Category Archives: Arts

creative expression in any medium

the Cold Pressor Persuasion Play©™® with John Cheever

You may know John Cheever’s name from an infamous episode of TV comedy series, Seinfeld, where everyone discovered that George Costanza’s father-in-law had had a brief gay fling with Cheever as revealed in a box of letters, the only surviving item from a cabin fire set from Kramer’s Cuban cigars. John Cheever was a great writer who received a Pulitzer Prize in 1979 for his book of short stories. He was also a persuasion theorist.

A family is meeting at their summer vacation cottage on the Atlantic in New England. Like most families, there remains ancient tensions between adult siblings and one in particular drives everyone else to frustration. Yet, as Cheever the persuasion theorist reveals, they stumble upon a persuasion play as this paragraph narrates.

And now I remember that while Lawrence was visiting us, we went swimming oftener than we usually do, and I think there was a reason for this. When the irritability that accumulated as a result of his company began to lessen our patience, not only with Lawrence but with one another, we would all go swimming and shed our animus in the cold water. I can see the family now, smarting from Lawrence’s rebukes as they sat on the sand, and I can see them wading and diving and surface-diving and hear in their voices the restoration of patience and the rediscovery of inexhaustible good will.

Goodbye, My Brother, page 10, The Stories of John Cheever.

This, of course, is a variation on the cold pressor task so beloved of behavioral researchers. Just insert your body or a part in freezing water. If you’ve never fallen into a winter creek, you have no idea how compelling the cold pressor task is. It dominates you like Mike Tyson back in the day.

Typically the task is employed as the first independent variable in a study. You complete informed consent and stick your arm in that bucket. Then after a bit, you do something else, most often the dependent variable, such as watch the monitor that shows your blood pressure elevating like a rocket. Here we see Cheever as theorist perceiving the cold pressor task as something that modulates an existing condition. When unhappy Other Guys willingly go for a swim – which is a cold pressor task – they will emerge from the freezing brine with a new and favorable attitude!

The trick here is to get the Other Guy to willingly engage in a cold pressor task. Cheever’s argument is that if you can get her willingly in the water, she will change. Sure, you can get compliance in the lab with money or credit, but in the Local called the mess of life? This, of course, is where we separate the mavens from the muggles.

Here’s how I’ve done it with Melanie.

I use this persuasion play when it is either raining or cold and we’re having an argument. We’ve gotten stuck in the mud of grievance with neither party having the willingness or ability to turn the other cheek which means a Long Night ahead. So, I dare Melanie to take off her clothes and run around the outside of the house, naked, with me. As I make this dare, I strip. Melanie cannot resist a dare and also finds the sight of me naked and unmanned to be funny. By now she is undressing and giggling and putting on a pair of sneakers, then we’re out the door. I surprise her, I challenge her, and, sigh, I amuse her into the cold and wet.

I wish we’d learned the Cold Pressor Persuasion Play®™© when we were first married. Then we employed all the conflict management tactics from the interpersonal communication and human relations and counseling literature. Lots of listening. Active and reflective listening. Perception checking, I hear you saying. Descriptive feedback. Yada-yada. Still produced a lot of Long Nights. Racing your naked spouse in the rain around the house on a cold night works much faster.

Now, we have lived almost all of our married life out in the woods with no neighbors nearby. If you live in the city or a tight suburban tract, you might want to think carefully about running outside your house naked with your significant other. You might modify this play to include squirt guns filled with cold water for example. Or jumping into a cold shower together. That’s your challenge. As the Rule says:

Drive with Science, Putt with Poetry.

The science of the Cold Pressor Persuasion Play©™® demonstrates that it really changes the Other Guy, but the poetry of the play is getting her willingly wet. Now, if I knew the circumstances of your Local, I might be able to make suggestions, but do you really want me to know you and yours that well?


P.S. What’s great about the science of the Cold Pressor Persuasion Play©™® is that even when you know why you are doing it, it will still make a change you can count on. Often awareness of the persuasion principle kills the play; not with this one.

P.P.S. This is a type of Embodiment Persuasion effect. Change the outside to change the inside.

When Gay Is Not Gay and Vice Versa (plus Persuasion Metaphor!)

The beloved artist and illustrator Norman Rockwell died many years ago and is now receiving the biographer treatment, which means that persuasion might be involved. Rockwell created images of America that some found more than a bit trite, sanitized, and idealized, John Wayne without the John Wayne. Like this.

Rockwell Thanksgiving

Or this.

Rockwell Problem

Hard to sell something this sweet in a biography, so add some sex, although this is about as sexy as Rockwell ever got.
Rockwell Dating Diner

Yet, read the latest Rockwell bio and you’ll be surprised to learn about Rockwell’s sexuality, hiding there in plain sight on the canvas.

In the book, Ms. Solomon raises the question of whether Rockwell was gay, writing that he “demonstrated an intense need for emotional and physical closeness with men,” and that his marriages may have been a strategy for “controlling his homoerotic desires.” She described a camping trip in Quebec that Rockwell took with his male assistant, during which the men swam and played cards together late into the night, and Rockwell noted in his diaries that his assistant looked “most fetching in his long flannels.” There is nothing, Ms. Solomon cautioned in the book, “to suggest that he had sex with men.”

Later in the book, Ms. Solomon writes that “we are made to wonder whether Rockwell’s complicated interest in the depiction of preadolescent boys was shadowed by pedophilic impulses.” She again added a disclaimer: “There is no evidence that he acted on his impulses or behaved in a way that was inappropriate for its time.”

The Rockwell family who cooperated with Solomon while she was writing the book is shocked and upset at the implications about Rockwell’s sexuality. Solomon is shocked and upset that the Rockwell family is shocked and upset. She tells the NY Times.

Asked whether she believes Rockwell was gay, she said, “I’m a biographer, I am not a psychiatrist. I would never presume to say that someone is gay. But I do feel entitled as an art critic and an art historian to analyze works of art. And I do think a case can be made that some of Rockwell’s paintings display homoerotic tendencies. He specialized in affectionate portrayals of the male figure and lamented many times that he could never paint a sexy woman. And nowhere in the book do I say that he is gay.”

Let’s put it this way as an illustration.

Asked whether she believes Rockwell was a child molester, she said, “I’m a biographer, I am not a psychiatrist. I would never presume to say that someone is a child molester. But I do feel entitled as an art critic and an art historian to analyze works of art. And I do think a case can be made that some of Rockwell’s paintings display pederastic tendencies. He specialized in affectionate portrayals of children and lamented many times that he could never paint a youthful adult. And nowhere in the book do I say that he is a child molester.”

Solomon believes that as an art critic and historian she can count the change in pictures but that in no way counts the change like a psychiatrist or family member or police or . . . art collector!

Three Norman Rockwell paintings sold for a combined total of nearly $58 million at a Sotheby’s auction Wednesday. The three paintings, which had long been displayed in a Massachusetts museum named for the artist, were among 10 Rockwell works sold at auction today.

Who knew that pederasty paid like this!

P.S. Persuasion Metaphor Bonus. Consider one of those Rockwell’s that sold at auction, The Gossips.

Rockwell Gossips

See various persuasion plays and communication concepts. Networks. Mediated Networks. Word of Mouth. Comparison. Uncle Norm. Social Media 1.0.

Yeah. iGizmos change everything.


P.S. Henri Matisse, another painter known to art critics and historians, was once questioned about all the pictures of naked young women he painted and was asked whether he indulged with his models. Matisse replied that he also painted still life, but didn’t eat the fruit.

A Long Conversation in the Head with Hemingway

After hunting in the Green Hills of Africa with mixed results, Hemingway reflects on the day while sitting in front of his campfire. And reveals the elaborative processing on the Central Route, the Long Conversation in the Head about crucial information on the central merits of an attitude issue, in this case, bad shooting.

But that damned sable bull. I should have killed him; but it was a running shot. To hit him at all I had to use him all as a target. Yes, you bastard, but what about the cow you missed twice, prone, standing broadside? Was that a running shot? No. If I’d gone to bed last night I would not have done that. Or if I’d wiped out the bore to get the oil out she would not have thrown high the first time. Then I would not have pulled down and shot under her the second shot. Every damned thing is your own fault if you’re any good . . . Could I shoot as well as I thought I could? Sure. Then why did I miss on that cow? Hell, everybody is off sometime. You’ve got no bloody business to be off. Who the hell are you? My conscience? Listen, I’m all right with my conscience.

Hemingway, Ernest (2002-07-25). Green Hills of Africa (Kindle Locations 3279-3286). Scribner. Kindle Edition.

While this is presented as non-fiction and a true account of Hemingway hunting big game in 1930s Africa, there is certainly an element of creativity. Hemingway must have added a bit here, cut a bit there, took today and combined it with last week, all the while remaining faithful to his thoughts, feelings, and actions while hunting the Green Hills of Africa.

But within this creative non-fiction you still see an outstanding example of elaborative processing. Hemingway considers the Arguments of the day – shots made and missed, shooting positions, kind of game – and then engages that Long Conversation, adding new thoughts, the elaborations, to the Arguments. And note the evaluative nature of those elaborations, largely negative in this example, as Hemingway excoriates himself for his shooting performance that day.

See how the Arguments stimulate Elaborations to create or alter an attitude. This is the machinery of the Central Route, the process by which Other Guys create new and alter old attitudes with a change that is persistent, resistant, and predictive.

P.S. The Green Hills of Africa is a very early example of what is now called creative non-fiction. I’m not sure if Hemingway invented the genre, but he certainly showed how reality could benefit from artistry. With a writer like Hemingway, you never know when something is true or truly, as he might put it, but he rarely fails to make himself look bad in this book. Consider another example.

He describes a long, exciting, and ultimately successful hunt for a kudu, an African antelope with spectacular long and curved antlers. Hemingway gets one with the largest horns his native guides have ever seen and they celebrate the achievement. After a long slog back to the base camp, Hemingway meets the other hunters in the group and looks at their trophies of the day.

“He’s over there,” Pop said, and we went over. They were the biggest, widest, darkest, longest-curling, heaviest, most unbelievable pair of kudu horns in the world. Suddenly, poisoned with envy, I did not want to see mine again; never, never.

Hemingway, Ernest (2002-07-25). Green Hills of Africa (Kindle Locations 3393-3395). Scribner. Kindle Edition.

As I’ve warned before Upward Comparisons are a panther’s best friend and you see that demonstration with this hunter. Poisoned with envy. Never. Never.

P.P.S. Hemingway is tough for many current readers because he often writes about hunting and killing animals as sport. As bad, he uses guns! You must rhyme the Rule:

All Bad Reading Is Sincere.

P.P.P.S. Hemingway proves Nietzsche! Recall Hemingway’s evaluation of his bad shooting:

Every damned thing is your own fault if you’re any good . . .

Now, recall Nietzsche on strong versus weak wills.

And, if I have observed correctly, ‘unfreedom of will’ is in general conceived as a problem from two completely antithetical standpoints but always from a profoundly personal manner: one will at no price give up his ‘responsibility,’ his belief in himself, the personal right to his deserts (the vain races belong here – ), the other, on the contrary will not be responsible for anything, to blame for anything, and out of an inner self-contempt wants to be able to shift off his responsibility for himself somewhere else.

Gee. Doesn’t Hemingway strike you as a strong willed kind of Nietzsche guy? I’ve read quite a bit by and about Hemingway and I’ve not found any link between the two men, but that Will To Power thing seems pretty obvious in the two. I find it hard to believe that had the two men met each other under any circumstances that the conversation would have gone well, yet they share this driving commonality.

Rousseau as Early Public Intellectual and Persuasion Panther

In an earlier post we looked at the hapless Mr. Day and his futile plays to create the perfect wife. Past the horror of his ethical violations – “adopting” foundling girls then raising them to become a possible wife – which is of no concern to vampires reading Professor Nietzsche, we recoil from Day because he failed! And he failed following a noted intellectual and persuasion panther of Day’s day: Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Let’s take a closer look at the theorist behind Day’s practical, but ineffective, persuasion.

JJ Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau is an early example of the intellectual selling sand and ice and an interesting case study in applied persuasion. Living in the 18th century, Rousseau was a prolific writer who took full advantage of the mature book publishing industry of the time – a print network of considerable reach and credibility. Consider this Wiki graph about European publishing.

European Book Output

Make sure you track the scale on the y-axis. We go from about 1 million manuscripts in the Middle Ages to 1 billion books in the Age of Enlightenment. That’s not linear, but exponential change. And just as book publishing increased, so did newspaper publishing and Rousseau made the news, too.

Rousseau used this communication network, his incredible productivity as a writer, and a deranged interpersonal style to become one of the most famous people of his time without being a king, general, or pope, but just a middle-class citizen of Geneva, Switzerland. He is a progenitor of the modern intellectual, one who knows how everyone else should think, feel, or act without thinking, feeling, or acting that way himself while acquiring reputation and resource along the way.

His book, Confessions, may be the greatest example of biography-as-persuasion ever written. While the book was published after his death (he was officially banned from publishing after 1770 and he died in 1782), he used the Scarcity Cue to great effect. He read portions of the book aloud in Paris salons to selected groups of Cool Table Other Guys, who then spread the word of mouth. In his Local and under publication ban, Confessions was as famous as his prior books without ever hitting print in Rousseau’s lifetime.

Realize that Rousseau was no fraud, but a man of serious skill and accomplishment who also understood persuasion without reading the Persuasion Blog and Primer. Every expert or scientist with a press kit is merely following Rousseau’s example. In his way, Rousseau is an important precursor to Richard Wagner in the development of the persuasive public intellectual. You see the skillful use of a new communication technology (book publishing) along with various social influence plays (reading aloud from a banned book – don’t you just tingle at the thought of sitting in such a room in such a moment, although nowadays the idea of a banned book is quaint, isn’t it?).

P.S. You might enjoy reading Paul Johnson’s book, The Intellectuals.

P.P.S. Oscar Wilde, yet again, gets there first, now with Rousseau. From The Critic As Artist.

Humanity will always love Rousseau for having confessed his sins, not to a priest, but to the world . . .

Last word to Oscar and who writes who. Again, from The Critic As Artist.

Every great man nowadays has his disciples, and it is always Judas who writes the biography . . . Cheap editions of great books may be delightful, but cheap editions of great men are absolutely detestable.

Write your own Confessions! Or else.

Making the Perfect Wife with the Rules

Wendy Moore’s book, How To Create The Perfect Wife, pursues Mr. Thomas Day and his pursuit of the perfect wife in the 18th century. Nowadays, Mr. Day’s persuasion attempt would violate the principles of Institutional Review Boards, both progressive and conservative advocacy groups, and most people’s sense of fair play. Stated another way, Mr. Day followed the Rules in his science which means he was Beyond Good and Evil and absolutely inSincere in his method while pursuing an absolutely Sincere goal: His perfect wife.

How then would he ever obtain the woman of his dreams? And then out of his pit of despair came a bold and daring plan. If only he could control a woman’s education from the beginning, perhaps he could make for himself an equal— a woman who would be worthy of him. It was a scheme he had been nursing quietly for some years. He had returned again to this wild notion the previous summer during the shifting relationship with Margaret. At that point he had confided to a friend: “I am now going to try whether by taking a Woman’s Mind before it is prejudic’d, it may be possible to prevent them [prejudices]. . . ” If the perfect wife did not exist then he would simply have to create her.

Moore, Wendy. How to Create the Perfect Wife: Britain’s Most Ineligible Bachelor and his Enlightened Quest to Train the Ideal Mate. Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

“. . . taking a Woman’s Mind before it is prejudic’d” means adopting two orphaned girls and raising both under the Rules all in the pursuit of making the perfect wife. Mr. Day had complete control of two youths with no oversight from the law much less the ethical standards of an Institutional Review Board. Sure, sure, I can hear the shouts about good and evil here with an older man “adopting” two girls hoping to turn one (or both!) into the perfect wife. Rage on against the dying of the light and patriarchal persuasion. As vampires and panthers we suffer no such pangs of conscience and say, what’s the Box ‘n Play? Begin with . . .

In fact, the method Day hit upon to train his two foundlings in Avignon was a hybrid of his own making, which combined Rousseau’s approach for Émile and Sophie. Like the fictional Sophie, the girls were taught to read and perform simple arithmetic— skills they had already begun in their schoolrooms at the Foundling Hospital, and for the first time were taught to write.

The Education Is Persuasion Persuasion Play©™®! When she knows, she does! But wait. There’s more.

Day now embarked on another stage in training the model wife. If she was going to teach her children fortitude and endurance, Sabrina must learn stoicism. Unfortunately, when he dropped hot sealing wax on her arms Sabrina forgot she was a Spartan maid and screamed; when he fired pistols at her petticoats, she leapt aside and shrieked. When he tested her loyalty by saying he was in grave danger, which would increase if she told anyone, the servants knew about it in an instant.

The Nietzsche Marine Corps Persuasion Play®™©. What does not kill us makes us stronger! Burn ‘em with hot wax. Put ‘em in front of a firing squad. What young girl can resist? Day also made the girls crawl through mud and rain, walk into cold ponds fully dressed, and stand next to panicked horses without flinching. And worse! He gave them a surprising gift of beautiful clothes and then made them throw them in a fire.

Now, panthers and vampires cry: Count the Change! What of the two girls, Lucretia and Sabrina.

Having decided that Lucretia was either invincibly stupid, or impossibly stubborn, Day apprenticed her to a milliner on Ludgate Hill in London. Soon, she married a linen-draper and received her promised dowry.

Hey, you can’t persuade ‘em all. How about Sabrina?

Although Sabrina longed to please him, she never came round to the regime. Day finally gave in. In early 1771 he packed her off to boarding school in Sutton Coldfield: he had failed to train her, which proved, of course, that she was hopeless material to start with.

Back to reality and our iPostModern persuasion world. Yeah, yeah, sure, sure . . . men. Inexcusable. Pigs. And, worse: Muggles. Good grief, if you are going panther beyond good and evil at least get it right. And you see the wrong of Day in the light of the Rule:

All Bad Persuasion Is Sincere.

Mr. Day was a most modern man of his time and believed what he read in the pop press and from the professors. Rousseau! If Rousseau were alive today he’d have a joint appointment at Harvard and Berkeley, a blog with the New York Times, and permanent chair at the Charlie Rose Cool Table. How could Day fail following the truth of a bright as bright as Rousseau?

See the largest lesson. Panthers selling persuasion are only hunting.

P.S. Think about it another way. If Rousseau was right about creating the perfect wife as Mr. Day believed, then . . . well, you can figure that out without assistance from the Queen of Tomorrow.

a Cab Calloway Smile

The man in his prime.

Cab Smiles

Cab Calloway starred in American Jazz from the 1920s through the 1980s, doing a turn in The Blues Brothers movie, itself an homage to Cab.

Cab with Blues Brothers

Study Cab as a performer and how he makes the Other Guys, especially the Guys in the audience do what Cab wants. By acclamation, Calloway may have been the greatest live performer in jazz, leading his jazz orchestra, singing, scatting, dancing, inventing a most persuasive musical experience. But note!

Playing in that band was the saxophonist Alan Barnes, who recalled that Cab’s ebullient smile would disappear from his face as he turned to face the band, gesturing briskly to his musicians what he wanted with a frown, before his grin reappeared as he swiveled back to face the audience.

From Hi-De-Ho, the Life of Cab Calloway, 2010, by Alyn Shipton, page 52, Oxford Press.

All Bad Persuasion (Poetry and Jazz, too) Is Sincere!

Compare Cab’s style across three versions (YouTube) of Minnie the Moocher.

The Original in 1930 when the King of Sweden was giving Minnie what she was needin’.

Cab Minnie 1930

A 1958 TV production when Cab dominates with dance while Minnie kicks the gong around.

Cab Minnie 1958

And, the 1980 movie, The Blues Brothers, when the old Cab shows us that persuasion never ages.

Cab Minnie 1980

Follow the Rules!

Peitho Rules

P.S. While developing this post on Calloway, I found a video with him and the Nicholas Brothers who created the greatest dance ever filmed, at least according to Fred Astaire. You have got to watch this YouTube clip to appreciate the stupendous skill of the Brothers (starting at 1:30 in the clip).

Nicholas Brothers Jumping Jive with Cab

Creating the Beatles Today

Consider the persuasion implications of Now versus Then with the Beatles, perhaps the greatest group in the history of pop music. We’re in the midst of a brief nostalgia bubble with media celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Beatles first appearance on American television with the Ed Sullivan Show. Fifty years, man; it seems like only Yesterday.

Beatles Ed Sullivan Arrows

This media appearance launched the British Invasion, changed fashion and haircuts, and ignited the Baby Boomer revolution of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll . . . which sounds a bit like the Queen of Tomorrow. One musical act and one TV appearance does not change the world despite the persuasive appeal of that appeal. Clearly, the Beatles were in the right place at the right time and at times looked like the Queen of Tomorrow was their manager. But, the science of that kind of persuasion theorizing is only persuasive.

Now. Past the hype, consider this counterfactual. What if a band with the same creative qualities of the Beatles hit the information marketplace today?

“The media has gotten so fragmented now … there’s 50 things in a marketing plan for an artist today,” said Revolt TV President (and former MTV executive) Andy Schuon. “The ability to fan that fire and to give it the kind of intensity that ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ could get doesn’t exist today.”

Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ performance on “Ed Sullivan,” their first appearance in America. Nielsen says 45 percent of all TV sets in use at the time were tuned into the broadcast, with fans and the uninitiated alike gathered shoulder to shoulder in their living rooms. The Beatles landed on a trigger point when they hit America. It was a pop culture sonic boom spurred by talent, timing and luck that’s still rattling the windows.

Let’s label the Now, iPersuasion, and the Then, mmPersuasion, with i meaning Internet and mm meaning Mass Media. I’d agree with Andy Schuon in the above quote about fragmentation and how that would affect the impact of the iBeatles. With iPersuasion, today’s iBeatles might attract a loyal group of zealots who admire the quality of the song writing, the skill of performance, and the style of presentation, but the group now would be a mere sliver, swallow, or slice compared to the slab, ocean, or mass of the mmBeatles Then.

And, the big difference would be those leading lowercase initials, iPersuasion versus mmPersuasion. When the Beatles opened with All My Loving, they plugged into a mature, sophisticated, and effective persuasion network, mmPersuasion. Because the capital and labor costs of creating these networks were so extreme, few outlets existed. This concentration of message delivery in turn concentrated both the audience, the mmOther Guys, and the panthers, vampires, and werewolves who would sell Your Father’s Oldsmobile along with the Beatles or I Love Lucy or Monday Night Football and on and on with that galaxy of super nova stars from the persuasion past.

Consider the implications of concentration on persuasion, most notably, WATTage. Other Guys gave themselves and their WATTage to the mmPersuasion network. They minimized other activities, tasks, and possibilities in their lives and in specific timed moments, just to focus their eyes and ears and, most importantly, WATTage on that concentrated network. They let the screen do what the screen did and considered only what the screen had to offer. They could not interact with the screen and Twitter a tweet or worse still use the screen for their own messages and YouTube themselves as another kind of Beatles.

See that huge and compelling difference between mmPersuasion and iPersuasion. With iPersuasion, the Other Guys confront not only a fragmented media scene, but a distracted and distracting media scene. With iPersuasion, Other Guys can shift time and are no longer bound to a specific location – the couch in front of the TV – at a specific time – Sunday night at 7pm Eastern – performing a specific act – tuning into the CBS station number, all the requirements of mmPersuasion. And that difference in time, place, and tuning alters the Other Guys WATTage from the Garden of Eden for mmPersuasion to the wasteland of iPersuasion.

Add to that difference an even worse condition with iPersuasion. Other Guys who are supposed to be your prey in the Local called media can use that jungle for their own purposes. Instead of trapping themselves in front of the screen for your mmPersuasion, they use your iPersuasion media to tweet, Selfie, or Like. With mmPersuasion, panthers forced Other Guys to receive what was sent. With iPersuasion the Other Guys can send or receive or both simultaneously.

Realize that mediated persuasion changes dramatically when you move from the mm to the i. WATTage moves from a highly focused and controllable function to a quality that is distracted, multidimensional, and fragmented. The psychology of mmPersuasion is radically different from iPersuasion. Stated metaphorically, if the iBeatles Saw Her Standing There today, would anyone hear it?

P.S. Let’s watch them and consider her (YouTube).

Beatles DC Concert

Musical panthers, scrutinize this live performance of I Saw Her Standing There. Of course, you skip past the poor recording quality, but watch the performance. The style, the skill, man, it makes your heart go Boom. This performance occurred in the Washington Coliseum, an indoor arena for basketball games, which was converted into a boxing ring format for this performance. The band moved their equipment and orientation around the ring throughout the performance. Frank Sinatra, the Chairman of the Board, copied the boxing ring motif in his Madison Square Garden concert, the Main Event, ten years later (YouTube).

Sinatra Main Event

The Beatles were a great live performance group, but they got so famous so fast that they stopped doing live performances and went almost exclusively into mediated presentations. And, on those rare occasions when they did play live, they understood the persuasion of performance and a Box called the rooftop (YouTube).

Beatles Rooftop Concert

And later, Paul McCartney sweetly reused that Box on his rooftop performance for the David Letterman Show (YouTube) at the Ed Sullivan Theater!

McCartney Ed Sullivan Rooftop Concert

P.P.S. Musical geek bonus! I Saw Her Standing There is a standard 1-4-5 pop song in E major. Lennon and McCarthy broke the standard by playing E, B7, then A rather than the usual E, A, B7, for the verses, but even more compelling was their use of C major in the refrain with the song title and that famous “Ohhhh . . . and I saw her standing there.” C major is a weird and dissonant chord for a song in E major. But, they put that under the “Ohhhh” and made the song go Boom forever.

If you enjoy music theory (and who doesn’t?), you must read Alan Pollack’s expert analysis of all Beatles recordings.

Persuasion Visually and Aurally but Fraudulently, too

Other than the fraud thing, this is a great visual illustration of persuasion.

Classical Persuasion

Good grief, the guy, Mamoru Samuragochi, just looks like he should be a famous composer of classical music. Here’s the real Maestro, Takashi Niigaki, behind the fake Maestro.

Real Maestro

Who would you want fronting the sale of your music?

These include Symphony No. 1 “Hiroshima,” about the 1945 atomic bombing of his home city, which became a classical music hit in Japan; the theme music for the video games Resident Evil and Onimusha; and Sonatina for Violin, which the Japanese Olympic figure skater Daisuke Takahashi is scheduled to use in his short program performance at the Winter Games in Sochi.

Samuragochi and Niigaki have employed persuasion well beyond good and evil to make more success together than they would have alone. They just couldn’t keep the persuasion going and revealed the smoke and mirrors. And the persuasion was more than just one guy behind the curtain while the other guy took the bows. Get this.

Perhaps just as shocking was Mr. Niigaki’s assertion that Mr. Samuragochi was never deaf. Mr. Niigaki said that he had regular conversations with Mr. Samuragochi, who listened to and commented on his compositions. Mr. Niigaki said the deafness was just “an act that he was performing to the outside world.”

The Fake Maestro faked deafness to invite inevitable and favorable comparisons to Beethoven. Musical history may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme, if in a deaf way, a faux deaf way! And these guys have been running this play since 1996! Nearly 20 years of Maestro, Maestro, Maestro to a man who could not hear, but who could listen. Man, it would be hard enough to fake being a classical composer in public, but to then have to fake not hearing, “Bravo!” would be a challenge of an even higher order.

I’d offer a Peitho nomination, but alas, they got caught and that’s the persuasion weakness of this play. Perhaps, a Dishonorable Mention?

Margin Call for Mavens

In Margin Call, a great ensemble cast led by Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci, Demi Moore, Jeremy Irons, and others star as the financial masters of the universe the day before the disaster of 2008. Things have slowed down at the firm, so the movie begins with mass firings. We see the sadness and anger. Stanley Tucci, a senior manager with the firm is one being fired. As he leaves, he hands a thumb drive to a bright young guy on his team who is retained. Tucci tells the young man to check out his math models and then as the elevator door closes, Tucci says, “Be careful.”

Margin Call Tucci

Tucci had hired the young guy, trained as a rocket scientist, for his math and statistics skills. The young guy analyzes the math models Tucci had been testing before his dismissal. The rocket scientist turned quant discovers that the firm has begun to go belly up with a sequence of transactions unfolding, unstoppable, and disastrous. And that this destruction is going to wash over every other firm on Wall Street. He pushes this knowledge up the leadership chain until we get a midnight board meeting with the senior members making the shocked realization that the firm and the industry is poised to drop dead in days.

You see the potential for persuasion inherent in this situation. A large firm faces financial destruction in mere days and during that midnight board meeting, everyone realizes that there’s one solution: Sell. Sell all the bad contracts, stocks, positions, CDOs, whatever the instrument may be, to anyone, but RIGHT NOW, and get out of the building before the entire financial world collapses behind them.

For a clear, compelling, and chilling demonstration of a persuasion maven, watch Jeremy Irons who portrays the leader of this firm.

Margin Call Irons Lunch

He is the walking embodiment of a man who lives by the Rules of Persuasion. He knows that persuasion is Strategic, that it is not just selling that he seeks, but survival, and even if his Tactic of selling is unethical, the Strategy of survival requires it and besides, all those who would accuse him will be gone in the whirlwind; victors write the history books. He always Counts the Change with an emphasis upon the Changes that Count the most. He is Sincere in his planning that is always beyond good and evil, but just as inSincere in his execution of those plans. He requires no kindness from strangers and seizes what the Local provides. And, while he understands the difference between smoke and mirrors, and persuasion, he’ll use either to accomplish his Strategy. Irons does nothing to make the character charming, likeable, or admirable which leaves only the persuasion skill.

You can see the contrast between someone fully committed to the Rules, Irons, and another one, Kevin Spacey, who is not, in this scene (YouTube).

Margin Call Meeting

Spacey can think like a panther, but he is not willing to act like a panther. Irons went beyond good and evil many years ago and show no inconsistency between his ability and his intentions as does Spacey. Observe their differences in persuasion evolution in this clip (YouTube).

Margin Call Irons Spacey Lunch

As always, note the Hollywood portrayal of persuasion vampires as vampires indeed. Irons takes heavy losses, but lunching at the top of the world, he is satisfied because he knows that while reduced he will survive as many of the people and firms in the buildings behind him will fail. He lives to persuade another day and looks ghoulish in so doing. That’s persuasion in full.

Margin Call is also a powerful visual lesson about the tension between persuasion and science in the form of Big Data and Big Analytics. You’ll recall the movie begins with a quant leader, Tucci, handing a data stick to a younger quant, Zachary Quinto. Quinto, the rocket scientist, then analyzes the Big Data to discover that all the prior Big Data and Big Analytics have propelled the firm and Wall Street into a cosmic failure. Smart guys using science have killed themselves with a science that was only persuasion. The masters of the financial universe could not tell the difference between Fallen Apples and Falling Apples.

Let’s get out of here with Irons and irony.

There are three ways to make a living in this business: be first, be smarter, or cheat. And I don’t cheat.

Irons is smart enough to understand the science of the impending failure and quick enough to be first and execute this without cheating . . . just persuading.

Peitho Rules

The Art of Persuasive Writing with the Little Black Dress

Consider the cover.

5th ave 5am

This is what you get from Sam Wasson’s book, 5th Avenue, 5 A.M., Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman. And, if you’ve ever been on 5th Avenue at Tiffany’s with a girl in a little black dress at any time of day or night, you don’t need to read the book because you’ve been in the thrall of persuasion. Otherwise read Wasson’s book to understand the art of persuasive writing. Let’s unzip this.

Wasson reads the biographies of everyone who participated in the movie, Breakfast At Tiffany’s, a 1961 classic starring Audrey Hepburn, the girl in the little black dress eating a Danish at 5am while looking in the window at Tiffany’s on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, New York. Biography clipping in itself makes for a boring book. All you are doing is quoting and footnoting, trudging through old footprints in old snow fields. How can you make a clip book something more? Persuasion!

Wasson wisely structures the movie and its people as innovators who created today’s modern woman (girls in the LBD) in 1961! Thus, Breakfast At Tiffany’s can be told not as a clip story, but as a bright sociology that finds the first one of a new species to walk the earth or at least make a movie. You see the persuasive wrapper around the clips.

Truman Capote who wrote the story, and George Axlerod who wrote the screenplay, and Blake Edwards who directed the movie, and Audrey Hepburn who starred as Holly Golightly, did not attempt to invent the modern woman with Breakfast At Tiffany’s; they just wanted to make a movie. Wasson details each performer’s life at the intersection formed through their participation in the movie, but if you think carefully about that intersection, no one thought themselves revolutionary, except perhaps for the writer, Axelrod, who hoped to sneak something sexy and funny past the notoriously humorless and sexless censors of the era.

But, see Wasson’s persuasion with the wrapper of the Birth of the Modern Woman (in the Little Black Dress) over what is otherwise only a collection of sentences and paragraphs from previously published biographies. The structure is the persuasion while the contents remain nothing more than stolen images from a photo album or quotes – real or imagined – from a ghosted autobiography or better still unauthorized biography. Wasson’s book is a fun, but persuasive read. You get all the anecdotes about the intersection of people making a movie in 1961 without having to read a lot of scrapbooks.

But, whether Breakfast At Tiffany’s invented the Modern Woman of the LBD species is . . . persuasion!

P.S. Truman Capote who wrote the original story for Esquire wanted Marilyn Monroe as Holly Golightly. Talk about a different persuasion.

Marilyn and Truman Dancing

If you watch the movie very carefully or better still read Capote’s story, you know that Holly Golightly is a free-lance call girl. With no visible support beyond her LBD, Holly makes her way in the world in a way that no woman in the 1950s could . . . unless she was that kind of girl. Everyone struggled – successfully – to make Holly’s occupation invisible and casting Audrey Hepburn helped hide that in plain sight. No one would suspect her. But Marilyn Monroe?

P.P.S. Breakfast At Tiffany’s barely works as a movie in our Post Modern World. Many current viewers observe in horror as Mickey Rooney plays a Japanese man, replete with all the stereotypic makeup, teeth, and bad accent. Too, as Wasson’s book reveals, a lead actor, George Peppard, did everything he could to wreck the project with his arrogance and self-direction. And, the censorship codes of the 1950s and 60s make what seems innocuous today appear wildly obscure then.

But the movie is worth watching if only for that opening shot of Hepburn in her little black dress standing on a lonely 5th Avenue at 5am, munching a Danish and thinking thoughts while looking in Tiffany’s window.

P.P.P.S. Never take a girl wearing a Little Black Dress into Tiffany’s. Never. You can let her look in from the outside, but do not open the door for her. Otherwise you will cross the perimeter beyond good and evil!

You are warned.