Wednesday 28 March 2012

The Great Seducers - The STAR.

"She had the one essential star quality: she could be magnificent doing nothing."
Lili Darvas (actress) on Marlene Dietrich.

            The star represents the real and the unreal. The cinema star is a creation of a real actor in an imaginary role, that appeals to the need of the viewer for escape from the monotony of life. What the true star knows is how to carry this experience over into real world beyond the cinema screen, and appeal to the fantasies of those watching.

Marlene Dietrich
"The collective seduction produced by modern times is that of film stars or cinema idols. They were our only myth in an age incapable of generating great figures of seduction comparable to those of mythology or art."
Jean Baudrillard.

            Stars stand out from the crowd, they draw attention just by being present.
They are ethereal, unobtainable and represent whatever our imagination superimposes on them. Stars have that power by projecting a glittering, desirable but elusive quality.
            This is perfectly illustrated by the story of the young actress, Marlene Dietrich at a casting session. Whilst the other girls tried to catch the casting director's eye, she merely stood, smoking a cigarette with slow, languid gestures. She had a sinuous way of moving, even a coldness in her eye, that marked her apart and by the time she came to the front of the line, she had already got the part.

"The cool, bright face which didn’t ask for anything, which simply existed, waiting….One could dream into it anything."
Erich Remarque on Marlene Dietrich.

            What Dietrich had learnt was to be aloof, and by being still, she drew attention. She also challenged those looking at her, staring directly at people, in an almost masculine way. She created a provocative aura that meant eyes followed her every move and when she was on stage everyone watched her. But this was no accident, she studied her facial expressions from every angle, taking photographs and angled mirrors, to visualise how she appeared to others, nothing was left to chance. In other words, even when she wasn’t on stage, she was acting. She saw herself as an object, much like a statue of a greek goddess, and learnt to radiate and dazzle with her movements and facial expression.

One way of avoiding the paparazzi!

"The savage worships idols of wood and stone; the civilized man, idols of flesh and blood."
George Bernard Shaw

Wednesday 21 March 2012

The Great Seducers - The CHARISMATIC.

The charismatic seducer is an exciting person. Their self-confidence and air of purpose make them attractive to people who lack those properties and desire them. Charismatics work on the large scale, capable of seducing not just individual people but crowds.

"Charismatic authority refers to a rule over men…to which the governed submit themselves because of their belief in the extraordinary quality of the specific person."
Max Weber. Essays in Sociology.

Examples could be taken of Robespierre or Lenin, men of great vision with extraordinary plans who were able to inspire the public. As for the charismatic seducer, their appeal comes from an almost mystical way of giving people something to believe in. They do this in the following way:

-Purpose -

They have purpose and act decisiveness, which in uncertain times is an attractive quality. 
"That man could make me go through the eye of a needle to throw myself into the fire."
General Vandamme on Napoleon.

-Mystery -

This is the mystery of being a contradiction; the charismatic can be both kind and cruel (Peter the Great), detached and excitable (Charles de Gaulle) or distant and yet intimate (Sigmund Freud). It makes their character harder to understand and therefore more intriguing.
"The masses have never thirsted after truth. They demand illusion and cannot do without them."
Sigmund Freud.

Elvis Presley.
 Eloquence -
Charismatics are good with words, they can weave words and inspire, uplift or anger.

-Showmanship -
They are naturally larger than life characters, who know how to command attention without trying too hard.

- Fervent  -
Their beliefs make them fervent, adding animations to their speech and gestures; they would even believe their own lies if necessary.

-Magnetism -
They are also good at non-verbal communication, such as the piercing gaze. They often appear poised and calm, and yet their eyes are magnetic, and never show fear or nerves.

Marilyn Monroe
Examples of charismatics are numerous and diverse, ranging from politicians to film stars, from kings to monks. People such as Napoleon, Lenin, Robespierre, Rasputin, Eva Peron, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley.

"I do not pretend to be a divine man, but I do believe in divine guidance, divine power and divine prophecy."

Next week - The Great Seducers - The STAR. 

Wednesday 14 March 2012

The Great Seducers - the CHARMER.

"Wax, a substance naturally hard and brittle, can be made soft by the application of a little warmth."
Arthur Schopenhauer.
with thanks to
I don’t know how many of you watch Coronation Street, but the Nigel Havers character is a perfect example of a charmer.
Charmers cast their spell by subtle means, they adapt to your moods, they flatter and reassure, they make you feel good about yourself and don’t like talking about themselves until you are completely taken in.

"Birds are taken in with pipes that imitate their voices,
And men with sayings that are most agreeable to their own opinions."
Samuel Butler.
Nigel Havers as Lewis, charming Audrey.(Coronation Street)
The word 'charm' originates from a Latin word, 'carmen', which means a song or incantation. The aim of the charmer is to disarm by lowering his victim's sense of reason, by subtly dismantling her fears.
"Talk to a man about himself and he will listen for hours."
Benjamin Disraeli.

Charmers have a number of golden rules:

1 - Make your target the centre of attention.
2 - Be a source of pleasure.
3 - Bring harmony to those around you.
4 - Lull your victim into comfort and ease.
5 - Be calm in the face of opposition.
6 - Be helpful and useful.

"You know what charm is: a way of getting the answer yes without having asked any clear question."
Albert Camus

The young, Benjamin Disraeli.
Our example from history of a charmer, is a little unusual - the British Prime Minister to Queen Victoria, (who in 1860 was still mourning the death of her beloved Albert) - Benjamin Disraeli. In his younger life Disraeli dressed as a dandy and wrote novels, - with a reputation for being flamboyant he was the antithesis of what the dour, formal and stubborn queen looked for in her Prime Minister. But Disraeli used this to his advantage.

He approached the queen in the role of a gallant prince, falling to one knee, taking her hand and saying:"I plight my troth to the kindest of mistresses."

He went on to praise her so heartily that she blushed. He sent her volumes of his work and when she reciprocated with a book she had written, "Journal of Our Life in the Highlands", he referred to her with the phrase, "We authors."

Queen Victoria - not immediately obvious as someone who could be charmed!
At important meeting he would suddenly break away, turn to Victoria and ask for her advice. He sent her flowers, primroses, - a flower so ordinary it might have been considered insulting except he sent a note: "Of all the flowers, the one that retains its beauty the longest is the sweet primrose."  And soon primroses became Victoria's favourite flower.
When in 1876 Disraeli proposed a bill declaring Queen Victoria as "Queen-Empress" she was beside herself with gratitude and elevated the former dandy and novelist to the peerage.
What Disraeli had learnt was never to judge by appearances: he saw a frosty, dour woman but appealed to the part of her that wanted male attention and made her feel the most attractive and intelligent woman alive.

Disraeli - in later life.
 "When I left the dining room after sitting next to Mr. Gladstone, I thought he was the cleverest man in England. After sitting next to Mr. Disraeli, I thought I was the cleverest woman in England."
An English Princess. 


With thanks to

Wednesday 7 March 2012

The Great Seducers - The COQUETTE.

Next on the list of this catalogue of seducers is the coquette.
"There are indeed men who are attached more by resistance than by yielding."
Imbert de Saint-Amand.

It is a reflection of human nature that for some an easy conquest holds lower value than a difficult one. The power of the coquette is in enticing her victim whilst herself turning away, thus making her prey come to her. She is mistress of arousing insecurity by using her inconsistency, and knows that should her quarry become angry, this is a sign he is under her spell.

"She who would long retain her power must use her lover ill."
Some may say the coquette is a tease, who cares more for herself than others, but it is this selfishness which draws people to her. Men are challenged by the coquette's independence, desiring to be the one to enslave her…whilst it's far more likely he will become the victim. She is not emotionally needy and this self-sufficiency is surprisingly attractive, especially to powerful men who are more used to women throwing themselves in their path than having to work to get attention.
Coquettes are never jealous, but arouse jealousy in others, often by showing interest in a third party and creating a triangle of desire.
Let us take as our example of Josephine Beauharnais, who eventually married Napoleon Bonaparte.
Napoleon Bonaparte.

"Josephine had to deal with a conqueror and that love resembles war. She did not surrender, she let herself be conquered. Had she been more tender, more attentive, more loving, perhaps Bonaparte would have loved her less."
Imbert de Saint-Amand.

A vicomtesse, during the French revolution she narrowly escaped execution. Josephine was languorous, exotic and sensuous with a reputation as a loose woman, whilst Napoleon was shy and believed in marriage. She invited Napoleon into her glittering social circle, and although he felt uncomfortable amongst the great writers and wits, she singled him out and thus made him feel special. She wrote him passionate letters, but when he called she seemed cold and reserved…and so the challenge was issued to a man who loved nothing better than a battle.
Hortense - Josephine's daughter.
But when Josephine eventually married Bonaparte, his troubles were only just beginning. Two days after the wedding Napoleon left to lead a campaign in northern Italy against the Austrians. He wrote to his new wife,
"You are the constant object of my thoughts. My imagination exhausts itself in guessing what you are doing." 

But she wrote back infrequently and her letters lacked passion, which drove him to distraction. Napoleon threw this frustration into war against the enemy, whilst his letters to his wife became ever more desperate.

"I work to get near you; I kill myself to reach you."

A less flattering portrait of Napoleon.
In short, Josephine became a motivating force behind the army's victory. When they eventually did meet, Napoleon spent long hours in a darkened carriage with his wife, whilst his generals fumed as meetings were missed and orders went unissued.
Later Napoleon wrote:

"Never has a woman been in such complete mastery of another's heart."

Despite rumours of Josephine taking lovers, Napoleon eventually made her empress and on his deathbed, reportedly the last word he uttered was:

Next week: The CHARMER