Since I finished Joseph Conrad’s, “Victory”, which I would describe as exquisitely written, I have yet to come across another book that has grabbed me with such intensity. In this case, as is true in all of the Conrad novels I have read, it is sentence structure and language that drive the book. Conrad’s novels rely on the convention of fate to take its tragic course so there is little suspense to the plot, but that hardly matters as we get to know the characters in ways that are almost unimaginable. In “Victory”, the character of  Mr. Jones presages Hannibal Lecter, only with a far greater depth than even Anthony Hopkins could imbue. Evil has seldom been so languidly terrifying.

Antique dealers that truly have an eye are rarer than one might imagine. One dealer that I visit from time to time, not an immensely wealthy dealer at that, always kindles my interest. Shape, texture, form are the subtext to the rules of condition, color, craftsmanship, timber and provenance and the dealer that sees all of it is what I consider a great dealer. They are almost as rare to find as an author like Joseph Conrad.

I was told by a technophile that my take on the iPhone was incorrect. What I was witnessing, according to him, was an entirely novel concept. I am sure that he is right, but I stand by my assertion that the iPhone will be forgotten ere long.

Substance is usually remembered. I qualify that statement just because we can’t possibly know all that has been. What we do know are artists and ideas who have been ignored. Van Gogh is the greatest example, but there are many more. Marketing, on the other hand, has made some products and fizzled with others. I think that quality eventually comes out with time no matter how many bill boards someone hires.

The question is how does one recognize substance? How do we separate substance from marketing? It isn’t easy. A rule of thumb might be that the more marketing is part of the process of convincing you of substance, the less substance there might be.