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

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 Boston-based semiotic culture and brand analyst. He is editor/publisher of HILOBROW and the Radium Age science fiction imprint HILOBOOKS. In addition, Josh is co-author of several books, including (with Mark Kingwell and the cartoonist Seth) THE IDLER'S GLOSSARY and THE WAGE SLAVE'S GLOSSARY, the object-oriented story collections TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY and (with Rob Walker) SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS, and (with Elizabeth Foy Larsen) the family activities guides UNBORED, UNBORED GAMES, and the forthcoming UNBORED ADVENTURE. 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.