Work toward your goals – indirectly as well as directly. Life is a struggle against human malice, in which wisdom comes to grips with the strategy of design. The latter never does what is indicated: in fact, it aims to deceive. The fanfare is in the light but the execution is in the dark, the purpose being always to mislead. Intentions is revealed to divert the attention of the adversary, then it is changed to gain the end by what was unexpected. But insight is wise, wary, and waits behind its armor. Sensing always the opposite of what it was to sense and recognizing at once the real purpose of the trick, it allows every first hint to pass, lies in wait for a second, and even a third. The simulation of truth now mounts higher by glossing the deception and tries through truth itself to falsify. It changes the play in order to change the trick and makes the real appear the phantom by founding the greatest fraud upon the greatest candor. But wariness is on watch seeing clearly what is intended, covering the darkness that was clothed in light, and recognizing that design most artful which looked most artless. In such fashion, the willingness of Python is matched against the simplicity of Apollo’s penetrating rays.
~ Baltasar Gracian, The Art of Worldly Wisdom (1647)