observance of law - Great man's shoes

Alexander the Great had a dominant passion as a young man-an intense
dislike for his father, King Philip of Macedonia. He hated Philip's cunning,
cautious style of ruling, his bombastic speeches, his drinking and whoring,
and his love of wrestling and of other wastes of time. Alexander knew he
had to make hirnself the very opposite of his domineering father: He would
force hirnself to be bold and reckless, he would control his tongue and be a
man of few words, and he would not lose precious time in pursuit of pleasures that brought no glory. Alexander also resented the fact that Philip
had conquered most of Greece: "My father will go on conquering till there
is nothing extraordinary left for me to do," he once complained. While
other sons of powerful men were content to inherit wealth and live a life of
leisure, Alexander wanted only to outdo his father, to obliterate Philip's
name from history by surpassing his accomplishments.
Alexander itched to show others how superior he was to his father. A
Thessalian horse-dealer once brought a prize horse named Bucephalus to
seIl to Philip. None of the king's grooms could get near the horse--it was
far too savage-and Philip berated the merchant for bringing him such a
useless be ast. Watching the whole affair, Alexander scowled and COffimented, "What a horse they are losing for want of skill and spirit to manage hirn!" When he had said this several times,

 Philip had finally had
enough, and challenged hirn to take on the horse. He called the merchant
back, secretly hoping his son would have a nasty fall and leam a bitter lesson. But Alexander was the one to teach the lesson: Not only did he mount
Bucephalus, he managed to ride hirn at full gallop, taming the horse that
would later carry hirn all the way to India. 

The courtiers applauded wildly,
but Philip seethed inside, seeing not a son but a riyal to his power.
Alexander's defiance of his father grew bolder. One day the two men
had a heated argument before the entire court, and Philip drew his sword
as if to strike his son; having drunk too much wine, however, the king
stumbled. Alexander pointed at his father and jeered, "Men of Macedonia,
see there the man who is preparing to pass from Europe to Asia. He cannot
pass from one table to another without falling."
When Alexander was eighteen, a disgruntled courtier murdered
Philip. As word of the regicide spread through Greece, city after city rose
up in rebellion against their Macedonian rulers. Philip's advisers counseled
Alexander, now the king, to proceed cautiously, to do as Philip had done
and conquer through cunning. But Alexander would do things his way: He
marched to the furthest reaches of the kingdom, suppressed the rebellious
towns, and reunited the empire with brutal efficiency.
As a young rebel grows older, his struggle against the father often
wanes, and he gradually comes to resemble the very man he had wanted to

 But Alexander' s loathing of his father did not end with Philip' s death.
Once he had consolidated Greece, he set his eyes on Persia, the prize that
had eluded his father, who had dreamed of conquering Asia. If he defeated
the Persians, Alexander would finally surpass Philip in glory and fame.
Alexander crossed into Asia with an army of 35,000 to face a Persian
force numbering over a million. Before engaging the Persians in battle he
passed through the town of Gordium. Here, in the town's main temple,
there stood an ancient chariot tied with cords made of the rind of the cornel tree. Legend had it that any man who could undo these cords--the
Gordian knot-would rule the world. Many had tried to untie the enormous and intricate knot, but none had succeeded. Alexander, seeing he
could not possibly untie the knot with his bare hands, took out his sword
and with one slash cut it in half. This symbolic ge sture showed the world
that he would not do as others, but would blaze his own path.
Against astounding odds,

 Alexander conquered the Persians. Most expected hirn to stop there-it was a great triumph, enough to secure his
farne for etemity. But Alexander had the same relationship to his own
deeds as he had to his father: His conquest of Persia represented the past,
and he wanted never to rest on past triumphs, or to allow the past to outshine the present. He moved on to India, extending his empire beyond all
known limits. Only his disgruntled and weary soldiers prevented hirn from
going farther.
Alexander represents an extremely uncommon type in history: the son of
a famous and successful man who manages to surpass the father in glory
and power.

 The reason this type is uncommon is simple: The father most
often manages to amass his fortune, his kingdom, because he begins with
little or nothing. A desperate urge impels hirn to succeed-he has nothing
to lose by cunning and impetuousness, and has no famous father of his
own to compete against. This kind of man has reason to believe in
himself-to believe that his way of doing things is the best, because, after
all, it worked for hirn.
When a man like this has a son, he becomes domineering and oppressive, imposing his lessons on the son, who is starting off life in circumstances totally different from those in which the father hirns elf began.
the study ofhis profession. After painting had
become second nature
to him, Pietro's only
pleasure was always to
be w(Jrking in his aaft
ami constantly to be
painting. And because
he always had the
dread of poverty be]!Jre
his eyes, he did things
to make money which
he probably would not
have bothered to do
had he not been fon'ed
to support himse/!
Perhaps wealth would
have closed to him and
his ta/ent the path to
excellence just as
poverty had opened it
up to him, bllt need
spurred him on sinee he
desired to rise from
such a miserable and
lowly position-if not
perhaps 10 the summit
and supreme heighl of
excellence, Ihen al least
to a point where he
could have enough to
live on, For this reamn,
he took no notice of
cold, hunger, discomfort, inconvenience, toil
or shame if he could
only live one day in
ease and repose; and he
would always say-and
as if it were a proverbthat after bad weather,
good weather must
follow, and that during
the good weather
houses must be buill for
shelter in times oI need,
1 5l l-1574
LAW 41 351
The sfightest aequaintanee with ehess shows
one that it is a playsubstitute Jor the art oJ
war and indeed it has
been a Javorite recreation oJsome oJthe
greatest military leaders, Jrom William the
Conquemr to
In the contest between
the opposing armies
the same principles oJ
both strategy and tacties
are displayed as in
aetual war, the same
Joresight and powers oJ
caleulation are neeessary, the same capacity
Jor divining the plans
oJthe opponent, and
the rigor with wh ich
decisions are Jollowed
by their eonsequences
is, if an ything, even
more ruthless. More
than that, it is plain that
the uneonscious motive
actuating the players is
not the mere love oJ
pugnaeity characteristic
oJ all competitive
games, but the grimmer
one of father-murder.
It is true that the original goal of eapturing
the king has been given
"p, but from the point
of view oJ motive there
is, except in respeet oJ
crudity, not appreciable
change in the present
goal of sterilizing him
in immobility ....
"Checkmate " means
literally "the king is
dead. "
... Our knowledge of
fhe unconsciou,\' motivation of chess-playing
teils us that what it
represented could only
have been the wish to
overcome the father in
an acceplable way ....
It is no doubl signiji352 LAW 41
Instead of allowing the son to go in a new direction, the father will try to
put hirn in his own shoes, perhaps secretly wishing the boy will fail, as
Philip halfwanted to see Alexander thrown from Bucephalus_ Fathers envy
their sons' youth and vigor, after all, and their desire is to control and dominate_ The sons of such men tend to become cowed and cautious, terrified
of losing what their fathers have gained. 

The son will never step out of his father's shadow unless he adopts the
ruthless strategy of Alexander: disparage the past, create YOUf own kingdom, put the father in the shadows instead of letting hirn do the same to
you. If you cannot materially start from ground zero-it would be foolish
to renounce an inheritance-you can at least begin from ground zero psychologically, by throwing off the weight of the past and charting a new direction. Alexander instinctively recognized that privileges of birth are
impediments to power. Be merciless With the past, then-not only with
your father and his father but with your own earlier achievements_ Only
the weak rest on their laureis and dote on past triumphs; in the game of
power there is never time to rest
In many ancient kingdoms, for example Bengal and Sumatra, after the
king had ruled for several years his subjects would execute hirn. This was
done partly as a ritual of renewal, but also to prevent hirn from growing too
powerful-for the king would generally try to establish a permanent order,
at the expense of other families and of his own sons. Instead of protecting
the tribe and leading it in times of war, he would attempt to dominate it.
And so he would be beaten to death, or executed in an elaborate ritual.
Now that he was no longer around for his honors to go to his head, he
could be worshipped as a god_ Meanwhile the field had been cleared for a
new and youthful order to establish itself.
The ambivalent, hostile attitude towards the king or father figure also
finds expression in legends of heroes who do not know their father. Moses,
the archetyp al man of power, was found abandoned among the bulrushes
and never knew his parents; without a father to compete with hirn or limit
hirn, he could attain the heights of power. Hercules had no earthly fatherhe was the son of the god Zeus. Later in his life Alexander the Great spread
the story that the god Jupiter Ammon had sired hirn, not Philip of Macedon_ Legends and rituals like these eliminate the human father because he
symbolizes the destructive power of the past
The past prevents the young hero from creating his own world-he
must do as his father did, even after that father is dead or powerless. The
hero must bow and scrape before his predecessor and yield to tradition
and precedent What had success in the past must be carried over to the

, even though circumstances have greatly changed. The past also
weighs the hero down with an inheritance that he is terrified of losing,
making hirn timid and cautious.
Power depends on the ability to fill a void, to occupy a field that has
been cleared of the dead weight of the past. Only after the father figure has
been properly done away with will you have the necessary space to create
and establish a new order. There are several strategies you can adopt to accomplish this-variations on the execution of the king that disguise the violence of the impulse by channeling it in socially acceptable forms.
Perhaps the simplest way to escape the shadow of the past is simply to
belittle it,

 playing on the timeless antagonism between the generations, stirring up the young against the old. For this you need a convenient older figure to pillory. Mao Tse-tung, confronting a culture that fiercely resisted
change, played on the suppressed resentment against the overbearing presence of the venerable Confucius in Chinese culture. John F. Kennedy
knew the dangers of getting lost in the past; he radically distinguished his
presidency from that of his predecessor, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and also
from the preceding decade, the 1950s, which Eisenhower personified.
Kennedy, for instance, would not play the dull and fatherly game of golfa symbol of retirement and privilege, and Eisenhower's passion. Instead he
played football on the White House lawn. In every aspect his administration represented vigor and youth, as opposed to the stodgy Eisenhower.
Kennedy had discovered an old truth: The young are easily set against the
old, since they yearn to make their own place in the world and resent the
shadow of their fathers

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