observance the law of disdaining the things

In the year 1527, King Henry VIII of England decided he had to find a
way to get rid of his wife, Catherine of Aragon. Catherine had failed to produce a son, a male heir who would ensure the continuance of his dynasty,
and Henry thought he knew why: He had read in the Bible the passage,
"And if a man shall take his brother's wife, it is an unclean thing: he hath
uncovered his brother's nakedness; they shall be childless." Before marrying Henry, Catherine had married his older brother Arthur, but Arthur
had died five months later. Henry had waited an appropriate time, then
had married his brother's widow. 

Catherine was the daughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of
Spain, and by marrying her Henry had kept alive a valuable alliance. Now,
however, Catherine had to assure hirn that her brief marriage with Arthur
had never been consummated. Otherwise Henry would view their relationship as incestuous and their marriage as null and void. Catherine insisted that she had remained a virgin through her marriage to Arthur, and
Pope Clement VII supported her by giving his blessing to the union, which
he could not have done had he considered it incestuous. Yet after years of
marriage to Henry, Catherine had failed to produce a son, and in the early
1520s she had entered menopause. To the king this could only mean one
thing: She had lied about her virginity, their union was incestuous, and
God had punished them.
There was another reason why Henry wanted to get rid of Catherine:
He had fallen in love with a younger woman, Anne Boleyn. Not only was
he in love with her, but if he married her he could still hope to sire a legitimate son. The marriage to Catherine had to be annulled. For this, however, Henry had to apply to the Vatican. But Pope Clement would never
annul the marriage.
By the summer of 1527, rumors spread throughout Europe that Henry
was about to attempt the impossible-to annul his marriage against
Clement's wishes. Catherine would never abdicate, let alone voluntarily
enter a nunnery, as Henry had urged her. But Henry had his own strategy:
He stopped sleeping in the same bed with Catherine, since he considered
her his sister-in-Iaw, not his lawful wife. He insisted on calling her Princess
the dais where the chief
was seated and lay
there, chewing its cud.
Everyone was sure that
this was some grave
portent. and urged that
the ox be sent to a yinyang diviner. However.
the prime minister, the
father ofthe minister of
the right, said, 

"An ox
has no discrimination.
It has legs-there is
nowhere it won't go. It
does not make sense to
deprive an underpaid
official of the wretched
ox he needs in order to
attend court. " He
returned the ox to its
owner and changed the
maUing on which it had
lain. No untoward
event of any kind
occurred afterward.
They say that if you see
a prodigy and do not
treat it as such, its character as a prodigy is
LAW 36 303
And in this view it is
advisable to let everyone
of your acquaintancewhether man or
woman-feel now and
then that you could
very welt dispense with
their company. This
will consolidate
friendship. Nay, with
most people there will
be no harm in occasionalty mixing a grain
of disdain with your
treatment of them; that
will make them value
your friendship alt the
more. Chi non stima
vien stirnato, as a
subtle Itahan proverb
has it-to disregard is
to win regard. But if we
realty think very highly
of a person, we shoutd
conceal it from hirn
hke a crime. This is not
a very gratifying thing
to do, but it is right.
Why, a dog will not
bear being treated too
kindly, let alone a man!
1 788-1860
'1'111': \10" " f: \ A1\1J
'!' I I I-: P I'
A monkey was carrying two handfuts of
peas. One httle pea
dropped out. He tried
to pick it up, and spilt
twenty. He tried to pick
up the twenty, and spilt
them alt. Then he lost
his temper, scattered the
peas in alt direclions,
and ran away.
1 828-1910
304 LAW 36
Dowager of Wales, her title as Arthur's widow.

 Finally, in 153 1, he banished her from court and shipped her off to a distant castle. The pope ordered rum to return her to court, on pain of excommunication, the most
severe penalty a Catholic could suffer. Henry not only ignored this threat,
he insisted that his marriage to Catherine had been dissolved, and in 1533
he married Anne Boleyn.
Clement refused to recognize the marriage, but Henry did not care.
He no longer recognized the pope's authority, and proceeded to break
with the Roman Catholic Church, establishing the Church of England in
its stead, with the king as the head of the new church. And so, not surprisingly, the newly formed Church of England proclaimed Anne Boleyn England's rightful queen.
The pope tried every threat in the book, but nothing worked. Henry
simply ignored him. Clement fumed-no one had ever treated him so contemptuously. 

Henry had humiliated hirn and he had no power of recourse.
Even excommunication (which he constantly threatened but never carried
out) would no longer matter.
Catherine too feit the devastating sting of Henry's disdain. She tried to
fight back, but in appealing to Henry her words fell on deaf ears, and soon
they fell on no one's. Isolated from the court, ignored by the king, mad
with anger and frustration, Catherine slowly deteriorated, and finally died
in January of 1536, from a cancerous tumor of the heart.
When you pay attention to a person, the two of you become partners of
sorts, each moving in step to the actions and reactions of the other. In the
process you lose your initiative. It is a dynamic of all interactions: 

By acknowledging other people, even if only to fight with them, you open yourself to their influence. Had Henry locked horns with Catherine, he would
have found hirnself mired in endless arguments that would have weakened
his resolve and eventually worn rum down. (Catherine was a strong, stubborn woman.) Had he set out to convince Clement to change rus verdict on
the marriage's validity, or tried to compromise and negotiate with hirn, he
would have gotten bogged down in Clement's favorite tactic: playing for
time, promising flexibility, but actually getting what popes always gottheir way.
Henry would have none of this. He played a devastating power
game-total disdain. By ignoring people you cancel them out. This unsettles and infuriates them-but since they have no dealings with you, there is
no thing they can do.
This is the offensive aspect of the law. Playing the card of contempt is
immensely powerful, for it lets you determine the conditions of the conflict.
The war is waged on your terms. This is the ultimate power pose: You are
the king, and you ignore what offends you. Watch how this tactic infuriates
people-half of what they do is to get your attention, and when you withhold it from them, they flounder in frustration.
MAN: Kick him-he'll jor{ljve you. Flatter him-he may or may not
see through you. But ignore him and he 'll hate you.
Idries Shah, Caravan of Dreams, 1 968
Desire often creates paradoxical effects: The more you want something,
the more you chase after it, the more it eludes you. The more interest you
show, the more you repel the object of your desire. This is because your interest is too strong-it makes people awkward, even fearful. Uncontrollable desire makes you seem weak, unworthy, pathetic.
You need to turn YOUf back on what you want, show your contempt
and disdain.

 This is the kind of powerful response that will drive your targets crazy. They will respond with a desire of their own, which is simply to
have an effect on you-perhaps to possess you, perhaps to hurt you. If they
want to possess you, you have successfully completed the first step of seduction. If they want to hurt you, you have unsettled them and made them
play by your rules (see Laws 8 and 39 on baiting people into action).
Contempt is the prerogative of the king. Where his eyes turn, what he
decides to see, is what has reality; what he ignores and turns his back on is
as good as dead. That was the weapon of King Louis XIV -if he did not
like you, he acted as if you were not there, maintaining his superiority by
cutting off the dynamic of interaction. This is the power you have when
you play the card of contempt, periodically showing people that you can
do without them.
If choosing to ignore enhances your power, it follows that the opposite
approach-commitment and engagement-often weakens you. By paying
undue attention to a puny enemy, you look puny, and the longer it takes
you to crush such an enemy, the larger the enemy seems. When Athens set
out to conquer the island of Sicily, in 415 B.C., a giant power was attacking a
tiny one. Yet by entangling Athens in a long-drawn-out conflict, Syracuse,
Sicily's most important city-state, was ahle to grow in stature and confideuce. Finally defeating Athens, it made itself famous for centuries to
corne. In recent times, President John F. Kennedy made a similar mistake
in his attitude to Fidel Castro of Cuha: His failed invasion at the Bay of
Pigs, in 1961, made Castro an international hero.
A second danger: If you succeed in crushing the irritant, or even if you
merely wound it, you create sympathy for the weaker side. Critics of
Franklin D. Roosevelt complained bitterly about the money his administration spent on government projects, hut their attacks had no resonance
with the puhlic, who saw the president as working to end the Great Depression.

 His opponents thought they had an example that would show just
how wasteful he had hecome: his dog, Fala, which he Iavished with favors
and attention. Critics railed at his insensitivity-spending taxpayers'
money on a dog while so many Americans were still in poverty. But Roosevelt had a response: How dare his critics attack a defenseless Httle dog?
As some make gossip
out of everything, su
others make much ado
about everything. They
are always talking big,
fand] take everything
seriously, making a
quarrel and a mystery
of it. You should take
very few grievances to
heart, for to do so is 10
give yourself ground.
less wurry. It is a topsyturvy way of behaving
to take tu heart eares
which you ought to
throw over your shoulder. Many things whieh
seemed important [at
the time] turn out to be
ofno aecount when
they are ignored; and
othen', whieh seem
trifiing, appear formidable when you pay
attentiun tu them.
Things ean easily be
settled at the outset, but
not so later on. In
many cases, the remedy
itself is the cause 0/ the
disease: to let things be
is not the least satisjactory of life :s ru/es.
1 601-1658
LAW 36 305
TIIF \IA." A I\ Il
There was a certain
original man who
desired to catch his
own shadow. He makes
a step or two toward it,
but it moves away from
hirn. He quickens his
pace; it does the same.
At last he takes to
running; but the
quicker he goes, the
quicker runs the
shadow also, utterly
refusing to give itself
up, just as if it had been
a treasure. But see! our
eccentric friend
suddenly turns round,
and walks away from
it. And presently he
looks behind hirn; now
the shadow runs
after hirn.

 Ladies fair, I have
often observed ... that
Fortune treats us in a
similar way. One man
tries with all his might
to seize the goddess,
and only loses his time
and his trouble.
Another .I'eem.l', to alt
appearance, to he
running out of her
sight; hut, no: .I'he
herself takes a plea.l'lIre
in p"r.l'uing hirn.
1 76R-1844
306 LAW 36
His speech in defense of Fala was one of the most popular he ever gave, In
this case, the weak party involved was the president's dog and the attack
backfired-in the long run, it only made the president more sympathetic,
since many people will naturally side with the "underdog," just as the
American public came to sympathize with the wily but outnumbered Pancho Villa,
It is tempting to want to fix our mistakes, but the harder we try, the
worse we often make them, It is sometimes more politic to leave them
alone, In 1971, when the New lOrk Times published the Pentagon Papers, a
group of government documents about the history of U.S, involvement in
Indochina, Henry Kissinger erupted into a volcanic rage, Furious about the
Nixon administration's vulnerability to this kind of damaging leak, he
made recommendations that eventually led to the formation of a group
called the Plumbers to plug the leaks. This was the unit that later broke into
Democratic Party offices in the Watergate Hotel, setting off the chain of
events that led to Nixon's downfall. In reality the publication of the Pentagon Papers was not a serious threat to the administration, but Kissinger's
reaction made it a big deal. In trying to fix one problem, he created another: a paranoia for security that in the end was much more destructive to
the government Had he ignored the Pentagon Papers, the scandal they
had created would eventually have blown over,
Instead of inadvertently focusing attention on a problem, making it
seem worse by publicizing how much concern and anxiety it is causing
you, it is often far wiser to play the contemptuous aristocrat, not deigning
to acknowledge the problem's existence,

 There are several ways to execute
this strategy.
First there is the sour-grapes approach. If there is something you want
but that you realize you cannot have, the worst thing you can do is draw attention to your disappointrnent by complaining about it An infinitely
more powerful tactic is to act as if it never really interested you in the first
place. When the writer George Sand's supporters nominated her to be the
first female member of the Academie Fran(,:aise, in 1861, Sand quickly saw
that the academy would never admit her. Instead of whining, though, she
claimed she had no interest in belonging to this group of worn-out, overrated, out-of-touch windbags.

 Her disdain was the perfect response: Had
she shown her anger at her exclusion, she would have revealed how much
it meant to her. Instead she branded the academy a club of old men-and
why should she be angry or disappointed at not having to spend her time
with them? Crying "sour grapes" is sometimes seen as a reflection of the
weak; it is actually the tactic of the powerful.
Second, when you are attacked by an inferior, deflect people's attention by making it clear that the attack has not even registered. Look away,
or answer sweetly, showing how little the attack concerns you. Similarly,
when you yourself have committed a blunder, the best response is often to
make less of your mistake by treating it lightly.
The Japanese emperor Go-Saiin, a great disciple of the tea ceremony,
owned a priceless antique tea bowl that all the courtiers envied. One day a
guest, Dainagon Tsunehiro, asked if he could carry the tea bowl into the
light, to examine it more closely. The bowl rarely left the table, but the emperor was in good spirits and he consented. As Dainagon carried the bowl
to the railing of the verandah, however, and held it up to the light,

slipped from his hands and fell on a rock in the garden below, smashing
into tiny fragments.
The emperor of course was furious. "It was indeed most clumsy of me
to let it drop in this way," said Dainagon, with a deep bow, "but really
there is not much harm done. This Ido tea-bowl is a very old one and it is
impossible to say how much longer it would have lasted, but anyhow it is
not a thing of any public use, so I think it rather fortunate that it has broken
thus." This surprising response had an immediate effect: The emperor
calmed down. Dainagon neither sniveled nor overapologized, but signaled
his own worth and power by treating his mistake with a touch of disdain.
The emperor had to respond with a similar aristocratic indifference; his
anger had made hirn seem low and petty-an image Dainagon was able to

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