Dancing with deviants

Paul Maliszewski writes about Watts Wacker and Ryan Mathews (the “self-proclaimed futurists and the principals of FirstMatter, the consulting firm they founded that specializes in ‘trend-watching'”) for The Baffler:

As luck would have it, they wrote a book about their theory and practice called The Deviant’s Advantage: How Fringe Ideas Create Mass Markets (Crown Business, 2002). Their readers, like their hidebound clientele, look to the futurists to introduce them to ideas that are so outré that some may initially find them shocking. What’s more, with Wacker’s and Mathews’s help they learn to seek out and find those strange ideas on their own. Here’s one tip for beginners: “Don’t just read about deviants,” Wacker and Mathews advise, “dance with them. Blow up those traditional longitudinal data sheets you’ve been hoarding and take it to the streets” (208). The authors also suggest listening to the “devox,” one of their many useless neologisms, including “mediaconomy” and “emotographics,” that refers to the “voice, spirit, or incarnation of deviant ideas, products, and individuals” (xvii). Devox is a slippery concept, inchoate on a good day, but may be best imagined as tomorrow’s zeitgeist grasped today. This voice of deviance is omnipresent, casting “its strange, twisted mojo on every aspect of our existence from sex and language to art, science, and governance” (64). The best you can do, really, under such circumstances is to “dance with the devox” (139). Wacker and Mathews, it turns out, recommend a good deal of dancing.


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