Reading Writers, Quaffing Quiddity and Rejoicing Joyceans: Unpicking the Packaging of an Irish Icon
Anthony Patterson and Stephen Brown (2002) ,"Reading Writers, Quaffing Quiddity and Rejoicing Joyceans: Unpicking the Packaging of an Irish Icon", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 29, eds. Susan M. Broniarczyk and Kent Nakamoto, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 504-509.
INTRODUCTION Fifteen years ago, Russell Belk (1986) remarked that consumer research has much to learn from works of literature and, in the intervening period, many academicians have culled the literary canon (Brown 1999). Examples include Friedmans (1991) examination of brand name dropping in a series of best selling novels; McCreerys (1995) explication of early advertising treatments courtesy of a Dorothy Sayers whodunit; Hirschmans (1990) use of Wolfes Bonfire of the Vanities to illustrate her thesis on secular immortality; and Patterson and Browns (1999) study of the shopping behaviours in High Fidelity and Bridget Joness Diary (see also Holbrook and Grayson 1986; Goodwin 1992). Alongside these analyses of works of fiction, a second group of consumer researchers has investigated creative artists themselves, arguing that meaningful insights can be derived from the lives, not just the works, of literary icons. Aherne (2000), for instance, asserts that W.B. Yeats, the purported epitome of art for arts sake aestheticism, was actually a superlative marketing practitioner; Brown (1997) contends that Arthur Rimbaud was an acute consumer researcher, who preferred 'the poetics of the marketplace to the markeplace of poetics; Harris et al. (2000) maintains that Machiavelli remains a role model for putative high fliers; and, drawing upon a wider cultural palette, several scholars have argued that the marketing activities of fine artists, from Warhol and Manet to Dali and Hirst, are worthy of careful consideration (Brown and Patterson 2000; Fillis 2000; Schroeder 1997, 2000). Insightful though these lines of literary research undoubtedly are, and while there is considerable scope for additional work in both traditions (to say nothing of the artistic arena generally), there remains another, thus far untapped, academic opportunity. Namely, the commodification of creative artists by the marketing system and the manner in which such commodities are consumed. Great writers, for example, are routinely exploited for commercial purposes, whether it be guided tours of Dickenss London or Hardys Wessex, all-beef Bronte burgers in Haworths hot food emporia, or mainstream movies like Shakespeare in Love, with its attendant tie-in merchandise, from T-shirts to screen savers. Yet, despite these egregious acts of 'artsploitation, to coin a phrase, this issue has attracted very little attention from consumer researchers hitherto (Hetzel 2000 is a noteworthy exception). The purpose of the present paper, therefore, is to examine the commodification of an Irish literary icon, James Joyce, and to demonstrate how the above research traditionsBworks, lives and representationsBcan be meaningfully combined. In keeping with the trajectory of thought in the literary studies subdiscipline, this paper commences with a consideration of consumption in Joyces literary corpus; continues with a discussion of James Joyce, marketing man; culminates in a 'reading of the James Joyce theme pub in present-day Paris; and concludes with some quasi-Joycean reflections on the future for artsploitation research. CONSUMPTION, MARKETING AND JAMES JOYCE Belatedly, Joyce has become an emblem of Irelands worldwide popularity within the postmodern index of signs. Illustrations of this phenomenon abound, from the front of the Irish ten-pound note that features a picture of Joyce to the back where the opening words of Finnegans Wake are inscribed; from the songs (e.g. The Pogues, [The front sleeve of a Pogues= album actually features Joyce as one of the band members.] Kate Bush, Enya and Therapy have alluded to Joyce) to the films (e.g. Nora) that have featured either him or his work; from the merchandise (including tea-towels, T-shirts, biscuit tins, sepia prints, mugs and neckties) to the huge academic industry that endlessly scrutinizes his opus; from the worldwide annual celebrations of Bloomsday on the 16th of June to the Joycean theme pubs that span the globe (Brooker 2000). As one journalist asked regarding Joyces increased commodification 'is Joyce a great writer or a global marketing opportunity ( )This contemporary artsploitation is all the more remarkable when considered against the backdrop of Joyces own marketing inflected life. '
Fifteen years ago, Russell Belk (1986) remarked that consumer research has much to learn from works of literature and, in the intervening period, many academicians have culled the literary canon (Brown 1999). Examples include Friedmans (1991) examination of brand name dropping in a series of best selling novels; McCreerys (1995) explication of early advertising treatments courtesy of a Dorothy Sayers whodunit; Hirschmans (1990) use of Wolfes Bonfire of the Vanities to illustrate her thesis on secular immortality; and Patterson and Browns (1999) study of the shopping behaviours in High Fidelity and Bridget Joness Diary (see also Holbrook and Grayson 1986; Goodwin 1992).
Alongside these analyses of works of fiction, a second group of consumer researchers has investigated creative artists themselves, arguing that meaningful insights can be derived from the lives, not just the works, of literary icons. Aherne (2000), for instance, asserts that W.B. Yeats, the purported epitome of art for arts sake aestheticism, was actually a superlative marketing practitioner; Brown (1997) contends that Arthur Rimbaud was an acute consumer researcher, who preferred 'the poetics of the marketplace to the markeplace of poetics; Harris et al. (2000) maintains that Machiavelli remains a role model for putative high fliers; and, drawing upon a wider cultural palette, several scholars have argued that the marketing activities of fine artists, from Warhol and Manet to Dali and Hirst, are worthy of careful consideration (Brown and Patterson 2000; Fillis 2000; Schroeder 1997, 2000).
Insightful though these lines of literary research undoubtedly are, and while there is considerable scope for additional work in both traditions (to say nothing of the artistic arena generally), there remains another, thus far untapped, academic opportunity. Namely, the commodification of creative artists by the marketing system and the manner in which such commodities are consumed. Great writers, for example, are routinely exploited for commercial purposes, whether it be guided tours of Dickenss London or Hardys Wessex, all-beef Bronte burgers in Haworths hot food emporia, or mainstream movies like Shakespeare in Love, with its attendant tie-in merchandise, from T-shirts to screen savers. Yet, despite these egregious acts of 'artsploitation, to coin a phrase, this issue has attracted very little attention from consumer researchers hitherto (Hetzel 2000 is a noteworthy exception).
The purpose of the present paper, therefore, is to examine the commodification of an Irish literary icon, James Joyce, and to demonstrate how the above research traditionsBworks, lives and representationsBcan be meaningfully combined. In keeping with the trajectory of thought in the literary studies subdiscipline, this paper commences with a consideration of consumption in Joyces literary corpus; continues with a discussion of James Joyce, marketing man; culminates in a 'reading of the James Joyce theme pub in present-day Paris; and concludes with some quasi-Joycean reflections on the future for artsploitation research.
CONSUMPTION, MARKETING AND JAMES JOYCE
Belatedly, Joyce has become an emblem of Irelands worldwide popularity within the postmodern index of signs. Illustrations of this phenomenon abound, from the front of the Irish ten-pound note that features a picture of Joyce to the back where the opening words of Finnegans Wake are inscribed; from the songs (e.g. The Pogues, [The front sleeve of a Pogues= album actually features Joyce as one of the band members.] Kate Bush, Enya and Therapy have alluded to Joyce) to the films (e.g. Nora) that have featured either him or his work; from the merchandise (including tea-towels, T-shirts, biscuit tins, sepia prints, mugs and neckties) to the huge academic industry that endlessly scrutinizes his opus; from the worldwide annual celebrations of Bloomsday on the 16th of June to the Joycean theme pubs that span the globe (Brooker 2000). As one journalist asked regarding Joyces increased commodification 'is Joyce a great writer or a global marketing opportunity ( )This contemporary artsploitation is all the more remarkable when considered against the backdrop of Joyces own marketing inflected life.
'SUNNY JIM: THE MARKETING MAN
'Sunny Jim as his family affectionately called him as a child, after an advertising campaign of the time, [The character Sunny Jim was the hero of numerous jingles that advertised a breakfast cereal called FORCE.] was deeply ensconced in the world of marketing and advertising. Recently there has been an outpouring of articles and books by Joycean scholars on the relationship that Joyce and his work share with advertising, marketing and popular culture (see Herr 1986; Kershner 1996; Leonard 1998; Osteen 1995). It is known that Joyce had in his personal library a popular marketing book of the period, significantly entitled, The Art of Selling Goods. It is also known that Joyce contemplated pursuing an advertising career (Osteen 1995), a role that he later assigned to one of he main protagonists of Ulysses, Leopold Bloom. Indeed, Osteen (1995: 111) notes that in many ways Joyce did actually pursue just such a career given the enthusiastic manner in which he marketed his books, 'preparing press clippings for inclusion in review copies or presenting Ulysses as a real steal to recalcitrant purchasers. It would be a nonsense to suggest that because Joyce made his work 'wilfully obscure (Bishop 1986: 1) he had no interest in reaching an audience or in marketing his books because the fact is that he deliberately cultivated such wilful obscurity in order to sustain scholarly interest in his work. Joyce said that he wanted to write a book that would 'keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what it meant, and certainly to date he has been highly successful in this respect.
Dettmar (1996) presents a detailed study of the ways in which Joyce participated in the marketing of Ulysses. He identified six main facets of involvement. First, the year after its Paris publication Joyce helped Silvia Beach package copies for mailing and compile mailing lists. Second, he actively recruited sympathetic reviewers. Third, he attempted to control the very content of those reviews by setting certain phrases into circulationCessentially advertising blurbs of his own devisingCthat he knew would be repeated in the subsequent reviews. Fourth, he encouraged reviewers to coin slogans to describe the distinctive writing style that he pioneered. Interestingly, he actually preferred the 'mythical method rather than the term 'stream of consciousness that gained more popular accord. Fifth, Joyce astutely recognised the publicity value of the New York obscenity trial that was to decide whether or not the initial ban on Ulysses should be lifted. As it turned out, the ban was lifted, after which Joyce gleefully had an advertisement for Ulysses designed incorporating Judge Woolseys comments on the parts of the book that he thought obscene. Sixth, Joyce was the first artist to realise that not only did he have a reading public to win over but also an academic community. To this end, Joyce commissioned many critical projects, the most notable of which were Stuart Gilberts task of setting out the Homeric parallels in Ulysses and the biography entrusted to Herman Gorman. Such marketing activities do not seem so very far removed from the mass-merchandising that accompanies the launch of almost every Hollywood blockbuster. Finally, the fact that Joyce penned such a majestic novel in the first place. He had, after all, succeeded in writing perhaps the most salacious, most sensational, most revolutionary novel of all time, one which clearly met the needs of the market and continues to do so.
In Joyces work too there is considerable evidence to suggest that he was deeply fascinated by the emerging commodity culture of the early twentieth century and the awakening of its foremost accomplices, marketing and advertising. A veritable academic industry is devoted to highlighting the extent to which this is so, albeit confined to the field of literary studies rather than our own. Wickes (1994) focuses on how Ulysses conveys the mediating power of turn-of-the-century advertising in Dublin as a means of accentuating Irelands then pitiable status as a colonial backwater of Britain. After all, English companies selling products like Liptons tea and Pears soap were by far the main advertisers of the day. Notably, the only exportable product that Ireland itself had at the time was Guinness stout. Perhaps, Guinnesss subsequent success, both in terms of the stout it sold and the Irish pubs that it helped to establish in foreign climes, was driven as much by a need to shake off the shackles of colonisation as they were by marketing know-how. Leonards (1998) Lacanian exploration of Joyces fiction holds that advertising, marketing and popular culture appearing therein often acts as a compensatory or illusory mechanism to consumers who are striving to satisfy a sense of permanent lack. According to Leonard (1998: 2) Joyces theory of the object, as expressed in Stephen Hero, based on the epiphany tat could be glimpsed 'in the soul of the commonest object closely parallels the theory of advertising which also seeks 'to make 'the commonest object appear 'to leap to us and seem 'radiant. Leonard proceeds to explain how Joyces notion of integritas is in keeping with how a marketer might seek to differentiate the look of his product from that of a competing product; how his notion of consonantia and claritas are similar to basic marketing theory about the importance of generating brand awareness, loyalty and equity, and finally how Joyces notion of quidditas is analogous to the marketing requisite of constructing a brand with a personality or a soul. What Joyce achieves is not only to independently reckon some of the essence of marketing through the formalisation of his own aesthetic theory but also to anticipate in nascent form the premise of the present paper, namely, that art and marketing are indistinguishable.
Joyces work provides many other insights into the world of marketing; not least the inspired advertisements that Joyce had Bloom create in Ulysses, his awareness of 'the infinite possibilities hitherto unexploited of the modern art of advertisement (Joyce 1992: 799). Decades before Williamson (1978), he figured that advertising was a co-productive process between advertisement and consumer, a negotiation of meaning that, whilst offering a focus for consumer desire, could never be predicted. Decades before Baudrillard (1988), he implicitly recognised that marketing and consumer discourse had the power to offer consumers a seductive type of pleasure that might be interpreted positively. Decades before fantasy was ever studied in consumer research (i.e. Rook 1988), Joyce demonstrates how an ad or physical object can initiate fantasy and act as a means towards completion of the self. Contemporary consumption-fixated 'blank fictionBa body of literature that consumer researchers have recently studied (see Brown 1995; Patterson and Brown 1999)Bwas very much foreshadowed by the blizzard of brand names in which Joyce immersed his work. Joyce revealed the hypocrisy of Yeats Celtic Revival, which cast itself as commercially untainted when in actual fact it was big business and perhaps the main architect culpable for the rise of commodity Ireland. Joyce was among the earliest authors, his fellow Irishman Oscar Wilde being another, to collapse the distinction between 'high and 'low culture, happily writing about the relationship consumers shared with throwaway songs, ads, magazines, souvenirs and other items of kitsch. Little wonder that Joyces work is sometimes described as prophetic, omniscient in scope, as encompassing all past and future knowledge (Derrida 1982). Perhaps this is why his books are among the very few that manage to survive the transition from modern to postmodern without diminishment (Kiberd 1992).
Now Joyce may have been a canny marketer, to the extent that insights into advertising and marketing issues are interwoven into his tome, but is there any evidence to suggest that his marketing ability extended beyond the literary sphere? Yes! Joyce was involved in a number of business ventures over the course of his life, some of which were more successful than others. It is a little known fact that Joyce managed to successfully acquire a concession from the Dublin Woollen Company to sell Irish Foxford Tweed to the Italians and Austrians. In an angry letter to a Dublin solicitor concerning a refusal to publish Dubliners he claims that this Tweed selling scheme had put 150,000 francs into the pockets 'of hungry Irish men and women since they drove me out of their hospitable bog (Ellmann 1982: 314), though it is unclear how much he himself made from the enterprise. This success obviously whetted his appetite and ambition, for at one point he even considered importing skyrockets into Trieste. But nothing came of it. Another decidedly more down-to-earth but equally ambitious venture was triggered by a remark made by his daughter, Lucia, when she asked of daddy why Dublin had no cinemas. For Joyce it was an opportunity too good to miss. He leapt into actin contacting and establishing a syndicate, composed of four Italians, which aimed to open Dublins first ever cinema, with a possible rollout to other Irish cities. They were so impressed with Joyces idea that they signed a contract entitling Joyce to ten per cent of the profits and also paid for Joyces trip to Dublin so that he could get things off the ground prior to their arrival at a later date. Joyce went about his task with gusto, finding suitable premises for the cinema that was to be named the Volta, getting electricity installed, acquiring benches and chairs, supervising the decoration and personally designing posters for the grand opening. Initially, the venture seemed promising, reviews were good and although attendance was low the consensus was that things would improve, and they probably would have but for the fact that Joyce returned to his family in Trieste and could no longer keep a watchful eye on the business. After only a few weeks the Italian who was left running the place cut his loss and left after selling the Volta to an English firm called the Provincial Theatre Company. They were the only party to make any money from the scheme. Nevertheless, it is clear that Joyce is not just a literary man; his persona is as much Bloom the ad-canvasser, as it is Dedalus the poet.
One overtly conscious and highly successful utilisation of Joyce the commodity is as every thirsty traveller knows, the many theme pubs dotted around the world which have Joyce as their overriding theme. [Aside from the James Joyce in Paris there are many other Joycean pubs scattered around the world, in San Francisco, Prague, Durham, London and New York, as well as a 19 strong chain of Finnegan=s (sic) Wakes owned by the brewer, Whitbread, in the UK. There is also a James Joyce pub in Zurich, which boasts the original interior of the Jury=s Hotel of Dame Street that features in Ulysses complete with its unique dTcor and nineteenth century furniture. The Union Bank of Switzerland bought the pub interior at an auction in the early seventies just before the original pub was demolished and subsequently had it dismantled, transported and reassembled in Zurich where it re-opened in 1976.] It is against strong competition from his contemporariesBWilde, Shaw, Yeats, Synge and OCaseyBthat Joyce has managed to become the favourite literary icon of pub producers. In England there is a 'Finnegans Wake pub chain and all over the world there are countless numbers of James Joyce themed pubs. This is partly due his contribution towards the enshrinement of a popular Irish mythology, which has itself become a phenomenally popular pub theme (see Brown and Patterson 2000). The ideal marketability of the nameBJames JoyceBwith its film star resonance coupled with his almost cartoon appearanceBwalking-cane, moustache, dickey-bow, spectacles (or eye-patch) also contribute towards Joyces commodity value.
Nevertheless, perhaps the most compelling reason for adopting Joyce as a pub theme lies in the fact that he both conforms to the stereotypical image of the drunken Paddy and displays a great passion for the milieu of pub life. Described by Yeats as the 'pillar of the taverns, Joyce, like his father, was often to be seen drinking in the pubs of Dublin and later too, after his voluntary exile, in the cafes and bars of Italy and Paris. Though, that he would eventually follow in his fathers staggering footsteps was never a foregone conclusion. As a youth he was pious to an extreme, scornful of heavy drinkers such that his friends would often mock his own meagre intake. Gogarty, in particular, would coax and cajole Joyce to drink ever more copious quantities, in the hope that he could break his spirit, so to speak, and was delighted when Joyce eventually succumbed to its temptations. The death of Joyces mother caused the biggest seachange in his attitude towards its consumption. Aside from its ability to quell the pain of bereavement, 'it allowed him to relax and observe the way others talked and behaved, it enabled him to discuss his anxieties and finally to sing or act the fool (Lyons 1992: 111). Like most young men Joyce was proud of his drunken antics and would often boast about the occasion when the actresses at the Camden Hall had to step over his drink-sodden body shortly after the original Bloomsday. Total intoxication was the state of mind that he often sought to induce and in so striving it became a common sight, much to the chagrin of his brother Stanislaus and later Nora, to see a tottering Joyce being escorted home from the pub by some kindly soul who had to bear Joyces ceaseless singing, 'Of the good stuff let's have some more. Because Ive lost the key to my door (OBrien 1999: 50).
Remarkable as it may seem but the fact that Joyce was often 'plootered did not stop him from astutely observing the pub life that he was part of and reproducing it in astonishing detail within his books, most notably in Ulysses which has done more for the marketing of Dublin pubs than all the efforts of the Irish Tourist Board. Joyce said himself, in a letter to his brother Stanislaus, that ' . . . the publicans would be glad of the advertisement (Ellmann 1982: 332). Certainly, Joyces opus has occasioned an outpouring of reverence for the humble Irish pub; an outpouring that expressed and continues to express itself in the publication of ever more books on the subject (see Blake 1985; Costello 1996; Kearns 1996; Pepper 1998; Reynolds 1990); an outpouring that has not only affirmed the pubs position as an important part of Irish culture, but which has also codified Joyces standing therein. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the James Joyce theme pub in Paris.
TAVERN OF THE PILLAR
The James Joyce Pub, the second of eight Irish theme pubs launched to date by Brian Loughney, an Irish businessman, opened in Paris in 1995. [Paris is famed for its avant-garde past cradling movements such as Cubism and Surrealism and spawning artists suck as Picasso, CTzanne, Braque, Man Ray and Duchamp. It is also a city of which Joyce was especially fond. In 1920, while on his way to London, Joyce decided to spend a few days there and ended up staying for twenty years. He especially relished the frequent drinking sessions where he fraternized in the cafes with the local literati and prostitutes. In Dubliners too he wrote, >Everything in Paris is gay.... They believe in enjoying life....they=ve a great feeling for the Irish there. When they heard I was from Ireland they were ready to eat me, man...= (Joyce 1993: 87).] The pub boasts a prime location on the Gouvion St Cyr near the Palais des CongrFs. [Loughney also has Irish pubs in Brussels, Madrid (2), Boston, Dublin and Galway and another in Paris. Aside from the James Joyce Pub of this study they are all named, >Kitty O=Shea=s, who was the lover of a famous Irish parliamentarian, Charles Stewart Parnell. Parnell was only Irish figure Joyce had any sympathy for, to the extent that he compared the course of their lives in >Gas from a Burner= (Ellmann 1982).] The property, originally used to sell French cheese, was retro-fitted in the style of a traditional Irish pub according to Loughneys exacting specifications. His aim was to provide punters with both a slice of Joycean culture and an 'authentic experience of Irish pubs comparable to that on offer in Dublin.
With the exception of an enormous plastic pint of Guinness, that totally overshadows the recess of a first floor window, the exterior of the James (as it known to the locals), could have been swiped from a souvenir Irish picture book of the type so beloved of tourists. Every detail of tradition has been lovingly reproduced. Small columns and stained glass windows ascend to hold the entablature that bears the name, James Joyce PubBwhich sparks the questions, at least to the uninitiated BIs this Joyces pub?BDid he ever come here?BIs he actually in there?Ban avuncular publican behind the bar, pulling pints and making jolly with the customers, like the dead Bygmister Finnegan in Finnegans Wake who somehow wakes and transmutes into Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker, a Dublin publican.
The pub rests on a street corner, facilitating customer access via either a front or a side entrance, but its doors are much more far-reaching. They function as a direct portal to visitors travelling from and going to Joyces Dublin. Nor are we speaking metaphorically for Loughney has secured a wonderful marketing coup, an agreement with Ryan Air, an Irish airline, whereby all visitors flying from Ireland with Ryan Air are deposited outside the pub via an express coach and returned via the same route. How appropriate that the pub should become a point of origin and departure, of beginning and ending, just like the circuitous structure of Joyces Finnegans Wake. The fascia is predictably painted a dark emerald green and is completed by a gold trim surround; the name too is emblazoned in gold and is cast in a classical calligraphy. While the whole fatade reeks of Oirishness with a capital 'O there is no sign of Joyce save an unobtrusive little drawing printed on a double-sided wooden advertising placard. No explanation whatsoever is made of Joyces identity or achievements. It seems to be implicitly assumed that punters will be drawn into the pub either through simple curiosity, the Ryan Air marketing stratagem or purely by the magic words, James Joyce Pub.
Inside, the first Joycean symbol encountered is an unusual abstract sketch of Joyce near the main entrance, his face little more than a cartoon caricature, painted sparingly in the colours of Irelands flagBgreen, white and a splatter of gold. Objects have been incorporated into the painting, twisted metal, wire, rope and an askew frame all serve to contort the image. All of which contributes to this celebration of Joyces peculiarity. The portrait is striking not only in composition but also in that it is a Joycean artefact that is not simply one of the hackneyed pictures that are readily available for visual consumption in the pages of Ellmanns prodigious biography and suchlike. Needless to say, there are plenty of the usual Joycean pictures scattered around the place, framed photocopies from Ellmanns book and so on, but their sheer multitude and careful arrangement endows them with a certain mystery and power.
Featured prominently in the pub are narrow stained glass windows, specifically commissioned by Loughney to showcase the Joycean theme. Patterned after those in the Book of Kells and cast in shimmering jewel tones, each has a unique centrepiece, such as a building historically associated with JoyceBThe Martello Tower, Clongowes Wood College, The National Library of Ireland and The Berlitz School. Again these buildings will be familiar to many, but the point of this pub is not the unearthing of hidden character or fresh insight but rather the celebration of familiarity and of personal intimacy with an Irish cultural icon.
The pub does not exclusively display Joycean items, however. There are also many other Irish references, both contemporary and historical, scattered willy-nilly about the place. Olde mirror ads for Guinness and Powers Whiskey, an 1899 ad selling Dublin as a holiday destination, archaic implements and products like Oxo cubes, Gold Bond Mixture, Caster oil, Three Nuns Tobacco and so on. In another corner there is a group picture signed by all of the actors from The Commitments, a hugely popular Irish film of 1991. The film penned by one of Irelands most reputable contemporary authors, Roddy Doyle, who like Joyce writes realistic visions of Irish life, awash with alcohol and profanity, and believes that the ordinary is the proper domain of the artist. In addition, there are many pictures of contemporary Irish RugbyBa signed picture of a recent Irish squad and numerous action shots of aggressive men, dressed in green shirts and white shorts, sprinting to a certain try or frozen in mid-dive stretching for the line. The rugby ethos in the pub is particularly strong, certainly rugby fans rather than the literati constitute the biggest proportion of customers. Apparently, the pub is a favourite haunt of the Irish rugby players themselves who enjoy a pint of stout or two, after a tussle with the French homeboys. This privileging of Rugby need not take away from the literary dimension of the place. They can co-exist, as one rugby fan proved to Joyce back in the 1930s. The fellow had came to Paris to watch an Ireland-France rugby match and Joyce was genuinely touched when he recited some of his favourite Joyce passages by heart (Fallon 1999).
That said, the focal point of the pub is undoubtedly the television rather than the very impressive assortment, on loan from a special library collection, of first edition copies and landmark critical studies, all encased in a glass display cabinet. Bemoaned as the curse of every pub, the introduction of the television along with piped music [This pub played all kinds of contemporary pop music from Abba to U2 and steers clear of any kind of fiddle dee dee.] has been blamed for bringing about an end to the art of conversation and storytelling that supposedly characterised pubs of yesteryear. Its ironic that Joyce was the first man to bring the cinema to Dublin. That he had a good understanding of cinemas narrative techniques is not in doubt, as is evident from his use of flashback in A Portrait of the Artist and the dissolving of one scene into another in Finnegans Wake. He even discussed with the Russian director, Sergei Eisentein, the possibility of filming Ulysses and also had planned to shoot the Anna Livia Plurabella episode of Finnegans Wake (Ellmann 1982). Clearly he understood the power contained in those onscreen images and had an inkling of their potential to supplant written text as the medium of the future. People in the pub can be observed staring atthe TV, the sound turned off, seemingly spellbound, staring at nothing in particular, totally transfixed. In truth, none of the Joycean artefacts could ever hope to effect a similar response. If prove were ever needed of the existence of Lyotards (1984) 'zero consciousness then this is it.
On the wall immediately beside the television screen there is a huge mural of Joyce. Close examination reveals that interspersed throughout the sepia-toned artwork there resides what is perhaps the most comprehensive collection of visual references to Joyce ever gathered in one place. Bernard Kiernans pub. The Abbey Theatre. Nora young and old. His children, Lucia and Charles. Every photo, portrait and sculpture of Joyce in existence; his death mask, the Dublin statue, a youthful casual confident Joyce, Joyce in middle age. Then, pictures of the Parisian cafes he frequented, snippets of his hand-writing; his parents, his brothers and sisters; the other buildings that he made famous, either in fiction or reality. Interestingly, there are pictures of the James pub itself, and even pictures of pictures that are in the James Joyce pub, such as the abstract painting described earlier, which all serve to historicize the pub itself and make it part and parcel of the contemporary making of Joyce. From a distance all the elements of the collage, this concentrated distillation of what we know of the visual Joyce, unite to form an image of Joyce presiding over the spectacle before him, smartly dressed in shirt and tie, spectacles, overcoat and hat. He has a knowing, self-assured look about him, that seems to say, 'The artist like the God of the creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails (Joyce 1993: 483).
In its entirety, the contents of the suitably dark interior, the photographs, paintings, drawings, letters, first-editions and other memorabilia conspire to create a shrine to Joyce and the brand of Irishness that he was so helpful in propagating. A visitor might be inspired to think, as Joyce once did, on arriving at a Dublin hotel, after an absence of some time, 'The place is very Irish. I have lived so long abroad and in so many countries that I can feel at once the voice of Ireland in anything (Ellmann 1982: 306).
The Joyce Industry is big business. All of its commercial manifestationsBthe trade in Irish souvenirs and museum merchandise, the Bloomsday Mardi Gras and, of course, the James Joyce pubsBtogether define a popular vision of Joyce. It is an engendering of a historical figure that purists, admittedly, might complain expropriates, exaggerates and execrates the image of James Joyce, Irelands greatest ever artist (Lodge 1997). Yet such criticism presupposes that there is actually an objective verifiable representation of Joyce in the first place. There is not. In the context of Joycean studies, for instance, there is such a never-ending supply of critical texts written about him that one would think that the returns would by now be diminishing, that we should have reached a situation wherein all the important subjects would be covered and complete understanding of the man and his work would be in our grasp Bthat we would have quaffed on his Quiddity for long enough. However, this is not the case, in fact, if anything, the output of Joycean criticism is on the increase (Attridge 2000). This is because our reading of the past will always be coloured by a contemporary perspective. It is because the act of interpreting texts is individual and idiosyncratic. It is because the more that is written, the more there is to take issue with, to challenge and to counterpoint (Samuel 1994). History, therefore, is an ever-flowing narrativeBa riverrun, past Adam and Eve, from swerve of shore to bend of bayBakin to Joyces own favourite metaphor, the universal river of history.
What is more, as this paper has sought to suggest, Sunny Jim himself will hardly be turning in his grave at the representations being made of him. For taken as a whole our celebration of him is almost entirely uncritical. His genius remains irrefutable albeit somewhat sodden in drink. We suspect, indeed, that he would agree that he has never had it so good. Once in his twilight years, just when the number of texts on him was beginning to rocket, he made a sly observation, 'The truth probably is that I am a quite commonplace person undeserving of so much imaginative painting (Ellmann 1982: 509). What at first seems like a self-effacing moment of modesty is, of course, nothing of the sort. Like the artful marketing maestro he isBhe probably included the word 'probably so as not to foreclose our imaginations, but to let them run riot.
It was just such an imaginative leap that inspired theme pub entrepreneur, Loughney, to create the James Joyce pub. Indeed, it can legitimately be argued that the eponymous pub is a perfect, if unwitting, metaphor for the life of Joyce, insofar as his lifelong aim of re-writing Ireland is analogous to what theme pub imagineers, like Loughney, do with the text of their built environments. In the course of his career, Joyce encountered incredible opposition, narrow-minded critics, obstinate publishers and puritan printers, all of whom sought to repress and resist the vision of Joyces imagination. Loughney, likewise, has had to endure opprobrious attacks of a similar ferocity, from critics resistant to the idea of the Irish theme pub. For instance, Glancey (1997: 6) considers them to be 'hideous constructions, banal beyond all redemption; and Hayes (1997: 33) contends that they are 'kitsch bastardized versions of the real thing.
Degraded they may be, but Irish theme pubsBakin to James Joyce, marketing man extraordinaireCare larger than life; they are hyperreal to the nth degree, they are Ireland in essence, in exclesis, in absentia. Joyce wrote in the last page of Portrait of the Artist that his goal in life was 'to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race. In so doing he rewrote Ireland according to the marketing principles that he laid down in his own aesthetic theory of art. He found the epiphany in the commonest entity that is Ireland and sold it to us all. It is time that we as marketers followed Joyces lead. Marketers wake!
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NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 29 | 2002
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