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Sexuality as a political, economic and cultural force - Part Six PDF Print E-mail
Life – Consciousness


Sexuality as seduction
This characteristic of sexuality and inequality together form its most important features, but they are, of course, related, given that seduction is another way of achieving inequality.

Seduction today is an exceptionally widespread trend, not only among an elite of public figures in various fields, but among the whole of the population. In earlier times, in the depths of history, we had the mythical 'fair' Helen, Cleopatra of Egypt, and various other figures who played a role in history - perhaps not a positive one in the majority of cases. Today, the techniques of seduction are so widespread, even to the last of men, who, having been released from guilt feelings as regards sexuality, feels free to learn them and apply them in order to draw attention to himself. From one point of view, this spread is a good thing, since it gradually demythologises seduction of every kind, which is a prison of the consciousness. However, we do not know whether saturation gives rise to other distortions; this will depend upon people's will, which, unfortunately, people constantly identify with desire.

What has not been given the attention which it should in the matter of seductiveness is that at the bottom of it lies domination, and all the advice which is given, even by the cheapest magazines, consists exactly in this: in the establishing of a 'self-confidence', or, at least, a kind of self-confidence and assured superiority which will attract the other sex - and not only this. Of course, an aggressive style is not always called for, but self-confidence always lurks there, even if the style shows the passivity of the object - because the object is represented as without resistance, as a field for the exercise of domination, and this non-resistance, as another kind of power, imperceptibly attracts those who wish to function without consciousness. 

But what is this self-confidence which is so attractive - and not only in the sexual field, but anywhere else? We again cite a passage from Nietzsche which clearly shows a linkage of these two views, which no superficial champion of seductiveness would be willing to accept: "You should always feel like someone who is awarding honours when there are not many fit to honour another ... We love the simple and simple people, but as spectators and higher natures ...".[i]

Seductiveness is a feeling of superiority and possessiveness which creates distance and alienation, thus stimulating the desire for acquisition, and magnetises its victims like a black hole. This is not as simple as ordinary people superficially think it to be when they practise it on others, themselves seduced by their capabilities. Behind seductiveness lies a teratogenesis which will be revealed only at the end, when, by means of it, some will dominate over the weakest, because seductiveness is practised in all fields, even if we can see it more easily in the case of sexuality. Sexuality is simply its vehicle; it is not sexuality which uses seduction, but vice versa. This is a fundamental distortion.

A proof of this distortion can be seen today in the pathological efforts of actors and other figures (e.g., politicians) to retain youth by means of plastic surgery and to acquire good looks which they were not even born with, with the purpose of attracting the public. However, behind these artificial good looks is a horror, in which where man vanishes, is put to death, and becomes an object. The same thing exists equally behind the words of politicians, which are stereotyped and do not seem to have any meaning even for themselves (the notorious 'wooden language' of politicians), a facile verbal imitation of concepts, which by degrees are enfeebled, because they are proved to be untrue in practice.

Let us look at a passage on the alienating function of seduction by Yannis Zisis: " ... the essence of sexuality ... does not have a norm of apathy. Through the style of alienation of the one who provokes it is destroyed, it enters into its 'reality', is embodied in moribundity, and will have recourse to the psychology of ritual, which, however, reflects the embodiment of sexuality in the shrouding of its corpse."[ii]  

And here more light is thrown on the functioning of seduction by a modern thinker, Jean Baudrillard, who, however, by way of contrast, admired it, though he analysed it as a ritualisation within a moribundity, sometimes with a terrible aspect. And this position on his part alone cancels out all the progressive positions he may have held on other matters, since the issue of seduction concerns the centrality of the consciousness of man and is primary in relation to his other political and social positions, which are a secondary matter. Furthermore, the final dominance of seduction will lead to the collapse of all the rest, as this will remain in the end without any support.

"Seduction is more powerful than generation. It is more powerful than sexuality, with which we must never confuse it. Usually we relegate it into an inner plan of sexuality, but that is not the case. It is a cyclical, reversed plan of challenge to surpassing, and  death."[iii]

"What seduces a man is never natural, but ritual, beauty, because the former is interior and mystagogic, whereas the other is only expressional; this is because seduction lies in the secret which makes the lightweight signs of the artificial rule, it is never to be found in a natural economy of the senses, of beauty, or of desire."[iv]

"Ritualisation generally is a form much superior to sociability."[v]

"And make-up is also a way of cancelling the face ... That 'abstract unity which brings the Human close to the Divine', that 'supernatural and excessive' life, of which Baudelaire speaks, is the result of the simple artificial line which wipes out any expression. The artificial does not unite the subject with its Being, it alters it in an arcane way ... make-up is more false than the false ... and for that reason it finds a form of innocence, of superior transparency - absorption by its own surface, absorption of any expression without traces of blood, without traces of meaning - challenge and savagery certainly - but who is the maniac? Only the one who is unable to bear this savage perfection and can only defend himself with a moral rebuttal."[vi] 

These words of Baudrillard confirm our view that whereas true desire has abstraction and evolution as its aim, converting experience into knowledge, on the contrary, the desire which is so widespread is not true desire but a desire for desire as a tool. By means of this analysis of Baudrillard, the sub-stratum of seduction and its direction become apparent. Perhaps Hegel was right when he said of intellectuals, in the History of Philosophy: "They are like animals which have heard distinctly all the sounds of a piece of music but are not capable of perceiving the unity and harmony of the musical work."[vii]

This comparison is not meant to serve as an insult, but as a technical analogy, where at another level the same similar phenomenon is repeated and where, of course, instead of the field of the senses, as regards intellectuals, it is the field of the intellect itself. Hegel is here suggesting the necessity for a dialectical concern which is unifying in terms of communication and meaning. At long last we should apprehend every degree of evolution of being - and consequently animals also - as potentially declaratory of states in the continuum of evolution, so that no reference is disdainful either for them or for other steps on the ladder of evolution. The issue, however, to which Hegel is drawing attention as to musical semantic understanding and unification is an issue which is central to the field of thought itself and introduces the necessity of the dimension of time through the apprehension of causality and entelechy into the field of the intellect.

It becomes absolutely clear that this view in favour of seduction targets meaning, which is a transcendence of the form and life of phenomena. It attempts to make a false transcendence or abstraction, but in the direction of the moribundity and disorder of matter, which may appear abstractive because it is unfluctuating - but this is because of the absence of consciousness.

Both Baudrillard and Nietzsche address themselves against meaning and consciousness, and, in the end, against self-knowledge. Indeed, Nietzsche says specifically: "We psychologists of the future do not get on too well with self-observation: we regard it almost as a sign of degeneracy when an organ attempts to 'know itself': we are instruments of knowledge and we would like to have all the naivety and the accuracy of an instrument - consequently, we should not analyse, we should 'know' ourselves."[viii]

We mention all this in order to make clear the signified of seduction and to call attention to the fine and scarcely perceptible thread which links today's unthinking, and sometimes gross, actions and thoughts of man with this fearsome and sinister basis; a spiritual non-existence which lays claim to the absolute existence of the object as such. This makes its appearance as power, because where self-awareness is avoided and shrinks, there is no hesitation inhibiting merciless and anti-social behaviours, so that such people have an advantage in practice. But, in reality, this 'power' conceals the very greatest weakness and inertia as regards the spirit. It attempts to imitate the spirit, but if divisiveness, the trend towards power, and the fear of death in its many branches are not - even partially - overcome, anything of the kind is impossible, even for its understanding.

Seductiveness, then, is not desire, even though it makes use of it, but nor is it beauty (external or inward). It is our belief that beauty, as harmony, leaves the other person free, it does not absorb him/her, does not make him/her unfree. Seduction is a projection of power and a challenge: the challenge, in itself, is a power and is used unconsciously. This power can take many forms, always deceptive and inscrutable because of their vacuity. This supposed inscrutability is due to this emptiness, which in this way seems boundless, while meanings pass through the consciousness and so set limits to fantasy, even when - as is usually the case - they are inaccessible. Consequently, love as a concept gives rise to the deceptive impression that it is easy and accessible, whereas seduction is thought elusive. But seduction is a game of fear and power and nothing more - and so simple.

It also presents itself as sexuality, but nevertheless this supposed sexuality needs the constant alternation of persons in order to function, because it does not have, apparently, self-sufficiency, but at some level it must have a functional value in itself. Seduction needs 'crutches', such as, for example, a fine car as an attractive symbol of wealth and power. The beauty here is itself artificial and as such artificiality attracts. The body without the ritual of challenge seems insipid. The truth does not inspire - unless crudity is thought of as such. Freedom itself does not inspire, except only as freedom for suggestion without a way out, as freedom to be unfree.

And power in itself is a form of seduction, but this is not the subject of the present article. However, this tendency towards power and the fear of death, which are closely interdependent, are what have distorted sexuality into seduction. Sexuality is not free. It is simply that we live in an age when the chains of sexuality are more obvious because of the abolition of social restrictions and of world-wide information which reveals the truth regardless of conservative traditions, which, without wishing to, by their obsession with secrecy and their retrogressiveness tend to maintain seduction indefinitely as an imprisonment of man in guilt feelings, complexes, ignorance, and aggressiveness.

All forms of seduction, whether in the field of sexuality or that of politics and the economy, or that of religion, or in any other field, cannot bear freedom and get rid of it, even when they are allegedly invoking it. An example is proclaimed economic freedom, which has plunged peoples into the abyss of the lack of freedom today. Freedom is the real quality of Wholeness, and the individual can be free, but in relation to wholeness. Where an attempt is made at individual freedom against wholeness, then this is seduction and not freedom. A physical example of this distortion is provided by the malignant cells which function not for the whole of the organism, but only for themselves - though not for long. Naturally, there are many levels of wholenesses - Absolute Wholeness is unknown to us. However, we can discern smaller wholenesses, and, by analogy, draw conclusions and accept that, contrary to reason, our everyday self is so much controlled by the fear of death that it wishes, at any cost, to shine with 'success' in the course of its brief mortal life. This success is a form of establishing a name for itself, as death is seen as anonymity. On the other hand, however, death can be the opposite: the shining forth of our identity, which cannot be identified with the external environment. But we cannot have such a confirmatory reply for the present, and this eventuality remains unknown.

[i]  Friedrich Nietzsche, Η θέληση για δύναμη [The will to power], publ. Nisides, pp. 435 - 6, sub-para. 943.
[ii]  Ioannis Zisis, Ο κόσμος των ανθρώπων μετά το AIDS και την οικολογική καταστροφή [The world of men after AIDS and the ecological disaster], publ. Tiloritis, 1991, p. 252.
[iii]  Jean Baudrillard, Γοητεία [Seduction], publ. Theoria kai Idees, p. 57.
[iv]  Ibid., p. 103.
[v]  Ibid., p. 102.
[vi]  Ibid., p. 107.
[vii]  Panayiota Xiroyanni, 'F. Hegel', Aeroporiki Epitheorisi, Vol. 86, p. 27.
[viii]  Friedrich Nietzsche, Η θέληση για δύναμη, publ. Nisides, p. 207, sub-para. 426.

Ioanna Moutsopoulou, Lawyer
Member of the Secretariat of Solon NGO

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