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As connoisseurs of history, we sometimes find styles, trends and turns of phrase from the past that we wouldn’t mind bringing back to the present, Doc Brown-style. This time around, we’re dusting off the enemies list.

It’s rough out there. By now, you probably already know. You’re never going to get anywhere if you don’t know who your friends are.

And likewise, you’re going to want to keep track of your enemies.

It’s a strange thought in the age of networking, but over the course of your life you’re going to run into a number of people who find your interests in opposition to their own. Not rivals , who you want to succeed only slightly less than yourself. We’re talking about polar opposites, Moriarties—the kind of rogue actor that you’ve got no choice but to keep an eye on.

You don’t want so many that it overwhelms your energies—also known as “pulling a Nixon”—but keeping a list is the only way to maintain a manageable number. If anything, a matter-of-fact roll call of your nemeses will make the whole thing less obsessive. And if you feel like writing it up with a fountain pen, on watermarked paper, during a thunderstorm in the dead of night… it’s your prerogative.

—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom