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Blind Boy Apollo
and the All-White Astronauts

New Age "Asiatic" thought ... is establishing itself as the
hegemonic ideology of global capitalism. (Zizek)

Friday, February 27

the aspirational self

We begin today's little homily with a large, slightly modified graphic (a "derivative work" on several fronts, you could say) from the homepage of Joie de Vivre Hotels. That by way of introduction to its CEO, Chip Conley (pictured), and this extremely interesting thing he said...
The customer sees the product as an extension of themselves. Then you've created an identity refreshment. You've refreshed the identity of the customer because they feel that by using your product they're becoming more of that aspirational self.
He says this in a video recap of some of the exciting marketing events at LOHAS 12, a conference that took place last year right here in Boulder, Colorado. And hearing the guy say that, how could I not think once again of that seminal work of pop psychology, Narrative Therapy: The Social Construction of Preferred Realities? In fact, allow me to recycle a bit from a 2005 Mystic B post on that very subject...
So let me see if I've got the gist of this... If I'd prefer to be a fairy princess, say, instead of someone whose life has been derailed by a personality disorder arising from childhood trauma -- some combination of physical, emotional, sexual and/or psychological abuse -- then I could rework my "narrative" to where I was really born with a magic wand and a tiara? Or let's say I was spooked by all this postmodern confusion of optional selves and shifting histories. I could what? Morph myself into some arcane magus from the 15th century?


I wrote about the market research outfit LOHAS in November 2005 in The Discreet Charm of the Mystic Bourgeoisie. The group says of itself...
LOHAS is an acronym for Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability, a market segment focused on health and fitness, the environment, personal development, sustainable living, and social justice.
But who are they really? On the LOHAS Means Business page, we learn a bit more...
Anthropologist and sociologist Paul Ray, Ph.D., executive vice president of American LIVES, a research firm in Oakland, Calif., in 1994 began a lengthy and complicated national study of American values. Ray's research reshaped theories about American culture and revealed an emerging cultural phenomenon called the "Cultural Creatives" -- a slice of the American population comprising 50 million persons or 26 percent of American adults.
Ah, so we're back to that again. One of these days I'll learn that I can save a lot of time by going to Wikipedia first. Had I done that a couple years ago, I might have gotten the connection between LOHAS and the "Cultural Creatives" meme a whole lot sooner (though who knows if it was even there then). The following is from the Wikipedia page for LOHAS...
Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) is a demographic defining a particular market segment related to sustainable living, "green" ecological initiatives, and generally composed of a relatively upscale and well-educated population segment.... Author Paul H. Ray, who coined the term Cultural Creatives in his book by the same name, explains that "What you're seeing is a demand for products of equal quality that are also virtuous."[4][5] Included in the cultural creative demographic are consumers of "new age" goods and services.[6][1]
Those inline references go to...

A kid named Max Simon appears in the video Next-Gen LOHAS Leaders - Part 3. I kick myself for missing this pow-wow last June, as it took place not three miles from where I live. You really must catch Max's act, as it's impossible to do it justice with mere words. The logo from his site might give you a clue though...

Max, as it transpires, is the son of Deepak Chopra's sidekick, David Simon -- a man I have always thought the phrase "pencil-necked geek" might have been invented for.

like father like son

On the page where that exuberant picture came from, Max includes some laudatory blurbs, starting with...

"I believe Max is the perfect example of a leader for the next generation." Deepak Chopra M.D., the pioneer of mind-body medicine

But all was not entirely well in paradise it seems, reading between the lines of Max's somewhat embarrassing Un-edited thoughts post, which begins...

It's 6 am and I am in my hotel room at the Westin in Colorado after finishing my last Chopra Center course (in the foreseeable future). We (my father and I) decided that it would be better to have me stop teaching at their courses so that I could focus my full time and attention on selfcentered and so that it wouldn't distract from The Chopra Center's programs.
It would appear that the exuberance got a bit much even for the far-famed equanimity of Deepak Chopra. Ayurvedic healing is apparently no match for the terminal irritation that can be caused by self-centered enfants terribles.

Steve Case of AOL fame (pictured right) spoke at the LOHAS 10 conference in 2006. From his remarks there I learned about Lime ("healthy living with a twist™"), which I'd never run across until today. Don't miss their...

...where you can choose amongst:

  • the spaceroom
  • the winterroom
  • the floralroom
  • the forestroom
  • the waterroom
  • the zenroom
But if you go to any of them, turn down your speakers first. The zenroom almost blew me off my zafu! Actually, the various rooms are not trademarked. Yet. I added the ™ symbols in a spirit of preemptive branding. There is clearly big money behind Lime, and it seems to be nailing down everything in sight. Lime itself, for example, is not just plain vanilla Lime, but rather...

And Gaiam -- "Gaia" + "I am" -- is not simply Gaiam, but...

Unsurprisingly at this juncture, Gaiam's 2000 annual report informs us...

"Cultural Creatives," a term coined by sociologist Paul Ray in a demographic study on American values, refers to a distinct segment of the population who value personal development and wellness and who support the health of the planet. This group comprises 26% of the population or 50 million adult Americans according to Ray. Gaiam caters to these consumers by supporting "conscious commerce," a term we use to describe our customer's evolving practice of making purchasing decisions based on lifestyle and values.
Giam's Personal Growth section facilitates, for instance... other words: selling shit. But hey, it's...

Continuing a trend we saw above with LOHAS, the following is from Gaiam's current Corporate Officers page.

Paul H. Ray - Director since October 1999. Mr. Ray is the Chief Executive Officer of Integral Partnerships LLC, a consulting firm specializing in Cultural Creative topics. From November 1986 until December 2000, he was Executive Vice President of American LIVES, Inc., a market research and opinion-polling firm. From 1981 to 1983, prior to joining American LIVES, Mr. Ray was Chief of Policy Research on Energy Conservation at the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources of the Government of Canada. From 1973 to 1981, Mr. Ray was Associate Professor of Urban Planning at the University of Michigan. He is the author of "The Integral Culture Survey," which first identified the Cultural Creatives subculture.
And the Integral Partnerships What's New page contains the following...
In association with Wisdom University and the Institute on Emerging Wisdom Culture, Dr. Paul H. Ray is conducting a major new study on America's Cultural Creatives. The findings of the study will be released in the Summer of 2008.
In addition to Paul "Cultural Creatives" Ray, the Wisdom University Faculty page includes the following luminaries and their associated "fields." This is a veritable Who's Who of the Mystic Bourgeoisie. I encourage you to explore their respective pages -- if you can stomach them.

Let me end this on the same note I came in on, by quoting the words of wisdom delivered to that LOHAS confab last year by Joie de Vivre Hotels' CEO Chip Conley...

The customer sees the product as an extension of themselves. Then you've created an identity refreshment. You've refreshed the identity of the customer because they feel that by using your product they're becoming more of that aspirational self.
Yes, this is how Pod People procreate.

Well, refresh your identity with this: If you are buying any of the products or services hawked by these fucking LOHAS vampires, you are supporting some of the most twisted, irrational psychos currently inhabiting planet Earth. Or if you prefer, Gaia.

an important message from the Gaiam > Eco Home & Outdoor > Bedroom page