a course about 'reality' and how business, advertising and media affect our notions of it


In January of 2005 we did recognizance research in Las Vegas, Joshua Tree National Park, and Hollywood,

in hopes of creating a class soon to help students think about the way business often creates alternate realities both intentionally and inadvertently through

media persuasion, market-world construction, brand-marketing, internet alternatives, and other means (the strange worlds of casinos, etc)

Business is not an institution, but is the dynamic multifaceted conglomeration of multiple

heterogeneus interests pursuing profit through product or service distribution.  In its wake, 'business' has a profound impact

on the ways we think the goals we pursue, the 'norms' we consider normal, and also helps direct our interests and so, inadvertently,

directs us away from particular values, goals and interests.  Insofar as business does this, business helps construct our culture and our lives.


The Purpose of this course is to help us think about the ways in which business creates alternate realities through media and advertising,

 and how these affect our society, values, and purpose for living. The class would travel west by airplane, to Las Vegas,

then drive to the Grand Canyon, and Joshua Tree National Park,Then we will head for Hollywood, Disneyland, and Beverly Hills,

eventually travelling back to Las Vegas..

Las Vegas

"A society which allows an abominable event to burgeon from its dung heap and grow on its surface is like a man

who lets a fly crawl unheeded across his face or saliva dribble from his mouth - either epileptic or dead."

--Jean Baudrillard

In the construction of Immortal Fame you need first of all a cosmic shamelessness.
-- Umberto Eco "Travels in Hyperreality" (1975)

"If everything on television is, without exception, part of a low-calorie (or even no-calorie) diet, then what good is it

complaining about the adverts?By their worthlessness, they at least help to make the programmes around them

seem of a higher level." --Jean Baudrillard

You will visit and see new places

No doubt you will meet interesting new people:

We will also spend time in the desert, on a technology fast at Joshua Tree National Park, while reading and talking


We will also consider the failed attempt at a utopia-creation: the SALTON SEA:


"Santa Barbara is a paradise; Disneyland is a paradise; the U.S. is a paradise. Paradise is just paradise.

Mournful, monotonous, and superficial though it may be, it is paradise. There is no other." --Jean Baudrillard



How have TV and Media affected our culture? How has it been helpful? How has it been harmful?




Merchants of Cool


Beverly Hills

"20th century advertising is the most powerful and sustained system of propaganda in human history

and its cumulative cultural effects, unless quickly checked, will be responsible

for destroying the world as we know it. As it achieves this it will be responsible for the deaths

of hundreds of thousands of non-western peoples and will prevent the peoples of the world

from achieving true happiness. Simply stated, our survival as a species is dependent

upon minimizing the threat from advertising and the commercial culture that has spawned it."

Sut Jhally, Advertising at the edge of the apocalypse

How have virtual realities, hyperrealities, media and marketing realities affected REALITY and

our perception of our daily lives, our values, and our desired goals?

"There is no more disturbing consequence of the electronic and graphic revolution than this:

that the world as given to us through television seems natural, not bizarre.

For the loss of the sense of the strange is a sign of adjustment,

and the extent to which we have adjusted is a measure of the extent to which we have changed.

Our culture's adjustment to the epistemology of television is by now almost complete;

we have so thoroughly accepted its definitions of truth, knowledge and reality that irrelevance

seems to us to be filled with import, and incoherence seems eminently sane."
--Neil Postman"Amusing Ourselves to Death" Chapter 5

This course could change you and your perspective for the rest of your life,

so be careful.


For more info, or if you've got some suggestions for this class, contact andy gustafson at andygustafso@yahoo.com


Tentative Syllabus for Course