Grandmother also took me seriously, and I recall long debates with her on passive and active voting rights for women. I naturally had a better opinion of the good sense of my sex; today, I have to admit that in many of her views grandmother was right. But now I had come along and would take matters in hand. Down with the aristocrats! I wrote to two cousins in Vienna, to a friend in Lisbon, and to three bourgeois acquaintances in our little town, telling them that I had founded a society for the improvement of the world and had appointed them members. I despotically drew up the rules myself.
The first proclaimed the abolition of the nobility; the others, as I recall, were of a more practical nature and concerned membership dues: twenty-five kreuzers a month for regular members and one gulden for honorary members. With these funds the misery of the world was to be assuaged. All members were to wear an anchor badge so that later, when the number of members had swollen to millions, they would recognize one another in the wide world beyond and be able to work together.
The badge, which had a hook on the back, always tore our clothes and thus caused us all kinds of unpleasantness — but all that was part of our martyrdom for the Cause. Of course, I was the head of the society, and my youngest cousin in Vienna was treasurer.
Since, for some reason or other I had at the time a deep respect for the Freemasons, I would draw a triangle next to the seal on the back of the envelope, hoping that this secret sign would be noticed by the police and that one fine day I should be arrested. One of my aunts whose mother had been a commoner felt insulted and wrote to grandmother, who explained to me that one should be considerate of the weaknesses of others; but her gentle, faint smile betrayed to me that she was really on my side, and I defended my conviction with glowing words. My admiration for the bourgeoisie received something of a jolt from this incident, but I assumed that my aunt had been corrupted by her marriage to an aristocrat.
I think I was an extremely unpleasant, domineering brat, who simply terrorized them. They both wanted and did not want to acknowledge that the old aristocracy was the cause of all the evil in the world. If that did not succeed either, I resorted to plain rudeness and cuffs on the ear. But the bourgeoisie proved itself the stronger; I did not succeed in bringing a single one of the three girls round to my view. It was a fine drama with many corpses and a tirade, in hexameters, against the aristocrats. Quite exceptionally, I showed my masterpiece, out of authorial vanity, to my parents.
At that time I read the newspaper regularly. I had had to promise not to read the court proceedings, but the promise was not hard to keep, since in the court-room the government was not attacked, and nothing else was of interest to me. Grandmother, who was also interested in politics, catered to my passion, read articles to me, and called my attention to this and that; Uncle Anton, too, helped to strengthen my interest in politics.
Father laughed at me, but he too would sometimes condescend to discuss politics when he could ride his favourite hobbyhorse, the Balkan question. While I insisted firmly that everything bad comes from the aristocracy, father maintained just as firmly that everything bad comes from that cursed storm-centre, the Balkans. For that reason, for a long time, the Balkans represented for me the entire field of foreign policy. I began to feel slightly discouraged. The finest editorials, the most powerful speeches of my noble anarchist seemed to be of no avail.
The number of members was not growing. I had a vague presentiment that only a mass popular party, with me at the head, would be able to accomplish anything, but where were these masses to come from? Then, too, something was not quite right with the treasury; there was always less money in the cashbox than there should have been.
One day when I categorically demanded all the money in the cashbox to aid the victims of a flood, it was found to be empty. In shame and disgrace she was removed from her post and one of the bourgeois girls living in G. But this incident had shown me clearly that one could not depend on help from the aristocrats to overthrow the nobility. Down with the nobility! It happened that just at that time Uncle Anton was visiting us, and I read my work aloud to him. In fact, that story was a small pacifist tract in comparison with the editorials I wrote for the defunct Anchor Journal.
Each one of its villas, set in a beautiful garden of its own, was the retreat of someone who wanted to lead a separate life. Most of these people were extreme individualists, even if many of them — in true Austrian style — would have adamantly refused to be so described. Was life truly so harmonious, or did good manners simply create the illusion of harmony? I stood in real awe of our old valet Albert. One fine day, the squirrel escaped, but that did not diminish my interest in Herr Albert. There was a mystery attached to him, which I would have given my life to unravel: did he wear a wig or not?
It was impossible to tell for sure. His name was Alois, and he never missed an opportunity of telling you that he was the only son of a widow. Alois sported a black moustache — which was contrary to all the rules of propriety — for in those days no servant was permitted to wear a moustache. But he was apparently a vain young man, and besought grandmother with tears in his eyes and allusions to his widowed mother, whose only son he was, to permit him to keep his moustache — and he was allowed to do so. He would have liked to lay out the entire garden in flower-beds, and grandmother had to fight strenuously against each one.
He was afflicted with a thin, constantly scolding wife whom I, as a small child, took for a witch. Grandmother did not need to tell me to be polite to her. When I saw her I greeted her respectfully from afar, for fear of being bewitched. She had a brother who was a court councillor in Bavaria, and to whom she referred as often as Alois referred to his widowed mother. I received many a scolding because of her. Her presence disturbed me in my religious exercises more than anything else. It sometimes happened that she was there when I was saying my evening prayers and on every one of those occasions, I refused, for reasons no one could understand, to say the Ave Maria.
Besides, my first act of social justice went so badly awry with one of them that my young soul was beset by evil doubts. We had a most lovable little kitchen maid, pretty and very young. She sometimes played with me and I was very fond of her. One day, as I was walking in the garden, I approached the kitchen window and heard the cook giving the girl, who was weeping bitterly, a terrible scolding. I became very angry. Then I noticed that directly under the window a large bowl of stewed fruit had been set out for our lunch.
Here was my chance to punish the wicked cook. I quickly determined to scoop up some sand from the path and throw it into the bowl. When at lunch the sand was discovered, I was delighted, but not for long. But I refused because of my confused feeling that she had tormented a weaker creature than herself. Grandmother, who was a good pedagogue, tried to explain to me, that the eternal heat of the oven and smell of the food made cooks nervous and irritable, and that a silly little girl like me had no right to punish a hard-working person. I did finally give in and apologize.
But my dislike for cooks has remained with me to this day. About ten minutes from our villa there was an empty plot of ground; and it was there that the tents were set up. How splendid it was to see the circus enter the town — the horses, the dogs, the clowns. And then the show! The most beautiful girls, who performed the most daring tricks; the elegant lady who demonstrated all the equestrian arts; the ring-master with his cracking whip.
And it all smelled so strangely, of sand and horses and wild animals. It was a marvellous world, inhabited by fortunate people who rode horseback, walked the tightrope, and were allowed to wear brilliant clothing covered with spangles. My admiration for the tight-rope dancers cost me many black and blue marks, so many, that I gave up thinking of tight-rope dancing and transferred my desires and longings to riding a horse over a wooden plank. On one occasion an exceptionally beautiful equestrienne arrived with the circus.
She had pink cheeks, golden hair, and a sweet smile such as one normally sees only on dolls. I admired her infinitely and would have given almost anything to make her acquaintance. My wish was to be fulfilled. Grandmother sent me with a bottle of French red wine to the injured man — perhaps in order to dampen somewhat my circus ardour. I went into a miserable little tent; on a plank bed lay a melancholy, oldish man, the last person in the world one would have thought capable of dashing exploits and clever repartee.
Near him, darning stockings, sat a thin, weary woman, pale, fretful, her hair already turned grey — it was the beautiful equestrienne. My governess, who had accompanied me, thought it was out of compassion for the two poor devils that I almost began to weep. In a tiny street near the church lived the shoe-maker who had an enormous goiter, which even his long black beard could not cover. The second treasure was a little wooden flask on which was carved the martyrdom of Christ — the scourge, the crown of thorns, the vinegar sop, the cross, and the spear.
This marvel had come from a convict. The shoe-maker was always glad to talk at length about these two precious objects, and I was always delighted when I got to hold them in my own hands. The glove-maker was a friendly old man who always spoke with great pride of the distinguished ladies for whom he had made gloves. The gloves were tried on like clothes. They had to fit without a wrinkle, as though they had been poured on.
It was as though they had always been there. It did happen once that a young stationer opened a new shop, but as he was the son of the old stationer, it was not an act of disloyalty to buy from him. But then a brand-new shop opened, an elegant shop that sold blouses and underclothing, hats and lace collars. The owners were foreigners — as the inhabitants of G. This first Jewish shop gave rise to all sorts of discussions. Most of the ladies declared that they would never, in any circumstances, buy from the Sonnenscheins, that one should not take the trade away from the old-established Christian shopkeepers.
We had gone to them from the beginning, and grandmother had more than once held little, mobile, dark-eyed Frau Sonnenschein up to me as an example of amiability and kindness. I can still see the thin little woman now; she never seemed to be still for an instant; her hands were busy, her big black eyes moved continually, she talked incessantly, and always found the right thing to say.
Within six months she knew what all her customers were interested in, asked this one about her roses, that one about her dogs, and chatted about swimming, bicycling, or the latest fashions, while she pulled out different articles in order to show them and sent Herr Sonnenschein, who was slow and deaf, to fetch this and that. Within a year the most Catholic ladies bought only from Frau Sonnenschein, the shop became bigger and bigger, business got better and better, and everyone loved the little Jewess.
When she died a few years later and very soon afterwards Herr Sonnenschein married one of his Gentile salesgirls, everyone was in a state of righteous indignation: how upset the poor little woman would have been had she known that her husband would marry a Christian!
The new Frau Sonnenschein was regarded with hostility, the customers stayed away, the shop began going down, and the Christian tradespeople got their old clients back again. Then came a pause, one took another breath, and the maid gathered new strength. Then the procedure was repeated, and finally, after that, the dress, plentifully equipped with whale-bones, was put on. At the waist there was a strong band with hooks and eyes. Most of the time the ends of the band did not meet, so another tug had to be given to the corset, until at last the dress could be fastened.
Countless small and large hairpins held together real and false switches and curls. Then the enormous hat was set in place and hatpins were stuck in. Frequently the hat was trimmed with birds and flowers only on one side, so that all the weight pulled at one spot. So, heroically smiling, women went out to promenade holding up their skirts with hands that were soon weary from the weight. The clothes had a slit in back, a dangerous thing because it came open so easily.
If one wanted to reach into the pocket, one had first to open the slit and then begin to feel around for the pocket. I cannot explain how the pocket managed never to be where one expected to find it — but it did. One constantly saw women on the streets with anxious expressions, searching behind, frantic, desperate.
Once the purse was found, they would forget to close the slit, or would be unable to locate the hooks and eyes. A man at that time had to precede a woman when going upstairs so as not to fall under suspicion of wanting to see her legs. From the moment a young girl put on her first long dress — and how proud we were of those dresses, and how often we tripped over them — no one was even to suspect that she was supported on anything more than ankles and even ankles were not supposed to be seen.
On the street one wore laced boots; for some reason open shoes were not respectable outside the house. The boots had a long row of buttons, and if one was in a hurry, a button would inevitably come off. The same thing happened with the gloves worn at balls; they came almost all the way up to the shoulder, were always too tight, pinched, and stretched, and were very expensive. But they were. Yes, they even managed to be graceful and to move elegantly. To be sure, one was in training for it from childhood.
I still remember with horror the board with two diverging rods, which, held in place under the armpits and stretched across the back, was intended to develop an erect carriage. One also learned how to sit down, how to rise, and how to enter a room. Young girls were never supposed to sit in easy chairs. What kind of a position is that? And how many angry glances were directed at my feet, because the forbidden ankles were showing. I loved our spacious garden with the old chestnut trees.
In the spring we had breakfast under their white candles, and the hum of the bees mingled with that of the old silver teapot that had been handed down from my beautiful English great-grandmother. Flecks of light played on the blue Wedgwood china; in the tall pines which shaded the gentle slope, squirrels hopped from branch to branch, and blackbirds sang. In autumn the old chestnut trees glowed yellow and filled the dining-room with a warm gold colour.
The big green tile stove roared happily, and I ate as slowly as possible, because after breakfast I had to go to my lessons. On fine summer evenings the whole mass of stone turned pink, like the finest marble, and then, when it was already dusk all around, the Traunstein as our mountain was called shone forth out of the shadows like an undying flame. Gradually, however, it paled and turned cold and dead, and everything lost life and became suddenly old and joyless. At that moment, without knowing why, I felt a deep sadness. A day was dead, a day of childhood was irrevocably gone.
Jerome, Swift, Tennyson. The little snow-covered town looked like a picture on the Christmas cards we received from English cousins and friends. I especially liked the little church that stood on an island in the lake and was linked to the mainland by a long bridge. Entirely surrounded by white, it seemed to be floating in the clouds. I gladly sacrificed the pleasure of sleeping late on a Sunday in order to attend early mass in the island church. One stepped from the soft white dawn into the dark building. On the pews, spiral-shaped, faintly-smelling yellow wax lights burned with slender flickering flames, the reddish vestments of the ministrants glowed dully, the figure of the priest moved indistinctly in the chancel, and the little asthmatic organ gave forth its best.
It was Advent, the moment of expectancy; the Messiah will soon be born. We all know this, and we cry to heaven that it might open up and send down the saviour of the world: rorate coeli. And afterwards, when we walked back across the bridge, the heavens had truly opened, the sun streamed down, the blue sky made the snow seem even whiter, the air was cold, and we were filled with good resolutions — and terribly hungry. If I was alone with grandmother it was marvellous.
I was allowed to prepare a Christmas tree for the poor children, buy things for them, and order vast quantities of chocolate and cakes from the cook. They sat anxious and unsure of themselves on the edge of their seats, continually making little bows, would neither eat nor drink chocolate, and kept saying thank you over and over again, which annoyed and embarrassed me. Another point of the social code required that if a person has once been a guest in a house, the mistress of that house should remember for all time thereafter whether or not the person takes milk in his tea as well as how many lumps of sugar he takes.
Never take up more than half a page at most to tell about your own affairs; more than that would almost certainly be of no interest. It was only much later that I discovered the profound significance of this precept and found out how easy it is to give the impression that one is extremely intelligent. All the women whom history and literature present as uncommonly gifted were, above all else, good listeners, which, when you think of it, requires no special art, since in the end every human being is interesting when speaking of what is closest to his or her heart, whether that be politics, literature or something absolutely inconsequential.
When a gardener speaks of flowers or a tailor of clothes, his whole person is transformed; everything good and beautiful about roses or clothing is transferred, as it were, to him, while he in turn invests material things with the interest that inheres in any living human being. As I have said, however, I did not discover this truth until much later; in youth one feels so rich that one thinks only of giving out, not of taking in. First, there was the traditional three-week stop in Vienna to visit the dentist and various relatives. Going to the dentist was not entirely awful; for one thing it provided an opportunity for heroic behaviour, something I always enjoyed very much; in addition, that heroic behaviour was always rewarded in one way or another.
The relatives were a more difficult matter; here one demonstrated heroism by enduring boredom, and that was a good deal harder. She wore a faded yellow wig, and I think that, except for her chambermaid, no one ever saw her hands. Her rooms were dark and smelled strangely of a mixture of roseleaves and medicines. Aunt Maria had only one lung though, for all that, she lived to be seventy ; as a result, she kept out of the fresh air and almost never allowed her windows to be opened. Every afternoon at three, her old landau would drive up, drawn by her old horses and with her old coachman on the box, and Aunt Maria would go for a drive in the Prater 31 with both carriage windows shut tight.
She talked a great deal about music and inquired regularly about my progress with the piano — a painful topic. Aunt Maria would talk with grandmother while I ate bonbons. Once old Johann brought in two little plates from which I ate alternately — with none too happy results, for on one of the plates had been placed not bonbons but sugarcoated laxative pills. I was delighted with the pearls although I was not yet allowed to wear them. But this was in no way the fault of my piano teacher.
Poor Herr Habert 32 with his tired, sorrowful face went to inconceivable pains with me — but all in vain. Still, I did learn something else, when still quite young, from my music teacher: the tragedy of the unsuccessful artist. Herr Habert was an extremely gifted man; he had composed oratorios and masses, but he had never managed to establish himself as a composer. Finally — he must have been about fifty-seven at the time, which of course seemed utterly ancient to me — one of his oratorios was accepted for performance.
Herr Habert was so happy that the piano lessons even became a pleasure. He played phrases and motifs from the oratorio for me, explained them, and no longer noticed when my timing was off. Herr Habert came a few more times to give me lessons, then excused himself saying he was very tired, and never came back.
When I went to see him, he was lying in bed in his — to me — miserable three-room dwelling, his face completely grey, and his body small and shrunken. He did not complain; he only said that he was tired, very tired. A fat ugly wife and three unattractive grown-up daughters said he had to pull himself together. But he was too weary, and shortly after that he went to sleep forever. She would look at you with a frozen face, as though it had been carved out of wood, in which only her little dark eyes seemed to be alive, and would bend down toward you with her huge ear-trumpet in her ear.
Walking into her old-fashioned drawing-room with its stiff black ebony furniture was not without its perils. As soon as the door opened four yellow pugs would spring at you, yapping wildly and snapping at your legs. The pugs were old and peevish. Once the servant had quieted them they would crouch down sullenly on their cushions and glower at everything around them. The chairs were unwelcoming, even the flowers on the tables were dead. I was always happy when grandmother indicated that it was time for us to go.
She was big and strong and, though no longer young, full of life. At her house one did not have to sit still on a stool; one could wander through the rooms and examine the curious things she had brought back from her distant travels. Aunt Steffi was what in those days was called an emancipated woman; she travelled alone all over the world; and would set off for Japan or China as fearlessly as others would go from Vienna to Salzburg.
Thus Vienna to me was the city of pink tissue paper, for the washerwomen there placed sheets of pink tissue paper between individual garments when they returned them — which looked very pretty and dainty. Whenever I heard the name Vienna soft pink sheets of tissue paper immediately appeared before my eyes. Germany, on the other hand, was closely linked to fine railway stations and thick slices of bread and butter. The fine station was the one at Frankfurt-am-Main. We passed through it once and, while the train was stopped, went for a walk on the platform.
Grandmother explained to me that this was the finest railway station in Europe. It made a great impression on me, far greater than Cologne Cathedral, which we saw on the same trip. There it was only the mosaic on the floor that pleased me. We were travelling from Lindau to Rorschach and on the steamer ordered bread and butter. It came and so completely astonished me — accustomed as I was to paper-thin English sandwiches — that I was almost angry, for I thought, for some unfathomable reason, that thick slices of bread, especially when thickly spread with butter, were vulgar.
Grandmother explained to me that in Germany one always gets thick sandwiches. My view of the German Empire was formed immediately: it was a vulgar country with beautiful railway stations. It is not a beautiful memory. I was at that time separated from grandmother and was travelling with my parents. It was winter. The lagoons were grey and gloomy and foul-smelling. On top of it all, in an effort to educate me — I was then seven years old — I was dragged through all the galleries. I saw picture after picture and found them all deadly boring. Even at a time when I had begun to take genuine delight in works by Perugino and Luini, I refused — out of spite — to say so and it was not until I was quite grown up and was spending two years in Florence with my parents that I admitted to getting pleasure from painting.
Of the trip I remember only that I was horribly seasick in the Bay of Biscay. When the ship cast anchor in Lisbon harbour I had a terrible fright. Out of little bobbing boats dark, bearded creatures emerged and clambered up to our ship. I thought they were monkeys. Later I realized that they were men. In Lisbon I saw for the first time the reverse side of having colonies. They were received with great ceremony; the court and the entire diplomatic corps showed up. Well-dressed, well-nourished, healthy people, gathered respectfully around the beautiful queen and the fat king, stood about the dock, but from the ship came yellow shadows, emaciated, desiccated from the deadly climate.
Many staggered as they disembarked, others had to be carried. There were also simple women there, weeping bitterly because their son was not among those who had been shipped back. The ship put out to sea in the late afternoon. When we reached the dreaded bar where the Tagus empties into the ocean, the sun went down.
The great waves boiled blood-red about the ship like liquid flames, and in the distance lay the ocean, dark and infinite. On this trip I came into contact with a person whom I have never been able to forget in the many years that have passed since that time, and of whom I shall always think with gratitude. The weather was bad, the trip took five days instead of the usual three, and I was seasick the whole time. My mother stayed up on deck: children do not know how to be seasick gracefully and are not a particularly pleasant sight in this condition.
To the misery of seasickness would have been added the misery of loneliness had it not been for a big English sailor with red hair and many freckles. Perhaps he had children at home, perhaps he was simply a good man; at any rate he took care of me, as the saying goes, as a father takes care of his child. In the morning he came into my cabin and dressed me. To this day I remember how gentle and careful his big hands were. Then he carried me out on deck and helped me to combat seasickness. To accomplish this he employed the strangest means. I had to eat sour things, drink salt water and when none of this did any good, he resorted to the remedy he no doubt considered a universal cure and forced me to down a large glass of pure whisky.
He was bitterly disappointed when that too failed to help. But throughout the entire day, he found time to come to me every little while, tuck me into my blanket, cheer me up, and promise me good weather and a smooth sea on the following day. In the evening he carried me back to the cabin and undressed me. I have forgotten his name, but not the man himself, with his big, strong, soft hands and the kindly smile on his freckled face.
We climbed into the funny little sledge-like oxcart, and I was very anxious to sit on the rear seat. For some reason or other my memories of Madeira have faded. I see now only the great camelia bushes, the thickly wooded village of Monte from which you slid down the polished cobblestone path to Funchal in a sort of bobsled, as though it were a toboggan-run. I also remember a dreadful, seemingly endless dinner which the Austrian consul gave in honour of my mother, and at which twenty-five different vintages of Madeira wine were brought out.
Here it was very beautiful; the hotel lay right by the sea, and the mighty Pic rose up snow-covered into the blue sky. There were weird cacti that produced yellow, edible pears and eucalyptus trees with their wonderfully strong smell. One of the residents of the hotel was a beautiful Englishwoman who played the guitar and showed the most friendly interest in me. My mother forbade me to speak to her. I racked my brains for a reason for this prohibition. What could such a lovely, charming woman have done? And how did my mother — who was not even acquainted with her — know that she had committed a crime?
I worried a great deal about the beautiful woman and often, while I was playing alone on the beach, I would think how I might help her get away in case the police came after her. There were lights on all the hills surrounding the city, fireworks crackled all around, and against the night sky you could see the saint preaching his famous sermon to the fishes. At the hotel grandmother made the acquaintance of an English family consisting of two tall, suntanned men, their wives, and the daughters of the elder of the two men — one grown-up and two still quite small.
They were passionate mountain climbers and seemed to have no interest in literature. Only eleven-year old Olive composed stories, which she wrote into a copybook. But when we compared our stories at one point, I had to note, in all modesty, that mine were not a whit worse than hers. We went into the woods with her big sister Enid to pick bilberries. All along the way we had fun imagining that we would get lost and never be able to find our way back.
We thought up all sorts of frightening situations: endlessly wandering around and searching vainly for the way back, having to go without food or water after all the bilberries had been eaten, and finally when winter came on, with lots of snow and ice, freezing to death. On the way back we two young ones ran on ahead. Whether by pure chance or because we were unconsciously led on by the thought of losing our way, we took the wrong path. We called her name — no answer.
But the path became narrower, the bushes became more dense, the trees seemed to get taller. We continued to call vainly for Enid, and kept running on in the hope that her form would suddenly appear at some turn in the way; but we only got ourselves deeper and deeper into the wood. Anxiety had us so tightly by the throat that our shouts sounded muffled, strange, and frightening in themselves.
All at once the wood had turned into something evil and menacing. The bushes made fiendish grimaces, and the tall pines had become dark as night and hostile. Weird noises filled the air, sounds of scraping and crackling. I turned away, not daring to look Olive in the face, for I had done so once and seen something horrible in her expression — stark fear. All the visions we had conjured up in fun now became grim reality: we would never, never get out of the forest — we were going to perish here, miserably.
How good it was to hear the sound of a human voice, even though it was scolding us roundly, how calming and comforting was the slap in the face that Olive got from her sister. The forest was immediately beautiful and friendly again, for there was a human being there, someone we belonged to, someone who spoke with a human voice and who was not alien and impenetrable like nature.
We were crossing the Mediterranean. The weather was bad, waves crashed on to the deck; with every breaker the ship seemed to be pitched up to meet the lowhanging, dark, stormy sky only to sink down again, after shuddering violently for a second, into bottomless depths. The few first-class passengers had gathered in the saloon after dinner. A pretty young American sat in a corner speaking. She talked incessantly as though to deafen herself, flirted with the men, laughed shrilly. But there was fear in her dilated eyes, and her hands were clenched together so tightly that the knuckles shone white.
Her face was deathly pale, and her smile a frozen grimace. She talked about her husband and little son in America, and behind each word lurked the fear: I shall never see them again. Tell me there is no danger, that a ship has never yet gone down. It grew late; the young woman continued to talk, convulsively, feverishly — only, for the love of heaven, let me keep one other human being here so that I am not left alone. She seemed very fond of her husband — yet on that night she would undoubtedly have betrayed him with any man there, passenger, officer or sailor, anything so as not to have to remain alone with her fear.
I was with my mother visiting an English aunt and was to pay a call on my Uncle Anton who was then at the embassy there. My mother put me in a hansom cab and gave the driver the address. Apparently the man misunderstood it, for when I got out and the carriage had driven off I found myself in front of a strange house in an unfamiliar street amid the tumult of the huge city.
Strangely enough, I — who even today, I am ashamed to confess, am fearful when crossing the street — was not in the least afraid. There were people everywhere, so what could happen to me? I walked happily along several streets, enjoying the adventure and paying no attention to the fact that I was getting further and further from my destination. When at last I became tired, I went up to a policeman who put me in a hansom cab again and this time gave the driver the right address. This veneration of beauty was in my blood, perhaps because her beauty was the most important thing in the world to my beautiful mother.
I have also Aunt Agnes 33 to thank for my first acquaintance with a genuine authoress. Grandmother and Aunt Agnes once arranged to meet in Milan. Aunt Agnes had brought a travelling companion with her. I was absolutely determined to be there when inspiration came to her and to experience the moment with her. I never experienced it. She was a dried-up old spinster who wrote sentimental, extremely moral love stories.
Still, I thought she was wonderful and almost expired from adoration of her. Once when we set out on an excursion to Monza, I was horrified when May Cromelin was seated beside me on the rear seat. A writer, a genius by the grace of God, had by rights to be given the place of honour! She called my adored Jerome K.
At that time I had no idea that half of England felt the same way about Jerome K. When I turned in consternation to grandmother for an explanation, she smiled and said that literary people were often jealous of each other. It was as though I had received a blow to the head, for I had always believed that these people were especially devoted to each other and eager to lend each other mutual support whenever that was possible.
Let it be recalled, by way of excuse, that I was then about ten years old. The whole family, father, mother, grandmother had all been endowed by nature with beautiful noses, but I had been cursed with a Bohemian nose, a heritage from my other grandmother, my Czech grandmother. Father used to tease me about it and said that it would rain into my nose, it turned so steeply up to the heavens.
But Uncle Anton looked at me searchingly one day and said:. Whenever he came to visit grandmother, lunch was a torment for me, because he used that time to investigate the state of my knowledge. Unfortunately for me, he had the idea that a child should know everything he knew, and he was — not just for an Austrian aristocrat, but by any standard — an exceptionally well-educated man. To this day I detest Charles XII of Sweden, because I got my ears boxed when I was not yet eight years old for not being able to give an accurate account of his military campaigns.
Every time we passed a tree I had to say what it was called in German, French, English, and later also in Italian. It was especially terrible if we spotted cranberries; I could never remember that they are called airelles in French. He had run away to America when he was quite a young man, and there, without a kreuzer in his pocket, had earned his own living — first as a waiter, which did not last long because he was so near-sighted, then as a salesman in a dry-goods store.
He had made an excellent salesman, he claimed, and I think he was telling the truth, for no one was a greater charmer than my father, when he wanted to be. It is not difficult to believe that he could talk up the worst fabrics until he persuaded the American women that they were the best. He was discharged simply because he could never manage to roll up the bolts of cloth correctly.
I inherited that too from him; to this day I am incapable of making a decent package. One story that he used to tell, about a poker game in Texas, was especially fine and exciting. A man was caught cheating and by a very simple method was rendered immediately incapable of doing further damage. When speaking of this period of his life he made remarks to me that at the time were vague and quite incomprehensible concerning the early maturity and forwardness of American girls. He was very proud of the fact that he, the spoiled child of an aristocrat, had made his way so well over there, and many years later when he was at the embassy in Washington, he was much amused when at grand embassy receptions he got to lead in to dinner the very ladies to whom he had once sold dry-goods.
We sat in the little salon before an open fire, and he told us about Japan. He had brought back with him many beautiful things, lacquer, porcelain, and for me his big red Japanese visiting card. When a new ambassador had his first audience with the Mikado, a servant went before him bearing the big red visiting card. One ambassador had a great misfortune befall him on such an occasion. He had not taken the necessary precaution of having someone who knew Japanese review the card beforehand. On the great sheet of paper, fluttering in the wind as it was borne before him were inscribed the words:.
Many years before the Russo-Japanese War he spoke of the inevitable conflict between the two empires, and he was convinced that Japan would emerge victorious from the conflict. Before then, it had been simply an infinitely vast land, with cities and rivers and lakes whose names one could never remember.
Now it had become something dark and bad, ruled by an evil power that tortured men, banished them, and exiled them to wildernesses of ice. Alexander III was a blood-thirsty monster surrounded by criminals and scoundrels, and somewhere in the dim and distant depths a martyred people groaned beneath the scourge. He had never been comfortable with the Austrians and their carefree way of living in the moment, and now he felt doubly estranged from them.
He already had at that time the tendency toward solitude and the horror of people that finally drove him to withdraw to an old castle in the country, where, after years of living all alone, he died. Thus it came about that we did not go to Italy or the Riviera that winter, but visited my parents in Algeria. It really began in Marseilles.
We stayed there in an enormous hotel, which grandmother dubbed a caravansary. What a magnificent word that was! It made me think of long caravans winding across the golden desert, of endless lines of camels trudging heavily along, and of a tiny donkey going ahead as their leader. Here one already gets that unique odour of the Orient — a mixture of attar of roses, Morocco leather, camel dung and sun-baked filth. An exciting smell that sets the nerves a-tingle and presages all kinds of strange adventures.
In my head too everything was as on the pictures. For the first time I was unable to absorb the many new impressions crowding in on me; they took me by storm, pulled me hither and thither, so that pleasure was mixed with dizziness and exhaustion. I was enraptured. The overpowering spell of the Orient had seized hold of me. It has never let me go. The North, for me, remains to this day an ersatz of life, sad and colourless, with its ersatz sky, its ersatz sun, and its ersatz flowers.
I had secretly been hoping for a holiday. However, father softened the blow for me by presenting me with a little donkey, Bichette, on which I made the daily trip to the convent. Ali, the Arab groom, trotted alongside me on foot. The cool austerity of the convent filled the high-ceilinged rooms, and even on the hottest days, the nuns in their heavy black garments and veils never seemed to be warm.
The Red Countess
I loved the evenings most of all. My parents were of the opinion that parents should see as little of their children as possible; besides, they had a very active social life and had no time for me. Here, however, there were quantities of books, and I plunged in and indiscriminately read everything that fell into my hands. She was fifteen, a year older than myself, and it was she who introduced me to the sentimental side of life, of which, until then, I knew absolutely nothing. When I had come to know her better, she suddenly said, out of the blue:. It begins with L. Socialism bored her to tears.
Finally we compromised. I was ready to pay court to her if I could be a socialist agitator, trying to convert a wealthy maiden to socialism. Perhaps that journey home after all the travelling was the most beautiful part of it all. As the train passed between two steep banks on which anemones peeked out like white stars through the dead leaves of autumn and liverwort gleamed blue, my heart began to thump with joy and impatience. Then followed the ride from the station past the odd, green-covered hillocks, shrouded in mystery because, it was said, they were mass graves from the Peasant War, over the well-known streets of the little town, past familiar faces, the bath-house, and the riding school, up the steep hill, and through the big garden gate.
And there stood the beloved house; the garden was smiling in the spring; and I was once more alone with grandmother. Life was beautiful. The first months were unbearable; I suffered one humiliation after another. Here, however, people of my own age would say the same thing to me, even if the words were different. One was composed of typical well brought up middle-class girls.
It sickened and bored me. Naturally I wanted to belong to this clique. She was about two years older than me, and most strangely formed, with a short fat body, on which was placed a beautiful head with wonderful eyes and a high intelligent forehead. She is the only person who ever succeeded in awakening a certain counteractive patriotism in me. She reproached me bitterly for sleeping late on a Sunday morning, instead of going to mass.
There stood Dutzi stark naked and beautiful as God had created her. I never could understand why from that time on Dutzi was angry with me. As a matter of fact, as far as I personally am concerned, everything is her fault. I read Fathers and Sons and fell in love with Bazarov and Russia. Subsequently I discovered that Turgenev was at bottom a counter-revolutionary; but in those days he excited all my rebellious feelings, and I had but one wish: to go to Russia and join these heroic beings in bringing about the revolution.
With one of them — entitled Nora in German — I was already familiar. When I was with my parents in Lisbon there was a little cupboard next to the toilet where father stored away books he had already read. Even at that time I seem to have been true to my principle: never waste a moment. It was a bitter disappointment, because I did not understand a word of it. It seemed to me that I could never be clean again. I washed myself at every opportunity and my body filled me with disgust.
I could do something none of them was able to bring off: I could write. She proclaimed to all that there was only one poet in the world, Hofmannsthal, and gave us his works to read. I found them boring, but held my tongue, because Mimi was such a nice girl. There were violent literary debates, but Mimi would not let herself be beaten down — until one day there was a sudden change in her.
She received a letter from home, and ran around the whole day with tear-filled eyes. My youth, and everything that stood for security and freedom from care, was gone. A hostile world lay before me, a world of ill-intentioned strangers. I had no home any more. At sixteen, I had to cope alone with myself and with the world.
He would have done so gladly, except that the conventions of the time formed an insurmountable obstacle. I was a grown girl, and he was not yet an old man. The tongues would have wagged furiously. In this way, I could at least remain in the place where grandmother and I had lived together, and I would be able to spend summer afternoons in the villa and the garden.
With her I could talk about grandmother and reminisce about the wonderful time when the house, now so sad and desolate, had been filled with her love and kindness. We all wore the same hideous dark blue, beige-braided uniform, shared the same bad food, and had to clean our own rooms.
The person I loved most was dead, and I needed a heaven that held out the promise of our meeting again in the future. I got to know the seductive attraction of the mystical: strange nocturnal hours in the dim chapel, lit only by the pale red glow of the altar lamps. Easter-tide came, after the forty days of fasting, during which, with the penchant I then had for doing everything in excess, I almost starved.
On an empty stomach and with a giddy head it is not difficult to see visions and feel the overpowering presence of a God. Thousands upon thousands moved by the same world-embracing, barrier-breaking struggle, by the same hope, the same present, and the same future. And one is oneself part of that, no longer something separate, no longer an individual, but only a tiny, evanescent part of a great cause. I got entangled in traps in math and geometry but I had mastered the other subjects pretty well, and so I managed to slip through.
Whenever I went out laden with books in search of an isolated spot, I invariably met a quiet man with glasses, going the same way. This was Professor Henry Thode, 42 also in search of a remote nook where he could work in peace. Although we knew each other we never exchanged a word; but the professor always bowed to me in the most friendly manner, and I was happy that he shared my solitude in a way. With his big nose, the future Swastika-supporter looked quite Jewish.
He whistled tunes from operettas, and impressed one as loud and common. Here she lived with her three children in rather modest surroundings. In contrast, her oldest son, who was then attending the Naval Academy, was passionately Italian. He seems to have the same convictions — in Italian translation — as his step-uncle. Mother stayed behind in Europe. The little ship with its two funnels — a real one and a wooden one for show only — rolled helplessly from side to side.
His effort was in vain. The ship rolled and tossed, and the little yellow downy creature turned and turned until I was quite dizzy. A figure out of the Thousand and One Nights, but clad in European style, came to meet us: Abensur, the Austrian vice-consul, a Moorish Jew and one of the handsomest men I have ever seen. Also waiting for us on the wharf were the Moroccan soldiers who accompany all the foreign representatives.
During the dry season one sank into the sand, and in the wet season the mud came up over the ankles. Here large dromedaries stood as motionless as if they had been carved out of wood; little grey donkeys raised their shaggy heads and brayed; and snake-charmers crouched on the ground, surrounded by gaping throngs. As they played monotonous melodies on primitive flutes, an enormous snake would uncoil and wave its body in rhythm. In other parts of the suk, people were gathered around a story-teller, who, half-singing, half-speaking, told of wonderful things. After the market place came an empty stretch with nothing but sand.
Father spurred Moghreb into a gallop, and Ali began to gallop also. As I was sitting on a horse for the first time, I became extremely uncomfortable and clung without shame to the mane of the beautiful animal. So we rode up to the front of the Villa Valentina, the hotel at Tangiers, where we were welcomed by the proprietress in the most beautiful Austrian dialect. The legation itself was just across the way, a one-story house in the midst of a tangled garden.
But then my social duties made their demands. We were invited to dinner by the French minister. He may even try to pump you. Until dinner all went well, and then, sitting between the French and English ministers I discovered to my horror that I had to blow my nose — and I had no handkerchief. This was a fine way for me to make my debut. I sniffled violently and lost the thread of the conversation. Father was not within reach. My nose began to run; I looked around at my neighbours: which of them would be the first to understand my need?
The Frenchman was grave and solemn, like a priest celebrating mass. I had been warned against the Englishman, but his blue eyes had a smile in them. Then he laughed, father cast me an approving glance, because I was evidently not boring my dinner partner, and Sir Arthur Nicholson passed the handkerchief to me under the table. He knew this and always went around with a troubled, anxious look on his kindly face. All his other colleagues liked him. He was a good man, always ready to help, but he was no diplomat. He was happiest when he could be left to himself at home with his beautiful wife and many children, or when he invited the German colony to some celebration.
Representing the entirely disinterested Austrian state, father watched with great interest the skirmishings and intrigues and told me about them, so that I was continually au courant. There was to be a wild boar hunt at the time, in which the boars are speared from horses with long lances, and I did not yet ride well enough to go on such a hunt. We had to go on horseback even to the balls. The chair-bearers were Jews: they did not work on Saturdays and holidays, so that on those days elderly ladies were obliged to ride on donkeys to dinners and receptions.
We young girls mounted our horses in our evening dresses, pulled the skirts up high and wrapped our legs in plaids. If it rained we held our umbrella in one hand and the bridle in the other. Soldiers walked in front of the horses carrying lanterns with two candles, which only the baschador, the ambassador, was permitted to have. Ordinary mortals had to be content with one candle. One of the soldiers would knock three times, the signal that a baschador wished to enter, then the gate would open with a grating sound and we would pass through.
It was all a strange mixture of Orient and Occident. The members of the diplomatic corps were the same people one might meet in the capital of any country, and their dinners and balls could have been given in Vienna, Berlin or any other European city. Then, out of the blue, something happened that revealed the Orient and its barbaric cruelty in a glaring light. Suddenly we heard a wild cry. An Arab dashed by us on horseback with a young girl stretched across the saddle. She was trying to get free and screaming desperately.
She worked at the house of some Jews and got involved with one of the sons. Now her brothers have come after her. Monsieur St. He could do nothing, he said, the affair was no concern of the Europeans; if they got mixed up in it there might be complications, and above all: no complications! I stormed in helpless rage; it was as though they were all standing calmly by while a murder took place. In those days I still believed that the purpose of diplomacy was to prevent people from being murdered. It was a large building, low to the ground; the barred side was fully visible, and behind the bars you could see the prisoners crammed together, standing or crouching.
They were not fed by the state but were dependent upon what friends and relatives brought them. Those who came from the interior were often on the verge of starvation. They pressed against the bars like wild animals, stretching out shrivelled hands to beg a piece of bread, scuffling and beating each other bloody over a bit of bread — and this within five hours of Gibraltar.
About two hours from Tangiers there was a thick grove which was inhabited, according to the natives, by djinns, or evil spirits. Once, while taking a ride, we came to the grove, and Sliman urged me to ride quickly by. I jumped off my horse and headed straight for the wood. I laughed at him and went into the grove. When I came back, there was Sliman, who was afraid of nothing in the whole world, pale as death and trembling, scarcely able to believe his eyes when he saw me appear alive and unscathed.
I had taken the precaution of not saying anything to father about my plan; the environs of the town were not supposed to be safe, and women ought not to venture too far into the countryside. I later learned that the occupant of the hut had died a short time before. Sliman advised me strongly not to venture out of the hut. Here he was the master; I felt this and, somewhat intimidated, I obeyed.
The village had finally seen enough of me, and Sliman had disappeared with his family. I was in a way a prisoner. Then there was another big scene with father. You go out riding all alone with Sliman to his village! You know very well how unsafe the country is. As the serpent tempted Eve with the promise of forbidden knowledge, you must awaken a desire in your targets that they cannot control.
Find that weakness of theirs, that fantasy that has yet to be realized, and hint that you can lead them toward it. The key is to keep it vague. Stimulate a curiosity stronger than the doubts and anxieties that go with it, and they will follow you. More: You have ceded them power. The only way to lead the seduced along and keep the upper hand is to create suspense, a calculated surprise. Doing something they do not expect from you will give them a delightful sense of spontaneity—they will not be able to foresee what comes next.
You are always one step ahead and in control. Give the victim a thrill with a sudden change of direction. The trick to making them listen is to say what they want to hear, to fill their ears with whatever is pleasant to them. This is the essence of seductive language. Inflame people's emotions with loaded phrases, flatter them, comfort their insecurities, envelop them in sweet words and promises, and not only will they listen to you, they will lose their will to resist you. The details of a seduction—the subtle gestures, the offhand things you do—are often more charming and revealing.
You must learn to distract your victims with a myriad of pleasant little rituals—thoughtful gifts tailored just for them, clothes and adornments designed to please them, gestures that show the time and attention you are paying them. Mesmerized by what they see, they will not notice what you are really up to. Familiarity and overexposure will cause this reaction. Remain elusive, then.
Intrigue your targets by alternating an exciting presence with a cool distance, exuberant moments followed by calculated absences. Associate yourself with poetic images and objects, so that when they think of you, they begin to see you through an idealized halo. The more you figure in their minds, the more they will envelop you in seductive fantasies.
The best way to cover your tracks is to make the other person feel superior and stronger. If you seem to be weak, vulnerable, enthralled by the other person, and unable to control yourself you will make your actions look more natural, less calculated. Physical weakness—tears, bashfulness, paleness—will help create the effect.
Play the victim, then transform your target's sympathy into love. If you can create the illusion that through you they can live out their dreams, you will have them at your mercy. Aim at secret wishes that have been thwarted or repressed, stirring up uncontrollable emotions, clouding their powers of reason. Lead the seduced to a point of confusion in which they can no longer tell the difference between illusion and reality.
By slowly isolating your victims, you make them more vulnerable to your influence. Take them away from their normal milieu, friends, family, home. Give them the sense of being marginalized, in limbo—they are leaving one world behind and entering another. Once isolated like this, they have no outside support, and in their confusion they are easily led astray.
Lure the seduced into your lair, where nothing is familiar. If they resist your efforts, it is probably because you ham' not gone far enough to allay their doubts—about your motives, the depth of your feelings, and so on. One well-timed action that shows how far you are willing to go to win them over will dispel their doubts. Do not worry about looking foolish or making a mistake—any kind of deed that is self-sacrificing and for your targets' sake will so overwhelm their emotions, they won't notice anything else.
The deepest-rooted and most pleasurable memories are usually those from earliest childhood, and are often unconsciously associated with a parental figure. Bring your targets back to that point by placing yourself in the oedipal triangle and positioning them as the needy child. Unaware of the cause of their emotional response, they will fall in love with you. Some of these, the most elemental taboos, go back centuries; others are more superficial, simply defining polite and acceptable behavior.
Making your targets feel that you are leading them past either kind of limit is immensely seductive. People yearn to explore their dark side. Once the desire to transgress draws your targets to you, it will be hard for them to stop. Take them farther than they imagined—the shared feeling of guilt and complicity will create a powerful bond. If your seduction appeals exclusively to the physical, you will stir up these doubts and make your targets self-conscious.
Instead, lure them out of their insecurities by making them focus on something sublime and spiritual: a religious experience, a lofty work of art, the occult. Lost in a spiritual mist, the target will feel light and uninhibited. Deepen the effect of your seduction by making its sexual culmination seem like the spiritual union of two souls.
At first, perhaps, your kindness is charming, but it soon grows monotonous; you are trying too hard to please, and seem insecure. Instead of overwhelming your targets with niceness, try inflicting some pain. Make them feel guilty and insecure. Instigate a breakup—now a rapprochement, a return to your earlier kindness, will turn them weak at the knees. The lower the lows you create, the greater the highs. To heighten the erotic charge, create the excitement of fear. You need to wake them up, turn the tables. Once they are under your spell, take a step bach and they will start to come after you.
Hint that you are growing bored. Seem interested in someone else. Soon they will want to possess you physically, and restraint will go out the window. Create the illusion that the seducer is being seduced. Put their minds gently to rest, and waken their dormant senses, by combining a nondefensive attitude with a charged sexual presence.
While your cool, nonchalant air is lowering their inhibitions, your glances, voice, and bearing—oozing sex and desire—are getting under their skin and raising their temperature. Never force the physical; instead infect your targets with heat, lure them into lust. Morality, judgment, and concern for the future will all melt away.
This is the time to throw aside chivalry, kindness, and coquetry and to overwhelm with a bold move. Don't give the victim time to consider the consequences.
Utopias and Science Fiction by Women
Showing hesitation or awkwardness means you are thinking of yourself as opposed to being overwhelmed by the victim's charms. One person must go on the offensive, and it is you. After emotions have reached a pitch, they often swing in the opposite direction—toward lassitude, distrust, disappointment. If you are to part, make the sacrifice swift and sudden. If you are to stay in a relationship, beware a flagging of energy, a creeping familiarity that will spoil the fantasy. A second seduction is required. Never let the other person take you for granted—use absence, create pain and conflict, to keep the seduced on tenterhooks.
Preface Thousands of years ago, power was mostly gained through physical violence and maintained with brute strength. There was little need for subtlety—a king or emperor had to be merciless. Only a select few had power, but no one suffered under this scheme of things more than women. They had no way to compete, no weapon at their disposal that could make a man do what they wanted—politically, socially, or even in the home.
Of course men had one weakness: their insatiable desire for sex. A woman could always toy with this desire, but once she gave in to sex the man was back in control; and if she withheld sex, he could simply look elsewhere—or exert force. What good was a power that was so temporary and frail? Yet women had no choice but to submit to this condition. There were some, though, whose hunger for power was too great, and who, over the years, through much cleverness and creativity, invented a way of turning the dynamic around, creating a more lasting and effective form of power.
First they would draw a man in with an alluring appearance, designing their makeup and adornment to fashion the image of a goddess come to life. By showing only glimpses of flesh, they would tease a man's imagination, stimulating the desire not just for sex but for something greater: the chance to possess a fantasy figure. Once they had their victims' interest, these women would lure them away from the masculine world of war and politics and get them to spend time in the feminine world—a world of luxury, spectacle, and pleasure. They might also lead them astray literally, taking them on a journey, as Cleopatra lured Julius Caesar on a trip down the Nile.
Men would grow hooked on these refined, sensual pleasures—they would fall in love. But then, invariably, the women would turn cold and indifferent, confusing their victims. Just when the men wanted more, they found their pleasures withdrawn. They would be forced into pursuit, trying anything to win back the favors they once had tasted and growing weak and emotional in the process. In the face of violence and brutality, these women made seduction a. Oppression and scorn, thus, were and must have been generally the share of women in emerging societies; this state lasted in all its force until centuries of experience taught them to substitute skill for force.
Women at last sensed that, since they were weaker, their only resource was to seduce; they understood that if they were dependent on men through force, men could become dependent on them through pleasure. More unhappy than men, they must have thought and reflected earlier than did men; they were the first to know that pleasure was always beneath the idea that one formed of it, and that the imagination went farther than nature.
Once these basic truths were known, they learned first to veil their charms in order to awaken curiosity; they practiced the difficult art of refusing even as they wished to consent; from that moment on, they knew how to set men's imagination afire, they knew how to arouse and direct desires as they pleased: thus did beauty and love come into being; now the lot of women. And all those who know her suffer. They learned to work on the mind first, stimulating fantasies, keeping a man wanting more, creating patterns of hope and despair—the essence of seduction.
Their power was not physical but psychological, not forceful but indirect and cunning. These first great seductresses were like military generals planning the destruction of an enemy, and indeed early accounts of seduction often compare it to battle, the feminine version of warfare. For Cleopatra, it was a means of consolidating an empire.
In seduction, the woman was no longer a passive sex object; she had become an active agent, a figure of power. With a few exceptions—the Latin poet Ovid, the medieval troubadours—men did not much concern themselves with such a frivolous art as seduction. Then, in the seventeenth century came a great change: men grew interested in seduction as a way to overcome a young woman's resistance to sex.
History's first great male seducers—the Duke de Lauzun, the different Spaniards who inspired the Don Juan legend—began to adopt the methods traditionally employed by women. They learned to dazzle with their appearance often androgynous in nature , to stimulate the imagination, to play the coquette. They also added a new, masculine element to the game: seductive language, for they had discovered a woman's weakness for soft words. These two forms of seduction—the feminine use of appearances and the masculine use of language—would often cross gender lines: Casanova would dazzle a woman with his clothes; Ninon de l'Enclos would charm a man with her words.
At the same time that men were developing their version of seduction, others began to adapt the art for social purposes. As Europe's feudal system of government faded into the past, courtiers needed to get their way in court without the use of force. They learned the power to be gained by seducing their superiors and competitors through psychological games, soft words, a little coquetry. As culture became democratized, actors, dandies, and artists came to use the tactics of seduction as a way to charm and win over their audience and social milieu.
In the nineteenth century another great change occurred: politicians like Napoleon consciously saw themselves as seducers, on a grand scale. These men depended on the art of seductive oratory, but they also mastered what had once been feminine strategies: staging vast spectacles, using theatrical devices, creating a charged physical presence. All this, they learned, was the essence of charisma—and remains so today. By seducing the masses they could accumulate immense power without the use of force.
Today we have reached the ultimate point in the evolution of seduction. Now more than ever, force or brutality of any kind is discouraged. All areas of social life require the ability to persuade people in a way that does not offend or impose itself. Forms of seduction can be found everywhere, blending male and female strategies. Advertisements insinuate, the soft sell dominates. If we are to change people's opinions—and affecting opinion is basic to seduction—we must act in subtle, subliminal ways.
Today no politi-. Since the era of John F. Kennedy, political figures are required to have a degree of charisma, a fascinating presence to keep their audience's attention, which is half the battle. The film world and media create a galaxy of seductive stars and images. We are saturated in the seductive. But even if much has changed in degree and scope, the essence of seduction is constant: never be forceful or direct; instead, use pleasure as bait, playing on people's emotions, stirring desire and confusion, inducing psychological surrender.
In seduction as it is practiced today, the methods of Cleopatra still hold. People are constantly trying to influence us, to tell us what to do, and just as often we tune them out, resisting their attempts at persuasion. There is a moment in our lives, however, when we all act differently—when we are in love. We fall under a kind of spell. Our minds are usually preoccupied with our own concerns; now they become filled with thoughts of the loved one. We grow emotional, lose the ability to think straight, act in foolish ways that we would never do otherwise.
If this goes on long enough something inside us gives way: we surrender to the will of the loved one, and to our desire to possess them. Seducers are people who understand the tremendous power contained in such moments of surrender. They analyze what happens when people are in love, study the psychological components of the process—what spurs the imagination, what casts a spell.
By instinct and through practice they master the art of making people fall in love. As the first seductresses knew, it is much more effective to create love than lust. A person in love is emotional, pliable, and easily misled. The origin of the word "seduction" is the Latin for "to lead astray" A person in lust is harder to control and, once satisfied, may easily leave you.
Seducers take their time, create enchantment and the bonds of love, so that when sex ensues it only further enslaves the victim. Creating love and enchantment becomes the model for all seductions—sexual, social, political. A person in love will surrender. It is pointless to try to argue against such power, to imagine that you are not interested in it, or that it is evil and ugly. The harder you try to resist the lure of seduction—as an idea, as a form of power—the more you will find yourself fascinated. The reason is simple: most of us have known the power of having someone fall in love with us.
Our actions, gestures, the things we say, all have positive effects on this person; we may not completely understand what we have done right, but this feeling of power is intoxicating. It gives us confidence, which makes us more seductive. We may also experience this in a social or work setting—one day we are in an elevated mood and people seem more responsive, more charmed by us. These moments of power are fleeting, but they resonate in the memory with great intensity.
We want them back. Nobody likes to feel awkward or timid or unable to reach people. The siren call of seduction is irresistible because power is irresistible, and nothing will bring you more power in the modern world than the ability to seduce. Repressing the desire to seduce is a kind of. No man hath it in his power to over-rule the deceitfulness of a woman. This important side-track, by which woman succeeded in evading man's strength and establishing herself in power, has not been given due consideration by historians. From the moment when the woman detached herself from the crowd, an individual finished product, offering delights which could not be obtained by force, but only by flattery.
It was a development of far-reaching importance in the history of civilization. Only by the circuitous route of the art of love could woman again assert authority, and this she did by asserting herself at the very point at which she would normally be a slave at the man's mercy.
- Selected Resources;
- iTunes is the world's easiest way to organise and add to your digital media collection..
- El camino de las luciérnagas (Spanish Edition).
- social media.
She had discovered the might of lust, the secret of the art of love, the daemonic power of a passion artificially aroused and never satiated. The force tints unchained was thenceforth to count among the most tremendous of the world's forces and at moments to have power even over life and death. The combination of these two elements, enchantment and surrender, is, then, essential to the love which we are discussing. What exists in love is surrender due to enchantment. What is good? Some day they will come to the surface.
To have such power does not require a total transformation in your character or any kind of physical improvement in your looks. Seduction is a game of psychology, not beauty, and it is within the grasp of any person to become a master at the game. All that is required is that you look at the world differently, through the eyes of a seducer. A seducer does not turn the power off and on—every social and personal interaction is seen as a potential seduction. There is never a moment to waste. This is so for several reasons. 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 it does not matter. Trying to divide your life into moments in which you seduce and others in which you hold back will only confuse and constrain you. Erotic desire and love lurk beneath the surface of almost every human encounter; better to give free rein to your skills than to try to use them only in the bedroom.
In fact, the seducer sees the world as his or her bedroom. This attitude creates great seductive momentum, and with each seduction you gain experience and practice. One social or sexual seduction makes the next one easier, your confidence growing and making you more alluring. People are drawn to you in greater numbers as the seducer's aura descends upon you.
Seducers have a warrior's outlook on life. They see each person as a kind of walled castle to which they are laying siege. 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.
Like any good general, they plan and strategize, aiming at the target's particular weaknesses. The main obstacle to becoming a seducer is this foolish prejudice we have of seeing love and romance as some kind of sacred, magical realm where things just fall into place, if they are meant to.
This might seem romantic and quaint, but it is really just a cover for our laziness. What will seduce a person is the effort we expend on their behalf, showing how much we care, how much they are worth. Leaving things to chance is a recipe for disaster, and reveals that we do not take love and romance very seriously. It was the effort Casanova expended, the artfulness he applied to each affair that made him so devilishly seductive. Falling in love is a matter not of magic but of psychology.
Once you understand your target's psychology, and strategize to suit it, you will be better able to cast a "magical" spell.
- You Are the Magnet.
- Erkenne dich selbst (German Edition);
- Ill-Legal Justice : Baptism of a Deadbeat Dad;
A seducer sees love not as sacred but as warfare, where all is fair. Seducers are never self-absorbed. Their gaze is directed outward, not inward. When they meet someone their first move is to get inside that per-. The reasons for this are several. First, self-absorption is a sign of insecurity; it is anti-seductive.
Everyone has insecurities, but seducers manage to ignore them, finding therapy for moments of self-doubt by being absorbed in the world. This gives them a buoyant spirit—we want to be around them. Second, getting into someone's skin, imagining what it is like to be them, helps the seducer gather valuable information, learn what makes that person tick, what will make them lose their ability to think straight and fall into a trap. Armed with such information, they can provide focused and individualized attention—a rare commodity in a world in which most people see us only from behind the screen of their own prejudices.
Getting into the targets' skin is the first important tactical move in the war of penetration. Seducers see themselves as providers of pleasure, like bees that gather pollen from some flowers and deliver it to others. As children we mostly devoted our lives to play and pleasure. Adults often have feelings of being cut off from this paradise, of being weighed down by responsibilities. 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— by another person, by an experience. People are dying to be 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.
A seducer sees all of life as theater, everyone an actor. Most people feel they have constricted roles in life, which makes them unhappy. Seducers, on the other hand, can be anyone and can assume many roles. The archetype here is the god Zeus, insatiable seducer of young maidens, whose main weapon was the ability to assume the form of whatever person or animal would most appeal to his victim. Seducers take pleasure in performing and are not weighed down by their identity, or by some need to be themselves, or to be natural.
This freedom of theirs, this fluidity in body and spirit, is what makes them attractive. 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. Seduction is a kind of theater in real life, the meeting of illusion and reality. Finally, seducers are completely amoral in their approach to life.
It is all a game, an arena for play. Knowing that the moralists, the crabbed repressed types who croak about the evils of the seducer, secretly envy their power, they do not concern themselves with other people's opinions. They do not deal in moral judgments—nothing could be less seductive. Everything is. The disaffection, neurosis, anguish and frustration encountered by psychoanalysis comes no doubt from being unable to love or to be loved, from being unable to give or take pleasure, but the radical disenchantment comes from seduction and its failure.
Only those who lie completely outside seduction are ill, even if they remain fully capable of loving and making love. Psychoanalysis believes it treats the disorder of sex and desire, but in reality it is dealing with the disorders of seduction. The most serious deficiencies always concern charm and not pleasure, enchantment and not some vital or sexual satisfaction. Whatever is done from love always occurs beyond good and evil.
Seduction is a form of deception, but people want to be led astray, they yearn to be seduced. If they didn't, seducers would not find so many willing victims. Get rid of any moralizing tendencies, adopt the seducer's playful philosophy, and you will find the rest of the process easy and natural. The Art of Seduction is designed to arm you with weapons of persuasion and charm, so that those around you will slowly lose their ability to resist without knowing how or why it has happened.
It is an art of war for delicate times. Every seduction has two elements that you must analyze and understand: first, yourself and what is seductive about you; and second, your target and the actions that will penetrate their defenses and create surrender. The two sides are equally important. If you strategize without paying attention to the parts of your character that draw people to you, you will be seen as a mechanical seducer, slimy and manipulative. If you rely on your seductive personality without paying attention to the other person, you will make terrible mistakes and limit your potential.
Consequently, The Art of Seduction is divided into two parts. The first half, "The Seductive Character," describes the nine types of seducer, plus the Anti-Seducer. Studying these types will make you aware of what is inherently seductive in your character, the basic building block of any seduction. The second half, "The Seductive Process," includes the twentyfour maneuvers and strategies that will instruct you on how to create a spell, break down people's resistance, give movement and force to your seduction, and induce surrender in your target.
As a kind of bridge between the two parts, there is a chapter on the eighteen types of victims of a seduction—each of them missing something from their lives, each cradling an emptiness you can fill. Knowing what type you are dealing with will help you put into practice the ideas in both sections. Ignore any part of this book and you will be an incomplete seducer. The ideas and strategies in The Art of Seduction are based on the writings and historical accounts of the most successful seducers in history. The heroes and heroines of these literary works are generally modeled on real-life seducers.
The strategies they employ reveal the intimate connection between fiction and seduction, creating illusion and leading a person along. In putting the book's lessons into practice, you will be following in the path of the greatest masters of the art. Finally, the spirit that will make you a consummate seducer is the spirit in which you should read this book. The French writer Denis Diderot once wrote, "I give my mind the liberty to follow the first wise or foolish.
My thoughts are my strumpets. Once you enter these pages, do as Diderot advised: let yourself be lured by the stories and ideas, your mind open and your thoughts fluid. Slowly you will find yourself absorbing the poison through the skin and you will begin to see everything as a seduction, including the way you think and how you look at the world.
Far from all of us, though, are aware of this inner potential, and we imagine attractiveness instead as a near-mystical trait that a select few are born with and the rest will never command. Yet all we need to do to realize our potential is understand what it is in a person's character that naturally excites people and develop these latent qualities within us. Successful seductions rarely begin with an obvious maneuver or strategic device. That is certain to arouse suspicion.
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. It will then be child's play to mislead and seduce them. There are nine seducer types in the world. Each type has a particular character trait that comes from deep within and creates a seductive pull.
Sirens have an abundance of sexual energy and know how to use it. Rakes insatiably adore the opposite sex, and their desire is infectious. Ideal Lovers have an aesthetic sensibility that they apply to romance. Dandies like to play with their image, creating a striking and androgynous allure. Naturals are spontaneous and open. Coquettes are self-sufficient, with a fascinating cool at their core. Charmers want and know how to please—they are social creatures. Charismatics have an unusual confidence in themselves.
Stars are ethereal and envelop themselves in mystery. The chapters in this section will take you inside each of the nine types. At least one of the chapters should strike a chord—you will recognize part of yourself. That chapter will be the key to developing your own powers of attraction. Let us say you have coquettish tendencies. The Coquette chapter will show you how to build upon your own self-sufficiency, alternating heat and coldness to ensnare your victims.
It will show you how to take your natural qualities further, becoming a grand Coquette, the type we fight over. There is no point in being timid with a seductive quality. We are charmed by an unabashed Rake and excuse his excesses, but a halfhearted Rake gets no respect.
Once you have cultivated your dominant character trait, adding some art to what nature has given you, you can then develop a second or third trait, adding depth and mystery to your persona. Finally the section's tenth chapter, on the Anti-Seducer, will make you aware of the op-. At all cost you must root out any anti-seductive tendencies you may have. Think of the nine types as shadows, silhouettes. Only by stepping into one of them and letting it grow inside you can you begin to develop the seductive character that will bring you limitless power.
In her presence, which is always heightened and sexually. She is dangerous, and in pursuing her energetically the man can lose control over himself something he yearns to do. The Siren is a mirage; she lures men by cultivating a particular appearance and manner. In a world where women are often too timid to project such an image, learn to take control of the male libido by embodying his.
The Spectacular Siren n the year 48 B. He secured the country's borders against her return and began to rule on his own. Later that year, Julius Caesar came to Alexandria to ensure that despite the local power struggles, Egypt would remain loyal to Rome. One night Caesar was meeting with his generals in the Egyptian palace, discussing strategy, when a guard entered to report that a Greek merchant was at the door bearing a large and valuable gift for the Roman leader.
Caesar, in the mood for a little fun, gave the merchant permission to enter. The man came in, carrying on his shoulders a large rolled-up carpet. He undid the rope around the bundle and with a snap of his wrists unfurled it—revealing the young Cleopatra, who had been hidden inside, and who rose up half clothed before Caesar and his guests, like Venus emerging from the waves. Everyone was dazzled at the sight of the beautiful young queen only twenty-one at the time appearing before them suddenly as if in a dream. They were astounded at her daring and theatricality—smuggled into the harbor at night with only one man to protect her, risking everything on a bold move.
No one was more enchanted than Caesar. According to the Roman writer Dio Cassius, "Cleopatra was in the prime of life. She had a delightful voice which could not fail to cast a spell over all who heard it. Such was the charm of her person and her speech that they drew the coldest and most determined misogynist into her toils. Caesar was spellbound as soon as he set eyes on her and she opened her mouth to speak. Caesar had had numerous mistresses before, to divert him from the rigors of his campaigns.
But he had always disposed of them quickly to return to what really thrilled him—political intrigue, the challenges of warfare, the Roman theater. Caesar had seen women try anything to keep him under their spell. Yet nothing prepared him for Cleopatra. One night she would tell him how together they could revive the glory of Alexander the Great, and rule the world like gods.
The next she would entertain him dressed as the goddess Isis, surrounded by the opulence of her court. Cleopatra initiated Caesar in the most decadent revelries, presenting herself as the incarnation of the Egyptian exotic. His life with her was a constant game, as challenging as warfare, for the moment he felt secure with her she. In the mean time our good ship, with that perfect wind to drive her, fast approached the Sirens' Isle. But now the breeze dropped, some power lulled the waves, and a breathless calm set in.
Rising from their seats my men drew in the sail and threw it into the hold, then sat down at the oars and churned the water white with their blades of polished pine. Meanwhile I took a large round of wax, cut it up small with my sword, and kneaded the pieces with all the strength of my fingers.
The wax soon yielded to my vigorous treatment and grew warm, for I had the rays of my Lord the Sun to help me. I took each of my men in turn and plugged their ears with it. They then made me a prisoner on my ship by binding me hand and foot, standing me up by the step of the mast and tying the rope's ends to the mast itself. This done, they sat down once more and struck the grey water with their oars.
No seaman ever sailed his black ship past this spot without listening to the sweet tones that flow from our lips. The charm of [Cleopatra's] presence was irresistible, and there was an attraction in her person and talk, together with a peculiar force of character, which pervaded her every word and action, and laid all who associated with her under its spell. It was a delight merely to hear the sound of her voice, with which, like an instrument of many strings, she could pass from one language to another.
The immediate attraction of a song, a voice, or scent.
The attraction of the panther with his perfumed scent. According to the ancients, the panther is the only animal who emits a perfumed odor. It uses this scent to draw and capture its victims. But what is it that seduces in a scent? What is it in the song of the Sirens that seduces us, or in the beauty of a face, in the depths.
The weeks went by. Caesar got rid of all Cleopatra's rivals and found excuses to stay in Egypt. At one point she led him on a lavish historical expedition down the Nile. In a boat of unimaginable splendor—towering fifty-four feet out of the water, including several terraced levels and a pillared temple to the god Dionysus—Caesar became one of the few Romans to gaze on the pyramids. And while he stayed long in Egypt, away from his throne in Rome, all kinds of turmoil erupted throughout the Roman Empire.
When Caesar was murdered, in 44 B. A few years later, while Antony was in Syria, Cleopatra invited him to come meet her in the Egyptian town of Tarsus. There—once she had made him wait for her—her appearance was as startling in its way as her first before Caesar. A magnificent gold barge with purple sails appeared on the river Cydnus. The oarsmen rowed to the accompaniment of ethereal music; all around the boat were beautiful young girls dressed as nymphs and mythological figures. Cleopatra sat on deck, surrounded and fanned by cupids and posed as the goddess Aphrodite, whose name the crowd chanted enthusiastically.
Like all of Cleopatra's victims, Antony felt mixed emotions. The exotic pleasures she offered were hard to resist. But he also wanted to tame her—to defeat this proud and illustrious woman would prove his greatness. And so he stayed, and, like Caesar, fell slowly under her spell. She indulged him in all of his weaknesses—gambling, raucous parties, elaborate rituals, lavish spectacles. To get him to come back to Rome, Octavius, another member of the Roman triumvirate, offered him a wife: Octavius's own sister, Octavia, one of the most beautiful women in Rome.
Known for her virtue and goodness, she could surely keep Antony away from the "Egyptian whore. This time it was for good: he had in essence become Cleopatra's slave, granting her immense powers, adopting Egyptian dress and customs, and renouncing the ways of Rome.
Only one image of Cleopatra survives—a barely visible profile on a coin— but we have numerous written descriptions. She had a long thin face and a somewhat pointed nose; her dominant features were her wonderfully large eyes. Her seductive power, however, did not lie in her looks—indeed many among the women of Alexandria were considered more beautiful than she. What she did have above all other women was the ability to distract a man. In reality, Cleopatra was physically unexceptional and had no political power, yet both Caesar and Antony, brave and clever men, saw none of this.
What they saw was a woman who constantly transformed herself before their eyes, a one-woman spectacle. Her dress and makeup changed from day to day, but always gave her a heightened, goddesslike appearance. Her voice, which all writers talk of, was lilting and intoxicating. Her words could be banal enough, but were spoken so sweetly that listeners would find themselves remembering not what she said but how she said it. Cleopatra provided constant variety—tributes, mock battles, expeditions, costumed orgies.
Everything had a touch of drama and was accomplished with great energy. By the time your head lay on the pillow beside her, your mind was spinning with images and dreams. And just when you thought you had this fluid, larger-than-life woman, she would turn distant or angry, making it clear that everything was on her terms.
Basil Of Baker Street | The GMD Fanfic World Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia
You never possessed Cleopatra, you worshiped her. In this way a woman who had been exiled and destined for an early death managed to turn it all around and rule Egypt for close to twenty years. From Cleopatra we learn that it is not beauty that makes a Siren but rather a theatrical streak that allows a woman to embody a man's fantasies.
A man grows bored with a woman, no matter how beautiful; he yearns for different pleasures, and for adventure. All a woman needs to turn this around is to create the illusion that she offers such variety and adventure. A man is easily deceived by appearances; he has a weakness for the visual. Create the physical presence of a Siren heightened sexual allure mixed with a regal and theatrical manner and he is trapped.
He cannot grow bored with you yet he cannot discard you. Keep up the distractions, and never let him see who you really are. He will follow you until he drowns. Her days were filled with chores and no play. At school, she kept to herself, smiled rarely, and dreamed a lot. One day when she was thirteen, as she was dressing for school, she noticed that the white blouse the orphanage provided for her was torn, so she had to borrow a sweater from a younger girl in the house.
The sweater was several sizes too small. That day, suddenly, boys seemed to gather around her wherever she went she was extremely well-developed for her age. She wrote in her diary, "They stared at my sweater as if it were a gold mine. Previously ignored and even ridiculed by the other students, Norma Jean now sensed a way to gain attention, maybe even power, for she was wildly ambitious. She started to smile more, wear makeup, dress differently. And soon she noticed something equally startling: without her having to say or do anything, boys fell passionately in love with her.
Some said it was the way I looked at them—with eyes full of passion. Others said it was my voice that lured them on. Still others said I gave off vibrations that floored them. Seduction lies in the annulment of signs and their meaning, in pure appearance. The eyes that seduce have no meaning, they end in the gaze, as the face with makeup ends in only pure appearance. The scent of the panther is also a meaningless message—and behind the message the panther is invisible, as is the woman beneath her makeup.
The Sirens too remained unseen. The enchantment lies in what is hidden. He was herding his cattle on Mount Gargarus, the highest peak of Ida, when Hermes, accompanied by Hera, Athene, and Aphrodite delivered the golden apple and Zeus's message: "Paris, since you are as handsome as you are wise in affairs of the heart, Zeus commands you to judge which of these goddesses is the fairest.
I am only a human being, liable to make the stupidest. Come here, Divine Hera! Will you other two goddesses be good enough to leave us for a while? Very well, thank you. Now I have seen all that I need to see. Come, Divine Athene! A few years later Marilyn was trying to make it in the film business. Producers would tell her the same thing: she was attractive enough in person, but her face wasn't pretty enough for the movies. She was getting work as an extra, and when she was on-screen—even if only for a few seconds—the men in the audience would go wild, and the theaters would erupt in catcalls.
But nobody saw any star quality in this. One day in , only twenty-three at the time and her career at a standstill, Monroe met someone at a diner who told her that a producer casting a new Groucho Marx movie, Love Happy, was looking for an actress for the part of a blond bombshell who could walk by Groucho in a way that would, in his words, "arouse my elderly libido and cause smoke to issue from my ears. Over the next few years, Marilyn taught herself through trial and error how to heighten the effect she had on men. Her voice had always been attractive—it was the voice of a little girl.
But on film it had limitations until someone finally taught her to lower it, giving it the deep, breathy tones that became her seductive trademark, a mix of the little girl and the vixen. Before appearing on set, or even at a party, Marilyn would spend hours before the mirror. Most people assumed this was vanity—she was in love with her image. The truth was that image took hours to create. Marilyn spent years studying and practicing the art of makeup. The voice, the walk, the face and look were all constructions, an act. At the height of her fame, she would get a thrill by going into bars in New York City without her makeup or glamorous clothes and passing unnoticed.
Success finally came, but with it came something deeply annoying to her: the studios would only cast her as the blond bombshell. She wanted serious roles, but no one took her seriously for those parts, no matter how hard she downplayed the siren qualities she had built up. One day, while she was rehearsing a scene from The Cherry Orchard, her acting instructor, Michael Chekhov, asked her, "Were you thinking of sex while we played the scene?
As if you were a woman in the grip of passion. I understand your problem with your studio now, Marilyn. You are a woman who gives off sex vibrations—no matter what you are doing or thinking. The whole world has already responded to those vibrations. They come off the movie screens when you are on them. She tuned her physical presence like an instrument, making herself reek of sex and gaining a glamorous, larger-than-life appearance.
Other women knew just as many tricks for heightening their sexual appeal, but what separated Marilyn from them was an unconscious element. Her background. Her deepest need was to feel loved and desired, which made her seem constantly vulnerable, like a little girl craving protection. She emanated this need for love before the camera; it was effortless, coming from somewhere real and deep inside. A look or gesture that she did not intend to arouse desire would do so doubly powerfully just because it was unintended—its innocence was precisely what excited a man.
The Sex Siren has a more urgent and immediate effect than the Spectacular Siren does. The incarnation of sex and desire, she does not bother to appeal to extraneous senses, or to create a theatrical buildup. Her time never seems to be taken up by work or chores; she gives the impression that she lives for pleasure and is always available. What separates the Sex Siren from the courtesan or whore is her touch of innocence and vulnerability. The mix is perversely satisfying: it gives the male the critical illusion that he is a protector, the father figure, although it is actually the Sex Siren who controls the dynamic.
A woman doesn't have to be born with the attributes of a Marilyn Monroe to fill the role of the Sex Siren. 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 naive, 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. Your next encounter will be with the Sirens, who bewitch every man that approaches them. For with the music of their song the Sirens cast their spell upon him, as they sit there in a meadow piled high with the moldering skeletons of men, whose withered skin still hangs upon their bones. Her prototype is the goddess Aphrodite—it is her nature to have a mythic quality about her—but do not imagine she is a thing of the past, or of legend and history: she represents a powerful male fantasy of a highly sexual, supremely confident, alluring female offering endless pleasure and a bit of danger.
In today's world this fantasy can only appeal the more strongly to the male psyche, for now more than ever he lives in a world that circumscribes his aggressive instincts by making everything safe and secure, a world that offers less chance for adventure and risk than ever before. In the past, a man had some outlets for these drives—warfare, the high seas, political intrigue. In the sexual realm, courtesans and mistresses were practically a social institu-. Now you are at liberty to put on your clothes and helmet again. Is Aphrodite ready?
By the way, as soon as I saw you, I said to myself: 'Upon my word, there goes the handsomest young man in Phrygia! Why does he waste himself here in the wilderness herding stupid cattle? Why not move into a city and lead a civilized life? What have you to lose by marrying someone like Helen of Sparta, who is as beautiful as I am, and no less passionate?
I suggest now that you tour Greece with my son Eros as your guide. Once you reach Sparta, he and I will see that Helen falls head over heels in love with you. To whom aw I compare the lovely girl, so blessed by fortune, if not to the Sirens, who with their lodestone draw the ships towards them? Thus, I imagine, did Isolde attract many thoughts and hearts that deemed themselves safe from love's disquietude. And indeed these two—anchorless ships and stray thoughts— provide a good comparison. They are both so seldom on a straight course, lie so often in unsure havens, pitching and tossing and heaving to and fro.
Just so, in the same way, do aimless desire and random love-longing drift like an anchorless ship. This charming young princess, discreet and courteous Isolde, drew thoughts from the hearts that enshrined them as a lodestone draws in ships to the sound of the Sirens' song. She sang openly and secretly, in through ears and eyes to where many a heart was stirred. The song which she sang openly in this and other places was her own sweet singing and soft sounding of strings that echoed for all to hear through the kingdom of the ears deep down into the heart. But her secret song was her wondrous beauty that stole with its rapturous music hidden and unseen through the windows of the eyes into many noble hearts and smoothed on the magic which took thoughts prisoner suddenly, and, taking them, fettered them with desire!
Without any outlets, his drives turn inward and gnaw at him, becoming all the more volatile for being repressed. Sometimes a powerful man will do the most irrational things, have an affair when it is least called for, just for a thrill, the danger of it all. The irrational can prove immensely seductive, even more so for men, who must always seem so reasonable.
If it is seductive power you are after, the Siren is the most potent of all. She operates on a man's most basic emotions, and if she plays her role properly, she can transform a normally strong and responsible male into a childish slave. But never imagine that these are the only types the Siren can affect.
Julius Caesar was a writer and thinker, who had transferred his intellectual abilities onto the battlefield and into the political arena; the playwright Arthur Miller fell as deeply under Monroe's spell as DiMaggio. The intellectual is often the one most susceptible to the Siren call of pure physical pleasure, because his life so lacks it.
The Siren does not have to worry about finding the right victim. Her magic works on one and all. First and foremost, a Siren must distinguish herself from other women. She is by nature a rare thing, mythic, only one to a group; she is also a valuable prize to be wrested away from other men. Cleopatra made herself different through her sense of high drama; the Empress Josephine Bonaparte's device was her extreme languorousness; Marilyn Monroe's was her littlegirl quality. Physicality offers the best opportunities here, since a Siren is preeminently a sight to behold.
A highly feminine and sexual presence, even to the point of caricature, will quickly differentiate you, since most women lack the confidence to project such an image. Once the Siren has made herself stand out from others, she must have two other critical qualities: the ability to get the male to pursue her so feverishly that he loses control; and a touch of the dangerous.
Danger is surprisingly seductive. To get the male to pursue you is relatively simple: a highly sexual presence will do this quite well. But you must not resemble a courtesan or whore, whom the male may pursue only to quickly lose interest in her. Instead, you are slightly elusive and distant, a fantasy come to life.
During the Renaissance, the great Sirens, such as Tullia d'Aragona, would act and look like Grecian goddesses—the fantasy of the day. Today you might model yourself on a film goddess—anything that seems larger than life, even awe inspiring. These qualities will make a man chase you vehemently, and the more he chases, the more he will feel that he is acting on his own initiative. This is an excellent way of disguising how deeply you are manipulating him. The notion of danger, challenge, sometimes death, might seem outdated, but danger is critical in seduction.
It adds emotional spice and is particularly appealing to men today, who are normally so rational and repressed. Danger is present in the original myth of the Siren. In Homer's Odyssey, the hero Odysseus must sail by the rocks where the Sirens, strange.