September 18, 2009

A Child's Machiavelli, AKA The Other Little Prince

machiavelli_claudia_hart.jpg

It's like my dad always told me: "If you can't beat'em, make sardonic Machiavelli references about'em."

When John DiIulio fled the Bush White House in 2001, he described the hyper-politicized environment as being run by "Mayberry Machiavellis." And when Boomer artist Claudia Hart saw all the competitive "kids" in the art world hothouse of 1990s Berlin, she felt inspired to create A Child's Machiavelli: A Primer on Power.

The project began as a series of 31 oil paintings with images appropriated from classic children's literature. Each was coupled with a simplified, kiddified restating of Machiavelli's original aphorisms. There was an exhibition, an accompanying rap song [seriously, Babyrap, a colabo with the big-in-the-90s French hip-hop crew Assassin], and a book, published in several editions and languages. A Child's Machiavelli is out of print, but Hart has a PDF of the whole thing on her site.

machiavelli_hart_spread.jpg

It's pretty well done, and the pictures are nice; all in all, it makes a really tempting bedtime read. If you want to turn your kid into a hopelessly unsocialized preschool pariah, that is. Unless you have an actual principality to bestow on him sometime soon, in which case, by Your leave, Your Grace.

What might actually be useful, though, is Hart's other children's book-like project from the go-go post-reunification era, Dr. Faustie's Guide to Real Estate Development. All the stuff about exurbs and rampant development is conventional wisdom now, but the first half is a priceless primer on negotiating with sharks of any industry, not just real estate. There's a PDF of that one, too.

A Child' s Machiavelli, 1995-1998, by Claudia Hart [claudiahart.com, thanks dad, seriously]
Dr. Faustie's Guide to Real Estate Development, 1997-1999 [claudiahart.com]
Buy your own copy of Claudia Hart's A Child's Machiavelli : A Primer on Power on Amazon, from $41 and up up up [amazon]

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