Power requires the ability to play with appearances. To this end you must learn to wear many masks and keep a bag full of deceptive tricks. De­ception and masquerade should not be seen as ugly or immoral. All human interaction requires deception on many levels, and in some ways what sep­arates humans from animals is our ability to lie and deceive. Deception is a developed art of civilization and the most potent weapon in the game of power.

You cannot succeed at deception unless you take a somewhat dis­tanced approach to yourself—unless you can be many different people, wearing the mask that the day and the moment require. With such a flexi­ble approach to all appearances, induding your own, you lose a lot of the inward heaviness that holds people down. Make your face as malleable as the actor’s, work to conceal your intentions from others, practice luring people into traps. Playing with appearances and mastering arts of decep­tion are among the aesthetic pleasures of life. They are also key compo­nents in the acquisition of power.

—The 48 Laws of Power


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