Upon embarking on this adventure, I’d imagined seduction as an individual’s ability to influence others, typically for sexual gain, but applicable to any form of power play. “Seduction” as a complex behavioural model to unpack and more interesting territory than the effort of trying “to be sexy”.
Seduction may be defined as:
- the act of seducing; especially : the enticement of a person to sexual intercourse
- something that seduces : temptation
- something that attracts or charms
And to seduce is to…
- Entice (someone) into sexual activity
- Entice (someone) to do or believe something inadvisable or foolhardy
- Attract powerfully
An exploration of seduction online — led me to Pick-Up Artists (almost ironic considering how much PUAs emphasise the science), the Kama Sutra, burlesque and a number of TED talks, including “The power of seduction in our everyday lives” by Chen Lizra, Cindy Gallop’s “Make Love Not Porn”, “No Sex Marriage — Masturbation, Loneliness, Cheating and Shame” by Maureen McGrath (pretty awesome), Monogamish: The new rules of marriage | Jessica O’Reilly
After reading The Game — indeed the start to the journey, I moved on to Robert Greene’s “The Art of Seduction”, he outlines the seductive process into two phases and 24 steps, which I’ve also expanded here.
Phase One: Separation — Stirring Interest and Desire
- Choose the Right Victim
- Create a False Sense of Security — Approach Indirectly
- Send Mixed Signals
- Appear to be the Object of Desire — Create Triangles
- Create a Need — Stir Anxiety and Discontent
- Master the Art of Insinuation
- Enter their Spirit
- Create Temptation
Phase Two: Lead Astray — Creating Pleasure and Confusion
9. Keep Them in Suspense — What Comes Next?
10. Use the Demonic Power of Words to Sow Confusion
11. Pay Attention to Detail
12. Poeticize Your Presence
13. Disarm Through Strategic Weakness and Vulnerability
14. Confuse Desire and Reality — The Perfect Illusion
15. Isolate the Victim
16. Prove Yourself
17. Effect a Regression
18. Stir Up the Transgressive and Taboo
19. Use Spiritual Lures
20. Mix Pleasure with Pain
21. Give Them Space to Fall — The Pursuer is Pursued
22. Use Physical Lures
23. Master the Art of the Bold Move
24. Beware the Aftereffects
Whether or not you respect these “rules” (it’s natural to feel a little like), there is a huge Pick-Up Artist (PUA) scene inspired by Robert Greene’s books. These sites range enormously from corny to mildly offensive to misogynistic propaganda. I’ve included a few examples below.
Packed full of tasteful content like this:
And long, rambling introductions to their dense “science”, which oddly enough is always behind a paywall. It’s totally worth the money though because an government surveillance agency spent over 7 years and 3 million bucks distilling seduction insights so special agent Vlad could foolishly undersell them to a journalist for $8000, who in turn has distilled them further into an incredibly reasonably-priced DVD for $69. It is literally a steal.
“Adam Lyons, today’s world top seducer and dating coach, was in the same ignoble position as many man when dealing with women, but that all changed when Adam met Vlad, a government employee in Ukraine. His job was to seduce highly sought after women, preferably those who were mistresses or were married to powerful men.
He operated under a covert program codenamed “Operation Red Hornet”, his agency spent over 7 years, and over 3 million dollars testing new psychological tactics designed to induce love and desire in female subjects.
The goal of the program was to give agents like Vlad a powerful tool he can use to make women obsessed, because an obsessed woman is a woman that spills out secrets.
Vlad was not a businessman, so he did not understand the value of his training and the knowledge that was imparted upon him. Subsequently, it took Adam only $8000 of bribery to make him reveal the techniques he used.
Recently, getting the wind of the huge potential of his training Vlad overstepped his bounds and is now a wanted man for using these secrets to extort money from three influential women in Sweden, UK, and Switzerland.
But most importantly, the Operation Red Hornet confirmed something that scientists have been suspecting for quite some time about the female psychology — they are fantasizing about sex all the time.”
And having spent several hours scrolling through a number of PUA websites, it strikes me that a number of them seem to be making their money from “selling secrets” on DVDs (and who the hell is still buying DVDs anyway?), which typically cost around $70. Some sellers, impressively and audaciously were charging $70 for monthly subscriptions to receive more DVDs. Coupled with the amount of really obnoxious advertising, I’m guessing these guys are doing OK.
Do PUA techniques work? There’s a fair amount of support to show they do (for example this study), but many of their recommendations are arguably little more than common sense and there’s still room to integrate the discussion in a more ethical way that doesn’t objectify women. PUA websites present some seriously tacky content, based on 1990s technology and website design from over a decade ago. I think the art of seduction as a creative space should be reclaimed by a more diverse group and updated to reflect our times.
The Kama Sutra
Since Western culture was uninspiring on seduction tips for the ladies, I wondered if I should look East and explore the Kama Sutra, which I was reminded about through Seema Anand’s TED talk on The Art of Seduction. She reveals…
“According to Tantra, according to high philosophy, sexual energy is the highest form of energy in the world, and to be able to harness it is to generate the ultimate power. And so the art of seduction was about building up, optimizing and harnessing the power of the mind, the body, and the spirit in order to generate the ultimate power.”
It’s far more exciting exploring seduction as a series of arts to master, rather than the genetic lottery of a fashionable face and body. Indeed if you’re up for enhancing your skills as a lover, the Kama Sutra offers an astounding 64 arts, which should keep anyone out of trouble for a while:
- Playing on musical instruments
- Union of dancing, singing, and playing instrumental music
- Writing and drawing
- Arraying and adorning an idol with rice and flowers
- Spreading and arranging beds or couches of flowers, or flowers upon the ground
- Colouring the teeth, garments, hair, nails and bodies, i.e. staining, dyeing, colouring and painting the same
- Fixing stained glass into a floor
- The art of making beds, and spreading out carpets and cushions for reclining
- Playing on musical glasses filled with water
- Storing and accumulating water in aqueducts, cisterns and reservoirs [of course!]
- Picture making, trimming and decorating
- Stringing of rosaries, necklaces, garlands and wreaths
- Binding of turbans and chaplets, and making crests and top-knots of flowers
- Scenic representations, stage playing Art of making ear ornaments Art of preparing perfumes and odours
- Proper disposition of jewels and decorations, and adornment in dress
- Magic or sorcery
- Quickness of hand or manual skill
- Culinary art, i.e. cooking and cookery
- Making lemonades, sherbets, acidulated drinks, and spirituous extracts with proper flavour and colour
- Tailor’s work and sewing
- Making parrots, flowers, tufts, tassels, bunches, bosses, knobs, etc., out of yarn or thread
- Solution of riddles, enigmas, covert speeches, verbal puzzles and enigmatical questions
- A game, which consisted in repeating verses, and as one person finished, another person had to commence at once, repeating another verse, beginning with the same letter with which the last speaker’s verse ended, whoever failed to repeat was considered to have lost, and to be subject to pay a forfeit or stake of some kind
- The art of mimicry or imitation
- Reading, including chanting and intoning
- Study of sentences difficult to pronounce. It is played as a game chiefly by women, and children and consists of a difficult sentence being given, and when repeated quickly, the words are often transposed or badly pronounced
- Practice with sword, single stick, quarter staff and bow and arrow
- Drawing inferences, reasoning or inferring
- Carpentry, or the work of a carpenter
- Architecture, or the art of building
- Knowledge about gold and silver coins, and jewels and gems
- Chemistry and mineralogy
- Colouring jewels, gems and beads
- Knowledge of mines and quarries
- Gardening; knowledge of treating the diseases of trees and plants, of nourishing them, determining their ages
- Art of cock fighting, quail fighting and ram fighting
- Art of teaching parrots and starlings to speak
- Art of applying perfumed ointments to the body, and of dressing the hair with unguents and perfumes and braiding it
- The art of understanding writing in cypher, and the writing of words in a peculiar way
- The art of speaking by changing the forms of words. It is of various kinds. Some speak by changing the beginning and end of words, others by adding unnecessary letters between every syllable of a word, and so on
- Knowledge of language and of the vernacular dialects
- Art of making flower carriages
- Art of framing mystical diagrams, of addressing spells and charms, and binding armlets
- Mental exercises, such as completing stanzas or verses on receiving a part of them; or supplying one, two or three lines when the remaining lines are given indiscriminately from different verses, so as to make the whole an entire verse with regard to its meaning; or arranging the words of a verse written irregularly by separating the vowels from the consonants, or leaving them out altogether; or putting into verse or prose sentences represented by signs or symbols. There are many other such exercises.
- Composing poems
- Knowledge of dictionaries and vocabularies
- Knowledge of ways of changing and disguising the appearance of persons
- Knowledge of the art of changing the appearance of things, such as making cotton to appear as silk, coarse and common things to appear as fine and good
- Various ways of gambling
- Art of obtaining possession of the property of others by means of mantras or incantations
- Skill in youthful sports
- Knowledge of the rules of society, and of how to pay respect and compliments to others
- Knowledge of the art of war, of arms, of armies, etc.
- Knowledge of gymnastics
- Art of knowing the character of a man from his features
- Knowledge of scanning or constructing verses
- Arithmetical recreations
- Making artificial flowers
- Making figures and images in clay
Confess I’d be quite excited to find someone who practised magic, gymnastics, could play musical glasses filled with water and wrote “words in a peculiar way”. That would certainly bring mystery to a relationship.