The thought came to me the other night that I am branded. I am imprinted and encoded with the diverse runes and sigils of contemporary culture, the bitten apples and swooshes and golden arches simplified and amplified to the point where a passing glance is enough to embody and recreate an entire experience even if you've never partook.
In the essay Pop, Magic by comic writer, Grant Morrison, Morrison describes the sigil as “one of the most effective of all the weapons in the arsenal of any modern magician”and later talks about the viral sigil or logo, powers of intention created by corporate or cultural processes. Like Susan Blackwell's memes, they are self-replicating ideas that seem to have no traceable origin.
According to Morrison, what separates these sigils from any passing desire is the intent. Intentionality or the investment of energy maintains the magic of a sigil. By inscribing it repeatedly, forgetting the meaning and mindlessly reproducing the image of the sigil we make it happen.
So then, the genius of branding in a certain sense is the way that the corporate manages to perpetuate idea(l)s through their sigils. I'm thinking in particular of clothing.
In the next level are the Trend Setters, they see the Innovators and adopt and create trends based on what they see. They're the reviewers and managers who disseminate the idea. Directly below them are the Early Adopters, the first wave of people who hear about a trend and incorporate it. They're the reason it becomes big enough to receive the kind of placement that gets the attention of the next level: the Consumers.
Interesting and hipster as it is, I'm going to ignore the Laggards and the Jammers and the rest of the pyramid in favor of focusing on another concept that gets brought up in the opening of the novel, that of the Logo Exile, or as I would describe it branding incognito. Essentially it's corporate namelessness: the active removal of branding and logos from attire.
I bring this up in relation to Morrison's writing because there's a different kind of power inherent in namelessness. With intention, it is a subversion and reaction to the sigil power of corporate branding, of the logo. Comparatively it carries a fairly minimal impact. Within corporate, capitalist culture, we are barely teeth on the cogs and wheels of the great profit machine.
But while there may be minimal social impact, the personal impact of adopting Logo Exilism is both easier and more difficult than one might expect. Many clothes, especially basic layers, only contain some kind of logo on the tag, which is easily removable. But even then, certain styles have become their own kind of sigil. Knee length mesh athletic shorts with high top athletic shoes = basketball for example. Or even simpler than that, most of us have learned to recognize a certain American brand of Apparel that visually displays very few signifiers.
By wearing clothes with logos, we project and broaden everything that logo represents both surface level and subconsciously.
As you would have guessed, I wonder sometimes about my personal style. I tend toward Logo Exile, seeing very little aesthetic appeal to emblazoning myself with corporate names, but I also am in process of creating my own brand with my own logo.
I've explained the meaning of this little sigil so many times I've almost forgotten what exactly it means. I can tell you where it comes from, and what the pieces mean, but not the intention behind it, which as Morrison states is key to “powering up” a sigil.
I wonder sometimes if it's things like this that make me memorable. How much does style affect and interact with our relations with people? Surface-level though they may be, the clothes make the man as the adage goes. My style, while fairly colorful and DIY, is also kind of plain if you ask me. Are all my little sigils contributing to the perceived essence that is me?
Because of the way in which intention and perception and belief play into the magic of sigils, you can't quantify it, and thus I am unable to scientifically measure one way or another how my style creates me. But it's an interesting thought.