The Art of Seduction
by Robert Greene
–Pleasure was always beneath the idea that one formed of it, and that the imagination went farther than nature. -Choderlos de Laclos On the Education of Women
–Creating patterns of hope and despair—the essence of seduction
–Seduction by sex: Feminine use of appearances and the masculine use of language
–Never be forceful or direct; instead use pleasure as bait, playing on people’s emotions, stirring desire and confusion, inducing psychological surrender
–A person in love is emotional, pliable, and easily misled.
–The power seducers have over a man or woman works in social environments because they have learned how to tone down the sexual element without getting rid of it. We may think we see through them, but they are so pleasant to be around anyway that is does not matter.
–Seduction is a process of penetration: initially penetrating the target’s mind, their first point of defense. Once seducers have penetrated the mind, making the target fantasize about them, it is easy to lower resistance and create physical surrender.
–Seducers do not improvise; they do not leave this process to chance. They plan and strategize, aiming at the target’s particular weakness.
–Falling in love is a matter not of magic but psychology. Once you understand your target’s psychology, and strategize to suit it, you will be better able to cast a “magical” spell.
“What is good? –All that heightens the feeling of power, the will to power, power itself in man.
“What is bad? –All that proceeds from weakness.
“What is happiness? –The feeling that power increase s—that a resistance is overcome.” –Nietzsche The Anti-Christ
–Seducers are never self-absorbed. Their gaze is directed outward. When meeting someone their first move is to get inside that person’s skin, to see the world through their eyes.
–The seducer knows that people are waiting for pleasure—they never get enough of it from friends and lovers, and they cannot get it by themselves. A person who enters their lives offering adventure and romance cannot be resisted. Pleasure is a feeling of being taken past our limits, of being overwhelmed, to let go of their usual stubbornness. Sometimes their resistance to us is a way of saying, Please seduce me. Seducers know that the possibility of pleasure will make a person follow them, and the experience of it will make someone open up, weak to the touch. They also train themselves to be sensitive to pleasure, knowing that feeling pleasure themselves will make it that much easier for them to infect the people around them.
–Seducers take pleasure in performing and are not weighed down by their identity, or by some need to be themselves, or to be natural.
–What people lack in life is not more reality but illusion, fantasy, play. The clothes that seducers wear, the places they take you to, their words and actions, are slightly heightened—not overly theatrical but with a delightful edge of unreality, as if the two of you were living out a piece of fiction or were characters in a film.
–Seducers are completely amoral in their approach to life. It is all a game, an arena for play. … They do not deal in moral judgments—nothing could be less seductive.
–Seduction is a form of deception, but people want to be led astray, they yearn to be seduced.
II. Part One: The Seductive Character
–Successful seductions begin with your character, your ability to radiate some quality that attracts people and stirs their emotions in a way that is beyond their control. Hypnotized by your seductive character, your victims will not notice your subsequent manipulations.
1. The Siren.
1. Most of the physical elements are a construction; the key is the air of schoolgirl innocence. While one part of you seems to scream sex, the other part is coy and naïve, as if you were incapable of understanding the effect you are having. Your walk, your voice, your manner are delightfully ambiguous—you are both the experienced, desiring woman and the innocent gamine.
2. The Rake
1. The Ardent Rake.
1. To seduce you need planning and calculation, but if your victim suspects that you have ulterior motives, she will grow defensive. Furthermore, if you seem to be in control, you will inspire fear instead of desire.
2. Ardent rake also has the advantage of an uncontrollable libido. When he pursues a woman, he really is aglow with desire; the victim senses this and is inflamed, even despite herself.
3. intense desire has a distracting power on a woman, just as the Siren’s physical presence does on a man. A woman is often defensive and can sense insincerity or calculation. But if she feels consumed by your attentions, and is confident you will do anything for her, she will notice nothing else about you.
2. The Demonic Rake.
1. A woman’s heart would flutter as he described the effect she had on him. Everything was suggestive, hinting at sex or romance. That night she would ponder his words, recalling little in particular that he had said, because he never said anything concrete, but rather the feeling it had given her.
2. In short, nothing is so sweet as to triumph over the Resistance of a beautiful Person. –Moliere, Don Juan or the Libertine
3. Seduction is a psychological process that transcends gender, except in a few key ares where each gender had its own weakness. The male is traditionally vulnerable to the visual. The Siren who can concoct the right physical appearance will seduce in large numbers. For women the weakness is language and words.
4. Remember: it is the form that matters, not the content. The less your targets focus on what you say, and the more on how it makes them feel, the more seductive your effect. Give your words a lofty, spiritual, literary flavor the better to insinuate desire in your unwitting victims.
3. Keys to the Character.
1. What the Rake offers is what society normally does not allow women: an affair of pure pleasure, an exciting brush with danger.
2. If you are to play the Rake, you must convey a sense of risk and darkness, suggesting to your victim that she is participating in something rare and thrilling—a chance to play out her own rakish desires.
3. You must be able to abandon yourself to the moment.
4. An added benefit of this quality is that it makes you seem unable to control yourself, a display of weakness that a woman enjoys. By abandoning yourself to the seduced, you make them feel that you exist for them alone…
5. if no resistance or obstacles face you, you must create them
6. The Rake is an extreme personality. Impudent, sarcastic, and bitingly witty, he cares nothing for what anyone thinks.
7. The Rake needs a backdrop of convention—a stultified court, a humdrum marriage, a conservative culture—to shine, to be appreciated for the breath of fresh air he provides.
8. Finally, a Rake’s greatest asset is his reputation. Never downplay your bad name, or seem to apologize for it. Instead, embrace it. It is what draws women to you. There are several things you must be known for: your irresistible attractiveness to women; your uncontrollable devotion to pleasure (this will make you seem weak, but also exciting to be around); your disdain for convention; a rebellious streak that makes you seem dangerous. This last element can be slightly hidden; on the surface, be polite and civil, while letting it be known that behind the scenes you are incorrigible.
1. There is little the Rake can do to avoid envy; if everyone was as successful in seduction, society would not function. Except envy as abadge of honour. Don’t be naïve, be aware. When attacked by a moralist persecution, do not be taken in by their crusade; it is motivated by envy, pure and simple.
2. It is better to suffer attacks with dignity and keep on seducing. Seduction is the source of your power; and you can always count on the infinite indulgence of women.
3. The Ideal Lover
1. [Casanova’s] method was simple: on meeting a woman, he would study her, go along with her moods, find out what was missing in her life, and provide it. He made himself the Ideal Lover.
2. Once she had fallen under his spell, a little ruse or calculation would seal the romance (…a contrived fall from a horse, an encounter with another woman to make his victim jealous.)
3. You will have to focus intensely on the other person, fathom what she is missing, what he is disappointed by. People will often reveal this in subtle ways: through gesture, tone of voice, a look in the eye. By seeming to be what they lack, you will fit their ideal. — To create this effect requires patience and attention to detail. Most people are so wrapped up in their own desires, so impatient, they are incapable of the Ideal Lover role. Let that be a source of infinite opportunity. Be an oasis in the desert of the self-absorbed; few can resist the temptation of following a person who seems so attuned to their desires, to bringing to life their fantasies.
4. The Beauty Ideal.
1. Most people believe themselves to be inwardly greater than they outwardly appear to the world. They are full of unrealized ideals; they could be artists, thinkers, leaders, spiritual figures, but the world has crushed them, denied them the chance to let their abilities flourish. This is the key to their seduction—and to keeping them seduced over time. The Ideal Lover knows how to conjure up this kind of magic.
2. Appeal to their better selves, to a higher standard of beauty, and they will hardly notice that they have been seduced. Make them feel elevated, loftly, spiritual, and your power over them will be limitless.
5. Keys to the Character
1. If another person seems to have that ideal quality, or to have the ability to bring it out in us, we fall in love. That is the response to Ideal Lovers. Attuned to what is missing inside you, to the fantasy that will stir you, they reflect your ideal—and you do the rest, projecting on to them your deepest desires and yearnings.
2. The key to following the path of the Ideal Lover is the ability to observe. Ignore your targets’ words and conscious behaviour; focus on the tone of their voice, a blush here, a look there—those signs that betray what their words won’t say.
3. In the courtly love tradition of the Middle Ages, a troubadour/knight would find a lady, almost always a married one and would serve as her vassal.
4. …made courtship take time, transforming it into an aesthetic experience.
5. Yet nothing is more seductive than patient attentiveness. It makes the affair seem lofty, aesthetic, not really about sex.
6. The key is ambiguity—to combine the appearance of sensitivity to the pleasures of the flesh with an air of innocence, spirituality, a poetic sensibility. This mix of the high and the low is immensely seductive.
4. The Dandy
1. We are instantly attracted to those who are more fluid, more ambiguous, than we are—those who create their own persona. Dandies excite us because they cannot be categorized, and hint at a freedom we want for ourselves. They play with masculinity and femininity; they fashion their own physical image, which is always startling; they are mysterious and elusive.
2. The Feminine Dandy
1. [Valentino’s] adoring public carefully ignored his two failed marriages and his apparently nonexistent sex life.
2. He wooed as a woman would woo if she were a man—sloely, attentively, paying attention to details, setting a rhythm instead of hurrying to a conclusion. Yet when the time came for boldness and conquest, his timing was impeccable, overwhelming his victim and giving her no chance to protest.
3. “I am a woman. Every artist is a woman and should have a taste for other women. Artists who are homosexual cannot be true artists because they like men, and since they themselves are women they are reverting to normality.” –Pablo Picasso
3. The Masculine Dandy
1. “It is the delight in causing astonishment, and the proud satisfaction of never oneself being astonished…” — Baudelaire, The Dandy
2. [Rilke] was also attracted by a kind of masculine energy he found in [Salome] that he had never seen in a woman.
3. The two emotions that almost every male felt in the presence of Salome were confusion and excitement—the two prerequisite feelings for any successful seduction. People were intoxicated by her strange mix of the masculine and the feminine; she was beautiful, with a radiant smile and a graceful, flirtatious manner, but her independent and her intensely analytical nature made her seem oddly male.
4. “The seduction emanating from a person of uncertain or dissimulated sex is powerful.” –Colette
5. “I stood in no need of caution as I should have with a man. I saw nothing but a beautiful woman, and why should I be forbidden to love you?” –C.J. Bulliet “Venus Castina”
4. Keys to the Character
1. Gender roles are certainly changing, but they have changed before. Society is in a state of constant flux, but there is something that does not change: the vast majority of people conform to whatever is normal for the time. They play the role allotted to them. Conformity is a constant because humans are social creatures who are always imitating one another. At certain points in history it may be fashionable to be different and rebellious, but if a lot of people are playing that role, there is nothing different or rebellious about it.
2. Having people imitate you, of course, is a sign of your powers of seduction.
3. The nonconformity of Dandies, however, goes far beyond appearances. It is an attitude toward life that sets them apart; adopt that attitude and a circle of followers with form around you.
4. Dandies are supremely impudent. They don’t give a damn about other people, and never try to please. In the court of Louis XIV, the writer La Bruyere noticed that courtiers who tried hard to please were invariably on the way down; nothing was more anti-seductive.
5. The insolence of the Dandy, on the other hand, is aimed at society and its conventions. It is not a woman he cares to conquer but a whole group, an entire social world. And since people are generally oppressed bu the obligation of always being polite and self-sacrificing, they are delighted to spend time around a person who disdains such niceties.
6. This kind of mental transvestism—the ability to enter the spirit of the opposite sex, adapt to their way of thinking, mirror their tastes and attitudes—can be a key element in seduction. It is a way of mesmerizing your victim.
7. According to Freud, the human libido is essentially bisexual; most people are in some way attracted to people of their own sex, but social constraints (varying with culture and historical period) repress these impulses. The Dandy represents a release from such constraints.
8. Do not be misled by the surface disapproval your Dandy pose may elicit. Society may publicize its distrust of androgyny (in Christian theology, Satan is often represented as androgynous), but this conceals its fascination; what is most seductive is often what is most repressed. Learn a playful dandyism and you will become the magnet for people’s dark, unrealized yearnings.
9. Symbol: The Orchid. Its shape and color oddly suggest both sexes, its oder is sweat and decadent—it is a tropical flower of evil. Delicate and highly cultivated, it is prized for its rarity; it is unlike any other flower.
1. The Dandy’s strength, but also the Dandy’s problem, is the fact that he or she often works through transgressive feelings relating to sex roles. Although this activity is highly charged and seductive, it is also dangerous, since it touches on a source of great anxiety and insecurity. The greatest dangers will often come from your own sex.
2. Better to accept society’s occasional gibes with grace and insolence. After all, the Dandies’ charm is that they don’t really care what people think of them.
3. Even a Dandy, then, must measure out his impudence. A true Dandy knows the difference between a theatrically staged teasing of the powerful and a remark that will truly hurt, offend or insult. It is particularly important to avoid insulting those in a position to injure you. In fact the pose may work best for those who can afford to offend—artists, bohemians, etc. In the work world, you will probably have to modify and tone down your Dandy image. Be pleasantly different, an amusement, rather than a person who challenges the group’s conventions and makes others feel insecure.
5. The Natural
1. To assume the role of the Natural, mentally position yourself in any relationship as the child, the younger one.
2. The misunderstandings come from the child’s not knowing about good and evil, and seeing everything through uncorrupted eyes.
3. Defensiveness is deadly in seduction; act defensive and you’ll bring out defensiveness in other people. The undefensive lover, on the other hand, lowers the inhibition of his or her target, a critical part of seduction. It is important to learn not to react defensively; bend instead of resist, be open to influence from others, and they will more easily fall under your spell.
4. Apparently the possession of humour implies the possession of a number of typical habit-systems. The first is an emotional one: the habit of playfulness. Why should one be proud of being playful? For a double reason. First, playfulness connotes childhood and youth. If one can be playful, one still possess something of the vigour and the joy of young life…But there is a deeper implication. To be playful is, in a sense, to be free –Professor H.A. Overstreet. Influencing Human Behaviour
5. A man many meet a woman and be shocked by her ugliness. Soon, if she is natural an unaffected, her expression makes him overlook the fault of her features. He begins to find her charming, it enters his head that she might be loved, and a week later he is living in hope. The following week he has been snubbed into despair and the week afterwards he has gone mad. –Stendhal. Love
6. According to Freud (who was speaking from experience, since he was his mother’s darling), spoiled children have a confidence that stays with them all their lives. This quality radiates outward, drawing others to them, and, in circular process, making people spoil them still more. Since their spirit and natural energy were never tamed by a discipling parent, as adults they are adventurous and bold and often impish or brazen.
7. People are drawn to those who expect a lot out of life, whereas they tend to disrespect those who are fearful and undemanding. Wild independence has a provocative effect on us; it appeals to us.
8. The key is to bring it off with an air of total seriousness, as the straight man does in stand-up comedy. More important, however, is the creation of sympathy. Overt strength and power is rarely seductive—it makes us afraid, or envious. The royal road to seduction is to play up your vulnerability and helplessness. You cannot make this obvious; to seem to be begging for sympathy is to seem needy, which is entirely anti-seductive. Do not proclaim yourself a victim or underdog, but reveal it in your manny, in your confusion. A display of “natural” weakness will make you instantly lovable, both lowering people’s defenses and making them feel delightfully superior to you.
9. Make children are absorbed in make believe, they are hopelessly charming. They infuse their imaginings with such seriousness and feeling. Adult Naturals do something similar, particularly if they are artists; they create their own fantasy world, and live in it as if it were the real one. Fantasy is so much more pleasant than reality, and since most people do not have the power of courage to create such a world, they enjoy being around those who do. Remember: the role you were given in life is not the role you have to accept. You can always live out a role of your own creation, a role that fits your fantasy. Learn to play with your image, never taking it too seriously. The key is to infuse your play with the conviction and feeling of a child, making it seem natural. The more absorbed you seem in your own joy-filled world, the more seductive you become. Do not go halfway: make the fantasy you inhabit as radical and exotic as possible, and you will attract attention like a magnet.
10. Human beings are immensely suggestible; their moods will easily spread to the people around them. In fact seduction depends on mimesis, on the conscious creation of a mood or feeling that is then reproduced by the other person. But hesitation and awkwardness are also contagious, and are deadly to seduction. If in a key moment you seem indecisive or self-conscious, the other person will sense that you are thinking of yourself, instead of being overwhelmed by his or her charms. The spell will be broken. As an undefensive lover, though, you produce the opposite effect; your victim might be hesitant or worried, but confronted with someone so sure and natural, he or she will be caught up in the mood. .. It is a matter of rooting out of the fear and awkwardness that have built up in you over the years, or becoming more graceful with your approach, less defensive when others seem to resist. Often people’s resistance is a way of testing you, and if you show any awkwardness or hesitation, you not only will fail the test, but you will risk infecting them with your doubts.
11. Because total childishness can quickly grate, the most seductive Naturals are who, like Josephine Baker, combine adult experience and wisdom with a childlike manner. It is this mixture of aulities that is most alluring.
6. The Charmer
1. Charm is seduction without sex. .. Their method is simple: they defeat attention from themselves and focus it on their target. They understand your spirit, feel your pain, adapt to your moods. In the presence of a Charmer you feel better about yourself. Charmers do not argue or fight, complain, or pester—what could be more seductive?
2. The Art of Charm
1. Sexuality is extremely disruptive. The insecurities and emotions it stirs up can often cut short a relationship that would otherwise be deeper and longer lasting. The Charmer’s solution is to fulfill the aspects of sexuality that are so alluring and addictive—the focused attention, the […] self-esteem, the pleasurable wooing, the understanding (real or illusory)–but subtract the sex itself. It’s not that the Charmer represses or discourages sexuality; lurking beneath the surface of any attempt at charm is a sexual tease, a possibility. Charm cannot exist without a hint of usual tension. It cannot be maintained, however, unless sex is kept at bay or in the background.
2. And the secret to capturing people’s attention, while lowering their powers or reason, is to strike at the things they have the least control over: their ego, their vanity, and their self-esteem. As Benjamin Disraeli said, “Talk to a man about himself and he will listen for hours.”
3. The strategy can never be obvious: subtlety is the Charmer’s great skill. If the target is to be kept from seeing through the Charmer’s efforts, and from growing suspicious, maybe even tiring of the attention, a light touch is essential. The Charmer is like a beam of light that doesn’t play directly on a target but throws a pleasantly diffused glow over it.
4. Birds are taken with pipes that imitate their own voices, and men with those sayings that are most agreeable to their own opinions.
5. Charmers fade into the background, their targets become the subject of their interest. To be a Charmer you have to learn to listen and observe. Let your targets talk, revealing themselves in the process. As you fine out more about them—their strengths, and more important their weakness—you can individualize your attention, appealing to their specific desires and needs, tailoring your flatteries to their insecurities. By adapting to their spirit and empathizing with their woes, you can make them feel bigger and better, validating their […] of self-worth.
6. Be a source of pleasure. No one wants to hear about your problems and troubles. Listen to your targets’ complaints, but more important, distract them from their problems by giving them pleasure. (Do this often enough and they will fall under your spell.) Being lighthearted and fun is always more charming than being serious and critical. An energetic presence is likewise more charming than lethargy, which hints as boredom, an enormous social taboo: and elegance and style will usually win out over vulgarity, since most people like to associate themselves with whatever they think elevated and cultured. In politics, provide illusion and myth rather than reality. Instead of asking people to sacrifice for the greater good will translate into votes and power.
7. The Charmer knows how to smooth out conflict. Never stir up antagonism that will prove immune to your charm; in the face of those who are aggressive, retreat, let them have their little victories. Yielding and indulgence will charm the fight out of any potential enemies. Never criticize people overtly—that will make them insecure, and resistant to change. Plant ideas, insinuate suggestions. Charmed by your diplomatic skills, people will not notice your growing power.
8. Charm is like the hypnotist’s trick with the swinging watch: the more relaxed the target, the easier it is to bend him or her to your will. The key to making your victims feel comfortable is to mirror them, adapt to their moods. People are narcissists—they are drawn to those most similar to themselves. Seem to share their values and tastes, to understand their spirit, and they will fall under your spell.
9. Never pester or be overly persistent—these uncharming qualities will disrupt the relaxation you need to cast your spell.
10. Adversity and setbacks actually provide the setting for charm. Showing a calm, unruffled exterior in the face of unpleasantness puts people at ease. You seem patient, as it waiting for destiny to deal you a better card—or as if you were confident you could charm the Fates themselves. Never show anger, ill temper, or vengefulness, all disruptive emotions that will make people defensive. In the politics or large groups, welcome adversity as a chance to show the charming qualities of magnanimity and poise. Let others get flustered and upset—the contrast will redound to your favor. Never whine, never complain, never try to justify yourself.
11. If done subtly, your ability to enhance the lives of others will be devilishly seductive. Your social skills will prove important here, creating a wide network of allies will give you the power to link people up with each other, which will make them feel that by knowing you they can make their lives easier. This is something no one can resist. Follow-through is key; so many people will charm by promising a person great things—a better job, a new contact, a big favor—but if their do not follow through they make enemies instead of friends. Anyone can make a promise; what sets you apart, and makes you charming, is your ability to some through in the end, following up your promise with a definite action. Conversely, if someone does you a favor, show your gratitude concretely. In a world of bluff and smoke, real action and true helpfulness are perhaps the ultimate charm.
12. You know what charm is: a way of getting the answer yes without having asked any clear question. –Albert Camus
13. “Do not talk too much at present; do not try to talk. But whenever you speak, speak with self-possession. Speak in a subdued tone, and always look at the person whom you are addressing. Before one can engage in general conversation with any effect, there is a certain acquaintance with trifling but amusing subjects which must be first attained. You will soon pick up sufficient by listening and observing. Never argue. In society nothing must be discussed; give only results. If any person differ from you, bow and turn the conversation. In society never think; always be on the watch, or you will miss many opportunities and say many disagreeable things.” [Who said this?]
14. Wax, a substance naturally hard and brittle, can be made soft by the application of a little warmth, so that it will take any shape you please. In the same way, by being polite and friendly, you can make people pliable and obliging, even though they are apt to be crabbed and malevolent. Hence politeness is to human nature what warmth is to wax. –Arthur Schopenhauer
15. Never explain. Never complain. –Benjamin Disraeli
16. Disraeli knew how deceptive appearances can be; people were always judging him by his face and by his clothes, and he had learned never to do the same to them.
17. Our personalities are often molded by how we are treated; if a parent or spouse is defensive or argumentative in dealing with us, we tend to respond the same way. Never mistake people’s exterior characteristics for reality; for the character they show on the surface may be merely a reflection of the people with whom they have the most contact, or a front disguising its own opposite. A gruff exterior may hide a person dying for warmth; a repressed, sober-looking type may actually be struggling to conceal uncontrollable emotions. That is the key to charm—feeding what has been repressed or denied.
18. Indulgence is a powerful tool of seduction: it is hard to be angry or defensive with someone who seems to agree with your opinions and tastes. Charmers may appear to be weaker then their targets but in the end they are the more powerful side because they have stolen the ability to resist.
19. We often recognize Charmers as such; we sense their cleverness. … Nevertheless, we fall under their spell. The reason is simple: the feeling that Charmers provide is so rare as to be worth the price we pay.
20. They don’t talk much about themselves, which heightens their mystery and disguises their limitations. Second, they seem to be interested in us, and their interest is so delightfully focused that we relax and open up to them. Finally, Charmers are pleasant to be around. They have none of most people’s ugly qualities—nagging, complaining, self-assertion. They seem to know what pleases. Theirs is a diffused warmth; union without sex.
21. Zhou knew that to execute or compel a captive will only embolden your enemy, and will have repercussions you cannot control. Charm, on the other hand, is a manipulative weapon that disguises its own manipulativeness, letting you gain a victory without stirring the desire for revenge.
1. There are those who are immune to a Charmer; particularly cynics, and confident types who do not need validation. These people tend to view Charmers as slippery and deceitful, and they cam make problems for you. The solution is to do what most Charmers do by nature: befriend and charm as many people as possible. Secure your power through numbers and you will not have to worry about the few you cannot seduce. Catherine the Great’s kindness to everyone she met created a vast amount of good will that paid off later. Also, it is sometimes charming to reveal a strategic flaw. There is one person you dislike? Confess it openly, do not try to charm such an enemy, and people will think you more human, less slippery. Disraeli had such a scapegoat with his great nemesis, William Gladstone.
2. As Catherine the Great proved, timing is everything. Charmers must know when to hibernate and when the times are ripe for their persuasive powers. Known for their flexibility, they should sometimes be flexible enough to act inflexibly. Zhou Enlai, the consummate chameleon, could play the hard-core Communist when it suited him. Never become the slave to your own powers of charm; keep it under control, something you can turn off and on at will.
3. Time is the greatest weapon you have. Patiently keep in mind a long-term goal and neither person nor army can resist you. And charm is the best way of playing for time, of widening your options in any situation. Through charm you can seduce your enemy into backing off, giving you the psychological space to plot an effective counterstrategy. The key is to make other people emotional while you remain detached. They may feel grateful, happy, moved, arrogant—it doesn’t matter, as long as they feel. An emotional person is a distracted person. Give then what they want, appeal to their self-interest, make them feel superior to you. When a baby has grabbed a sharp knife, do not try to grab it back; instead, stay calm, offer candy, and the baby will drop the knife to pick up the tempting morsel you offer.
4. Peter [the Great’s] regime was repressive, and the arrests and executions piled up. He also grew more abusive toward his wife, threatening to divorce her and marry his mistress. One drunken evening, driven to distraction by Catherine’s silence and his inability to provoke her, he ordered her arrest. The news spread fast, and Orlov hurried to warn Catherine that she would be imprisoned or executed unless she acted fast. This time Catherine did not argue; she put on her simplest mourning gown, left her hair half undone, followed Orlov to a waiting carriage, and rushed to the army barracks. Here the soldiers fell to the ground, kissing the hem of her dress—they had heard so much about her but had never seen her in person, and she seemed to them like a statue of the Madonna come to life. They gave her an army uniform, marveling at how beautiful she looked in men’s clothes, and set off under Orlov’s command for the Winter Palace. The procession grew as it passed through the streets of St Petersburg. Everyone applauded Catherine, everyone felt that Peter should be dethroned. Soon priests arrived to give Catherine their blessing, making the people even more excited. And through it all, she was silent and dignified, as if all were in the hands of fate. When news reached Peter of this peaceful rebellion, he grew hysterical, and agreed to abdicate that very night. Catherine became empress without a single battle or even a gunshot.
5. There will always be difficult people for us to face—the chronically insecure, the hopelessly stubborn, the hysterical complainers. Your ability to disarm these people will prove an invaluable skill. You do have to be careful, though: if you are passive they will run all over you; if assertive you will make their monstrous qualities worse. Seduction and charm are the most effective counterweapons. Outwardly, be gracious. Adapt to their every mood. Enter their spirit. Inwardly, calculate and wait; your surrender is a strategy, not a way of life. When the time comes, and it inevitably will, the tables will turn. Their aggression will land them in trouble, and that will put you in a position to rescue them, regaining superiority. (You could also decide that you had had enough, and consign them to oblivion.) Your charm has prevented them from foreseeing this or growing suspicious. A whole revolution can be enacted without a single act of violence, simply be waiting for the apple to ripen and fall.
6. Symbol: The Mirror. Your spirit holds a mirror up to others. When they see you they see themselves: their values, their tastes, even their flaws. Their lifelong love affair with their own image is comfortable and hypnotic; so feed it. No one ever sees what is behind the mirror.
4. The Charismatic
1. Charisma is a presence that excites us. It comes from an inner quality—self-confidence, sexual energy, sense of purpose, contentment—that most people lack and want. This quality radiates outward, permeating the gestures of Charismatics, making them seem extraordinary and superior, and making us imagine there is more to them than meets the eye; they are gods, saints, stars. Learn to create the charismatic illusion by radiating intensity while remaining detached.
2. Charismatics have certain qualities that are powerfully attractive and that make them stand out. This could be their self-belief, their boldness, their serenity. They keep the source of these qualities mysterious. They do not explain where their confidence or contentment comes from, but it can be felt by everyone; it radiates outward, without the appearance of conscious effort. The face of the Charismatic is usually animated, full of energy, desire, alertness—the look of a lover, one that is instantly appealing, even vaguely sexual.
3. Today, anyone who has presence, who attracts attention when he or she enters a room, is said to possess charisma. But even these less-exalted types reveal a trace of the quality suggested by the world’s original meaning. Their charisma is mysterious and inexplicable, never obvious. They have an unusual confidence. They have a gift—often a smoothness with language—that makes them stand out from the crowd.
4. You must radiate an inward quality that has a saintly or spiritual edge to it. Your eyes must glow with the fire of a prophet. Your charisma must seem natural, as if it came from something mysteriously beyond your control, a gift of the gods. In our rational, disenchanted world, people crave a religious experience, particularly on a group level. Any sign pf charisma plays to this desire to believe in something. And there is nothing more seductive than giving people something to believe in and follow.
5. If people believe you have a plan, that you know where you are going, they will follow you instinctively. The direction does not matter: pick a cause, an ideal, a vision and show that you will not sway from your goal. –Amelia. [Ties in to Obedience to Authority]
6. Mystery lies at charisma’s heart, but it is a particular kind of mystery—a mystery expressed by contradiction. … They make you hard to fathom, add richness to your character, make people talk to you. It is often better to reveal your contradiction slowly and subtly—if you throw them out one on top of the other, people may think you have an erratic personality. Show your mysteriousness gradually and word will spread. You must also keep people at arm’s length, to keep them from figuring you out.
7. A Charismatic relies on the power of words. The reason is simple: words are the quickest way to create emotional disturbance. They can uplift, elevate, stir anger, without referring to anything real. … The slow, authoritative style is often more effective than passion in the long run, for it is more subtly spellbinding, and less tiring.
8. A Charismatic is larger than life, has extra presence. Actors have studied this kind of presence for centuries; they know how to stand on a crowded stage and command attention. Surprisingly, it is not the actor who screams the loudest or gestures the most wildly who works this magic best, but the actor who stays calm, radiating self-assurance. The effect is ruined by trying too hard. It is essential to be self-aware, to have the ability to see yourself as others see you.
9. Most people are repressed, and have little access to their unconscious—a problem that creates opportunities for the Charismatic, who can become a kind of screen on which others project their secret fantasies and longings. You will first have to show that you are less inhibited than your audience—that you radiate a dangerous sexuality, have no fear of death, are delightfully spontaneous. Even a hint of these qualities will make people think you more powerful than you are.
10. We are drawn to people who seem more comfortably human, who do not bother to disguise their contradictions.
11. You cannot help being who you are, so be genuine.
12. People do not want to hear that your power comes from years of effort or discipline. They prefer to think that it comes from your personality, your character, something you were born with. They also hope that proximity to the guru or Charismatic will make some of that power rub off on them.
13. Krishnamurti advocated simplicity as a way of opening up to the truth, but his own simplicity just allowed people to see what they wanted in him, attributing powers to him that he not only denied but ridiculed.
14. An enlightened person has understood something that makes him or her content, and this contentment radiates outward. That is the appearance you want: you do not need anything or anyone, you are fulfilled. People are naturally drawn to those who emit happiness; maybe they can catch it from you. The less obvious you are, the better: let people conclude that you are happy, rather than hearing it from you. Let them see it in your unhurried manner, your gentle smile, your ease and comfort. Keep your words vague, letting people imagine what they will. Remember: being aloof and distant only stimulates the effect. People will fight for the slightest sign of your interest. A guru is content and detached—a deadly Charismatic combination.
15. Most of us live in a semi-somnambulistic state: we do our daily tasks and the days fly by. The two exceptions to this are childhood and those moments when we are in love. In both cases, our emotions are more engaged, more open and active. And we equate feeling emotional with feeling more alive.
16. …when appearing on television it is best to radiate calmness and control, to use dramatic effects sparingly. De Gaulle’s overall iciness made doubly effective the brief moments in which he raised his voice, or let loose a biting joke. By remaining calm and underplaying it, he hypnotized his audience. (Your face can express much more if your voice is less strident.)
17. You are a blank screen. Float through life noncommittally and people will want to seize you and consume you. Of all the parts of your body that draw this fetishitic attention, the strongest is the face; so learn to tune your face like an instrument, making it radiate a fascinating vagueness for effect.
18. Unable to have them, we become obsessed with them—they haunt our thoughts, our dreams, our fantasies. We imitate them unconsciously. The psychologist Sandor Ferenczi calls this “introjection”: another person becomes part of our ego, we internalize their character.
19. Stars make us want to know more about them. You must learn to stir people’s curiosity by letting them glimpse something in your private life, something that seems to reveal an element of your personality. Let them fantasize and imagine.
20. Now more than ever, people are insecure, and their identities are in flux. Help them fix on a role to play in life and they will flock to identify with you.
21. Remember: everyone is a public performer. People never know exactly what you think or feel; they judge you on your appearance. You are an actor. And the most effective actors have an inner distance: like Dietrich, they can mold their physical presence as if they perceived it from the outside. This inner distance fascinates us.
22. Symbol: The Idol. A piece of stone carved into the shape of a god, perhaps glittering with gold and jewels. The eyes of the worshipers fill the stone with life, imagining it to have real powers. Its shape allows them to see what they want to see—a god—but it is actually just a piece of stone. The god lives in their imagination.
23. “Charisma” shall be understood to refer to an extraordinary quality of a person, regardless of whether this quality to actual, alleged or presumed. “Charismatic authority,” hence, shall refer to a rule over men, whether predominately internal, to which the governed submit because of their belief in the extraordinary quality of the specific person. –Max Weber. From Max Weber, Essays in Sociology
24. [The masses] have never thirsted after truth. They demand illusions, and cannot do without them. They constantly give what is unreal precedence over what is real; they are almost as strongly influenced by what is untrue as by what is true. They have an evident tendency not to distinguish between the two. –Sigmund Freud, The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud.