A Philosophical view of the Art of Seduction by Robert Greene
Written By: Matthew Sean Ewing
Is there anything more tempting than the promise of ascension to godhood? I found myself asking this, and many more questions, while reading The Art of Seduction. It is a masterful example of the undeniable attractiveness of the “how to” books that seem to saturate society today. Robert Greene (Author of the Best Selling book The 48 Laws of Power) once again, exhibit’s a keen and persuasive mind, by making a case for seduction that draws from the very origins of human society. Repeatedly, he shows how the most influential people in history, from Cleopatra and Napoleon, to Marilynn Monroe and John F. Kennedy, used the once privileged “Art of Seduction” to enthrall and manipulate their way into fame, and in some cases infamy. The book is both well researched and clever, giving a clear and stirring argument for the applications of this powerful art form, while providing helpful tips and methods, collected from great seducers like Sigmund Freud and Andy Warhol. Greene paints the picture of a world of endless lighthearted play, adventure and intrigue that, if cultivated with enough patience, possesses the power to create a private army of thralls begging to submit to your every wish. The promises in it are nothing short of that which most of our society long for: fame, fortune and endless fun in a game that rewards it leaders ceaselessly with their every desire, while simultaneously allowing them to escape any consequences by outright rejecting the notion that they should have to. A marvelous read that is as nauseating as it is intoxicating. I mean — who wouldn’t want to be like a god? Lose yourself in this novel of debauchery, desire, obsession and predation; and you may find that cannibalism isn’t such a grotesque idea when presented as an artful seduction.
There are many different topics and modalities for seduction discussed throughout the chapters, as well as stories to illustrate how they have been successfully executed. Like Cleopatra’s use of extravagantly detailed illusions to keep both Julius Cesar and Mark Anthony distracted from the fact that during the time they spent with her, the empires they governed were turning to ash and rubble. But, as I have come to understand it, the act of seduction ultimately rest on a few tried and true steps. First “Paying Attention to the person you have chosen to seduce”. This is done primarily for two reasons; one so you can know if they are susceptible to seduction (Happy and secure people are not) by classifying them as one or more of the 18 type of “Victims.” The second, once the victim type is determined, is to find what is missing for the person and make sure that you accentuate the lack for them (show them a big-old fun house mirror enhancing any flaws they posses). “Nobody in this world feels whole or complete,” according to Greene, by making the target painfully aware of that which they believe they lack you have set the stage for the last step, to finally become a fantasy savior, who, by your very nature, provides exactly what they lack and are willing to give them…maybe. There are 9 different assumed personas that can be donned in order to achieve this desired effect. The key is finding out which ones you can pull-off with a façade of sincerity and to figure out what type of victim would best respond to your chosen illusion. Once you have become both the cause of discomfort and the solution for easing it, you have succeeded. Now simply rinse and repeat using the hundreds of variations and scenarios laid out for you and presto insta-thrall. At heart, seduction is the same concept that we have been exposed to in one form or another all our lives. Creating insecurities then providing an escape for them is the lifeblood of advertising, religion, teaching, governing, slavery and socializing. Hell, even parenting is predicated on this undeniably affective model; convince someone they are flawed (or imperfect) and then give them steps to follow which will make it easier for them to ignore those flaws, is no less real. By providing the “victim” with custom made distractions and surrounding them with people who are equally committed to empowering comforting illusions, you get to join the elite rank of the puppeteers. What this book is attempting to do is provide “normal” people with the means to do consciously, that which, up to this point, has been a passive thing.
In case you have not spotted it, there are several flaws to this type of ideology, but mainly, the fatal one is the most obvious and the one most often overlooked. Human Beings are not sheep to be lead around by a self appointed Sheppard. They are not food meant to feed the insatiable appetite of an obsolete but feared institution. Nor are they flawed, incomplete, imperfect, incapable or any of the other nonsense they have been continuously led to believe. The moment that this obvious reality, or any reality for that matter, intrudes on cultivated illusion, it irrevocably shatters this cultivation to the ultimate demise of the “man behind the curtain.”
The truth is that you were born uniquely and perfectly you, a human being free of obligations or corruption. It is this reality that is uniquely dangerous to the systems that survive on your need to be lead by your “betters.” “How To” books for instance have little to no affect on someone who understand that no one can teach you how to be who you are. That real fulfillment comes simply from finding each portion of that which is you and loving it like a golden retriever puppy. Reality need not be feared or avoided once you understand the interwoven nature of chance, choice and consequence (but that is entirely another story).
The book is in essence masterful in its argument supporting sanctified cannibalism, and in a profit driven world it is not alone. One thing that Robert Greene studiously fails to mention, is that by surrounding yourself with weak willed sycophants, you conscience yourself to painstakingly live the illusion you are creating. In fact he makes many parallels between the successful seducer and the patient spider. The chains on those collars you artfully craft, lead, not to a leash, but to the larger cruder collar around your own neck; there is no freedom from yourself in the sand, no matter how deep you bury your head or how many half people join you. Like the child who thinks that closing their eyes makes them invisible, you will eventually have to face the fact that: belief does not now, nor has ever been, a means of determining what is true. If you can truly say that what you want most is to enslave the weakest among us in order to feel better about yourself, then have at it. In the end, those who are truly capable, truly alive, and truly human beings can only smile at the cute little baby cannibals pretending they are only eating cake.