This weekend I got to thinking about branding (again) and how the branding of yoga teachers relates to the idea of presence and absence.
Imagine a yoga instructor who is both well-liked and sought after by enthusiastic students. Imagine this instructor has no dvd, no website, and teaches in a studio or space without any sign. Without a brand, this teacher is more or less required to be present in order to convey the teachings of yoga and collect payment for his services. In effect, this instructor’s income is linked directly to his being in a physical space to teach.
Compare this to an instructor with the same following, but who has branded himself. In doing so, this instructor is able to sell his images, teachings, and trademarked sequences to an audience not in his immediate vicinity. By commodifying his person, this instructor now has the ability to collect money solely on the strength of his branded identity. In order to earn wages, this yoga instructor has to merely ship his image, name, and presentation to a locale that is receptive to his teaching. From here he can simply collect from afar.
Seeing as in the spiritual world the idea of presence has come to hold a lot of weight, the ability for a teacher to transmit wisdom through a disembodied medium (for example via a dvd) is curious. Previous to the age of the video tape, a teacher was tied to the physical. To be present meant to either be within sight of another, or to be in a state of consciousness, as in: to be in the present moment. And yet, with the proliferation of sharable videos, physical presence is no longer a necessity, and thus “presence” has come to mean little more than “presentation.”
If this be the case, at what point is the physical no longer needed once a representation of the physical is fully set in motion? At what point does the physical yoga instructor, the one who has “branded thyself,” become little more than an outmoded link in a faulty value chain of their own making?
“A value chain is a chain of activities that a firm operating in a specific industry performs in order to deliver something valuable (product or service). A business unit is an appropriate level for construction of a value chain, not divisional or corporate level. Products pass through activities of a chain in order, and at each activity the product gains some value. Chain of activities gives the product more added value than sum of the independent activities’ values. A diamond cutter, as a profession, can be used to illustrate the difference of cost and the value chain. The cutting activity may have a low cost, but the activity adds much of the value to the end product, since a rough diamond is significantly less valuable than a cut diamond.”
How this might look in the commercialized yoga world:
Tomorrow, Baudrillard gets a nod. Woo hoo!