A Monday Morning Memo from The Wizard of Ads
Born into a wealthy family in 1830, Emily has her photograph taken at the age of 18, then lives a remarkably uneventful life until she quietly passes at the age of 55. It will be the only photograph ever made of her.
Incredibly shy, Emily asks her friends to speak to her through an open door from an adjoining room while she stands behind the wall. Her life consists of tending her garden and baking. She never travels, never marries, and rarely leaves her home. Emily lives in a world of imagination where words are all she requires to generate a series of vivid associations. She believes that words have the power to alter us irrevocably. I believe that she is right.
Though she is widely considered to be one of the greatest wordsmiths who ever lived, not even her own family knew that Emily Dickinson was a writer. It was only after her death that more than 1,700 of her poems were found hidden in a bureau drawer. Describing the power of words to envelop and devastate the listener, Emily writes, “If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.”
Having had virtually no communication with the world, how was it possible for Emily Dickinson to so richly describe the human experience? I believe the answer lies partly in physiology; The nervous system of a human being has approximately 100 million sensory receptors which allow us to see, hear, feel, taste and smell our environment. Yet our brains contain more 10,000 billion synapses which allow us to ponder and think and relate new data to previously stored ideas. Based upon this simple, mathematical differential, we are approximately 100,000 times more capable of experience in the invisible world of the mind than we are in the physical world which surrounds us.
Emily knew words to be the most powerful force there has ever been. Had she been inclined to start an advertising firm, it would likely have become the most successful one in history. I believe Emily was sending a message to ad writers when she wrote,
“It is the Imagination that lights the Slow Fuse of the Possible.”
Imagination lights the fuse of the Possible with the magical fire of words. Have you ever seen the world of the Possible under the illumination of words? There are 100,000 places to go in the world of the Possible, with each one as richly textured as the world you currently see, hear, feel, taste and smell. The mind is an incredible thing.
Bringing things home from the world of the Possible to the land of Present Reality requires only that you build a bridge of words strong enough to carry your dream. Some people call this bridge Advertising. Some people call it Selling. Some call it Simple Persuasion.
Call it what you will, it is a bridge built of magical fire.
Roy H. Williams