Culture Code-X

Ironic Aestheticism

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John Lydon

The CODE-X series catalogs a vast codex of source codes (aka “signs”) extracted from past audits.

The object of study in semiotics is not the signs but rather a general theory of signification; the goal of each “audit” is to build a model demonstrating how meaning is produced and received within a category or cultural territory. Signs on their own, therefore, only become truly revelatory and useful once we’ve sorted them into thematic complexes, and the complexes into codes, and the codes into a meaning map. We call this process “thick description”; the Code-X series is thin description.

Oscar Wile

IRONIC AESTHETICISM” NORM: Britishness in the US is often associated with dandyism, and with the related attitude/worldview of aestheticism. A contrived shallowness. Note that aestheticism — which rejects, for example, the inherent value of hard work — is a critique of “American” materialist values. Thus aestheticism is a showing-off that criticizes showing off.

The Jam

IRONIC AESTHETICISM” FORMS: Oscar Wilde, British punks of the 1970s, John Lydon in his tartan. Aristocratic hauteur with a wink.

From a 2014 study of BRITISHNESS as perceived through the lens of US pop culture and brand communications.

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