The Secret And The Challenge

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The secret.

The seductive, initiatory quality of that which cannot be said because it makes no sense, and of that which is not said even though it gets around. Thus I know another's secret but do not reveal it and he knows that I know, but does not acknowledge it: the intensity between us is simply this secret about the secret. The complicity has nothing to do with some hidden piece of information. Besides, even if we wanted to reveal the secret we could not, since there is nothing to say... Everything that can be revealed lies outside the secret. For the latter is not a hidden signified, nor the key to something, but circulates through and traverses everything that can be said, just as seduction flows beneath the obscenity of speech. It is the opposite of communication, and yet it can be shared. The secret maintains its power only at the price of remaining unspoken, just as seduction operates only because never spoken nor intended.

The hidden or the repressed has a tendency to manifest itself, whereas the secret does not. It is an initiatory and implo-sive form: one enters into a secret, but cannot exit. The secret is never revealed, never communicated, never even "secreted" (Zempleny, Nouvelle Revue de Psychanalyse, no. 14). Whence its strength, the power of an allusive, ritual exchange.

Thus in Kierkegaard's Diary of the Seducer,; se'duction takes the form of an enigma to be solved. The girl is an enigma, and in order to seduce her, one must become an enigma for her. It is an enigmatic duel, one that the seductioh solves, but without disclosing the secret. If the secret were disclosed, sexuality would stand revealed. The story's true meaning, if it had one, would be about sex - but in fact it doesn't have one. In that place where meaning should be, where sex should occur, where words point to it, and where others think it to be - there is nothing. And this nothing/secret, this, the seduction's un-signified moves beneath the words and their meaning, and moves faster than their meaning. It is what touches you first, before the sentences arrive, in the time it takes for them to fade away. A seduction beneath discourse, an invisible seduction, moving from sign to sign - a secret circulation.

It is the exact opposite of the psychological relation: to share someone's secrets is not to share his or her phantasies or desires, nor it is to share something as yet unspoken. When the id speaks, it is not seductive. All that involves repression, expressive energies or the unconscious, everything that wishes to speak, everywhere the ego has to appear - all this belongs to an exoteric order that contradicts the esoteric form of: secrecy and seduction.

Yet the unconscious, the "adventure" of the unconscious, appears as the last, large-scale attempt to reestablish secrecy in a society without secrets. The unconscious appears as our secret, our personal mystery in a confessional and transparent society. But it isn't really a secret, for it is merely psychological. It does not have an existence of its own, since the unconscious was created at the same time as psychoanalysis, j that is to say, at the same time as the procedures for its assimilation, and the techniques for the retraction of the secrets lodged in its deep structures.

But perhaps something is taking its revenge on all the interpretations, and in a subtle way disrupting their development? Something that, most decidedly, does not want to be said and that, being an enigma, enigmatically possesses its own resolution, and so aspires to remain in secret and in the joys of secrecy.

Language returns to its secret seduction despite all the efforts to uncover and betray it in order to make it signify, while we return to our own insoluble pleasures.

There is neither a time of seduction, nor a time for seduction, but still it has its own indispensable rhythm. Unlike instrumental strategies, which proceed by intermediary stages, seduction operates instantaneously, in a single movement, and is always its own end.

The cycle of seduction cannot be stopped. One can seduce someone in order to seduce someone else, but also seduce someone else to please oneself. The illusion that leads from the one to the other is subtle. Is it to seduce, or to be seduced, that is seductive? But to be seduced is the best way to seduce. It is an endless refrain. There is no active or passive mode in seduction, no subject or object, no interior or exterior: seduction plays on both sides, and there is no frontier separating them. One cannot seduce others, if one has not oneself been seduced.

Because seduction never stops at the truth of signs, but operates by deception and secrecy, it inaugurates a mode of circulation that is itself secretive and ritualistic, a sort of immediate initiation that plays by its own rules.

To be seduced is to be turned from one's truth. To seduce is to lead the other from his/her truth. This truth then becomes a secret that escapes him/her (Vincent Descombes: L'inconscient malgré lut).

Seduction is immediately reversible, and its reversibility is constituted by the challenge it implies and the secret in which it is absorbed.

It is a power of attraction and distraction, of absorption and fascination, a power that cause the collapse of not just sex, but the real in general - a power of defiance. It is never an economy of sex or speech, but an escalation of violence and grace, an instantaneous passion that can result in sex, but which can just as easily exhaust itself in the process of defiance and death. It implies a radical indétermination that distinguishes it from a drive - drives being indeterminate in relation to their object, but determined as force and origin, while the passion of seduc tion has neither substance nor origin. It is not from some libidinal investment, some energy of desire that this passion acquires its intensity, but from gaming as pure form and from purely formal bluffing.

Likewise, the challenge. It too has a duel form that wears itself out in no time at all, drawing its intensity from this instantaneous reversion. It too is bewitching, like a meaningless discourse to which one cannot not respond for the very reason that it is absurd. Why does one respond to a challenge? The same mysterious question as: what is it that seduces?

What could be more seductive than a challenge? A seduction or challenge always drives the other mad, but with a vertigo that is reciprocal - an insanity borne by the vertiginous absence that unites them, and by their reciprocal engulfment. Such is the inevitability of the challenge, and why one cannot but respond to it. For it inaugurates a kind of insane relation, quite unlike relations of communication or exchange: a duel relation transacted by meaningless signs, but held together by a fundamental rule and its secret observance. A challenge terminates all contracts and exchanges regulated by the law (whether the law of nature or value), substituting a highly conventional and ritualized pact, with an unceasing obligation to respond and respond in spades - an obligation that is governed by a fundamental game rule, and proceeds in accord with its own rhythm. In contrast to the law, which is always inscribed in stone or the sky, or in one's heart, this fundamental rule never needs to be stated; indeed, it must never be stated. It is immediate, immanent, and inevitable (whereas the law is transcendent and explicit). :

There can never be seduction or challenge by contract. In order for a challenge or seduction to exist, all contractual relations must disappear before the duel relation - a relation composed of secret signs that have been withdrawn from exchange, and derive their intensity from their formal division and immediate reverberation. In like manner, seduction's enchantment puts an end to all libidinal economies, and every sexual or psy chological contract, replacing them with a dizzying spiral of responses and counter-responses. It is never an investment but a risk; never a contract but a pact; never individual but duel; never psychological but ritual; never natural but artificial. It is no one's strategy, but a destiny.

Challenge and seduction are quite similar. And yet there is a difference. In a challenge one draws the other into one's area of strength, which, in view of the potential for unlimited escalation, is also his or her area of strength. Whereas in a strategy (?) of seduction one draws the other into one's area of weakness, which is also his or her area of weakness. A calculated weakness, an incalculable weakness: one challenges the other to be taken in. A weakness or failure: isn't the panther's scent itself a weakness, an abyss which the other animals approach giddily? In fact, the panther of the mythical scent is simply the epicenter of death, and from this weakness subtle fragrances emerge.

To seduce is to appear weak. To seduce is to render weak. We seduce with our weakness, never with strong signs or powers. In seduction we enact this weakness, and this is what gives seduction its strength.

We seduce with our death, our vulnerability, and with the void that haunts us. The secret is to know how to play with death in the absence of a gaze or gesture, in the absence of knowledge or meaning.

Psychoanalysis tells us to assume our fragility and passivity, but in almost religious terms, turns them into a form of resignation and acceptance in order to promote a well tempered psychic equilibrium. Seduction, by contrast, plays triumphantly with weakness, making a game of it, with its own rules.

Everything is seduction and nothing but seduction.

They wanted us to believe that everything was production. The theme song of world transformation: the play of produc tive forces is what regulates the course of things. Seduction is merely an immoral, frivolous, superficial, and superfluous process, limited to the realm of signs and appearances, devoted to pleasure and the usufruct of useless bodies. But what if everything, contrary to appearances - in fact, in accord with a secret rule of appearances - operates by seduction?

the moment of seduction the suspension of seduction the risk of seduction the accident of seduction the delirium of seduction the pause of seduction.

Production only accumulates, without deviating from its end. It replaces all illusions with just one, its own, which becomes the reality principle. Production, like revolution, puts an end to the epidemic of appearances. But seduction is inevitable. No one living escapes it - not even the dead. For the'dead are only dead when there are no longer any echoes from this world to seduce them, and no longer any rites challenging them to exist.

For us, only those who can no longer produce are dead. In reality, only those who do not wish to seduce or be seduced are dead. But seduction gets hold of them nonetheless, just as it gets hold of all production and ends up destroying it.

For the void - the hole that, at any point, is burned out by the return of the flame of any sign, the meaninglessness that makes for seduction's unexpected charm - also lies in wait, without illusion, for production once the latter has reached its limits. Everything returns to the void, including our words and gestures. But before disappearing, certain words and gestures, by anticipating their demise, are able to exercise a seduction that the others will never know. Seduction's secret lies in this evocation and revocation of the other, with a slowness and suspense that are poetic, like the slow motion film of a fall or an explosion, because something had the time, prior to its completion, to makes its absence felt. And this, if there is such a thing, is the perfection of "desire."

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