“INELUCTABLE MODALITY OF THE VISIBLE: AT LEAST THAT IF NO MORE, thought through my eyes. Signatures of all things I am here to read, seaspawn and seawrack, the nearing tide, that rusty boot. Snotgreen, bluesilver, rust: coloured signs. Limits of the diaphane. But he adds: in bodies. Then he was aware of them bodies before of them coloured. How? By knocking his sconce against them, sure. Go easy. Bald he was and a millionaire, maestro di color che sanno. Limit of the diaphane in. Why in? Diaphane, adiaphane. If you can put your five fingers through it, it is a gate, if not a door. Shut your eyes and see.”
— James Joyce, Ulysses, Chapter 3 (Proteus)
In his seminal work, Joyce exposures us to the inner dialogue of his ever-present doppelgänger, Stephen Dedalus, the anti-hero and autobiographical narrator of much of his canon. The infamous opening of the Proteus chapter is Joyce’s plunge into the inner dialogue of the artist as a young man — the soul of his literary power, green, unvarnished and somewhat dizzying. For decades, this interior monologue was considered either the seeding of pure literary genius or the adolescent cry of a wannabe writer in early 20th century Ireland. In either case it provided the mental feedstock for generations of wordsmiths, including my own humbling attempts at the scribbling trade.
Today, at one of many intersections of my career, I am introducing a new blog that reflects — perhaps naively, like the young Stephen Dedalus — some thoughts on the worlds of technology and marketing, spheres within which I make my way. My goal is to share a few reflections on the “signatures of all things.” Hence some of the postings will be random commentary and rarely a direct connection to any form of actual employment (i.e., marketing guy writing thinly-veiled blog to advance his company’s position). If I am talking about my job, you will know it.
Increasingly in our hyper-connected reality, relationships among people, products and companies are actually becoming surreal, the “duh” Homer Simpson moment we experience multiple times a day. When Tom Friedman introduced us to the concept of the “flat” world, he focused on the speed and interconnected of people, societies, commerce and ideas. This very speed, however, firmly underscores the potential to either accelerate or rapidly fray the relationships among this quartet. And at the end of the day, to me, at least, relationships are the most important element of our lives. Beyond the very basic human needs, commerce thrives on relationships (although the reverse can be true, as well).
Any why the title ineluctable modality? According to our friends at Merriam Webster, ineluctable means “not to be avoided, changed, or resisted.” And modality means “the quality or state of being.” Said simply, reality, like your right hand, held directly in front of your face. It’s about finding the inevitable reality which, I noted, is frequently masked in the jargon-stained commentary we swim in each day.
So, enough high-minded introspection As entertainers have commenced throughout the ages, now on with the show.