My notes from Baltasar Gracian: The Art of Worldly Wisdom

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27. Be intensive, not extensive. Universal men who want to be in on everything are often in on nothing.

28. Don't want for your things to please the many. Some enjoy the breath of the crowd more than the gentle breezes of Apollo. The crowd admires common foolishness, not excellent counsel.

33. Certain inessential activities are moths of precious time - and it's worse to busy yourself with the trivial than do nothing.

37. Pay attention to insiuation. A good defense against malicious insinuation requires knowledge.

28. A long run of good fortune is always suspicious.

41. Never exaggerate. It's not wise to use superlatives, they cast doubt on your judgment. To overvalue something is a form of lying.

43. Feel with the few, speak with the many: Rowing against the current makes it impossible to discover the truth and is extremely dangerous. Only Socrates could attempt it. Dissent is taken as an insult, for it condemns the judgment of others. Many take offense, whether on account of the person criticized or the one who applauded him. The truth belongs to the few. Deceit is as common as it is vulgar. You can never tell the wise by what they say in public. They speak not in their own voices, but in that of common stupidity, though deep inside they are cursing it. The sensible person avoids both being contradicted and contradicting others. He may be quick to censure, but he is slow to do so in public. Feelings are free, they cannot and should not be violated. They live in silent retirement and show themselves only to a few sensible people.

45. Use, but don't abuse, hidden intentions. Above all, don't reveal them. Your caution offends others and provokes vengeance.

55. "Time and I can take on any two."

58. Adapt to those around you: Don't show the same intelligence with everyone, and don't put more effort into things than they require.

59. Fortune seldom accompanies someone to the door. She is as courteous to those who are coming as rude to those who are going.

62. Some people want to be thought subtle because they use poor instruments. Don't.

70. Refusal shouldn't come in one fell blow.

72. Faulty execution does less harm than a lack of resolution.

73. A friendly way of saying no is to change the subject. Allude to generalities.

76. Seriousness wins more respect than wit.

79. In what most people take seriously lays opportunity to display agreeableness through joviality and wit.

88. A large part of ruling lies in feigning indifference. Learn to overlook most of the things that happen among your close friends, your acquaintances, and especially your enemies. Overscrupulousness is irritating, and if it forms part of your character you will be tiresome to others.

101. Half the world is laughing at the other half, and folly rules over all.

117. Don't talk about yourself. You show a lack of good judgment and become a nuisance to others.

129. Never complain. The prudent person should never publicize dishonor or slights.

130. Reason itself is not venerated when it does not wear a reasonable face.

133. If you alone are sane, you will be taken for mad.

159. The wise are the least tolerant of fools, for learning has diminished their patience.

161. Defects of the intellects are greatest and most notable in people of great intelligence, for he loves them.

213. You can use contradiction to pry loose the passions of others. It makes the teacher eager to explain and defend the truth.

237. To hear a prince's secrets isn't a privilege but a burden. Many smash the mirror that reminds them of their ugliness. They can't stand to see those who say them. Many perished by being confidants. You should never hold anyone greatly in your debt, especially not the powerful.

255. Do a little bit of good at a time, but often. Don't bestow more favor on someone that he can return. When grateful people are unable to respond, they break off the correspondence. To lose them, you have only to place them too greatly in your debt. When they don't want to pay, they draw away, and turn into enemies. The person who receives a favor would rather lose sight of the person who did it. If a gift is to be appreciated it should be much desired but cost little.

27|. If you know little, stick to what is surest in each profession. Better to be solid than eccentric.

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