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The Magic in Advertising series — rhyming, twinning, pattern recognition

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — the ability to recognize similarities across wide conceptual or memory distances is what Cindy Storer calls “magic” in analytic practice — here we examine it in terms of advertising ]
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You could almost learn how to write poetry by watching the commercials on TV — or learn a bit more about how the ads themselves work.. come have some fun.

Consider rhyme for a moment. There’s a rhyme between the car that’s too small for comfort and the shoe that’s too tight to fit in this ad, and there’s an analogy between the larger, more comfortable — luxurious, even — car and the wide and comfortable — “like a luxury ride for my feet” — Skechers wide fit shoes that the ad is all about:

The rhyme here between today’s American fisherman and his Irish fisherman ancestor is stunning — and plausible. This, after all, is genetics, which is often said to rhyme from one generation to another:

And even when the analogy between an image and the product it’s supposed to resemble (“rhyme with”) is weak, making a successful rhyme between two such images is a delight in itself, and makes the weak rhyme seem plausible. Here, a two-thirds shaved dog rhymes with a two-thirds mowed lawn:

Allstate piles the rhymes on — drawing on powerful similarities between widely different parts of the country — in its brilliant Park Road / Street / Avenue commercial:

Here’s a beautiful rhyme between cement and sand — it’s not so great to find you’ve stepped unexpectedly in wet cement — but what a delight to feel sand on the beach between your toes!

Look, Exxon wants to make it’s industrial plants more closely resemble living, breathing, green plants: it’s not a bad idea, laudable really — but the rhyme is a bit of a stretch, eh?

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One form of rhyme that’s worth noting falls under the heading of Opposites:

In this case, the equation would be something like blue plus red equals unbiased. I haven’t checked the product, but the math is clean, and the divide the ad bridges is very real and quite perilous for democracy:

So opposites can be powerful. But it’s worth considering, too, the mind-numbing effect of seeing opposing commercials:

That’s not the kind of opposition you want if you’re Roundup, but exactly the kind of opposition you seek if you’re the legal opposition!

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Rhyming — twinning — as it’s dreamed up in the creative agencies of Madison Avenue, and no doubt Madison Wisconsin too, requires horizontal, associative thinking — thinking based on pattern recognition, thinking that makes creative leaps where similarities can be found in the midst of difference. Metaphors and analogies are woven of the same kind of thinking, rhyme in poetry, graphic match or match cut in enema, canon and fugue in music — and it’s the type of thinking my HipBone Games are designed to teach and practice, until they’re strong reflexes in your intellectual arsenal.

When readers or movie-goers, or just people watching commercials on TV, recognize patterns or rhymes — shaving a dog, then mowing a lawn, okay — it may elicit a chuckle the first time you see the ad, but you’re not sitting there to learn about dogs or lawns, or even Flonase unless you happen to need that kind of medicine. No, you’re there to see the next installment of the movie you’re watching, the next entertainment — which was almost certainly put together with less cash and care per minute or per frame than the commercials that slip into your mind almost subcutaneously.

And analogy — this type of analogical thinking — works. Analogy is the very heart of magic:

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Do you have time for another example?

Here we have analogy across time, as we did in the case of the Donegal fisherman, but this time woven into the telling of a very simple short story: he wants a Heineken, looks in the fridge, no luck, goes out onto the street, flags down a cab, takes a short ride, steps down from his Hackney Carriage about a century earlier, and gets the Heineken he was looking for. Plus ça change!

The Heineken’s the same — the six-pack at the end is the essence of difference!

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Previous episodes in the same series:

Advertising series 01: Music
Eros, the Renaissance and advertising
Authentic, spiritual magic!
The magic of advertising or the commercialization of magic?
Here’s magic!
The magic of miniatures

I imagine there will eventually be about twenty posts in the series..

Three is a general purpose interest of embodied minds

Friday, April 5th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — threes in knotting, braiding, math and bell ringing — in service to governance, and the recognition of pattern within complexity ]
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One is one and all alone and ever more shall be so..
Two is both duel and duet..
and three:

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Well, those are knots, of the Celtic variety. I cam across those images because Tony Judge pointed me to the animations in a piece he’d written, Exploring Representation of the Tao in 3D: Virtual reality clues to reconciling radical differences, global and otherwise?

which gets me thinking about thinking in threes —

— which has been an interest of mine for some time, see below —

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And as is always the case with Judge‘s offerings, a plethora of his links called to me, and I wound up taking a look at his paper, Governance as “juggling” — Juggling as “governance”: Dynamics of braiding incommensurable insights for sustainable governance

— incommensurable insights is another topic of considerable interest to me —

— and that in turn brought me to this illustration of two instances of triple thinking about incommensurables from Australia — a triple helix and braiding:

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Which brings us in turn to Borromean Rings and Knots:

Now the question to consider with each and all of these illustrations of threeness is whether they trigger any thoughts about the juggling and hopefully braiding and balancing of incommensurable forces in governance.. okay?

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You’ll have noted that the braiding illustration from the Australian double illustration above is a representation of a juggling pattern. Wikimedia has dozens of such patterns with various numbers of balls, heights to which they are lobbed, &c, — and they’re fascinatingly eye-catching — mesmerizing, in fact.

Take a look at just three of them:

Juggling trick 3b box3BallBurkesBarrage3-ball Mills mess

Selection of animations of 3-ball juggling patterns by one juggler
(derived from juggling patterns in Wikipedia)

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I mean:

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Wow, and okay:

Now if a pattern of juggling can be represented as a pattern of braiding, we have a comparable situation to Ada Countess of Lovelace‘s brilliant cross-disciplinary leap of insight that the logical patterns Charles Babbage used to program for his proto-computing Analytical Engine could be represented in the punched cards used by Jacquard looms in the production of patterned fabrics:

  • James Essinger, Jacquard’s Web
  • **

    Am I — is Tony Judge — are we — out on a limb?

    Judge offers documentation of the mathematical side of things here:

    As indicated by Burkard Polster (The Mathematics of Juggling [excerpt], Monash University, 2003), the diagram above-right shows what the trajectories of juggling the basic 3-ball pattern look like (viewed from above). The three trajectories form the most basic braid. Braids are recognized as important mathematical objects. It has been shown that every braid can be juggled in that sense (Polster, 2003; Matthew Macauley, Braids and Juggling Patterns, 2003; Satyan Devadoss and John Mugno, Juggling braids and links, The Mathematical Intelligencer, 29, 2007). The implications have been further discussed separately (Potential cognitive implications of toroidal helical movement, 2016; Category juggling reframed through visualization dynamics, 2016).

    And again, let’s remember Tony Judge‘s reason for his interest in juggling and braiding in the first place:

    “juggling” is widely used as a metaphor to describe the challenge of responding to conflicting priorities in governance

    Judge has eighteen bibliographic supports for that assertion, including:

  • Trump Forced to Juggle Syria Response, Rage Over Mueller Probe (WSJ, 13 April 2018)
  • Trump juggling 75 pending lawsuits with a presidential campaign (CNBC, 27 October 2016)
  • The art of juggling political values and Trump (WaPo, 13 April 2018)
  • **

    Noting the correspondence between juggling — a circus-performer’s art — and braiding — not quite knitting, not quite knotting, and don’t those two words fit well together — an art associated with the decoration of hair and ribbons — I wondered whether there might not be a musical analog in counterpoint, and posted my inquiry on Twitter using this diagram of braiding:

    **

    I was fortunate: Change-ringing, surely very speedily responded to my inquiry:

    Change-ringing, surely

    The art of change-ringing in British churches and among hand-bell ringers is indeed the classic example of highly constrained and patterned musical counterpoint, so I happily Googled away in search of a change-ringing pattern comparable to my braiding patternc[left side, below], and came across the pattern [right side] in a page on the Cambridge Surprise Minor changes:

    Just Knecht, too, had some interesting observations & questions..

    **

    Metaphor, analogy, parallelism — these are avenues into the creative process in general, and threeness analogies and metaphors interrupt our usual binary cognitive processing in a way that enhances our capacity to comprehend complexity.

    I’m therefore offering this post to Ali Minai and Mike Sellers, in the hope that it will serve as a provocation to their already advanced thinking about systems dynamics. Tony Judge, obviously enough, it’s also a tribute to you…

    Previous posts of mine with threeness as a topic include

  • Of games III: Rock, Paper, Tank
  • Numbers by the numbers: three / pt 1
  • Spectacularly non-obvious, I: Elkus on strategy & games
  • Spectacularly non-obvious, 2: threeness games
  • Numbers by the numbers: three .. in Congress
  • Spectacular illustration of a game of three
  • Threeness games — some back-up materials
  • A Dystopian Trilogy Worth Your Time

    Sunday, July 15th, 2018

    [by J. Scott Shipman]

    Wool, by Hugh Howey

    Shift, by Hugh Howey

    Dust, by Hugh Howey

    Friends, In 2013 I read Hugh Howey’s Wool after reading an article in the Wall Street Journal. Howey’s is a cinderella story; he wrote his novel in installments at his blog, and his story, Wool was picked up by a publisher. The response was so overwhelming, Howey wrote Shift, which is a very good prequel and Dust picks up the story to the conclusion.

    I gave away my paper copy of Wool  a couple years ago, but was pleased to see a graphic novel of the same title by Jimmy Palmiotti (Author), Justin Gray (Author), Hugh Howey (Author), Jimmy Broxton (Illustrator), Darwyn Cooke (Illustrator). The graphic novel filled in the gaps of my memory and helped visualize Howey’s imaginative and frightening new world below ground.

    This trilogy is summer reading at its best. Story has duplicitous politicians, brave idealists and truly clever on-the-fly tactics—and a bit of not-too-syrupy true love. Howey is a gifted storyteller and weaves a credible yarn of a future where humanity is consigned to silos buried within the earth and surrounded by a poisonous atmosphere.

    Strong recommendation!

     

     

    If our toes were our fingers, if Pyongyang was Tehran

    Sunday, June 17th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — metaphors, mathematics, and a question for you all ]
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    There’s a toe ointment ad for Kerasil that begins:

    If our toes were our fingers, everyone would instantly notice the difference..

    — accompanied by various shortt clips of feet serving various functions of hands, see above.

    I’ll talk about fingers and toes, okay, if you’ll tell me about Pyongyang and Tehran, deal?

    **

    This is the first ad — or for that matter, mass media mention — I’ve seen of the hands / feet comparison, and that’s significant in itself because, along with day / night, sun / moon, fingers / toes must be one of the earlier comparisons on which we base all future comparisons / parallelisms / oppositions, and thus analogies, and by extension, metaphors.

    Fingers and toes, then, are an early matrix for us, but that matrix gets abstracted into the decimal counting system, no small matter in our culture and many others. And from decimals we can go to the Dewey Decimal System used in, Wiki informs us, 200,000 libraries in at least 135 countries — and that’s just one of the branches of the tree whose roots are in fingers and toes — our fingers and toes, not the toes of a three-toed sloth or woodpecker…

    And of course, the day / night, sun / moon and other dual contrasts arguably derive some of their power from the duality hands / feet, which also gives us left / right, sinister / right, right / wrong and the entire range of moral judgments, based on the two sides of the body and extrapolated from there. We seldom think of these things, unless perhaps in early education, but as Jung and others have noted, they hold great significance for psychology and cultural anthropology.


    image: the Nassau County Mathletes

    Using decimals, we can represent irrational numbers — impossible to represent as fractions, pi and the square root of minus one foremost among them — a notion so disturbing tto the purist Pythagoreans that Tobias Dantzig, in Number: the Language of Science, quotes Proclus as saying:

    It is told that those who first brought out the irrationals from concealment into the open perished in shipwreck, to a man. For the unutterable and the formless must needs be concealed. And those who uncovered and touched this image of life were instantly destroyed and shall remain forever exposed to the play of the eternal waves.

    Irrational, or just plain crazy? And those waves — a metaphor for randomness, chaos, or for the universality (via Fourier transforms) of the sine wave?

    Oh. And when a zen master wants to set a student a problem that cannot be solved by our binarily inclined minds, he gives them the koan “what’s the sound of one hand clapping?”

    **

    Okay, that’s enough about about hands / feet — now let’s hear about the Pyongyang summit and the Iranian nuclear deal — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. I’m sure you have plenty of thoughts on the matter — your turn, please..

    Pardon me, hint hint

    Friday, April 13th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — in which an unforgivable lapse may nonetheless be forgiven? ]
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    Scooter scot free?

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    I believe this is called reading between the paragraphs. The piece begins:

    President Trump is expected to pardon Lewis “Scooter” Libby, according to a senior administration official, giving an olive branch to a George W. Bush administration staffer that the former president declined to grant.

    It is unclear why Trump is making the move, but the pardon has been under consideration for several months, two people familiar with the president’s thinking said.

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    Twelve paragraphs later, we read the closing para:

    John Dowd, a former Trump lawyer, floated pardons to former campaign manager Paul Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, The Washington Post has reported. Manafort has since been charged with more than a dozen offenses, while Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

    **

    Is that, perhaps, a hint of a reason — and an analogical one at that?


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