🪄✨The Nexialist #0075
Fetish, Glamour & Grammar | New Currencies | Gilded Glamour | Anitta’s Butt Tattoo | Weird Dall-E | Three Elements of Innovation | The Art of Living Outside of Conventions | Pan-genre Blend
Welcome to my weekly attempt to make magic with links and brainsparks, The Nexialist
I need to take a moment to express the gratitude for all the lovely birthday messages and all the beautiful energy exchanged from DJing at Tropikali. It did feel like magic. I’m noticing now how The Nexialist is more and more mixing offline things to compliment the connections I bring here, and this feels like a good improvement. After all, this project came to exist during a heavy lockdown in the winter, and now things seem a bit more flowy. So, thank you all for hanging there. I’ll leave you with a kind of quicker edition, since I also had to celebrate my birthday this week. Enjoy :D
1 year ago » The Nexialist #0024: "The Gay Number" | Nexialist LGBTQ+ in Retrospective | Polygendered Brazilian Music | Lesbian Gaze | Dyke Camp | BDSM Test | Who Loves Fruit? | La Veneno | Queering the Future | Decolonizing Foresight
🪄Fetish, Glamour & Grammar
Rita von Hunty, one of my favorite Brazilian Drag Queens (and teacher) is doing a Karl Marx special series and she did a whole episode about Fetish in Capitalist Society. If you understand Portuguese, I recommend watching it.
First, she brings us the definition of the word Fetish and its application to the Marxist context:
So the first idea we should start with is that the word fetish in German means spell, enchantment, mystification. Marx uses it to discuss the commodity form. What Marx is explaining is that there is a duality between the way in which commodities are presented and the process which transforms them into a commodity that gives them value and the relationship they establish in the market.
One part that stayed with me was how Glamour and Grammar originated from the same word. Here is a translation I did from what she says:
What these ideas have in common [Glamour and Grammar] is that they are a kind of mystification, a kind of magic of the ruling class over the ruled. Glamor, this power to give something a glow, an aura, an interiority that that thing doesn't have, would be glamour, that enchantment of vision. And grammar would be the same thing, this way of operating through the knowledge of language, of operating an alteration in the perception of the world.
Below, is the etymology of the word from Merriam-Webster:
In classical antiquity the Greek and Latin ancestors of the English word grammar were used in reference not only to the study of language but also to the study of literature. In the medieval period, Latin grammatica and its outcomes in other languages were extended to include learning in general. Since almost all learning was couched in a language not spoken or understood by the unschooled populace of Europe, it was commonly believed that mystifying subjects such as magic and astrology were included in grammatica. And scholars were consequently sometimes regarded with awe and more than a little suspicion. (One of those scholars was the legendary Faust, the necromancer and/or astrologer who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge and power.)
It wasn't until the mid-1800s that the word glamour started to separate from its magical connotations—though those connotations weren't, and still aren't, entirely gone. Glamour in its modern senses—"an exciting and often illusory and romantic attractiveness" and "alluring or fascinating attraction"—still has a bit of magic to it, though not usually of the suspicious variety.
Ana Andjelic has the power (almost mystic?😏) to explain in simple terms the economic and sociological dynamics of aspirational markets in The Sociology of Business newsletter. While I’m not a paid subscriber (so no access to the full analysis), this already caused my brain some sparks: Culture 3.0 - 5 new currencies of aspirational markets, and how to trade in them:
When aspiration moved from accumulation of tangible assets as the status signaling mechanism towards accumulation of intangibles - like creativity, knowledge, belonging, curation, and aesthetics - companies started moving from manufacturing products to manufacturing content, curation, communities and collaborations. These intangibles are traded through the five currencies of aspirational markets: images, stories, membership, collectibles and taste. They have the power to transform non-culture into culture (an item becomes more significant and valuable if it is part of a collection that has a history and a story), which makes them a powerful cultural engine. Aspirational currencies are also a great business model: their focus is not on volume, but on value of the brand capital.
If once humans had only words to create this glamour aura, with the social and technological complexity we have now, there are so many new and emerging ways. Still, the spells work and perhaps it works even “better.”
As I’m writing this newsletter, the internet is going bonkers over the alleged damage done to the iconic Marilyn Monroe’s dress, by Kim Kardashian, during the Met Gala. This year’s theme was Gilded Glamour:
The era is known for major industrialization, when business titans like John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, and Cornelius Vanderbilt made their fortunes. But the moniker of the era, sourced from Mark Twain's book The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today, probed at the underlying issues of the period. After all, “gilded” does not mean “golden,” but rather a thin covering of gold veneer. The name also nods to the hypocrisy of the age, during which the facade of wealth couldn't hide immense income inequality, political upheaval, and post-Civil War racism.
The fact that men like Rockefeller amassed grand estates while average citizens lived in tenements will likely strike a chord with onlookers in the modern era, watching billionaires rocket to space while the country reels in the wake of a pandemic. With that in mind—and the fact that the Met Gala was frequently criticized for its tone-deaf festivities, even pre-COVID—the theme is an interesting, and potentially controversial, choice.
This was written before the event, and it seems most celebrities were more attached to the Glamour part, leaving the hypocritical Gilded half aside. I guess the news of the damage to the dress did just that and broke the “spell” of the glamour. The perfect opportunity for the internet to do what it does best: memes.
I was honestly waiting for this story to be published in English so I could share it here. One of those stories that you struggle to believe they are real because of the absurdity. All because a powerful woman made a tattoo on her butt and some rich country singer decided to poke fun at her and insinuate she benefits from public cultural tax-payer money. A story about hypocrisy, corruption and the power of fandom.
A recent comment about Anitta’s butt tattoo has surprisingly led to investigations into local country music artists and misuse of municipal funds in Brazil’s agribusiness heartland.
I was scrolling the weird creations of Dall-E for quite some time on Twitter. Beware: It’s an equal mix of material for nightmares and for giggles. Another emerging tech that feels like magic.
I’ve had this link saved for some time and I had to use it recently, so I thought I would share it with you. Scott Sandell, General partner & head of NEA'S technology investing practice, takes the audience of the Slush Conference in 2017 through “the history of venture capital and discusses the impact of VC.” Even though he has a clear agenda of showing the positive impact of VCs, especially NEA, I like how he brings the three elements of innovation when choosing where to invest: the atom, the bit and the gene.
🌊The Art of Living Outside of Conventions
“A documentary about the art of living outside of conventions, in deep integrity with one's essence. As a rising star in the field of abstract mathematics, Michael discovered that he could see beauty and pattern where others could not. But his path was not to be inside academia, or even inside society. He went on a grand adventure to unify his Buddhism with his ability to see an expanded view of reality. He created beauty in a place where nobody else would, and made his friends amongst dolphins.
Zaya and Maurizio went to Hawaii a couple of years ago and, on a remote beach, met Michael. After a short while it become apparent that Michael was not an ordinary man… We spoke about quantum physics, Buddhism, spirituality, art and he then invited us to his house after he made sure we had “good enough shoes”… Soon after we parked the car on a remote road we understood why… Michael lives in the middle of a thick jungle, 20 minutes from the road in a plot of land he cleared himself. …by hand
This video was recommended in the Messy Nessy Chic newsletter (I feel like I’m mentioning her here every week). It’s rare to hear these stories, so I appreaciate someone making such a beautiful record of it. Simplicity and wisdom were wordss that came to mind. He could be a character from a movie, but that is the reality he chose.
FKJ’s new album, VINCENT, is a treasure. His previous single release in April, Way Out, really caught my eyes and ears for its unique soothing sound, mixing more organic instruments with electronic distortions. This definition from Clash was everything:
A warming, pan-genre blend… FKJ’s second album 'Vincent' is a much-anticipated blend of intricate details bleeding together to create a genre-fluid sound that forces a listener to both seep into the songs but also pay full attention to the complex technicalities that dance throughout each track.
There was a comment on the Youtube video which stood out because I had just watched The Art of Life:
Guido Pardini: what I love most about FKJ is the fact that he is completely abstruse from the world. His house in the middle of nature, his musical instruments, his serenity and calmness allow you to transport him to another dimension within which he manages to create real masterpieces. He is self-sufficient, he doesn't have to show anything and always manages to give us musical pieces that, even if in a minimal part, allow us to live part of his experience. Thank you for what you are able to give us, we will be eternally grateful to you
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I truly believe innovation comes from bringing improbable areas together, and that’s why I called this project The Nexialist. Some sectors are known to be self-referencing and hermetic. Sometimes teams are on autopilot mode, focused on the daily grind, which hinders innovation. As a Nexialist, I like to burst these bubbles, bringing references from different areas, and maintaining teams inspired and connected to the Zeitgeist.
I offer inspiration sessions, called Brainsparks, creative desk research (Zeitgeist Boost), Plug’n’Play deals for workshops and sprints, and other Bespoke formats. If you want to know more about this, send me an e-mail with your challenge(s) and we can figure something out together. Check out my website and some work I’ve done below: