The Red Queen Effect: Venus in AriesMarch 9, 2010
May 31-June 6: You Can Call Me SenseiMay 31, 2010
World domination is not achieved by accident. You need a master plan. Fortunately, I have prepared a brief epistle concerning the tactics most natural to each of the zodiacal tribes.
The following is a collection of tactics and strategies ranging from those used in individual combat to those used by a society to control its members.
“In emptiness there is good but no evil. Wisdom exists, logic exists, the Way exists, mind is empty…not knowing the laws of warriors is not emptiness, being confused, one may call a state of helplessness emptiness, but this is not real emptiness…”
-Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings
The strategy of Aries is to enter into conflict without warning or hesitation and to resolve it before a pattern emerges. The opponent is not allowed to do anything but defend until combat is complete. In the Fire Scroll of the Book of 5 Rings, Miyamoto Musashi writes on stomping down an opponent’s attack as he executes it. This means not to allow any further attacks, and to keep attacking unceasingly until the opponent is defeated. One does not permit a combat in which there is an equal and drawn out exchange of blows. Musashi writes: “Stomping is not only done with the feet. You should learn to stomp with your body, stomp with you mind, and of course, to stomp with your sword.” This echoes Robert Greene’s 28th Law Of Power: Enter Action With Boldness.
Taurus is associated with constancy of being, but a situation in which there is an opponent implies movement. Constancy of movement is called rhythm, and rhythm is important in all things. As Miyamoto Musashi writes in the Earth Scroll of the Book of 5 Rings, “The way to win at battle according to military science is to know the rhythms of specific opponents, and use rhythms that the opponents do not expect.” By understanding the fixedness of the opponent on a certain rhythm, or pattern of rhythms, one can choose a rhythm which cuts through the empty places in theirs. By knowing pattern, one can insert a counter pattern in order to achieve victory. One who is insistent on charging can be tripped, while one who is insistent on backing up can be pushed into a corner. It is through understanding the rhythms of the bull that the matador is not slain.
With Gemini it is inevitable that the strategy hinge upon division. The division is between the true and the false. The real strength and real vulnerabilities are concealed while decoy strengths and vulnerabilities are presented. For example, an attack is launched which does not contain one’s real strength. In going to meet it, the opponent does not engage with the true threat, and is therefore vulnerable to the strength which has been concealed. In individual contests, this is a feint, which is followed by a planned counter-attack. In large scale conflicts, this is a method for flanking an opponent, or pinching their forces between your own, like a vise. It is expected that if one understands this, then one will not be easily fooled by others who utilize this strategy. The division between the true and false also suggests concealing hurts received, and treating enemies as friends.
Cancer’s strategy is not taken from the military history. No, Cancer’s strategy comes to us from the works of the 20th century cultural observer Michel Foucault. His concern was not the employment of weapons on the battlefield, but the knots of power by which a society binds its constituents. He studied the methods by which the State regulated its dissidents. Foucault compiled studies of these strategies, not for the use of rulers, but for residents, so that they might recognize and resist these state-directed rivers of power. One of his most influential ideas is his study of the “Panopticon,” a metaphor derived from a 19th century prison design. The prison was shaped like a tire, with the cells on the inside of the tire. In the center of the tire was an observation tower. From the observation tower, it was possible to look inside any of the cells. While the cells had only bars between themselves and the on-looker, the observation tower had tinted glass, making it possible for those inside to observe, but not be observed. Thus the prisoners never knew when they were actually being watched- they only knew that any point they COULD be watched. Thus all of the rules the prison were constantly on the prisoner’s mind. Foucault argued that this type of power was increasingly typical of contemporary society. We don’t know if the gubment has been reading our email, we only know it can.
In his Book of 5 Rings, Miyamoto Musashi writes, “Crushing requires a crushing mood. As when you view an opponent as weak and become strong yourself, thus overwhelming your adversary.” Little describes the state of the Leo in war better. Victory may be gained by careful strategy, and proves the abler strategist, but to utterly crush the opponent presents a proof to the world regarding whose right is divine. Crushing is a greater degree of victory that humiliates the opponent. It demonstrates that the opponent was foolish to even engage, thus ensuring the propagation of one’s legend and the destruction of the opponent’s. As Musashi suggests, crushing requires a certain state of mind. One must see oneself as singularly capable of utterly devastating the opponent. To convince the opponent of this reality is to ensure victory. However, if one’s force is not sufficient to the task, conviction wavers, and the opponent is unconvinced, the “crush” can backfire on the “crusher”, resulting in a loss of morale as well as an enfeebled position. More can be learned through an examination of Robert Greene’s 15th Law of Power “Crush Your Enemy Totally.”
Virgo’s strategy is to inhibit the useful in the opponent while allowing them ample freedom to fail. In the Book of 5 Rings, Miyamoto Musashi writes about “Holding Down the Pillow.” This is the strategy of Virgo. One perceives the opponent’s intention to act, and then inhibits the action. As Musashi puts it, you “inhibit an opponent’s cut from the letter c.” All useful actions are inhibited in this manner, while all actions not leading to any advantage are allowed, even encouraged. Thus the opponent is led to a place of impotence. Impotence breeds frustration, which increases impotence, and leading desperation. The desperate have lost.
When dealing with an opponent, be it an army, an asshole at a party, or your super-villain arch nemesis, timing is everything. To be able to anticipate an attack is to be able to defeat it. Libra is intensely aware of this. Thus it is not Libra’s strategic nature to attack first. Libra would rather the opponent expose themselves first. Ever so much better if the opponent’s attack is hurried, sloppy, and imprecise. One’s counter attack is sure to be devastating. This is where the taunt comes in. Libra’s strategy is to entice the opponent into attacking prematurely. The insult/taunt and the seduction/lure are the two methods used to do this. The insult/taunt unbalances the opponent in the direction of anger in order to cause them to advance. The seduction/lure dangles irresistible bait before an opponent, unbalancing the mind with the promise of pleasure and causing them to advance prematurely. Both the boxer who intentionally leaves a body part unprotected, and a woman deploying her assets strategically are examples of this strategy. The hasty attack is then countered brutally.
When we deal with Scorpio, it is difficult to isolate a single strategy. The waters of Scorpio are inevitably clogged with a thousand maneuvers, but many of them can be boiled down to the right use of fear. Niccolo Machiavelli is famed for the statement that it is better for a ruler to feared than loved (even though that’s not exactly what he said…). Scorpio knows and believes this. Establishing the capability for awful retaliatory violence, whether emotionally, physically, or mentally, the Scorpio is able to walk confidently, knowing that none dare risk their wrath. By establishing the capacity for vengeance and then concealing their position, fear eats at the minds of potential opponents. Not knowing what will trigger the outburst of violence, all tread carefully. This can be likened to a sniper in a concealed position or the threat of assassination. Fear paralyzes opponents and causes them to second guess their actions. It should be noted that this is the primary tool of the terrorist.
The strategy for Sagittarius, declaring a holy war, has many advantages. It forces those who have concealed their loyalties to reveal their positions or to side with you out of fear, thereby either cowing or defining you opponents. By polarizing the conflict between you and the declared opponent, you appear to be “Right” while they are “Wrong.” By identifying “Right” with your interests, and “Wrong” with their interests, it is impossible for you to appear wrong, and impossible for the opponent to appear correct. Confused by the complexities of ethics, many people are happy to place these difficult questions into the hands of others. People flock to someone who will define and then defend a moral code for them. The one declaring the crusade also benefits from appearing to be the most moral- according to the definition used to start the crusade! In addition, as people lose interest in the crusade, they find that it is not easy to leave, because by leaving a crusading group, you become the enemy- thus- a traitor.
Capricorn, whether its natives accept it or not, is the motherland of strategy, and thus its strategy is the mother of strategies. The name of that strategy is to attack from a superior position, utilizing the advantages of that position to defeat the opponent. But what is superior position? With terrain, it may be higher ground. In an argument, it may be a position backed by authority. But these are all simple examples. What makes a position superior is one’s understanding and use of it. The king who does not understand how to use his position is in an inferior position to the slave who knows the hidden advantages of his perfectly. Thus to understand the setting of the theatre of battle, to choose the best position, and to use the advantages of that position are the proper way. Knowledge of the weaknesses of the opponent’s position is the counterpart of this understanding. When an army is in a forest, they may be burned out. When they travel through a marsh and movement is inhibited, one’s archers should attack. Each position has advantages and disadvantages. The knowledge of this leads to victory. Though he plays the clown, many movies starring Jackie Chan work with this principle. By superior understanding of the environment, the “weaker” one prevails.
Aquarius is concerned not merely with ideas, but with the significance of ideas at a given time. The inventor and the genius are those who understand when an idea’s time has come. The same applies in strategy. In the Art of War, Sun Tzu writes about the orthodox and the unorthodox . One approaches in an orthodox manner, and yet, “The one who excels at sending forth the unorthodox is as inexhaustible as Heaven.” This refers to the understanding of when and why to deviate from the normal and safe in order to achieve victory. It is dangerous to experiment with new equipment or strategy when stakes are high, but it is the completely unfamiliar yet appropriate that circumvents all existing knowledge an opponent may have. The significance of the innovation to the moment is the key to the proper use of the unorthodox, and may be what many call genius.
As with the other Water Signs (Cancer, Scorpio), Pisces’ strategy is primarily based in understanding and manipulating the psychology of the opponent. While Cancer utilizes the threat of an omnipresent parental awareness to unbalance the mind, and Scorpio the fear caused by sudden and terrible violence, Pisces finds its strategy in the beliefs of its opponents. Pisces is concerned with the manipulation of the opponent’s interpretation of events, the control of meaning. Pisces utilizes the beliefs of the opponents to psychologically maneuver them into a place where they are defeated. To do so, Pisces utilizes the cultural meanings that facts have taken on. For example, the Moon was the symbol of the Persian Empire at the time of Alexander the Great. During a battle when Alexander fought the Persians, there was an eclipse of the Moon. This fact- the physical eclipse of the Moon- was interpreted to mean that the Persians would be eclipsed by the armies of Macedonia. This boosted Alexander’s morale and depressed the Persians. To capture an opponent’s flag is not victory, but it is a symbol of victory which goes on to create the actual victory it only symbolizes. By understanding how people interpret events, events can be construed as natural proofs of one’s victory. This strategy of language and interpretation may be studied extensively in the works of Roland’s Barthes’ “Mythologies.” Successfully “Mythologizing” one’s victory provides an excellent segue into “Crushing” -see Leo.