Seducing the subconscious

How magic can subvert advertising

Since reading Seducing the Subconscious, I've been thinking about advertisements. Over the years I've done my best to limit my exposure to advertisement, in large part because so much of it is banal, but also because I've always appreciated that underneath the banality what makes commercials effective is their ability to influence subconscious beliefs. Even with no cable, I still get exposure to some commercials. Whether its listening to the radio or seeing a billboard, or watching a commercial on hulu, while waiting for the next segment of a show it is near impossible to avoid advertising. I suspect the only way a person could would be to get rid of access to all media.

So what does the magician do to counteract advertising and its potential effect on the subconscious? One possibility can be seen above, where you subvert the message with a different one that attacks what is advertised. Clever use of photoshop or creating a collage can allow you to create your own "advertisement" that you can then spread on the internet. Or simply use it for yourself every time you feel the urge to get something.

Monitoring your thoughts and desires through meditation can also help you subvert advertising. If you get that sudden craving for a burger, ask yourself what's really motivating it. You might be surprised to realize that what motivates isn't your hunger, but advertisements you've seen. By being aware of those advertisements you can critically examine your desire and then choose to do something different.

You can also work with the corporate entity behind the advertisement or a character in it, although that route can be a bit more dangerous as the corporate entity sees no benefit in being subverted, and if anything wants to subvert you to its own desires, i.e. sustaining its life.

Another approach to take would be doing a banishing ritual that focused on banishing advertisements from your life and home. It might be something you do on a daily or weekly or monthly basis. The idea is that you do a banishing of any unwanted influences in your life. If there are particular companies you've lately shopped at and you normally wouldn't shop there, that could be a time to grab some of the advertising and incorporate into the banishing, with you destroying the advertising in some form or manner.

How would you subvert advertising?

Discourse and Self-Secret Language

I've just started reading The Six Yogas of Naropa and in the preface the editor makes a very interesting point about self-secret language. He notes that not every person that reads a book will get it, because even if s/he knows the words of the language, it doesn't mean s/he understands the message and meaning. He uses an example where a friend picked up a book and read a half page about emptiness and then admitted that although he knew all the words, he didn't understand what had been written.

The editor goes onto note  the following: "When one approaches self-secret literature in its own environment, allowing it to speak in its own words and to use its own metaphors and illustrations, a sense of the profound integrity of the language soon begins to dawn."

Reading that made me think of the word/concept Discourse. A discourse is a specialized use of language for a given discipline and generally its use is only understood by the practitioners of that discipline. Occultism has its discourse, and sub-discourses, but so does any discipline, religion, etc. out there. A technical writer, for example, has a specific that s/he engages in during the process of doing tech writing.

The point the editor makes about people not understanding something despite knowing the words is so true. I've experienced it when I've read books in disciplines I'm not very familiar with and I've seen other people struggle in a similar fashion. My mom, a devout Christian, once bought one of my books and tried to read it and admitted that even though she knew the words, she didn't get the underlying meaning and concepts. I think of this as the discourse protecting itself. After all discourse is also a social indicator as to whether or not you get the culture and ideology of a given discourse community.

You don't get the self-secret language until you can approach it on its own territory and that only begins to occur when you have experiences that allow you to integrate the concepts you've read into actual practices that you embody. Nothing is so esoteric that it cannot be understood, but what is required is a willingness to move past language into experience, so that when you actually do read a book, you have experiences that allow you to use the metaphors and illustrations of the self-secret language you are learning.

The value of any book is not the knowledge contained within it, or the words you read. It is the application of that knowledge to your life, which results in genuine learning and understanding of what you have read. Until that occurs the words are lifeless, etchings on a piece of parchment that can only come to life through your effort to write them in your soul through the embodiment of them in your life.

Book Review: Seducing the Subconscious by Robert Heath

This is an intriguing book that explores the emotional influence that occurs in advertising. The author makes a convincing argument that advertisements are not effective for influencing our consciousness, but are effective at influencing the subconscious. He provides case studies to illustrate his point, all of which are helpful in demonstrating that what really makes advertising powerful is the subconscious. I would've liked it if he'd focused on suggesting strategies and practices for resisting subconscious manipulation. He didn't offer too much in that direction, but this book is illuminating and can help you understand how advertising actually works.