I have noticed in my writing that I always seemed to write better when there is a bit of anger just below the surface. This was easy when I wrote The 48 Laws, but by the time I got to the WAR book, I needed to stimulate this in some way. I began to play a game with myself: before writing a chapter I would think of particular things or people or ideas that really really angered me, and I would declare WAR on them. As I wrote, I would visualize this bête noir, and what about him or her or it that stirred my hatred.
There are some that have the misconception that I advocate repressing your emotions. In several chapters of the WAR book I return to the idea of Machiavelli and the ancient Greeks that we are all part animal and divine and that the animal part of our nature is what gives us energy and drive. A warrior cannot fight without feeling inspired, or believing in the cause. Mercenaries are the worst fighters. But this emotional part of us must be under control and channeled properly. That is what a death ground strategy will do for you, for instance.
I find in general that declaring war on something (the subject of chapter one in the book) is a healthy way to get through life, to define what you believe in, and to react against something you despise. The following is a list of some of my favorite declarations of war as I wrote the book, the ones I kept returning to:
Charlatans: This is a rather large category of people, so let me explain what it means to me. Charlatans are people who disguise their lack of clear ideas, their lack of a central belief system, with all kinds of vague and dreamy abstractions. In the POWER book, I analyzed them in law 27 and in several other chapters. Charlatans are masters at marketing, and there is much we can learn from them in that area. The charlatans of the 18th century were very aware of the game they were playing, and quite amusing. The ones around us now are not so self-aware, and quite annoying. I find a lot of academics to be unconscious charlatans. Their writing is full of ideas that seem to hint at something but don’t add up to anything. A writer like Hegel is not a charlatan to me. His work is difficult, but when you read it and understand what he says, it stays with you forever. A writer like a Derrida has no such effect.
A lot of academics fill their work with allusions to things that are hip and chic, that align them with all the right causes. They don’t really commit to any point of view, because that is old-fashioned. When I come across a writer like that I want to flush them out, get them to admit what they are really trying to say instead of cleverly disguising it all. These types make me angry, make my blood boil. (I know I have been a bit vague about my Democrat Party mythology-strategy, but I promise to not seem like such a charlatan there and make it clearer in the weeks to come.)
Globalizers: This was gone over a little bit in the Random Thoughts entry, and my rant against Angelina Jolie. But to repeat: all of us live in an immediate world of our friends, our community, our country. These are very real and tangible and they are things we can influence. And we must first put our attention to those things we can affect. But some people live in the globalized, virtual world of irreality. Their main concerns and passions have nothing to do with what is around them or their daily lives. They are escaping from the here and now. They prefer to worry about Africa or China, rather than the very real problems in their community or country. They are concerned with appearances rather than affecting change in the world. And a pox on them.
Passive Aggressors: This includes a lot of people I have encountered over the years who affect being nice and polite and friendly, but whose pleasant exterior hides a lot of hostility. This comes out in little digs, or flattery that includes a sting, on and on. I refer you to the passive aggressive chapter in the WAR book. I was thinking of these types a lot lately, in particular as it relates to envy. I want to write a book some day on envy, because it fascinates me. It is a weird language people speak, and we all understand it, because we have all felt envy in our lives. But some people are consumed by it and they are dangerous. And if you get any kind of public recognition, being a target of envy only gets worse. Somebody once wrote it is the tax we pay for any success we have in life. I like that.
The Anti-War, Anti-Manipulation Crowd: This is a rather crowded tent, so I have to distinguish a little between the types. The first are those who just think war is inherently evil and to study it, let alone write about it is just plain bad. What does this mean in the end? To get rid of war, to fight for justice, or any cause requires strategy. To really know strategy, you have to have some acquaintance with warfare, where strategic thinking is raised to its highest levels. If you are not interested in strategy that means you are not really interested in results, because you cannot move from theory into action without some kind of strategic bridge. That means you are really only interested in the sound of your own voice. You want people to think you are for all the right things. Appearances are all you care for. And I declare a great war on all such types. The anti-manipulators are those who somehow claim exemption from the very human need and impulse to manipulate in some way. And those who deny this are generally the biggest manipulators of them all and very dangerous.
Now I am not someone who is consumed by hatred. I just find it healthy to be against things, to take a stand and fight intelligently. This is a strategy you play to motivate and define yourself. And it is fun. Of course, my list of people and things to declare war on is subjective, and I invite you now to imagine that you are writing a book on the same subject and must do as I did. Please share with us what exactly you would declare war on, what really makes you want to say [email protected]#! You! Try to elevate it above individuals whom we do not know and make it more general, such as what this individual represents that you hate. And if you dislike this exercise, and think it is just plain awful to think in this way, well you know what I think about you and where you can go.
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