The Art of War

“These military devices, leading to victory, must not be divulged beforehand.”
– Sun Tzu, The Art of War


“Major Sakakibara Fights Fiercely to the South of Ximucheng” by Adachi Ginkō

Strike early. Strike often. Keep striking until someone is dead.

Recruit allies who neither tire nor sleep.

Be unseeable for as long as is necessary. When you want to be seen, be unavoidable.

“Captain Awata” by Mizuno Toshikata, 1895

Lose battles. Win wars. Send telegrams to your former teachers summoning them to Trieste.

Evolve at different rates and in different directions. Sprout new selves. Throw off old ones.

Invent a private language. Hold conferences with yourself behind closed doors. Pull off your glasses with trembling hands and hurl choice insults at the incompetents around you.

“Sino-Japanese Pitched Battles Two Generals Fighting at Fenghuangcheng” by

Choose your enemies wisely. Will their agonised screams entertain you? Will their heads look good on your battlements? Will their descendents carry on the feud to the third and fourth generation? Do your research. Take your time.

Inspire your troops with prophecies. Hire a priestess. Teach her your private language. Make dozens of little priestlings.

Google “priestess gestation”, “are babies born with teeth and claws” and “how many gremlins can one woman have”. Google “how to kill priestlings fire doesn’t work”. Google “evil priestess amazon returns”.

“Picture of Captain Awata, Who Fights Furiously with His Celebrated Sword in the Assault on Magongcheng

Make love and war on alternate days and with different people.

Decapitate. Decapitate. Decapitate.

Harness the power of music by sending a mariachi band ahead of your troops. Sow confusion and gaiety in your enemy’s ranks.

“The Battle of Mukden” by Shunsai Toshimasa, 1894.jpg

War is the continuation of breakfast by other means. Eat hearty.

Be merciless. Mercy is bad. Bad is good. Life is confusing. I knew a general who was merciful once. He lost everything: his men, his family, his pride. His testicles shrank. His haemorrhoids grew. No one would take his calls or publish his autobiography. O you who would be compassionate, consider General Kōmura, who was once handsome and tall as you.

When you are hauled before the ICC and accused of war crimes, limit yourself to two responses: “It wasn’t me” and “bumboclaat”. Perfect your Jamaican accent. Explain to gathered reporters that you do not identify as a war criminal. Who are they to question your lived experience?

“Picture of Our Forces Bringing About the Fall of Pyongyang” by Kobayashi Toshimitsu

You are not retreating. You are moonwalking away from the enemy.

Be sober. Be vigilant. Photojournalists are hungry buggers, roaming battlefields like hyenas. Drink lots of water. Moisturise. Be ready for your closeup.

Take selfies. Tweet from the front lines. Share the beauty of aerial bombardment and trench warfare with your Instagram followers. Bless them with “The Siege of Stalingrad” #nofilter and “Crucified airman” #hewokeuplikethis. Some generals look at social media and ask why? You should open your drafts folder and ask why not?