Law #19 of The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene: Know Who You Are Dealing With

This book came highly recommended by her relatives in Bacolod. The author is/was a Harvard prof, the publisher is Penguin, and it’s been out quite a long time (Copyright: 1998).

She hasn’t read it cover to cover, she just picks it up at random moments. Tonight, the law she is reading about is Law # 19: KNOW WHO YOU ARE DEALING WITH. DO NOT OFFEND THE WRONG PERSON.

Interpretation of the Law:

  • Never assume that the person you are dealing with is weaker or less important than you are. Some men are slow to take offense, which may make you misjudge the thickness of their skin, and fail to worry about insulting them. But should you offend their honor or their pride, they will overwhelm you with a violence that seems sudden and extreme given their slowness to anger. If you want to turn people down, it is best to do so politely and respectfully, even if you feel their request is impudent or their offer ridiculous. Never reject them with an insult unless you know them better; you may be dealing with a GENGHIS KHAN.

DUN DUN DUN

Stay tuned.

On Writing: Michael Connelly’s Introduction to Thomas Perry’s The Butcher’s Boy

One of my most enjoyable reads of 2021 were bookends: The Butcher’s Boy, published 1982 and, forty years later, Eddie’s Boy.

Michael Connolly wrote the Introduction to the 2003 trade paperback edition of The Butcher’s Boy:

It used to be that the quickest way for me to descend into a creative depression would be for someone to approach me and identify him — or herself — as a fan of my work, but to then add the dreadful line “But your first one is still my favorite.”

It didn’t matter if the approach was in person at a bookstore or on the street, or through the U.S. mail or the Internet. I always took it very badly, and the compliment would serve to make me question what I was doing . . . There was a time when I would actually respond, hoping to dissuade the reader of his or her own words, saying things like, “That’s impossible!” or “You don’t really mean that!” But I soon realized it wasn’t impossible and they did really mean it.

And that is the source of the depression; that’s the rub. Writing, whether you consider it a craft or an art or both, is something that should get better with practice. It stands to reason. Writing comes from experience, curiosity, and knowledge. In short, it comes from life. The writer must improve with age and experience and life.

And that, too, is the reason there are so many creative writing programs, all over the world. This belief that writing should get better, that it’s a process.

Self wishes she could reproduce the entire Introduction here, but alas! It might be online somewhere? It’s really worth reading.

Stay tuned.

Ibrahim, TMWDT

Donna looks up, breathes out, and blinks tears from the corners of her eyes.

“Thank you. I’ve felt a bit stupid recently.”

“Loneliness is hard, Donna. It’s one of the big ones.”

“You should do this for a living, you know?”

“You are simply a little lost, Donna. And if one is never lost in life, then clearly one has never traveled anywhere interesting.”

“And you?” asks Donna. “You seem sad.”

“I’m a little sad, yes,” agrees Ibrahim. “I’m frightened, and I can’t see a way through it.”

“Up the next mountain would be my advice,” says Donna.

The Man Who Died Twice, p. 254

Richard Osman’s dialogue. That is all.

Quote of the Day, 2nd Friday of December 2021

Self was supposed to leave Mendocino today. She decided to stay a little longer. YAY!

Last night, she was reading a section in The Man Who Died Twice (Five Stars, maybe even Six) about REVENGE. It did not feature the Shakesperean “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” Or even the native Indian, or maybe the ancient Roman, wisdom: “If revenge is what you seek, dig two graves.” Instead, on p. 72, it said this:

  • Revenge is not a straight line, it’s a circle. It’s a grenade that goes off while you’re still in the room, and you can’t help but be caught in the blast.

Courtesy of Richard Osman. You’re welcome.

There is a continuation.

This morning, Ibrahim (still laid up in the hospital after being kicked in the head by a band of schoolboy thugs) reflects on a client (Eric) who was sold a lemon by a car dealership who refused to cover the cost of the repairs. So the client had the car repaired at his own expense, then drove it through the dealership’s front window in the dead of night.

Eric’s daughter and the son of the car dealer had also been friends at school. Eric forbade his daughter from ever talking to the boy and so, as winter follows summer, they had got married two years later, with Eric refusing to attend the wedding.

And so forth. And so forth.

Never seek revenge, dear blog readers. Revenge sucks.

Quote of the Day: Michael Connelly

A book is like a car. It pulls up to the curb and the passenger door swings open to the reader. The engine revs. Do you want a ride?

Once you get in, the car takes off, the door slamming shut and the rubber burning in its wake. Behind the wheel the driver’s got to be highly skilled, heavy on the pedal, and most of all, oh man, most of all, somebody you want to be with. He’s got to drive near the edge of the cliff but never over. He’s got to turn sharply just as you think you know where you are going. He’s got to gun it on the final lap.

Introduction by Michael Connelly to the 2003 Edition of Thomas Perry’s The Butcher’s Boy

Self borrowed her copy from the library, and it is pretty beat up. Nevertheless.

She absolutely loved Eddie’s Boy. Which is what led her here, to the very first book of the series. What did she love so much about Eddie’s Boy? The main character was a professional hit man, married to a member of the British peerage. If that character description doesn’t grab you, self doesn’t know what will.

“Are you sure you don’t want to just stay at the Sheraton?”

Yes, yes, stay at the Sheraton! self wants to scream at Amanda Lindhout.

Because, even though Ayelet Tsabari, in The Art of Leaving, takes a lot of risks, Amanda Lindhout’s risks are to the nth, on a whole other level. For instance, going to Bangladesh, where she knows no one. She really wants to go to India, but the flight to Bangladesh is cheap. So off she goes to Bangladesh.

On the flight over, she chats with “a middle-aged German guy” who says he goes to Dhaka all the time on business. While self’s insides are screaming “Watch out!” this man is met at the airport by a driver in an air-conditioned white mini-van and Amanda accepts a ride in his car. Considering that she is staying “at a twelve-dollar-a-night hotel” she’d picked out of Lonely Planet, Martin tells her that the ride would take “three hours and the driver would overcharge” by “virtue of” her white skin and gender. It turns out this Martin is a godsend, because he directs his driver to take her to her hotel, and when she gets out of the car he says, “Are you sure you don’t want to just stay at the Sheraton?” and she says “No, no, this is good!” Martin, bless his heart, presses a business card into her hand and says, “All right, then, call if you need anything.” And Amanda is immediately swarmed (which has happened to self: in the city of Taxco, Mexico, but at least there she had a companion, her Stanford roommate Sachiko; and also in some city in Himachal Pradesh whose name she completely forgets, and again in almost every other Indian city she landed in with the exception of Dharamsala, where she made the wise choice to stay in an inn inside a military cantonment)

From the moment Amanda alights from the German’s minivan, “every head on the street seemed suddenly to swivel” in her direction, and a man dogs her heels saying, over and over, “English? Hello? Hello, hello, hello?”

And yet this is nothing compared to what happens when she checks into her twelve-dollar-a-night Lonely Planet recommended hotel, and gets the third degree:

“For you?”

“For me.”

“Where is your husband?”

“I don’t have a husband.”

The man tilted his head. “Then where is your father?”

A House in the Sky, p. 46

Bless Amanda for being so bold. She refuses to lie. In India, because of self’s great age, and the fact that her itinerary included just temples — temples in the mountains, temples in the middle of a forest, temples whether Hindu or Buddhist or Punjabi — people just assumed she was dying and didn’t hassle her too much. Also, they assumed self was poor because she had no guide, and was always using public transportation.

Actually, it wasn’t just ordinary Indians who thought self was dying. Her friends, too, asked: “Are you sick?”

Wanting to go to Dharamsala means you are sick? Okay, then! Whatever works!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Advice of The Little Friend

MC has just received a real walloping at the hands of six school bullies, whereupon his best friend Kojima tells him “that no matter how bad things got, we could never tell on them, and should always come to school, and when it happened all over again, we would take it — that was what really mattered, what had real meaning.”

July #TreeSquare Challenge #6: Filoli

The host of the #TreeSquare challenge is Becky over at The Life of B. For July, the theme is TREES.

Self is sharing photos from Filoli, a beautiful estate less than 10 minutes drive from self’s house, which she visited in July 2020

The estate belonged to the owner of the Empire Gold Mine, William Bourn. Mansion and gardens together comprise 18 acres. The name ‘Filoli’ is an acronym for: “Fight for a just cause, Love your fellow man, Live a good life.”

The big tree is a Camperdown Elm:

Introduction, FAULT LINES: FRACTURED FAMILIES AND HOW TO MEND THEM

Self feels more engaged by Fault Lines than she was about Rules of Engagement. Karl Pillemer’s methods are research-based. He used “snowball sampling” techniques: “a large group of people are contacted and then asked to contact others in turn to help find interviewees.” His aim was to find subjects who had “reconciled,” who had moved “from anger and despair to acceptance . . . This book is built on their experiences, stories, and advice.”

He is not prescriptive: His aim is to present readers “with a range of ideas that they can apply to their own situations.” He followed up with “some of the estranged respondents over time to determine whether their own situations had changed and interviewing more than one person in a number of families.” Estrangement, Pillemer writes, “can be best understood as a form of chronic stress.” But he is quick to say he doesn’t intend to offer “clinical or psychological advice”: “I am a research sociologist and have no clinical credentials of any kind.”

He is quiet about whether he himself has any experience of estrangement, but of course he does. He just doesn’t share it, but he does. No one decides to write a book like this without that experience.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Quote of the Day: RULES OF ESTRANGEMENT

Self cannot believe she found this book as a result of an article in The Economist — which, as some readers might know, is not into New Age Psychology or anything so CALIFORNIA.

The author, Joshua Coleman (Ph.D. is after his name, so there’s that), is a psychologist with a private practice in Oakland, California.

p. 13:

  • My mission is to help you find healthy ways to reconcile. In general — and there are exceptions — I believe reconciliation is better than staying apart. Better for you and better for our society. And if a reconciliation isn’t possible, I want to help you have a happy, healthy life with or without your kid in it.

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