Law 6: Court Attention At All Costs
The 48 Laws Of Power Summary Series
“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 cost. Make yourself a magnet of attention by appearing larger, more colorful, more mysterious than the bland and timid masses.”
Part I: Surround Your Name With The Sensational And Scandalous
“Draw attention to yourself by creating an unforgettable, even controversial image. Court scandal. Do anything to make yourself seem larger than life and shine more brightly than those around you. Make no distinction between kinds of attention — notoriety of any sort will bring you power. Better to be slandered and attacked than ignored.”
Keys To Power
“Burning more brightly than those around you is a skill that no one is born with. You have to learn to attract attention, “as surely as the lodestone attracts iron. At the start of your career, you must attach your name and reputation to a quality, an image, that sets you apart from other people. This image can be something like a characteristic style of dress, or a personality quirk that amuses people and gets talked about. Once the image is established, you have an appearance, a place in the sky for your star.”
“It is a common mistake to imagine that this peculiar appearance of yours should not be controversial, that to be attacked is somehow bad. Nothing could be further from the truth. To avoid being a flash in the pan, and having your notoriety eclipsed by another, you must not discriminate between different types of attention; in the end, every kind will work in your favor.”
The court of the Louis the XIV was filled with many talented creatives, beautiful women and people of nobility.
But there was no one more talked about than the Duc de Lauzun. For comparison, this Duke represented the personality type many know as Tyrion Lanistor, of the HBO series Game Of Thrones. The Duke was dwarfish, he slept with the king’s mistress, openly insulted not only other courtiers, but the King himself — very similar to how Tyrion behaved.
Louis, however, was so beguiled (enchanted) by the duke’s eccentricities that he could not bare his absences from the court. It was so simple. The strangeness of the Duke’s character attracted attention. Once people were enthralled by him, they wanted him around, at any cost.
“Society craves larger-than-life figures, people who stand above the general mediocrity. Never be afraid, then, of the qualities that set you apart and draw attention to you. Court controversy, even scandal. It is better to be attacked, even slandered, than ignored.”
Thomas Edison would create dazzling experiments to display his discoveries within electricity and boast about future inventions that seemed amazingly breakthrough for the time.
He would talk loudly about all these future inventions which drew the public’s attention as Edison become a frequent topic of conversation. He did everything he could to make sure he received more attention than his rival Nikola Tesla, who arguably may have been more brilliant and talented than Edison, although far less known.
In 1915 it was rumored that Edison and Tesla would be joint recipients of the years Nobel prize in physics. However, the prize wasn’t given to either of them in the end. It was later discovered the committee had actually approached Edison on a joint Nobel prize, but he had turned them down refusing to share the prize with Tesla. By that time Edison’s fame was much more secure than Tesla's, thus he thought it was smarter to refuse the honor than allow his rival the attention that would’ve come from sharing the prize.
The above quote illustrates half the celebrities that ever existed. In the time we live now it has become much easier to become a minor, or major “celebrity”. Understand, the majority of celebrities are forgotten from mainstream relevancy within a number of years as their five minutes of fame is extinguished and the public finally see the lack of true substance and value they hold. In the mean time, the people move on to the next shiny thing with their short attention spans, and the cycle continues. Understand the game of attention requires vigilance and creativity and those who make it through to ‘legend’ status possess a unique set of characteristics that is perfect for the time their living in.
Pablo Picasso never allowed himself to fade into the background. Once he knew his name was becoming too attached to a particular style, he deliberately upset the public with a new series of paintings that went against all expectations. Better to create something ugly and disturbing he believed, than let viewers grow too familiar with his work.
Great examples of this idea can be seen within the music industry. Kanye West is an accurate modern day example of this. His sixth solo studio album Yeezus was widely controversial due in part to the aggressive sonic experimentation, resulting in many hating it, and many loving it.
Yeezus sounded completely different to nearly anything made within music in the 21st century. Additionally, it sounded completely different from anything he had ever made. Regardless of what your think of his music, he courts attention through it every single time it is released. Notice many people who don’t even like Kanye West were, and still are, talking about him more often than artists they like. West has been intelligently courting attention with his polarizing unapologetic character and music for the last decade to drive millions of music sales and break dozens of records.
Understand: People feel superior to the person whose actions they can predict. If you show them who is in control by playing against their expectations, you both gain their respect and tighten your hold on their fleeting attention.
This idea intertwines with Law 3: Conceal Your Intentions. To reiterate, people feel superior to a person whose actions they can predict. If you conceal your intentions and you say less than necessary (law 4), then you become more mysterious and less predictable. You take back a control over your reputation and you court attention. Notice the fluency by which these laws interact with each other.
Part II: Create An Air Of Mystery
“In a world growing increasingly banal and familiar, what seems enigmatic instantly draws attention. Never make it too clear what you are doing or about to do. Do not show all your cards. An air of mystery heightens your presence; it also creates anticipation — everyone will be watching you to see what happens next. Use mystery to beguile, seduce, even frighten.”
Observance Of The Law
About 100 years ago in 1905, there was a rumor that spread throughout Paris of a young Oriental girl that danced in private homes. She was very exotic; she wrapped herself in vails, would dance seductively for people, and was from another country. A local journalist had seen her dancing and reported a woman from the far east had come to Europe, laden in perfume and jewels; to introduce some of the richness of oriental color and life into the satire society of European cities. Soon everyone knew the dances name: Mata Hari.
Mata Hari would only perform for very small select private audiences. She wore alluring cloths covered in jewels, she danced in a way that was a seductive and trance like. She told her audiences that her dances were based on stories on Indian mythology and Javanese folktales.
Everybody wanted to know more about her. She told journalists she was Dutch, but had grown up in Java. She boasted about her time spent in India learning sacred exotic dances. Few people had actually seen her dance, but everyone knew who she was.
As a result, people started conjuring up all types of exotic alluring images of her. They even compared her to the likes of an Indian goddess. Whatever they’re imagination wanted to see in this mysterious woman, it saw. She later performed for the first time in public. At this point she had become a kind of cult-like figure even spawning imitations. Soon enough, her dances spread beyond Paris as she was invited to Berlin, Vienna and Milan. Over the next few years she had performed all over Europe. She earned an income like no other for someone her age and gender. A sudden turn of event’s soon swept Mati Hari from underneath her: near the end of World War 1 she was arrested in France, tried, convicted, and executed as a German spy.
Only during the trial did the truth reveal itself. Mata Hari wasn’t from Java. She hadn’t grown up in the Orient, she did not have a drop of eastern blood in her. Her real name was Margaretha Zelle, and she came from Holland. That is all she was, but the question remains, how did she come about this sudden fame and wealth?
Margaretha learnt to dance while she was traveling with her family in Java, she studied and mimicked their behaviors. Margaretha wasn’t unlike many of thousands of beautiful girls who landed in Paris every year, but, she was ambitious and she wanted to create something unique for herself, so she did. What attracted the public’s attention and made her famous and wealthy was her mystery.
Margaretha’s mistake was going public with her performances, she took her lie too far and courted too much attention, to many thousands of people knew her name. She seemed to abuse her power and mystery and placed herself in vulnerable situations that eventually got her caught and executed. She wasn’t actually a spy, regardless that’s the story they conjured from her own fake story.
Keys To Power
“That is the power of the mysterious: It invites layers of interpretation, excites our imagination, seduces us into believing that it conceals something marvelous. The world has become so familiar and its inhabitants so predictable that what wraps itself in mystery will almost always draw the limelight to it and make us watch it.”
“Do not imagine that to create an air of mystery you have to be grand and awe-inspiring. Mystery that is woven into your day-to-day demeanor, and is subtle, has that much more power to fascinate and attract attention.”
Why do some appear to attract this ‘mysterious’ demeanor and others don’t?
By utilizing a more stoic serious poise your put yourself in a position to appear mysterious due to the lack of haphazard emotion displayed. Not only do you seem in control, but you appear like an enigma. The more your peers appear the opposite, the more unique you seem. It’s harder to guess someone’s intentions or next moves when they are not giving off many emotions. Human being’s are emotional creatures, and to appear the opposite of the norm, creates a kind of illusion of difference that causes curiosity.
“Remember: Most people are upfront, can be read like an open book, take little care to control their words or image, and are hopelessly predictable. By simply holding back, keeping silent, occasionally uttering ambiguous phrases, deliberately appearing inconsistent, and acting odd in the subtlest of ways, you will emanate an aura of mystery. The people around you will then magnify that aura by constantly trying to interpret you.”
However, there are many in certain social or professional positions that cannot execute this due to environmental parameters that prevent them from completely wrapping their actions in mystery.
The essence of this is being strategically random with your behavior. Being random with a purpose. Some may say, well doesn’t that mean it’s not random anymore? The purpose is to give the illusion of randomness under the pretense of strategy and awareness.
“In the beginning of your rise to the top, you must attract attention at all cost, but as you rise higher you must constantly adapt. An air of mystery works wonders for those who need to develop an aura of power and get themselves noticed, but it must seem measured and under control. Mata Hari went too far with her fabrications; although the accusation that she was a spy was false, at the time it was a reasonable presumption because all her lies made her seem suspicious and nefarious. Do not let your air of mystery be slowly transformed into a reputation for deceit. The mystery you create must seem a game, playful and nonthreatening. Recognize when it goes too far, and pull back.”
“The attention you attract must never offend or challenge the reputation of those above you — not, at any rate, if they are secure. You will seem not only paltry but desperate by comparison.”
Notice this statement relates to the very first law of the book: Never Outshine The Master.