Wednesday, May 15, 2013

the power of mystery~

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I read The Art of Seduction and 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene. Before anyone laughs, my brother bought the books and I don’t take them seriously. I find them funny in its pseudo-strategic advice on how to manipulate people to bend to your will. These 'concise' editions were expensive, and I think Greene's real goal is to seduce you to buy his book. It can make a reader paranoid, thinking that there are meanings to even the smallest and most innocent things people do.

Art of Seduction made one intriguing point: the mysterious is seductive. The more unknown or elusive someone or something is, the more it will stay on the mind of the victim. One of the book's tips is make sure your target doesn't know too much about your life, because they will tend to build a grander version of you in their imagination.

I'm not thinking of applying that to anything...

But, what made me think this is correct wasn't a situation where people seduced each other. It was when I was watching a kid's trivia show on local TV, Kap's Amazing Stories. Let's take a look at the corpse of this unknown Thing washed ashore Montauk, New York in 2008:
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dubbed the 'Montauk Monster'

The whole commercial break, my mind was playing with possibilities. The place was near Plum Island Animal Disease Center, a highly-secured government research facility. Was it a mutant, an experiment gone wrong? A new species? Something else? Aliens?

Then, the show came back with the answer. It was only a dead raccoon.
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Now that you know it, it isn’t that exciting anymore. My imagination was creating horrors for itself, but abruptly stopped when shown the mundane truth. Lame. That’s probably why it became so controversial because of fear about what it might be, which was still unknown and a mystery.

Mystery doesn’t always invoke desire but also horror. There are horror stories that “doesn’t show the monster” and the scare is only hinted at and suggested, but I’m more horrified by what I imagine even if there’s nothing scary shown on screen.

An example: The murder of Elizabeth Short in 1947, known as the Black Dahlia, captured the imagination of people for a long time because until now it remains unsolved. Here's a passage from The Drowning Girl by Caitlín R. Kiernan which illustrates it nicely (I happen to mention this author a lot, obviously one of my favorites):
"It isn’t the known we fear most. The known, no matter how perilous to life and limb, is something we can wrap our brains around. We can always respond to the known. We can draw plans against it. We can recover from its assaults. So simple a thing as a bullet might suffice. But the unknown, it slips through our fingers, as insubstantial as fog."
 - - - - - 
Back to those books by Greene, which are entertaining but too Machiavellian. One can’t keep up an illusion of mystery for very long. I’d rather have sincerity and truth rather than subtle manipulations and mind games. That probably makes my mindset innocent, but the books contradict so much of what I already believe in. Well, I won’t let a book manipulate me out of virtue and values. 

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