Last post, I talked a bit about magic, and passed along an idea I got from Alan Moore: that writing ("spelling") IS magic, or, at least, can be. It's an idea that probably made a few of you roll your eyes. So might this idea (also from Moore): the greatest and most powerful magicians of the modern age are almost certainly advertisers.
Some people will tell you that perception is reality. I don't agree; I think reality is reality, and perception is perception, and any attempt to convince you they are one and the same is a misuse of terminology. It's a widely-known saying, though, and the mere fact that it's caught on to the extent it has is an indication that it's a powerful idea. It might not be reality, but reality is partially driven by reaction, and reactions are in large part driven by perceptions ... so there is certainly a relationship between perception and reality.
As such, a marketing campaign can -- and frequently does -- work to actively shape/reshape reality. So while the notion of this process being equivalent to magic might seem absurd in some ways, I think it has merit. We think of magic as being Doctor Strange folding a building in half without any of the occupants knowing it; and, yeah, sure, that counts. Is that actually more impressive than the course of American history being radically changed during an election campaign? I'll let you know when I've seen the former; having seen the latter, I know its power (and fear I am going to be given many more examples).
One way to think about all of this is to simply decide that marketing is mere dishonesty, a willful form of obfuscation and inveigling designed to trick people into believing things they didn't believe before. I think there's more to it than that. Successful marketing works mostly due to the fact that the
magician marketer is able to tap into ideas already present in the minds of the audience. How do you effectively sell cheeseburgers? You don't do it by walking into a room of vegetarians; you do it by walking into a room of meat-eaters and reminding them that they love cheeseburgers. From there, it's an easy trick to convince people that you've invented some never-before-dreamed-of variant of a piece of ground beef that has been cooked, covered with a slice of cheese, and put between two pieces of bread.
The marketing of Revival put forth the notion that it was a return to pure horror for Stephen King. Thus begins an interview with King conducted by Goodreads in November of 2014:
Just when you think Stephen King's well of pitch-black, sleep-with-the-lights-on horror must surely be running dry, he finds new and possibly even darker ways to terrify us. His latest novel, Revival, sees the author of more than 50 global bestsellers -- including The Shining, Pet Sematary, and It -- return to the "balls to the wall" (King's words) supernatural horror with which he made his name. In a recent Twitter post about the book, King told readers, "If you're going to buy it, better tone up your nerves." His publisher, Nan Graham, said that upon reading it, "I asked Steve whether it really had to be this dark, knowing before he answered that, yes, it does."
Five months earlier, well in advance of the novel's publication, King had said this about the novel, with which (he intimated) he had scared even himself: "It's too scary. I don't even want to think about that book anymore. It's a nasty, dark piece of work. That's all I can tell you." Several pre-release reviews by King-community luminaries such as Bev Vincent and Hans-Åke Lilja indicated that the book's final thirty-to-fifty pages were where things got really dark. I seem to recall another such review that said that that final stretch was the scariest thing King had ever written; but I've been unable to remember who wrote that review, so maybe that's an invention of my memory.
I leave it to you to decide which aspects of all that (if any) count as "marketing" and which do not; all I know for sure is that these were ideas I encountered prior to the novel's release. Having encountered them, I could only read Revival with those ideas laid like a filter across it. Any ideas I had about the novel were required first to pass through that filter, for better or for worse.
It's not folding a building. But it's not nothing, and if it's not nothing, then it's something.