The Advertisement and Compulsory Recognition

Advertising’s compulsory nature has ensnared the subject so totally as to become ceaseless. Total advertisement has steered perception itself toward its sole object: the commodity. By simple animal recognition, looking and listening earn their fetish character by being put forcibly into service of the commodity. As Joyce understood in Finnegans Wake, even if one manages to close their eyes and plug their ears, culture still intrudes. Its vessel is the ad. Advertisement is omnipotent. It’s thus unsurprising that Joyce’s Leopold Bloom is an advertising canvasser. The canvasser’s day is the daytime of modernity itself: the daylit rush to illuminate everything at once under the bright lights of the market. Lewis understood as much. Blast incorporates the aesthetics of advertisement to make aggression and exclusion essentially saleable. Like the radio, the magazine, a technology of industrial modernity has its own set of ideological claims and interests. Advertisement enlists art to serve the commodity. Still, the ad is hardly rhetorically empty. The story of Tiffany and Co. in Scribner’s, for example, isn’t marginal to the fiction, but attends it. Reflexively, the serial novel, efficient and consumable, aspires toward the condition of the ad. Scribner’s two glossaries—one for literature and one for advertisement— proves their fixed relation, as though to invite the reader to pick their poison, or, to quote Ecclesiastes: “All go to one place; all come from dust, and all return to dust” (3:20).


Astute observation on the format of Scribners and the two glossaries, which suggest that literature and advertising are on equal footing or of equivalent value. Your meditation on the insidiousness of advertising and commodity ideology is well taken, and echoes Mikala's post above. Lets think about these together in class today.

PS -- Lets remember to include page numbers to any quotes or content items you refer to, just as you would in a paper. Also, try to use the capabilities of this medium and provide links or even images. I will show how to do this in class today.