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Survivor: China's Monday Morning Quarterback – The Coyness of a Maidenby Sun Tzu, as channeled through AJ Mass -- 12/03/2007
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Those who were called skillful leaders of old knew how to drive a wedge between the enemy's front and rear, to prevent cooperation between his large and small divisions, to hinder the good troops from rescuing the bad, the officers from rallying their men. Those who are so-called leaders in today’s competition in my homeland know not these lessons. Content they are to stand in their current position of numerical strength, seemingly unconcerned of the perils that fraternization with the minority bring.
In days of old, when the enemy's men were united, good leaders managed to keep them in disorder. When it was to their advantage, they made a forward move; when otherwise, they stopped still. However, the lesson not learned by those of the present day is that familiarity breeds contempt, and while you may wish to alienate the enemy and keep them from your inner sanctum, those who do dwell there exclusively may see every fault magnified times ten. It is then that the unity becomes hatred.
For Peih-Gee, if asked how to cope with a great host of the enemy in orderly array and on the point of marching to the attack, I should say: "Begin by seizing something which your opponent holds dear, then he will be amenable to your will." By winning the reward challenge and being able to invite the maker of lunches along to experience a life-long dream, that of performing martial arts at the Shaolin temple, she attempted to do just this. But the attempt had no teeth, for she gave this valuable asset to her foe without condition or promise of loyalty. How naïve.
Rapidity is the essence of war: take advantage of the enemy's unreadiness, make your way by unexpected routes, and attack unguarded spots. Here again, Peih-Gee attempted to turn the majority secretly against the digger of graves, once she gleaned his possession of the hidden immunity idols. This was successful, though not for any of her doing. She fell into luck as Amanda has clearly taken control of the game. Amanda is the most skillful of generals, conducting her army just as though she were leading a single man, willy-nilly, by the hand. Unlike Todd, she did not merely blurt out the idea of treachery against James in large number. She planted the seed of her discontent with Courtney, alone. Only then, armed now with a pair, did she bring her plan to Denise, who was likely willing to go along due to her fears of being deemed “an outsider” after her excursion, and Todd who likely delusionally thought the idea to be his in the first place.
It is the business of a general to be quiet and thus ensure secrecy; upright and just, and thus maintain order. No finer example of this was to be found as Amanda’s handling of Peih-Gee. She said nothing of the plan to her, but merely hinted that she must not raise quarrel or seem as though there was anything amiss. Yet she never openly said that the plan was as Peih-Gee wished. What brilliance this was! If the plan had been scuttled, or defeated, she would remain blameless in its inefficacy. When it worked to perfection, she could in the future again tell Peih-Gee to do nothing as she stabs her in the back at her whim, and again, betray no promise, set no alliance in place.
The winning general must be able to mystify his officers and men by false reports and appearances, and thus keep them in total ignorance. Amanda was able to keep her true emotions secret and never once let James in on the plan. Todd, on the other hand, wore his concern on his sleeve and gave James every reason to think something was awry with the status quo. Every furtive glance, every tense moment, at a time when there should have been nothing but relaxed calm, was a clue that the digger of graves failed to pick up on, or did and merely dismissed as his own paranoia.
James heeded me not. A good leader, by altering his arrangements and changing his plans, he keeps the enemy without definite knowledge. By shifting his camp and taking circuitous routes, he prevents the enemy from anticipating his purpose. James spoke of the apple, and of not being tempted. He would not change course. Loyal? Yes. Easy to get the rug pulled out from underneath? Most assuredly so. All knew James was going to sit on the idols until the latest moment, and would not turn on the majority so long as they remained true to each other. How foolish, yet as the same time, how understandable. None remaining in the game, save Peih-Gee, had shown the merest inkling of wise strategic notions. Who could blame the man for thinking he was amongst the illiterate masses? How could he have known Amanda was a cobra, hiding her true nature from all, poised for the killing strike?
At the critical moment, the leader of an army acts like one who has climbed up a height and then kicks away the ladder behind her. She carries her men deep into hostile territory before she shows her hand. Amanda has climbed her way to the jury stage of the competition and has decided she has carried others far enough. She kicked the ladder out from behind her and James, still clinging firm, fell to the depths below.
My advice to this new favorite of mine is thus… be stern in the council chamber, so that you may control the situation. If the enemy leaves a door open, you must rush in. Forestall your opponent by seizing what he holds dear and subtly contrive to time his arrival on the ground. Walk in the path defined by rule and accommodate yourself to the enemy until you can fight a decisive battle. At first, then, exhibit the coyness of a maiden, until the enemy gives you an opening; afterwards, emulate the rapidity of a running hare and it will be too late for the enemy to oppose you.
We shall see next week if she takes these words to heart. If so, this competition may well be headed toward an inevitable conclusion.
Until then, I diminish and remain, Sun-Tzu.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out these other recent Survivor: China articles here on RealityNewsOnline:
When not speaking on behalf of long-dead Chinese philosophers, AJ Mass writes about fantasy sports for ESPN.com. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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