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Reading List, September 2023


This reading list explores published ideas, artistic expressions, characters, and business channelling the Lover archetype in adbūtam rasa.



Archetype → Lover

Rasa → Adbūtham


September 2023

Artistic expressions channelling archetype in rasa

  • The Lover’s gaze: Leonardo da Vinci - "Mona Lisa": Leonardo's masterpiece, the "Mona Lisa," is often seen as an embodiment of the Lover archetype. The subject's enigmatic smile and gaze have captivated viewers for centuries, representing a sense of mystery and emotional depth.

  • Lover’s journey: "Rest Energy" (1980): In "Rest Energy," Abramovic and Frank Uwe Laysiepen, AKA Ulay held a taut bowstring with an arrow pointed at Abramovic's heart. The tension and risk in the performance evoke themes of trust and the deep emotional connection between the two artists.

    • "The Lovers" (1988) was another performance (Abramovic and Ulay) that started at opposite ends of the Great Wall of China and walked toward each other, meeting in the middle after three months. This epic performance can be interpreted as a representation of their enduring love, dedication, and the emotional journey they undertook together.

    • 30 years later, when Marina Abramović was performing “The Artist Is Present” at the MoMA, a performance in which she stood still, staring for one minute at one person from the audience, in total silence, Ulay showed up. A band called How I became the bomb wrote a song about the intense love story between the famous performer Marina Abramović and Ulay.

  • Connection to the divine: Michelangelo - "The Creation of Adam" - The iconic fresco depicts the moment when God breathes life into Adam. The tender touch between God's finger and Adam's hand can been interpreted as a symbol of the Lover archetype, representing the connection between humanity and the divine.

  • Harmony of Opposites: The composition of "The Kiss" involves a balance of opposites - the masculine and feminine, the earthly and the divine. This harmony of opposites is a characteristic of the Lover archetype, which often seeks to unite contrasting elements and find completeness in the beloved.

  • Vulnerability of connection: Bon Iver - Perth (Stripped): The intense emotional connection in both the visual and audio elements aligns with the passionate nature of the Lover archetype. The candid, heartfelt footage of Heath Ledger, evokes a sense of love and loss, and the attempt to connect with someone or something no longer present. This significant emotional theme, in conjunction with Heath Ledger's tragic death at the time, demonstrates the vulnerability of the lover.

  • Devotion and commitment: U2 - I will follow - The Lover's deep emotional attachment and passion can be channelled to signify loyalty and hope. This intense emotional commitment resonates with the passionate nature of the Lover archetype. In this case, the live performance was broadcast using one of the largest satellite link-ups of all time, capturing the moment and showcasing music's power to unite a massive global audience for a humanitarian cause.

  • Sensuality: Pamplem'House - Remembrance - Deep house music often relies on emotive melodies, soulful vocals, and stirring harmonies to create a strong emotional connection with listeners. We often find it incorporates sensual and seductive elements in its sound, such as smooth rhythms and hypnotic beats. Mixed with ethereal and otherworldly soundscapes through synthesizers, ambient textures, and reverb effects; the Lover archetype can be tuned to evoke a sense of wonder and amazement.

  • Contemplative beauty: Yusef Lateef - Love Theme From Spartacus - The piece is known for its deep emotional resonance. The composition has a sensual and romantic quality, with the saxophone melody and the lush orchestration creating a mood of intimacy and connection. Lateef's performance and the composition's arrangement have a transcendent quality.

  • Self-acceptance: Peter Tosh - I Am That I Am - The lyrics of the song convey a sense of deep emotional connection and love for the self. The philosophical depth of the nature of identity can evoke a sense of wonder and amazement in the listeners. The process of self-realization and acceptance often leads to a sense of wonder and enlightenment.

Published ideas of archetype in rasa

  • Rasa theory; In Indian aesthetics, a rasa literally means "nectar, essence or taste". It is a concept in Indian arts denoting the aesthetic flavour of any visual, literary or musical work that evokes an emotion or feeling in the reader or audience, but cannot be described. It refers to the emotional flavors/essence crafted into the work by the writer or a performer and relished by a 'sensitive spectator' or sahṛidaya, literally one who "has heart", and can connect to the work with emotion, without dryness.

  • Connection to nature: Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, published in 1962, is a groundbreaking book that embodies the Lover archetype's deep connection to the natural world and evokes a sense of wonder about the environment. She (Carson) expressed her admiration for the beauty and complexity of ecosystems, and questioned the ethics of prioritizing profit over the environment's health. 

  • Transcendentalism: Transcendentalism, a philosophical movement of the 19th century, emphasized the inherent goodness of people and nature, as well as the importance of individual intuition and experience. Transcendentalists like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau encouraged a sense of wonder about the natural world and the interconnectedness of all things.

  • Eastern Philosophies (Buddhism and Taoism): Eastern philosophies like Buddhism and Taoism emphasize the interconnectedness of all things and the importance of love, compassion, and wonder. Buddhism, for example, encourages loving-kindness (metta) and compassion (karuna) as central virtues.

  • Aesthetics: As a branch of philosophy, it (Aesthetics) explores questions related to beauty, art, and appreciation. Philosophers like Immanuel Kant delved into the wonder and subjective experience of beauty, and their ideas intersect with the Lover archetype's appreciation for the beautiful and the sublime.

Characters channelling archetype in rasa

  • New lover: In Baz Luhrmann's 1996 adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, the love between the two are portrayed as youthful and impulsive lovers. Their love transcends social boundaries and familial conflicts, emphasizing the depth of their emotional connection, which is a central aspect of the Lover archetype. Luhrmann's decision to set the story in a contemporary, urban backdrop adds a sense of freshness and wonder to the classic tale. The juxtaposition of Shakespearean language with modern visuals and technology creates a unique and extraordinary atmosphere. The film also explores the theme of fate, which plays a significant role in the lovers' tragic destiny.

  • Innocent lover: Edward Scissorhands demonstrates an extraordinary ability to create intricate and beautiful sculptures with his scissorhands, which  reflects his passion for art and beauty. His artistic talents contribute to the sense of wonder in the film, as they showcase his unique perspective on the world. He also forms a deep connection with Kim another main character in the story; his love for her is genuine and unwavering. Like many Lover archetype characters, Edward's story has a tragic dimension. His inability to fully integrate into society and his sense of alienation contribute to the bittersweet nature of the character.

  • Perpetual optimist: Amélie is a whimsical and introverted character who finds wonder in the small pleasures of life. Her acts of kindness and her ability to see the extraordinary in the ordinary are central to her character as a Lover archetype.

  • Hopeless romantic: WALL-E is a sentient robot left to clean up a post-apocalyptic Earth. He discovers wonder in the artifacts of human civilization and in the form of a plant. His longing for companionship and connection with EVE adds depth to his character.

  • Genius lover: 

    • Lionel Wendt: Photographer, pianist, filmmaker and critic from Sri Lanka. The photography of Lionel Wendt is heavy with moods and tends to induce visual poetry or music in viewers. Looking into Lionel’s history, this is not surprising. Being a brilliant pianist trained at the Royal Academy, Wendt’s musicality undoubtedly penetrated his photographic works. With his mastery in light and shade and against the backdrop of the 43 Group that led the modernist movement in Sri Lankan arts, Lionel always seemed to capture the serene opulence of this island in a way only someone deeply in love with this world could. We see it in many of Lionel’s works with perfect metrics of shimmering waters or glistening skins, elegant distributions of black and white or halftone gold that he masterfully captured.

    • Matty Matheson: Chef, TV personality, and restauranteur is the zealous Lover that doesn't hold back in what he does. Matheson has an interesting duality between both Lover and Humorist archetypes. However, the Lover in him is very much what fuels the humour of his shows; because Matheson is so into his food that it becomes funny to watch him pour pounds of butter and all other kinds of delicious goodness into his food, along with an obvious love for culinary crafting. Fantastic food seems to be his love language and what underpins his genius. His delivery is often a mix of hāsyam rasa (humour) and adbūtam (wonder).

    • Leonardo da Vinci was a Renaissance polymath known for his extraordinary talents in art, science, and invention. His deep fascination with the natural world, his artistic creations like the "Mona Lisa" and "The Last Supper," and his innovative designs for flying machines and other inventions reflect a sense of wonder and boundless curiosity.

  • The merciful prophet: Prophets often exhibited deep spiritual love, devotion, and awe for the divine, as well as a profound sense of wonder about the mysteries of existence. Their teachings often emphasized love, compassion, and a deep connection to God. In most religious traditions, the prophets exhibited qualities of the Lover archetype, including love, devotion, and a sense of wonder about the divine and the mysteries of existence. Anandamayī is a perfect example of the merciful Lover prophet.

Channelling the archetype in rasa for business

  • Poetry in commercial stories; Poetry maps a story that can only be felt rather than be ‘understood’ through information. Some businesses use poetry to convey subtleties like value and desirability. The sari store Rithihi and fashion brand The Summer House.

  • Emotional Resonance: Coca-Cola's "Share a Coke" campaign used the Lover archetype by featuring personalized Coke bottles with people's names. The emotional connection of sharing a Coke with a loved one was a central theme, creating strong emotional resonance.

  • Storytelling: The "Love Has No Labels" campaign by Ad Council featured a kiss cam at an NFL game, showcasing diverse couples and families sharing kisses. This campaign told a powerful story about love's inclusivity and acceptance.

  • Loyalty: Apple's annual holiday commercials often feature heartwarming stories of families and friends coming together during the holiday season. These ads reinforce brand loyalty by associating Apple products with emotional moments.

  • Sensory appeal: Perfume and fragrance advertisements often rely on the Lover archetype, using sensual imagery, music, and visual aesthetics to evoke desire and emotional connections with the product.

  • Self love: Dove's now iconic "Real Beauty" campaign aimed to humanize their business by celebrating natural beauty and encouraging self-love. It featured real women and their personal stories, promoting a sense of authenticity.

  • Emotional connection: Airbnb's "We Are Here" campaign focused on authentic travel experiences and emotional connections between hosts and guests. The campaign emphasized genuine interactions and relationships forged through travel. Identifying audience emotions and understanding them is key to succeeding here. With Pepsi we find this classic example of an ad that went catastrophically wrong in its story message. This story suffered severe backlash because it completely misplaced the emotion behind the sentiment its audience had. 

  • Intimate messaging: Jewelry and luxury fashion brands often tailor their Lover archetype-based messages differently for couples planning to get engaged (romantic love) and for families celebrating special occasions (love within a family).

  • Cultural differences: In global campaigns, brands must consider cultural differences in the expression of love and affection. What is considered romantic or appropriate can vary widely across cultures, so messaging needs to be culturally sensitive. See how the failure to incorporate cultural differences in expressing the Lover’s vision fell short of communicating the message in this attempt by a young protestor in Sri Lanka to hand a flower to a police officer. A red rose is an unusual symbol to South Asian culture to identify with friendship or universal love, where it’s a symbol of, specifically, romantic love. A cup of tea or the mango symbolizes friendship in South Asia.


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