Monday, January 28, 2013


The Ad-Man

A.S.J. Tessimond (1902-1962), "Attack on the Ad-Man:"
This trumpeter of nothingness, employed
To keep our reason dull and null and void,
This man of wind and froth and flux will sell
The wares of any who reward him well.
Praising whatever he is paid to praise,
He hunts for ever-newer, smarter ways
To make the gilt seem gold; the shoddy, silk;
To cheat us legally; to bluff and bilk
By methods which no jury can prevent
Because the law's not broken, only bent.

This mind for hire, this mental prostitute
Can tell the half-lie hardest to refute;
Knows how to hide an inconvenient fact
And when to leave a doubtful claim unbacked;
Manipulates the truth, but not too much,
And if his patter needs the Human Touch,
Then aptly artless, artlessly naïve,
Wears his fickle heart upon his sleeve.

He takes ideas and trains them to engage
In the long little wars big combines wage.
He keeps his logic loose, his feelings flimsy;
Turns eloquence to cant and wit to whimsy;
Trims language till it fits his client's pattern
And style's a glossy tart or limping slattern.

He uses words that once were strong and fine,
Primal as sun and moon and bread and wine,
True, honourable, honoured, clear and clean,
And leaves them shabby, worn, diminished, mean.

Where our defence is weakest, he attacks.
Encircling reason's fort, he finds the cracks,
He knows the hopes and fears on which to play.
We who at first rebel, at last obey.
We who have tried to choose accept his choice.
Tired, we succumb to his untiring voice.
The drip-drip-drip makes even granite soften.
We trust the brand-name we have heard so often
And join the queue of sheep that flock to buy;
We fools who know our folly, you and I.
Id., "Defence of the Ad-Man:"
He brings us aims and dreams and drugs; he tells
Us fairy-tales that half come true or might.
The patent panaceas that he sells
May be placebos, but placebos can
Act like elixirs; syrups have their spells,
And coloured water sometimes can assuage
A thirst for draughts from unattainable wells.

He binds us with a frayed but silver rope.
He peddles jewels false perhaps but bright.
He kindles flares that beckon eyes that grope.
His ‘you, you, you’ consoles the lonely man
And humble woman. With permitted dope
He medicines the sickness of our age;
Offers the ugly, glamour; the hopeless, hope.
Tessimond worked as an advertising copywriter.

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