This is one of the Penguin Little Black Classics "selections" that is surprisingly applicable to both the modern and the postmodern times, the Gen X and the Millennial generation. Taken from The Pocket Oracle and the Art of Prudence---a Spanish priest's collection of maxims on using guile and pragmatism to succeed in a dangerous world, I find this selection highly progressive and advanced from its year of publication in 1647. Translated from Spanish by Jeremy Robbins, I find Gracian's maxims as 90% agreeable and 100% insightful. And it is certainly more than how to use your enemies. It's more of using your common sense.
I also believe most of The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene were based on this work by Baltasar Gracian because I see a lot of similar ideas (Never outshine your master, conceal your intentions, etc.) between the two books. Though it remains a theory given that I have yet to read the whole book by Greene and I'm using my assessment on its synopsis and back cover blurbs available in the book store and online.
Some of my favorite maxims (including the title of this post):
An image is made sacred not by its creator but by its worshipper.
Whoever wants to make their own opinion the measure of all things is an insufferable fool.
Enemies are of more use to the wise man than friends are to the fool.
The most independent person must still accept the need for friendly advice; even a monarch must be willing to be taught.
Get used to the bad temperaments of those you deal with, like getting used to ugly faces.
Your will must be tenacious, not your judgement.
Take a joke, but don't make someone the butt of one.
The masses, ever critical, will not recount your success, only your failures.
Ability and greatness must be measured by virtue, not by good fortune.
Genre: Maxims, Selection
Rating: 4 images out of 5