Subliminal XV: From Dubai to the Planet Mars

Travel diaries from 29 Aug-2 Sep 2016, Dubai & Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

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……………Pillow Talk

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In my room at the Radisson Blu Hotel, this qibla sticker on a bedside table (picture 1). Part of the sticker’s rim has been torn away, as if someone had attempted to remove the sticker from the table with his or her nails.

On the same table a placard invites customers to specify their needs as to their pillows. A most gracious attention. But then it comes under the head “Pillow Talk,” a vulgar, tasteless double entendre. I say tasteless because on school playgrounds, when a pun is so self-speaking and flat, making it is considered shamefully humorless. Taste is knowing not to make ludicrous double entendres, and that is what marketing people are badly lacking. A world in which marketing has become ubiquitous would be a suffocating quagmire of bad taste.

As appears in picture 2, the qibla points toward “Pillow Talk.” Subliminal blasphemy! Again, in religious and sacred matters, taste implies not to utter (in any fashion) double entendres, associating sacredness with profanity. Carelessness is not congruent with taste nor with faith and it should be sanctioned, for otherwise every wicked individual could cover and excuse his wickedness by carelessness.

My friend X is wont to say, “A ban on bad taste is long overdue. By which I also mean banning the US as a whole from the world.” Truly, when one sees Emirati citizens, dressed in their dignified traditional dishdashas (males) and abayas (females), beside American tourists in tee-shirts and shorts and thongs and herds, one’s taste is so shocked by the contrast that one is moved to call the American tourist an aesthetic pollution.

As you know by now that my friend X is a man of wits, he also said once: “Western women are sluts, and I talk from experience.”

A last word on my hotel room. Hotel Information said: “A copy of the Holy Quran is placed in all rooms.” I searched for my copy but could not find it (room 312). (Perhaps the same person that tried to scratch the qibla sticker took the Quran away?)

…………….Inside World’s Largest Mall

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The picture above is taken from the Dubai Mall Guide, which I picked up in the mall (it was not handed to me), and presents the Mall’s “courtesy policy.” The first sign asks customers to “wear respectful clothing,” and especially that “shoulders and knees should be covered.” The second sign shows a man and a woman holding hands, and the comment reads: “No kissing or overt display of affection in the mall.”

It is only after leaving the mall, leafing through the guide afterward, that I was made aware of this courtesy policy, so I guess most tourists do not know these regulations more than I did when I first strolled through the mall. I came back the next day (to see the dancing fountains show) and tried to see whether these rules were actually followed. I did not carefully look at the clothes, in fact – but I am certain that most tourists wore shorts –, concentrating on couples’ behavior. I saw a couple (tourists or resident foreigners) holding hands, without being disturbed, and even another one (tourists or resident foreigners) holding each other by the waist, without being disturbed either. After that, I stopped focusing my attention on that point because I thought that was enough evidence that the courtesy rules were not applied. Yet I must say that I had expected to see more couples holding hands and that it took a little time to spot these two pairs, despite the large crowds. Moreover, the pair holding each other by the waist were walking at an unusually fast pace, as if these people were fearing some reaction; it may have been some kind of provocation on their part.

Be that as it may, the text under the sign does not say that it is forbidden to hold hands, but that it is forbidden to “kiss” and “overtly display one’s affection,” whatever the latter might mean. The sign with the pair holding hands may be merely a kind of graphic euphemism, a mild way to represent what is not allowed, but the gesture thus represented may be per se not prohibited. This interpretation may sound farfetched, yet if one bans pornography one will not publish this policy by showing hardcore sex in a TV screen, even crossed by a red line, will they?

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From the Dubai Mall Guide, on page “Fashion – Children,” I found these boutiques, among others: Armani Junior, Burberry Children, Cacharel–Kidspace, Dolce & Gabbana Kids, Gucci Kids, Monsoon Kids, Ralph Lauren Kids, River Island Kids, Roberto Cavalli Junior, Tommy Hilfiger Kids… Ah, you thought you could make do with dressing your children with Petit Bateau, but it’s over! (Anyway, for the Petit Bateau boutique, it’s 2d floor, F6.)

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On page “Fashion – Arabic,” these boutiques with good old Arab names: Bon Chic, L’Amour, Les Foulards, Monte Bianco…

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First floor, K6, “multi-brand fashion and lifestyle stores based in Dubai,” the brand S*UCE – a name that French tourists are not likely to forget.

…………….Subject Chewing Gum

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In Dubai I realized chewing gum is a nonsubject for Western media and politics.

This little sign from Dubai metro can teach us a lot about the meanders of international trade. For I made an internet search and found that such a policy was first adopted in Singapore in order to prevent the defacements and damages committed by gum-chewers sticking their gummy refuse anywhere they find convenient. To that effect Singapore even prohibited gum import. But that was overlooking the US’s stand on the matter, for which chewing gum remains as vital an export good as it is strategic. Under their pressure Singapore had to accept a compromise, according to which the country accepts to import… therapeutic chewing gum. And so it is that now Singapore physicians are entitled to prescribe chewing gum to their patients.

What Singapore got in exchange, I do not know, but I am in favor of banning chewing gum, which makes extremely costly waste, in France too, if only to compel the US to negotiate on a sounder basis with us.

……………Emirates Mars Mission

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Excerpts from Mission to Mars: The Emirates Mars Mission and Mars Hope (2015), copyright by The Executive Office of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

“The behaviour of water in Mars’ highly volatile desert environment is of particular interest to the UAE as a desert nation.”

“Today, almost all of our understanding of climate comes from scientific studies of the atmosphere here on Earth. Mars is a valuable laboratory for atmosphere science because conditions there are very different. The insights and data we gain from understanding the Martian climate will add new dimensions to human knowledge about how atmospheres work.”

“Recent research has found evidence of human habitation as long as 125,000 years ago [in the peninsula] and it is now believed that modern humans moved out of Africa to the rest of the world through Arabia. … These early humans would likely have inhabited – and travelled through – an Arabian peninsula that was cooler and wetter than it is now, with a land bridge linking Arabia and Africa through modern-day Yemen.”

“An enormous amount of work is taking place to coordinate and foster cooperation between the world’s leading space capable nations, and the UAE’s membership of the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG) is part of that work.” (p. 65) Yet on the ISECG’s website the membership list (as of 2016: 14 space agencies) does not include the UAE. UAE’s agency must have associate member status or something like that.

And, from a poem by Sheikh Al Maktoum, this elegant testimony of the Sheikh’s social Darwinism:

“This ever-spinning universe cannot stand still / or look back at those slipping behind. / It has always been so impelled, / positive energy being the source of its life.”

(There exists a collection of Sheikh Al Maktoum’s poetry translated into English, which preface is by Paulo Coelho. When buying Mission to Mars at Kinokuniya bookshop, Dubai Mall, I saw one of Coelho’s books on display by the cashier’s desk.)

……………Sharjah Art Museum (متحف الشارقة الفنون)

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Sabra and Shatila (صبرا وشاتيلا) (1984), by Bashir Sinwar (بشير سنوار)

Subliminal XIV: From the Czech Republic with Junk

Travel diaries from Aug. 24 to Aug. 28, Prague, Czech Republic.

……………Socialist Child-Sex Propaganda

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This poster I photographed at the Museum of Communism. I think the artist had a lot of fun, but apparently no one noticed. This is a piece of propaganda (or information: let me know) from Socialist Czechoslovaquia, during the war of Korea, accusing the US of using bacteriological weapons.

The group of children in the background drew my attention. The Negro boy, whose hand rests on the little blonde girl’s shoulder, is looking at her with a lecherous gaze. The Chinese girl plays at making sand castles with a pail, while the blond boy kneeling just behind her is holding her, arm stretched, by the shoulder, his face flushed and grinning. Looks like doggy-style sex! The penetration is concealed to the viewer by the dress of the grieved and indignant Korean woman. The third boy is looking at his comrade’s doing (not at the sand castles game, mind) with evident enjoyment.

…………….Pretend You Saw Nothing

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This Cubist fellatio can be admired at the National Gallery – Veletrzni Palac. The artist is Russian painter Aristarkh Lentulov (who in Soviet times became chairman of the Society of Moscow Artists), and this work from 1912 is called A Ballet Theme.

If I be not the first to have noticed that peculiar detail in Lentulov’s masterpiece, yet nothing in the material environment of the gallery drew my attention to the explicit material I would encounter while looking at the painting (no mention like “this painting contains sexually-oriented material that may be offensive to some people and not suitable for persons under the age of eighteen”).

……………Orgasm Guaranteed

From your regular Czech women’s magazine (lifestyle, cooking, children…), this sex toy ad. ORGASMUS guaranteed. The future belongs to machines.

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…………….The Benefits of Cannabis a la Czech

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From the same women’s magazine as above, this ad for the Czech company Cannaderm’s products.

From internet copywriting: “Cannaderm brings a new approach to skin care. Cannaderm for every age, for all skin types, even for the very sensitive skin of small children or skin with eczema, acne or psoriasis. The synergic effects of healing hemp, mutual combinability and the wide range of products guarantee the potential of putting together a cosmetic range ‘to fit’. For easier orientation the packaging is colour coded and also contains the recommended combination of products.

“Cannaderm Made in the Czech Republic. We use unique recipes, modern technology and the best quality ingredients. All our products Cannaderm are approved by the State Health Institute of the Czech Republic and are certified for sale in the EU.”

Not to omit (read “triple distilled”):

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From internet copywriting: “Euphoria Cannabis Vodka is made of extra smooth grain vodka, blended with natural cannabis leaves and cannabis seeds. It is 100% natural product. Each bottle is hand-made. Enjoy the rich taste of freedom!” &

“Beautiful cannabis bud infused in extra smooth vodka 40%. Cannabis leaves extract cannabis oil and CBD. 100% natural product with great cannabic taste and relaxing effects!” &c.

……………Complements

“All our dishes are served with a beer,” according to the placard at the entrance. But in the end the beer is charged. Seeing the bill, you say to yourself: “What’s the use complaining? I should have made the point clear with the waiter from the start.” However, it’s not even sure, not even likely that you would have paid the expected CZK270 for the ordered schnitzel; there must have been a trick even there, the placard probably contained a heap of qualifications in tiny fonts at the bottom, and so, after being made aware of these by the waiter, you would have had to raise from your chair and leave the place to find another one, no doubt with the same placard…

McDonald’s vs the Pettifoggers

It’s just the same where I live. Most cafés and restaurants in Paris touristic arrondissements are managed by people who want to make the most of your pockets at the fastest rate: poor quality of the food, poor service, not enough space, insane prices… Many play music loud so you will feel like leaving as soon as you sit down. French cafés and restaurants see tourists as pigeons. Once I saw the following at a café near the Pantheon (allegedly a prestigious, safe place). Some Japanese tourists ordered food, the waiter asked them what they wanted to drink, they said tap water (for free) and they insisted to make him understand. He pretended not to understand and brought a water bottle that he had just opened. They had to pay for it. He even insulted them in French, to himself, but of course they understood that they were insulted and had to swallow their pride.

Years ago they said fast foods would never set foot in the country of gastronomy, i.e., France. More recently, they said Starbucks would never set foot in the country of cafés. Even more recently, I told my friends: “I’ve designed an advertising campaign for Pret A Manger – it says Pret A Manger: Soon in France,” and here they are, in the country of the baguette. The reason? People don’t care to go to nasty places where mean pettifoggers will treat them like dirt. When you come to Paris, let me recommend three places where to eat and have a drink: McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Pret A Manger.

We all know tourism has generated those shoddy service industries that cater to the “ideal” customer, the tourist, one that will never come back, one, thus, that will never complain, returning to their countries the next day, replaced by a new wave. French cafés and restaurants don’t care what you, tourists, think of their food or of the service, they don’t even give a dime for what you think of la France: they take your money and what you get for it you’d rather pay for not having it. And don’t ask for tap water, because although it is free on the paper of which laws are made, in reality it will cost you the humiliation of your life.

You may say guidebooks are here to help prevent such bad experiences. In theory, yes, but the addresses they will give you, if they’re good restaurants, then the chances are they will be full with people from all the offices around, in their workaday formal dress, whereas you will be dressed in tourist’s attire – casually – and you will soon feel that you look like morons.

Art & the Organization Man

From The Organization Man (1956) by William H. Foote:

“Profiles are also worked up for work in individual companies. At Sears, Roebuck there are charts that diagram the optimum balance of qualities required. Here is the one an executive values:

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“A man does not have to match this profile exactly, but it won’t help him at all if his line zigs where the chart zags. Take a man who scores considerably higher than the 10th percentile on aesthetic values, for example; such people, Sears notes, ‘accept artistic beauty and taste as a fundamental standard of life. This is not a factor which makes for executive success. … Generally, cultural considerations are not important to Sears executives, and there is evidence that such interests are detrimental to success’.”

There is much good sense in that view expressed by Sears because, as the best definition ever for culture, concise and elegant, goes, “culture is the learning of the leisure class” (Tibor Scitovsky, economist), which means that the organization man is an overworked windbag.

Interestingly enough, Whyte already was already writing in the 1950s about those corporations that claimed they were indeed willing to recruit people with literary (cultural) profile and training, yet never recruited them. I have heard this claim from today’s corporations repeated again and again – so nothing has changed and I guess the above diagram, with aesthetic taste seen as quite irrelevant, still holds for today’s organization man.

And yet, “Wu cites a 1990 study that claimed that in the US about 20 to 30 per cent of the market in New York was due to corporate collecting, and outside the city about half.” (Julian Stallabrass, Art Incorporated, 2004) Contemporary art is a reminder – the reminder that people that work are poor devils. Half the market for contemporary art made of corporate collecting: top executives adorning their offices with the excremental fantasies of slackers! Ask the connoisseur how much corporations pay artists for splashed mud and monochromes (remember, the organization men’s aesthetic acumen – his taste – approximates zero: see diagram), and compare with your own earnings!

Possible consequences: “Recently, in the Netherlands, a middle-sized bank, i.e. the DSB Bank, came into serious financial trouble for this exact same reason. Only a couple of months before, the bank had bought art for tens of millions of euros, and received a loan from another bank in order to build a museum that was to be named after the DSB bank’s CEO. These prestigious undertakings were one of the reasons that the bank had no financial reserves left when business slowed down due to the financial crisis. As a result, in September 2009 the DSB Bank was declared bankrupt.” (A.P. Buunk et al., 2011) Bankrupted because of dabbling in art.

And then there is the advertising industry, packed with artists (renegades?) and so vital to the organization man’s economic interests…

September 2016

World Premiere: Eric McLuhan says his say about subliminal messages

Many have wondered at the lack of acknowledged permissions for using the ads in both books [The Mechanical Bride and Culture Is Our Business]. The reason is that permissions were unnecessary: the ads were available for free. Editors at Vanguard had found a curious legal fiction. Advertisers were being given huge tax breaks on the grounds that they were engaged in a sort of educational enterprise, “educating the public” about products so that it might better make informed choices. The upshot is that anyone can make use of the (government-supported) ads for free providing they were not being used as ads, but as educational materials, for educative purposes. Needless to say, the agencies were reluctant to let these matters become known to the public.

This is the excerpt from Dr Eric McLuhan’s introduction to the 2014 edition of Culture Is Our Business by Marshall McLuhan (from Subliminal Junk XII here) concerning which I reached out to Eric McLuhan. This move has initiated an exchanges of emails between Eric McLuhan and me. Eric’s first four emails were published as Comments to Subliminal Junk XIII (here). I presently make an entry with these emails and two more, due to their importance. Here are they.

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August 15

Dear Florent Boucharel,

Thank you for your intriguing letter. I was unable to access either of the links that you included, but never mind. It would have been interesting to see the sources you cite. The notion of “subliminal junk” rings a lot of bells here: I spent years investigating things subliminal and am something of an expert re the matter. However…

Let me say right off that I have no personal legal or legalistic expertise in the matter of copyright of ads. The publishers (Vanguard, for Mechanical Bride, and McGraw-Hill for Culture Is Our Business) gave my father freedom to use any ads he wished, and he did so, never once asking permission. Vanguard set the stage by doing the initial research–I assume it was done by their legal department. McGraw-Hill evidently took their word for it. We never heard of a single objection from any of the owners of any of the ads used in either book. Both publishers, by the way, are located in New York. The Bride never went on sale, but Culture Is Our Business did, and copies were sold outside the US, though I have no idea how many.

Lots of teachers use ads in their courses and I have no knowledge of any of them ever seeking permission to discuss an ad used in a class or classroom. Of course, there is a multitude of textbooks for teachers to use and hundreds of ads in them, but frankly I have never checked to see if permission was asked or given. I seem to recall that these books routinely list the sources of ads in their “Acknowledgements” section, as do art textbooks for the images that they use. But all of them are academic textbooks.

I am quite certain that it is safe to study ads in the classroom without permission; I assume, from past and present experience, that it is safe to provide students with copies of ads that are being studied in a classroom setting for academic purposes. The sole proviso would be that the ads are being used as specimens for academic scrutiny and not AS ads.

Regards,
Eric

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August 16

Dear Florent,

Well! You are a devotee of Bill Key’s! I too was a fan if his when he put out the first three books, starting with Subliminal Seduction, and subsequently.

As I mentioned, I taught embedding techniques until recently–I retired a couple of years ago. Let me suggest a couple of things. One thing that damaged Key’s credibility was that he quickly became very sophisticated in his ability to detect subliminals; as it were, he was working at a post-doc level while his readers were still at the undergraduate level. I found the same problem: I could see things clearly that were still opaque to my students. So I had to tone it down, restrict my exhibits to the simplest and most obvious ones or I would lose them.

I’d suggest that you try something similar. In each of your reports, have several sections. Make the first a group of simple and easy examples, obvious things; the second, a little more subtle; and the third, the not-so-obvious group. And put headings on the groups.

Eventually, I began my class on subliminals (I used a carousel tray of 80 slides) with covers of Playboy magazines. Very effective: slightly naughty and caught everybody’s attention. Here’s the secret: since the first issue, Playboy has embedded their signature icon, the rabbit, somewhere in every single cover. They still do it. The homework assignment for that class was to visit a newsstand and examine the cover of the current issue and “find the rabbit.” Playboy covers are not only entertaining, but VERY useful as a training device.

You see, the Playboy artists use every single embedding technique several times over the course of a year or two of covers, with a lot of them repeated because after all there are not that many techniques–it’s a matter of theme and variation. But after scrutinizing 20-25 covers, the audience becomes quite expert in spotting the rabbit–and some of the covers are really clever embeds! THEN I hit them with a few ads, and they are often ahead of me. Seldom do I need to explain what is going on: the audience does it for me.

Even so, I begin with a few obvious ads, and then get progressively more subtle.

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August 17

I have never written up the way that I taught subliminals using Playboy covers. I just did it, each year for a dozen or more. Actually, I think that my letter to you is the first time I have written anything about it. It was–and is–a very powerful means of teaching the subject. I’d suggest that you find somewhere a cache of covers, from the first issues to the present, and made a file of them. (When you do, I’d appreciate a copy!) They fall into a small number of groups if sorted by techniques, and exhibit a wide range of sophistication from simple to complex in each group. Actually, now that you mention it, it might be fun to put together a small book on the subject as an approach to ads and kindred items.

Playboy is a useful tool because their useage is all in the spirit of play and has no moral judgments attached or implied. Nearly everyone who writes on the topic, and I include Bill Key here, along with his detractors–nearly everyone feels compelled to work up moral indignation to a fever pitch. All of that is actually irrelevant. Try this: take any criticism text on subliminals and remove from it every vestige of moralism, and see what is left. It is quite the same with how people approach criticism of media. You are required to express a moral position. If you don’t, the assumption is that you approve of it. So in self-defence you must state whether you approve or disapprove. People want to know, right off, “is it a good thing or a bad thing?” The moment you tell them, they are relieved of the responsibility of examining the thing any further: they know now what and how to think. My father made a point of never giving his moral opinion of the things he examined so was widely accused of being an advocate. Except once. His first book on ads, The Mechanical Bride, included a lot of moral outlook. He learned from that experience and you will be hard pressed to find thereafter any similarly moralistic tone in his subsequent writings or his lectures. The second book on ads, Culture is Our Business, is entirely free of moralism. Along the same line, you might like to have a look at Wyndham Lewis’s essay, “The Greatest Satire is Non-Moral.” The non-moral approach pulls the teeth of the opposition.

My class on subliminals was part of a larger discussion of artistic techniques and ways of managing the attention and, just as importantly, crafting the inattention of the beholder. Consequently I never experienced opposition from faculty, though occasionally a student would object, either on moral grounds, or because he or she simply couldn’t see the things I was exhibiting. Every serious artist, whether poet or painter or sculptor, etc., spends at least as much time on the elements of inattention as on those things the beholder is to attend to. The language of figure and ground, which we use often in Laws of Media: The New Science, is well suited to these discussions. Ground is the area of inattention, the 95% area of any experience. Another word for it is “medium.” It provides the way of seeing whatever is figure. Ground is the mode of perception. Another word for the ground area is “style.” Ground is by definition the part that people are trained or induced to ignore, and they have great resistance to any incursions into their areas of ignorance. People will defend to the death their right to preserve their ignorance!

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August 18

Here’s an idea of what I meant by a cache of covers: http://www.playboy.com/articles/playboy-covers-guide It does not include ALL of the covers for individual years, but gives quite enough to work with. Quite a number of sites will supply examples.

Of course, if you can find a box-full of actual mags, so much the better. But perhaps you know someone who can make digital copies of these for use as a display. (If you do, please send me a copy!)

If you go to the site above, look especially at the following (play “find the rabbit”):
1960 March, November
1961 March, April, July
1962 Feb., March, April, June, Aug., Dec.
1963 March, Aug.
1964 March, May, Dec.
1965 March, June, Oct., Nov., Dec.
1966 June, July, Nov., Dec.
1967 Feb., March, Nov.
1968 December

1970 May, July, Nov.
1971 April, Aug.
1972 March, April, June
1973 Feb., June, Aug., Oct.
1974 June, Nov.
1976 May, June,July, Aug.
1977 May, Nov….

But you get the idea. Look through the rest.
Occasionally, you’ll see white (rabbit-shaped) paper cutouts obscuring parts of anatomies–for the obvious reasons. Too titillating. Ignore the cutouts: they are not the embedded rabbits.
I have underlined several dates, above: these are particularly fine and challenging examples (1973, 1974, 1976). If they stump you, ask me.

Present company excepted, moral indignation generally takes the place of understanding. Try editing out the moralism from one of your own earlier fine posts and see what is left. I imagine it will be just fine, and harder-hitting. (The moralism component is one of the things that got Bill Key fired.)

Wyndham Lewis pointed out that if you criticize someone for being immoral, he and she can sort of snigger and joke that yes, they WERE being naughty, wink wink nudge nudge ha ha–that is, they can turn the criticism to account. Being banned-in-Boston does have a certain PR value. But if you satirize them/show them up instead as being stupid or ignorant or insensitive, why, there’s no PR value in that. You got ’em. All they can do is get angry, and that works against them.
The moral approach encourages somnambulism in your readers. I’m not sure that that is the response you wish to promote.

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August 19

(…) Anyhow, you see why using a parade of Playboy covers makes a usful way to warm up an audience to presenting and examining some more sophisticated embedding in ads. The big difference between the covers and the ads, is that you are supposed to scrutinize the covers and to ignore the ads. And of course the covers are not intended to have an effect beyond that of enticing the beholder to buy the mag.

Incidentally, “ground” is a useful way to refer to embedding areas because the key to ground is that it is always configurational. In any situation there is the figure (the object of attention) or the procession of figures one at a time, and the con-figures, that is, all of the other potential figures assembled at once which is ground. In other words, the figure is by definition an artifact of the beholder’s attention. The figure area is sequential; the ground area, simultaneous.

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August 20

My course was on perception, taught at a school for musicians and professional recording students. I devoted one or two classes to the topics we have been discussing. In that slide tray there were about 30 covers and the rest, about 50, had to do with ads.
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My heartfelt thanks to Eric McLuhan.

…………….”It’s not your imagination”

Besides practising with Playboy covers as suggested above by Eric McLuhan, you may benefit from these four film posters that provide examples of figure-ground ambiguity as an artistic technique. Here the ambiguity is made obvious to produce a conscious effect.
premonitionShroomsposter
 cabinfever
 riseofthegargoyles
From top to bottom
1 Premonition (2007) by Mennan Yapo. The poster copy reads “It’s not your imagination.
2 Cabin Fever (2002) by Eli Roth.
3 Shrooms (2006) by Paddy Breathnach.
4 Poster to the French video release of Rise of the Gargoyles (2009), a Canadian television film by Bill Corcoran. The background is two or three different things at the same time. Two: the city and a hole leading outside an underground crypt. Three: The hole has the shape of a gargoyle’s head; it mirrors the head of the gargoyle figure. The mouth on the background reflection is the head of a man peeping into the dark well.