvelous entertainment universe, draws on these symbols each time they tell us a story. The stories we watch today are not that much different than the stories the ancient Greeks and Romans enjoyed.
Indeed, the stories arcs are virtually identical in nature, scope, and meaning. Stories such as Prometheus and the Stolen Fire, Orpheus and Sisyphus, or Echo and Narcissus have just as much relevance to 21st Century humans as they did for ancient Greeks and Romans. These types of stories crystalize unique aspects of what it means to be human. They harness and embody specific patterns of human behavior that we all recognize and can relate to. They center such patterns in specific characters who become the hero, ruler, everybody’s man, trickster, femme fatale, tragic hero, warrior, sage, knight-errant, and many more patterns of behavior we all relate to or have experienced.
These patterns of human behavior have been well observed and commented on since ancient times. Plato called these recognizable patterns of human behavior Forms. His philosophies on Forms create the foundation of Modern Western philosophy. What he meant by Forms is that there are pre-existing ideals or templates all humans access and use to navigate life as a conscious being.
Carl Jung dedicated his life to understanding the secret life of the human mind and called these often unconscious patterns of behavior primordial images or archetypes.
Perhaps more than anyone else, psychiatrist Carl Jung provided us with a map of the human psyche. Through his analytical psychology, Jung classified many of the driving forces that dominate human behavior. (See my beginner’s guide to Jungian psychology here.) -- The Ultimate List of Archetypes (Over 325) by Scott Jeffrey
Archetypes are everywhere and influence more than 99% of human behavior. Most of us remain unaware of the energizing patterns that influence our lives in a myriad of ways every day. Archetypes inspire us, guide us, possess us, rule us, and live through us every day.
This is why our favorite movies and stories depend on characters who are possessed by and living out a powerful archetype. Pamela Buckle Henning writes for writers and actors of the stage:
Archetypal patterns are an unintended, unconscious presence in human life. Archetypes are primordial patterns that operate within the psyche of every individual. They also operate within groups of people. When people gather together for any purpose, they can become unwittingly entrained in archetypal dramas. -- STAGES, SKILLS, AND STEPS OF ARCHETYPAL PATTERN ANALYSIS by Pamela Buckle Henning
Bottom line, archetypes are fundamental to telling a powerful story, one that lots of people will want to see and pay to go see. The most powerful stories have characters, both good and bad, who speak to and meet our collective unconscious. Characters and stories that get at and illuminate something that everyone feels but can’t seem to put their finger on or name.
Vampires Are Archetype of Narcs
As a vampire, Morbius embodies the narcissistic archetype.
The myth of Echo and Narcissus warns about the danger of narcissism as the beautiful wood nymph Echo falls in love with the young and very handsome human man Narcissus who sadly loves himself more than anybody or anything else. This causes Echo to disappear becoming a tree in her forest while Narcissus stares at himself in pond. He stares so long, he becomes a tree rooted to the bank.
There are other many other aspects of the narcissist archetype, but the most recognizable one is that these are people obsessed with their own self-importance and status. In Jungian terms, these are people possessed by and fascinated with all the negative aspects of the ruler archetype.
Narcissists personify the negative aspects of the ruler archetype in that they desire power and control, see themselves as fit and entitled to rule and see others as inferior subjects. They fear losing their power and use multiple strategies to maintain it. -- Narcissism and Archetypes - Children of Narcissists
These are fearful rulers who are afraid of being overthrown. Their paranoia grows so intense and overbearing that it corrupts and cripples all good qualities and instincts they would otherwise possess. This corruption essential rips the wholeness of their psyche, leaving a gap for the shadow to jump in.
According to Jung’s interpretation of the Shadow Archetype, the shadow contains all the sex and life instincts. It is created as the conscious mind grows in relation to its culture where conscious survival compels an individual to repress ideas, weaknesses, desires, instincts, and shortcomings in an effort to adapt and conform to cultural norms and expectations.
It is this side of a fearful ruler’s mind that takes over filling him with every negative, shadowy, repressed idea, instinct, or impulse he has ever had. Suddenly, this feeble, frighten man is transformed into a monster and becomes a Ruthless Ruler.
Narcissists descend to dark interior places inside themselves. In the darkness of their own Shadow, they lose the ability to regulate and balance their own emotions, even to power their own psyche (ability to think and focus). They have essentially split themselves in half and can no longer self-regulate. They feel constantly empty and void inside, which feeds their fear and widens the gap between their Good Self and their Bad Self.
Soon they must pick a side. It does not matter which side they choose. They have split themselves into two opposing parts, which leaves them psychically starving. The food they crave is attention. This is energy for the psyche, and a starving psyche will do anything to get it, which sets them off on their ruthless pursuit to control everyone and everything.
The best supply of psychic energy for a Narc is watching or causing another person’s pain. To a Narcissist, watching someone suffer is like a vampire feeding on another person’s blood to survive. For Narcs, human pain and suffering is psychic blood.
Back in the 70s when Morbius was created, he was an appropriate evolution of the original Dracula imagined by Irish author Bram Stoker back in 1897 who then captured the evolution of corrupted, evil ruler archetype for his time.
The 1970s was a time of unabashed proliferation of narcissism. No longer did a person need to be rich and famous to be a Narc, but now you could be poor and weak, a common man or ordinary woman. Narcissism invaded American society with a vengeance, partly due to unregulated capitalism. In fact, being a Narc was good for business.
So, Roy Thomas and Gil Kane captured the changing psychological landscape that everyone was encountering in the 70s with Morbius, who was a conflicted vampire. He wanted to do the right thing, but his vampire mind proves more powerful than his human mind, which is very much like a narcissistic mind craving attention, power, glory.
The superhero-villain was a very compelling archetype then and remains one now. It plays off the idea that it takes a monster to destroy a monster.
Narcissism: Humans Who Feed on Other Human’s Pain
Narcissists must feed on another human being’s pain and trauma to live. Narcissists are hollowed out human beings with extremely weak psychological coping abilities. In fact, they really don’t have them at all, at least not the healthy kind. Because of this, they are very emotionally damaged human beings.
They manage their inner pain and inner hell by making other people feel the pain and suffering they are too afraid to feel inside themselves. So they project their pain, their suffering, and their inner hell on everyone else.
Narcs strange psychological math is: “I get rid of my pain by making you feel pain. In their mind, relationships are based on dominance and submission.” — Dr. Les Carter, Surviving Narcissism
Narcs feed off of your pain and enjoy abusing and crushing others to get their narcissistic high, also known as supply. Sounds a lot like drinking blood, doesn’t it?
And that’s exactly what it is, only psychic, emotional, spiritual blood. The 70s were a great time for Narcs to thrive, so enter a Marvel superhero specifically created to deal with them… because the old adage is correct: You need a monster to kill a monster!
And that is what Mordius becomes by trying to cure his disability with vampire genes; he becomes a monster, but he doesn’t want to kill his fellow humans unless he has to kill them. Then, he doesn’t mind and is pretty darn good at doing it. He even kills his childhood friend who goes off the rails with all these new powers of this cure of the childhood disease that they share.
Let’s Backtrack to Bram’s Dracula
Bram Stoker imagined Dracula in 1897.
Bram’s vampire, Dracula, is immediately recognizable around the world as this evil, fantom fiend who is already dead but keeps waking up to feed on the living.
He is of course a fictional character; however, Bram drew inspiration for this particular type of evil from a historical figure who was widely known back in his day for his thirst for blood.
This man was Vlad the Impaler. His real name was Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia. His father was Vlad II Dracul (or Vlad the Dragon) who was a prominent member of the Order of Dracul (also known as the Order of the Dragon).
The Vlads lived during the 1400s, which is a really tough time to be alive and running a minor kingdom sandwiched between two big empires fighting all the time as well as minor kingdom squabbles. The two great empires Wallachia sits between are the Holy Roman Empire (not to be confused with the Roman Empire) and the Ottoman Empire. In addition to these great machines of human will, are a bunch of minor states and kingdoms trying to grow bigger and pledging allegiance to one or the other empire so they might be rescued if they are invaded by a hostile force.
Young Vlad III is taken hostage by the Ottoman Empire as a child with his brother to make sure his father keeps his pledge of allegiance to Mehmed the Conqueror the man who conqueres Constantinople thereby ending the Byzantine Empire.
It is during this time as a prisoner that Vlad III learns the torture tactics that will earn him his name. Vlad III employs these horrific tactics in service to Pope Pius II who finances his efforts to take back his kingdom along with uphold the territories of christendom.
Vlad III employs his skills with such brutality, cruelty, and at a scale of magnitude never before imagined that he rightly earns his name Vlad the Impaler. He goes down in history as one of Europe’s most bloodthirsty evil fiends. And of course, his trail of blood sows fertile ground for Bram Stoker to create one of the most reviled, evil, bloodthirsty villains ever to be imagined and to enter popular culture’s collective imagination through Bram’s book.
Back to Morbius
Narcissism in the 1970s is proliferating rapidly. It is becoming a much more socially accepted, equal opportunity disease. In fact, if you do not have a bit of narcissism going on, it is hard to get ahead in business, in romance, and virtually everything we are told we should love and adore in our modern world.
This is where you get vamps like Morbius who really don’t want to drink human blood, but there’s this beast inside that must be fed. There is a flowering of vampire dramas in the 70s that mirrors the flowering of narcissism in world.
There is the rise of black vampires like top-grossing Blacula (1972) and Ganja and Hess (1973) that will inspire Black horror movies like Jordan Peele’s Get Out and Spike Lee’s Da Blood of Jesus.
There is Vampire Circus (1972) starring David Prowse before he become Darth Vader. And there are the psychological vampires like Martin (1977), and the lonely vampire Nosferatu, The Vampyre (1979).
There are vampires who drink the beauty of other humans so they stay eternally young, there are energy vampires, and Omega Man (1979) where vampirism is symbol of humanity’s continual hunger for progress leaving all but one man little more than nocturnal prowlers of blood. To get a real detailed breakdown of 70s Vamps, see 10 Vampire Movies From the ’70s You Probably Haven’t Seen (But Should)
By the 70s, narcissism had long since descended from the pedestals of popes, sultans, and kings. Narcissism now flourishes in wanton abundance among all of humanity and has continued to evolve ever since.
Marvel Got It Wrong
This is where Marvel got it wrong.
The Narcs who send chills down out backs now are much closer to Harry Potter’s Voldemort.
Lord Voldemort uses a wand to project his dark magic on his victims. A Narcs like Donald Trump simply uses his tongue (a bit like a wand but more like a snake). Modern Narc project their poison then take possession of a person’s mind sucking them dry, then filling them up with their Dark Thoughts. This is the magic of our time. People who come under the spell of an evil, vampire-like, magician like Voldemort (or Trump) are doomed to become empty vessels who do his bidding.
Today’s Narcs want to occupy your mind and fill your head with their thoughts. Narcs want you to believe they are omnipotent, but really they are parasites, viruses, feeble infections who need your mind to survive in this world.
Narcs are disgusting, degenerative, dying babies. And even Lord Voldemort is even 10 years behind the evolution of narcissism in our world.
Stranger Things nails it even closer to our collective truth:
Lord Venca, Number 1, the Mind Flayer!
So poor Morbius really needs to catch up to the crystalizing, consuming power of Narcissists in our Modern World.
Lackluster Nature of Transactional Archetypes
Every modern human being must navigate a slew of complicated social dynamics each and every day. We must navigate the social dynamics at work, home, hectic, even the gym. We are social creatures and maintaining strong community relationships influences our social health, mental health, physical health, and psychological health.
So, how do we psyche ourselves up to complete a hundred complicated tasks every day spanning work, home, and the day care center? How do we prepare ourselves psychologically for the hours of focused conscious attention needed to complete one task after another after another? How do we maintain our focus throughout the duration of the project? How do switch between the type of attention needed at work and that needed at home or in community?
Each and every human being does this sort of switching of focused conscious attention
continuously throughout our day. We do it so much, we don’t even think about how we even do it, nor do we consider there is a psychological ecosystem sustaining the energy requirements needed to have a single thought, much less 10s of thousands of thoughts each day matched by 10s of billion of conscious and unconscious actions and reactions to our environment and changing circumstances.
So how do we do it: Maintain a Steady Stream of Conscious Thought?
How do we pull out attention back to a difficult task when it wanders away?
Watered Down Archetypes
My beef with Marvel and Morbius is that more attention seems to be going into creating another blockbuster movie rather than architecting complex, relatable, and believable characters. Individuals with real flaws and real issues that resonate with our complicated, complex, hyped up, machine-like world.
Super heroes and archetypes should give us recognizable human patterns that we can empathize with and pretend to be if we find ourselves in a similar quandary or situation that requires us to dig a little deeper for those inner Super Powers (that we all have) to do something hard.
Marvel, by focusing on making blockbusters, follows a formula for success that waters down the characters into transactional beings. Instead of feasting on information-rich archetypal characters, we end up watching sad, sorry, distracted, transactional creatures trudge through unoriginal storylines and adventures.
The magic is gone.
Instead we are served up highly systematized, transactional characters, highly processed and mainstreamed into sugar coated, tiny packages labeled: This Is A Monster, This Is A Hero, This Is A Super Hero, This Is A Conflicted Hero.
"Social dynamics boil down to the two main categories of relationships—transactional and transformational. The former often alienates leaders to their peers, while the latter builds strong, trusting relationships with peers, helping them to feel like their work matters and giving them a reason to care." -- The Risks of Having Transactional Relationships with Your Peers; Leigh Bailey | April 11, 2023 | Blog | Executive Coaching | Leadership Development | Leadership Team Development | The Bailey Group
We are allowed to indulge as much as we want on all this filtered, strained, sifted, rarefied, clarified, in short highly refined stuff just as long as we don’t take it seriously! After all, come on man, these are comic book characters!
As we live in smaller and smaller cubby hole roles that are striped of responsibility and original thoughts, we feel the pressure pushing in on us to Hold the Mold no matter what. We assume lives of repetitive, homogeneity, but inside we are starved for meaning and purpose. We are starved for healthy, robust, vigorous ideas of what we might be… if only…
We are not suppose to formulate an answer to that. We are just suppose to go to work so e can go watch another Marvel movie when it comes out.
Too Much Watering Causes Chronic Hypoxia of the Human Mind
The next blogs in this series will take a deeper dive into the transactional nature of our modern living and how this is creating a chronic hypoxia occurring in our minds. Simply said, we are being starved of information-rich, highly symbolic, nourishing ideas.
Man’s mind must breathe and its oxygen are ideas. Creating a chronic condition of dehydrated, highly processed, synthetic ideas deprives man’s mind of the air it needs to maintain a homeostasis capable of providing normal focus human conscious attention. is no longer possible.
In the body when hypoxia occurs, it is due to a lack of oxygen. In the mind when hypoxia occurs, it is due to a lack of nourishing, rich ideas that help root us to our tasks, to each other, and the Earth.
Failure to correct the current hypoxia of the modern mind will result in greater susceptibility to what A.M. Merloo, M.D., called the Rape of the Mind.
Born as Abraham Maurits Meerloo in The Hague, Netherlands, Meerloo came to United States in 1946, was naturalized in 1950, and resumed Dutch citizenship in 1972. Dr. Meerloo practiced psychiatry for over forty years. He did staff work in the Netherlands until 1942 under Nazi occupation, when he assumed the name Joost (instead of the more Jewish-sounding Abraham) to fool the occupying forces. In 1942 he fled to Belgium, and from there he escaped to England (after barely eluding death at the hands of the Germans). He became a colonel and was chief of the Psychological Department of the Dutch Army-in-Exile in England.
After the war, he served as High Commissioner for Welfare in the Netherlands, and was an adviser to UNRRA and SHAEF. An American citizen since 1950, Dr. Meerloo was a member of the faculty at Columbia University and associate professor of psychiatry at the New York School of Psychiatry. He was the author of many books, including Rape of the Mind (a classic work on brainwashing), Conversation and Communication, and Hidden Communion.
He was the son of Bernard and Anna Frederika (Benjamins) Meerloo. He was the youngest of six children and the only one to escape his occupied country and survive the Holocaust.
He married Elisabeth Johanna Kalf Den Haag, on May 16, 1928. The couple divorced on February 19, 1946. He subsequently married Louisa Betty "Loekie" Duits, a physical therapist, in New York City on May 7, 1948.
Meerloo specialized in the area of thought control techniques used by totalitarian and other regimes. -- Joost Meerloo | Wikipedia
When one thinks of totalitarian states, Russia, China, Syria, Iran, and North Korea leap to mind. However, Joost explains in great detail the differences between overt thought control as practiced by torturers and subtle thought control.
Sneak Peak of the Marvelization of Man Series
Psychological Warfare as a Weapon of Terror
Every human communication can be either a report of straight facts or an attempt to suggest things and situations as they do not exist. Such distortion and perversion of facts strike at the core of human communication. The verbal battle against man's concept of truth and against his mind seems to be ceaseless. For example, if I can instil in eventual future enemies fear and terror and the suggestion of impending defeat, even before they are willing to fight, my battle is already half won. -- Merloo, M.D., called the Rape of the Mind.
Conversation From Previous Post
This is the end of a conversation I had with a friend about this first blog in this series. He shared with me this fascinating video about the Great Archetype that produced in me a great feeling and passion, which I suppose the the purpose of the Great Archetype. Below is my attempt to communicate this feeling to my friend
Thank you for sharing this. If you shared it to me previously, I did not recognize its importance then. But now, I can comprehend its significance! This is important. I'm going to have to digest it slowly as the visuals are stunning but knock me off course from reading the translations, which I know I need to read to fully understand.
From the Vimeo description, I am getting the jest that this is Christ Consciousness, Divine Consciousness, Cosmic Consciousness.
It is that thing man glimpses but cannot seem to grasp.
But of course not... there is nothing there to grasp... it is a state of mind beyond 2-dimensional thinking.
There are those among us, and who have come before, us who have gotten there (to Divine Consciousness), and even more importantly, they have come back to share this knowledge with us, but human consciousness as it is now is in a terrible mire.
This is where we are now. It is a divisive stage of consciousness... that is thinking... for it only knows how to cut and divide, sort and calculate, and put into order everything it cuts into bits and pieces, but thinking does not know how to put it back together again in the unified whole it was before the scissors of thought got to it.
We may not make it out of the mess we have made by ourselves using thought that only divides creating amazing and terrible things like the atom bomb, which this past week, some humans somberly remembered was 75 years since "at 5:29 a.m. (MST) on July 16, 1945, the world's first atomic bomb detonated in the New Mexican desert, releasing a level of destructive power ..."
And it will soon be 75 years, since man took that awesome power and dropped it on Hiroshima, then Nagasaki, August 6 and 9.
The events that Christopher Nolan has profoundly produced to remind us about in Oppenheimer, but I fear sadly due the Marvelization of Man, we (most of humanity) will not truly comprehend where we are at as a species on this planet.
I think Nolan duly points out that it does not matter that it is in the US where this terrible magic is cracked... people all over the world were cracking the code and figuring it out.... it was just a matter of time until humans figured it out.
Oppenheimer understood this and created an incubator to do it faster so that the Allied forces could win the wars against powers that had condensed into pure evil; powers rolling across the world stage like bulldozers achieving some of the most gruesome levels of destruction humans had yet achieved at that point in time remembered now as WWII.
Now, we can do even more hideous things to each other and we are doing so...
Now we hold the keys to our collective demise for destruction comes in all sorts of flavors--nuclear war, climate change, autocracies, and Marvelous Worlds full of capitalistic wonders that will dull us all down into one long droning wail of mediocrity very soon... and that is because ... we all agreed a long, long time ago... that only some people will be allowed to sit on top of functional hierarchies, which are the systems of power that rule the world as we know it now.
But we have all conveniently forgotten that all people are susceptible to the corrupting power of their own thinking!
And functional hierarchies are the most easily corrupted things we have created as conscious creatures. They are all around us like Trump Enterprises, Elon Musk, and the list is long of failed or failing corporations. The list is even longer of failed of failing states. The ones impacting us now are known as Russia, North Korea, and who knows, maybe even China maybe be in the running to rattle the nuclear rattle we hold in our tiny human hands in tantrums of ultimate self-hatred and self-destruction.
Some people I know put the USA, Great Britain, and all of Europe in this list too. I wrote a big blog about this...... I was pretty pissed because it is only in states that allow for free thought that we might still find the cure to our disease.
The kind of mega disaster that individuals like Christ and others tried to save us from... but still... most of us run directly into the flame of ignorance rather than grow up as we were meant to do from the very beginning...
And I do think God is woman
Now, I have diverged...lol...
All images, except for Feature Animation, use Midjourney AI to create the animations…that is until I ran out of credits. Following are the songs that enliven them.
Feature Archetypal Animation: Archetypes — Walterwarm —  Call to Adventure 2:18
Music for Lord Vecna | Mind Flayer: Doomsday Eternal Eclipse: Inner Beast 2:11
Music for Mind vs Matter: Distractions Stract — Distraction
Music for Super Sweet Super Heroes: It’s Gonna Be a Great Day by Fergal Flaherty
Archetypal Animation: Monsters | The Midnight — City Dreams (interlude) 2:17
Archetypal Animation: The Catch & Spring Summer Autumn Winter I Am Robot And Proud