Tag Archives: archetypes

Living with Bimbles

Bimbles are creatures from the third book of the awesome Matlock the Hare series, but they are also a truth. When a person has a plan, bimbles will latch on to them, get in their way and slow them down. The bimble in your life needs you to stop when you are busy and hear a story you have already heard about a problem they won’t try a solution for. They need to regale you with a blow by blow account of what they saw on the telly last night. They will respond to the thing you are actually doing by wanting an indepth conversation about something similar they had once thought of doing. Online they’ll drown genuine issues in a swamp of maundering over the most trivial details. “But you said he was wearing a green hat when he did it, and clearly it was a red one.”

Much of it, no doubt, is motivated by boredom, loneliness and a desire for attention. However, one of the things that really sets a bimble apart from someone who is merely bored or lonely, is that the bimble has to be the most important person in the conversation. They aren’t doing much of interest, and will use their banality to undermine your enthusiasm. The White Wolf Changeling game used the term ‘autumn people’ to identify a similar trait set. Terry Pratchett talked about it in terms of the crab bucket. Banality that cannot bear the presence of genuine energy and activity, failure that cannot bear success, will try to smother it. It’s useful to have terms for these things and to be able to identify the habits of the archetype.

So, let’s imagine that you are working on something. The something in question is wild, radical, creative, innovative, life changing and big. The bimble will respond to this by trying to take energy from you. They will be quick to say how pointless, futile and silly your plan is. They will bring you down to earth with a bump, confident they are doing you a favour and then you’ll get to hear a long story about how the cat was sick on the rug last week, and they had to clean it up.

We are all obliged to deal with mundane reality. It’s an essential part of life. The trouble is that for some people, it’s only the most banal and repetitive things that have reality, and anything else, anything with a dash of change in it, looks like a threat. At the very least, the bimbling routine protects them from having to know about what you were doing. It helps them maintain the belief that change doesn’t happen. It leaves them feeling in control of their space.

A small dose of bimbling doesn’t do anyone any real harm. The problems come if the bimble is part of your household, workspace, or social network in a way you can’t avoid. A bimble who is in your life in an ongoing way will be an ongoing obstacle to anything and everything. My guess is that they try to keep others powerless and passive as a way of dealing with their own powerlessness, but if you want to get anything serious done, avoiding the bimbles is an essential part of the process.

More about Matlock the Hare here – http://www.matlockthehare.com/

 


Superpowers

I work on the comics side sometimes (www.itisacircle.com) and this means an awareness of superheroes. So here’s a question to kick off today’s amble into philosophy. Why is it, in comics, that when a person discovers they have superpowers, the only response to that is to don a kinky outfit and beat up criminals? “God has given me a gift and I shall use it to fight crime.”

There are a great deal of wrongs and injustices out there that have nothing to do with crime. Often it’s the flaws in our legal systems that cause the greatest injustices of all. Most of us will never rub shoulders with super villains either.

In part it’s about storytelling, about easy action and a certain kind of un-complex heroism that has nothing to do with reality at all.

But ask yourself this: If you discovered you had a superpower, would you take it as meaning that you HAD to do something productive with it? Would you feel morally obliged to get out there and fight crime, or some other focal point for wrongdoing? And whatever your answer is, why is that so?

If we look at ourselves in the right way, most of us have some trait that sets us apart. We might not be able to melt metal by glaring at it, or leap buildings in a single bound, but we all have something. I have a knack for putting emotions into words. I’ve found this is tremendously powerful for helping people get to grips with bad experiences. Words are power, sense making, reclaiming control. Many people find talking about emotion hard. This is not a candidate for cape wearing bad-guy-kicking career options. But should I be doing something with it that puts it to use?

How many talents do any of us have? Abilities that lie unexplored, or under developed. Skills we know we have, but do not use much. Are we doing everything we could be? And should we be doing everything we could be? Does having innate ability, in any field, create an obligation to use it? I suspect most people would not consider that it does.

The superhero archetype is an interesting one because it offers us the notion that innate gifts are meaningful. In a superhero world, being blessed with a talent means being obliged to get out and use it for good, or perhaps choosing to be the bad guy instead. It doesn’t mean squandering it, ignoring it or otherwise letting it slip away. If we took our own abilities more seriously, might we not see them the same way? If you can make someone laugh, you might save their life, literally. Everything we do well enriches our own lives and other peoples. We don’t tend to see these small gifts and acts as important, much less heroic, but I think we should. If we view ourselves, each and every one of us as in some way special, empowered, meant for greater things, sent to this world on a mission to make better… what might we do then? It’s not about waking up one morning and finding you can see through the walls, (ah, how I shall foil those criminals now!) it’s about seeing the value of what we have, and not being afraid to get out there and make something of it.

Wear your cape, literally or figuratively as you see fit.