power

machiavelli.jpg

I thought about Il Principe just last night when some kid, who I recognized as
one of the juvenile street rats who always asks me to buy him weed outside
the coffeeshop near my house —which I never do, to just piss him off—, came
biking towards me (I was making an hour walk home, from my friend Bas’
place on the exact opposite side of town) and asked me if I had a cigarette.
I did, so I gave him one. Remaining both my cool and my attention. The boy,
who must have been seventeen years old or so, kind of gave me a thuggy look
and asked what I was up to. I told him I soon was going to sleep and tried
some jedi mind tricks on the kid, by sending out a sort of untouchable vibe
at his ass. I asked him if he needed a light and smiled Dirty Harry like at the
poor sonofabitch. He said nay, and that he needed that smoke for a joint he
was planning to make. Alright, I said, I’m off then. But then that kid wanted to
know where I lived, so I told him what street I live in. ‘Oh yeah?’, he answered,
‘I live on this and that street’ (a street close to mine). ‘that’s cool’, I replied
as I turned and started walking away, thumbing the guy goodbye and leaving
him with his smoke. ‘Hey, watch out! There’s a lot of rippers out there!’ the
kid shouted after me, ‘I’m one too, but since we’re both from Crooswijk I let
you go…’ (the part of town I live in is called Crooswijk, which means something
like ‘WaterPlant Hood’). I waved him bye without looking back (sometimes you
walk and don’t look back, someone had told me earlier).

Anyway, I walked home smiling at first and realized only later what happened
exactly. This was also the instant my body realized what had just happened and
it reacted to that knowledge by shaking somewhat. I couldn’t help but thinking
of all this having something to do with Machiavelli explaining on how to be ‘a
feared ruler’, me coincidentally reading that thing this week and that kid being
maybe a little ‘on edge’ and nervous.

‘Il Principe’ is a pretty weird book. It’s a philosophical exertion on power as well
as a sort of manual for them who have lots of it and would hate losing it. From
the back cover I understand both Napoleon and Stalin pretty much think Niccolò
Machiavelli was the man. Especially when you take to heart that he wrote this
thing around the year 1520 or so, it’s only stunning to read how little the face
and ways of power and the (ab)use of it have changed over the years.

If you have a hard time dealing with ‘important people’ in your school, at work
or if you’re suffering from the powerplay your spouse has layed all over you,
perhaps this is the time for you to really comprehend the concept of power in
all its forms. It does take a little time to really get into it, but if you’re dutch (and
I guess most of you are) try and get a hold of Frans van Dooren’s translation,
it comes w/ a nice historical introduction he wrote for all us suckers who knew
only too little on the internal Italian situation at the time (the DeMedici situation),
the Renaissance and the influence it had outside the contemporary art world,
foreign situations and more insights on 16th century conciousness.

Besides, even if you decide to skip the intro (like I usually do), you don’t really
need all that info to comprehend either political science or the meaning of the
book. It does help a little, though.

2 Comments

  1. Prbrn
    Posted March 23, 2005 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Ja en ik kwam dus niet uit Brooklyn dus ben ik wel geripped.

  2. nicodepico
    Posted April 6, 2005 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    uhmm. interessant. wil het graag een keer lezen. kijken of mijn ‘verklaring van de wereld’ – natuur vs cultuur / objectivering vs beheersing – ook hier weer bevestigd dan wel desillusinerend onder uit gehaald wordt . . .

    moet trouwens ook nog eens terug komen of de overeenkomst tussen (de)constructie en (de)structie (http://www.humobisten.nl/weblog/archives/000174.html), want daar had / heb ik natuurlijk wel een antwoord op … maar nam de tijd niet deze te formuleren.
    maar niet nu dus.

    cheers, mate.