fighting the lack of good ideas

win through your actions, never through argument – law 9 – #48laws by robert greene

Law 9

Any momentary triumph you think you have gained through argument is really a Pyrrhic victory: The resentment and ill will you stir up is stronger and lasts longer than any momentary change of opinion. It is much more powerful to get others to agree with you through your actions, without saying a word. Demonstrate, do not explicate. –Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power (review)

make other people come to you – use bait if necessary – law 8 – #48laws by robert greene

Law 8

When you force the other person to act, you are the one in control. It is always better to make your opponent come to you, abandoning his own plans in the process. Lure him with fabulous gains – then attack. You hold the cards. –Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power (review)

get others to do the work for you, but always take the credit – law 7 – #48laws by robert greene

Law 7

Use the wisdom, knowledge, and legwork of other people to further your own cause. Not only wil such assitance save you valuable time and energy, it will give you a godlike aura of efficiency and speed. In the end your helpers will be forgotten and you will be remembered. Never do yourself what others can do for you. –Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power (review)

court attention at all costs – law 6 – #48laws by robert greene

Law 6

Everything is judged by its appearance; what is unseen counts for nothing. Never let yourself get lost in the crowd, then, or buried in oblivion. Stand out. Be conspicuous, at all costs. Make yourself a magnet of attention by appearing larger, more colorful, more mysterious than the bland and timid masses. –Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power (review)

the art of seduction by robert greene


This book contains, in places, intense terminology, and is directed at mentally-mature audiences

Now back to our regularly-scheduled bog post

After having read The 48 Laws of Power (and enjoying it), I decided to read some of Robert Greene’s other popular works. So, I read Mastery.

And then I read The Art of Seduction.

(I haven’t read his work The 33 Strategies of War – but it’s in my queue. I anticipate, perhaps wrongly, that it will be very similar to Sun Tzu’s The Art of War (which I reviewed then reprinted hereon); but I’ll have to wait until I’ve read it to know for sure.)

This book strays quite a bit from Greene’s core strengths, in my opinion, ranging into an arena of thought and action that feels far more “reported upon” than “acted upon”. Maybe it’s just how I had gotten used to his previous style (or, at least, his style in the books of his I read previously), but I liked this book the least.

  1. Part One – The Seductive Character
    1. The Siren
    2. The Rake
    3. The Ideal Lover
    4. The Dandy
    5. The Natural
    6. The Coquette
    7. The Charmer
    8. The Charismatic
    9. The Star
    10. The Anti-Seducer
    11. The Seducer’s Victims – The Eighteen Types
  2. Part Two – The Seductive Process
    1. Phase One: Separation – Stirring Interest and Desire
      1. Choose the Right Victim
      2. Create a False Sense of Security – Approach Indirectly
      3. Send Mixed Signals
      4. Appear to be an Object of Desire – Create Triangles
      5. Create a Need – Stir Anxiety and Discontent
      6. Master the Art of Insinuation
      7. Enter Their Spirit
      8. Create Temptations
    2. Phase Two: Lead Astray – Creating Pleasure and Confusion
      1. Keep Them in Suspense – What Comes Next?
      2. Use the Demonic Power of Words to Sow Confusion
      3. Pay Attention to Detail
      4. Poeticize Your Presence
      5. Disarm Through Strategic Weakness and Vulnerability
      6. Confuse Desire and Reality – The Perfect Illusion
      7. Isolate the Victim
    3. Phase Three: The Precipice – Deepening the Effect Through Extreme Measures
      1. Prove Yourself
      2. Effect a Regression
      3. Stir up the Transgressive and Taboo
      4. Use Spiritual Lures
      5. Mix Pleasure with Pain
    4. Phase Four: Moving in for the Kill
      1. Give Them Space to Fail – The Pursuer is Pursued
      2. Use Physical Lures
      3. Master the Art of the Bold Move
      4. Beware the Aftereffects
  3. Appendix A: Seductive Environment / Seductive Time
  4. Appendix B: Soft Seduction: How to Sell Anything to the Masses

Skip all of the sketchy, individually manipulative material – and there’s nothing left to the book except some dry reporting … and an acknowledgements page that includes two cats and his parents.

I do still love the layout used in all of Robert Greene’s books (maybe it’s a “Joost Elffers Book” thing?) – with abstracts under each chapter title in the table of contents, callouts/sidebars in the margins and funkified* typesetting for emphasis in many places.

  • Is this a book worth reading? I believe that answer is a cautious “yes”.
  • Is this a book worth owning? I cannot answer that for you – borrow it from your library first, and then decide.

Come back tomorrow for chapter abstracts.

* defines this term in many negative ways – I definitely intend to convey a positive one here, eg entry 4 on UD

so much depends on reputation – guard it with your life – law 5 – #48laws by robert greene

Law 5

Reputation is the cornerstone of power. Through reputation alone you can intimidate and win; once it slips, however, you are vulnerable, and will be attacked on all sides. Make your reputation unassailable. Always be alert to potential attacks and thwart them before they happen. Meanwhile, learn to destroy your enemies by opening holes in their own reputations. Then stand aside and let public opinion hang them. –Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power (review)

mastery by robert greene

In Mastery, Robert Greene continues in the style of his excellent work, The 48 Laws of Power (which I previously reviewed and have been posting excerpts from).

Sadly, it is not quite to the level of The 48 Laws – though it still a good book. Unbeknownst to me, I’ve already been practicing most of what he preaches, starting with finding your niche. Oh, and following an apprenticeship path. And staying creative; and widening your horizons.

This is also, more or less, the path modeled by one of my previous employers, the Shodor Education Foundation through their Apprentice, Intern, and “Post-Bac” Staff programs (they have higher than “Post-Bac” staff, too – but that’s more in the “Master” level than getting to it).

I was hoping for something … well, maybe not “new” – but insightful-and-not-common-elsewhere. Perhaps I’m merely well-read already, but Mr Greene comes to roughly the same conclusion as Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers – 10,000 hours of concerted effort in learning, practicing, and presenting a given topic/field will tend to push you into the “Master” realm (review).

Through a series of case studies and repeated biographical highlights through the last ~300 years, the point is shown that while there are a few workable paths to Mastery – they’re all traversable by anyone who cares to take the time and effort to do so.

Timothy Ferriss’ series of “4 Hour” books (4-Hour Body, 4-Hour Workweek, & 4-Hour Chef) all showcase these exact traits, as well. While presented as “shortcuts for the rest of us”, if read without skimming, instead show that it is only through intense focus and hard work that you can arrive at the “4-Hour” destination.

Is Mastery a worthwhile read? Probably for most people.

Is it worth owning? Doubtful.

Grab a copy from your library (like I did) and read it. Reread it. Blog about it. Tweet it. Skim it. Then return it.