Monday, 23 May 2016

Billboard spirituality

This billboard, on ul. Widok (just off ul. Marszałkowska, near the Rotunda) intrigued me to the extent that I returned to photograph it. The slogan Odróżniaj radość od przyjemności i raduj się też w cierpieniu means "Distinguish joy from pleasure and rejoice too in suffering".

What does it mean? Is this a tease-and-reveal advertising campaign? After two weeks, we learn it's for a beer, a mobile phone network, a life insurance company or a chocolate-coated snack bar?

But no - this is for real. A genuine individual, reaching out with a genuine message - and...?

Not a whole lot.

Googling the slogan I found a Facebook page with five photos of this billboard, one video and four likes. The person who paid (a billboard in this location is not cheap) for this has also previously put up three more in the same convention. One, with the words Nie denerwuj się, Masz kontrolę nad sobą ("Don't get angry, you have control over yourself"), appeared on Al. Jerozolimskie near Blue City retail centre in February 2014. And one bearing the anti-consumptionist message Zwiększając dochód, nie zwiększaj swoich potrzeb ("Increasing your income, don't increase your needs"), appeared in July 2015.  One month later, a further billboard appeared. This one said Przygotuj listę różnych, codziennych intencji. Módl się i obserwuj efekty ("Prepare a list of different, everyday intentions. Pray and observe the effects").

So - four billboards, four Facebook pages. What have we learnt?

Well, I must say I like all four messages. They do tend to square with my personal spirituality. I was rather hoping that a reclusive billionaire from another planet, living in a room in the Novotel Centrum, is buying billboards with cash to promote a more mindful, ascetic and spiritual way of life among Varsovians.

The truth is less exotic - the author, on their Facebook page, mentions the Catholic Church and the Ten Commandments, so a traditional religious approach lies behind this mini-campaign.

The edict to distinguish joy from pleasure is Most sound. Short-term gratification as a substitute for moments of genuine spiritual uplifting - yes. Joy comes from pleasure well earned, truly deserved. A great human truth to ponder. Thank you, whosoever you be, for this message - it has stayed with me.

This time four years ago:
A post about a book about a film about a journey to a room

This time six years ago:
Mr Pheasant trumpets his presence

This time seven years ago:
Balancing on the Edge of Chaos

This time eight years ago:
Zamienie and the encroaching tide of Development

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