Beyond Words

notbeingsoldThere’s an interesting, understated commercial playing here these days, advertizing a smartphone by not saying anything about it.

Blah blah blah…

It’s effective — we’ll sell something to you by convincing you that it’s so good that we don’t need to pitch it to you. That you’re so astute that you won’t succumb to ads.

It’s beyond words. It (or reviews online, perhaps) sells itself. It’s just that good.

That this is said to you in words — blah is a word, no? — is, of course, unnoticed.

It reminds me of those who cite Jacques Derrida’s famous Il n’y a pas de hors-texte (There is nothing outside of text), but doing so in a way that suggests to me a fantasy that imagines a position that is somehow outside of language, from which we can see that there’s nothing else out there, and from where we speak our startling insight. Like people who talk about meaning being mediated by texts, by symbols, by language, as if prior non-text things in our heads are only later textified. That is, despite the radical nature of such a claim it sometimes seems to me to be surprisingly conservative, inasmuch as it conserves a very traditional view of meaning-making, as if language is somehow speaking a prior truth, with all the authority of a novel’s free-floating narrator, despite the content of the claim (Il n’y a pas de hors-texte) itself indicating that language, texts, symbols, etc. refer to nothing but language itself.

It’s like that picture I used for this post — there’s always something being sold (like a critique of consumerism, perhaps?) and so the challenge here is to speak in the midst of erasing the fact that you’re just spoke, which lends tremendous authority to your speech, for it remains despite the appearance that it is gone. Like a lawyer in a court withdrawing an inappropriate question — you simultaneously identify and overlook at the same time, the classic misdirection of a magician, drawing attention if only to say not to pay attention to it, but it’s still there, of course, despite how strongly the judge warns the jury not to take into consideration what they just heard. It’s an effective technique — that’s why lawyers use it (at least in the movies).

Blah blah blah…

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