In the trompe I'oeil, whether a mirror or painting, we are bewitched by the spell of the missing dimension. It is the latter that establishes the space of seduction and becomes a source of vertigo. For if the divine mission of all things is to find their meaning, or to find a structure on which to base their meaning, they also seek, by virtue of a diabolical nostalgia, to lose themselves in appearances, in the seduction of their image. That it to say, they seek to unite what should be separated into a single effect of death and seduction. Narcissus.
Seduction cannot possibly be represented, because in seduction the distance between the real and its double, and the distortion between the Same and the Other, is abolished. Bending over a pool of water, Narcissus quenches his thirst. His image is no longer "other;" it is a surface that absorbs and seduces him, which he can approach but never pass beyond. For there is no beyond, just as there is no reflexive distance between him and his image. The mirror of water is not a surface of reflection, but of absorption.
. This is why of all the great figures of seduction in mythology and art - who seduce by a look, a song, an absence, by rouge, beauty or monstrosity, by masks or madness, by their fame, but also their failure and death - Narcissus stands out with singular force.
Not a mirror-reflection, in which the subject finds himself transformed - not a mirror phase, in which the subject establishes himself within the imaginary. All this belongs to the psychological domain of alterity and identity, not seduction.
All reflection theory is impoverished, particularly the idea that seduction is rooted in the attraction of like to like, in a mimetic exaltation of one's own image, or an ideal mirage of resemblance. Thus Vincent Descombes, in L'Inconscient malgré lui, writes:
What seduces is not some feminine wile, but the fact that it is directed at you. It is seductive to be seduced, and consequently, it is being seduced that is seductive. In other words, the being seduced finds himself in the person seducing. What the person seduced sees in the one who seduces him, the unique object of his fascination, is his own seductive, charming self, his lovable self-image...
It is always a matter of self-seduction and its psychological vicissitudes. In the narcissistic myth, however, the mirror does not exist so that Narcissus can find within himself some living ideal. It is a matter of the mirror as an absence of depth, as a superficial abyss, which others find seductive and vertiginous only because they are each the first to be swallowed up in it.
All seduction in this sense is narcissistic, and its secret lies with this mortal absorption. Thus women, being closer to this other, hidden mirror (with which they shroud their image and body) are also closer to the effects of seduction. Men, by contrast, have depth, but no secrets; hence their power and fragility.
If seduction does not proceed from some ideal mirage of the subject, nor does it result from the mirror ideal of death. In Pausanias' version:
Narkissos had a twin sister, they were exactly the same to look at with just the same hairstyle and the same clothes, and they even used to go hunting together. Narkissos was in love with his sister, and when she died he used to visit the spring; he knew that what he saw was his own reflection, but even so he found some relief in telling himself it was his sister's image.
According to H.-P. Jeudy, who accepts this version, Narcissus seduces himself, and conquers his power of seduction, only by embracing mimetically the lost image, restored by his own face, of his deceased twin sister.
But is a mimetic relation with the image of the deceased really necessary to investigate narcissistic vertigo? In truth, the latter has no need of a twin refraction. Its own illusion will do - which is perhaps the illusion of its own death. Perhaps death is always incestuous - a fact that would only add to its spell. The "soul sister" is its spiritualized version. The great stories of seduction, that of Phaedra or Isolde, are stories of incest, and always end in death. What are we to conclude, if not that death itself awaits us in the age-old temptation of incest, including in the incestuous relation we maintain with our own image? We are seduced by the latter because it consoles us with the imminent death of our sacrilegous existence. Our mortal self-absorption with our image consoles us for the irreversibility of our having been born and having to reproduce. It is by this sensual, incestuous transaction with our image, our double, and our death, that we gain our power of seduction.
"I'll be your mirror" does not signify "' I'll be your reflection" but "I'll be your deception."
To seduce is to die as reality and reconstitute oneself as illusion. It is to be taken in by one's own illusion and move in an enchanted world. It is the power of the seductive woman who takes herself for her own desire, and delights in the self-deception in which others, in their turn, will be caught. Narcissus too loses himself in his own illusory image; that is why he turns from his truth, and by his example turns others from their truth - and so becomes a model of love.
The strategy of seduction is one of deception. It lies in wait for all that tends to confuse itself with its reality. And it is potentially a source of fabulous strength. For if production can only produce objects or real signs, and thereby obtain some power; seduction, by producing only illusions, obtains all powers, including the power to return production and reality to their fundamental illusion.
It even lies in wait for the unconscious and desire, by turning them into a mirror of the unconscious and desire. For the latter concerns only drives and their gratification,' while the enchantment begins only after one has been taken in by one's desire. It is the illusion that, happily, saves us from "psychic reality." And it is the illusion of psychoanalysis, which confuses itself with its own desire for psychoanalysis and thereby enters into seduction, into auto-seduction, refracting the latter's power for its own ends.
Thus all science, reality, and production only postpone the due date of seduction, which shines as non-sense, as the sensual and intelligible form of non-sense, in the sky of their desire.
The deception's raison d'être. Like the hawk that returns to a piece of red leather in the form of a bird, is it not the same illusion that, within repetition, confers an absolute reality onto the object that wins? Beyond all question of belief, warranted or unwarranted, the deception is, in à sense, recognition of the endless power of seduction. Narcissus, having lost his twin sister, mourns her loss, by constituting his own face into an illusory attraction. Neither conscious nor unconscious, the dupery is fully played out and sufficient unto itself.
The deception can be inscribed in the sky; its power will not be diminished. Every sign of the Zodiac has its form of seduction. For we all seek the favour of a meaningless fate, and place our hopes in the spell that might result from some absolutely irrational conjuncture - here lies the strength of of the horoscope and zodiacal signs. No one should laugh at'astrology, for he who no longer seeks to seduce the stars is the sadder for it. In effect, many a person's misfortune comes from their not having a place in the sky, within a field of signs that would agree with them - that is to say, in the last instance, from their not having been seduced by their birth and its constellation. They will bear this fate for life, and their very death will come at the wrong time. To fail to be seduced by one's sign is far more serious than the failure to have one's merits rewarded or one's desire gratified. Symbolic discredit is always much more serious than a real defect or misfortune.
Thus the charitable idea of founding an Institute of Zodiacal Semiurgy where, just as one's physical appearance can be corrected by plastic surgery, the injustices of the Sign could be righted and the horoscope's orphans finally receive the Sign of their choice in order that they might be reconciled with themselves. It would be a great success, at least the equal of that of the suicide motels where people will come to die in the manner of their choosing.
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