Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Law 16: Use Absence to Increase Honor and Respect

When a person dies, only good things are told of him. No funeral is complete without a eulogy in praise of one’s achievements in life. One however, does not have to wait for that day to enjoy the adulation of others. One only has to know the truth of law of absence and presence and skillfully employ it.

The sixteenth Law of Power emphasizes the use of absence to increase respect and honor. When a person has become too present, feelings of suffocation may arise, as in a relationship. Constantly being around stifles the imagination and excitement—there is no room to grow, nothing new to look forward to. Your loved one knowing everything about you early in the relationship might not be something to be happy about. What do you think? If so, how should one go about a relationship then?

This law also states that value can be created through scarcity. A rare jewel is priceless because of the fact that it is difficult to obtain. It’s the same with people. When one is constantly around, he becomes common, even something to resent.

However, one does not create absence at just anytime. This law can only be successfully realized when one’s presence has already been established. After all, you can’t miss something you don’t even know about, right? Deioces of Medea had realized this by first making a name for himself as an honorable, wise and just judge. It was at the height of his power that he completely withdrew from the justice scene. He made himself scarce, and because his skills were suddenly no longer available to people, they came begging for his rule. Had he withdrawn himself sooner, he would have only been forgotten, even resented. But what happens after that? What ways can you think of to keep interest or respect after the whole disappearing act?

There is an art of knowing when to retire. Observance of this law is like creating a kind of death before death and a kind of resurrection upon return. Establish your presence then, to avoid becoming someone common or taken for granted, know when to withdraw.
Yay, or nay? What are your thoughts? :D

<3 Patty Geollegue


trixie said...

Yay! Haha. Patty G.! :D
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, is it? I agree. Usually, it's when something is gone that we realize how important it is. I also agree that timing is important here. (makes me think of law 35. :D)Knowing precisely when to disappear is an important factor for the law to work.

Trixie Cruz
His18 - O

Kiara Lagrisola said...

Nay. I don't believe in the "pa-importante" attitude of some people, that they want to NOT always be there in the so-called scene or arena where other people are spectators of their next action or whatsoever. If one really aspires to have others' respect for him increased, consistency is key; if he should do things, he need not choose when or how often he has to do them.

- Kiara Lagrisola, Hi 18 O

patricia said...

To Trixie:

Wow! Haha. Didn't know you were in the other class! Cool.

Anyway, that's exactly what this law is about. Knowing when to leave is the crucial part here. Without it, as I have said, you're either just forgotten or resented. I imagine that getting the timing just right is something difficult to accomplish without a lot of planning and really good skills. This is most probably why Robert Greene had mentioned that there is an art to withdrawal. :D

Patty Geollegue

patricia said...

To Kiara:

Hmm. You're right to think that consistency is one key, I too don't like the "pa-importante" attitude, but I don't really think that's what this law is trying to convey. It's not that you're never there or that you only choose when you do things or how often you do things (like when they're convenient for you or something like that). That's just irresponsibility. What this law is trying to say is that a person who is always around becomes common. We take them for granted. These kind of people aren't exactly what we see as powerful or worthy of much respect, right? I mean they're just like everybody...Why bother?

Observance of this law prevents that from happening. It's not something you can do just when you want to. This has to be carefully planned, like a one-time-big-time thing. A get-the-timing-just-right kind of thing, you know? You can't keep repeating it because it won't work. The effect it will have will be dampened--cheapened. When executed properly (after establishing your presence real good and all that), resentment and thoughts like "pa-importante naman 'to, ang kapal niya" will be far from one's mind.:D

Still think it's a nay? Let me know! :D

Patty Geollegue

Alfonso said...

I agree with using absence as a tool to build honor and respect. Using it to show people what happens when you are not around will make them respect you more. An example of this is when Ivan the Terrible fled Moscow and left the people to defend for themselves. The people wanted Ivan back and got what he wanted: absolute control over Russia. By showing people what happens in your absence, you are showing them how important you really are.

However, use this only if you think what you are doing is really beneficial. If you become absent and ironically, things actually become better, you are just showing how worthless you are.

Dexter Tanengsy said...

I like how Patty wrote this:

"There is an art of knowing when to retire. Observance of this law is like creating a kind of death before death and a kind of resurrection upon return."

I do agree. One must first establish himself a long lasting image then withdraw. Again, too much of something would be boring so take a vacation, relax, chill then after some time, return and reap riches.

Dexter Tanengsy, Hi18-N

Miguel Rojas said...

In Economics, this is the law of diminishing marginal utility; when you have too much of something, the tendency is you grow tired of it.

I agree with this law, especially because people really 'miss' you when you're gone, and they will realize what your real value is to them. Diba there's a Counting Crows song called Big Yellow Taxi? I guess the main line there is "You never know what you have 'till it's gone". Well, I think that's the underlying thing to this law. :D

Miguel Rojas

Jedd Emille Chua said...

When you're not in the presence of people, you would appear special, iconic, and powerful, a person beyond space and time, an immortal-- If this is the case, then I shoul agree.
But for now, as Miguel had stated about the diminishing returns, absence will no longer make you be above. Instead, it is more prone to conspiracy, backstabbing, and chaos. Remember Thaksin of Thailand? When he left Thailand, suddenly, his enemies take over his place. For me, when someone's alive, being absent doesn't raise you up, but puts you down. It is a different case when you're dead: THEY CAN'T BACKSTAB YOU!
-Jedd Emille Chua
Hi 18 O

Marcy Leonora V. Pilar said...

As human beings, we can't perpetually be consistent (I think we've all experienced this in terms of our academic performance) - this is why absence comes in handy sometimes. It allocates us some time to improve ourselves, and at the same time it gives us a venue for escape whenever we feel that we are about to decline.
Have you ever heard of those visual perception exercises where you're supposed to spot this certain detail in a picture (which happens to perfectly blend in with the background)? I find these details similar to the concept of this law in that it fosters outstanding presence in “absence”. The detail primarily appears absent but, upon giving the picture more focus, its overwhelming image slowly begins to surface. This detail, with its "unorthodoxy" and seemingly perfect "absence", is what truly makes the picture special.
When you use absence to increase honor and respect, you don't really become absent in the first place (given that you’ve already established yourself in that “picture”). You become that certain detail which we all know shouldn't be missed.

mariel said...

This law reminds me of what Harvey Dent said in the movie The Dark Knight:

“You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

This statement can actually be linked to this law, which emphasizes the need to create this “absence” that will make any person honorable and valuable. A person should be able to tell when he is at the highest point of his career, for example, and know when to retire before he will eventually be removed from the position. Or a company, for instance, should know when they are at their peak, at the stage of maturation wherein decline will surely follow. Most successful companies are able to predict that, and leave the market before things turn ugly.

And just like any good performance, there will always be an encore. But the trick is to keep the show short, limit the singer’s performance, and keep the audience screaming and cheering for the singer to return.

The trick is this: “Know when to go, and always keep them wanting more.”

Marian Janelle C. Aliwalas
HI 18 N

patricia said...

To Miguel:

Good job at bringing up economics and diminishing marginal utility! I had only mentioned this briefly in my entry so allow me to elaborate further.

Think of anything of value. Gold? Diamonds? What is it exactly that makes them so valuable? You can give all sorts of characteristics or reasons, but it all boils down to this: it's not easily found, or obtained. If diamonds could be found in just any rock, do you think people would be so keen on buying it for thousands when they could just grab some from their own backyard?

Remember the purple dye Phoenicians extracted from shells? Phoenician trade was basically founded on this Tyrian Purple dye. In ancient times it was considered rare and valuable; only monarchs and nobles/the upperclass could afford to buy and use it for their clothing. Fourth-century BC historian Theopompus reported, "Purple for dyes fetched its weight in silver at Colophon" in Asia Minor. Phoenicians managed to achieve such prosperity because of this.

But now that technology has made production easy; now that purple dye is available for all, it lost the value it once had. I mean you wouldn't pay silver for purple dye, would you? So yeah. Create value through scarcity. :D

Patty Geollegue

patricia said...

To Jedd:

I don't think Thaksin's absence from Thailand counts as an observance of this law. Why? What was his reason for leaving in the first place?

He attended a United Nations General Assembly meeting.

The absence referred to in this law isn't just some sudden disappearance. It's a calculated move--a disappearance planned and well thought out.

Next. Had he achieved the requirement/prerequisite of this law which is to establish one's presence (a positive one, obviously)?

At that time (2006), Thailand was split between his supporters and detractors. He had ENEMIES.

You don't just up and leave when you've got people scheming behind your back. That's like begging for something to go wrong.

This leads us to the next point: Was the timing done right?

As I had mentioned, leaving at the height of protests against his regime is BAD TIMING.

Timing, in this law, is EVERYTHING.

So you see, his absence is actually a kind of transgression of the sixteenth law of power. If respect and honor is lost or not established prior to one's disappearance, absence would only be counterproductive, and instead of improving your position, you increase the chance of losing it for good, as demonstrated by the 2006 Thai Coup.

Patty Geollegue
Hi18 N

krizia said...

In my English 101 class, we took up this essay about the concept of the panopticon.

The original, traditional understanding of the panopticon is that of a thinner tower inside a wider tower. Between the main tower and the outer tower that engulfs it, there is sort of like a space such that people of the outer tower, when looking inward, would see the inner tower across.

The inner tower has windows, too, but is covered with a reflective glass, such that those in the outer tower (usually criminals and convicts) will not know if they were being watched or not. The people in the outer tower, however, were not in individual cells. They were free to roam around the space they were provided (the space between the walls of the towers).

The effect was that the convicts were so behaved, because they never knew when there really was an observer or guard, and when there wasn't any. In this case, the authorities kind of both emphasized and masked their absence.

Maybe Law 16 can also be used in this context - that the absence of a leader or an authority can actually establish a self-imposed kind of discipline, so long as it has been established that there is a leader or an authoritative figure at all. Of course, this would only work if some commendable reputation precedes you.

Krizia Cureg
Hi18 Section O

Anonymous said...

absence. if you're worth reminding it's fine. take note WORTH REMINDING. What's the point in respecting something/someone that/who didn't do anything good. an assessment of power and it's a lasting impression that tests the power through the tests of time. The law will only be effective if the reason for absence is valid or a mystery and what I said WORTH REMINDING.

Don Faylon

krizia said...

I'm a bit confused, Don.. :P Do you mean 'worth remembering' ? If you really meant 'reminding', then what do you mean by 'if you're worth reminding'? Reminding of what? :)

Krizia Cureg
Hi18 Section O

Marvin Velasco said...

This reminds me of cases where someone goes missing in the US. His or her face would appear on every news channel in hopes of finding the whereabouts. What's disturbing is how they are treated while they are gone. It's as if they are saints; have only done righteous acts and never hurt anyone. We hear their parents tell the stories of how their kid made the world a better place. It's as if all the bad things you have done gets forgotten after you disappear.

Applying this law to give yourself a better image is a dirty trick, yet an effective one. Get the timing right and you will receive more approval than ever. Maybe our politicians should take a look at this law.

Marvin Velasco
Hi18 N

ninefingertips said...

I think I sort of get what Don's trying to say. haha. yes it is true. that this law is only applicable if and only if the premise that you are actually worthy enough to create a void in your absence.

I do believe that, it all goes along with utilizing this law properly.

I think it's just common sense that this law doesn't need application ALL the time. You can say it's a handy law. One you can use to increase your own indispensibility.

this really is a very cheap and easy law. you won't break a sweat once you know it's time to make others miss you.



Ends considered, i think there are more potent ways of being and seeming irreplaceable and rare.


This law is outdated. Seriously in such a viciously globalized and competitive world, no one, will take your shit. Because with technology today, and with millions of other people around the globe, your position is never truly yours. There will always be and endless line of equally talented professionals, all waiting to take your place. You are not special. People nowadays are a dime a dozen. No matter how good you are, there will always be someone better.

nowadays Absence will get you restructured in no time at all.

Take a look at show business. no actor ever did well by going out of the limelight. People today have such attention spans that you can't even count to three before they find something else to bother themselves with.

You won't be missed. oh no

someone will come. fill up your office. work the level of performance you're working. Hell, he may even wear the same coat and tie as yours.

No one will even notice you were gone.

ninefingertips said...

hMark Bantayan
Hi18 N

camille martinez said...

Bravo, Mark. Well said.

But, that's where PR comes in. You can make yourself "important" enough to be missed. Just like what Marvin said, missing children in the U.S. are missed because they are turned into sob stories that appeal to the sympathies of the public.

But, in reality, they could be the annoying little brats that shaved the cat while you were away.

MiRz_29 said...


Using absence is a great thing of telling your group "I'm important".

A story:

In my high school days, a high school classmate became a leader of a group for our English class, he formulated a couple of ideas and the group dont use the ideas he proposed. 3 weeks before the presentation, He didn't show up a couple of times. The group actually searched him inside the campus in desperation of his ideas. Nevertheless, when that classmate of mine showed up, his group realized that his ideas was just as good. So at the end of the day, that classmate enjoyed the power he obtained by being absent.

The story tells everything.

-Miriam R. Reyes
Hi 18-O

Eric said...


As Trixie Cruz put it, ABSENCE DOES MAKE THE HEART GROW FONDER!!! (Though psychologists would disagree) -- I believe it's all a balance-- a balance of when to be absent, of how long you'll be absent, of knowing if you're important enough to be noticed absent, and of knowing when to come back.

...And Mariel's quote sums it all up. Haha. "Know when to go, but always keep them asking for more."

Eric Andres
HI 18 Section N

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