Beauty in the Service of Commerce in the Service of Beauty

I'll admit that this beer label caught my eye becasue I thought the label was beautiful.  I love beautiful labels.  I love how wine labels and indie beer labels have inherited the space that book jackets have so long dominated:  an inspiring outer skin that vies to match the beauty of the contents with a work of equal merit.  Advertising, in this moment becomes an attempt to articulate the goodness of what is here.  It becomes an eloquent invitation to partake in a particular joy that will enrich not only your pallette but also your experience visa.   After you have tried this beer, paired this wine, read these short stories?  You will not be, cannot be the same.

If you've known me very long, you'll recognize that this Eulogy For the Great Work of Advertising is a different mode of discourse for me.   George Orwell famously wrote that young men are all liberal and old men are all conservative and if you show him counter examples, he'll show you some people who have serious problems.  That's not precisely what he said, but it is the gist.  And read one way:  my ability to appreciate the work of advertising - in - the - service - of - the - market seems frighteningly conservative for me, given the amount of energy that I have devoted to lacerating the abuses of (not so) free market capitalism and it's ally, the too-often-dishonest-Advertising Industry.

My experience is that as I grow older, I am less likely to believe in (or live by) generalizations.  I still understand their usefulness and I can't undo the habits of 45 year -- lumping together things that seem alike to me and thinks that seem illegible.  This discrimination is an evolutionary legacy and an indispensible tool for everyday life.  The gift of age, though, affords us the realization that generations are just tools that we use -- and what's more, we have developed them according to the subjectivities that have formed everything else about us.  Making them enormously individual and idiosyncratic.  While many times it feels like these generalizations create connections between ourselves and those who we want to be with?  (like that moment in High Fidelity when John Cussack looks at the camera and explains that ultimately taste *does* matter?)  A closer, more carefully nuanced understanding of these connectors reveals them to be riddled with fault lines.  The things that we think we know and the things that we think we share are so precariously on the verge of disappearing in the light of three questions.  Happily (or not?) most of us don't have time for questions.  We just keep hurrying forward relying on our generalizations.  So given those inevitabilities - it's a great gift to realize that these tools are made things, idiosyncratic things, and things that we can refashion, disregard or reconstruct.

The tension between art and commerce, beauty and marketplace is a polarity that I am happy to renegotiate.  This beer label led me to purchase this beer. The beer is delicious and looking at the label after ingesting the gifts of the bottle only led to more appreciation and even aesthetic appreciation.  This label resonated with my favorite graphic novel Blankets, with my nordic roots, and with my endless appreciation for trees with bare branches.  The argument is often, I think that the work and rewards of the market end up transcending our artistic imagination (when it comes to labels and label art), but I do not find this maxim true.  The one delivers me to the other and then the other delivers me to another.  The work and rewards of beauty transcend everything in my mind.

(especially after another bottle of Snow Roller)

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