Black Box - Black Box by Jennifer Egan 1 People rarely look the way you expect them to even when youve seen pictures The first thirty seconds in a

Black Box - Black Box by Jennifer Egan 1 People rarely look...

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Black Box by Jennifer Egan 1 People rarely look the way you expect them to, even when you’ve seen pictures. The first thirty seconds in a person’s presence are the most important. If you’re having trouble perceiving and projecting, focus on projecting. Necessary ingredients for a successful projection: giggles; bare legs; shyness. The goal is to be both irresistible and invisible. When you succeed, a certain sharpness will go out of his eyes. 2 Some powerful men actually call their beauties “Beauty.” Counter to reputation, there is a deep camaraderie among beauties. If your Designated Mate is widely feared, the beauties at the house party where you’ve gone undercover to meet him will be especially kind. Kindness feels good, even when it’s based on a false notion of your identity and purpose. 3 Posing as a beauty means not reading what you would like to read on a rocky shore in the South of France. Sunlight on bare skin can be as nourishing as food. Even a powerful man will be briefly self-conscious when he first disrobes to his bathing suit. It is technically impossible for a man to look better in a Speedo than in swim trunks. If you love someone with dark skin, white skin looks drained of something vital. 4 When you know that a person is violent and ruthless, you will see violent ruthlessness in such basic things as his swim stroke. “What are you doing?” from your Designated Mate amid choppy waves after he has followed you into the sea may or may not betray suspicion. Your reply—“Swimming”—may or may not be perceived as sarcasm. “Shall we swim together toward those rocks?” may or may not be a question. “All that way?” will, if spoken correctly, sound ingenuous. “We’ll have privacy there” may sound unexpectedly ominous. 5 A hundred feet of blue-black Mediterranean will allow you ample time to deliver a strong self- lecture. At such moments, it may be useful to explicitly recall your training: “You will be infiltrating the lives of criminals. “You will be in constant danger. “Some of you will not survive, but those who do will be heroes. “A few of you will save lives and even change the course of history. “We ask of you an impossible combination of traits: ironclad scruples and a willingness to violate them; “An abiding love for your country and a willingness to consort with individuals who are working actively to destroy it; “The instincts and intuition of experts, and the blank records and true freshness of ingénues. “You will each perform this service only once, after which you will return to your lives. “We cannot promise that your lives will be exactly the same when you go back to them.” 6
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Eagerness and pliability can be expressed even in the way you climb from the sea onto chalky yellow rocks.
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