Human beings are creatures of habit. A habit that consists of an insatiable need to see familiarity in other people’s actions. Predictability gives one a sense of control. However, the more you are seen and heard from, the more common you appear, devaluing the aura that emits a glow of respect. A task we all face is finding the balance.
Everything in this the world depends on absence and presence. A strong presence will draw in power and attention – illuminating brighter than others around you. You become a routine for others to see as your value advances exponentially. Nevertheless, as you try to fill the cup to the brim, reaching the equilibrium, a point will inevitably occur when it overflows. Too much presence creates an opposite effect as the more you are seen your value will inevitably degrade. You become a predictable habit; no matter how hard you try to be different, subtly, the mystery subsides, and people respect you less and less.
The truth in this thought is clearly evident in love and seduction. In the opening stages of an affair, a lover’s absence stimulates imagination, forming an aura around him or her. At the right moment though you must learn to withdraw yourself before they unconsciously push you away. Too much and the mystery and attractable nature fades. Your imagination begins to constrict; no longer free to roam.
It is why the seventeenth century French Courtesan Ninon de Lenclos advised constant feints at the withdrawal with one’s lover. ‘love never dies of starvation but often indigestion’ and why Napolean recognised the law of presence and absence when he said, ‘If I am at the theatre then people will cease to notice me.’
The following extract is from Robert Greens 48 laws of power:
Sir Guillaume de Balaun was a troudabour who roamed the south of France in the middle ages, going from castle to castle, reciting poetry and playing the night. At the castle of Javiac he met and fell in love with the lady of the house, Madame Guillelma de Javiac. He sang her songs, recited her poetry, played chess and little by little she fell under her spell, deeply in love.
Guillaume had a friend, sir Pierre De Barjac who travelled with them and was also received at the castle. He too fell in love with a lady in Javiac, named Viernetta.
One day though, Pierre and Viernetta had a quarrel. The lady dismissed him away and so Pierre asked Guillaume to help heal the breach and get him back to her good graces. Guillaume worked his magic and Pierre and Viernetta were reunited once more. Pierre felt that his love had increased tenfold, that there was no stronger love infact than the love that follows reconciliation. The stronger and longer the disagreement, the sweeter the feeling of peace and rapprochement.
On hearing his friend talk, he too wanted to know the bliss of reconciliation after an argument. He, therefore, feigned great anger with lady Guillelma, stopped sending her love letters, and abruptly left the castle, staying away from festivals and hunts; driving the young lady wild.
Guillelma sent messengers to him to find out what happened but he turned them away. He thought this would make her angry, forcing him to plead for reconciliation as Pierre had done. Instead, however, his absence had the opposite effect: It made Guillelma love him all the more. Now the lady pursued her knight, sending messages of her own, this was almost absurd as a lady never pursued her troudabour.
After hearing Guillaume had returned, she rushed to see him, knelt before him, dropped her vale and begged for his forgiveness. Imagine his confusion and despair at his plan failing abysmally. She was not angry, never angry, just deeper in love.
Trying to discover the joys of reconciliation, Guillaume inadvertently experienced the law of absence and presence. At the start of an affair, you need to heighten your presence in the eyes of the other. If you absent too early, you may be forgotten. But once your lovers’ emotions are engaged, and the feeling has crystalized, absence flames and excites even more. The other person assumes he or she is at fault. While you are away, the lover imagination takes flight, and a stimulated imagination cannot help but make love grow stronger. Conversely, the more Guillelma pursued Guillaume, the less he loved her – became too present, accessible, leaving no room for his imagination and fancy, so that his feelings became suffocated. When she finally stopped sending messengers, was able to breathe again.
Withdrawal and scarcity seem to ignite respect and honour. What stays too long, inundating us with its presence, makes us disdain it.
Another example is the law of scarcity in the science of economics. By withdrawing something from the market, you create instant value. In seventeenth century Holland, the upper class wanted to make the tulip more than just a beautiful flower – a status symbol. Making the flower scarce, indeed impossible to obtain, they sparked what was called tulipomania. A single flower worth more than in Gold. In our time, making paintings scarce and rare. Joseph Duveen, the 20th century art dealer, insisted on hiding his paintings – to keep prices elevated and states high he bought up whole collections and stored them. Paintings that were sold became fetish objects and the value increased by rarity. “you can get all the pictures you want at fifty thousand a piece – but to get pictures at a quarter million apiece.”
Today in a world inundated with presence through the flood of images, infinite amount of opinions and constant updates, the game of withdrawal is more powerful. We rarely know when to withdraw anymore, and nothing seems private, so we are awed by anyone who is able to disappear by choice. It is most likely why we value the presence of musicians and actors, who fulfil are auditory desires with a tour before setting off into the sunset not to be heard of for some time.
The moment you allow yourself to be treated like anyone else – you are swallowed and digested. You must starve other person of your presence, force their respect by threatening them with absence. By withdrawing certain knowledge from the common frame, mysterious as it is, when it returns there will be an air of resurrection will cling to you and others will be relieved.
Just like the daunting winter months that we are currently experiencing will be relieved when spring finally appears. The sun. it can only be appreciated by its absence. The longer the days of rain, the more the sun is craved. But too many hot days and the sun overwhelms. Learn to keep yourself obscure and make people demand your return.
Written by George Dodd