Over the years, I’ve come to believe the operative element is subliminal; not subliminal advertising the way Vance Packard complained about in his conspiracy book The Hidden Persuaders. No, the operative element we’re talking about here is subliminal quality. The very word sublime helps explain my point. “Limen” is Latin for threshold. Below the threshold of awareness. We’re talking about baking quality so far into a thing that people who look at it perceive this quality subconsciously. They know they’re looking at something of quality before they’re even conscious of it because when a thing is made way better than it has to be its quality comes off of it in waves.
What a fantastic concept: subliminal quality.
This extra effort is how all of life’s pursuits are turned into art; yes, even advertising. An old man from Bali once patiently explained to an anthropologist studying his culture: “We have no ‘art.’ We do everything as well as possible.”