A 30 millisecond, nearly subliminal flash of a logo can affect behavior, says a study from Duke University and University of Waterloo researchers. Flashing Apple’s logo caused test subjects to describe about 30 percent more uses for a brick, while the IBM logo prompted less but more similar answers from subject to subject.
This will be spun into an Apple story—Epicenter already did, for instance—but it’s a fairly monumental acknowledgement of the power of logoforms if further study continues to bear out the same results. It follows to ask: how does a logo gain its meaning? And how can we uses logos of our own design to prompt our own willful, subconscious results?
I’m reminded of the work of Austen Osman Spare, a 19th-20th century painter whose personal philosophy included the notion of “sigil magic.” While Spare did not cotton to the ornate ritual of his hermetic peers such as the Golden Dawn or O.T.O., he practiced a simple ritual in which a statement of intent could be codified into a glyph. This sigil would then be “activated,” through intense effort Pete Carroll referred to as “Slight of Mind,” such as yogic concentration or deliberate forgetfulness. Spare used a form a sex magic, in which sustained self-pleasure was used to create a state of absent-mindedness in which the sigil could slip into the subconscious.
Is it possible, then, that this logo study has borne out some theory to explain the mental workings of sigil magic? And that we’ve impregnated our subconscious with thousands of warring logos bursting with beneficent or malicious meaning?
I’m just glad that I am usually not staring at the back of my Macbook every time I masturbate.
[Left, an Apple logo; right, Agrippa’s sigil for the Archangel Michael. For the record, I tend to believe that “magic” as a ritual to affect subconcious thought sounds quite possible, but am exceedingly skeptical about it affecting the physical world in any measurable way.]