Plunket in Wonderland

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On publicity

from Chapter Eighteen:  “Hoopla-Doopla: In Search of Godot” 

Publicity is a most delicate deity in the Church of Hollywood. It can assume an infinite variety of forms—a Proteus among the gods to be worshipped. It is the Mecca toward which pilgrims bow daily in hopes of their prayers being answered. It is the single sacrificial lamb to be severed, sliced and offered to the Almighty in hopes of nourishing the greater good. It is also the personal, omnipotent, omnipresent force capable of squashing royalty with a single blow. At times it repels with equal intensity. It is all-powerful and it is all-illusory. It is something to covet and it is something to shun, something that creates and something that destroys. It fuels the flames of immorality, corruption and greed, and like an oil fire, the more you try to get it under control, the more rapidly it can spread. It can be found in the most secret of places when it is the last thing you are looking for. It can be lost in an instant in the middle of Times Square when it seems bigger and more noticeable than ever. It is the narcotic of success: the more you have it the more you need it; the more you need it the more you can‘t get enough of it. Addicts re-shape their lives around it, beg, borrow and steal for their next fix. There is no such thing as “bad publicity.”  Publicity is the opiate of the industry.

As a major manufacturer, Collie Sanborne knew this like the first commandment: I am the Lord, thy God. As a small time, basement conjurer, Plunket sensed this like an instinctive animal. Publicity was most powerful; publicity was most delicate. It was a homemade bomb they were messing with and even though that it was their own creation, it could blow up in their faces with the slightest nudge. All the wires were screwed securely to their terminals; all the springs were cocked; all the levers were set; all the gears were turning; the pendulum started its arc, ticking down to its inevitable explosion.

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