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Balthasar Gracián

I will follow Balthasar’s advice, in one matter only—and be brief. For a while, I followed Balthasar Gracián’s The Art of Worldy Wisdom—and, I can tell you, it works. It really does—his advice is excellent; and you’ll find it on “masculine self-improvement sites” (complete with men wearing stylised moustaches and lifting dumbbells).

Yes, I followed Balthasar for a while—but then I stopped. Why? Because Balthasar will teach you to be a phoney—he’ll teach you to be a “lukewarm” person, so disdained by Dante (the most damned of all—those who neither get into hell or heaven). Balthasar will teach you to be the perfect courtier—how to never offend and never flatter, just to be tepid and so “liked by all but never envied”. Exquisite.

What do you give up in exchange? To be authentic, to tell the truth, to be real. If you follow Balthasar you’ll be the perfect corporate flunky, the perfect politician or middle-ranked bureaucrat. You’ll have many “friends” but you’ll be dead inside because it’s all an illusion—it will never be real.

That’s why Gracián is promoted today, along with the Stoics—the Stoics are promoted because they were democrats and proto-Christians who opposed slavery and taught people to “eat glass and say they liked it”; the aristocratic Epicureans, by contrast, are not promoted because they taught to retreat from negative events and people—be exclusive and elitist.

Similarly, Gracián is great training to live in a “woke” world where you are exquisitely careful not to offend or flatter anybody—as he said, “So important is it to sail with the stream [of public opinion].” A flawless democrat.

He was a Jesuit—what is a Jesuit? A liar. Live by Gracián’s ethic and you will live a life mired in lies.


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