Archetypes, wisdom and “generic common sense”

QUOTE: In literature, an archetype is a typical character, an action or a situation that seems to represent such universal patterns of human nature. An archetype, also known as universal symbol, may be a character, a theme, a symbol or even a setting. Many literary critics are of the opinion that archetypes, which have a common and recurring representation in a particular human culture or entire human race, shape the structure and function of a literary work. [1]

Carl Jung, Swiss psychologist, argued that the root of an archetype is in the “collective unconscious” of mankind. The phrase “collective unconscious” refers to experiences shared by a race or culture. This includes love, religion, death, birth, life, struggle, survival etc. These experiences exist in the subconscious of every individual and are recreated in literary works or in other forms of art. [2]

Ranked lists are a mainstay of digital content publishing and can be found on most sites—from independent blogs to global media sites. For years, content publishers and online marketers have used ranked lists to drive traffic to their websites. Lists are highly shareable via social media, and other blogs and websites frequently write about and link to lists in their own content. All of those shares and incoming links not only drive traffic to the original list on the publisher’s site, but they also increase the authority of the publisher’s site, which can increase its rankings in Google search results.
Long story short, lists get page views that publishers need to generate advertising revenue. But why are lists so popular? Sites like BuzzFeed have achieved great success constantly publishing “listicles” that rank anything and everything. The quality of the lists varies as much as the topics, but people continue to share them, read them, and link to them.
Research published in the Journal of Consumer Research, The Top-Ten Effect: Consumers’ Subjective Categorization of Ranked Lists, sheds some light on why lists are so popular. According to the scientific research data, “The top-ten effect that we demonstrate in these studies is based on the mental tendencies to use categories and to exaggerate the differences between them. These tendencies are part of the natural human readiness to perceive the world in terms of discrete things.” [3]

NOTES: Archetypes form the foundation for characters, themes, and stories. I began to wonder if that did not form a similar foundation for proverbs, advice, and wisdom that is universal in culture.

One of the most popular literary forms in the blogging universe today is the ‘listicle.’ If you read a lot of listicles on a common subject, they begin to sound all the same. So I began to wonder – is there such a thing as a foundational archetype listicle of generic wisdom? An archetypical list of generic common sense?

What would happen if we brought together all the listicles on a particular subject and sorted through them, combining similar items together in order to create one giant list that contained all the basic wisdom on that topic?

That’s the methodology of this Reality Disciplines blog … what is the generic common wisdom on a topic? We hope to list it out here and connect the dots together.

QUESTIONS for thinking it through:
What does this say?
What does this say that I need to obey?
Who needs to hear this?

[1] Literary Devices: Definition and Examples of Literary Terms, at

[2] Ibid.

[3] The Science Behind the Popularity of Listicles by Susan Gunelius | Feb 20, 2014, at

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