Thursday, 15 August 2013

Book Review: The 48 Laws of Power, by Robert Greene

I was going through the books in my shed last weekend when I stumbled across this book. It's a small book and I thought it would be a humorous, one-hour-max skim read so I packed it in my bag for my Monday commute to work. Four commute days later and it's scribbled with notes and highlights all over! For sure it's not gospel and it is quite sinister at times but, as sad as it is to admit, it's got its fair share of stories and advices that I can't help except find agreeable! My six favourite chapters, or laws rather, were the following: (1) Never outshine the master; (10) Infection - avoid the unhappy and the unlucky; (11) Learn to keep people dependent on you; (13) When asking for help, appeal to people's self-interest, never to their mercy or gratitude; (17) Cultivate an air of unpredictability; and (46) Never appear too perfect. And here's some of my favourite quotes from the book:
"... Do not be one of the many who mistakenly believe that the ultimate form of power is independence. Power involves a relationship between people... If you create no need for yourself, then you will be done away with at the first opportunity... You do not have to be a genius; you do have to have a skill that sets you apart from the crowd..."
"Most men are so thoroughly subjective that nothing really interests them but themselves. They always think of their own case as soon as ever any remark is made, and their whole attention is engrossed and absorbed by the nearest chance reference to anything which affects them personally, be it never so remote." (Arthur Schopenhauer)
"The shortest and best way to make your fortune is to let people see clearly that it is their interests to promote yours." (Jean de La Bruyere)
"Animals behave in set patterns, which is why we are able to hunt and kill them. Only man has the capacity consciously to alter his behaviour, to improvise and overcome the weight of routine and habit... Only the terminally subordinate act in a predictable manner."
"Men are so simple of mind, and so much dominated by their immediate needs, that a deceitful man will always find plenty who are ready to be deceived." (Niccolo Machiavelli)

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Zen in the Martial Arts, by Joe Hyams

Hmm, my third Blog post in succession reviewing a martial arts book! I assure you it's not all that I've been reading these past few months. Just pure chance that I've found yet another good, very good, martial arts books worthy of a Blog post! Truth be told I wasn't sure about this book going into it and how practical it would be, but it is! Very practical, albeit the "softer" aspect of the martial arts. If you don't mind reading a book written by somebody raised on the martial arts in the 70s/80s (the pre-MMA "Bruce Lee" era), then I definitely recommend adding this book to your martial arts library... and reading it and reflecting on the advices within!! Here's some quotes from the book which stuck out for me:

"A dojo [pracice hall] is a miniature cosmos where we make contact with ourselves - our fears, anxieties, reactions, and habits. It is an arena of confined conflict where we confront an opponent who is not an opponent but rather a partner engaged in helping us understand ourselves more fully."

"A man who has attained mastery of an art reveals it in his every action." (Samurai Maxim)

"You must learn to allow patience and stillness to take over from anxiety and frantic activity for the sake of doing something."

"Controlled breathing restores calm, confidence, and strength."

"Control your emotion or it will control you." (Chinese Adage)