WEIRDLAND: Great Man Archetypes: Don Draper, Kurt Cobain

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Great Man Archetypes: Don Draper, Kurt Cobain

There is just one “Mad Men” episode left. Don Draper was born Richard Whitman and took the name of a Lt. Donald Draper, with whom he served in the Korean War. Only a few people from his legitimate past know Don’s real identity. Don not only is a lie; he creates lies for a living. He finds ways of convincing consumers they can’t live without Lucky Strikes, General Motors and whatever Dow Chemical makes. As we know, he’s also a liar out of the office, a serial womanizer, a man who cheats on his wives and cheats his children as well. It’s all about the pitch and whatever Don has to do to make the sale, even when that means selling what’s left of his soul in the process.

Don’s ex-wife, Betty (January Jones), fell on the stairs at college, went to the doctor to have her rib checked out, and found she had terminal cancer. And after being stuck in a small town for a week, Don gave the keys to his Cadillac to a young wannabe hustler who doesn’t drink.

From the beginning, Weiner has built “Mad Men” on the American myth of the self-made man, taking the notion to a literal level, as Fitzgerald did with Jay Gatsby. Welles did it with Charles Foster Kane as well. In the end, both antiheroes were doomed by following their ambition at the expense of their humanity. One was memorialized for the futility of steering “boats against the current” of destiny, while the other, in the final second of an acquisitive life, is crushed by whispered regret.

This week’s episode of “Mad Men” ended with Don sitting alone at a rural bus stop, clutching his possessions in a paper bag. The scene is evocative and solitary, a visual sigh, if you will. A bus will be along in a while, Don will get on board, his life in that paper bag, and probably keep heading west, where he left Dick Whitman a long time ago. We’ll learn the actual destination on Sunday, but we already know part of it: He is bound for the inevitable. Source: www.sfchronicle.com


Mad Men went full '70s with its trailer for Sunday's series finale – and we're digging it. The preview, set to Paul Anka's mellow "Times of Your Life," takes Don Draper (Jon Hamm) on a trip down memory lane, focusing mostly the women in his life: daughter Sally (Kiernan Shipka), ex-wives Betty (January Jones) and Megan (Jessica Paré), and colleagues Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) and Joan (Christina Hendricks). Don's agency partners Roger (John Slattery) and Bert (Robert Morse) also make cameos. Sadly, the video offers up as many clues as the "clip" creator Matthew Weiner aired on Conan: It's just a mashup of vintage scenes from the drama's seven-season run. Source: www.people.com

That's an ad about world peace and people coming together in harmony — and it's being used to sell soda. It's the ultimate in commodification of powerful ideas by the wheels of commerce, and it's the ultimate in America's blithe belief that if it could just shut out the bad parts — or share a Coke — with the world, everything would be a little bit better. Now, I don't quite expect this to happen. But if you asked me to lay down money on a theory, I'd take Eileen's. It's the only Mad Men ending theory I've heard in the past few years that made me actually want to see some version of it come to life. Source: www.vox.com

The Hero is usually the last of the boyhood archetypes to develop and is the peak of psychological development in boys. It is the last developmental stage before a boy transitions into manhood. According to Robert Moore (author of "King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine"), this transformation from boy to man can only occur through the “death” of the Hero. Through initiation and rites of passage, the boy is symbolically killed only to be reborn as a man. Unfortunately, because many men in the modern West lack a rite of passage into manhood, they remain psychologically stuck in adolescence. Moreover, while the mature Warrior knows his limitations, the Hero doesn’t have that sort of self-awareness which often results in physical or emotional ruin. Source: www.artofmanliness.com

Kurt Cobain became "the global icon - Nirvana had produced a Camelot for grunge music, and Kurt was its King," according to Brett Morgen. "Ultimately the mythology of the man is that he was in pursuit of fame, and then he didn't want fame anymore. I hope this film shatters that illusion. I think Kurt, the child of a divorce, was in pursuit of family his whole life, and when that became defiled that's what ultimately led him to take his own life." Source: www.bbc.com

“It’s just mathematics, that’s all rock and roll is. Everything’s based on ten. There’s no such thing as infinity—it repeats itself after ten and it’s over. It’s the same thing with rock and roll—the neck is that long on a guitar, there are six strings, there’s twelve notes, and then it repeats.” -Kurt Cobain


“Nevermind” and “Infinite Jest” are highly singular works in totally different traditions, but I think they represent the same scale of achievement and possess a similar cultural resonance. It’s by no means irrelevant that they were both (Kurt Cobain and David Foster Wallace) white heterosexual men who were deeply aware of the problematic nature of the Great Man archetype. “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck” depicts the society that nurtured and fed that genius, and that made his unlikely creative explosion possible, as being the same environment that poisoned him — and suggests that the rise and fall were inextricably connected. Kurt Cobain was a canary in the coalmine, as was David Foster Wallace. You and I are still in it, and it’s getting harder to breathe. Source: www.salon.com

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