El espejo de Oesed

"Oesed" is the name of a magical mirror in Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal. You probably know about this mirror already, but I'm just now getting through Rowling's first book...in Spanish. I'm trying to dust off my half-forgotten college major, and at this rate I should have the series read by 2068.

Anyway, as Harry finds out, the mirror "shows us no more and no less than the most profound and despairing desire of our hearts." That's why Harry's reflection shows him surrounded by his long-lost family. Harry lost his family at birth and his heart's desire is to know them. They look so real in the mirror that he tries to touch them, only to grasp air.

Harry's friend, Ronald, sees a different reflection. Because Ronald has always been outperformed by his brothers (and by Harry), the mirror shows Ronald as a team captain and a champion.

"There are men who have been consumed in front of the mirror," Harry is told, "fascinated by what they've seen. Or they've gone crazy, not knowing if what it shows them is real or even possible."

I can think of several images the mirror would show me. We all see something we wish we had.

Seeing the SimGospel
El espejo de Oesed makes me think about advertising. Many advertisers care more about moving products than loving customers. To that end, they listen to consumers' hearts solely to devise their own version of a magical mirror.

Curiously, this advertising mirror "shows us no more and no less than something similar to the most profound and despairing desire of our hearts." Not the true desire but something similar to it. This something similar is what I call the SimGospel in On Earth as It is in Advertising? Moving from Commercial Hype to Gospel Hope. SimGospel images in advertising associate so closely with the truth that we believe the consumption of them will lead us to the truth.

We can touch and buy these SimGospel images in stores, seemingly getting us closer to our desires than Harry can get to what he sees in el espejo. And so like "the men who have been consumed in front of the mirror" we, too, begin to go crazy. Just look at our current economy - a deranged product of consumed consumers. Heaven isn't available, but our behavior says we think otherwise.

Harry's mentor helped him see this before it was too late. We also need help. Advertisers must help us toward the truth, not imitate and manipulate us with the SimGospel. And consumers need to recognize what their hearts truly desire, and then wait for it.

Ven, SeƱor.

To learn more about On Earth as It is in Advertising, follow the links here to read reviews and to purchase a copy for yourself or for a friend who works in advertising.


bradley J moore February 8, 2009 at 2:58 PM  

Congrats on brushing up on your spanish! A very noble goal indeed.

I am curious if you think advertisers could consider re-adjusting their "Mirrors" as they face the new realities of the economy and the more sober attitudes of consumers? It seems to be sinking in heavier each week, with no real end in sight. The disconnect is just going to keep growing. What do you think?

Sam Van Eman February 9, 2009 at 4:48 PM  

Good question, Brad. I think the adjusting is already occurring, but it appears to be maintaining it's distance just beyond us. When I have $100 to spend in a good economy, advertisers show me a world of $150. Now that I have $50, they show me $75. This isn't across the board, but it's certainly happening.

Regardless of how low our spending goes, advertisers will still employ the SimGospel. They can't sell anything that doesn't contain at least some measure of heaven.

Marcus Goodyear February 18, 2009 at 3:02 PM  

Everything we buy contains the promise of heaven. That's what I hear you saying. All of our desires are essentially desires for God.

And yet, still I wish God were more fully present in the world. Why is it easier to believe a cheap commercial than it is to believe 2000 years of history?

Sam Van Eman February 18, 2009 at 4:21 PM  

Great question, Marcus. I think the answer is, Because the cheap commercial offers a piece of heaven (albeit a small piece) exactly when I want it. On the other hand, I don't know when the New Heavens and New Earth will come.

So the options are 1) At least something now, or 2) Complete fulfillment somewhere down the road, most likely not in my lifetime.

I know I should hold out for option 2, but I usually lack that kind of patience.

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