The Effigy Of The Seductress

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The prismatic effect of seduction provides another space of refraction. Seduction does not consist of a simple appearance, nor a pure absence, but the eclipse of a presence. Its sole strategy is to be-there/not-there, and thereby produce a sort of flickering, a hypnotic mechanism that crystallizes attention outside all concern with meaning. Absence here seduces presence.

The sovereign power of the seductress stems from her ability to "eclipse" any will or context. She cannot allow other relations to be established - even the most intimate, affectionate, amorous or sexual (particularly not the latter) - without breaking them, or repaying them with a strange fascination. She constantly avoids all relations in which, at some given moment, the question of truth will be posed. She undoes them effortlessly, not by denying or destroying them, but by making them shimmer. Here lies her secret: in the flickering of a presence. She is never where one expects her, and never where one wants her. Seduction supposes, Virilio would say, an "aesthetics of disappearance."

The seductress turns desire itself into an illusion or trap. For her there is no more truth to desire - or to the body - than to anything else. Love itself, or the sex act, can become moments in a seduction if given the ecliptic form of appearance/dis-

appearance, that it to say, a discontinuous form that cuts short every emotion, pleasure and relation in order to reaffirm the superior character of seduction, its transcendent aesthetics relative to the immanent ethics of pleasure and desire. Love and the carnal act are only so much seductive finery, the most refined and subtle invented by women to seduce men. But modesty and rejection can play the same role. ¬°Everything is finery in this sense, and belongs to the genius of appearance.

"I do not want to love, cherish, or even please you, but to seduce you - and my only concern is not that you; love or please me, but that you are seduced'.' The game of the seductress involves a certain mental cruelty, towards herself as well as others. Any affection on her part is a weakness relative to the ritual imperative. No quarter can be given in a challenge where love and desire are dissolved. Nor any respite, lest this fascination be reduced to nothing. The true seductress can only exist in a state of seduction. Outside this state, she is no longer a woman, neither an object nor subject of desire, faceless and unattractive - for she is borne by an all-consuming passion. Seduction is sovereign - the only ritual that eclipses all others - but its sovereignty is cruel, and carries a heavy price.

Thus, when seducing, her body and desires are no longer her own. But then what is this body, or these: desires? She doesn't believe in them - and so plays with them. Without a body of her own, she turns herself into a pure appearance, an artificial construct with which to trap the desires of others. Seduction consists in letting the other believe himself to be the subject of his desire, without oneself being caught in this trap. It can also consist in becoming a "seductive" sex'object, if that is the man's "desire." The spell cast by seduction passes through sexual attraction; but indeed, it passes through in1 order to transcend it. "I am attractive, but you are captivating." - "Life has its attractions, but death leaves one spellbound."

For seduction, desire is not an end but a hypothetical prize. More precisely, the objective is to provoke and deceive desire, which exists only to burn for a moment and then be disappointed - it being deluded as to its power, which is given to it only in order to be withdrawn. The person might not even know what has happened. It might be that the person seducing actu-

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