PLAY TO PEOPLE'S FANTASIES

PLAY TO PEOPLE'S FANTASIES

Promise a great & total change

and you will have followers.

From poor to rich

Sickness to health

faith healing.jpg

Misery to ecstacy

To gain power, you must be a source of pleasure for those around you -

and pleasure comes from playing to people's fantasies.


Never promise a gradual improvement through hard work. 

Rather, promise the moon, the great & sudden transformation, the pot of god...

There's the story of the mysterious alchemist Il Bragadino. His local celebrity kickstarted an "alchemy mania" across the city of Venice in the year 1589. Il Bragadino was a simple con-man, born Cypriot Mamugna. He devoted years to crafting a persona as a master alchemist, and making himself alluring to the general public & the elites of society. Once Venice was convinced a master alchemist lived among them - as he lived opulently in a palace just outside the city - they begged for his assistance. You see at the time Venice was going through a recession. So the people & the government wondered outloud, "Why can't Il Bragadino just make us some money?" Seems reasonable enough. The nobility of Venice reached out to Il Bragadino, in hopes to convince him to fill the state coffers out of sheer benevolence - using his master alchemical powers, of course. Il Bragadino considered the proposition, but also claimed another city was considered using his services for a fee... Venice, in a panic, offered to give Il Bragadino anything he wanted in exchange for his alchemical services. Bragadino requested a massive amount of money to continue living in his lavish lifestyle. Venice agreed. And so Il Bragadino moved into the city. Of course, everybody - from poor to rich - was thrilled to have a wizard at work for them. This was just what the city needed. People wanted to believe. At this point, most everybody was easy to deceive. This delusion popularly swept through the crowd.  It was only a matter of time before people started to realize something was up. Because the recession continued. When results were requested from Bragadino, he charmingly diverted the subject. When results were demanded from Bragadino, he implored the necessity of time & patience. People started to wonder if they were getting a bum deal. In the end, Il Bragadino made off with the money - and Venice, still deep in the throes of recession, was left poorer than when it started. There's a lesson in there somewhere.


"Brilliant and capricious, he was the alchemist of their fantasies - and once he had created an aura like this, no one noticed his simple deceptions.

Such is the power of the fantasies that take root in us, especially in times of scarcity and decline.

People rarely believe that their problems arise from their own misdeeds and stupidity. Someone or something out there is to blame - the other, the world, the gods - and so salvation comes from the outside as well.

Had Bragadino arrived in Venice armed with a detailed analysis of the reasons behind city’s economic decline, and of the hard-nosed steps that it could take to turn things around, he would have been scorned. The reality was too ugly and the solution too painful – mostly the kind of hard work that the citizens’ ancestors had mustered to create an empire. Fantasy, on the other hand – in this case the romance of alchemy – was easy to understand and infinitely more palatable."

- all quotes from robert greene's 'the 48 laws of power'

3 Frames from Sam Mendes's "Jarhead" (2005)

3 Frames from Sam Mendes's "Jarhead" (2005)

Understanding Media || Case: 323

Understanding Media || Case: 323