Archive for November, 2009

What Can Miss Gay America Teach Us About Authenticity?

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009


I just watched the fascinating and beautiful documentary Pageant which follows several female impersonators on their quests for glory in the Miss Gay America competition. These gay men transform into stunningly beautiful women, and perform choreographed dances and songs that make Miss America look like a 5th grade talent show.

One thing that struck me in relation to the themes of this blog was that many of the competitors spoke about the importance of “being yourself,” i.e. authentic. Fascinatingly, many of these men have felt from a young age that part of their authentic expression in the world was to impersonate the opposite sex. If impersonating a different sex is authentic, than what is meant by authenticity? (more…)

Overdosing on Awesome

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Overdose of Yellow

I know what you are thinking, “those pain medications are really getting to his head.” Unfortunately I’m not talking about narcotic pain medication in the title.  I was going over some (un)conscious marketing blogs today, and I started noticing a theme in the rhetoric of the authors. Almost each and every one of them rants and raves about how everything is “awesome.” When rhetorically analyzing a text, it is important to explore what words the text uses, and how those words contribute directly to the text’s persuasiveness.  It didn’t take long for me to build an initial hypothesis about how and why such a flood of “awesome” positivity exists in this subculture: it’s all in the hype. (more…)

The Hollow Sink of Push-Button Enlightenment

Friday, November 13th, 2009

push for enlightenment

Due to a cease and desist letter sent from Bill Harris’s lawyer, I have edited this article on 12/22/2009 to be more clear regarding facts vs. opinions. Thanks for the feedback, Bill! (Although maybe next time a friendly email would be the best way to initially communicate your feedback.) UPDATE 12/28/2009: I actually haven’t received a cease and desist letter. I was confused and thought Harris’ email was a C&S letter, but then I heard from several people that such letters are delivered by certified mail or courier, and haven’t received anything in the mail or from a courier from Mr. Harris or his lawyer. UPDATE 12/29/2009: Harris has since emailed his C&D letter to me, which you can read here.

Bill Harris—star of popular New Age infomercial The Secret and former marketing partner of James Arthur Ray—is founder and CEO of the (in my opinion) manipulative marketing organization called Centerpointe Research Institute. His main product is the “Holosync” binaural beat meditation CDs, which I find very expensive compared to competitors products, and less effective as well.

While the name “Centerpointe Research Institute” makes it sound like this is a non-profit think tank, this organization is simply a for-profit business. Part of the “research” apparently includes that co-branding with killer gurus is good for business—at least until people die, at which point it’s most profitable to pretend like it never happened. Or at least that’s how it appears to me, given that Harris used to market products with James Arthur Ray, but since the “death lodge” incident of November 10th, 2009, Ray’s testimonial has disappeared from Holosync’s web page. But perhaps Bill Harris didn’t know Ray’s character, or perhaps no one could have predicted such an awful turn of events. But why not? Why did we all not see the signs? (more…)

Social Media Marketing Manifestos and Percocet

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009


With everyone and their dog out writing “revolutionary” manifestos, I thought I would throw something together for the social media crowd.  It is my hope that social media addicts will save some cash on those spendy membership sites that teach you how to turn twitter into some sort of money tree and instead read my manifesto (also I have oceanfront property in the Mojave desert for sale).  Seeing as I’m currently tripping on Percocet as a result of my wisdom teeth getting yanked out,  this post could be divinely inspired and I could be enlightened. Or something. (more…)

Synthesization of Money and Mind

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009


It has now been nearly three weeks since James Arthur Ray reached the rank of level 60 cult leader after his “spiritual warrior” sweat lodge ceremony left three of his followers dead.  McDuffee wrote two excellent posts following the incident,  him and Theo have since gone on to face Ray personally at his event in Denver a few weeks ago, and was quoted in the New York Times in the process. Nevertheless these events have brought to the forefront the potential damaging consequences of the super-star personal development guru all over again.  This incident has caused many people to think about the persuasive processes utilized and technologies of the self that James Arthur Ray and other guru’s have so consistently offered to the masses.

There are a wide variety of assumptions that come into play when individuals find themselves involved in personal development.  They must trust that the guru knows what they are talking about, that they have their best intentions at heart, aren’t going to walk off the stage after five minutes of talking and so on.  However, the most pivotal and important assumption is the belief that understanding how technologies of the self-function translates directly into the ability to effectively use them in the world. This is where I split from most of the personal development paradigm.  I think that technologies of the self must be synthesized by the self in a subjective manner. (more…)