I’ve noticed the Mazda ads in the bus shelters the past few days.
“Be moved like never before” they cajole, offering me a level of transcendence usually reserved for love or religion.
The TV ad has been around since mid-2017 and features a series of dancers, floating around the new Mazda CX-3. Visually stunning.
And a great play on words. Some ad execs are worth their money for the sheer brevity and poetry of their writing.
So the ads have been around a while, but the poster has just caught my attention.
That’s for two reasons; one being the sudden clanking noise in my engine which was initially diagnosed as a “bottom end job” for the motor (meaning a write off due to the relative cost of the car to the repairs). Thankfully it turned out to be something less significant and a whole lot cheaper.
The second reason is that all week, whenever I was driving, I was mulling over the evangelistic series I was doing on the weekend.
So there I was driving over Guildford Bridge every day, focussing on talks that explore how our secular culture aches for the transcendent, but doesn’t know where to truly find it, and lo and behold (transcendence right there!) I see the essence of that ache in a car ad.
The immanent frame determinedly and grimy reminds us that above us “is only sky”. The transcendent has been torn off, and like El Greco’s painting “The Vision of St John”, with its missing top section of the heavens, we’re left holding our hands up, ecstasy in our faces, but looking up towards, well nothing really.
And so in the absence of the truly transcendent we are forced to look elsewhere, forced to build the faux transcendent within the immanent frame.
Told to give up that transcendental ideal. Told to find meaning in what we can see. And if not told, then convinced to do so by a secular plausibility structure. We’re swimming in immanent water, and we can’t even see it.
Yet we can’t let go of the transcendent language. Faced with the loss of anything outside of ourselves; faced with cold, implacable immanence, we simply borrow transcendent language to describe what is clearly part of the material frame.
So, be moved.
And not only that, but “like never before.”
This car will not only move you from A to B, like many other cars (including, happily, mine once more), but it holds out a transcendent possibility.
But don’t take my word for it, take the ad agency’s
This film for Mazda’s new CX-3 set out to represents Mazda’s design mantra: The Soul of Motion. Inspired by this ideology, the narrative was approached as a motion-sculpture, a striking work of art shaped by the most powerful and graceful expression of human movement: dance. Careful choreography and bespoke VFX techniques combined as a potent and iconic signature of movement. The highly architectural setting (the Altar) was carefully designed to hero the presence of the car and provide a focus for the dance performance.
The “Soul” of Motion?
Plonked straight into the flesh and gristle of the immanent frame is that “soul” word, and all if conjures (and I use the word “conjures” advisedly).
And “Altar”. The car sits upon this religious podium, a thing of beauty, but beguiling beauty, for all is not as it seems. This is not true religion, it is para-religion. Religion that is wide of, or short of, the mark.
For the truth it, the Mazda CX-3 will not be sacrificed – at least not yet. You will be, your time will be, your focus will be, in order to attain it however.
And then, finally, when the Mazda CX-3 has moved you like never before for some 150 thousand kilometres; when it’s covered in coffee stains, dust, sneaky nose pickings; along with the dings and dents of a hundred shopping trolleys, its turn to be be sacrificed will come, as something else comes along to “move you like never before.”
Not matter how immanent our secular frame, we just can’t let go of the transcendent. It’s as if our desires were built for the truly transcendent, as opposed to the faux transcendent being built for our desires.
It’s as if we were built for something – Someone – to move us like never before. It just wasn’t a Mazda CX-3.