1. As I understand it, Machiavelli is pretty well known as the great granddaddy of political science, focussing far more on what it takes to maintain power over people than on the wellbeing of a nation of citizens. He describes some pretty cut-throat tactics.
Most of us are probably recovering from midterm election hangovers at the moment and there has been plenty of evidence in our view of how far reaching those Machiavellian patterns of contrast between political ideals and concrete realities really do apply. The most obvious example that comes to my mind is the mass coercion that has recently take place by big money from both parties to either keep their guy in or get their guy in. Getting out the vote is important on many levels, but the barrage of commercials that we all just survived was unreal, and it was controlling! I’m an enthusiastic voter, but that election was ballistic and it interfered with my life in a negative way. However, even though it wasn’t good for the people necessarily, all of that fighting had to happen so that there could be decisions about who will “rule”.
Machiavelli is credited with the seed of the much debated idea that ends might justify the means, as in that it may be necessary to approach difficult scenarios in ways that might be immoral, violent or disturbing if the intended result will be considered worth it. Other Machiavellian concepts include a wide array of devious tactics that may have to be employed in order to rule effectively. He suggests that if you’re in charge, you might have to take people out. I think that if you look at intelligence operations, negative advertisements, and war itself you will see evidence of all of that.
2. The first thing I thought of in regards to this question was Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. The character Fantine becomes so desperate for income that she is forced into prostitution and the selling of her possessions and even her teeth and hair. This is seen as particularly tragic because of the quality of her hair and teeth. Hugo even says that Fantine had gold and pearls for her dowry, but the gold was on her head (presumably the quality of her hair) and the pearls were in her mouth (teeth). These events, and the shaving of her head are closely associated to Fantine’s death following an assault. It’s almost as if when Fantine sold her hair she had given up hope of living life and just began selling herself for parts until the end.
I think the symbolism of a woman’s hair across cultures is a complex issue and I don’t dare try to simplify the issue or boil it down at all, but among many other things I think the reason hair has such a significant place in the stories of women in liturature is because of the link between feminine beauty and a woman’s worth. Hair is beautiful, almost undeniably, across the earth. Women are valued for beauty and maternity and sexuality, almost undeniably, across the earth. To loose ones hair is to loose value as a woman, and perhaps in some circumstances this is an extremely liberating thing.
3. The best I could make of it is that flowers might be the warriors who have died with honor and song might be whatever god is going to then take care of their souls or what the Aztecs may have thought of as a soul. So perhaps this is from the perspective of that god, who is clever with the knowledge that these warriors have fallen and are going to be taken and is asking those still in the war to seek honorable deaths and respect those who have been killed?