Love for sale?

Love for sale?

!An Advertisement for Pure Love!

[Note: This ad was written when we offered two evolving ebooks — Love at a Reasonable Price and Diary of an Adamant Seducer — on the website as a package deal: $10 to watch both evolve. The ad, slightly altered, is still up on the site. Who knows why? Who could justify its continued presence? Who can find a logic to excuse how it lingers there?]

I. Prelude to a con

No longer content to discontentedly fidget within the bounds of all reason and decency, Bartleby Willard and Amble Whistletown have overflowed those bounds and created this advertisement, this offer, this daydream, this lark, this connivement: An advertisement for Pure Love.

We quote: “Another product for now: Pure Love. You heard that right: we don’t want to just think about manufacturing, advertising, and selling Pure Love; we want to manufacture, advertise, and sell Pure Love.”

What are we about to do? We are about to advertise: to paint a wondrous picture and, without quite claiming as much, stir up the daydream that our product will grant you that picture, along with all your daydreams about what such a picture would mean to your life; and then grab for your money and run.

What is the product we’re proposing? Pure Love. Unlike other industries, our product actually is the salvation you long for. Our trick is that of course we can’t sell Pure Love and so we say that we can’t sell Pure Love — but just by talking about the possibility of selling Pure Love, we open up the old wounds and rev up the old hope-hope motors; and then we gently offer to take your money, allowing the vague confused longings to come to one point and tempt you with the mad idea of a solution, a victory, a salvation that could be knowingly won with one clear and simple action: handing us money. That’s how we con you: with the sharp thrill of a fuzzy dream of a salvation-path that you can clearly identify (life with our product!) and acquire (buy it!).

Advertisers more typically offer you this differently convoluted but essentially identical fraud:
Some piece of physical or intellectual property (or service), which, according to the subtle suggestion made to your deep dark longings, will somehow magically, maybe, worth-a-shot, may-as-well-give-into-the-heady-hoping-lusting-rush provide you with what only Pure Love can give: a consciously-experienced whole-being salvation. Such is the typical route to the same diabolical end we purpose with the above strategy. We’ll approach our quarry from a slightly different hillock, splitting the breeze at a slightly different angle; thundering across the pebbly, downward-sloping dirt with a perhaps different lope — but with the same yellow-fanged, white-spittled sneer-snarl; the same leering downward-slanting, upward-curving eyes; the same thoughtless, cruelly belly-slashing frolic.

So! The victims have glimpsed their fate: let the snaking snake-charming slither-slather pitter-patter salesmanship-is-conmanship begin!

II. The con: sung with chest out, at full canto

It remains to be seen whether or not Pure Love can be bought and sold in the realm that Ancient Mariner Press tells itself, an infinite reverberation bounded only by those time-proven guides to thought and art: Beauty, Truth, Goodness, Justice, and above all Lovingkindness.

However, in the realm subject (at least apparently) to more mundane laws, Pure Love is no commodity. Would you buy the True Good low in the hopes of selling the True Good high? Would you name a price for salvation? Would you purchase 32 ounces of what is from one perspective a formless infiniti shining through all formed things and from another perspective the totality of every formed thing? I say: would you buy 32 ounces of absolute infinite infiniti? Of course you couldn’t: selling and buying Pure Love is impossible. But even if you could, you shouldn’t.

Nonetheless and nevertheless for our evermore, please consider us for all your Pure Love needs! That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, leeches and germs, boys and girls, panicked crawdads and soft mudbanks, step right up! Come on in! Get your genuine one of a kind Pure Love right here at Ancient Mariner Press!

How much? $10.

[Editor’s Note: As mentioned above, we never did end up offering two ebooks for $10. They’re all $3/each, and, at least as far as we know, none of them include actual Pure Love. At least not more than anything else does (for perhaps it’s true that, as some say and many sense, all things are indeed created, sustained by, shot-through with, and ultimately one with Pure Love, an eternal infinite joyful compassionate cherishing/nuzzling/lifting up).]

So little? That’s right!

You are asking yourself how we can offer the one thing that actually would justify all the world-promising of advertisers, and at the cost of two (admittedly overhype-priced) lattes. You are asking yourself how we can put a price on the one thing that completely exists (only what is prior to perspectives really exists, and Pure Love — being identical with the God or Nature-Of-Things — is that one thing: what is really going on, as opposed to stories-about and/or reactions-to [aka: ideas and/or feelings; aka: perspectives]).

You are, benumbed as fish around Crocodile Dundee’s skiff, wondering aloud how we could sell the spiritual joy beneath and shining through all appearances — that supreme blessedness which everyone knows anyone can experience completely gratis, though only to the degree that they quit egotripping. You are asking yourself how we can sell God/Salvation at any rate — let alone the low, low introductory offer of $10.

Friends we can’t; and if we could we wouldn’t. We’re not so low.

We already disapprove of advertisers painting pictures which give unsuspecting psyches the impression that Product X (example: a specific brand of soda pop) will bring about Situation Y (example: fitting right into a circle of smart, cool, nice, together, well-coiffed, happy, fun, dashing, good looking people), and that yes, what you’ve always suspected is true: Situation Y will indeed quench your vague innermost longing (that endpointless longing at the base of all particular desires, goading you on and on and always on as you more and more woolly-eyed chase the ever-elusive “good enough” [we here take it as canon that there’s a vague longing at the core of each human being and that all specific longings are founded upon that vague longing, and that, since every specific longing promises a specific solution and a real endpoint to what can only be vaguely and unendingly desired, specific longings are a type of trick, contrived by the old seductress Nature to keep us forever captive in her gold-painted game]).

Oh the fiends! Suggesting that Product X will bring about Situation Y, which will in turn actually-yes-just-as-you-suspected satisfy that indistinct never-ending itch at the core of all your dissatisfactions!

Evil incarnate! Creating a charming artificial scenario exemplifying Situation Y! Weaving Product X into this unspoken story and so coaxing deep desperate toad-brain impulses into the foggy-froggy supposition that Product X will somehow magically lead directly and unfailingly to Situation Y! Painting (let any who doubt the irredeemable and inevitable abjection of a marketing major but hark these charges!) vague delights without officially claiming or denying anything, thus back- and under-handedly both instantiating and reinforcing your pre-existing delusion that Situation Y is a reliable route to a state of affairs so amazingly wonderful, so incredibly beyond what you can even imagine — but that you still imagine getting (you imagine getting this orb in your chest/heart/gut, this glowing swirling nebulous sense of Happy Ending Fairy Tale Perfection OK,-Actually-OK). The monsters! Tying their product to a preexisting delusion that some shallow victory (coolness, beauty, a hot partner, a fabulous career, an impeccable made-for-1950s-TV family, etc) is the !actually-good-enough! that you always deep inside yearn yearn yearn to reach, to become, to live.

What is this but a concerted, for-profit attack on your mind/heart/body/soul? What is advertising but the ultimate con: “No need to answer the ineffable and infinite nature of your longings by turning your heart, body, mind, soulfire to the ineffable and infinite nature of God/PureLove/Truth/Goodness/TheWay. No sir, no ma’am! No need for any of that! Just take your vague longing at an unimaginably wonderful infinite thriving and the encircling daydream that some specific nameable and gettable pleasure/comfort/safety/success-story can adequately satisfy your vague, infinitely-expanding: just bundle all that desperate background-raving up and plug it into our distinctly wonderful but vaguely drawn reality — no work required: simply accept our product and its accompanying fable-injecting confusion and you’re in! Easy as that.”

Yes, friends, eternal damnation is indeed as easy as that!

We take one long eyebrow-arching look at this purposeful muddying of a human-moment’s waters and declare advertising evil. Obviously, this is correct. Clearly, this is a stern but a fair, a righteous judgment.

How could we then moxie the hypocrisy to turn round and assure you that if you give us $10, we will give you the one thing that actually is good-enough?

How could we stoop so low? We can’t claim ignorance: We know that Pure Love is already infinitely present, purely loving everyone with an infinitely kind and infinitely effective grace (ie: that Pure Love is already cuddling all in the eternal knowledge that all is, at the most fundamental and the only completely real level, good-enough). What’s more, we know that to experience that reality (the one actually-real reality) better and fuller (ie: to consciously participate more fully in good-enough), one must deepen and widen one’s spiritual understanding; and that this comes through years of nonstop pushing for more awareness, more honesty, more decency, more Light, more kindness; and that this work cannot be replaced by anything — not even paying good money.

Nonetheless, please understand that in addition to this site’s two evolving ebooks, $10 buys you all the Pure Love you need, want, or just mindlessly feel like hoarding. [Editor’s Reminder: Remember: this ad/essay was written at a time when we thought we’d offer two evolving ebooks on the site. That time is long gone, but the advertessay remains — as a solemn reminder — .]

Oh the absurdity! Oh the monster! Oh the madness!

We rescind the offer! Lead us not into temptation, you greedy gullible spendthrift age!

That’s right larks and goonies, step right up, step right up and purchase Pure Love insofar as Pure Love is ours to sell and insofar as Pure Love is yours to buy! Step right up and, within the safe folds of our cagey catch-all, no-harm-no-foul-no-integrity legal clausing, trade us US$10 for whatever Bartleby happens to declare Love at a Reasonable Price and Diary of an Adamant Seducer (two as-yet-to-be-written books) plus all the Pure Love we can and should shovel your way.

Why? We don’t know. But never mind, we deny it all, and here we go.

Hear us out: We mean no harm. Don’t waste your money. But what is a waste of money? How much did you spend this year so that you could flitter-flatter with crazy hopes that Products A B C … Z would somehow magically carry you closer to the full-on, life-overflowing life you dream of? Keep that in mind while we fling our empty splattering promises around your empty rattling head. Keep it in mind while we whisper aloud what the other commercial enterprises only silently mouth: “Who knows? Maybe we can sell you that perfect something or other that seems to forever hang just outside your reach. Maybe we can take a bit of your money and give you the straight path that makes the valleys sing and the mountains tremble. Maybe we have not just what you want or what your mind and body need, but what your soul wants, needs, and is. Maybe! Worth a shot! Come enter our advertisement; come on into this vague vision of perfection, let its vagueness smear your thought, creating a deliciously incompetent fuzziness where it becomes possible to surmise that perhaps our product could actually play a substantial role in fulfilling your longing for a perfection that you can name and get and keep and hold and have have oh wondrous have! Come on! Worth a shot! Give into the thrill; give in to it.”


[Editors Note: It is at this point that we link to a “Choose Your Own Donation” page, altered to somewhat resemble a “Buy Pure Love at Your Own Price” page. And so is it that at this point our harmless fun outs itself as diabolical, inscrutable, inescapable cunning!]

GIVE IN GIVE IN GIVE IN to sticky salvation HA HA HA HA HA


The waterfall is lush and bright, splash-stepping down great rock slabs and spraying the surrounding tropical grasses, palms, and flowers. A couple good looking young men (a white and a black) in nothing but shoulder-arching and chest-doming muscles and long straight-legged Hawaii-print swimtrunks amble bowlegged proud-casualcool into the scene, accompanied by two beautifully rolling-hills young women (vaguely ethnic) lithe-stepping and smiling with white flashing carefree teeth. The men are sharing one bottle labeled “Ancient Mariner Press Pure Love”, drinking it in quick eager gulps, with bobbly goofy eyes-leaping-forward grins. The women are sharing another of the same, sipping dainty soft little swigs, and smirking with sparkling eyebeaming mirth, their little slip-noses so pert and cute that all onlookers !want to scream! And presently, everything — the beautiful polished humans, the big leg-oaring insects, the wide-leafed vegetation, the heavy-jawed gray stones, and the flowing, falling, dropletting, splashing, spraying, self-tunneling, white foam bubbling, and placidly spreading-stillness water — everything grows brighter and brighter white hot from the inside until the entire scene is nothing but an infinitely bright, infinitely exploding, infinitely giggling, infinitely charming light. “Dude, good call!” “tee hee hee!”

So step right up! Pure Love is an infinite good that gives Itself freely to all. No one can own Pure Love, and no one can avoid Pure Love. Therefore, Pure Love cannnot be bought or sold, nor can anyone sell you access to or safe-haven from Pure Love. Buying and selling anything to do with Pure Love is poppycock! Friends, name your quantity and your price! $0 for an infinite supply of Pure Love? $20 for an iota of Pure Love? Friends, name your nonsense! Can we deliver the goods? What do you mean?: Can we deliver Pure Love? We wouldn’t go that far, but we can talk about Pure Love and then take your money:

– – – –

[Editors Note: Here we again link to a “Choose Your Own Donation” page, altered to somewhat resemble a “Buy Pure Love at Your Own Price” page. It is at this point that we tighten the screws, pressing our advantage, bleeding you dry.]

GIVE IN GIVE IN GIVE IN to sticky salvation HA HA HA HA HA

– – – –

Do you see? We do this bluntly.

Who is more evil? The Pure Love scampeddler or the advertising executive using the latest research to trick people into believing in the need to buy X type of treat, tonic, maneuver, politic, or belief? Huh? And what percentage of your mind, heart, body and soul do you proudly hand over to adtown’s spinning tongues?

The upward-corkscrewing wondrous panic, the gambler’s thrill, the alcoholic’s release, the consumer’s “maybe that’s just the thing”: all the same — all diving reckless desperate headlong into a diversion that makes you feel like you’re doing something while allowing you to indulge in flopping down and giving up. A trick: You pretend you’re moving towards the “good enough” that only spiritual progress can give you without deceit and thus for keeps, even as you look away from where your consciousness really finds itself. But if you are not present in your own thoughts, how are you even at a starting point in the search for insight into where you are and what you should do? You’re not! You’ve been tricked! More precisely: the advertisers have helped you trick yourself.

Author: Bartleby Willard
Editor: Amble Whistletown
Copyright: Andy Watson

Editor’s Note: This essay is included in “First Essays”.
That version has several afternotes and footnotes that we’ve here spared the general audience.