The book that I’m citing for the purposes of this article has no astrology in it. It was, however, co-written by Joost Elffers, the co-author, illustrator, and producer of the Secret Language series (Birthdays, Relationships, Destiny, Luck, etc.) and that in it of itself piqued my interest when I decided to pick it up when it was published in 1998.
This book was one of the major reasons I had a relapse in my mental health going into 1999 that required a psychiatric hospitalization that lasted for exactly one month in the middle of that year, and a long recovery that took almost a year and would not have stabilized at all without my good fortune to end up in the experimental group in a research and treatment study using a therapy called Cognitive Enhancement Therapy.
The reading of the book also happened at the same time that Pluto transited my natal Venus. As the author John Sandbach noted,
“The Moon crosses your Venus every 28 days, but if Pluto ever does it, it will be ONCE IN A LIFETIME , and believe me YOU WILL FEEL IT.”
I would argue that book was a manifestation of Pluto crossing my natal Venus. But I digress.
I wanted to discuss the power of this book. After being conditioned to accept it, I felt free to use it in the service of self-protection and self-development, important because I was under the care of mental health clinicians (including, especially, psychiatrists) who literally had no clue what my best interests were, because they were stuck in their own clinical dogma and had absolutely no insight about the book that was, to me, more important than anything they had ever read: Peter Kramer’s Listening to Prozac.
So I decided to use many of the laws in my daily life, wherever appropriate, and refered to the book a great deal — from
- Law 1: Never Outshine the Master, to
- Law 6: Court Attention At All Cost, to
- Law 9: Win Through Your Actions, Never Through Argument, to
- Law 19: Know Who You’re Dealing With — Do Not Offend the Wrong Person, to
- Law 26: Keep Your Hands Clean, to
- Law 35: Master the Art of Timing, to
- Law 40: Despise the Free Lunch, to
- Law 48: Assume Formlessness.
I want to start with Law 9. It’s a law that I don’t follow all the time (bad habit of getting into ideological arguments with people), but when I do follow it, it works wonders. The authors tell the story:
A heckler once interrupted Nikita Khrushchev in the middle of a speech in which he was denouncing the crimes of Stalin. “You were a colleague of Stalin’s,” the heckler yelled, “why didn’t you stop him then?” Khrushchev apparently could not see the heckler and barked out, “Who said that?” No hand went up. No one moved a muscle. After a few seconds of tense silence, Khrushchev finally said in a quiet voice, “Now you know why I didn’t stop him.” Instead of just arguing that anyone facing Stalin was afraid, knowing that the slightest sign of rebellion would mean certain death, he had made them feel what it was like to face Stalin — had made them feel the paranoia, the fear of speaking up, the terror of confrunting the leader, in this case Khrushchev. The demonstration was visceral and no more argument was necessary.
If it wasn’t clear before, I was not interested in power for any purpose other than empowerment. The authors (who included Robert Greene), still, drew on philosophers like Machiavelli to flesh out 48 laws. I like Law 23, Concentrate Your Forces:
Conserve your forces and energies by keeping them concentrated at their strongest point. You gain more by finding a rich mine and mining it deeper, than by flitting from one shallow mine to another — intensity defeats extensity every time. When looking for sources of power to elevate you, find the one key patron, the fat clow who will give you milk for a long time to come.
That was stated very bluntly, but the law can be used in a myriad of ways, including how many different projects you should take on at one time (they imply, the answer is one). They do, however, note that an exception should be made for things like guerilla warfare, where it is best to disperse one’s energies. Still, in terms of the lifestyle of guerilla warfare (I have read parts of Che Guevara’s book) people were expected to take one role and stick to it in the service of unity and effectiveness.
It’s important, also, to recognize when someone is exercising power in a certain way, so I present Law #12, “Use selective honesty and generosity to disarm your victim”:
One sincere and honest move will cover over dozens of dishonest ones. Open-hearted gestures of honesty and generosity bring down the guard of even the most suspicious people. Once your selective honesty opens a hole in their armor, you can deceive and manipulate them at will. A timely gift — a Trojan horse — will serve the same purpose.
This is the very definition of what Donald Trump is doing. What is notable is that — knock on wood — a majority of Americans either see through it, or have decided that his actions are more important.
Each ofthe laws has on average eight pages devoted to it, so focusing on the headline of the law isn’t exactly fair to the work, but it does tell us a lot on its own. Law 16, “Use Absence to Increase Respect and Power,” goes:
Too much circulation makes the price go down: the more you are seen and heard from, the more common you appear. If you are already established in a group, temporary withdrawal from it will make you more talked about, even more admired. You must learn when to leave. Create value through scarcity.
This chapter goes into an interesting digression of Sir Guillaume de Balaun, who I had never heard of, as a courtier in the south of France during the Middle Ages, and a story from even earlier, the B.C.E. Human nature, depending on our limbic system, has not changed that much over the succeeding centuries. At the end he notes that the law only applies once a certain level of power has been attained. Leave too early and you do not increase your respect, you are simply forgotten.
Elffers and Greene also produced the book “The 33 Principles of War,” and, “The Art of Seduction,” the latter of which is too complex and difficult for me to fully implement in my life, as I’ve admitted to potential lovers. Seduction, especially, is a book that is “naughty” on some level, I would say.
It is my hope that the vast majority reading this are ethical and want to use each of these 48 laws of power to not only improve their odds of success but use them, ultimately, to leave the world a little better than they found it.