[ trying to say something new after seemingly everything’s already been said ]
This was going to be a bore, I initially felt, after having gone on and on about Power for as long as I can remember. From quite a young age, I understood that pretty much everything here at ‘this place’ seemed to revolve around it. People, as soon as their original childlike innocence become wrapped-up in adult pretence and fake sincerity, were busying themselves with power games, no matter how trifle the matters of their condescending, patronising or outright coercion routines were being played-out. Was it not about who gets to sit next to the other in class or who’s fancied by whom, it was about whose mum was supposed to be prettier or hotter or whose father was richer or bigger. It was always the same, no matter where you were. Competition and Struggle. Guys against guys – who’s cooler, stronger, more capable? Girls against girls, who’s sexier, brighter, more gifted. And then, of course – on the highest and most secret and sublime level, it was a matter of Guys against Girls. Who eventually seduces whom and who really, ultimately needed the other? For what ultimate, unspeakable end(s)? To satisfy whatever unspoken-of petty desire?
Psychology helped me to solve most of those underlying emotional-mechanical puzzles and to see clearly the total arbitrariness and unnecessariness of them. Progressing through life with such a night-view vision, though, I not infrequently felt like an alien treading through turf that has been totally contaminated. A lot of grief and sadness was part of this experience, ranging from having to witness the lifetime embarrassment of someone not realising that I can see through every little indecent attempt of power game-play, all the way to how between men and woman, between almost entirely every meeting, glimpse and encounter, there was always an utterly strange ugliness intertwined with even the apparently sweetest, most romantic moments. Luckily, I wasn’t too much affected by the fools who’d dedicated their entire lives to the worldly struggle for status and power – the ones that read a lot of Macchiavelli but not enough Aristotle (of whom the former was actually the keenest follower, apparently). Despite the fact of living quasi under the rule of those people, it didn’t personally affect me. Not joining their ranks seemed to involve an all-important choice, arrived at through common sense. In the end I felt it meant crossing over to the other side – from being True to Lying. By joining the ranks of Power Trippers that have flaunted the glossy pages of mankind’s historical records as well as gold-inlaid burial mounds, the real question – ”Why Am I Here?” – was only postponed, if not altogether successfully avoided. More than ignorant, it seemed just plain retarded.
Anyway, it was the coincidence of bumping into Robert Greene’s 50th Law book in a charity shop recently, while at the same time the gods were giving me the pleasure of catching up with crazy tv-show Lost (and there in particular with Ben’s character, Benjamin Linus) that I felt, well – let’s give this piece here another angle, maybe an angle that once and for all can do away with all those ridiculous matters of Struggle and Power. Hence, here we are. Spending a few more words on the subject. Hope you enjoy.
THE MERELY MUNDANE
When Ben from Lost (whose kind of hobby it is to come up with all sorts of mind-games that help him improve his already formidable skill of attaining and maintaining power) confesses to Juliet how to achieve a certain objective, he reveals the following strategy:
“I find out what a person is emotionally invested in and then I’d use this intelligence to convince them that my ideas are their ideas.”
We feel this little statement is summing up the highest-level strategy in any mundane game of power, proven to work perfectly by secret services and invisible conspirators throughout thousands of years of human history. What people are invested in, emotionally, makes it fairly easy to manipulate their thoughts and consequent actions, pretty much like the behaviour of dogs that can be conditioned through simple stroke and punishment reflexes (more on this analogy see part III). What has been left unsaid, though, is that even Ben himself is following only a supposed ‘conscience’ by entirely dedicating his life to the particular war that he’s leading (preserving the integrity and mystery of the island from the exploitation of the outside world). Thus, his life, like every human beings’, is programmed to serve a so-called Purpose. This Purpose is what attaches everyone, also emotionally, to their entire Sense of Existence and it is the very same Purpose that will ultimately prepare us to even Die for. It is a fundamental and inevitable Paradigm of Human Life. Having a Purpose answers the big ‘Why’ and fuels our daily routines with Spirit and Meaning. So fundamental a linkage is it to our sensation of self and grip on reality that even when facing the imminent threat of starvation, we still maintain in our hearts the last trace of glimmering sparkle that would prevent us from giving-up any hope altogether. Losing it would imply that we’d just as well leave our souls on the meaningless-shelf provided, before exiting down the bleak, endless no-return corridor to death and destruction.