interpretation of thumbscrew

Catherine had seen very early on the sway that a mistress has over a man
of power: Her own husband, Henri 11, had kept one of the most infamous
mistresses of them all, Diane de Poitiers_ What Catherine learned from the
experience was that a man like her husband wanted to feel he could win a
woman over without having to rely on his status, which he had inherited
rather than earned_ And such a need contained a huge blind spot: As long
as the woman began the affair by acting as if she had been conquered, the
man would fail to notice that as time passed the mistress had come to hold
power over hirn, as Diane de Poitiers did over Henri_

 It was Catherine's
strategy to turn this weakness to her advantage, using it as a way to conquer
and control men. All she had to do was unleash the loveliest women in the
court, her "flying squadron," on men whom she knew shared her husband's vulnerability.
Remember: Always look for passions and ob sessions that cannot be
controlled. The stronger the passion, the more vulnerable the person. This
may seem surprising, for passionate people look strong. In fact, however,
they are simply filling the stage with their theatricality, distracting people
from how weak and helpless they really are.

 A man's need to conquer
women actually reveals a tremendous helplessness that has made suckers
out of them for thousands of years. Look at the part of a person that is most
visible-their greed, their lust, their intense fear. These are the emotions
they cannot conceal, and over which they have the least control. And what
people cannot control, you can control for them.
Observance IV
Arabella Huntington, wife of the great late-nineteenth-century railroad
magnate Collis P. Huntington, came from humble origins and always
struggled for social recognition among her wealthy peers. When she gave a
party in her San Francisco mansion, few of the social elite would show Upj
most of them took her for a gold digger, not their kind. Because of her husband's fabulous wealth, art dealers courted her, but with such condescension they obviously saw her as an upstart. Only one man of consequence
treated her differently: the dealer Joseph Duveen.
For the first few years of Duveen's relationship with Arabella, he made
no effort to seIl expensive art to her. Instead he accompanied her to fine
stores, chatted endlessly about queens and princesses he knew, on and on.
At last, she thought, a man who treated her as an equal, even a superior, in
high society. Meanwhile, ifDuveen did not try to seIl art to her, he did subtly educate her in his aesthetic ideas-namely, that the best art was the
most expensive art. And after Arabella had soaked up his way of seeing
things, Duveen would act as if she always had exquisite taste, even though
before she met hirn her aesthetics had been abysmal.
When Collis Huntington died, in 1900, Arabella came into a fortune.
She suddenly started to buy expensive paintings, by Rembrandt and
Veläzquez, for example-and only from Duveen. Years later Duveen sold
her Gainsborough's Blue Boy for the highest price ever paid for a work of
art at the time, an astounding purchase for a family that previously had
shown little interest in collecting.
Joseph Duveen instantly understood Arabella Huntington and what made
her tick: 

She wanted to feel important, at horne in society. Intensely inseeure about her lower-class background, she needed confirmation of her
new social status. Duveen waited. Instead of rushing into trying to persuade her to collect art, he subtly went to work on her weaknesses. He
made her feel that she deserved his attention not because she was the wife
of one of the wealthiest men in the world but because of her own special
eharacter-and this completely melted her. Duveen never condescended
to ArabeIla; rather than lecturing to her, he instilled his ideas in her indireetly. The result was one of his best and most devoted clients, and also the
sale of The Blue Boy.
People's need far validation and recognition, their need to feel important, is the best kind of weakness to exploit. First, it is almost universal; second, exploiting it is so very easy. All you have to do is find ways to make
people feel better about their taste, their sodal standing, their intelligence.
Once the fish are hooked, you can reel them in again and again, for
years-you are filling a positive role, giving them what they cannot get on
their own. They may never suspect that you are turning them like a thumbserew, and if they do they may not care, because you are making them feel
better about themselves, and that is worth any price.
Observance V
In 1862 King William of Prussia named Otto von Bismarck premier and
minister for foreign affairs. Bismarck was known for his boldness, his ambition-and his interest in strengthening the military. Since William was surrounded by liberals in his govemment and cabinet, politidans who already
wanted to limit his powers, it was quite dangerous for hirn to put Bismarck
in this sensitive position. His wife, Queen Augusta, had tried to dis suade
hirn, but although she usually got her way with hirn, this time William
stuck to his guns.
Only a week after becoming prime minister, Bismarck made an impromptu speech to a few dozen ministers to convince them of the need to
enlarge the army. He ended by saying, "The great questions of the time
will be dedded, not by speeches and resolutions of majorities, but by iron
and blood." His speech was immediately disseminated throughout Germany. The queen screamed at her husband that Bismarck was a barbaric
militarist who was out to usurp control of Prussia, and that William had to
lire hirn. The liberals in the govemment agreed with her. The outcry was
so vehement that WiIliam began to be afraid he would end up on a scaffold, like Louis XVI of France, if he kept Bismarck on as prime minister.
Bismarck knew he had to get to the king befare it was too late. He also
knew he had blundered, and should have tempered his fiery words. Yet as
he contemplated his strategy, he decided not to apologize but to do the
exact opposite. Bismarck knew the king weIl.
Caesar had instructed
them, in hopes that
young gentlemen, who
had not known much
of baltles and wounds,
but came wearing their
hair long, in ehe jlower
of their age and height
of their beauty, would
be more apprehensive
ofsuch blows, and not
care for hazarding both
a danger at present and
a blemish for the
And so it proved, for
they were so far from
bearing the stroke of
the javelim; that they
eould not stand the
sight ofthem, but
turned about, ami
eovered their faces to
see ure them. Onee in
disorder, presently they
turned about to jly; and
so most shamefully
ruined alf. For those
who had beat them
hack at onee
outjlanked the infantry,
and falling on their
rear, cut ehem to pieces.
Pompey, who
eommanded the other
wing ofthe army, when
he saw his cavalry thus
broken and flying, was
no longer himself; nor
did he now remember
that he was Pompey the
Great, but, like one
whom some god had
deprived of his senses,
retired to his tent without speaking a word,
and there sat to expect
the event, till the whole
army was routed.
C. A.D. 46-120
LAW 33 279
280 LAW 33
When the two men met, William, predictably, had been worked into a
tizzy by the queen. He reiterated his fear of being guillotined. But Bismarck
only replied, "Yes, then we shall be dead! We must die sooner or later, and
could there be a more respectable way of dying? I should die fighting for
the cause of my king and master. Your Majesty would die sealing with your
own blood your royal rights granted by God's grace. Whether upon the
scaffold or upon the battlefield makes no difference to the glorious staking
of body and life on behalf of rights granted by God's grace!" On he went,
appealing to William's sense of honor and the majesty of his position as
head of the army. How could the king allow people to push hirn around?
Wasn't the honor of Germany more important than quibbling over words?
Not only did the prime minister convince the king to stand up to both his
wife and his parliament, he persuaded hirn to build up the army-Bismarck's goal all along.
Bismarck knew the king feIt buHied by those around hirn. He knew that
William had a military background and a deep sense of honor, and that he
feit ashamed at his cravenness before his wife and his government. William
secretly yearned to be a great and mighty king, but he dared not express
this ambition because he was afraid of ending up like Louis XVI. Where a
show of courage often conceals a man's timidity, William's timidity concealed his need to show courage and thump his chest.
Bismarck sensed the longing for glory beneath William's pacifist front,
so he played to the king's insecurity about his manhood, finaHy pushing
hirn into three wars and the creation of a German empire. Timidity is a potent weakness to exploit. Timid souls often yearn to be their opposite-to
be Napoleons. Yet they lack the inner strength. You, in essence, can become their Napoleon, pushing them into bold actions that serve YOUf
needs while also making them dependent on you. Remember: Look to the
opposites and never take appearances at face value.
I m age: The
Thumbsc rew.
Yo ur enemy
has secrets that
he guards, thinks
thoughts he will
not reveal. B ut
they come out in
ways he cannot
help. It is there somewhere, a groove of
weakness on his head,
at his heart, over his
beHy. Once you find the
groove, put YOUf thumb in
i t and turn hirn at will.
Authority: Find out each man's thumbscrew. 'Tis the art of setting their
wills in action. It needs more skill than resolution.

 You must know
where to get at anyone. Every volition has a special motive which varies
according to taste. All men are idolaters, some of farne, others of selfinterest, most of pleasure. Skill consists in knowing these idols in order
to bring them into play. Knowing any man's mainspring of motive
you have as it were the key to his will. (Baltasar Graciän, 1601-1658)
Playing on people's weakness has one significant danger: You may stir up
an action you cannot control.
In YOUf games of power you always look several steps ahead and plan
accordingly. And you exploit the fact that other people are more emotional
and incapable of such foresight. But when you play on their vulnerabilities,
the areas over which they have least control, you can unleash emotions
that will upset YOUf plans. Push timid people into bold action and they may
go too far; answer their need for attention or recognition and they may
need more than you want to give them. The helpless, childish element you
are playing on can turn against you.
The more emotional the weakness, the greater the potential danger.
Know the limits to this game, then, and never get carried away by your
control over YOUf victims. You are after power, not the thrill of control.

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