Printed in the United States ofAmerica
Set in Bembo Designed by Jaye Zimet with Joost Elffers
Except in the United States ofAmerica, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author's rights is appreciated.
Grateful acknowledgment is made for permission to reprint excerpts from the following copyrighted works:
Falling in Love by Francesco Alberoni, translated by Lawrence Venuti. Reprinted by permission of Random House, Inc.
Seduction by Jean Baudrillard, translated by Brian Singer. St. Martin's Press, 1990. Copyright © New
World Perspectives. 1990. Reprinted by permission of Palgrave. The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio, translated by G. H. McWilliam (Penguin Classics 1972, second edition 1995). Copyright © G. H. McWilliam, 1972, 1995. Reprinted by permission of Penguin
Warhol by David Bourdon, published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of the publisher. BehindtheMask:OnSexualDemons,Sacred Mothers, Transvestites, GangstersandOtherJapaneseCultural Heroes by Ian Buruma, Random blouse UK, 1984. Reprinted with permission. AndreasCapcllanuson Love by Andreas Capellanus. translated by P. G. Walsh. Reprinted by permission of Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd. The Book of the Courtier by Baldassare Castiglione, translated by George Bull (Penguin Classics 1967, revised edition 1976). Copyright © George Bull, 1967, 1976. Reprinted by permission of Penguin
Portrait ofa Seductress: The World of Natalie Barney by Jean Chalon, translated by Carol Barko, Crown Publishers, Inc., 1979. Reprinted with permission. Lenin: The Man Behind the Mask by Ronald W. Clark, Faber & Faber Ltd., 1988. Reprinted with permission.
Pursuit of the Millennium by Norman Cohn. Copyright © 1970 by Oxford University Press. Used by permission of Oxford University Press, Inc. Tales from The Thousand and One Nights, translated by N. J. Dawood (Penguin Classics, 1955, revised edition 1973). Translation copyright © N. J. Dawood. 1954, 1973. Reprinted by permission of Penguin Books Ltd.
Emma, Lady Hamilton by Flora Fraser, Alfred A. Knopf, 1987. Copyright © 1986 by Flora Fraser. Reprinted by permission. Evita: The Real Life of Eva Peron by Nicolas Fraser and Marysa Navarro, W. W Norton & Company, Inc., 1996. Reprinted by permission. The World'sLure:Fair Women, TheirLoves, Their Power, TheirFatesbyAlexandervon Gleichen-Russwurm. translated by Hannah Waller, Alfred A. Knopf, 1927. Copyright 1927 by Alfred A. Knopf. Inc. Reprinted with permission. The Greek Myths by Robert Graves. Reprinted by permission of Carcanet Press Limited. The Kennedy Obsession: TheAmerican Myth ofJFKby John Hellman, Columbia University Press 1997.
Reprinted by permission of Columbia University Press. The Odyssey by Homer, translated by E. V Rieu (Penguin Classics, 1946). Copyright © The Estate of E. V. Rieu, 1946. Reprinted by permission of Penguin Books Ltd. The Life of an Amorous Woman and Other Writings by Ihara Saikaku, translated by Ivan Morris. Copyright © 1963 by New Directions Publishing Corp. Reprinted by permission of New Directions
"The Seducer's Diary" from Either/Or, Part 1 by Soren Kierkegaard, translated by Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong. Copyright © 1987 by Princeton University Press. Reprinted by permission of Princeton University Press. Sirens: Symbols of Seduction by Meri Lao, translated by John Oliphant of Rossie, Park Street Press,
Rochester. Vermont, 1998. Reprinted with permission. Lives of the Courtesans by Lynne Lawner, Rizzoli, 1987. Reprinted with permission of the author. The Th&tre of Don Juan: A Collection of Plays and Views, 1630-1963 edited with a commentary by Oscar Mandel. Copyright © 1963 by the University of Nebraska Press. Copyright © renewed 1991 by the University of Nebraska Press. Reprinted by permission of the University of Nebraska Press. Don Juan and the Point of Horror by James Mandrell. Reprinted with permission of Penn State University Press. Bel-Ami by Guy de Maupassant, translated by Douglas Parmee (Penguin Classics, 1975). Copyright © Douglas Parmee. 1975. Reprinted by permission of Penguin Books Ltd. The Arts and Secrets of Beauty by Lola Montez, Chelsea House, 1969. Used with permission. The Age of the Crowd by Serge Moscovici. Reprinted with permission ot Cambridge University Press. The Tale ofGenji by Murasaki Shikibu, translated by Edward G. Seidensncker, Alfred A. Knopf, 1976. Copyright © 1976 by Edward G. Seidensticker. Reprinted by permission of the publisher. The Erotic Poems by Ovid, translated by Peter Green (Penguin Classics, 1982). Copyright © Peter
Green, 1982. Reprinted by permission of Penguin Books Ltd. The Metamorphoses by Ovid, translated by Mary M. Innes (Penguin Classics, 1955). Copyright © Mary M. Innes, 1955. Reprinted by permission of Penguin Books Ltd.
My Sister, My Spouse: A Biography of Lou Andreas-Salomé by H. F. Peters, W. W. Norton & Company,
Inc., 1962. Reprinted with permission. The. Symposium by Plato, translated by Walter Hamilton (Penguin Classics, 1951). Copyright © Walter Hamilton. 1951. Reprinted by permission of Penguin Books Ltd. The Rise and Fall of Athens: Nine Greek Lives by Plutarch, translated by Ian Scott-Kilvert (Penguin Classics, 1960). Copyright © Ian Scott-Kilvert, 1960. Reprinted by permission of Penguin Hooks Ltd. Love Declared by Denis de Rougemont, translated by Richard Howard. Reprinted by permission of
Random House, Inc.
The Wisdom of Life and Counselsand Maxims by Arthur Schopenhauer, translated by T. Bailey Saunders (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1995). Reprinted by permission of the publisher. The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon by Sei Shonagon, translated and edited by Ivan Morris, Columbia University Press. 1991. Reprinted by permission of Columbia University Press. Liaison by Joyce Wadler, published by Bantam Books, 1993. Reprinted by permission of the author. Max Weber: Essays in Sociology by Max Weber, edited and translated by H. H. Certh and C. Wright Mills. Copyright 1946, 1958 by H. H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills. Used by permission of Oxford
University Press, Inc.
The Game of Hearts: Harriette Wilson & Her Memoirs edited by Lesley Blanch. Copyright © 1955 by Lesley Blanch. Reprinted with permission of Simon & Schuster.
To the memory of my father
First, I would like to thank Anna Biller for her countless contributions to this book: the research, the many discussions, her invaluable help with the text itself, and, last but not least, her knowledge of the art of seduction, of which I have been the happy victim on numerous occasions.
I must thank my mother, Laurette, for supporting me so steadfastly throughout this project and for being my most devoted fan.
I would like to thank Catherine Leouzon, who some years ago introduced me to Les Liaisons Dangereuses and the world of Valmont.
I would like to thank David Frankel, for his deft editing and for his much-appreciated advice; Molly Stern at Viking Penguin, for overseeing the project and helping to shape it; Radha Pancham, for keeping it all organized and being so patient; and Brett Kelly, for moving things along.
With heavy heart I would like to pay tribute to my cat Boris, who for thirteen years watched over me as I wrote and whose presence is sorely missed. His successor, Brutus, has proven to be a worthy muse.
Finally, I would like to honor my father. Words cannot express how much I miss him and how much he has inspired my work.
Acknowlegments • ix Preface ' xix
The Seductive Character page 1 The Siren page 5
A man is fen secretly oppressed by the role he has to play—by always having to be responsible, in control, and rational. The Siren is the ultimate malefantasy figure because she offers a total release from the limitations of his life. In her presence, which is always heightened and sexually charged, the male feels transported to a realm of pure pleasure. In a world where women are often too timid to project such an image, learn to take control of the male libido by embodying hisfantasy.
The Rake page 17
A woman never quite feels desired and appreciated enough. She wants attention, but a man is too often distracted and unresponsive. The Rake is a great female fantasy-figure—when he desires a woman, brief though that moment may be, he will go to the ends of the earth for her. He may be disloyal, dishonest, and amoral, but that only adds to his appeal. Stir a woman's repressed longings by adapting the Rake's mix of danger and pleasure.
The Ideal Lover page 29
Most people have dreams in their youth that get shattered or worn down with age. They find themselves disappointed by people, events, reality, which cannot match their youthful ideals. Ideal Lovers thrive on people's broken dreams, which become lifelong fantasies. You long for romance? Adventure? Lofty spiritual communion? The Ideal Lover reflects your fantasy. He or she is an artist in creating the illusion you require. In a world of disenchantment and baseness, there is limitless seductive power in following the path of the Ideal Lover.
The Dandy page 41
Most of us feel trapped within the limited roles that the world expects us to play. We are instantly attracted to those who are morefluid than we are—those who create their own persona. Dandies excite us because they cannot be categorized, and hint at a freedom we want for ourselves. They play with masculinity and femininity; they fashion their own physical image, which is always startling. Use the power of the Dandy to create an ambiguous, alluring pres-encethatstirsrepresseddesires.
The Natural page 53
Childhood is the golden paradise we are always consciously or unconsciously trying to re-create. The Natural embodies the longed-for qualities of childhood—spontaneity, sincerity, unpre-tentiousness. In the presence of Naturals, we feel at ease, caught up in their playful spirit, transported back to that golden age. Adopt the pose of the Natural to neutralize people's defensivencss and infect them with helpless delight.
The Coquette page 67
The ability to delay satisfaction is the ultimate art of seduction—while waiting, the victim is held in thrall. Coquettes are the grand masters of the game, orchestrating a back-and-forth movement between hope and frustration. They bait with the promise of reward—the hope of physical pleasure, happiness, fame by association, power—all of which, however, proves elusive; yet this only makes their targets pursue them the more. Imitate the alternating heat and coolness of the Coquette and you will keep the seduced at your heels.
The Charmer page 79
Charm is seduction without sex. Charmers are consummate manipulators, masking their cleverness by creating a mood of pleasure and comfort. Their method is simple: They deflect attention from themselves and focus it on their target. They understand your spirit, feel your pain, adapt to your moods. In the presence of a Charmer youfeel better about yourself. Learn to cast the Charmer's spell by aiming at people's primary weaknesses: vanity and self-esteem.
The Charismatic page 95
Charisma is a presence that excites us. It comes from an inner quality—self-confidence, sexual energy, sense ofpurpose, contentment—that most people lack and want. This quality radiates outward, permeating the gestures of Charismatics, making them seem extraordinary and superior. They learn to heighten their charisma with a piercing gaze, fiery oratory, an air of mystery. Create the charismatic illusion by radiating intensity while remaining detached.
The Star page 119
Daily life is harsh, and most of us constantly seek escape from it in fantasies and dreams. Stars feed on this weakness; standing out from others through a distinctive and appealing style, they make us want to watch them. At the same time, they are vague and ethereal, keeping their distance, and letting us imagine more than is there. Their dreamlike quality works on our unconscious. Learn to become an object of fascination by projecting the glittering but elusivepres-ence of the Star.
The Anti-Seducer page 131
Seducers draw you in by the focused, individualized attention they pay to you. Anti-seducers are the opposite: insecure, self-absorbed, and unable to grasp the psychology of another person, they literally repel Anti-Seducers have no self-awareness, and never realize when they are pestering, imposing, talking too much. Root out anti-seductive qualities in yourself and recognize them in others—there is no pleasure or profit in dealing with the Anti-Seducer.
The Seducer's Victims—The Eighteen Types page 147
The Seductive Process page 161
Phase One: Separation—Stirring Interest and Desire
1 Choose the Right Victim page 167
Everything depends on the target of your seduction. Study your prey thoroughly, and choose only those who will prove susceptible to your charms. The right victims are those for whom you can fill a void, who see in you something exotic. They are often isolated or unhappy, or can easily be made so—for the completely contented person is almost impossible to seduce. The perfect victim has some quality that inspires strong emotions in you, making your seductive maneuvers seem more natural and dynamic. The perfect victim allows for the perfect chase.
2 Create a False Sense of Security—Approach Indirectly page 177
If you are too direct early on, you risk stirring up a resistance that will never be lowered. At first there must be nothing of the seducer in your manner. The seduction should begin at an angle, indirectly, so that the target only gradually becomes aware of you. Haunt the periphery of your target's life—approach through a thirdparty, or seem to cultivate a relatively neutral relationship, moving gradually from friend to lover. Lull the target into feeling secure, then strike.
3 Send Mixed Signals page 185
Once people are aware of your presence, and perhaps vaguely intrigued, you need to stir their interest before it settles on someone else. Most of us are much too obvious—instead, be hard to figure out. Send mixed signals: both tough and tender, both spiritual and earthly, both innocent and cunning. A mix of qualities suggests depth, which fascinates even as it confuses. An elusive, enigmatic aura will make people want to know more, drawing them into your circle. Create such a power by hinting at something contradictory within you.
4 Appear to Be an Object of Desire—Create Triangles page 195
Few are drawn to the person whom others avoid or neglect; people gather around those who have already attracted interest. To draw your victims closer and make them hungry to possess you, you must create an aura of desirability—of being wanted and courted by many. It will become a point of vanity for them to be the preferred object of your attention, to win you away from a crowd of admirers. Build a reputation that precedes you: If many have succumbed to your charms, there must be a reason.
5 Create a Need—Stir Anxiety and Discontent page 203
A perfectly satisfied person cannot be seduced. Tension and disharmony must be instilled in your targets minds. Stir within them feelings of discontent, an unhappiness with their circumstances and with themselves. The feelings of inadequacy that you create will give you space to insinuate yourself, to make them see you as the answer to their problems. Pain and anxiety are the proper precursors to pleasure. Learn to manufacture the need that you can fill.
6 Master the Art of Insinuation page 211
Making your targets feel dissatisfied and in need of your attention is essential, but if you are too obvious, they will see through you and grow defensive. There is no known defense, however, against insinuation—the art of planting ideas in people's minds by dropping elusive hints that take root days later, even appearing to them as their own idea. Create a sublanguage— bold statements followed by retraction and apology, ambiguous comments, banal talk combined with alluring glances—that enters the target's unconscious to convey your real meaning. Make everythingsuggestive.
7 Enter Their Spirit page 219
Most people are locked in their own worlds, making them stubborn and hard to persuade. The way to lure them out of their shell and set up your seduction is to enter their spirit. Play by their rules, enjoy what they enjoy, adapt yourself to their moods. In doing so you will stroke their deep-rooted narcissism and lower their defenses. Indulge your targets' every mood and whim, giving them nothing to react against or resist.
8 Create Temptation page 229
Lure the target deep into your seduction by creating the proper temptation: a glimpse of the pleasures to come. As the serpent tempted Eve with the promise of forbidden knowledge, you must awaken a desire in your targets that they cannot control. Find that weakness of theirs, that fantasy that has yet to be realized, and hint that you can lead them toward it. The key is to keep it vague. Stimulate a curiosity stronger than the doubts and anxieties that go with it, and they will follow you.
Phase Two: Lead Astray—Creating Pleasure and Confusion
9 Keep Them in Suspense—What Comes Next? page 241
The moment people feel they know what to expect from you, your spell on them is broken. More: You have ceded them power. The only way to lead the seduced along and keep the upper hand is to create suspense, a calculated surprise. Doing something they do not expectfrom you will give them a delightful sense of spontaneity—they will not be able to foresee what comes next. You are always one step ahead and in control. Give the victim a thrill with a sudden change of direction.
10 Use the Demonic Power of Words to Sow Confusion page 251
It is hard to make people listen; they are consumed with their own thoughts and desires, and have little timeforyours. The trick to making them listen is to say what they want to hear, to fill their ears with whatever is pleasant to them. This is the essence of seductive language. Inflame people's emotions with loaded phrases, flatter them, comfort their insecurities, envelop them in sweet words and promises, and not only will they listen to you, they will lose their will to resist you.
11 Pay Attention to Detail page 265
Lofty words of love and grand gestures can be suspicious: Why are you trying so hard to please? The details of a seduction—the subtle gestures, the offhand things you do—are often more charming and revealing. You must learn to distract your victims with a myriad ofpleas-ant little rituals—thoughtful gifts tailoredjust for them, clothes and adornments designed to please them, gestures that show the time and attention you are paying them. Mesmerized by what they see, they will not notice what you are really up to.
12 Poeticize Your Presence page 277
Important things happen when your targets are alone: The slightest feeling of relief that you are not there, and it is all over. Familiarity and overexposure will cause this reaction. Remain elusive, then. Intrigue your targets by alternating an exciting presence with a cool distance, exuberant moments followed by calculated absences. Associate yourself with poetic images and objects, so that when they think of you, they begin to see you through an idealized halo. The more you figure in their minds, the more they will envelop you in seductive fantasies.
13 Disarm Through Strategic Weakness and Vulnerability page 285
Too much maneuvering on your part may raise suspicion. The best way to cover your tracks is to make the other person feel superior and stronger. If you seem to be weak, vulnerable, enthralled by the other person, and unable to control yourself you will make your actions look more natural, less calculated. Physical weakness—tears, bashfulness, paleness—will help create the effect. Play the victim, then transformyourtarget'ssympathy into love.
14 Confuse Desire and Reality—The Perfect Illusion page 295
To compensate for the difficulties in their lives, people spend a lot of their time daydreaming, imagining a future full of adventure, success, and romance. If you can create the illusion that through you they can live out their dreams, you will have them at your mercy. Aim at secret wishes that have been thwarted or repressed, stirring up uncontrollable emotions, clouding their powers of reason. Lead the seduced to a point of confusion in which they can no longer tell the difference between illusion and reality.
15 Isolate the Victim page 309
An isolated person is weak. By slowly isolating your victims, you make them more vulnerable to your influence. Take them awayfrom their normal milieu, friends, family, home. Give them the sense of being marginalized, in limbo—they are leaving one world behind and entering another. Once isolated like this, they have no outside support, and in their confusion they are easily led astray. Lure the seduced into your lair, where nothing is familiar.
Phase Three: The Precipice—Deepening the Effect Through Extreme Measures
16 Prove Yourself page 321
Most people want to be seduced. If they resist your efforts, it is probably because you ham' not gone far enough to allay their doubts—about your motives, the depth of yourfeelings, and so on. One well-timed action that shows how far you are willing to go to win them over will dispel their doubts. Do not worry about looking foolish or making a mistake—any kind of deed that is self-sacrificing and for your targets' sake will so overwhelm their emotions, they won't notice anything else.
17 Effect a Regression page 333
People who have experienced a certain kind of pleasure in the past will try to repeat or relive it. The deepest-rooted and most pleasurable memories are usually those from earliest childhood, and are often unconsciously associated with a parental figure. Bring your targets back to that point by placing yourself in the oedipal triangle and positioning them as the needy child. Unaware of the cause of their emotional response, they will fall in love with you.
18 Stir Up the Transgressive and Taboo page 349
There are always social limits on what one can do. Some of these, the most elemental taboos, go back centuries; others are more superficial, simply defining polite and acceptable behavior. Making your targets feel that you are leading them past either kind of limit is immensely seductive. People yearn to explore their dark side. Once the desire to transgress draws your targets to you, it will be hard for them to stop. Take them farther than they imagined—the shared feeling of guilt and complicity will create a powerful bond.
19 Use Spiritual Lures page 359
Everyone has doubts and insecurities—about their body, their self-worth, their sexuality. If your seduction appeals exclusively to the physical, you will stir up these doubts and make your targets self-conscious. Instead, lure them out of their insecurities by making them focus on something sublime and spiritual: a religious experience, a lofty work of art, the occult. Lost in a spiritual mist, the target will feel light and uninhibited. Deepen the effect of your seduction by making its sexual culmination seem like the spiritual union of two souls.
20 Mix Pleasure with Pain page 369
The greatest mistake in seduction is being too nice. At first, perhaps, your kindness is charming, but it soon grows monotonous; you are trying too hard to please, and seem insecure. Instead of overwhelming your targets with niceness, try inflicting some pain. Make them feel guilty and insecure. Instigate a breakup—now a rapprochement, a return to your earlier kindness, will turn them weak at the knees. The lower the lows you create, the greater the highs. To heighten the erotic charge, create the excitement offear.
Phase Four: Moving In for the Kill
If your targets become too used to you as the aggressor, they will give less of their own energy, and the tension will slacken. You need to wake them up, turn the tables. Once they are under your spell, take a step bach and they will start to come after you. Hint that you are growing bored. Seem interested in someone else. Soon they will want to possess you physically, and restraint will go out the window. Create the illusion that the seducer is being seduced.
22 Use Physical Lures page 393
Targets with active minds are dangerous: If they see through your manipulations, they may suddenly develop doubts. Put their minds gently to rest, and waken their dormant senses, by combining a nondefensive attitude with a charged sexual presence. While your cool, nonchalant air is lowering their inhibitions, your glances, voice, and bearing—oozing sex and desire—are getting under their skin and raising their temperature. Never force the physical; instead infect your targets with heat, lure them into lust. Morality, judgment, and concern for the future will all melt away.
23 Master the Art of the Bold Move page 405
A moment has arrived: Your victim clearly desires you, but is not ready to admit it openly, let alone act on it. This is the time to throw aside chivalry, kindness, and coquetry and to overwhelm with a bold move. Don't give the victim time to consider the consequences. Showing hesitation or awkwardness means you are thinking of yourself as opposed to being overwhelmed by the victim's charms. One person must go on the offensive, and it is you.
24 Beware the Aftereffects page 415
Danger follows in the aftermath of a successful seduction. After emotions have reached a pitch, they often swing in the opposite direction—toward lassitude, distrust, disappointment. If you are to part, make the sacrifice swift and sudden. If you are to stay in a relationship, beware a flagging of energy, a creeping familiarity that will spoil the fantasy. A second seduction is required. Never let the other person take you for granted—use absence, create pain and conflict, to keep the seduced on tenterhooks.
Appendix A: Seductive Environment/Seductive Time page 431 Appendix B: Soft Seduction: How to Sell Anything to the Masses page 441
Selected Bibliography •455 Index • 457
Thousands of years ago, power was mostly gained through physical violence and maintained with brute strength. There was little need for subtlety—a king or emperor had to be merciless. Only a select few had power, but no one suffered under this scheme of things more than women. They had no way to compete, no weapon at their disposal that could make a man do what they wanted—politically, socially, or even in the home.
Of course men had one weakness: their insatiable desire for sex. A woman could always toy with this desire, but once she gave in to sex the man was back in control; and if she withheld sex, he could simply look elsewhere—or exert force. What good was a power that was so temporary and frail? Yet women had no choice but to submit to this condition. There were some, though, whose hunger for power was too great, and who, over the years, through much cleverness and creativity, invented a way of turning the dynamic around, creating a more lasting and effective form of power.
These women—among them Bathsheba, from the Old Testament; Helen of Troy; the Chinese siren Hsi Shi; and the greatest of them all, Cleopatra—invented seduction. First they would draw a man in with an alluring appearance, designing their makeup and adornment to fashion the image of a goddess come to life. By showing only glimpses of flesh, they would tease a man's imagination, stimulating the desire not just for sex but for something greater: the chance to possess a fantasy figure. Once they had their victims' interest, these women would lure them away from the masculine world of war and politics and get them to spend time in the feminine world—a world of luxury, spectacle, and pleasure. They might also lead them astray literally, taking them on a journey, as Cleopatra lured Julius Caesar on a trip down the Nile. Men would grow hooked on these refined, sensual pleasures—they would fall in love. But then, invariably, the women would turn cold and indifferent, confusing their victims. Just when the men wanted more, they found their pleasures withdrawn. They would be forced into pursuit, trying anything to win back the favors they once had tasted and growing weak and emotional in the process. Men who had physical force and all the social power—men like King David, the Trojan Paris, Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, King Fu Chai—would find themselves becoming the slave of a woman.
In the face of violence and brutality, these women made seduction a
Oppression and scorn, thus, were and must have been generally the share of women in emerging societies; this state lasted in all its force until centuries of experience taught them to substitute skill for force. Women at last sensed that, since they were weaker, their only resource was to seduce; they understood that if they were dependent on men through force, men could become dependent on them through pleasure. More unhappy than men, they must have thought and reflected earlier than did men; they were the first to know that pleasure was always beneath the idea that one formed of it, and that the imagination went farther than nature. Once these basic truths were known, they learned first to veil their charms in order to awaken curiosity; they practiced the difficult art of refusing even as they wished to consent; from that moment on, they knew how to set men's imagination afire, they knew how to arouse and direct desires as they pleased: thus did beauty and love come into being; now the lot of women became less harsh, not that they had managed to liberate themselves entirely from the state of oppression to which their weakness condemned them; but, in the state of perpetual war that continues to exist between women and men, one has seen them, with the help of the caresses they have been able to invent, combat ceaselessly, sometimes vanquish, and often more skillfully take advantage of the forces directed against them; sometimes, too, men have turned against women these weapons the women had forged to combat them, and their slavery has become all the harsher for it.
— choderlos de laclos, on the education of women translated by lydia davis, in the libertine reader, edited by michael feher
Much more genius is needed to make love than to command armies.
Menelaus, if you are really going to kill her, \ Then my blessing go with you, but you must do it now, \ Before her looks so twist the strings of your heart \ That they turn your mind; for her eyes are like armies, \And where her glances fall, there cities burn, \ Until the dust of their ashes is blown \ By her sighs. I know her, Men elans, \ And so do you. And all those who know her suffer.
— hecuba speaking about helen of troy in euripides, the trojan women translated by neil curry sophisticated art, the ultimate form of power and persuasion. They learned to work on the mind first, stimulating fantasies, keeping a man wanting more, creating patterns of hope and despair—the essence of seduction. Their power was not physical but psychological, not forceful but indirect and cunning. These first great seductresses were like military generals planning the destruction of an enemy, and indeed early accounts of seduction often compare it to battle, the feminine version of warfare. For Cleopatra, it was a means of consolidating an empire. In seduction, the woman was no longer a passive sex object; she had become an active agent, a figure of power.
With a few exceptions—the Latin poet Ovid, the medieval troubadours—men did not much concern themselves with such a frivolous art as seduction. Then, in the seventeenth century came a great change: men grew interested in seduction as a way to overcome a young woman's resistance to sex. History's first great male seducers—the Duke de Lauzun, the different Spaniards who inspired the Don Juan legend—began to adopt the methods traditionally employed by women. They learned to dazzle with their appearance (often androgynous in nature), to stimulate the imagination, to play the coquette. They also added a new, masculine element to the game: seductive language, for they had discovered a woman's weakness for soft words. These two forms of seduction—the feminine use of appearances and the masculine use of language—would often cross gender lines: Casanova would dazzle a woman with his clothes; Ninon de l'Enclos would charm a man with her words.
At the same time that men were developing their version of seduction, others began to adapt the art for social purposes. As Europe's feudal system of government faded into the past, courtiers needed to get their way in court without the use of force. They learned the power to be gained by seducing their superiors and competitors through psychological games, soft words, a little coquetry. As culture became democratized, actors, dandies, and artists came to use the tactics of seduction as a way to charm and win over their audience and social milieu. In the nineteenth century another great change occurred: politicians like Napoleon consciously saw themselves as seducers, on a grand scale. These men depended on the art of seductive oratory, but they also mastered what had once been feminine strategies: staging vast spectacles, using theatrical devices, creating a charged physical presence. All this, they learned, was the essence of charisma—and remains so today. By seducing the masses they could accumulate immense power without the use of force.
Today we have reached the ultimate point in the evolution of seduction. Now more than ever, force or brutality of any kind is discouraged. All areas of social life require the ability to persuade people in a way that does not offend or impose itself. Forms of seduction can be found everywhere, blending male and female strategies. Advertisements insinuate, the soft sell dominates. If we are to change people's opinions—and affecting opinion is basic to seduction—we must act in subtle, subliminal ways. Today no politi cal campaign can work without seduction. Since the era of John F. Kennedy, political figures are required to have a degree of charisma, a fascinating presence to keep their audience's attention, which is half the battle. The film world and media create a galaxy of seductive stars and images. We are saturated in the seductive. But even if much has changed in degree and scope, the essence of seduction is constant: never be forceful or direct; instead, use pleasure as bait, playing on people's emotions, stirring desire and confusion, inducing psychological surrender. In seduction as it is practiced today, the methods of Cleopatra still hold.
People are constantly trying to influence us, to tell us what to do, and just as often we tune them out, resisting their attempts at persuasion. There is a moment in our lives, however, when we all act differently—when we are in love. We fall under a kind of spell. Our minds are usually preoccupied with our own concerns; now they become filled with thoughts of the loved one. We grow emotional, lose the ability to think straight, act in foolish ways that we would never do otherwise. If this goes on long enough something inside us gives way: we surrender to the will of the loved one, and to our desire to possess them.
Seducers are people who understand the tremendous power contained in such moments of surrender. They analyze what happens when people are in love, study the psychological components of the process—what spurs the imagination, what casts a spell. By instinct and through practice they master the art of making people fall in love. As the first seductresses knew, it is much more effective to create love than lust. A person in love is emotional, pliable, and easily misled. (The origin of the word "seduction" is the Latin for "to lead astray") A person in lust is harder to control and, once satisfied, may easily leave you. Seducers take their time, create enchantment and the bonds of love, so that when sex ensues it only further enslaves the victim. Creating love and enchantment becomes the model for all seductions—sexual, social, political. A person in love will surrender.
It is pointless to try to argue against such power, to imagine that you are not interested in it, or that it is evil and ugly. The harder you try to resist the lure of seduction—as an idea, as a form of power—the more you will find yourself fascinated. The reason is simple: most of us have known the power of having someone fall in love with us. Our actions, gestures, the things we say, all have positive effects on this person; we may not completely understand what we have done right, but this feeling of power is intoxicating. It gives us confidence, which makes us more seductive. We may also experience this in a social or work setting—one day we are in an elevated mood and people seem more responsive, more charmed by us. These moments of power are fleeting, but they resonate in the memory with great intensity. We want them back. Nobody likes to feel awkward or timid or unable to reach people. The siren call of seduction is irresistible because power is irresistible, and nothing will bring you more power in the modern world than the ability to seduce. Repressing the desire to seduce is a kind of
No man hath it in his power to over-rule the deceitfulness of a woman.
—marguerite of navarre
This important side-track, by which woman succeeded in evading man's strength and establishing herself in power, has not been given due consideration by historians. From the moment when the woman detached herself from the crowd, an individual finished product, offering delights which could not be obtained by force, but only by flattery the reign of love's priestesses was inaugurated. It was a development of far-reaching importance in the history of civilization. . . . Only by the circuitous route of the art of love could woman again assert authority, and this she did by asserting herself at the very point at which she would normally be a slave at the man's mercy. She had discovered the might of lust, the secret of the art of love, the daemonic power of a passion artificially aroused and never satiated. The force tints unchained was thenceforth to count among the most tremendous of the world's forces and at moments to have power even over life and death. . . . * The deliberate spellbinding of man's senses was to have a magical effect upon him, opening up an infinitely wider range of sensation and spurring him on as if impelled by an inspired dream.
—alexander von gleichen-russwurm, the world's lure, translated by hannah waller
The first thing to get in your head is that every single \ Girl can be caught—and that you'll catch her if \ You set your toils right. Birds will sooner fall dumb in \ Springtime, \ Cicadas in summer, or a hunting-dog \ Turn his back on a hare, than a lover's bland inducements \ Can fail with a woman, Even one you suppose \ Reluctant will want it.
—ovid, the art of love, translated by peter green
The combination of these two elements, enchantment and surrender, is, then, essential to the love which we are discussing. . . . What exists in love is surrender due to enchantment.
—josé ortega y gasset, on love, translated by toby talbot
What is good?—All that heightens the feeling of power, the will to power, power itself in man. • What is bad?—AH that proceeds from weakness. • What is happiness?—The feeling that power increases—that a resistance is overcome.
— friedrich nietzsche, the anti-christ, translated by r. j. hollingdale hysterical reaction, revealing your deep-down fascination with the process; you are only making your desires stronger. Some day they will come to the surface.
To have such power does not require a total transformation in your character or any kind of physical improvement in your looks. Seduction is a game of psychology, not beauty, and it is within the grasp of any person to become a master at the game. All that is required is that you look at the world differently, through the eyes of a seducer.
A seducer does not turn the power off and on—every social and personal interaction is seen as a potential seduction. There is never a moment to waste. This is so for several reasons. The power seducers have over a man or woman works in social environments because they have learned how to tone down the sexual element without getting rid of it. We may think we see through them, but they are so pleasant to be around anyway that it does not matter. Trying to divide your life into moments in which you seduce and others in which you hold back will only confuse and constrain you. Erotic desire and love lurk beneath the surface of almost every human encounter; better to give free rein to your skills than to try to use them only in the bedroom. (In fact, the seducer sees the world as his or her bedroom.) This attitude creates great seductive momentum, and with each seduction you gain experience and practice. One social or sexual seduction makes the next one easier, your confidence growing and making you more alluring. People are drawn to you in greater numbers as the seducer's aura descends upon you.
Seducers have a warrior's outlook on life. They see each person as a kind of walled castle to which they are laying siege. Seduction is a process of penetration: initially penetrating the target's mind, their first point of defense. Once seducers have penetrated the mind, making the target fantasize about them, it is easy to lower resistance and create physical surrender. Seducers do not improvise; they do not leave this process to chance. Like any good general, they plan and strategize, aiming at the target's particular weaknesses.
The main obstacle to becoming a seducer is this foolish prejudice we have of seeing love and romance as some kind of sacred, magical realm where things just fall into place, if they are meant to. This might seem romantic and quaint, but it is really just a cover for our laziness. What will seduce a person is the effort we expend on their behalf, showing how much we care, how much they are worth. Leaving things to chance is a recipe for disaster, and reveals that we do not take love and romance very seriously. It was the effort Casanova expended, the artfulness he applied to each affair that made him so devilishly seductive. Falling in love is a matter not of magic but of psychology. Once you understand your target's psychology, and strategize to suit it, you will be better able to cast a "magical" spell. A seducer sees love not as sacred but as warfare, where all is fair.
Seducers are never self-absorbed. Their gaze is directed outward, not inward. When they meet someone their first move is to get inside that per-
son's skin, to see the world through their eyes. The reasons for this are sev- The d^ffecttm netims^, eral. First, self-absorption is a sign of insecurity; it is anti-seductive. Every- anguish and frustration
encountered by one has insecurities, but seducers manage to ignore them, finding therapy psychoanalysis comes no for moments of self-doubt by being absorbed in the world. This gives them doubt from being unable to a buoyant spirit—we want to be around them. Second, getting into some- love or to be loved' from
being unable to give or take one's skin, imagining what it is like to be them, helps the seducer gather pleasure, but the radical
valuable information, learn what makes that person tick, what will make disenchantment comes from them lose their ability to think straight and fall into a trap. Armed with seduction and its failure.
such information, they can provide focused and individualized attention—a Only those who lie
completely outside rare commodity in a world in which most people see us only from behind seduction are ill, even if the screen of their own prejudices. Getting into the targets' skin is the first they remain fuiiy capMe of
loving and making love.
important tactical move in the war of penetration.
Psychoanalysis believes it
Seducers see themselves as providers of pleasure, like bees that gather treats the disorder of sex pollen from some flowers and deliver it to others. As children we mostly and desire, but in reality it devoted our lives to play and pleasure. Adults often have feelings of being is dealing with the
cut off from this paradise, of being weighed down by responsibilities. The The most serious
seducer knows that people are waiting for pleasure—they never get enough deficiencies always concern of it from friends and lovers, and they cannot get it by themselves. A person charm and not pleasure,
enchantment and not some who enters their lives offering adventure and romance cannot be resisted.
vital or sexual satisfaction.
Pleasure is a feeling of being taken past our limits, of being overwhelmed—
001 0 —jean baudrillard, by another person, by an experience. People are dying to be overwhelmed, SEDUCTI0N to let go of their usual stubbornness. Sometimes their resistance to us is a way of saying, Please seduce me. Seducers know that the possibility of pleasure will make a person follow them, and the experience of it will Whatever is done from love make someone open up, weak to the touch. They also train themselves to always occurs beyond good be sensitive to pleasure, knowing that feeling pleasure themselves will make and evil. it that much easier for them to infect the people around them. —friedrich minora,
A seducer sees all of life as theater, everyone an actor. Most people feel tc^^0^^™' they have constricted roles in life, which makes them unhappy. Seducers, kaufmann on the other hand, can be anyone and can assume many roles. (The archetype here is the god Zeus, insatiable seducer of young maidens, whose main weapon was the ability to assume the form of whatever person or animal would most appeal to his victim.) Seducers take pleasure in performing and are not weighed down by their identity, or by some need to be themselves, or to be natural. This freedom of theirs, this fluidity in body and spirit, is what makes them attractive. What people lack in life is not more reality but illusion, fantasy, play. The clothes that seducers wear, the places they take you to, their words and actions, are slightly heightened—not overly theatrical but with a delightful edge of unreality, as if the two of you were living out a piece of fiction or were characters in a film. Seduction is a kind of theater in real life, the meeting of illusion and reality.
Finally, seducers are completely amoral in their approach to life. It is all a game, an arena for play. Knowing that the moralists, the crabbed repressed types who croak about the evils of the seducer, secretly envy their power, they do not concern themselves with other people's opinions. They do not deal in moral judgments—nothing could be less seductive. Everything is
Should anyone here in Rome lack finesse at love-making, \ Let him \ Try me—read my book, and results are guaranteed! \ Technique is the secret.
Charioteer, sailor, oarsman, \ All need it. Technique can control \ Love himself.
— ovid, the art of love, translated by peter green pliant, fluid, like life itself. Seduction is a form of deception, but people want to be led astray, they yearn to be seduced. If they didn't, seducers would not find so many willing victims. Get rid of any moralizing tendencies, adopt the seducer's playful philosophy, and you will find the rest of the process easy and natural.
The Art of Seduction is designed to arm you with weapons of persuasion and charm, so that those around you will slowly lose their ability to resist without knowing how or why it has happened. It is an art of war for delicate times.
Every seduction has two elements that you must analyze and understand: first, yourself and what is seductive about you; and second, your target and the actions that will penetrate their defenses and create surrender. The two sides are equally important. If you strategize without paying attention to the parts of your character that draw people to you, you will be seen as a mechanical seducer, slimy and manipulative. If you rely on your seductive personality without paying attention to the other person, you will make terrible mistakes and limit your potential.
Consequently, The Art of Seduction is divided into two parts. The first half, "The Seductive Character," describes the nine types of seducer, plus the Anti-Seducer. Studying these types will make you aware of what is inherently seductive in your character, the basic building block of any seduction. The second half, "The Seductive Process," includes the twenty-four maneuvers and strategies that will instruct you on how to create a spell, break down people's resistance, give movement and force to your seduction, and induce surrender in your target. As a kind of bridge between the two parts, there is a chapter on the eighteen types of victims of a seduction—each of them missing something from their lives, each cradling an emptiness you can fill. Knowing what type you are dealing with will help you put into practice the ideas in both sections. Ignore any part of this book and you will be an incomplete seducer.
The ideas and strategies in The Art of Seduction are based on the writings and historical accounts of the most successful seducers in history. The sources include the seducers' own memoirs (by Casanova, Errol Flynn, Natalie Barney, Marilyn Monroe); biographies (of Cleopatra, Josephine Bonaparte, John F. Kennedy, Duke Ellington); handbooks on the subject (most notably Ovid's Art of Love); and fictional accounts of seductions (Choderlos de Laclos's Dangerous Liaisons, S0ren Kierkegaard's The Seducers Diary, Murasaki Shikibu's The Tale of Genji). The heroes and heroines of these literary works are generally modeled on real-life seducers. The strategies they employ reveal the intimate connection between fiction and seduction, creating illusion and leading a person along. In putting the book's lessons into practice, you will be following in the path of the greatest masters of the art.
Finally, the spirit that will make you a consummate seducer is the spirit in which you should read this book. The French writer Denis Diderot once wrote, "I give my mind the liberty to follow the first wise or foolish idea that presents itself, just as in the avenue de Foy our dissolute youths follow close on the heels of some strumpet, then leave her to pursue another, attacking all of them and attaching themselves to none. My thoughts are my strumpets." He meant that he let himself be seduced by ideas, following whichever one caught his fancy until a better one came along, his thoughts infused with a kind of sexual excitement. Once you enter these pages, do as Diderot advised: let yourself be lured by the stories and ideas, your mind open and your thoughts fluid. Slowly you will find yourself absorbing the poison through the skin and you will begin to see everything as a seduction, including the way you think and how you look at the world.
Most virtue is a demand for greater seduction.
f Part One
O Jeductive Character
We all have the power of attraction—the ability to draw people in and hold them in our thrall. Far from all of us, though, are aware of this inner potential, and we imagine attractiveness instead as a near-mystical trait that a select few are born with and the rest will never command. Yet all we need to do to realize our potential is understand what it is in a person's character that naturally excites people and develop these latent qualities within us.
Successful seductions rarely begin with an obvious maneuver or strategic device. That is certain to arouse suspicion. Successful seductions begin with your character, your ability to radiate some quality that attracts people and stirs their emotions in a way that is beyond their control. Hypnotized by your seductive character, your victims will not notice your subsequent manipulations. It will then be child's play to mislead and seduce them.
There are nine seducer types in the world. Each type has a particular character trait that comes from deep within and creates a seductive pull. Sirenshave an abundance of sexual energy and know how to use it. Rakes insatiably adore the opposite sex, and their desire is infectious. Ideal Lovers have an aesthetic sensibility that they apply to romance. Dandies like to play with their image, creating a striking and androgynous allure. Naturals are spontaneous and open. Coquettes are self-sufficient, with a fascinating cool at their core. Charmers want and know how to please—they are social creatures. Charismatics have an unusual confidence in themselves. Stars are ethereal and envelop themselves in mystery.
The chapters in this section will take you inside each of the nine types. At least one of the chapters should strike a chord—you will recognize part of yourself. That chapter will be the key to developing your own powers of attraction. Let us say you have coquettish tendencies. The Coquette chapter will show you how to build upon your own self-sufficiency, alternating heat and coldness to ensnare your victims. It will show you how to take your natural qualities further, becoming a grand Coquette, the type we fight over. There is no point in being timid with a seductive quality. We are charmed by an unabashed Rake and excuse his excesses, but a halfhearted Rake gets no respect. Once you have cultivated your dominant character trait, adding some art to what nature has given you, you can then develop a second or third trait, adding depth and mystery to your persona. Finally the section's tenth chapter, on the Anti-Seducer, will make you aware of the op posite potential within you—the power of repulsion. At all cost you must root out any anti-seductive tendencies you may have.
Think of the nine types as shadows, silhouettes. Only by stepping into one of them and letting it grow inside you can you begin to develop the seductive character that will bring you limitless power.
Continue reading here: Sirens Are Often Fantastically Irrational
Was this article helpful?