Signs and Wonders

Posted by on March 24th, 2008 in activism, art, bio-hacking, environs

From Wikipedia:

A logo (Greek λογότυπος = logotypos) is a graphical element, (ideogram, symbol, emblem, icon, sign) that, together with its logotype (a uniquely set and arranged typeface) form a trademark or commercial brand. Typically, a logo’s design is for immediate recognition, inspiring trust, admiration, loyalty and an implied superiority.[1]brand, or economic entity, and its shapes, colors, fonts, and images usually are different from others in a similar market. Logos are also used to identify organizations and other non-commercial entities.

An upcoming article in April’s Journal of Consumer Research will present recent research from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the University of Waterloo, Canada that claims that exposure to images of corporate brands can effect how people think and work.

The team conducted an experiment in which 341 university students completed what they believed was a visual acuity task, during which either the Apple or IBM logo was flashed so quickly that they were unaware they had been exposed to the brand logo. The participants then completed a task designed to evaluate how creative they were, listing all of the uses for a brick that they could imagine beyond building a wall.

People who were exposed to the Apple logo generated significantly more unusual uses for the brick compared with those who were primed with the IBM logo, the researchers said. In addition, the unusual uses the Apple-primed participants generated were rated as more creative by independent judges.

“This is the first clear evidence that subliminal brand exposures can cause people to act in very specific ways,” said Gráinne Fitzsimons. “We’ve performed tests where we’ve offered people $100 to tell us what logo was being flashed on screen, and none of them could do it. But even this imperceptible exposure is enough to spark changes in behavior.”

Other than their defined brand personalities, the researchers argue there is not anything unusual about Apple and IBM that causes this effect. The team conducted a follow-up experiment using the Disney and E! Channel brands, and found that participants primed with the Disney Channel logo subsequently behaved much more honestly than those who saw the E! Channel logos.

The researchers are quick to point out how this could be applied to both the advertising end of things by concentrating more on product placement than direct ad bombardment but also on how consumers could turn around and use established corporate logos to their advantage.

“If you know you need to perform well on some task, say something athletic, you may want to surround yourself with images and brand logos that represent success in athletics,” Gráinne Fitzsimons said.

In essence using the complex informational structure of a corporate logo to assist in creating a mental state streamlined for whatever activity you’re engaged in.

Again from Wikipedia:

A sigil (pronounced /’sɪdʒ.ɪl/ or /’sɪg.ɪl/; pl. sigilia or sigils) is a symbol created for a specific magical purpose. A sigil is usually made up of a complex combination of several specific symbols or geometric figures each with a specific meaning or intent.

The term sigil derives from the Latin sigilum meaning “seal,” though it may also be related to the Hebrew סגולה (segulah meaning “word, action or item of spiritual effect”). The old Norse binding rune is an example of the idea. A sigil may have an abstract, pictorial or semi-abstract form.

Allow me my moment on the soapbox, please: Not all technologies for hacking and influencing the brain are brand new developments. Many of them have been around for a while under funny names; however as advertising becomes more of a science in and of itself, more and more of these old technologies with funny names are going to show back up as useful techniques for worldchanging under new names, and generally in the service of organizations that have a very clear image of what they want to world to be like.

Or, as Grant Morrison once said:

Because Coca-Cola have got the secret, these people know what we’re talking about here because what you do is you create a sigil, Coca-Cola is a sigil, the McDonalds ‘M’ is a sigil, these people are basically turning the world in to themselves using sigils. And if we don’t reverse that process and turn the world in to us using sigils, we’re going to be living in fucking McDonalds! Magic is accessible to everyone, the means of altering reality is accessible to everyone, and when everyone starts doing it we’re going to see our desire manifest on a gigantic scale.

Me? I think it’s pretty Grinder to try and find these technologies for mindhacking that are out there and available to everyone. It’s obvious that the PR firms and corporations who have yet to provide safe automobiles, cheap medicine and clean water much less jet packs and flying cars are using these tools — no matter what they call them.

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23 Responses to “Signs and Wonders”

  1. I’ve been subliminally exposing classmates of mine to various sigils, for weeks, now. I’m sure you, Kevin, saw my post on it.

    It’s a very complex process, require a focus and attention that most people don’t think they have, and the key is, the Absolute Key is that you Just Do It.

    Take your symbols your influences, your inputs, and your combinations of things, and you combine them in the way that means, to you, what you want it to mean, and you then get that to mean that to as many other people as possible.

    I think I’ll go have a Coke.

  2. Excellent post Kevin!

    So you’re basically saying that me not buying into spending big-dollars on some crappy Branded t-shirt isn’t going to immunize me from the affect of others that have, and are basically wandering around the streets as mobile-Sigils.

    Sounds then like the only workable preventable measure yet again involves HUDs… a filter program we can run to disarm to the Sigils before they reach our brain.

  3. Could you not just build your sigils on top of these icons, and then just paint over them? Using the power the icons already have but contorting them to different ends?

    This was an excellent post. It got me to start blogging again.

  4. Can I point out one thing though.

    When Morrison is talking about sigils he isn’t talking about influence or psychology he’s talking about MAGIC. Not technology so advanced it’s indistinguishable from from magic, but the Harry Potter variety.

    Not something any transhumanist should take seriously.

  5. @Liark:
    Why not?

    Grinding is the use of technology to alter one’s own body and mind. ‘Magic’ is a word for (among other things) various tools for consciousness change and development.

    Plus, there’s an awful lot of difference between ‘Harry Potter’ magic and Morrison’s toolkit… as a cursory look at the field would tell you.

  6. @Damien- Yep.

    @mik3y- Pretty much. The HUD isn’t a bad idea, but (and this may be my personal bias talking) I do figure the best way to deal with the constant subliminal bombardment that science is slowly verifying does have an effect on us is to is to fight fire with fire. Be that trying to hijack and recapitulate them as mecurialfuturist suggests or just making your own.

    @Liark- Morrison often talks a lot of crap, but what he usually is talking about is, in fact “sufficiently advanced technology”. (Or, to be frank, “sufficiently archaic technology”.) It can be confusing because there are a lot of people out there trying to sell you Harry Potter when they talk about Magic(k), but the fact of the matter is that wrapped up with all of the baggage that the term brings, there are a lot of techniques for self-hacking that can deliver real quantifiable results.

    It’s just a tricky field to navigate because for every person trying to sell you Harry Potter, there’s also someone peddling Bad Science as Magic.

    That said, I’ve been a fairly serious transhumanist and a practicing magician for many years and often the discussion of how ancient techniques of ecstasy and the psychological tricks of advertisers (for example) can be used to hack the mind, body, and environment seems to be more practical and on-topic than trying to figure out what our next steps will be once we’ve become a Kardashev III society in nanomachine bodies. At the very least, one train of inquiry does not at all rule out or impede the other.

    But I’m not here to peddle dogma or anything along those lines, I’m just here, like most folks, to find things that work.

    @Cat Vincent- That’s pretty much where I’m coming at this from.

  7. @mik3y – Oh! Alternatively we learn how to breed more Cayce Pollards.

  8. @Liark- It’s perhaps necessary to shift what you’re thinking, when you thinking “magic;” recognising that the majority of practicing magicians, today, don’t see these things as mutually exclusive. They are, in fact, different concepts and constructs by which to parse reality.

    The “Harry Potter Variety,” as you put it, is merely one take on magic, and one which, if you sit down and analyse the components, will bear the marks of neurolinguistic programing, psychological restructuring, and the attempts of cause and effect manipulation at a distance and/or via networks of causation not normally recognised or fully understood.

    Magic gets a bad rap, and it could be one of the best self-transformation tools a transhumanist could have in her or his arsenal. Sure it’s not for everyone, but it can give rise to any number of useful modes of thought.

  9. [...] Kevin’s post on Sigils got me thinking about Corporations and how they [...]

  10. Kevin, you make my brain hurt, in a good way.

  11. Damien

    I have to disagree.

    I know that some ‘magicians’ do practice magic which is essentially a sophisticated mental techniques like NLP.

    But I have read enough of Morrisons work/essays to know that he really believes he can change the universe by casting a spell. That’s impossible.

    Before I became an Athiest I was a Witch, I also studied chaos magick which is very sigil focused. So I understand where you are coming from, but appart from some basic mental techniques it is bogus.

    When you say,

    ‘attempts of cause and effect manipulation at a distance and/or via networks of causation not normally recognised or fully understood’

    You are describing Harry Potter magic. It’s just dressed up in grown up language so it doesn’t sound as silly.

  12. I already said that that was what I was describing.

    I’m sorry, but the notion of action-at-a distance is not one without precedent, and the idea that the articulation of words, phrases, or actions in the service of internally configuring the network that is the human mind to such a state as to be able to access previously inaccessible states is not unheard of, either.

    Posit, for instance, that belief and emotional content and symbolic association are input variables in a system of explanation that hasn’t been quantified. If this is the case, then a case can be made.

    But if you’re not willing to distance from the idea that everything can and should be explained in scientific terms, the exercise won’t do you any good.

    Remember that science is a system of explanation that more often than not gets us the answers to the types of questions we like asking, right now. It is concerned with different inputs and is therefore used to different ends than magic or religion or philosophy or poetry.

  13. Proof is in the pudding.

    No magician or psychic has ever been able to show any paranormal phenomina in a controlled environment. Heck there is a prize worth a million dollars (not to mention a nobel prize and ever lasting fame) to any one that can.

    As Transhumanists we each have the potential to change the world. I understand that you sincerly believe that you can perform magic and that you have invested alot of personal time in learning magical techniques. But it doesn’t work and your time could be more efficiently spent in Grinding youself and the world. As a former Witch can I recommend two books?

    The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
    Tricks of the Mind by Derren Brown

    I know you have a open mind and are interested in expanding your knowledge and I honestly think you will find them useful and interesting. Derren Brown is a magician himself and a expert in NLP so you may pick up a few techniques if nothing else.

    ‘Reason has built the modern world. It is a precious but also a fragile thing, which can be corroded by apparently harmless irrationality. We must favor verifiable evidence over private feeling. Otherwise we leave ourselves vulnerable to those who would obscure the truth.’

  14. Big fan of Derren Brown. Not so much of Dawkins.

    When we approach reason, down to the bottom, we come to a recursive, self-affirming discourse which has, necessarily, nothing other than itself to which it can appeal. Any other system would be laughed out of town under those same conditions, but we seem to have privileged reason.

    Not saying it doesn’t do the work, just saying there’s no reason to Expect it to do the work, or believe that it does anything more than what we’ve tailored it to do.

  15. @Liark – I used to be fascinated by the James Randi Foundation’s $1,000,000 dollar prize. But eventually I realized that the assumptions it makes ensures that no one will “win” it.

    From the JREF:

    —”2.2 What is the definition of “paranormal” in regards to the Challenge?

    Webster’s Online Dictionary defines “paranormal” as “not scientifically explainable; supernatural.”

    Within the Challenge, this means that at the time your application is submitted and approved, your claim will be considered paranormal for the duration. If, after testing, it is decided that your ability is either scientifically explainable or will be someday, you needn’t worry. If the JREF has agreed to test you, then your claim is paranormal.”—

    The bottom line is that I’ve never seen any evidence that anything exists outside of what science can encompass once its tools and methodologies are brought to bear. The prize, as awesome as it sounds at first glance (I was a huge debunker when I was younger) is by and large just publicity for Randi

    Maybe my faith in the narrative of science makes me a bad Magician or a good Transhumanist. I don’t know. What I do know is that I don’t know how to “prove” spells, ect work so I really don’t bother. It tends to be a time wasting argument and proves falsely divisive.

    What I can bring to the table, though, are those techniques and technologies that do play well with others despite whatever dogmatic attachments may be associated with them. The psychological effects of corporate logos, sigils and the like seem to be one of those things.

    I’ve got a few more I’m going to be poking at in the next few weeks.

    Anyway, difference of opinion on Morrison and magic, aside I’m glad to have you along for the ride.

  16. Sigils and Corporate Logos…

    “An upcoming article in April’s Journal of Consumer Research will present recent research from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the University of Waterloo, Canada that claims that exposure to images of corporate brands can effect how…

  17. Well, as an ex-wizard myself I tend to agree with Lark, but I try not the throw the baby out with the bathwater. Morrison has some worthwhile ideas, and this study may be the start of some proof that logos/sigil “work” which is great news for both magicians and for people in advertising and design.

    At esoZone 2007, Trevor Blake asked the sorcery panel if there were any modern manifestations of magic becoming science the way chemistry came from alchemy and astronomy came from astrology. (notes: video:

    My answer would have been graphic design.

  18. Im just an amateur at this business.
    The dawkins books, and that new way of ultra-rational thinking scares me. Makes me think of anne rand and the destruction of the planet.

    The truth of the matter is that there ARE gods. Fairies too!

    Systems designed around logic ei all of our intelectual institutions, are self-limiting primarily because they’re based in language. And language is inherently self-limiting. The stars, and the earth don’t speak english.

    Reality is in fact limitless and it’s boundaries are absolutely infinite in every way imaginable. That means any perceivable scientific ‘laws’ are utterly relative to the perceiver and thus subject to change.

    Ronald Mcdonald does indeed rule the world with his Lord Voldemort burger/sigil style. And if his reign continues he will destroy the world.

    Religion isn’t the enemy. It’s our oldest storehouse of ancient knowledge. Indeed it has been used my the institution for corrupt reasons. But Im pretty sure ronald prefers the methods of mass-hypnosis via complete control of the mass media in todays world.

    I think the dawkins books anti god, anti’religion is a trick that Ronald/Voldemort is pulling on us in order to keep us away from perhaps what could be the only hope for our redemption/survival.

  19. [...] Are Corporate Logos Using Sigil Magic? A sigil is usually made up of a complex combination of several specific symbols or geometric figures, each with a specific meaning or intent. Sigils may be used for any purpose or desire, no matter how trivial or important. A new study suggests that corporate logos may be using sigil magic. An upcoming article in April’s Journal of Consumer Research will present recent research from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the University of Waterloo, Canada that claims that exposure to images of corporate brands can effect how people think and work. Read more [...]

  20. Science vs magic? Just look at string theory. When you get down to the quantum level, w/ spooky action at a distance, quantum fluctuations in vacuum, matter/energy duality, etc.; how is it any different from magic? Not believing in a god or a religion, does not mean that a reductionist view is any improvement in describing ‘reality’. In fact, until science can explain the mind, it hasn’t done anything to explain existence.

  21. [...] some awesomely re-purposed corporate sigils. Hopefully coming soon to “alternative” tshirt shops everywhere. From Ffffound (via [...]

  22. Of course quantum theory has been used by many ‘new age’ blunder-busses to justify their half-baked theories. But that does not mean that, when you get down to it, quantum theory does not provide a great deal to support ‘non local’ action where notions of the ‘self’ and ‘object’ start to get more than a little blurry. And its my view that certain proponents of reductionist materialism are often on a par with fundamentalist Christians for their dogmatic stance (and I include the J.R.E.F/Richard Dawkins amongst them).

    As far as ‘sigil magic’ goes you can debate its validity forever. You will not be able to wait for the right study to come out and ‘prove’ it. You simply have to try it and test the results for yourself. We’re often taught by science that our subjective experience is not to be trusted so we need expensive instruments to protect us from our self-deception. What this ignores is that we never have anything other than our unreliable subjective experience- even when when we use it to take measurements from those expensive pieces of equipment.

    It is indeed easy to set up a sigil experiment. You can start by using Grant Morison’s ‘pop’ methods if you like. And using sexual orgasm as a ‘charging’ method is definitely the easiest! Set the result for something completely random such as ‘it is my will to see a blue feather/midget man/performing elephant’. ie- soemething not beyond the bounds of probability but that is also sufficiently unusual. My own personal experiments verify for ME (and me only) that..rather scarily…it works!- and that it works with an alarming degree of regularity.

    Of course its possible to claim that this is simply a cognitive filter being applied- the ‘subconscious’ (or whatever you want to call it) is sorting for blue feathers/performing elephants and alerting you as soon as one arrives.
    Maybe so but really the argument is irrelevant. There is the experiment (sigil working) and the correlational result (blue feather). The rest will always be theory- interesting though it may be.

    In my experience, though, the synchronicity that such experiments produce are way too freaky for a simple ‘psychological’ explanation to suffice. As a freelancer I have performed the same experiment to produce jobs and have had the phone ring within minutes of a working from someone random offering me a project.

    The more ‘old school’ magical traditions are right to advise some caution with this technique although we can stop short of the hysterical accusations that such practices will invoke ‘the devil’ within you.

    its more a matter of cause and effect- you might actually get what you asked for:- and thus be forced to deal with the reality of having it rather than merely the romantic image that exists in your head. Also it is possible (though not likely if you are reasonably sane) for the practice to descend into paranoia and superstition. This is why most traditional magical schools combine such practices with a framework such as kabbalah or Sufi teachings…but that’s a whole other subject.