Presidential Address the Role of Lyricism in Research on Consumer Emotions: Skylark, Have You Anything to Say to Me?

ABSTRACT - This paper examines the role of lyricism in research on consumer emotions. It associates lyricism with the songlike expression of feelings and suggests that, as the content of consumer research deals increasingly with emotional phenomena, its style must adapt accordingly. In this, our work must incorporate aspects of singing. Herein, it may depart from some traditional canons of science narrowly conceived, but may retain consistency with a broader conception of scholarship. Additional support for this point emerges from postmodern and feminist perspectives on the philosophy of science. Further, the paper itself illustrates the lyrical style and exemplifies the phenomenon of which it speaks. In sum, it expresses the hope that consumer researchers may find a new voice so as to transcend some limitations of their conventional impoverished language by drawing on the force of lyricism in research on consumer emotions.


Morris B. Holbrook (1990) ,"Presidential Address the Role of Lyricism in Research on Consumer Emotions: Skylark, Have You Anything to Say to Me?", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 17, eds. Marvin E. Goldberg, Gerald Gorn, and Richard W. Pollay, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 1-18.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 17, 1990      Pages 1-18



Morris B. Holbrook, Columbia University

[The author thanks Steve Bell, Beth Hirschman, Sally Holbrook, T. J. Olney, and Barbara Stern for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper. He also gratefully acknowledges the support of the Columbia Business School's Faculty Research Fund.]


This paper examines the role of lyricism in research on consumer emotions. It associates lyricism with the songlike expression of feelings and suggests that, as the content of consumer research deals increasingly with emotional phenomena, its style must adapt accordingly. In this, our work must incorporate aspects of singing. Herein, it may depart from some traditional canons of science narrowly conceived, but may retain consistency with a broader conception of scholarship. Additional support for this point emerges from postmodern and feminist perspectives on the philosophy of science. Further, the paper itself illustrates the lyrical style and exemplifies the phenomenon of which it speaks. In sum, it expresses the hope that consumer researchers may find a new voice so as to transcend some limitations of their conventional impoverished language by drawing on the force of lyricism in research on consumer emotions.

God guard me from those thoughts men think

In the mind alone;

He that sings a lasting song

Thinks in a marrow-bone

[W. B. Yeats (1935), "A Prayer for Old Age," Collected Poems, p. 281].


... Now my ladder's gone,

I must lie down where all the ladders start,

In the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart

[W. B. Yeats (1936-1939), "The Circus Animals' Desertion," Collected Poems, p. 336].


We know truth not only by reason but more by the heart [Blaise Pascal, quoted by Scruton (1981), p. 45].


The feelings expressed in music are incapable of articulation, not because they are too vague for words, but on the contrary because they are too specific [Felix Mendelssohn, quoted by Crutchfield (1987), p. 1].


the lyric poet...through the medium of the emotions...has enabled us to glimpse spiritual depths which until now were closed and inaccessible to himself as well as to us.... every great lyricist gives us knowledge of a new feeling for the world. He shows us life and reality in a form in which we feel we have never known it before.... All this "is" and "endures"; it discloses to us a knowledge which cannot be grasped in abstract concepts, which stands before us, nevertheless, as the revelation of something new, something never before known or familiar [Ernst Cassirer (1961), The Logic of the Humanities, P. 85].


Somewhere afield here something lies

In Earth's oblivious eyeless trust

That moved a poet to prophecies

A pinch of unseen, unguarded dust:


The dust of the lark that Shelley heard,

And made immortal through times to be -

Though it only lived like another bird,

And knew not its immortality....


Go find it, faeries, go and find

That tiny pinch of priceless dust,

And bring a casket silver-lined,

And framed of gold that gems encrust;


And we will lay it safe therein,

And consecrate it to endless time;

For it inspired a bard to win

Ecstatic heights in thought and rime

[Thomas Hardy (1887), "Shelley's Skylark"].

Today is a very emotional day for me. It is also a very emotional day for you. And, indeed, it is a very emotional day for all consumers everywhere because emotion, I would argue, lies at the heart of the consumption experience as an inextricable part of the basic human condition. This faith in the importance of emotional responses in the lives of consumers has sustained me for a number of years and has, I'm happy to say, begun to win acceptance as a fairly conventional point of view shared by others, too numerous to mention, who are doing excellent work in this area of investigation.

In short, it seems safe to say that, collectively, we have now accepted emotion as an important topic for study. The remaining questions concern not whether but rather how to proceed when conducting research on the emotional aspects of the consumption experience. In this connection (to preview briefly), I wish to argue that -- contrary to our age-old devotion to a pseudo-scientific style of writing -- our discourse on emotion must show more feeling. We must, I believe, replace our typically cold, impersonal, dispassionate, literal mode of communicating with warmer, more colorful, richer, and more metaphoric uses of language. In other words, when speaking about emotional consumption experiences, we must adopt a style more lyrical (by which I mean more expressive) than that to which we have grown accustomed.

This conviction accounts for the first part of my title -- namely, 'The Role of Lyricism in Research on Consumer Emotions." But you may still wonder how to explain my subtitle -- "Skylark, Have You Anything to Say to Me?" That phrase refers, of course, to the first line of "Skylark," a wonderful old ballad written in 1941 by Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer, recently repopularized by such singers as Bette Midler and Linda Ronstadt, and characterized by Alec Wilder in his book on the American Popular Song (1972) by such adjectives as "superior," "remarkable, distinguished," and "extraordinary" (p. 383). Further -- reflecting the location of ACR's 1989 Conference in New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz -- "Skylark" has long been a favorite tune of jazz musicians. Indeed, I might best account for my subtitle by telling you a brief story about a jazz singer whom I once heard on a trip to the South.

A few years ago, Sally, Chris, and I visited Charlotte, North Carolina, where our friends took us to a concert to hear a marvelous singer named Marlene Ver Planck, who commands a voice as pure and soft as mountain snow. As Marlene sang her first song, accompanied by the Loonis McGlohon Trio, I was in seventh heaven and only barely noticed a large white-haired lady who entered and sat down on the seat in front of me. Then the musicians began their version of "Skylark." After some slow, pensive chords from Loonis on the piano, Marlene stepped to the microphone, closed her eyes, tilted back her head, and sang: "Skylark..., have you anything to say to me?"

As she began this phrase, her words hit the air like bells ringing sweet and clear above the crowd. The concert hall fell as quiet as a church. And, in this reverent silence, the large white-haired lady on the seat in front of me let out a clearly audible gasp of appreciation -- "aaahhh."

After the intermission, Marlene began her second set by introducing a few old friends from Charlotte who were seated in the audience. She mentioned a couple of local celebrities whose names I no longer remember, and then she called on the great operatic soprano, Eileen Farrell. The spectators broke into a thunderous ovation. And the large white-haired lady on the seat in front of me stood up and took a bow.

Clearly, what I had witnessed in that spontaneous gasp of appreciation was the immediate but deep emotional reaction of one great artist to another. My intimately shared view of Eileen Farrell admiring Marlene Ver Planck represents a facet of the consumption experience that usually occurs more privately. It represents a profound aesthetic response far deeper than anything that might be characterized as simple hedonic pleasure. It represents a state of nearly spiritual ecstasy duplicated elsewhere only in elevated levels of exalted rapture or cosmic consciousness.

It also raises questions about how we can account for such transcendental consumption experiences. In the present case, I suspect that this magic resulted from the utter perfection in Marlene Ver Planck's rendering of Hoagy Carmichael's achingly beautiful tune and Johnny Mercer's poignantly tender lyrics. In short, I suspect that it resulted from a brief but nearly quintessential manifestation of what we might call the power of lyricism.

For years, as a student of English, I wondered what people meant when they talked about "lyricism." What makes a lyrical poet "lyrical"? Why do we call the words to a song its "lyrics"? What is the connection of lyricism with the small stringed instrument, the little ancient harp, that we refer to as a "lyre"?

In Greek mythology, Hermes (the messenger of the gods who gave his name to hermeneutics or the theory of interpretation) received credit for inventing the lyre (g-stringed instrument whose name provides the root for the word "lyrical"). The great musician Orpheus used his lyre to soothe the wild beasts, to move the rocks, to make the trees dance, and to stop the river of time. Thus, the book on Greek Myths by Robert Graves (1981) calls Orpheus "the most famous poet and musician who ever lived" (p. 44). A review by Andrew Porter (1988) sees Orpheus as the "embodiment of music's power over the emotions" (p. 106); points out that this has made him a favorite protagonist in operas by great composers ranging from Monteverdi and Gluck to Stravinsky to Hans Werner Henze and Lukas Foss: and concludes that

Orpheus, who demonstrated that song can override the stern rules of the physical world -- moving mountains, bringing the dead to life -- remains the musician's greatest hero (p. 111).

Indeed, in appreciation for these gifts, Apollo placed the lyre of Orpheus in heaven among the constellations of stars.

The lyre has lent its name to the lyrical form in poetry. According to Northrop Frye and his colleagues, "Lyrical poetry began in ancient Greece in connection with music, as poetry sung, for the most part, to the accompaniment of a lyre" (Frye et al. 1985, p. 268). In general, as suggested by M. H. Abrams (1988):

the term is now used for any fairly short, nonnarrative poem presenting a speaker who expresses a state of mind or a process of thought and feeling.... the lyric is uttered in the first person.... A lyric poem may be simply a brief expression of a mood or a state of feeling (pp. 97-98).

Thus, "the majority of lyrics consist of thoughts and feelings uttered in the first person" (Abrams 1953, p. 85).

A book entitled The Idea of Lyric: Lyric Modes in Ancient and Modern Poetry by W. R. Johnson (1982) emphasizes the first-person aspects of the classical (as opposed to the modern) lyric as found in the "pronomial patterning" of the "I-You poem" (p. 3) before its evolution in the direction of more meditative forms. Johnson argues that "when the lyric poet casts his poem in the first-person singular..., the integrity of lyric form and lyric impulse remains intact" (p. 149):

What is essential, then, to lyric is rhetoric, and essential to this lyrical the pronomial form and lyric identity, the dynamic configuration of lyrical pronouns that defines and vitalizes the situation of lyrical discourse (p. 23).

This first-person discourse in "lyric poetry...about our feelings" (p. 13) lends itself to the creation of "lyric poems where emotions...are distilled to their richest purity" (p. 13):

The most usual mode in Creek lyric (probably) and in Latin lyric (certainly) was to address the poem (in Greek, the song) to another person or to other persons. What this typical lyric form points to is the conditions and the purposes of song: the presence of the singer before his audience; his re-creation of universal emotions in a specific context...; and, finally, the sharing, the interchange of these emotions by singer and audience (p. 4).

In the romantic tradition celebrated by M. H. Abrams in The Mirror and the Lamp (1953), the lyrical poem expresses "the spontaneous overflow of feeling" (p. 97):

Poetry is the expression or overflow of feeling, or emerges from a process of imagination in which feelings play the crucial part (p. 101).

Along similar lines, The Logic of the Humanities by Ernst Cassirer (1961) describes the lyric as follows:

Indeed, the lyric appears to be, of all the arts, the most fluid and fleeting.... If there is an attempt here to hold fast to anything, it is to change as such -- the coming and going, the emerging and the vanishing, the suggestion and tantalization of the subtlest stirrings of the soul, and the most transient of the sentiments.... For there are, after all, only a few great and fundamental themes to which lyric poetry may apply itself.... lyric poetry never leaves the sphere of human feelings.... Always lyric poetry resolves itself into the "natural forms of humanity" (pp. 209-210).

In The Roots of Lyric, Andrew Welsh (1978) acknowledges the Wordsworthian conviction that "poetic language arises from occasions of particular excitement and passion" (p. 3) and ties this poetic impulse to the melos (meaning song or music) of Aristotle (p. 135), the melopoeia (meaning musicality) of Ezra Pound (p. 15), and the melos (meaning the musical principle in verbal organization) of Northrop Frye (p. 18):

The melopoeia of song and the melopoeia of speech...recall...the lyre and the lute of the Greek Melic poets and the medieval troubadours as emblems of the lyric grace to be heard within (p. 195).

However, Welsh also emphasizes the magic, incantatory, enchanting charm by which lyrical discourse acquires the power to move:

The point is that charms are first and foremost concerned with power, with the use of magic words.... It is the sense of sacred formality, the necessity for the compelling, incantatory quality, that produces the rich webs of sound in charms. At the roots, the words of a charm are themselves magic actions...of words which move (p. 145).

In search for words which move, then, the language of magic sought out what became the melopoeia of charms, a special language of webs of sound and irregular rhythms different from the language used to communicate ordinary meanings.... The language of the charms is a language of power, and that power comes primarily...from other meanings hidden deep in the sounds and rhythms (p. 153).

In sum, though a variety of different meanings have attached to the term, the adjective "lyrical" (with all its suggestions of emotive power) literally means "suitable for singing." Thus, it would be redundant to apply the term to a song itself because that is what the word denotes in the first place. Rather, we say that some other discourse is lyrical when we mean that it is like a song. In this sense, lyricism connotes songlike qualities associated with the sharing of personal feelings. Like some primordial urge that gives birth to singing and that (in the views of Vico and Rousseau) is perhaps associated with the origins of language itself, lyricism expresses emotion. In the song by Carmichael and Mercer, the primary emotion expressed concerns a deep yearning for romantic love.

Skylark, have you anything to say to me?

Won't you tell me where my love can be? Is there a meadow in the mist, Where someone's waiting to be kissed?

I believe that such emotions -- as captured by the lyrical voice -- deserve a place in consumer research, in at least two senses. As already mentioned, the first sense involves the way in which consumption activities prompt emotional responses. Clearly, as consumers, we feel joy, sadness, anger, and fear. To paraphrase the words of "Just Friends" by Sam Lewis and John Klenner, we love, we laugh, we cry. In short, we knit the fabric of our consumption experiences around their emotional consequences, around our appreciative responses. In this, how we act as consumers in making purchase decisions becomes less important than how we react in the resulting emotions that move and stir our lived experiences. A valid body of consumer research must reflect this fact. It must reflect the importance of emotion in its content or substance.

This insight has won fairly wide acceptance in our discipline by now. But I would add that consumer research must also increasingly reflect the importance of emotion in its form or style. This second point on the matching of matter and manner is a bit more controversial and probably requires a few words of justification. Here, I refer to what I perceive as the need for more lyricism in consumer research -- the need to create a mode of communicating that sounds less matter of fact and more expressive, less humdrum and more songlike, less "scientistic" and more "poetic."

Under the sway of our concern for scientific rigor, most of us engage in a rarefied, depersonalized, colorless, desiccated, rational, dreary, cold, and dispassionate sort of rhetoric. Indeed, for a long time, many thinkers have distinguished sharply between scientific and poetic forms of discourse. According to this distinction, the former conveys facts whereas the latter expresses feelings. Thus, a literary critic such as I. A. Richards (1926, 1935, ed. 1970) contrasted science (logical, factual) with poetry (emotional, feelingful). Linguists like Roman Jakobson (ed. 1976) have separated lyricism (emotive, songlike, first-person, metaphorical) from epic or narrative (referential, prosaic, third-person, metonymic). Semioticians have followed Charles Morris (1946) in emphasizing the difference between scientific discourse (designative-informative) and poetic discourse (appraisive-valuative):

the language of empirical science is adapted to expressing the truth and not the importance of its statements. Lyric poetry...uses terms...for...values and evaluations (p. 58).

Similarly, the early Roland Barthes (1964) pursued Hjelmslev's contrast between denotation and connotation. More recently, Pierre Guiraud (1975) has distinguished the referential (logical, denotative, objective, scientific) from the emotive (aesthetic, connotative, subjective, artistic):

The two principal modes of semiological expression are the referential (objective, cognitive) function and the emotive (subjective, expressive) function. They stand in antithetical opposition to one another to such an extent that the notion of a "double function" of language can be extended to all modes of signification. In fact, understanding and feeling, mind and soul, constitute two poles of our experience and correspond to modes of perception which are not only opposed but are inversely proportional, so that one could define emotion as an incapacity to understand: love, pain, surprise, fear, etc., inhibit the intellect, which is incapable of comprehending what is happening (p. 9).

M. H. Abrams (1979) draws a related distinction between scientific and humanistic demonstrations:

A humanistic demonstration, unlike a scientific demonstration, is rarely such as to enforce the consent of all qualified observers. For it to carry the reader through its exposition to its conclusions requires some grounds for imaginative consent, some comparative ordering of values, some readiness of emotional response to the matters shown forth, which the reader must share with the author even before he begins to read; and these common grounds are no doubt in part temperamental, hence variable from reader to reader (p. 194).

Meanwhile, a psychologist like Jerome Bruner (1986) contrasts the paradigmatic with the narrative (p. 12) and scientific writing with the language of poetry (p. 22). Even the humanistically inclined sociologist Peter Berger (1963) suggests that one should not mix the scientific with the subjective but rather should keep them as meticulously separate as meat and milk in a kosher kitchen (p. 124). And, speaking of humanism, the self-proclaimed generalist C. P. Snow (1959, ed. 1964) once inflamed his colleagues by pointing to a rift between "the two cultures": the sciences and the humanities.

I suggest, then, that a basic dichotomy -reference versus emotion, facts versus feelings, science versus poetry, logic versus lyric -- has won wide acceptance and informs the literary efforts of virtually every serious writer. Further, in our eagerness to achieve the status of scientists, most of us have learned to pursue the former and to shun the latter.

Yet we pay a price for this attempt to retreat into a coldly dispassionate form of discourse. Often, our gains in factual accuracy and freedom from value-based biases are partially offset by an atmosphere of bland indifference that prompts many of our readers to wonder, in effect, "So what?" or "Who cares?"

We may be prepared to pay this price when we study such phenomena as brand choice or purchase decisions. But, when we come to phenomena related to consumers' emotions, we run the risk that our scientific rhetoric may actually falsify the phenomena we claim to illuminate. Even Charles Morris (1946) admits this danger:

Since scientific language is pre-eminently designative in mode and informative in use, the tendency is strong to place reliance upon scientific discourse and to avoid, or even derogate, the other types of discourse. In so far as such "scientism"...discourages the use of non-designative signs it is theoretically questionable and culturally dangerous (pp. 11 6- 117).

Thus, the study of emotions seems to call for an expressive mode of discourse. Along these lines, in The Logic of the Sciences and the Humanities, F. S. Northrop (1947) notes the power of art to convey reality (pp. 173-186, passim); and, in The Philosophy of Rhetoric, I. A. Richards (1936) acknowledges the "mysterious power" of exemplifying what one describes (p. 121).

That false attempts at scientific rigor and quantification in the realm of the emotions can do more harm than good appears clearly in Act I of Shakespeare's King Lear (ed. 1970). The king immediately establishes his affinity with consumer researchers by announcing that he has "a constant wish to publish" (I.i.43). However, what he wants to "publish" or to proclaim is a clarification of his daughters' dowries. And, toward that end, he asks the three girls to be precise in stating their feelings toward him in quantitative terms: "Which of you shall we say doth love us most/That we our largest bounty may extend" (I.i 51-52). The only true response comes from Cordelia, who recognizes that she cannot weigh and objectify her emotions in this manner and therefore vows to say "Nothing" (I.i.8789): "Love, and be silent.... my love's/More ponderous than my tongue" (I.i.62 and I.i.77-78). Lear's cruel and foreboding response -- "Nothing will come of nothing" (I.i.90) -- fails to recognize the folly of reducing the emotions to the scientistic mode of discourse and thereby lays a foundation for the tragedy that follows. Consumer researchers concerned with emotion might wonder whether we, in our quest for a dispassionate language of facts and numbers, might also rush headlong into the arms of tragedy.

In a postmodern conception of science -perhaps one drawing on something close to the post-Cartesian, antifoundationalist, arepresentational view (or nonview) of epistemology articulated by Richard Rorty in Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (1979) -- knowledge is socially constructed and depends on the consensus of people interacting in dialogues and discussions so that the community becomes the primary source of epistemic authority:

justification is not a matter of a special relation between ideas (or words) and objects, but of conversation, of social practice. Conversational justification, so to speak, is naturally holistic, whereas the notion of justification embedded in the epistemological tradition is reductive and atomistic.... The crucial premise of this argument is that we understand knowledge when we understand the social justification of belief, and thus have no need to view it as accuracy of representation.... So holism produces...a conception of philosophy which has nothing to do with the quest for certainty (pp. 170171).

Via such conversations, we feel emotions. Those emotions must affect our work, whether we admit it or not. To deny this is to threaten our own humanity:

The fear the fear that all discourse will become normal discourse.... This is frightening because it cuts off the possibility of something new under the sun, of human life as poetic rather than merely contemplative (pp. 388-389).

To try to write research reports devoid of emotion is to try to smuggle one's feelings past one's colleagues undetected. By contrast, those reports might more honestly reflect the emotional underpinnings from which they spring.

This need for research to carry the expression of its own emotional foundations becomes especially apparent when the focus of the study is emotion itself. In other words, if we want to write about love, about joy, about ecstatic moments of profound aesthetic rapture -- or alternatively about hate, about sadness, about anger verging on white-hot fury -- we may need to adopt a mode of discourse that lets the audience feel what we are saying. If we want to claim that emotions matter, we may need to show that they matter in the way we tell about them.

Few philosophers of science (Rorty, perhaps, included) would readily agree with this argument. Those such as Hanson (1958), Koestler (1964), Bronowski (1965), or Brannigan (1981) -- who have much to say about the scientist's intuitive, playful, and creative but always socially embedded subjective personal introspections -- tend to see the researcher's own emotions as a mode of discovery rather than justification. In this quasi-Reichenbachian spirit, they consign emotions to the front end of a hypothetico-deductive process (where the propositions get formulated) rather than to the back end (where the results get reported).

To this, I have two responses.

First, if we wish to resist the scientists and to avoid watching our discipline drained of its emotional fervor, perhaps we ought to re-examine our position. Here, in agreement with an article by Herbert Rotfeld entitled "Marketing Educators Must Become More 'Scholarly"' (1985), I believe that academicians owe an allegiance to their profession above and beyond that which they owe to science narrowly conceived. Specifically, they owe a paramount obligation to scholarship. The sine qua non for the academic profession is scholarship, not science. Perhaps, then, what we need in consumer research on emotions is not so much science as scholarly work that somehow manages to preserve the researcher's emotions and to keep them intact.

Second, perhaps the conventional views of science are themselves wrong. Perhaps one cannot explain the world in a discourse stripped of its affective content. Perhaps we lose too much when we try to reduce our feelings to facts, our emotions to cognitions, our passions to thoughts.

Some of the more conventional perspectives on consumer research -- for example, the focus that uses rational choice models to represent purchase decisions -- demand a self-consciously logical and dispassionate approach. After all, in such a world view, we can state axioms, derive propositions through the application of logic, and test those hypotheses empirically. This degree of precision proves comforting to the scientist and scholar alike.

But, as we turn to an increased interest in the role of emotion in the consumption experience, we are encouraged to embrace a more qualitative, subjective, impressionistic, introspective, personal, metaphorical, anecdotal -- yes, a more lyrical -approach to our topic. Further, as we deal more with emotional content, our manner of communicating will, as always, be more effective if it reflects the nature of our subject matter. And so, whether we like it or not, we may be forced to abandon the prosaic in favor of the poetic. We may be compelled to retreat, in part, from speech into song.

[With this awakening of lyricism, incidentally, we shall overcome our semi-official aversion to the self-designating pronouns (not to mention our fondness for what Barbara Stern calls the "deadly" passive voice and for lackluster "to be" verbs), and we shall speak more often in the first-person singular. Increasingly, the pronouns "we' and even "I" will replace "you" and "they." We shall witness a diminution of "he," "she," "it," and (mercifully) "s/he." Clearly, we must applaud any trend that removes "s/l e" forever from our vocabulary.]

In arguing for a more lyrical style of communication in scientific consumer research on emotions, I might cite two potential sources of support -- the first from literary criticism, the second from the philosophy of science itself.

First, as discussed by M. H. Abrams in The Mirror and the Lamp (1953), the neoclassical literary critics (paragons of rationality) believed strongly in "the basic neo-classic unifying principle of decorum" (p. 290) that argued for "the traditio consideration of style from the point of view of appropriateness to the subject matter" (p. 234) s to require an "adjustment to the...matter signified well as the character and emotional state of the speaker depicted" (p. 290). This principle received its most famous epigrammatic articulation in Alexander Pope's apothegm from "An Essay on Criticism" (1711) urging that "The sound must seem an echo to the sense" (1. 365). In The Rhetoric Fiction, Wayne Booth (1961, ed. 1983) invokes comparable "process whereby substance and form, subject and treatment, matter and manner become fused" (p. 104). In this connection, Northrop F and his colleagues (1985) suggest that "the rhetorical device known as imitative harmony, o making the sound, in Pope's phrase, an echo to sense, is most common in lyric" (p. 269). Not surprisingly, then, Andrew Welsh's Roots of Lyric (1978) makes much of Pope's prescription vis-a the verbal dance or musical discourse that transpires in the most lyrical poetic moments:

Pope points to something that happens in the language of poetry, that sophisticated poets take the care to make happen and that readers of poetry have learned to admire. To say that sound echoes sense in a poem is to say that the poet has involved melopoeia with...logopoeia (p. 243).

More recent critics have sometimes referred to Pope's dictum and its various generalizations as "the fallacy of imitative form," which Christopher Lehmann-Haupt (1986) explains as "the error of, say, writing chaotic prose in order to convey a mood of chaos" (p. C21). However, Lehmann-Haupt admits that experts he consulted "reacted to my inquiries as if I were trying to sell them hand cranks for starting cars" (p. C21).

Adopting a less "cranky" posture, others have celebrated the wisdom of matching style to substance, form to content. For example, in a book edited by Berel Lang on The Concept of Style, Albert Hofstadter (1979) distinguishes among lyric, drama, and epic narrative; suggests that "the lyrical persona is directly engaged in an experience it is expressing" so that "the possibilities of emotional the case of the lyric are directly embodied in the individual lyrical persona" (p. 74); and concludes that "the communicative differences" (between lyric, drama, and epic) "exist in order to express the cognitive differences, and at the same time their existence tends to generate and sustain the very possibility of such cognitive differences" (p. 76).

In short, a poet requires some conformability between substance (matter) and the style (manner) in which it is communicated so as to achieve a unity of purpose and structure, of content and form. In simpler terms, this emphasis on the matching of manner to matter appears to paraphrase a more jargon-rich statement later in the same book by Monroe Beardsley (1979):

Distinguished, or especially admirable, style, on the other hand, consists in the harmonious adjustment of many concurrent and overlapping illocutionary actions, so that varied subordinate actions combine for richness in communication and intensity of pervasive style-quality (p. 163).

Thus, to repeat, our manner must echo our matter; our form must mirror its content; our style must convey our substance; our way of speaking must embody our message; our voice must articulate its theme.

A second argument for a more lyrical style of communication in consumer research on emotions comes from some newer trends in the philosophy of science and its relation to the role of semiotics, hermeneutics, and rhetoric. For example, Umberto Eco's book on The Theory of Semiotics (1976) tears apart the positivistic referential theory of meaning that informed the work of I. A. Richards and argues for an inextricable chain of denotation and connotation in which one cannot in principle remove the latter. It follows that the only honest science acknowledges its own emotional and motivational bases:

Frequently lo be really "scientific" means not pretending to be more "scientific" than the situation allows.... Ceteris paribus, I think that it is more "scientific" not to conceal my own motivations, so as to spare my readers any "scientific" delusions (p. 29).

This point recalls the perspective of Friedrich Nietzsche, who inveighed against the possibility of value-free, dispassionate discourse and loaded his own style with hyperbole to serve as a constant reminder of its basis in personal interpretation:

Nietzsche uses his changing genres and prevent his readers from overlooking the fact that his views necessarily originate with him. He depends on many styles in order to suggest that there is no single, neutral language in which his views, or any others, can ever be presented. His constant stylistic presence shows...that the very distinction between the content of a view and the manner in which that view is presented is to be seriously questioned (Nehamas 1985, p. 37).

According to Allan Megill's Prophets of Extremity (1985), Nietzsche called his Birth of Tragedy "music" and felt that it should be sung (p. 90). Similarly, according to Roger Norrington (himself a great conductor), Nietzsche also said that "all thought that does not dance is dead" (quoted by Stearns 1989, p. 106).

Though it does not explicitly mention Nietzsche, the influential work on Personal Knowledge by Michael Polanyi (1958) evinces a comparable distrust of objectivism and embraces the emotional -- indeed, the passionate -- bases of both discovery and justification. Thus, Polanyi (1958) starts by "rejecting the ideal of scientific detachment" and replacing it with "an alternative ideal of knowledge" based on "the personal participation of the knower in all acts of understanding" (p. vii) where "into every act of knowing there enters a passionate contribution of the person knowing what is being known" (p. viii):

We reach here the decisive issue of the theory of knowledge. Throughout this book I have persistently followed one single endeavour. I have tried to demonstrate that into every act of knowing there enters a tacit and passionate contribution of the person knowing what is being known, and that this coefficient is no mere imperfection, but a necessary component of all knowledge (p. 312).

In this view, motivated by "intellectual desire" (p. 128) or by intuitive "heuristic craving" (p. 130), discovery moves beyond tacit skills and inarticulate connoisseurship (p. 55) -- beyond ineffable Gestalts (p. 88) -- to achieve experiences of "ecstatic communion" (p. 7). Further, despite the prevailing conception of science based on "the disjunction of subjectivity and objectivity," justification or verification or demonstration requires "forms of persuasion which can induce a conversion" (p. 151) and, therefore, does entail "persuasive passion" (p. 159) or "passionate, personal, human appraisals of theories" in which "we cannot truly account for our acceptance of such theories without endorsing our acknowledgement of a beauty that exhilarates and a profundity that entrances us" (p. 15):

The affirmation of a great scientific theory is in part an expression of delight. The theory has an inarticulate component acclaiming its beauty.... This is the kind of feeling described in the title of this chapter as 'Intellectual Passions'.... A scientific theory which calls attention to its own beauty, and partly relies on it for claiming to represent empirical reality, is akin to a work of art.... More generally, science, by virtue of its passionate note, finds its place among the great systems of utterances which try to evoke and impose correct modes of feeling (p. 133)

Thus, Polanyi adopts a view of scientific knowledge as rooted in "a fiduciary framework" (p. 266) that readily accepts its own personal and emotional components:

personal knowledge in science...commits us, passionately and far beyond our comprehension, to a vision of reality. Of this responsibility we cannot divest ourselves by setting up objective criteria of verifiability -- or falsifiability, or testability, or what you will.... Like love, to which it is akin, this commitment is a 'shirt of flame', blazing with passion and, also like love, consumed by devotion to a universal demand (p. 64).

In this view, then, science converges with art:

The decisive part which intellectual passions have been shown to play in the several domains of natural science, engineering, and mathematics, demonstrates the ubiquity of such participation.... The arts appear then no longer as contrasted but as immediately continuous with science.... There is present a personal component, inarticulate and passionate, which declares our standards of values, drives us to fulfill them and judges our performance by these self-set standards (p. 195)

Indeed, when at last he turns his attention to the human sciences, Polanyi proposes a principle that sounds very much like a transported version of literary decorum:

Facts about living things are more highly personal than the facts of the inanimate world. Moreover, as we ascend to higher manifestations of life, we have to exercise ever more personal faculties -- involving a more far-reaching participation of the knower -- in order to understand life.... as we proceed to survey the ascending stages of life, our subject matter will tend to include more and more of the very faculties on which we rely for understanding it. We realize then that what we observe about the capacities of living beings must be consonant with our reliance on the same kind of capacities for observing it (p. 347).

More recently, in Consequences of Pragmatism, Richard Rorty (1982) recalls the Nietzchean perspective on the mistake inherent in any hope for a neutral vocabulary (p. 193), inveighs against the fetish of filtering the subjective components from one's thoughts (p. 194), and adopts a quasi-Polanyian view in which social science approaches art:

What we hope for from social scientists is that they will act as interpreters for those with whom we are not sure how to talk. This is the same thing we hope for from our poets and dramatists and novelists (p. 202).

This point gains impetus, I believe, when coupled with the relativism of Paul Feyerabend's Against Method (1975), recently called forcefully to our attention by Paul Peter and Jerry Olson (1983) and by Paul Anderson (1983). (Apparently, when dealing with relativism, it helps to be named Paul.) In their cleverly titled piece -- "Is Science Marketing?" -Peter and Olson capture the essence of Feyerabend's (1975) argument that when theories become incommensurable (Ch. 17), the only possible grounds for the justification of theoretical preferences become "aesthetic judgements, judgements of taste" (p. 285) so that, in effect, "anything goes" (p. 296) and emotional propaganda becomes part of the scientific process (p. 154). In short, scientific justification rests not on proof but on persuasion. This persuasive task calls upon the use of rhetoric. Thus, in Science in a Free Society, Feyerabend (1982) calls upon the rhetorical use of emotions to supplement reason in scientific argumentation:

I also favor imagination and emotion but I don't want them to replace reason, I want them to limit it, and to supplement it (p. 189).

-his argument from the need for justification to the role of persuasion to the power of rhetoric to the use of emotional appeals parallels such earlier articulations as J. S. Mill's insistence that "eloquence" uses "feelings" to affect "beliefs" (Abrams 1953, p. 321) and F. S. C. Northrop's (1947) contention that, used properly, poetry and art can convey scientific truth:

the art of the future will...take the new conception of the theoretic component of reality...and...convey this conception terms of the vivid aesthetic materials given in immediate intuition. Then and not until then will there be poetry...which meets the emotional, moral, aesthetic and intellectual needs of contemporary men (p. 186).

It is start afresh with the immediacy of experience as it has forced the scientist to new and more adequate theory, and, in terms of this theory to make articulate a new philosophy joining the theoretic and aesthetic components of reality, thereby defining a new meaning for human existence and hence a new morality, which it will be the privilege of some Dante of the future to express metaphorically and embody aesthetically in the feelings and emotions of men (p. 189, italics removed).

As developed in a long line of tradition traced back at least as far as the Greeks and surveyed magisterially in Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca's The New Rhetoric: A Treatise on Argumentation (1958, ed. 1969), rhetoric is "the art of persuading and of convincing, the technique of deliberation and of discussion" (p. S) and, as such, involves "the discursive means of obtaining the adherence of minds" via "the technique which uses language to persuade and convince" (p. 8). Here, the focus of the authors "constitutes a break with a concept of reason and reasoning due to Descartes" (p. 1) and dwells instead on "the theory of argumentation" as "the study of the discursive techniques allowing us to induce or to increase the mind's adherence to the theses presented for its assent" (p. 4):

The goal of all to create or increase the adherence of minds to the theses presented for their assent (p. 45).

In seeking this "adherence of minds," the authors place a strongly customer-oriented emphasis on "the essential role played by the audience" (p. 7) and repeatedly call attention to this basic principle in the marketing of ideas:

There is only one rule in this matter: adaptation of the speech to the audience, whatever its nature (p. 25).

The central principle, in this connection, is always adaptation to the audience (p. 461).

The guiding consideration...should be the needs of adaptation to the audience (p. 508).

This orientation prepares the way for an almost scornful dismissal of scientistic detachment:

The authors of scientific reports and similar papers often think that if they merely report certain experiments, mention certain facts, or enunciate a certain number of truths, this is enough of itself to automatically arouse the interest of their hearers or readers. This attitude rests on the illusion, widespread in certain rationalistic and scientific circles, that facts speak for themselves and make such an indelible imprint on any human mind that the latter is forced to give its adherence regardless of its inclination (p. 17).

In place of the scientistic "illusion," Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca repeatedly argue (contra Ogden and Richards) that one cannot, in principle, separate descriptive from emotive meaning (p. 140) so that "the distinction between the emotive aspect and the descriptive aspect of a concept is questionable" (p. 447) and "if it is possible to discern...some statements that relate to facts, and others that relate to values, the distinction between these two forms of statement can never be clear cut" (p. 513):

Nothing could be more arbitrary than the distinction made in textbooks between factual, neutral, descriptive speech, and sentimental, emotive speech. These distinctions have the sole advantage of drawing the student's attention to the fact that value judgments are very obviously introduced into argumentation, but they are harmful in that they imply that there are ways of expressing oneself that are per se descriptive, that there are speeches in which only facts, with their unquestionable objectivity, find place (p. 150).

Thus, one can never remove values from scientific discourse. Rather, "values enter, at some stage or other, into every argument" (p. 75):

In reasoning of a scientific nature, they are generally confined to the beginning of the formulation of the concepts and rules that constitute the system concerned and, insofar as the reasoning aims at the truth value, to the conclusion (p. 75).

From this, it follows that even scientific arguments will include such emotional elements as "illustrations...chosen for their affective impact" (p. 360) and "feelings of the speaker" that "serve as an indication of sincerity" (p. 456):

What is required in-argumentation is not so much the exactness of specific logical modalities attributed to what is asserted, as the means of obtaining the adherence of the audience through variations in the way of expressing thought (p. 163).

The version of the "new rhetoric" advanced by Richard McKeon in Thought, Action, and Passion (1954) and in Rhetoric: Essays in Invention and Discovery (ed. 1987) pursues a similar point of view. McKeon (1987) defines rhetoric as "the art of persuasion and debate" (p. 108): "As an art of communication rhetoric has been designed to make use of all means of persuasion" (p. 109). According to the introductory comments by Mark Backman, "McKeon's most important contribution" was to oppose "the arbitrary separation of rhetoric from philosophy": 'The divorce of rhetoric from philosophy, of expression from content, prevents the intellectual synthesis essential to resolving the persistent problems of being, thinking, and acting" (p. xi). Thus, McKeon (1954) argued that "science, and philosophy...rhetoric, ...poetry...are not distinct in the context or in the techniques from which they arise, separate them is to be guilty of unwarranted dichotomies and abstractions" (p. 13).-- In the more recent collection of essays, McKeon (1987) suggests that " might make rhetoric an architectonic art which relates all things by means of science and the experiences of men" and adds that "we seek to produce it in concrete experience and existence by rejoining reason and sense, cognition and emotion" (p. 13).

These viewpoints from "the new rhetoric" have exerted considerable influence in a variety of disciplines. For example, in literary criticism, compendious works such as Wayne Booth's The Rhetoric of Fiction (1961, ed. 1983) see rhetoric as "the art of communicating with readers" or "the effort to help the reader grasp the work" (p. xiii) so that, again, a strong customer-oriented emphasis attaches to the role of the audience:

The ultimate problem in the rhetoric of fiction is, then, that of deciding for whom the author should write.... And nothing the writer does can be finally understood in isolation from his effort to make it all accessible to...his audience (pp. 396-397).

From this, it follows that one cannot choose whether but can only choose how to use rhetoric:

The author cannot choose whether to use rhetorical heightening. His only choice is of the kind of rhetoric he will use (p. 116).

the author cannot choose to avoid rhetoric; he can choose only the kind of rhetoric he will employ (p. 149).

Thus, "rhetorical inquiry is universally applicable" (p. 405); or, to put the same point somewhat differently, the author cannot choose to disappear. Rather, "the author's judgment is always present, always evident to anyone who knows how to look for it" (p. 20). In this sense, "neutrality is impossible" (p. 76), and the affective evaluations of an implied author always emerge: 'The emotions and judgments of the implied author are...the very stuff out of which great fiction is made" (p. 86).

Even more relevant to our present focus, a systematic view of rhetoric as the art of persuasion (p. 46) and of scientific methodology as the art of rhetoric (p. 162) appears in Kenneth Burke's A Rhetoric of Motives (1969). More recently, in Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent, Wayne Booth (1974) has developed the relevance of what he calls "emotional proof' (p. 158) -- for example, the use of arguments in which "love constitutes a good reason" (p. 162). (Here, for brevity, I neglect some important related rhetorical devices such as the use of figurative language -- for example, metaphors and other kinds of tropes. For a short review, see Abrams 1988, pp. 64-68.)

Gradually, comparable viewpoints have shone on the philosophy of science. In The Return to Cosmology, for example, Stephen Toulmin (1982) distinguishes early between science and poetry but nevertheless gravitates toward a postmodern view of "the need to reinsert humanity into nature" (p. 210). Thus, Toulmin focuses on the Cartesian dichotomy between subject and object and on the resulting view of science as objective versus subjective (p. 241). He views this Cartesian objectivity as "an Idol" (p. 248), pronounces that "the scientist as spectator is dead" (p. 252), and moves toward a postmodern view based on the metaphor of being "at home in the world of nature" (p. 272) -- a metaphor that he illustrates with nothing less than a quote from T. S. Eliot's "Little Gidding" (1942, ed. 1962) in which "the rose" stands for contemplation and "the fire" represents passion:

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time....

And all shall be well and

All manner of thing shall be well

When the tongues of flame are in-folded

Into the crowned knot of fire

And the fire and the rose are one (p. 145).

Thomas Nagel's The View From Nowhere (1986) pursues similar themes by expressing a concern for the absurdity of the Cartesian subject/object dichotomy (p. 220), by acknowledging the limits of objectivity (p. 87), and by seeking a possible harmony or resolution in an attitude that others have characterized as endemic to the realm of aesthetic experience:

Finally, there is an attitude which cuts through the opposition between transcendent universality and parochial self-absorption, and that is the attitude of nonegocentric respect for the particular_ It is conspicuous as an element in aesthetic response, but it can be directed to all kinds of things, including aspects of one's own life. One can simply look hard at a ketchup bottle, and the question of significance from different standpoints will disappear.... the object engages us immediately and totally in a way that makes distinctions among points of view irrelevant.... such an attitude...toward the elements of everyday life...would require an immediacy of feeling and attention to what is present (pp. 222-223).

This possible mode of apprehending reality constitutes the essence of what Morris Berman (playing on Max Weber) calls The Reenchantment of the World (1981). Berman laments the divorce between scientists and poets and the consequent repudiation of emotion (p. 45), which he characterizes as the motto to "kill anything that moves" (p. 120). Drawing on analogies with alchemy, Berman envisions a dissolution of the subject-object dichotomy via a "participating consciousness" that merges subject and object, self and other, in a holistic worldview:

unless...participating consciousness can be restored in a way that is scientifically (or at least rationally) credible and not merely a relapse into naive animism, then what it means to be a human being will forever be lost (p. 132).

Thus, Berman hopes to overcome the Cartesian duality and to enter a world of "sensual or affective science" (p. 183) in which "eros is a fully articulated way of knowing the world" (p. 157), science is grounded in "the human experience of nature" (p. 187), and "the important thing is that affect and analysis not be differentiated" (p. 186).

Recently, we have experienced a comparable focus in the work by Russ Belk, Tom O'Guinn, John Sherry, Melanie Wallendorf, and others who describe evocatively and document carefully the role of deep meanings in possessions. [See, for example, the videotape by Wallendorf and Belk (1987), available from MSI.] In this view, a subject-object fusion enriches the psychic life of property via a consciousness of commodities that informs the essential character of the consumption experience. In profound aesthetic experience, I have argued, this fusion reaches the heights of ecstatic rapture when the subject-object dichotomy disappears (Holbrook 1980).

Other commentators have focused on similar phenomena. For example, in Literature and Science, the novelist Aldous Huxley (1963) describes the merger of the subjective and objective that results in samadhi and satori (p. 76). Jack Burnham (1973) points out that, in The Raw and the Cooked, anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss set his chapter outlines to musical forms, thereby attempting "the reconciliation of poetry and science" (p. 16). Meanwhile, both Dudley Andrew (1984) and Jonathan Culler (1983) see Roland Barthes as progressing from the structuralism of, say, Elements of Semiology (1964) or The Fashion System (1967) to the anarchic hedonism of, say, The Pleasure of the Text (1973). Even as early as Mythologies, however, Barthes (1957) denied the Cartesian dichotomy:

I cannot countenance the traditional belief which postulates a natural dichotomy between the objectivity of the scientist and the subjectivity of the writer (p. 12).

An occasional social scientist has pursued a comparable line of thought. For example, the sociologist Richard Brown has argued persuasively for A Poetic for Sociology (1977). Among anthropologists, in work later collected under the title Works and Lives: The Anthropologist as Author, Clifford Geertz (1988) has moved some distance toward embracing the role of rhetoric at the core of scientific conviction wherein "the relation between the ars intelligendi, the art of understanding, and the ars explicandi, the art of presentation, is so intimate in anthropology as to render them at base inseparable" (p. 46). For Geertz, " a work of the imagination" (p. 140) that draws on rhetorical devices in a manner such that "the writing of ethnography involves telling stories, making pictures, concocting symbolism, and deploying tropes" (p. 140), all intended to produce conviction in the reader:

The ability of anthropologists to get us to take what they say seriously has less to do with either a factual look or an air of conceptual elegance than it has with their capacity to convince us that what they say is a result of their having actually penetrated...another form of life, of having, one way or another, truly "been there." And that, persuading us that this offstage miracle has occurred, is where the writing comes in (pp. 4-5).

Influenced by this Geertzian perspective, Renato Rosaldo's essay in The Rhetoric of the Human Sciences (1987) calls attention to how the traditional distancing rhetoric of ethnography begins to sound like parody when applied to deep emotional experiences so that "reports cast in the normalizing ethnographic idiom trivialize the events they describe by reducing the force of intense emotions to spectacle" (p. 99). Countering this tendency to lose the phenomenon, Rosaldo proposes "a more personal, particularizing, experiential rhetoric" (p. 101).

Probably no social scientist has gone farther than Donald McCloskey in The Rhetoric of Economics (1985) in analyzing the scientific use of persuasive techniques. Calling on the work of Feyerabend, Booth, Polanyi, Toulmin, and Rorty -among others -- McCloskey sees good rhetoric as enhancing the persuasiveness of the scientific "conversation" in its movement toward intersubjectivity (p. 27). Accordingly, his "Rhetoric of Economics" appears to have paved the way for a review of two books by Kenneth Boulding recently written by the Nobel Laureate Wassily Leontief for the New York Times (1986):

The indisputable success of Mr. Boulding's writing is probably to a considerable extent due to his truly magisterial style -- one is tempted to say, his rhetoric.... If the purpose of communication is to persuade, then oratorical discourse, which exploits to the full the emotional suggestiveness and occasional ambiguity of common language, should prove to be quite effective (p. 7).

Perhaps more than any other thinker (and sooner than most), Charles Davy captured the essence of the proposed rapprochement between science and lyrical poetics. In his book entitled Towards a Third Culture, Davy (1978) follows Vico and Rousseau when he suggests that the primeval languages, like those of primitive peoples still, were "more poetic" (symbolic) and "more song-like" (using variations in tone and pitch) than modern languages and that this form of expression "went with...a sense of immediate participation and...nature which we have largely lost" (p. 50) so that we now find ourselves "strangers in a universe that has lost human meaning" (p. 51). Historically, "participating consciousness" has yielded to "onlooker consciousness" in which "thinking and feeling tend to fall apart" (p. 64). Aphoristically, "when imagination fails, the measurable becomes the measure of all things" (p. 71). Thus, Davy calls for a humanizing counter-current in the form of a new culture:

the third culture...w 11 retain the particular virtues of the scientific outlook -- disciplined thinking, respect for facts, testing by experiment -- but it will use them differently.... it will be...also a religious and an artistic culture (p. 93).

Davy associates the "counter-current" of the third culture with "a humanizing influence" (p. 104) and a "new imagination" (p. 115) in which "the poet and the artist are...clairvoyant in the sense of perceiving more in the world than most of us do" (p. 116) in the way that lines of poetry "differ in meaning from a factual prose statement":

they operate differently on the mind. They bring about a temporary change in consciousness, so that something embodied in the lines -- not only in their verbal meaning but in their sound and rhythm and associated overtones and images -- is perceived (p. 135).

In short, Davy sees the progression from a participating consciousness to an onlooking consciousness as moving from an originally poetic language to a scientific discourse that has grown cold, lifeless, and empty. He envisions the birth of the "third culture" in terms that evoke the changing of the seasons:

the a winter consciousness.... summer comes first: the time when nature is abundant and men in their activities and feelings go out into nature.... Evolution proceeded to autumn; the skies of consciousness darkened and men turned their thoughts to earth. We are now in winter.... We have come far from the dreamy moods of summer; our thinking is as clear and sharp as frost.... The winter experience has been indispensable; but the imagination of man has power to quicken the dry earth and bring in a new season (pp. 172-173).

The "new season" to which Davy tacitly refers, of course, is Spring. Here, Davy irresistibly evokes the words of another great prophet of imaginative experience, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, whose "Ode to the West Wind" (1820) asks what M. H. Abrams (1988) calls "the most famous rhetorical question in English" (p. 161): "If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?" Shelley's ode implores the inspiriting wind to "Make me thy lyre" (1. 57). In this, it reminds us of our "Skylark" and of Shelley's own poem, 'To a Skylark" (1820). That lyric hails our bird as a "blithe Spirit" who "Pourest thy full heart/l I profuse strains of unpremeditated art" (11. 1-5). In turn, the second stanza of Carmichael and Mercer's song recalls Shelley's question to the West Wind:

O, Skylark, have you seen a valley green with spring,

Where my heart can go a-journeying,

Over the shadows and the rain

To a blossom-covered lane?

This second stanza seems to celebrate a feminine point of view, concerned as it is with the fecundity and fertility of a green valley and a blossom-covered lane. And, in that, it reminds us by counter-example of how completely the field of consumer research has been dominated by the contrasting masculine orientation.

Lately, I have been reading some enlightening books that apply the perspective of feminism to the philosophy of science. For example, in her treatise on The Flight to Objectivity, Susan Bordo (1987) points out that our whole conventional scientific epistemology rests on a dualistic dichotomy between Self and Other. She argues that this dualism reflects a Cartesian mistrust of subjectivity that is essentially masculine in its psychological origins and that stems developmentally from the "wrenching tear" experienced in the male child's emotional separation from his mother (p. 57). In Bordo's terms, the resulting separation anxiety precipitates an anxious reaction against emotion or passion and a flight to objectivity (p. 76). This results in a masculinized psyche in which emotions become irrelevant: 'Thus, the specter of infantile subjectivism is overcome by the possibility of a cool, impersonal, distanced cognitive relation to the world" (p. 99).

Bordo joins, however, in "the critical protest against the Cartesian notion that reason can and should be a 'pure' realm free from contamination by emotion, instinct, will, sentiment, and value" (p. 116). Here, she receives support from Evelyn Fox Keller's Reflections on Gender and Science (1985), which emphasizes that the feminine viewpoint (subjective, emotional, personal, nurturing) -- as opposed to the masculine viewpoint (objective, rational, impersonal, power-oriented) -- retains a sense of the union between mother and child and thereby permits a dissolution of the Cartesian dichotomy between subject and object (self and other), in the form of a subject-object merger. In this sense, for Keller, science "is a form of love" (p. 117) based on an empathy and intimacy in which "self and other, mind and nature survive not in mutual alienation...but in structural integrity" (p. 165).

Along similar lines, a recent book by Wendy Hollway entitled Subjectivity and Method in Psychology: Gender, Meaning and Science (1989) describes a masculinization of science in which "men...avoided the affective by producing it as a particularly feminine characteristic" so that "the affective was expunged simultaneously from scientific, rational and male thought" (p. 110). Hollway inveighs against what she calls "sexist regimes of truth" (p. 45) and proposes to replace these by "developing a method for interpreting texts and working out a theory of meaning and subjectivity adequate to it" (p. 47). This method focuses on the subjectivity of meanings produced in the framework of interpersonal discourse (e.g., p. 67) -- that is, on a linguistic construction of subjective reality (p. 82) -- thereby drawing Hollway's attention to "intersubjective relations" in general and to "the part played by gender difference" in particular (p. 86). Here, she criticizes psychometric approaches to the study of androgyny (p. 99), attacks cognitive theories of sex-role stereotyping (p. 103), and proposes to replace these with a "feminist position...based on a recognition of, and celebration of, women's difference from men" (p. 105). This feminist position focuses on "women's experience" (p. 106) and on its implications for "gendered subjectivity" (p. 108). In this light, Hollway expands Keller's (and, implicitly, Bordo's) emphasis on separation anxiety and, even while recognizing the variability among people (p. 119), reaches a similar conclusion that "being a woman provides advantageous conditions for identification with the person or people participating in the research" (p. 127).

In the views of Bordo, Keller, and Hollway, the feminine aspect of science (recalling Paul Simon's "Mother and Child Reunion" and "Loves Me Like a Rock") speaks, as described by Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice (1982). Gilligan characterizes feminine discourse in terms of its ability to sustain deep, caring interpersonal connections and to entertain tender, supportive feelings: 'Thus women not only define themselves in a context of human relationship but also judge themselves in terms of their ability to care" (p. 17). In Wornen's Ways of Knowing: The Development of Self, Voice, and Mind, Mary Field Belenky and her colleagues (1986) point out the key importance of this metaphor for epistemological growth in which women are "gaining a voice" (p. 16). For them, this voice involves "connected" as opposed to "separate" knowing (p. 101). Connected knowing entails a trust in personal experience and a capacity for empathy (pp. 112-113). It aspires toward the "passionate" knowledge of "knowers who enter into a union with that which is to be known" (p. 141) and emerges, ultimately, in "the development of a more authentic voice" (p. 209).

According to Jean Baker Miller in Toward a New Psychology of Women (1976), this authentic feminine voice exerts a humanizing influence by "expressing the emotional and personal qualities that are inherent in all experience" (p. 25). Miller sees women, in comparison with men, as "trained to be involved with emotions and with the feelings occurring in the course of all activity" (p. 39). She also suggests that, as therapy, "men can also go on to enlarge their emotional experience" (p. 46). Indeed, if we (the scientists or the men) try to hang tough by denying this feminine voice, we can only succeed in falsifying the reality that confronts at least half the population -- namely, the reality described in such works as Jessie Bernard's The Female World (1981) and Anne Wilson Schaefs Women's Reality (1985).- I would like to urge, therefore, that -- when the occasion calls for it, as I believe it does when we address the emotions -- both the women and the men who conduct consumer research must learn to think, to feel, and to write in a manner more feminine.

But I must also warn that such consumer researchers will inevitably encounter difficulties associated with the pioneering lyrical spirit and foretold in the "bridge" or B-section of "Skylark"

And, in your lonely flight,

Haven't you heard the music in the night -

Wonderful music -

Faint as the will-o'-the-wisp,

Crazy as a loon,

Sad as a gypsy serenading the moon?

The simple fact is that -- if you follow my advice, embark on a "lonely flight," and yield to the lyrical spirit when writing your next paper on consumer emotions -- the first reviewer will say that your logic is "faint as a will-o'-the-wisp"; the second will complain^@hat your method is "crazy as a loon"; the third will charge that your results and conclusions are "sad (or even mad) as a gypsy serenading the moon"; and the editors will reject your manuscript (in agreement with the insuperable criticisms posed by the reviewers' many helpful comments).

This will happen, I fear, because -- as a discipline -- we have learned to deny the feminine aspects of our collective consciousness and to signal this denial by demonstrating or at least pretending that we do not care very much about each other's feelings. We adopt reviewing standards that reward authors' abilities to suppress their emotions. We excoriate any trace of self-revelation. If an occasional author dares to violate this norm, we punish this deviation by declaring the work "self-indulgent" (sometimes relying on such damning epithets as "paroxysms of self-expression"). In this, we imply that we do not care very much about each other or, ultimately, even about ourselves.

In short, if we were to view the discipline of consumer research metaphorically as a dwelling place in-which we live, it appears (figuratively) that we have constructed a house in which there is no room for the researcher's emotions. This style of intellectual architecture violates an important principle that I believe I learned last summer.

This past June, as my friends who saw my scratched and splintered fingers can attest, I spent a good deal of time building bookcases in our apartment to accommodate my fairly large and rapidly growing collection of paperbacks and compact disks that I love dearly but that I had no place to keep. Later, I spent a happy month of July at U.B.C. in Vancouver as the guest of Rick Pollay and Carole Christopher. The moment I walked into their house, I was stuck by its carefully planned use of space. Rick is an eminent collector of relics from advertising (which he calls "advertiques") and has meticulously designed every square inch of his study at home and his office at school to store and display his collection. I felt in a profound way that Rick's example validated my own adventures in home improvement via the construction of bookshelves. And, after sensing this validation, I finally realized that it hinged on a very simple principle -- namely, that without a place to keep things that we cherish, things that move us, things that stir our emotions, things that add meaning to our lives, a house would be deeply flawed.

Yet, in consumer research, we have chosen to dwell (but perhaps not fully to live) in such a deeply flawed house -- a house with no place to put the things that matter most to many of us -- namely, a house with no room for our own feelings. Such a house may be, in the words of Graham Nash, "a very, very, very nice house." But such a house is not s home

Apparently -- remembering the Skylark's warm, green valley and the need to build bookshelves to hold our deepest meanings -- in consumer research, we need Better Homes and Gardens. My inference, then, corresponds directly to the metaphorical content in the last stanza of Johnny Mercer's great lyrics:

Skylark, I don't know if you can find these things,

But my heart is riding on your wings;

So, if you see them anywhere,

Won't you lead me there;

O, Skylark, won't you lead me there.

In this almost prayerful conclusion, the lyricist asks for a place in which the heart can reside. Analogously, I ask for an annex to the grounds and for some new rooms with new windows and new views in the mansion where those who labor in the field of consumer research have erected their edifice. I ask for an open embrace by consumer researchers of the attempt in our work and our writings to express our emotions. I ask us, collectively, to abandon our mercilessly tough stance and to start caring profoundly about one another's deepest selves. I ask for this enlarged acceptance of poetic insights in consumer research because I believe that the lyrical resonance in which we converse will greatly facilitate our ability to interpret and to communicate the nature of the emotional phenomena that pervade the consumption experience.

Here, returning to Robert Graves and his Creek Myths (1981), one recalls the legend of Arion -- another great master of the lyre -- whose singing saved him from drowning in the deep when the "impassioned strains" of "his song...attracted a school of music loving dolphins, one or which took Arion on his back" and carried him to safety (p. 8). We, too, need singing in our school. Perhaps only the lyricism of an impassioned song such as Arion's can rescue us from drowning in a sea of indifference.

I might illustrate what I regard as the restorative-power of lyricism -- its saving grace -with three examples drawn from music and, therefore, closely linked to singing. Here, the analogy between the scholarly activity of an academic and the creative activity of an artist becomes unmistakable. In both endeavors, I believe, lyricism may transform the mundane into the extraordinary and may encourage a transcendence from the pathetic to the exalted, from the ridiculous to the sublime.

Consider, first, the work of the great jazz saxophonist, Art Pepper. By the account found in his own autobiography -- ironically entitled Straight Life (1979) -- and by any reasonable standards of polite society, Pepper was for most of his life a complete scoundrel, obsessive profligate, unrepentant bum, and hardened criminal. He took drugs with reckless abandon, robbed filling stations, betrayed his friends, and spent most of his adult years in prison. Pepper was no gentle junky jazz musician -- like (say) Charlie Parker, who never hurt anyone but himself. By his own insistence, Pepper was a callous convict -- a self-proclaimed sociopath -- whose only concern for others boiled down to the fear of being caught.

Yet Pepper had one saving grace and that was his total honesty of self-expression -- found, for example, in his unfathomable ability to tell his own sordid story in the form of that amazingly candid autobiography. This honesty also permeated all his playing and revealed itself in a surprisingly lyrical temperament.

Art Pepper's alto style incorporated an almost excruciating lyricism, a vivid sense of immediate feelings and unconstrained emotions. In one of his most celebrated recordings, for example, he emerged from a drug-induced torpor, picked up a broken-down horn that he had not touched in months, and somehow blew chorus after chorus of inspired jazz melodies, wrenched not from a printed score but from the depths of his own tortured soul. In short, Art Pepper's lyrical gifts transformed this otherwise miserable creature into a poet and a prophet of emotional expression.

Paul Desmond, a second magnificent alto saxophonist, was the most lyrical player that jazz has ever known. He spun lilting musical phrases out of airy nothingness in a constantly inventive stream of sequences composed of repeated thematic ideas and their developing variations. I have enthused about Desmond's gifts elsewhere (Holbrook and Zirlin 1985) and will not repeat those effusions here, except to note the manner in which his lyricism appeared to elevate his spirit above the commonplace.

On one mournful day only a few weeks before his untimely death, in a recording made with Chet Baker of "You Can't GO Home Again," Paul Desmond summoned all his waning strength, endured his pain, and blew one of his most beautiful solos just before collapsing from the burden of these over-exertions. His playing betrays no hint of his physical anguish. It is all tenderness, all delicacy, all lyricism. Thus does the lyrical gift raise one's spirits to heights otherwise unattainable. Thus does the force of lyricism lift one's powers of communication.

Interestingly, both Art Pepper and Paul Desmond recorded our emblematic song, "Skylark" -Pepper on an early album in which he accompanied Hoagy Carmichael performing some of his own tunes, Desmond in one of his last recordings made just three years before he died. Pepper may have been uncomfortable with the unsympathetic character of Carmichael's labored singing style. For whatever reasons, his performance is dark and brooding, filled with rhythmic displacements and bent notes that suggest pain and doubt. By contrast, Desmond's rendition of this piece conjures up sweetness and light. He alters some of its chords and melody lines in ways characteristically Desmondian and toys effortlessly with melodic sequences in his typically playful pattern of implication, surprise, and reconciliation. Hence, even while Pepper's and Desmond's treatments of "Skylark" differ markedly in tone, both share an intense lyricism. Pepper sounds as if he is crying through his horn. Desmond sounds like smiling.

Similar stories could be told about the last concert of Sonny Stitt (who, ironically, was asked to fill in for the recently deceased Art Pepper) or about Charlie Parker's tantalizing solo on "Lover Man," which breaks off in mid-stream when the artist literally passes out and falls to the floor of the recording studio. All these evince the power of lyricism in the lives of musical geniuses. I shall end, however, on a third illustration intended to convey a somewhat more triumphant note -- namely, the achievement by the late Dinah Washington, often referred to as "the Queen."

Dinah Washington began as a gospel singer and carried the fervor of that style into her later work as a pop vocalist. Her energetic and feelingful recordings of such songs as "What a Diff'rence a Day Made" completely mask what was for her an agonizing disability. Specifically, Dinah Washington stuttered, stuttered so badly that she could scarcely conduct a normal conversation. Hence, her ability to communicate via conventional means was severely limited. But, as often happens in cases of stuttering, her problem disappeared when she raised her voice in song. The stuttering stopped. Her lyrical gift conquered her verbal nemesis. And Dinah Washington sang like an angel.

As consumer researchers embarking on the study of emotion, we venture forth into a new and intellectually perilous area of inquiry. Like Art Pepper and Paul Desmond and Dinah Washington, coping with the melodic and harmonic structure in a difficult piece of music, we face threatening risks and potential dangers. But -- also like Pepper, Desmond, and Washington -- we have the opportunity to express ourselves through the power of our lyrical gifts.

We have a choice. We can cultivate a bland form of scientistic discourse that conveys little more than does a hopeless stutter. We can let our voices stammer and falter and gasp for words and heave huge sighs of inarticulate helplessness. Or we can learn a lesson from Dinah Washington and the others. We can lift every voice and sing. We can let our feelings show. We can express our emotions and can welcome them in ourselves and in others for what they are -- namely, concomitants of the phenomena that we wish to understand. And, if we can follow the latter path, we may earn the contribution to be gained from the role of lyricism in research on consumer emotions.

The song by Carmichael and Mercer that I have been using as my text ends on what strikes me as a rather profound and even devout note-in which the lyricist's heart rides on the Skylark's wings. So I, too, want to end by returning to my theme (concerning the heart with which I began and by reminding you that today (like every day) is a very emotional day for all consumers everywhere -- and, therefore, a very emotional day for you -- and, especially, a very emotional day for me.

Perhaps, in conclusion, you might wonder what emotions I feel as I near the end of my story.

First, of course, a sense of relief that I have almost completed my task.

Second, a sense of hope that I may have encouraged us to show a little more care about one another's feelings and a little greater acceptance of each other's attempts at self-expression.

Third, a sense of pride in what we as a field of inquiry have already accomplished in the twenty short years since the first ACR conference met in Columbus during the Fall of 1969.

And fourth, abundant gratitude that leaves me full of thanks to many people. Thanks to Keith Hunt for his unswerving dedication as our Executive Secretary. Thanks to our Board of Directors -- Beth, Rich, Terry, Jack, Becky, Kent, Keith -- and the other Officers for their wise decisions. Thanks to Jerry Kernan for acting as our stalwart representative on the JCR Policy Board. Thanks to Peter Bloch and Jim Muncy for keeping our communications flowing. Thanks to Terry Shimp for his many labors of love. Thanks to Arch Woodside for his help with the local arrangements in New Orleans. Thanks to Marv Goldberg, Gerry Gorn, and Rick Pollay for serving so splendidly as chairpeople, for managing the 1989 conference with such expertise, and for putting together such a carefully designed program. Thanks to Beth Hirschman, Becky Holman, and Mike Solomon in anticipation of their efforts on our behalf next year in New York. And thanks, most of all, to all of you for listening to me express myself and for letting me be your President.

Skylark, I don't know if you can find these things,

But my heart is riding on your wings;

So, if you see them anywhere,

Won't you lead me there.

O, Skylark, won't you lead me there.

I would like to close with a reference to just one more popular song, one that I admired greatly as a youngster because some of my favorite jazz musicians used to play it -- namely, DeSylva, Brown, and Henderson's "Birth of the Blues." When I was growing up, I found the chord changes of this tune too hard to negotiate. But, since then, I have figured them out and have also noticed something else important about the song. Specifically, it seems to fuse the theme of my talk today with the location of this year's ACR conference. Thus, it again invokes the power of lyricism as represented by another singing bird (this time, a whippoorwill) and ties this bird's lyrical gift to the origins of jazz in the area around New Orleans

From a whippoorwill,

High on a hill,

They took a new note;

Pushed it through a horn

'Til it was born

Into a blue note.


And then they nursed it,

Rehearsed it,

And gave out the news

That the Southland

Gave birth to the blues



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Morris B. Holbrook, Columbia University


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 17 | 1990

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