Code-X (11)
By: Joshua Glenn | Categories: Codebreaking, Semiotics

patek

Call this cultural category code: Luxury Angst.

Definition: American consumers (with low self-confidence and knowledge) are encouraged to defer to paternalistic European-style luxury.

horloge

Notes on this code: “You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely take care of it for the
next generation.” “Manufacture de Haute Horlogerie” — consumer is flattered to be addressed in French. BMW ads comparing the brand to, e.g., “most consecutive victories as a skipper in the oldest sailing regatta.”

bmw

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Joshua Glenn is a cultural and brand semiotician, and co-principal of the agency SEMIOVOX LLC. He is editor and publisher of HILOBROW and the Radium Age sci-fi paperback imprint HILOBOOKS. He is author of (with Mark Kingwell and the cartoonist Seth) THE IDLER'S GLOSSARY (2008) and THE WAGE SLAVE'S GLOSSARY (2011), and editor of the object-oriented story collections TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY (2007) and (with Rob Walker) SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS (2012). With Elizabeth Foy Larsen and Tony Leone, Josh produced the popular family activities guides UNBORED (2012), UNBORED GAMES (2014), and UNBORED ADVENTURE (2015), not to mention two UNBORED activity kits from MindWare. In the ’00s, Josh was an editor and columnist for the BOSTON GLOBE's IDEAS section; in the ’90s, he published the high-lowbrow zine/journal HERMENAUT. He was born and raised in Boston, where he lives with his wife and sons.