Definitions

rube goldbergian

Artist-scientist

The Artist-scientist is one of the Jungian archetypes in mythology. Like all of these archetypes, the artist-scientist is an abstraction of life and the human mind. While never as common as archetypes like the child or the Hero, the artist-scientist is immediately recognizable. They are a builder, an inventor, a seeker, a dreamer, and a thinker. Distracted by their own thoughts, they frequently have to be pulled in out of the rain. They are simultaneously vastly knowledgeable and yet innocent, impulsive yet cautious. They represent the wonder to be found in curiosity, and the dangers.

Attributes

The name references the idea that they are both a creator and a discoverer, and that they are not a fount of information like the Bard or an adviser like the wise old man, but a source of change. The frequent obliviousness of the Artist-scientist to the aspects of reality that do not fit with their plans (the stereotype being that they devise an elaborate plan to scale the walls of a fortress as the hero opens the back door and walks in) symbolizes the occasionally underwhelming nature of reality as opposed to our idealized vision of it. It also references the frequent futility of attempting to control one's fate. Their naivety symbolizes the gap between knowledge and wisdom, but in the face of their successes it can symbolize the futility of trying to stop a dreamer from changing the world.

The artist-scientist is recognizable by:

  • His or her ability to focus on a single item or idea, in spite of the surrounding activity, often at inopportune times for a hero he or she accompanies.
  • Ability to improvise novel solutions to problems, which while they may not turn out as intended somehow are made to work anyway.
  • Distaste for simple solutions in favor of Rube Goldbergian methods.
  • A self-confidence masking an inner fear of failure.
  • Naivety about the world and their fellow man in spite of their vast understanding of the academic and philosophical world.
  • An inner childlike emotional side intertwined with a staggering logical mind.

What they symbolize

The artist-scientist represents many things:

  • The Power of the Mind
  • Infinite Creativity
  • Childlike wonder at the world
  • Boundless Curiosity
  • The finding of solutions in unexpected ways
  • Intuitive Improvisation
  • The danger of ignoring ones own emotions

Examples in film and literature

Legendary figures

Legend has taken numerous real people and applied the archetypal status to them, for example:

References and notes

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