Two of my main interests in life are graffiti, and the practice of ceremonial magic. It wasn?t long after I started stumbling my way into magic that I started to notice similarities, and parallels between the acts of carrying out ceremonial magic, and going out and doing graffiti.
Both are self-initiatory processes that transmute how we consciously interact with the world around us. When one picks up the bulky marker, or can of paint, and sets it against the drollness of modern homogenized landscapes, something changes in the mind of the implementer. Suddenly the world becomes a much more fantastic place. Seemingly bland urban landscapes become the playground of a hidden illicit art world. Everything becomes vast, and inspiring, while at the same time personalized. Blurred lines scrawled clandestinely all over the place become sigil gateways into a hidden, yet omnipresent world. Yet experience shows us that the drive towards the rapture of the fantastic belongs at our disposal, and in our individual control. Like magic, graffiti is all around us, but both are hardly noticed by those not involved with either. It already is a form of the occult in the literal sense?hidden knowledge?its experience and understanding available only to the initiated.
The Church of Scientology, the religion for which actor Tom Cruise crusades, will attempt to spread its “Ignite Your Potential” message into auto racing through sponsorship of a race car in one of NASCAR’s lowest levels.
From Scientific American columnist Michael Shermer:
The “over and over” part is the key to understanding the “why” of what investigative journalist Steve Salerno calls the Self-Help and Actualization Movement (SHAM). In his recent book Sham: How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless (Crown Publishing Group, 2005), he explains how the talks and tapes offer a momentary boost of inspiration that fades after a few weeks, turning buyers into repeat customers. While Salerno was a self-help book editor for Rodale Press (whose motto at the time was “to show people how they can use the power of their bodies and minds to make their lives better”), extensive market surveys revealed that “the most likely customer for a book on any given topic was someone who had bought a similar book within the preceding eighteen months.” The irony of “the eighteen-month rule” for this genre, Salerno says, is this: “If what we sold worked, one would expect lives to improve. One would not expect people to need further help from us–at least not in that same problem area, and certainly not time and time again.”
Surrounding SHAM is a bulletproof shield: if your life does not get better, it is your fault–your thoughts were not positive enough. The solution? More of the same self-help–or at least the same message repackaged into new products. Consider the multiple permutations of John Gray’s Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus–Mars and Venus Together Forever, Mars and Venus in the Bedroom, The Mars and Venus Diet and Exercise Solution–not to mention the Mars and Venus board game, Broadway play and Club Med getaway.
Lucifer Benway has posted a manifesto for EsoTech:
EsoTech makes its aim not only better magic!al hardware but also powerful means of customizing the software built into a magic!al machine. At the heart of EsoTech is the development of new technologies for magic!. It is easy enough to view objects like the Dream Machine, the Wishing Machine or the Time Machine as so many metaphorical whimsies, its another to actually grok their application … These items all epitomize the spirit of EsoTech. They build on the basic aims and techniques of magic! (meditation, unity of desire and time control) while exploring them thru unconventional, creative and downright bizarre means. If yr contribution to EsoTech doesn?t make people wonder if yr a bit mad, you aren?t doing it right.
This is the most detailed description of the commercial I could find online. I recall once finding a more detailed description, without commentary, but I can’t find it now. It may actually have been in a book about Nike, not online.
In the first scene of the ad, a child wearing Nikes and playing basketball with friends runs over to a tiny hand-held television sitting on the ground and turns it on. Burroughs appears on the screen saying, “hey, I’m talking to you,” while the boy runs off. This scene emphasizes most of the major themes of the commercial. Burroughs appears on a TV on the TV and is thus contained by technology. The commercial’s repeated refrain–“the purpose of technology is not to confuse the brain but to serve the body”–highlights a conflict between mastering and serving technology, and Burroughs is clearly the subject rather than master of technology. The boy, however, who turns on the diminutive TV, small enough to be easily be handled by child, is in control of technology and thereby of Burroughs as well. Furthermore, the child runs off, back to his sports despite Burroughs’ command, showing contempt for the older generation and particularly for its failure to master technology in relation to sports.
Burroughs then continues to appear on TV screens throughout the commercial’s series of quick-cut images of young athletes and of high-tech computer graphics of Nike designs. The athletes themselves are portrayed primarily as body parts, intensifying the focus on humans as athletic machines, or on TVs which shake when they appear on the screen, again emphasizing that technology can’t contain or control the young and powerful. The TV screens containing Burroughs are either shown in a stack (stable and unshaking, unlike those containing the youthful athletes) or placed on the playing fields, in which case they are doused with dirt as a baseball player slides into second base, swept off the street by a hockey stick, tossed aside with sand as a longjumper lands, splashed and shorted out by water as a jogger runs through a puddle. This re-emphasizes contempt for the older generation and shows that it’s the strength, athletic limit-breaking, and mastery of new technology (i.e., the computer-designed Nike shoes) that sets the young above the old. This then identifies the next major theme of the commercial: both Burroughs and the athletes are rebels. Burroughs’ narration admiringly speaks of the ability “to make anything possible” and to do “more that what was done [or] thought possible…put the beyond within reach.” So the mastery of technology (again, Nike shoes) has made the young into limit breakers that previous generations of rebels may admire but cannot themselves equal.
Burroughs’ admiration throughout the abuse and contempt he receives comes off sounding obsequious. In the final scene of the commercial, after the static caused by the runner disappears, Burroughs takes off his hat and bows his head in an image both of obeisance and emphasized baldness, age, and fragility.