Category Archives: Philosophy

Sometimes we’ll delve into subjects of an other-worldly nature.

Chinese Fire Sale!

To prepare for their upcoming Mississippi Float Trip, Phillip and Ryan are fengshui-ing their house, i.e. throwing out all the shit they don’t need.  I think that’s the direct Chinese translation.  

Yin Yang, the Tao, and the five elements of Feng Shui.
Yin Yang, the Tao, and the five elements of Feng Shui.

We are moving crap out of Phillip’s house at the moment (selling it, giving it and begging it away) so when he’s got his crap together… interesting, getting rid of crap and getting crap together, one crap – good, other crap – bad… there will be no attachments.

I believe the Mississippi Trip will be much like that – no attachments.  A union with nature.  Now I don’t want to turn into a tree-hugging, fancy boy here but I do believe there is something to union with nature.  There is a certain peace that can be found by having less and less attachment to things.  Perhaps (only speculating here) my constant moving around, refusal to take pictures or carry pictures, refusal to buy anything I don’t really really need (self-help books don’t count) might be a desire to simplify, might be a desire for some sort of peace.  

That desire, however, to let go of everything might also be fear.  It might be a fear of being attached.  Much like the priest who proselytizes that he has renounced sex and money and wealth but thinks of nothing else, a real desire for unattachment has to be honest.  It can’t be a pronouncement; it must be genuine.  As much as possible, I would like this trip to be an honest exploration of peace, of union with nature, of letting go and of being.  But I don’t want it to be fake.  Faux-spiritual people make my skin crawl.  “Have you met my new guru???”  “No.  Have you gone to hell???  You should try it sometime!”

From Wayne Dyer’s essay on the Tao Te Ching:  Here’s the message behind this seemingly paradoxical verse of the Tao Te Ching: Your nature is to be good because you came from the Tao, which is goodness. But when you’re trying to be good, your essential nature becomes inoperative. In your effort to be good, moral, or obedient, you lose touch with your Tao nature.

We do not want to try to be spiritual on this trip.  We can only be honest, and if we end up being spiritual, then so be it.  If we end up being total douchebags, then so be it.  But at least we will be honest.  (Note:  You can’t try to be honest either or put honesty up on a pedestal or make it a principle to follow.  If you do, you stop being honest.  Honesty – and this is the rub – has to happen on its own; because, it never went anywhere – your true nature, as goodness, is honesty.)  Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote probably the greatest book in existence, rivaling even Great Expectations or A Christmas Carol.   William Kennedy  called it “the first piece of literature since the Book of Genesis that should be required reading for the entire human race.”  It’s called 100 Years of Solitude, and I found much of it boring, but still when you’re reading it you know it’s genius.  When I lived in Mexico I was watching an interview with Marquez.  This was after his book won a Nobel Prize for literature and was translated into 26 languages and pretty much the entire Latin world called him the greatest genius of all time.  Worldly trappings were his oyster.  He could fart on a couple of pages and they would have been published.  He said something that I remember to this day.  He was talking about all the “success” he’d had.  He had a subdued tone.  He was almost embarrassed to be being interviewed.  (Interesting for a Nobel Prize winner.)   “After my book won the Nobel prize, I had to write an Anti-100Years of Solitude,” he said.  “People were expecting me to write a sequel, so I wrote something completely different.  I wrote the complete opposite because trying to recreate 100 Years wouldn’t have been honest.”  The Tao, Nature, our essential goodness wouldn’t let him be dishonest.  That book was already written.  It was time for another.  

When Mississippi comes it will be time for… whatever is there.  I actually do not know what kind of movie we will make.  For the moment, I do know that fengshui-ing is not all hocus pocus.  With every desk, drawer, and crappy piece of clothing (ha!  you should see Phillip’s clothes, they’re hilarious) that Phillip throws out, we’re throwing out the non-useable from our lives.  With every day spent in nature we will be communing with the Divine.  This is not airy fairy foo foo, this is real.  At least, this is my intent.  

I think everyone finds their way back to Nature, or God, or the Divine, or Energy, or Zero Point Field or Tao or Essense or whatever you want to call it, in their own way.  Our way is choosing to float down a river… THE River in America, and make a film about it.  This is our way, and interestingly enough, the Tao means “the way.”  We won’t be extreme however.  Here, this guy’s way is interesting.  Check out minute 1:03:

So we’re not that unattached.  Uhhhh, at least I hope Phillip isn’t; that’s why I’m insisting on separate tents.  But this Trip is an exploration of letting go.  Of working with the River, not against it, not conquering it.  The Tao.  The Unspoken.  Just being, letting the River float us.

51w02sdys2l_sl160_pisitb-sticker-arrow-bigtopright35-73_ou01_

In an upcoming post, we will show you an interview we conducted with critically-acclaimed writer Eddy L. Harris, author of Mississippi Solo.  Click on the link in the right margin to check it out. 

We spoke of what it meant to be an African American traveler, Barack Obama, the Mississippi River, racism, France and French elections; but, the one theme that stuck with me the most was his description of his friendship with the river.  Eddy went down the River in 1985.  A black man, he went from Minnesota (where there are few black people) to the the Deep South (where, in 1985 at least, they still didn’t like them very much).  This was, by far, the best interview I’ve ever done.  Eddy was real and funny and opened my eyes to many things.  You know you’ve had a good interview when you come away from the experience changed.  

I hope the River changes me.  I hope I let it flow through me and that it moves some of my furniture around.  I hope it throws out the shit I don’t need.  And I can’t wait to share it with you.  When the time is right, we will be on the River and we will let you know what else gets thrown out.

Ryan

Crackheads Have Problems, We’ve Got Issues

We’re very close to being on the Mississippi River.   But we’ve got problems, problems, problems.

Dirty criminals run this site.
Dirty criminals run this site.

“Crackheads got problems, you guys are smoked.”   – Vince Vaughn in Mr. and Mrs. Smith

I had always interpreted Vince Vaughn’s quote wrong.  The first time I watched Mr. and Mrs. Smith, I thought what Vince Vaughn had said was, “Crackheads got problems, you guys got issues.”  Whenever a friend of mine came to me with some big problem he was having, I would repeat this phrase with a coy smile:  “Crackheads got problems, Simon, you’ve got issues.”  I thought what I was doing was putting the problem in perspective.  If a crackhead was living in a rundown apartment, possibly abandoned, on the South Side of Chicago, with a hole in the wall that lets a frigid, wintery 25 degree air in, as he whiddles down the last of his last crack rock, hands shaking, promising “I’ll change, I’ll stop, please Lord, help me to stop,” crying… pleading… while you whine to me that your girlfriend is going to Texas without you and HOW MAD YOU ARE! then, I thought, all I’d have to do was bust out this magical Vincevaughnism and you’d go, “Gee, me feel dumb.”  

Fat chance.

Rarely did it have this effect with my friends.  Most of the time it just made them justify their position even more:  “What do you mean!  You’re so insensitive!  Don’t you understand the severity of my problemmmmmmm?”

The truth is that it is not a problemmmmmmmm or even a problem.  It is an issue.  It is a situation.  It is a happening and it is an event.  Elvis Presley had problems; we’ve got issues.

Our issues are listed below:

  1. Phillip is currently on probation.  (Ha ha, didn’t know criminals ran this site, did ya?)  His camera was stolen by a woman who emphatically denied that she did it.  The evidence was OVERWHELMINGLY for her guilt.  I mean Perry Mason could have just gone to sleep during the courtcase, set up a slide show of the evidence, and the jury would have deliberated for about all of .34 seconds and found her guilty.  If you’re curious about the story, click here.  If not, the basic gist is he went after this woman with INTERNET JUSTICE!  (Did someone just hear a whip crack?) posting her info online.  This is a no no.  Even if someone takes a crap on your lawn and you have video evidence, even if they have their Social Security card in their teeth when they do it and leave pictures of their next of kin along with copies of their dental records by the mess (I’m not posting an illustration of this.)  you can’t do it.  Phillip found out the hard way.  “What this means is that he, ideally, needs to be off probation before we go on the Mississippi trip. Siiiighhh.  “Crackheads got problems…”  Keep repeating it.  “Crackheads got problems…”
  2. Ryan is extremely depressed.  (Ha, ha, didn’t know manic-depressive criminals ran this site, did ya?)  Yeah, yeah, seeing doctors, doing the whole thing, therapies, therapies, self-help, you can save your miracle cures. I’m working on it.
  3. Ryan has major health issues.  Sigh……  “Crackheads…..”
  4. We have no money.  That’s nothing new.
  5. We are in debt.  This is new for me, not new for Phillip.

And blah, blah, blah, I’m a dirty tramp.  So we’ve got severe problems.  (Yes, we are now upgraded to problems.  You can comment below if you still consider these issues.)  Whatever the hell you call them! we’ve got stuff to sort out.  Namely…

The Solutions

So let’s focus on the solutions.

The Mississippi Trip is still on.  I see it.  It’s real.  Can you hold the vision even when your world is crumbling about you?  Well, survivors of the Holocaust did it, why can’t we?  Victor Frankl said that all of those who survived the Holocaust had a clear vision of the future.  He imagined himself giving lectures to people in a warm, wonderful place even while doctors performed experiments on him.  It will be tuff, but I think we can handle these problems.

I see us on the Mississippi River performing our normal antics, making videos, sharing them with you, and increasing our web viewership by 100 percent.  I see us doing interviews.  I see us successfully completing each day.  I see us successfully cooking and staying healthy, swimming, doing crazy stuff, meeting good, great, interesting people and making an amazing movie that people love.

Can’t get a better vision than that.

What’s Comin’ Up

What’s comin’ up is that we’re going to post a web video on our Cumberland River adventure.

Heeeerrreeee’s a map.
View Larger Map

So we’ve got that goin’ for us.  I’m not worried.  I do want this to all work out, but rain or shine, we’re going.  And rain or shine, everything will be fine.

What Can I Do?

You can send positive energy.  It worked for the Alacatraz trip.

Philosophical Conclusions

We can handle anything.  Anything can be handled.  No matter what happens with Phil’s probation, or my depression, or somone else’s -ion, everything will be fine.

Phil’s roommate (who you can watch in the Free Ride video)

was talking about what he will do if the entire financial system collapses.  “I mean, I’m goin’ to be totin’ a gun in the streets.”  Well maybe it will collapse and zombies will try to eat our brains, but I don’t see how that’s a cause for alarm.  Maybe I’m being a little too Zen here, but anything that comes up you have to handle in the moment anyway.  How is depression, probation, or the financial collapse and subsequent invasion of China (do you know how much freaking money we owe these people, it’s staggering) any different than if things are going peachy?  You still have to deal with it and you still have to…

Deal with It Now

What’s next for 11Visions’ Mississippi Adventure?  I don’t know, but I can tell you that, when it happens, it will be happening right now.

Vince Vaughn’s Mangled Quote

So I messed his quote up.  He seemed to indicate that Mr. and Mrs. Smith being hunted by their respective assassin organizations was worse than being a crackhead.  Don’t think so.  They weren’t smoked.  They just had problems.  And so do we and so does the rest of America at the moment.  Shall we say we’re smoked.  Fuck no.  We’re going to continue.  We’re going to create a positive vision of the future just like Victor Frankl would have done, and lead ourselves out of this not-even-close-to Holocaust.

We’re not in a Holocaust.  We can handle it.  And we are.

So let us… hold the vision.

Ryan

11 Visions Gets Cursed Out, In a Good Way

I will not say f...
I will not say F...

Phillip and I have been receiving hundreds, well, tens of letters from our fans congratulating us on the release of The Hitchhiking Movie.  We thank you for your words and your dollars.  We will continue to make this the best adventure blog there is.  Some letters have been polite, some have been enthusiastic and some have have had (MY FAVORITE!) FOUL LANGUAGE!

As some of you know, I, Ryan Jeanes, love foul language.  I lather myself up with it, I take it to bed with me at night and hug it till I fall asleep, I make foul-language jellies and jams out of it, preserving it in mason jars for the summer months.

Let us tell a tale:  a tale of three emails from our fans.  They will illustrate perfectly why foul language, properly placed, can be the most sincere form of communication.

Email 1

Brent Weaver to me
show details 12:44 PM (13 hours ago) Reply

Hey Ryan,

I just wanted to send you an email congratulating you on the release of your movie. I’m sure that must have taken a lot of work and it is good to see it released. When I get a chance in the next week or so I will watch it online and let you know what I think.

I hope all has been well, take care.

Warmest Regards,

Brent Weaver
website –
http://www.hotpressweb.com

Email 2

Amanda Eaton to me
show details Apr 16 (2 days ago) Reply

Hey you crazy mo fo! The trailer looks cool, will definitely check it out! I was wondering if you lived in Chicago anymore, I haven’t seen you forever, I guess you are just busy swimming to prisons and jumping out planes.
Great work my friend,
keep it up!
Amanda 🙂

Email 3

Matt Griffo
5:48 PM (8 hours ago)

That’s SO FUCKING AWESOME!!!!!!!!

Matt Griffo
585.520.2514
www.mattgriffo.com

Okay, let’s break it down.  The first email is extremely nice.  I wasn’t expecting it to be so nice.  It is articulate and well-formed, and it turns out that my little brother’s best friend from high school is not so little anymore.  Bravo, Brent.  If you ever need a website redesigned, Brent Weaver is your man.

The second email is brimming with enthusiasm.  It is also nice.  Mo fo is a foray into Bad Language Land but no coarseness orcs are slain.  I love Amanda and  think she’s great.  If you ever need a dramatic actress in the Chicago area, Amanda Eaton is your woman.

The third email made me laugh out loud.  I was touched.  I laughed again.  I’m reading it now and laughing.  I think it’s sincere.  It has a boy-like quality.  It is endearing… and absolutely foul-mouthed.  I love it.

It’s a one-liner.  He doesn’t say “see you soon” or “blah blah blah, tell me more, we’ll keep in touch;” he sincerely expresses himelf the only way any self-respecting curse-oholic would:  That… is so fucking awesome.  LOL.  Oh wait, don’t forget the !!!!!!!!!!, and he actually hit Cntrl + I to make it italicized.  Oh, and he capitalized the last 3 words, not the first.  It’s almost like there’s a build up:  That’s (wait, 2, 3, 4) so fucking awesome!

Matt Griffo is a commedian and an improvizational actor.  You can reach him here if you ever need a crowd entertained.

Which email is better?

None one of them.  Each form of communication has its place, and each is sincere.  Insincere communications get thrown by the wayside.  Which is why I’ve pledged to express myself as sincerely as possible on this blog even if I have to throw a Fuck-bomb.  Uhhhhh, waitaminute.  Are you supposed to say F-bomb so you don’t say fuck?  Shit, okay, ummmm, I love Fu… F-bombs.  They pierce through the social cheesecloth.  Cursing, used genuinely, can slice right to the meat of how you really feel.  “Ryan, I am so proud of you” or “Ryan, this movie is fucking awesome!”  Sincerity, enthusiasm, and disregard for social norms (also known as sincerity) all wrapped up into a nice F-burrito.  Munch, munch. Mmmmmm, F-burritos.

We thank all of you

11 Visions would like to thank you all for purchasing the movie and forwarding it on to your friends.  Thank you for your congratulations and we encourage you to use our comments section to say anything on your mind.  We love comments!  And as long as the words are sincere, cursing is cool with us.

Ryan Jeanes is a compulsive curser and is trying to honor his mom’s pleas to curse less.  His efforts are yielding mixed results.

The Kite and the Weight

kite_flyingImagine a flying kite tied to a weight. The weight is just heavy enough to keep the kite from flying off into oblivion, and the kite catches the wind just enough to drag the weight forward. Interesting analogy. What does it mean?

In our business, Phillip, in general, is the weight. He keeps me grounded. I am a man of high-flying ideas, and oftentimes have no idea how I’m going to make them happen in the real world. With Phil, I’m tied squarely to the ground, but not so much that we cannot be drug forward by the joy of inspiration.

The wind can easily be likened to inspiration. Break the word inspiration down: in=in and spire=breath. The wind is the breath in your sail. It’s the high-soaringness of your idea. But if you’re all kite, you’re flying up, up and away. You need to be grounded. We live in the third dimension, and hard, physical action is what makes great ideas real. But what if you’re all weight? No movement. You can take all the action you want; but, if it’s not inspired action, well, what energy is going to move that weight?

From a purely cold-science, Wall-Street-business-plan point of view, I am completely, utterly useless. I can’t make a website, I can’t edit a video (though I can tell you what I want it to look like), and I can’t rig a tractor to run. But I can come up with ideas, I have a feel for what will inspire others, I have a feel for what will be exciting and funny, and I can act, improvise and write. Hear me now: Phillip comes up with tons of ideas; however, I would say with general certainty I spend my time with my head in the clouds a lot more than he does. Without Phil, I’m off into the ether.

Phillip is a whiz on technical matters. He can throw a website up in 2 seconds (just did another one… and another). He can edit like a madman and is more wary of logistical matters than I am. I’m a burning heart ready to evaporate at a moment’s notice. I have no idea how I have not spontaneously combusted by now. “Hey Phil, we could do this and this and THIS!

“Whoa there, cowboy, hold the phone. We gotta water the horses, and connect to the operator first.”

So, you would think Phillip, being the more cerebral of the two, might poo poo my ideas, but he doesn’t! I’ve rarely heard him say it can’t be done. And if he did, he knows I’d bother the piss out of him till he said yes 😉. He says, “Lets do it,” and just reminds me of the technical implications. The weight and the kite, they are indispensable to one another.

If you are planning a great adventure, go for it! You don’t need a partner. You can play the role of both the kite and the weight, though it is more fun if there are two people who can separate into complementing roles. Phil always says yes. He’s cautious, but he says yes. And I never like to say no but gladly give in when something is definitely not a good idea or when technical obstacles are too thick to push through. Somehow, however, that kite-weight contraption is gonna move forward, that movie will move forward, that website, web video, book and article are going to move forward. The wind is always there; you just need to catch it.

Reason informs inspiration, and inspiration informs reason. They are not mutually exclusive. They are opposite ends of the propeller that drives the boat, your idea, forward. They are two sides of the same coin. A coin cannot exist without two sides, and an adventure cannot be made possible without both high-flying feeling and cold-grounded physical action. It is the energy and the stability together, the right brain and the left brain, power and groundedness, inspiration and action that make your experience possible. One without the other, and the system collapses.

An old Quaker prayer goes like this: Pray and move your feet. I believe part of our job on this planet is to bring a little bit of heaven to earth, and I believe that is achieved through following your inspiration. The earth and the heavens cannot exist without one another. One is not necessarily better or worse than the other. Neither the brains, nor the lungs nor the heart could dream of existing without working together. Bring your reason and your emotions together when planning your next great adventure. If you take a step back, you’ll see the kite and the weight are not just indispensable to one another, they’re the best of friends.

An Interesting Email Exchange

Should you set a big goal you’re not sure you can achieve and thus motivate yourself?  Or should you set a nice, sweet, achievable goal that you’re sure you can do thus, in theory, building your confidence?

This is an interesting debate.  View the exchange below between myself and the facilitator of our upcoming Escape from Alcatraz Swim.  Also, Leslie, if you’re reading this, I didn’t think there would be a problem if I published this exchange.  This is a complete professional exchange between a student and an instructor.  You will see the warmness she exudes in her communication which is why I went with her (there are several swim instructors running Alcatraz swims) over the others.  Go to swim-art.com if you want the realest deal in San Fran swim instructors.  In this exchange, you will see that both of us want the same thing – my success.  Which method is better?  We’ll discuss that in a moment.

First me:

March 3

I have never swum open water for distance, as in “okay Ryan, your goal is to swim from here to there” but I have swum in the ocean several times. This is the first time I have learned TI, but not the first time I’ve learned to swim.
I was planning on arriving Apr 2, I know you guys swim on Wednesday but don’t know if I can make that date, I will be there a few days beforehand to swim in the swim park or anywhere else you suggest. Are there other groups that swim on other days – Thursday Friday Saturday?
Thanks,
Ryan

Her reply:

March 5

Hi Ryan,

Ok. That helps a lot.

So, I don’t want to be discouraging, but here’s what I think might work really well for you, in terms of progression, planning, and succeeding at what you want to accomplish.

1) Get comfortable with your stroke between now and May
2) Do some open water swims in Chicago in June
3) Come out here in July or August to swim Alcatraz
4) then continue to increase your distance and plan for some cold water training from September 2009 – whenever you are booked for Dover in 2010.

I think this plan will bring you the most success. I’m happy to hear your thoughts. If you are still determined to do Alcatraz in April, we will be happy to have you. Let me know what you think.

Warmly,

Leslie

And my reply:

March 6
Thanks for your concern. I’m still doing this. I understand your doubt, but that’s okay. I have one month to take that away. So anything you want to share in terms of what you would like me to accomplish this month before I come out is fine.

Okay, thanks Leslie,
Ryan

March 6

Hi Ryan,

Your goals for this month should be:

1) be able to swim a mile in less than 40 minutes in the pool, without stopping
2) be ready to tolerate 50-53 degree water by taking cold showers (are you wearing a wetsuit for this swim? – I would highly highly recommend it.
3) be able to sight efficiently and successfully
4) be ready to swim in choppy water – we call it the “washing machine” effect the way the water tosses you about.

I’ll wait to receive your sign up form.

Regards,
Leslie

March 6

Thanks,
Yes I’ve already been
1.submerging myself in the tub 45-50 degree gradually increasing time, yesterday was 10 min
2. swimming in the lake (Michigan) for brief periods (close to shore, don’t worry) don’t tell the cops, you’re technically not supposed to for another 2 months
3. Yes I’m using a wetsuit for the swim
4.sighting is upcoming in my lessons
5.I’ll give you updated times as I get them
So thank you. Once again, I understand you’re doing your job by warning me, but I’m commited. I’m young and ambitious, and don’t think I’m being unreasonable. If I am, it’s not a dangerous unreasonablity, so you shouldn’t be worried about me biting off more than I can chew. I will show up prepared. I have my goal; I will do it.
Thanks for supporting me.
Ryan

So there you have it…
She wanted me to succeed; that much is obvious.  She did think I should wait, but I don’t want to.  I want to go for it.  It inspires me.  I could wait but then I’d feel like I was throwing the breaks on a beautiful ramp up to the big day.  I can’t back down.  I’ve gotta do it.
Now, as you’ll notice, I’m pumped.  The fear is pumping, but the excitement is too.  If I waited till July like she said, sure I’d have had a “better” shot, but then there is no motivation, no inspiration; and, that’s what we’re about – exploration, vision, touching the stars.  There is no star in waiting.  Let us do it.  Let us explore more visions.  My vision is to complete Alcatraz in under an hour.  Let us do it.
Here’s another exchange between me and my brother Zach, the most rational of the family.  “Are you preparing?” he asks.
“Yes, I’m doing all I know to do.”
“Are you just gonna show up there munching doughnuts saying ‘where’s duh water?'”
“No, I’m training, cold water training, elliptical machine, swimming every day.  I’m just scared; it’s my first open water swim.”
“Look, it’s a challenge; it’s gonna be challenging no matter how you look at it.  Just do all you can do and go.”
“Am I being naive?”
“No.  You’re not being dangerous.  You’ve got a goal, you’ve got a preparation plan.  Go do it.”
God, I love my brother.
So I feel a lot better after that.  Alcatraz, here we come.
Stay tuned.
Ryan

UPDATE:

March 7

Hi Ryan,

I AM reading this!!! LOL. And I’m FINE with it. It is an important discussion. I am glad you posted it. Your enthusiasm makes me so happy. And you can do this!

Leslie

How to Get “The Best Job in the World”

40_lrgToday marks the final day of a worldwide job search conducted by the Queensland Tourism Authority in Australia. This thinly disguised viral marketing effect is already a success even though the winner hasn’t yet been chosen. Let’s see what’s at stake and why this is being called “The Best Job in the World.”

If you’re one of the 23,000 people who submitted an application, congratulations! You have a better chance of spending six months on a beach in Australia than the average lottery player. However, the thousands of applicants who are not chosen for this job will likely just continue their regular existence—an existence now slightly marred by wishing they were the lucky one enjoying the sun and water while blogging about their wonderful new life.

That got me to thinking. I’m about to start the best job in the world myself. Sun…check! Water…check! Nothing important to do for months…check! Blogging about the good life…check!

I’m talking about our upcoming Mississippi Float trip of course. The inflatable kayak will take the place of an Australian beach house and the mighty Mississippi will have to suffice instead of the great barrier reef. Okay, so it’s not exactly as luxurious but now the whole venture is in my control. I’m not anxiously waiting to see if I have been chosen out of the thousands of other applicants. It’s here. It’s now. It’s going to happen.

The best part about this revelation is that YOU can do it too. Out of work? Bored with life? Wanna see America? Get a boat and spend a few months on the river. We’re not the first to have made such a trip, and there’s plenty room for all the adventurous souls out there. You just have to decide to if you want to follow along by boat, or follow along by just reading this blog. “The Best Job in the World” only lasts six months, but a life of adventure never ends.

Ethos, Logos, Pathos and the Quest for Tiger’s Milk Bars

Your Newest Superhero
Your Newest Superhero

Ethos – similar to the word ethics – is an ancient Greek word meaning character. Logos – as in logic – means word, and pathos – pathological, empathy, sociopath – means feeling or suffering. Ethos, logos and pathos are often used as elements in both literary works and persuasive arguments. Advertisers use these elements all the time to influence us. Por ejemplo…

Ethos

Advertisers will try amp up your belief in their character or trustworthiness with phrases such as “the name you can trust” or “5 out of 6 people prefer Astrolube to…” As you know, they constantly attempt to remind us they are a company in good standing: “For over forty years Astrolube…” I guess I really like Astrolube. The idea is if I trust you or at least can believe that you are telling me the truth, I will be inclined to buy your product. However, oftentimes belief in the salesperson is not enough, you also need…

Pathos

Pathos refers to pure, straight emotion. Advertisers try to associate positive emotions to their product whether that means indicating P Diddy drinks it (the exact reason I do not drink Ciroc – still pathos) or blasting roaring images of a roller coaster to convince you to visit Six Flags. Karl Rove used pathos effectively with the social-issue-wary, Republican party base to get George Bush elected in 2000. He sent out mailers about stem cell research, abortion, and gays to get every backwoods hick in the country to get out and vote for GW. Thank god he did too! Whew! No more gays! Now the country can move forward. Pathos involves appeals to passions, not logic. Sorry to break it to you, hickzoids, if we get rid of the gays, your problems are not going to be solved. No, no, if we get rid of the Mexicans, your problems will not be solved either. Go back to your corncob pipe and weed-growing business. Douche.

Logos

Logos treats appeals to logic, our rationality. “Look, Jim, you could stay home tonight and play Play Station and dream about women, or you could come out with me to the bar and have a real shot at getting an actual woman.” However, please note that logic must be based on correct assumptions: All women in bars are sluts. I am a slut. Therefore, I am a woman in a bar. Errrrr, where did my logic go wrong?

Whatchu telling me this for, Ryan?

Currently I am writing persuasive letters with the intention of obtaining sponsorship for our upcoming float down the Mississippi. I do not know how effective these letters will be. I did write one that was moderately successful with Sea Eagle (we have their banner on our site), but I found out some interesting things about this persuasion triple header while doing an exercise I found in an email from Michael Neill. He said that when writing a persuasive letter, you can write three versions: one with a focus on ethos, one with a focus on pathos, and one on logos. Then you write the real letter. I found my versions pretty funny, esp. the pathos one, and wanted to share them with you. Enjoy.

ETHOS VERSION

First let me say that your Tiger’s Milk Bars have played an important role in my life. I was raised on them. My mother was a health food fanatic during my entire infancy, childhood and adolescence. I actually did not know what a Snickers bar was until about the age of 6. I am writing you today to ask for an endorsement, either in cash or in product, for an upcoming event of which my company and I will be a part.

We are a film company. We specialize in adventure films aimed at creating a sense of wonder, joy and awe in the audience. To watch a trailer of our latest feature please visit www.hitchhikingmovie.com. Our company’s name is 11 Visions. We are a new company and started out of a love of adventure, exploration and filmmaking. Please allow me to state clearly how you may help us and how we might help you.

We have two upcoming films: Two Miles an Hour: Life at the Speed of the Mississippi and The Channel. Two Miles an Hour is a documentary cataloguing our float down the entire length of the Mississippi River. We will be embarking on this journey in May of this year and expect to complete the trip within three months. Nutrition will be of vital importance while on the River especially since we will not be using any machinery to propel us forward but will be paddling in kayaks. I’m sure you can appreciate the physical demands this will place on us day in and day out. The Channel is a documentary slated to premiere in August of 2010. This film will document my journey from beginner to skilled swimmer as I prepare for my solo crossing of the English Channel in July of 2010. I will be training for this crossing in the River and, needless to say, will be burning a tremendous amount of calories. The quality of my nutrition is of paramount importance, and we are searching for a company willing to donate both product, and if willing, cash to the endeavor.

I believe in your company. You were the first company I envisioned when I turned to my partner and stated, “We need to take tons of nutrition bars with us on the River!” (little bit of pathos, sorry) Due to the fact that I believe wholeheartedly in your product and the fact that you played such an important role in my raising and healthy state as a child, I would like you to be the first ones we have the pleasure of asking for sponsorship. We can offer you banner ads on our sites, embedded marketing of your product in our real-time web videos that will be aired as we travel down the Mississippi, and featured product placement in our feature film which will premiere August of this year. We would also like to offer you a free ad at the beginning of said film.

Kayaking and swimming will place tremendous demands on my partner’s and my body, and with nutritional supplementation by Tiger’s Milk, we stand a good chance to succeed.

Please consider this opportunity; I would sincerely appreciate a reply.

Sincerely,

Ryan Jeanes

PATHOS VERSION

Dear Sirs,

First let me say that your Tiger’s Milk Bars are the bomb. My mom raised me on this shit! It’s fucking great! I love you guys and I hope you love me! Here’s the deal. I will be swimming down the motherfucking Mississippi River. Oh my fucking god, you’ve gotta check this out. Okay so my friend and I are crazy mofos and I want to say how good your bars taste. They are fucking great. My mom wouldn’t even let me eat a Snickers bar for like fucking ever! So anyway I want you guys to give us some cash, yo!

Here’s why: I am going to be making two films. One is called Two Miles an Hour: Life at the Speed of the Mississippi and the other fucking great movie that you’re gonna love if you have a nutsack is called The Channel. In the Channel one, I swim the English Channel and in the Mississippi one, I swim the Mississippi. My friend’s gonna be on a raft so don’t worry, I won’t drown or nothing : )))))). Yeah! So anyways I was wondering if you would like to be our sponsors. Check this shit out: You will be able to put a big fat motherfucking banner right on our site. It will say that Tiger’s Milk is the best motherfucking sponsor in the world. It will say that you guys support what we’re doing: adventure and shit. It will say that “hey I’m a crazy mofo who likes to sponsor shit and give away shit and we’re giving shit to these guys cuz they’re crazy mofos too! Crazy, yes, no?

So look. You guys will be able to advertise on our site. You will be able to have your product embedded in our web videos, our movie, etc. etc. It’ll be fucking great. All I want in return is some mooooolah. If you can’t do mooooolah, than hook me up with some motherfucking bars so I can munch on them and not starve to death. This is so fudgeing exciting! I’m pissing my pants!

You guys need to totally sponsor us. Tiger’s Milk will be embedded into the minds of the nation. Our goal is to sell 10,000 of these hitchhiking motherfuckers, these movies, so like get on board and don’t miss the boat – pun motherfucking intended, dog!

I want you to sponsor us, you beautiful, gorgeous motherfuckers. I want you to be our sponsor because it would be fucking great and you won’t regret it.

Sincerely,

Ryan Jeanes, DogMasterChief in Chief

LOGOS VERSION

Dear sirs,

Thank you for taking the time to review my letter. I am writing you today to offer you a business opportunity. We have a website dedicated to the sale of travel/adventure related films. Though our sales are low at the moment, we are projecting increased sales over the coming months as our new release The Hitchhiking Movie gains momentum. We have several promotions in place, most notably a partnering with the site digihitch.com, which has over 14,000 registered members, an excellent market for the purchase of said film.

We believe that Tiger’s Milk has an opportunity to reach and market to a similar quantity of viewers in our next feature: Two Miles an Hour: Life at the Speed of the Mississippi. Nutrition and the vital role it plays in the completion of difficult and highly physical endeavors will be the centerpiece of this film. We are aiming to give an honored and trusted nutrition company such as yours the chance to market to likeminded individuals (such as our film and website viewers) interested in the themes of training, travel, endurance and adventure. We believe that an entirely new and exciting demographic will be open to you if you pursue an agreement with us.

Our adventure down the Mississippi begins in May. We hope to strike a mutually beneficial agreement with a nutrition bar company by that time. Also, our upcoming feature, The Channel, has generated substantial buzz and we believe that its appeal to nutrition minded individuals will be even greater than Two Miles an Hour. This film will catalogue the training for my unassisted swim of the English Channel in July of 2010. I will continue to train during the while on the river, increasing not only interest but also supporting the philosophy that any athlete can train anytime, anywhere. We know that Tiger’s Milk believes in keeping athletes and laypeople alike healthy and strong, which is why we are confident a successful partnership with your business may be possible. The popularity of our site grows more and more every day as more and more people are hooked on our entertaining posts, videos, and featured films. We hope to make Tiger’s Milk the official Nutrition Bar Sponsor of Two Miles an Hour and The Channel. We are extremely excited about this opportunity and hope the prospect of your business reaching more and more potential buyers of your products is equally exciting.

We are asking specifically for cash sponsorship as well as a large supply of Tiger’s Milk Bars during the Mississippi float. I estimate that between two people, we will average as much as 6 bars a day. The maximum length of this trip will be 3 months; therefore, if you are able to provide us with 540 bars, it would be much appreciated. We also believe a cash sponsorship of 100 dollars per month is sufficient to cover promotion-related costs such as embedding your bars into our web films (we estimate as many as 50 short films to be posted before, during and after our trip, on our parent site 11visions.com; Tiger’s Milk may have access to as many as one-third of those films either via choice product placement or direct advertising). In return, we will also offer you banner ad access to our viewers, direct video promotions (you may also run a commercial on our site if you wish, and we will film it if you wish for no charge), continual mention and consumption on camera of Tiger’s Milk Bars on both web-based video and subsequent DVDs, and 3 separate live promotions in which we explicitly and enthusiastically endorse Tiger’s Milk Bars as the only bar we trust, in the place and at the time of your choosing.

Once again, we anticipate a high level of interest in this trip, and please understand that our live blogging, real time web videos, and live promotions with chosen sponsors during that time will only add to the excitement, increasing the prospect for greater sales of Tiger’s Milk products. Please note that, in addition, each and every day we will be augmenting the size of our viewing audience as our current feature The Hitchhiking Movie tours film festivals around the world.

We believe Tiger’s Milk’s newfound access to a younger, perhaps hipper, and more adventure minded demographic will increase the size of your business and contribute to Tiger’s Milk’s popularity all over the world. We believe that you are the perfect candidate for sponsorship and hope to hear from you soon.

Sincerely,

Ryan Jeanes

Und das ist alles, meinen friends

I decided to go with just the logos one. I know the exercise was to combine them all into one synergistic explosion of persuasive punching power, but fuck it (pathos!). Pathos strikes again! Wait a minute – that’d make a great superhero! Yes, I did the animation you see at the beginning after typing that sentence. He was a Hebrew superhero on Wiki Commons that I11 Visions › Edit Post — WordPress converted into The Champion of Emotionally Persuasive Arguments, Pathos!!!!!!

PS – When writing sponsors, I’m going to use logos as our backbone and maybe throw a little pathos in there for flair. (No, I’m not going to use the Fs and the MFs, that was just an exercise to get my juices flowing.) Then I can insert ethos when it feels natural. We will keep you posted on what happens with sponsors.  PAAAAAAATHHOOOOOOOOSSS!

Ryan

Update (3/02/09): As you can see heah, we did in fact get the boats from Sea Eagle.  Thanks John!  Persuasive articles do work.  However let me point out something for those of you wishing to do something similar.  Voici I will break down how this came about:  1st, I wrote Sea Eagle and told them what I wanted to do.  I go the decision maker on the first try.  Sea eagle is a family owned and operated company so it was easier to maneuvre.  2nd, the main dude said he would like to give us some boats, but indicated he wanted to see our Hitchhiking Movie first.  Now that I think about it, we chatted about hitchhiking first.  He was drawn to our site and my email possibly since he’d done some hitchhiking.  3rd, he didn’t commit to sending the boats until after he had seen the movie.  Very important:  It wasn’t just the persuasive letter.  There was the pathos with the direct connection we had.  I also talked to him about Phillip’s positive experiences with his Sea Eagle kayak.  There was logos with what I was proposing – he got that he’d use our footage and such and that we’d promote the kayak.  But he didn’t commit to sending the kayaks until he got the ethos in check.  The ethos was seeing the movie.  Once he saw that, he knew it wasn’t a couple of tools writing for free kayaks.  We continue to build ethos by continuing to promote his kayaks and implementing them into our films.  I am going to apply this technique with Gregory Packs.  I really want Phil to get one, they’re the bomb.  I had a personal relationship with the low level sales guy.  He said he’d forward my email to the Marketing Director, but no response from him.  I’m a nobody, see?  So the in is going to have to be sending the movie off to the low level guy, he sees it, likes it, and hopefully talks me up to Marketing Master Dog in Chief, and we’re in.  You see, there are many factors here.  The whole combination has to be present or your toast.  It’s like the building blocks have to be in place before the person commits.  Please use this info when you’re asking for anything.  Everyone wants to tell you yes; they just need that right combo of ethos, pathos, and logos spun.

Ryan