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The magic of advertising or the commercialization of magic?

Friday, May 17th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — beer and cars, cars, cars, is that all there is to life? — never mind — fourth in my magic and commercials series, links to earlier entries at end of post ]
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There are some commercials that imply — or come pretty close to admitting — that magic of one sort of another is what tbhey’re up to:

This Dos Equis ad, for instanxce, features a state magician, and we are left with the impression the beer may somehow be the power behind nhis feats of illusion —

*

— and the fact that “his beard alone has experienced more than a lesser man’s entire body”..

**

There’s so-called “magical thinking” in this commercial by Mercedes-Benz. But this isn’t at allm original, in fact it’s a positively hubristic borrowing: when God does this in the first chapter of Genesis, it’s called “creation”.

**

There’s a well-known trope in state magic we can call “Behind the curtain” — since it’s echoes in a take-down of the creator-God — and seeming miracles — in The Wizard of Oz:

And for your extended pleasure, here are two alternates:

  • distinguished gentleman disguised as a race-car driver
  • Espresso — guess it only works on cars
  • **

    And perhaps best of all there’s what I’ll call “he Gandalf blind-man” — blindness is noit of the essence here, the essence is knowinjg the contours of the world at a level beyond that of mordinary knowing

    — one might equally call this “the Dumbledore blind-man”, though in a contest of wills, UI’d back Gandalf over Dumbledore — and its archetypal essence is to be found in Merlin, court mage to King Arthur, now lost in the mists of Avalon..

    **

    Earlier in this seriesz

    :

  • Advertising series 01: Music
  • Eros, the Renaissance and advertising
  • Authentic, spiritual magic!
  • In my next, I’ll return to authentic magic..

    Jackass and catfish, catfish and gourd

    Friday, February 1st, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — an almost-Darwin-Award-worthy foolishness, coupled with a masterpiece of Zen art — just the sort of post I’d love to post, for my own sake, even if no-one else is listening ]
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    Unbelievable!

    That’s a serious journal article about a seriously un-serious drunking game.. And if you can’t read the fine print, not to worry — the two top articles below will brief you nicely..

    Readings:

  • Atlantic, This Is What Happens When You Drunkenly Swallow a Live Catfish
  • LiveScience, A Drunk Man Swallowed a Live, Venomous, Spiny Catfish.

  • Acta Oto-Laryngologica Case Reports, A Jackass and a Catfish
  • **

    By way of contrast:

    Here’s what the book’s about:

    Zen art poses a conundrum. On the one hand, Zen Buddhism emphasizes the concept of emptiness, which among other things asserts that form is empty, that all phenomena in the world are illusory. On the other hand, a prodigious amount of artwork has been created in association with Zen thought and practice. A wide range of media, genres, expressive modes, and strategies of representation have been embraced to convey the idea of emptiness. Form has been used to express the essence of formlessness, and in Japan, this gave rise to a remarkable, highly diverse array of artworks and a tradition of self-negating art.

    In this volume, Yukio Lippit explores the painting The Gourd and the Catfish (ca. 1413), widely considered one of the most iconic works of Japanese Zen art today. Its subject matter appears straightforward enough: a man standing on a bank holds a gourd in both hands, attempting to capture or pin down the catfish swimming in the stream below. This is an impossible task, a nonsensical act underscored by the awkwardness with which the figure struggles even to hold his gourd. But this impossibility is precisely the point.

    Read or view:

  • Getty Research, Japanese Zen Buddhism and the Impossible Painting
  • Getty YouTube lecture, Japanese Zen Buddhism and the Impossible Painting
  • **

    On the zen of swallowing, or not:

    In Zen work, an existential contradiction, Mumon’s “red hot coal,” sticks in the student’s throat; the inability “to swallow it or spit it out” precipitates a crisis to be resolved through an insight that is simultaneously an existential gesture. “If I am whole and complete as I am, why do I feel ignorant and incomplete?” might be one formulation of the conundrum, though encoded in a ritual question like “What is the sound of one hand?” The greater the contradiction, the greater the tension — ”doubt mass” — and the greater the breakthrough, according to Zen tradition.

    Source:

  • Tricycle, Fruitful Contradictions: The Zen of mathematics
  • Pistol, crucifix, condom

    Friday, May 12th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — covering all bases? — an astonishing display of symbols ]
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    Lists of three — sex, drugs and rock’n’roll for example, or wine, women and song, as we used to say — sex, lies and videotape — can usefully itemize / totemize the whole of life as it is lived — a jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou beside me — at the individual, general, universal or transcendent level — when two or three are gathered in my name

    But this image, from a Ukrainian law enforcement advisor’s Instagram account beats all!

    Hat tip: Christopher Miller

    Pistol, crucifix, condom
    — I was wondering whether one could play scissors, paper, rock with those symbols, but..

    **

    Coleridge characterizes symbols thus:

    A symbol is characterized… above all by the translucence of the Eternal through and in the Temporal. It always partakes of the Reality which it Renders Intelligible; and while it enunciates the whole, abides itself as a living part in that Unity of which it is representative.

    At night, to be honest, a pistol, a condom an a crucifix might each be placed on the bedside table of someone in law enforcement as a matter of convenience, with no great symbolic import attached. But they are each nonetheless highly symbolic items. And the greater the degree to which these three items, when considered as symbols, are “translucent” to the individual resder here, the more astonishing their juztaposition in this image will appear.

    JM Berger swiftly doubletweets Seamus Hughes

    Friday, March 4th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — coffee on the rocks with blarney ]
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    Seamus Hughes tweets:

    to which JM responds, rapidfire:

    **

    For the record, that’s not just idle Twitter, that’s actionable intelligence:

    Encryption, the mind and voice

    Monday, February 29th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — paging birds and fishes, Chuang Tzu and Wm Blake ]
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    Dwight Furrow, Wine Tasting and Objectivity:

    The question is whether flavors are “in the wine” or “in the mind”. On the one hand, there are objectively measurable chemical compounds in wine that reliably affect our taste and olfactory mechanisms—pyrazines cause bell pepper aromas in Cabernet Sauvignon, malic acid explains apple aromas in Chardonnay, tannins cause a puckering response, etc. But we know that human beings differ quite substantially in how they perceive wine flavors. Even trained and experienced wine critics disagree about what they are tasting and how to evaluate wine. This disagreement among experts leads many to claim that wine tasting is therefore purely subjective, just a matter of individual opinion. According to subjectivism, each person’s response is utterly unique and there is no reason to think that when I taste something, someone else ought to taste the same thing. Statements about wine flavor are statements about one’s subjective states, not about the wine. Thus, there are no standards for evaluating wine quality.

    **

    Is each mind inherently closed to every other, much as the bird’s mind is closed to ours in Blake‘s aphorism —

    How do you know but every bird that cuts the airy way, is an immense world of delight, closed by your senses five?

    — albeit not always so joyful?

    In more contemporary terms — Is there encryption of the mind?

    **

    I ask this in light of the DoubleQuote I posted a few days ago comparing Hesse and Hitchcock in terms of their metaphoric uses of “organ” — in, I hasten to add, the Bach sense of the word:

    SPEC-Hesse-Hitchcock-organs sm

    Here’s what I’m thinking. Hesse’s game influences the mind, as does art, but it is non-invasive; Hitchcock applauds the potential for art to move in a more invasive direction, as if by force rather than by enticement.

    “”

    Humans — or at least the philosophers and philosopher tagalongs among them — can’t even tell if what one human sees as “red” is what another sees as “red” — let alone what a given Burgundy tastes like on another’s palate.

    If this means, more generally, that minds are effectively encrypted by virtue of their differences in wiring acquired with parentage, age and experience, then our communications media -– language, the arts, literature, number — would appear to be the available decryption keys, selectively available to the minds in question.

    **

    Chuang-Tsu has this tale to tell:

    Men claim that Mao-ch’iang and Lady Li were beautiful, but if fish saw them they would dive to the bottom of the stream, if birds saw them they would fly away, and if deer saw them they would break into a run. Of these four, which knows how to fix the standard of beauty for the world?

    And this..

    Chuang Tzu and Hui Tzu were strolling along the dam of the Hao River when Chuang Tzu said, “See how the minnows come out and dart around where they please! That’s what fish really enjoy!”

    Hui Tzu said, “You’re not a fish – how do you know what fish enjoy?”

    Chuang Tzu said, “You’re not I, so how do you know I don’t know what fish enjoy?”

    Hui Tzu said, “I’m not you, so I certainly don’t know what you know. On the other hand, you’re certainly not a fish – so that still proves you don’t know what fish enjoy!”

    Chuang Tzu said, “Let’s go back to your original question, please. You asked me how I know what fish enjoy – so you already knew I knew it when you asked the question. I know it by standing here beside the Hao.”

    **

    Chuang Tzu said, “You’re not I, so how do you know I don’t know what fish enjoy?”

    Blake said, “How do you know but every bird that cuts the airy way, is an immense world of delight, closed by your senses five?”


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