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Reading List, August 2023


We create supplementary reading lists as a way to give you an insight into the inspirations and thinking behind our monthly stories. These reading lists take you behind the story, revealing the process of its making.



Archetype → Explorer

Rasa → Adbūtham


August 2023

Artistic expressions channelling archetype in rasa

  • The Explorer's gaze, characterized by a profound sense of wonder and a thirst for discovery, is exemplified through mediums such as film and observational drawings. 

    1. In the film Baraka, this gaze is vividly illustrated as the camera pans across diverse landscapes and cultures, inviting viewers to immerse themselves in the wonder of the world's intricacies. 

    2. Similarly, Barbara Sansoni's sketches resonate with this gaze, fueled by her experiences as a part-time journalist. Through a series of articles and essays written from 1961 to 1963, she, along with a dedicated team including Ismeth Raheem, Ulrik Plesner, and Laki Senanayake, meticulously documented traditional vernacular buildings of the 17th to early 19th century. Her journalistic efforts invite us to perceive the extraordinary within the ordinary, fostering a connection to our world enriched by wonder and curiosity. Both examples reflect the Explorer archetype's longing to uncover the extraordinary within the ordinary, evoking a sense of wonder and a deeper connection to the world around us.

    3. In the never-ending quest to never miss a moment, do photographers run the risk of missing the point? In the film “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” After a harrowing journey battling sharks in Greenland, escaping fuming volcanoes in Iceland, and trekking in Afghanistan in search of LIFE magazine photojournalist, Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn), Walter (Ben Stiller) finally finds him tracking a rare snow leopard. When the leopard finally appears, Sean doesn't take the shot. When Walter questions his illogical decision, Sean's answer comes as a surprise—he doesn't want the camera to distract him from the moment.

  • 2015, Rebirth Road, Dhammika Perera and Public Works; The story ‘Rebirth road’ was inspired by a work of mixed media art by the Sri Lankan artist Dhammika Perera. Dhammika’s hometown is by the tranquil inland hills and rivers of Sri Lanka with a view of the sacred Sripāda mount; he had to take a daily commute to Colombo for his day job as a teacher at the University of Visual Arts. Talking about those years spent in commute, Dhammika says he remembers the healing in the journey. The experience of growing past the city’s exhaustion with the changing landscapes stayed with Dhammika, inspiring him in the art studio of his village home.

  • Emily Dickinson, ‘Our Journey had advanced’ can be interpreted within the context of the Explorer archetype as a reflection on the inherent human desire for exploration and discovery. Just as explorers venture into the unknown to find new horizons, the journey symbolizes the quest for deeper understanding, growth, and the uncharted territories of the self. The poem encapsulates the Explorer archetype's essence by emphasizing the ongoing nature of exploration and the profound changes it brings to the traveller, even in the face of death.

  • “Whilst the rock paintings, bark and body decorations of the Aborigines all testified to their close affinity with the land, the art of the early explorers demonstrated a need to understand and make sense of this strange new country.”

  • Explorer who captures the unknown:

    1. Karl Bodmer In 1832, German naturalist and ethnographer Prince Maximilian of Wied conducted one of the earliest expeditions to the American West to record the natural history and the indigenous population of the region. Maximilian’s expedition members included Swiss-born artist Karl Bodmer, who created drawings and field sketches for the prince’s book publication. They were the first team combining a trained scientist and a skilled artist, whose collaboration resulted in a publication of unique art historical, scientific, and ethnological importance, called Travels in the Interior of North America (Koblenz and Paris, 1839-43).

    2. Easy Rider is a 1969 American independent road drama film written by Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Terry Southern, produced by Fonda, and directed by Hopper. A landmark counterculture film, and a "touchstone for a generation" that "captured the national imagination," Easy Rider explores the societal landscape, issues, and tensions towards adolescents in the United States during the 1960s, such as the rise of the hippie movement, drug use, and communal lifestyle. It is an example of one of the many American films (inspired by the rebellious new storytelling style of French New Wave directors) that attempted to capture a more meaningful representation of youth culture. Real drugs were used in scenes showing the use of marijuana and other substances.

    3. Hunter Stockton Thompson was an American journalist and author who founded the gonzo journalism movement; can be positioned as an Explorer- Creator mix. He rose to prominence with the publication of Hell's Angels (1967), a book for which he spent a year living and riding with the Hells Angels motorcycle club to write a first-hand account of their lives and experiences. Gonzo journalism is a style of journalism that is written without claims of objectivity, often including the reporter as part of the story using a first-person narrative. In 1998, Christopher Locke asserted that the webzine genre is descended from gonzo journalism, a claim that has since been extended to social media. Wenner spoke with Thompson about his alcoholism and addiction to cocaine, and offered to pay for drug treatment. "Hunter was polite and firm," Wenner wrote in 2022. "He had thought about it and didn't feel he could or would change. He felt that his drug abuse was key to his talent. He said that if he didn't do drugs, he'd have the brain of an accountant. The abuse was already taking a toll on his gifts... It was just too late and he knew it."

  • Films that explore our relationship to the concept of freedom:

    1. ​​The explorer who needs one last adventure; The Rain People is a 1969 American road drama film written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, and starring Shirley Knight, James Caan and Robert Duvall. The film centers on a middle-class housewife (Knight), who runs away from her husband after learning she is pregnant.

    2. William Greaves' 1968 film "Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One" embodies the Explorer archetype through its unconventional approach to filmmaking, challenging norms and blurring fiction and reality. The film's meta-narrative and exploration of human dynamics evoke wonder, prompting viewers to question traditional storytelling and sparking curiosity about the intricate layers of creativity and human connections. The film's audacious journey aligns with the Explorer's spirit of pushing boundaries and venturing into uncharted realms, inviting us to reconsider the very essence of cinematic expression.

    3. The Shawshank Redemption is a 1994 American prison drama film written and directed by Frank Darabont. The film tells the story of banker Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), who is sentenced to life in Shawshank State Penitentiary for the murders of his wife and her lover, despite his claims of innocence. This film is an excellent example of the empowering strength of the Adbhutam rasa; the story leaves you with an immense sense of hope and salvation through the journey to freedom.

    4. George Michael's "Freedom! '90" has had a lasting cultural impact. The catchy song addressed his struggles with identity, artistic growth and stardom in a meaningful way. And because Michael refused to appear on camera, the song ended up with an iconic music video that brought the worlds of fashion and entertainment together. Michael didn't want to appear in the video, so he enlisted the world's most popular supermodels. The music video symbolized artistic growth for Michael.

  • 2023, Explorer playlist, Public Works Publishing; this compilation of music captures the mood of the Explorer archetype by drawing out its sense of wonder, drive for adventure and the uncharted.

Published ideas of archetype in rasa

  • In Massimo Leone's article "Mirrors, Selfies, and Alephs: A Semiotics of Immobility Travelogues," the key ideas revolve around the analysis of immobility travelogues, specifically in the context of selfies and mirror reflections. The article explores the semiotic aspects of these travelogues, examining how mirrors and self-images serve as reflections of both personal identity and the places visited. The concept of the Aleph, a point of convergence of all possible viewpoints, is introduced to illustrate the complexity of the traveller's gaze. This notion evokes a sense of wonder as it delves into the intricate intersections between self-perception, location, and the transformative power of observation, highlighting the multifaceted nature of travel experiences and self-discovery within a single frame.

  •  Jonathan Culler’s 1981 paper titled: The Semiotics of Tourism, for The American Journal of Semiotics explores the travellers gaze: “The traveller sees the world at face value; The tourist is interested in everything as a sign of itself, an instance of cultural practice: a Frenchman is an example of a Frenchman, a restaurant on the Left Bank is an example of a Left-Bank-Restaurant: it signifies "Left-Bank-Restaurantness." All over the world the unsung armies of semiotics, the tourists, are fanning out in search of the signs of Frenchness, typical Italian behaviour, exemplary oriental scenes, typical American thruways, traditional English pubs; and, deaf to the natives' explanations that thruways are just the most efficient way to get from one place to another, or that pubs are just convenient places to meet your friends and have a drink, or that gondolas are the natural way to get around in a city full of canals, tourists persist in regarding these objects and practices as cultural signs.”

  • In a 2020 issue, The Tourist Look; places, discourses and practices; Salvatore Zingale and Daniela D’Avanzo co-authored an article titled: Travel Pictograms between Visual Identities and the Opening to the Alterities, for the Italian Association of Semiotic Studies. They investigate (amongst other questions) the extent to which a universalization of pictographic language is affirming itself in airport signage and how far the preservation and display of aspects of local identity persist. This question led us to wonder about the semiotic  differences across cultures, and how they influence the meaning of a story, How does the explorer archetype decode and resolve this? Although we are aware of these differences (unconsciously) , we don't often take them into account until we start to travel. The Explorer navigates these different semiospheric issues such as translation, cultural differences, and alternative meanings as part of the process of travelling. The semiosphere theory proposes that, contrary to ideas of nature determining sense and experience, the phenomenal world is a creative and logical structure of processes of semiosis where signs operate together to produce sense and experience. 

  • Jeremy Giacoletto-Stegall’s article on, titled: Semiotics for Multiverse Travelers. The article discusses the experiences of a multiverse traveller who initially struggled to understand the unfamiliar worlds they encountered. As a result, we wonder what the cultural significance of symbols in a universe where giant robot gods are worshiped and what the communication styles conveyed through signs and advertisements in different worlds. There are semiotic characteristics worth exploring when it comes to the duality of the outsider vs the insider within the context of the traveller. 

  • The remover of obstacles, Ganesha (Ganesh), the elephant-headed Hindu god of beginnings, is traditionally worshiped before any major enterprise. He is widely revered, more specifically, as the remover of obstacles and thought to bring good luck; as the god of beginnings, he is honoured at the start of a journey.

  • 2023, The call to adventure; a short guide to the Explorer archetype, Public Works: The desire to explore and put curiosity into action is one of the traits that have shaped our civilization. It's a mindset that pushes us to discover and get to know this universe better. It’s this call for adventure that led us to traverse oceans, map continents, pursue scientific inquiry into unchartered territories, and venture into space. It connects us as a global community, breaking down barriers and fostering understanding between people from different places. This call to adventure is universal; but, it’s more deeply ingrained in some people, leading it to be considered a personality archetype in Jungian psychology. Called ‘the Explorer’, Public Works uses this archetype in storytelling for businesses.

  • 2018, Kadira, Public Works: In Sri Lankan culture, Kadira is the guardian deity of travellers. He has been linked to Skanda with the merging of Hindu, Buddhist and pre-Buddhist folk beliefs. The colourful garlands you see hanging in vehicles here carry Kadira's blessings for a safe journey. Travelling Sri Lankans stop at Kadira shrines to pay respect. Kadira lore is spread across the island from Seenigama, Jaffna, to the magical pilgrim town dedicated to him—Kataragama.

Characters channelling the archetype in rasa.

  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade; is the classic thrill of the chase explorer; channelling the Rebel-Explorer.

  • Joseph Coope; Interstellar; as the Explorer with a cause, as a Lover-Explorer.

  • Inception; Explorer-Magician and demonstrate how exploration can be inward as much as outward.

  • Edward Bloom; is the Explorer-Humourist, who is a storyteller of wondrous adventures. It’s hard to separate truth from fiction in his stories; charismatic and charming in nature.

  • The Explorer persona is not necessarily always going to succeed on the journey. Into the Wild is a 2007 American biographical adventure drama film written, co-produced, and directed by Sean Penn. It is an adaptation of the 1996 non-fiction book of the same name written by Jon Krakauer and tells the story of Christopher McCandless ("Alexander Supertramp"), a man who hiked across North America into the Alaskan wilderness in the early 1990s. In the story, the character transitions from Rebel-Explorer to Utopian-Explorer. Four months into the wild, life becomes harder, and he makes several poor decisions. Trying to live off the land, he hunts down a large moose with his rifle, but cannot preserve the meat and it spoils within days. As his supplies dwindle, he realizes that nature can be harsh.

  • The Goonies is a 1985 American adventure comedy film directed by Richard Donneras. In the film, a group of kids who live in the "Goon Docks" neighbourhood of Astoria, Oregon, attempt to save their homes from foreclosure and, in doing so, they discover an old treasure map that takes them on an adventure to unearth the long-lost fortune of One-Eyed Willy, a legendary 17th-century pirate. As a cast, the group clearly attempts to cover stereotypical identities of the working class family kid; the geeky tech kid, the trying to be cool kid, the bud of all jokes kid, the ‘mama’s boy’ kid, sports jock kid, the popular kid, etc. comment during the 90s. As a whole, they embody the Everyperson-explorer, the sense of wonder is achieved when people come together to help one another by overcoming obstacles along a journey.

  • Classic Explorer caregiver Jacques-Yves Cousteau, 1910 – 1997 was a French naval officer, oceanographer, filmmaker and author. 

  • Inspired by the American comedy film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, directed by Wes Anderson. 

  • David Attenborough; The beloved Explorer-Sage who explorers the world through questions and hints at answers through Encounters at the edge of the world.

  • Dr. Geoff Wilson; the Explorer-Hero who lives to tell the story

  • Tróndur Patursson is a Faroese artist, who has become famous for his trademark stained glass birds. For him, his job as an artist is to capture the soul of those beings represented in his work. He believes that just like the bird is free, so we must allow our soul to be free.”

  • Katia and Maurice Krafft, the intrepid French scientists who dedicated their lives to capturing volcanic eruptions, embody the Explorer archetype. The documentary "Fire of Love" (2022) showcases their fearless exploration of the world's most active volcanoes, evoking a sense of wonder through awe-inspiring footage of these natural phenomena. Their unwavering dedication to understanding and documenting the power of nature resonates with the Explorer archetype's spirit of adventure, curiosity, and reverence for the unknown.

  • Satan's initial rebellion against God's authority can be seen as an exploratory act in its own right. Satan can be characterized as the Explorer-Rebel. His desire to "explore" his potential leads him to challenge the established order and venture into uncharted territory, albeit for nefarious purposes. 

Channelling the archetype in rasa for business

  • The Red Bull brand can be associated with the Explorer archetype, tuned to the Adbhutam rasa, through several key traits and strategies that emphasize a sense of adventure, discovery, and pushing boundaries. By associating itself with these daring and unconventional sports, Red Bull embodies the spirit of exploration and adventure. The brand's content, including videos and documentaries about these sports, not only showcases the physical feats but also the courage and determination required to explore new frontiers in sports and human potential. One of the most iconic examples of Red Bull's Explorer traits is the "Red Bull Stratos" mission. They produce and promote content that aligns with its adventurous spirit; dedicated to sharing stories of exploration, outdoor activities, and adventure sports.

    1. Red Bull's inherent focus on adventure and boundary-pushing aligns seamlessly with GoPro's brand identity. Both cater to audiences passionate about extreme sports and capturing thrilling moments. A prime example of this synergy is the 'GoPro: Red Bull Stratos Full Story' video, where GoPro cameras captured Felix Baumgartner's record-breaking freefall, exemplifying their shared commitment to capturing and sharing awe-inspiring experiences."

  • National Geographic is known for its exploration of the world's most remote and exotic locations, reporting new discoveries and different cultures. This aligns with the Explorer, which is driven by a thirst for discovery, curiosity, and the desire to venture into the unknown.

  • The idea of capturing the unknown and discovering new places can also be taken to the extreme, for example, the “Only Slightly (More) Exaggerated, Travel Oregon” campaign, where the sense of wonder is turned up to the unbelievable. 

  • Businesses often channel more than one archetype; three usually work best, set in a hierarchy depending on the market or positioning. The outdoor clothing and gear company, Patagonia initially established itself as a hero brand by offering high-quality outdoor clothing and gear that catered to adventurers and athletes. Over time, Patagonia evolved its identity, shifting towards the Explorer archetype. This transition was marked by a deeper commitment to environmental activism and sustainability, aligning the brand with the values of responsible exploration and the preservation of nature.

  • Deus Ex Machina's films, exemplified by "South to Sian," embody the Explorer archetype by showcasing motorcycle journeys that lead to uncharted surf spots in Indonesia. These films emphasize the transformative journey itself, celebrating individuality, freedom, and a deep connection to nature. Through evocative landscapes and a celebration of subcultures, these films resonate with the Explorer archetype's spirit of adventure, wonder, and the pursuit of unique experiences.

  • The way in which a story describes the authenticity or “realness” of a travel experience is common within the tourism industry, here are a few examples of stories that sell authenticity fine-tuned as an Adbhutam Rasa; to evoke the emotion of wonder.

    1. Helsinki Airport was (2017) awarded, by Travellink, as the best airport in the world. To campaign this USP they commissioned Chinese influencer Ryan Zhu to live at Helsinki Airport for 30 days, uploading content to multiple channels on a daily basis. Described as The Terminal meets The Truman Show #LIFEINHEL was a mix of a reality show and a game show.

    2. Following the Eyjafjallajokull volcano that erupted in 2010, Iceland used testimonials from people who lived or had visited the country to build a collection of authentic travel experience stories.

    3. The "Swedish Number" campaign was a unique tourism initiative by Sweden in 2016. It allowed people from around the world to call a single phone number and be connected to a random Swede, enabling cultural exchanges and conversations. The campaign aimed to showcase Sweden's openness, cultural diversity, and promote tourism by offering a direct and personal connection with its citizens.


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