how to create compelling spectacles

Striking imagery and grand symholie gestures create the
aura oJ power-everyone responds to them. Stage spectaeies Jor those around you, then, Juli oJ arresting visuals
and radiant symbols that heighten your presenee. Dazzled by appearanees, no one will notiee what you are
really doing.
,\\TO,\ \\1) ( ,I ,i':( }J'\ rH,\
She re lied above all
upon her physical presence and the spell and
enchantment which it
could create, , , , She
came sailing up the
river Cydnus in a barge
with a poop of gold, its
purpie sails billowing
in the wind, while her
rowers caressed the
water with oars of
silver which dipped in
time tu the music of the

 accompanied by
pipes ami lutes,
Cleopatra herself
rec!ined beneath a
canopy of cloth of
gold, dressed in the
character ofAphrodite,
as we see her in paintings, while on either
side to complete the
picture stood boys
costumed as Cupids
who woled her with
their fam: Instead of a
crew the barge was
lined with the most
beautiful of her waiting-women attired as
Nereids and Graces,
some at the rudders,
others at the tackle of
the sails, lind all the
while an indescribably
rieh perfume, exhaled
from innumerable
censers, was wafted
from the vessel to the

multitudes accompanied this royal
progress, some of them
following the queen on
both sides of the river
from its very mouth,
while others hurried
down from the city of
Tarsus to gaze at the
sigM Gradually the
crowds drified away
from the marketplace,
310 LAW 37
In the early 1780s, word spread through Berlin of the strange and spectacular medical practice of a Dr. Weisleder. He performed his miracles in an
enormous converted beer hall, outside which Berliners began to notice
ever longer lines of people-the blind, the lame, anyone with an illness incurable by normal medicine. When it leaked out that the doctor worked by
exposing the patient to the rays of the mo on, he soon became dubbed The
Moon Doctor of Berlin. 

Sometime in 1783, it was reported that Dr. Weisleder had cured a wellto-do woman of a terrible ailment. He suddenly became a celebrity. Previously only the poorest Berliners had been seen waiting outside the beer
hall in their rags; now magnificent carriages were parked outside, and gentlemen in frock coats, and ladies with enormous coiffures, lined the street
as sunset drew near. Even folk with the mildest of ailments came, out of
sheer curiosity. 

As they waited in line, the poorer clients would explain to
the gentlemen and ladies that the doctor only practiced when the moon
was in its increscent phase. Many would add that they themselves had already been exposed to the healing powers he called forth from the rays of
the moon. Even those who feIt cured kept coming back, drawn by this
powerful experience.
Inside the beer hall, a strange and stirring spectacle greeted the visitor:
Packed into the entrance hall was a crowd of all classes and ethnic backgrounds, a veritable Tower of Babel. Through tall windows on the northern
side of the hall, silvery moonlight poured in at odd angles. The doctor and
his wife, who, it seemed, was also able to effect the cure, practiced on the
second floor, which was reached by a stairway, at the end of the hall. As the
line edged closer to the stairs, the sick would hear shouts and cries from

 and word would spread of, perhaps, a blind gentleman suddenly
able to see.
Once upstairs, the line would fork in two directions, toward a northem room for the doctor, a southem one for his wife, who worked only on
the ladies. Finally, after hours of anticipation and waiting in line, the gentlemen patients would be led before the amazing doctor hirnself, an elderly man with a few stalks of wild gray hair and an air of nervous energy.
He would take the patient (let us say a young boy, brought in by his father), uncover the afflicted body part, and lift the boy up to the window,
which faced the light of the moon. He would rub the site of the injury or
illness, mumble something unintelligible, look knowingly at the mo on,
and then, after collecting his fee, send the boy and his father on their way.
Meanwhile, in the south-facing room, his wife would be doing the same
with the ladies-which was odd, really, since the moon cannot appear in
two places at once; it cannot have been visible, in other words, 

from both
windows. Apparently the mere thought, idea, and symbol of the moon
were enough, for the ladies did not complain, and would later remark
confidently that the wife of the Moon Doctor had the same healing powers
as he.
Dr. Weisleder may have known nothing about medicine, but he understood human nature. Re recognized that people do not always want words,
or rational explanations, or demonstrations of the powers of science; they
want an immediate appeal to their emotions. Give them that and they will
do the rest-such as imagine they can be healed by the light reflected from
a rock a quarter million miles away. Dr. Weisleder had no need of pills, or
oflengthy lectures on the moon's power, or of any silly gadgetry to amplify
its rays. Re understood that the simpler the spectacle the better-just the
moonlight pouring in from the side, the stairway leading to the heavens,
and the rays of the mo on, whether directly visible or not. Any added effects might have made it seem that the moon was not strong enough on its
own. And the moon was strong enough-it was a magnet far fantasies, as it
has been throughout history. Simply by associating hirnself with the image
of the moon, the doctor gained power.
Remember: Your search for power depends on shortcuts. You must always circumvent people's suspicions, their perverse desire to resist your
will. Images are an extremely effective shortcut: Bypassing the head, the
seat of doubt and resistance, they aim straight for the heart. Overwhelming
the eyes, they create powernd associations, bringing people together and
stirring their emotions. With the white light of the moon in their eyes, your
targets are blinded to the deceptions you practice.
In 1536 the future king Renri 11 of France took his first mistress, Diane de
Poitiers. Diane was thirty-seven at the time, and was the widow of the
grand seneschal of Normandy. Renri, meanwhile, was a sprightly lad of
seventeen, who was just beginning to sow his wild oats. At first their union
seemed merely platonic, with Renri showing an intensely spiritual devotion to Diane. But it so on became clear that he loved her in every way, preferring her bed to that of his young wife, Catherine de' Medicis.
In 1547 King Francis died and Renri ascended to the throne. This new
situation posed perils for Diane de Poitiers. She had just tumed forty-eight,
and despite her notorious cold baths and rumored youth potions,

 she was
beginning to show her age; now that Renri was king, perhaps he would return to the queen's bed, and do as other kings had done--choose mistresses from the bevy of beauties who made the French court the envy of
Europe. Re was, after all, only twenty-eight, and cut a dashing figure. But
Diane did not give up so easily. She would continue to enthrall her lover,
as she had enthralled hirn for the past eleven years.
Diane's secret weapons were symbols and images, to which she had always paid great attention. Early on in her relationship with Renri, she had
created a motif by intertwining her initials with his, to symbolize their
union. The idea worked like a charm: Renri put this insignia everywhere-­
on his royal robes, on monuments, on churches, on the facade of the
where Antony awaited
the queen enthroned on
his tribunal, unti! at last
he was left sitting quite
alone. And the word
spread on every side
that Aphrodite had
come to revel with
Dionysus for the
happiness of Asia.
Antony then sent a
message inviting
Cleopatra to dine with
him. But she thought it
more appropriate that
he should come to her,
and so, as he wished to
show his courtesy and
goodwill, he accepted
and went. He found the
preparations made to
receive him magnificent
bey(md words, but
what astonished him
most of all was the
extraordinary number
of lights. 50 many of
these, it is said, were let
down from the roof
and displayed on all
sides at once, and they
were arranged and
grouped in such ingenious patterns in relation to each other, some
in squares and some in
eire/es, that they created
as brilliant a spectae/e
as can ever have been
devised to delight
the eye.
C. A.D. 46-120
In the Middle Ages the
symbolist attitude was
much more in evidence .
. . . 5ymbolism appears
as a sort of short cut of
thought. Instead of
hJOking for the relation
LAW 37 311
between two things by
following the hidden
detours of their causal
connexions, thought
makes a leap and
disco vers their relation
not in the connexion
of cause and effects,
but in a connexion of
signijication .... 

Symbolist thought
permits an injinity of
relations between
things. Each thing may
denote a number of
distinct ideas by its
different special qualities, and a quality may
have several symbolic
meanings. The highest
conceptions have
symbols by the thousand. Nothing is tao
humble to represent
and glory the sublime.
The walnut signijies
Christ: the sweet kernel
is His divine nature, the
green and pulpy outer
peel is His humanity,
the wooden shell
between is the cross.
Thus all things raise
his thoughts to the
eternal. ... Every
precious stone, besides
its natural splendour
sparkies with the brilliance of its symbolic
values. The assimilation
of roses and virginity is
much more than a
poetic camparison, for
it reveals their common
essen ce. As each nation
arises in the mind the
logic ofsymbolism
creates an harmony
1 928
312 LAW 37
Louvre, then the royal palace in PariS. Diane's favorite colors were black
and white, which she wore exclusively, and wherever it was possible the insignia appeared in these colors. Everyone recognized the symbol and its
meaning. Soon after Renri took the throne, however, Diane went still further: She decided to identify herself with the Roman goddess Diana, her

Diana was the goddess of the hunt, the traditional royal pastime
and the particular passion of Renri. Equally important, in Renaissance art
she symbolized chastity and purity. For a woman like Diane to identify herself with this goddess would instantly call up those images in the court, giving her an air of respectability. Symbolizing her "chaste" relationship with
Renri, it would also set her apart from the adulterous liaisons of royal mistresses past.
To effect this association, Diane began by completely transforming her
castle at Anet. She razed the building's structure and in its place erected a
magnificent Doric-columned edifice modeled after a Roman temple. It was
made in white Normandy stone flecked with black silex, reproducing
Diane's trademark colors of black and white. The insignia of her and
Renri's initials appeared on the columns, the doors, the windows, the carpet. Meanwhile, symbols of Diana-crescent moons, stags, and houndsadorned the gates and facade. 

Inside, enormous tapestries depicting
episodes in the life of the goddess lay on the floors and hung on the walls.
In the garden stood the famous Goujon sculpture Diane Chasseresse, which is
now in the Louvre, and which had an uncanny resemblance to Diane de
Poitiers. Paintings and other depictions of Diana appeared in every corner
of the castle.
Anet overwhelmed Renri, who soon was trumpeting the image of
Diane de Poitiers as a Roman goddess. In 1548, when the couple appeared
together in Lyons for a royal celebration, the townspeople welcomed them
with a tableau vivant depicting a scene with Diana the huntress. France's
greatest poet of the period, Pierre de Ronsard, began to write verses in
honor of Diana-indeed a kind of cult of Diana sprang up, all inspired by
the king's mistress. It seemed to Renri that Diane had given herself a kind
of divine aura, and as if he were destined to worship her for the rest of his
life. And until his death, in 1559, he did remain faithful to her-making her
a duchess, giving her untold wealth, and displaying an almost religious devotion to his first and only mistress.

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