September 9: The Worst Day Fishing Is Better Than The Best Day Philosophizing

So yesterday I was reading a Dial M post about the above ad, from 1965, and the Chrysler ad copy cited in this passage:

What this demonstrates is what Thomas Frank shows us in The Conquest of Cool -- the modern style of advertising (funny, self-deprecatory, low-key, wise to the minutiae of pop culture) was not a "co-optation" of hip culture, but one of its principal creations. Compare the style of this ad with another 1965 ad for the Chrysler Imperial. (Nice car!) Note the bombastic appeal to the highest of high technology and the finest of fine materials:

The claro Walnut used within an Imperial is found only in Northwestern United States, and Eastern Kashmir.

Flitches [huh?] of the walnut (thin slices to be used as inlays) [oh] are examined for color, consistency, and directional grain.

Out of every 52 1/2 pounds of harvested fine-grain claro walnut, only eight ounces are fit for the Imperial.

The 52 1/2 pounds was a nice touch. It's science! And I also like the idea that extravagant waste is a necessary part of making such a fine automobile. ("We then shoot the remaining 52 pounds of claro walnut into high earth orbit, where it will remain for 4426 years, finally being immolated as plunges back to earth, its fiery trajectory through the starry firmament a fitting memorial to the Imperial's custom styling.")
reminds me of this passage:
The tempered light of the woods is like a perpetual morning, and is stimulating and heroic. The anciently reported spells of these places creep on us. The stems of pines, hemlocks, and oaks, almost gleam like iron on the excited eye. The incommunicable trees begin to persuade us to live with them, and quit our life of solemn trifles.
Yes, it's Emerson, king of blowhards, again, and on the greatest blowhard subject of all, Nature (capital N). I guess it reminds me of the Chrysler ad because the Chrysler ad is one of the very last, diminished returns of this kind of He-Man writing style. The hipsters are urban, and, yes, Emerson hates them too:
My house stands in low land, with limited outlook, and on the skirt of the village. But I go with my friend to the shore of our little river; and with one stroke of the paddle, I leave the village politics and personalities, yes, and the world of villages and personalities behind, and pass into a delicate realm of sunset and moonlight... I am taught the poorness of our invention, the ugliness of towns and palaces.... He who knows the most, he who knows what sweets and virtues are in the ground, the waters, the plants, the heavens, and how to come to these enchantments, is the rich and royal man.
Personally, as a city boy, I rebel against this thinking. There seems to be a kind of expansive misanthropy in this essay -- what are we, compared to a pine cone? "Man is fallen; nature is erect, and serves as a differential thermometer, detecting the presence or absence of the divine sentiment in man." It is left to the reader, I guess, to work out just how this thermometer works.

As always in my encounters with Emerson, I instantly cringe at the bombast but also pick out something to like -- here, it's his observation that Americans can't just go into the woods to admire it, they have to have a practical excuse:
A susceptible person does not like to indulge his tastes in this kind, without the apology of some trivial necessity: he goes to see a wood-lot, or to look at the crops, or to fetch a plant or a mineral from a remote locality, or he carries a fowling piece, or a fishing-rod.
But -- and this is what makes Emerson so American to me -- he thinks this is actually a good thing: "I suppose this shame must have a good reason." For a guy who made his living writing and talking, Emerson sure had it in for the arts & sciences.

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