Monday, July 16, 2007

Holiday State of Mind and Machiavelli

In the last post I mentioned about how I am not in the ‘fiction state of mind’ these days. It follows from there that I haven’t read any work of fiction in a long time and I blame it on the lack of what I call as a ‘Holiday State of Mind’. (The Last novel for me was a very mediocre and hence, totally forgettable ‘Memoirs of My Melancholy Whore’ by the great Mr. Marquez. I wonder what happened to his greatness in this last work…perhaps it’s the age). Let me spend a small paragraph on this state of mind.

Till 2 years back I was living in this ‘Holiday State of Mind’, and this state was on from as long as I can remember things. Living life in a conversation with a friend, or in the piano solo of ‘In my Life’, or in the loneliness of Zimmy’s poetry, or in the existentialist pages of ‘The Fall’, or just in the plain delirium of the moment….it was a series of living right here, right now…never a tomorrow! In the process, I absorbed some good and evil. Some of the goodness gets reflected in this space (I hope) and we shall keep the 'Evil' for some other occasion. Under the present circumstances, things have changed a bit. Now, I need a real long holiday to read a work of fiction and its been a while, since I had one.

So, continuing this streak of reading ‘non-fictions’, I picked up the famous ‘The Prince’ by Niccolo Machiavelli to revisit. In my last visit, the book and its ideas were too revolting for my socialistic mindset (you can also call it ‘youth’) and hence I rejected it. In my latest visit, I just can’t stop appreciating its cold and clinical approach towards 'seizing and holding power', which is the single point agenda of this work. Its not that my mindset has changed drastically, but age arms you with the wisdom to appreciate and see the greatness of a differing philosophy.

When, in 1512, Machiavelli was removed from his post of a Diplomatic Negotiator in Florence, Italy; he resolved to set down a treatise on leadership that was practical, not idealist. His ‘Prince’ would be unencumbered by ordinary ethical and moral values; his ‘Prince’ would be man and beast, fox and lion. Let me present an excerpt from this work to elucidate the cold (and intelligent) amorality of it.

“Therefore, it is to be noted that in seizing a state one ought to consider all the injuries he will be obliged to inflict and then proceed to inflict them all at once so as to avoid a frequent repetition of such acts. Anyone who acts otherwise, either through timidity or bad judgment, will always have to keep a dagger ready in his hand, nor will he ever be able to trust his subjects since, because of continually renewed injuries, they will never be able to feel safe with him. Injuries must be committed all at once so that being savored less, they will arouse less resentment. Benefits, on the other hand, should be bestowed little by little so as to be more fully savored.”

Taken from Chapter 8, ‘Concerning Those Who Become Princes By Evil Means’

This piece takes me to the last sequence of the movie 'Godfather', wherein Michael consolidates his position as the new Godfather by an orchestrated and programmed annihilation all his enemy forces…all at one go!

On another note, why isn’t this text taught in the Business Schools to teach the techniques of leadership. Maybe it is a part of some Business course curriculum and I don’t know of it or perhaps it gets rejected because of the inherent amoral principles of it. Do let me know if you know of this ‘treatise’ being in the syllabus of Business administration…just for my curiosity!


POOJA NAIR said...

It will be interesting to put down the lessons from this book in the form of a ppt.

It would atleast make for a good guest lecture at any college that does not include this in it's syllaby..what say?

How do you find Machiavelli's book different from the 'art of war' by Sun tzu (if you have read that)?

phish said...

why does everything need to ppt-ed for business school students to understand? do all inferences from popular culture need to be syllabus-ised to be digested?

meraj said...

because the idea behind a business school is to turn regular human beings into machines who are incapable of understanding anything if it isnt presented in the for of a ppt.

and if you do not syllabusize it, the chances are that it will miss their discerning eyes.


Harshal Gajria said...

Great book, and lovely movie - Godfather (Hey, it's a Guy Thing)

I've been up to no good on the reading frontier as well. Get too exhausted by the end of the day. But been packing in "A Thousand Splendid Sons" lately (loved Kite Runner hence..)

The bitter truth is that lots of media is rendered useless until we experience the same situation in real life - and then cross reference it backwards (not the same for adverts..)

Books are superb in that sense - because then you know how to react to a situation you're living out (Well, maybe not just at that instant!)

Not entirely true - about the powerpoint bit. It's just a preferred means of expression. I'd prefer mood boards & a good long conversation any day - but that takes time..

meraj said...

pooja, to explain the difference in one line, its like this: 'The Prince' is about Politics and Power whereas 'The Art of War' is about the winning strategies in a battlefield...its a treatise on military and warfare.

so, Sun Tzu's book is a subset of Machiavelli's book.

Smiling Dolphin said...

am i imagining this or did your post just keep getting smaller in point size with each para to become eventually unreadable? do fix, i really want to read what you have to say, but my ancient eyes can't cope:-))

meraj said...

did you read this one??? maybe its time to change the template...

mr bojangles said...

from Poona, and the Holiday state of mind to Pooja Nair, and your all-productive non-fiction state of mind! (there's something providential in the names there)