Georges Bataille

By Christopher Zoukis  Image courtesy

Consider the Titans of old and the incredible, monolithic edifices they constructed.  Vast halls, ruthless arches supported by volcano-sized columns and towers stretching up like signals.  On a smaller scale, the Abbey Vezelay is such an edifice.  Its architectural elements coalesce into forms nobler because the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.  Utter beauty. 

Surely this structure is holy; surely God cannot resist visiting; surely mankind is closer to God when within the Abbey than when outside in the so-called secular world. 

Strange then that in one of the graves in the nearby Vezelay Cemetery, a man, who once considered taking Holy Orders and attended seminary, but then renounced his faith, is buried.  Yet Vezelay, France is where he chose to reside permanently, forever after.  At the end of his life he even lived nearby, in rue de l’Hotel de ville.

The headstone is simple:  a mid-sized white rock, smooth, not like the glaze of quartz, but smooth like a chunk of chalk cut in two, with a vestige of texture to it. 

Rocks and wild grass decorate the cemetery.  There are few trees.  A gentle breeze puffs here and there, as if too satisfied to do more.  Perhaps the puffs are the pulses and drafts of angels’ wings, for the air carries the scent of the glistering realm.  And if you cease all thought and all feeling, and really listen, you can hear a faint throb, like a visible disturbance the ear hears but the eye cannot see.

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Up, Up, and Away!

By Christopher Zoukis

Not too long ago, the U.S. Supreme Court made a momentous decision.  The Court decided that the Affordable Care Act was in fact constitutional.  The Democrats cheered and the Republicans booed.  The Court asserted that ACA was a tax, and that the U.S. government has the right, according to the Constitution, to impose taxation.  Essentially, and under the circumstances, the Court was correct.  There’s nothing more to be said.  Image courtesy of

Other than this:  Obamacare is going to change the whole shape of the playing field. 

Let’s take a look at what’s going to happen.

The U.S. Senate Budget Committee estimates that the Affordable Care Act will incur $17 trillion in additional cost over the rest of this century.  At the present juncture, healthcare spending includes $38 trillion for Medicare, $20 trillion for Medicaid and $7 trillion for Social Security.  Adding $17 trillion to the equation brings the grand total to $82 trillion.  If that’s not scary enough, try this on for size:  all of the above healthcare programs are unfunded.  Translation:  there’s no money set aside to pay for them.

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A Feel for the Deal

By Christopher Zoukis

From effective language, the book segues logically to evoking emotions.  Sellers are advised to “create not simply a logical but a gut response” from buyers.  Research proves that most people make decisions to buy based on emotion first, followed by logical reasoning.  The illustration provided is BMW’s automobile commercial that declares:  “We don’t just make cars, we make joy!”  The seller’s job is to develop and ask questions that generate emotions appropriate to the buyer’s decision-making process.  Doing so, allows the seller to bond with the buyer during the sales process.   Image courtesy

Seidman supplies a number of sample questions designed to evoke emotions in each stage of the selling process.  The author advises sellers to remember that gestures, tone of voice, and facial expressions “must support the emotion you are emphasizing.”  In addition, two primary points about evoking emotions are related and re-emphasized:  first, since buying decisions are based on emotions, word choices are important; second, sellers need to “find their voice” by making certain to use their own vocabulary and personality. 

Another powerful selling tool is the power of storytelling.  A specific methodology for using and applying the persuasive power of storytelling is explained in detail.  Seidman’s model is called PET:  P is for personal.  E is for emotional.  And T is for teachable or trainable. 

The stories should be personal, linking experiences common to most people.  First experiences, such as school, kissing, jobs, paychecks, and bad blunders, such as foot-in-mouth comments and accidents or funny mistakes are good sources for story content.

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Thinking About Thinking

By Christopher Zoukis

Thinking Randomly Can Be A Good Thing

If you’ve ever seen video of Jackson Pollock in action, you have seen a masterful painter consciously inviting randomness into his work. Pollock exercises a great deal of control over his brushes and paddles, in the service of capturing the stray drips and splashes of paint that make up his work. Embracing mistakes and incorporating them into your projects, developing strategies that allow for random input, working amid chaotic juxtapositions of sound and form – all of these can help to move beyond everyday patterns of thinking into the sublime.

The Completion Backward Principle:  Thinking Backwards

Just like turning a thing upside down, working backwards breaks the brain’s normal conception of causality. This is the key to backwards planning, for example, where you start with a goal and think back through the steps needed to reach it until you get to where you are right now.

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