Transcendental meditation’s tipping point: the allure of celebrity on the American spiritual marketplace
(2020) Popular Communication, 18 (2), pp. 108-120.
Since 2005, the film director David Lynch has been the most visible and vocal proponent for the spread of Transcendental Meditation (TM), a practice brought to the United States by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the late 1950s. This paper analyzes the public-facing operations: website, books, and celebrity benefit concerts, through which the David Lynch Foundation interacts with its American audience and charts two moves that the David Lynch Foundation has made in order to market TM. First, I assert that they have positioned TM as a technique rather than a spiritual practice and I understand this through Foucault’s theory of techné. Second, I argue that they have leveraged the auracular quality of celebrity as a modality through which to brand TM for the spiritual consumer. Ultimately, I made claims on how these moves represent a shift in how American spiritual seekers are understood and marketed to in popular culture. © 2019, © 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
branding; celebrity; marketing; religion; spirituality; Transcendental meditation