Laura Gonzalez

blog

4 Aug 2006

Seduction School

Channel 4’s Seduction School was peripherally interesting but the programme incurs in the same mistakes as any other TV programme on seduction.

Seduction SchoolThe presenters, who obviously are very conversant with seduction techniques, are trendy, beautiful and confident whereas the poor guinea pigs have traumas, physical issues and little or no experience. The aim of the programme was to get the latter in the position of the former, to convert them into seducers through teaching them general techniques (Kino ((Touching the person you are talking to)), SOI ((Statement of intention, telling someone you want something more that friendship))…).

They approach seduction from a subject’s point of view, how can s/he overcome their fears and whatever usually goes wrong, in order to obtain a “close” (whether phone, instant date, kiss). Instead of overcoming, Fran?ßois Roustang’s excellent analysis of Casanova’s memoirs talk about challenge, reversibility (through magic) and losing oneself. A seducer is a strategist, someone who schemes, who reads situations and has an array of responses to them. Seducers, from Valmont to Don Juan, are usually chamaleonic. I just couldn’t see Casanova, going to Marton and Nanette and thinking how to slip in the word “sexy” into a conversation.

I understand that this may not really be the best or quickest way of teaching someone, on national television, how to get a partner. To be fair to the teachers ((Johnny Saviour and Wayne Elise)), they did get results in 2 of the 3 cases: the fat guy got a phone number, the tall guy, a kiss. But they seemed to be more diven by the competition between each other than by their objects of desire.

Now, whereas I think the aims and intentions of the programme are very virtuous (afterall, they are part of a series called “Shape the Nation”), I don’t think that what they intend to do is seduction. My problem with it is the same I found when I went to see Boucher’s exhibition at the Wallace Museum. Although entitled Seductive Visions, I didn’t feel seduced, not could see Boucher having been seduced. Perhaps representations of seduction had been attempted. But that’s just he best way of making it just go away…

To seduce is difficult. And for one to become a seducer, a few conditions have to be met. Seduction is not necessarily a positive in the first place! But… ah, yes… the word itself seduces, helps to entice, to allure viewers and visitors. That is the trick of Seduction School: we are seduced by the idea. Once we have given up our time to learn about it, we realise we have been led astray and we will not get anything in return.

Posted in Blog, Peripheral thoughts, Seduction


4 Responses to “Seduction School”

  1. Alan said:

    Came across your blog on a google search for this program on C4. Interesting stuff,
    although I must admit some of it is a bit esoteric for me so not sure I follow it all.
    Just had a couple of thoughts I wanted to share with you…
    I find the whole area of seduction interesting, though I never really thought about it in too
    much of a negative light before… I wonder should someone feel guilty for practicing any type of seduction?
    The most effective seduction to me is that you win someone over while getting them to think
    that it was their idea all along. Pehaps that is more of a dark art when you look at it like that.
    We all have innate impulses and desires, so the master seducers work on triggering those
    (sounds a bit cold and calculating) to get people to like them.
    But to be more pragmatic about it, I think learning about seduction, which can be quite mechanical,
    is great for improving how you get on with people day-to-day.
    From what I know of Wayne Elise’s stuff, it’s all about rewarding people by feeding their ego.
    Sounds simple but the way they do it is quite clever: ask a question to get a commitment to interact,
    relate to what they say, reward anything interesting, then eventually SOI.
    Have been trying this out lately and I do feel it has changed how I now talk to new people I meet
    (whether sexual or platonic). Perosnally I don’t think this is manipulation, but how naturally charismatic people talk anyway. Or if it is manipulation, then we are all manipulators!
    Guess it shows we are all craving to be appreciated by others more than anything… what do you think?

  2. Laura Gonzalez said:

    Your comment of what you consider the most effective seduction is really interesting and reinforces the point I wanted to make when I wrote about “Seduction School”.

    I don’t think seduction is about getting people to like people. If you look at a dictionary definition, seducton is what leads astray. My problem with the programme was that I don’t think they were talking about seduction, but perhaps about social or interpersonal skills, attraction, fascination, interaction, charisma, charm, communication, or even love. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially since it seemed to produce results! But they were not leading someone astray, necessarily; they were not reversible, challenging… That’s all.

    You are right in that charismatic people can be seducers, even more if they are manipulators, as you say… Have your ever read Casanova’s memoirs? Now, he was a seducer!

  3. Alan said:

    Must get around to reading CasanovaÌs memoirs, you make it sound interesting 🙂

    I agree it wasn’t just about seduction – it’s really about charm and charisma, which is just the social part of it.
    BTW, did you listen to the mp3 made by the guys from the program? (https://www.channel4radio.com/news/view.php?Id=102)
    Maybe you didn’t feel like it was seduction because they take this mechanical view? I think this goes for any art form though – when you can see something coming and understand it or see it broken down, the charm is lost and the seduction loses its edge. I find this sometimes when I study something I’m fascinated by. Though it takes you to a higher level because you understand the art more, you’re less likely to feel seduced in future.. which is a downside I feel. In order to be truely seduced by something or someone you have to approach with a certain innocence – only then can you feel the “magic” associated with being seduced. In a way, seduction plays on a kind of naivity or ignorance… and sometimes we’re just happy to be impressionable?

    Al

  4. Laura said:

    I agree with you that over-studying seduction may make it loose some of its charm and mystery. In a way, I am not sure if it is possible at all! This is the conclusion I am beginning to formulate as part of my PhD investigation: seduction will seduce EVERYTHING, including my attempts at studying it. Thus, I have to concentrate in its manifestation, in its practice. This way, I hope, I will still feel seduced by things because I am focusing on the process, rather than the phenomenon itself.

    For the PhD, I will have to find ways of breaking it down and understanding it, without damaging its effect too much, otherwise I will never get my degree! I agree with you that this is problematic… Have no idea of how I am going to do it, yet. Keep reading the blog for updates…

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About Me

I am an artist and writer. My recent practice performance, film, dance, photography and text, and my work has been performed, exhibited and published in many venues in Europe and the US. I have spoken at numerous conferences and events, including the Museum for the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, the Medical Museum in Copenhagen, College Arts Association and the Association for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society. When I am not following Freud, Lacan and Marx’s footsteps with my camera or creating performance works as part of my Athenaeum Research Fellowship at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, I teach postgraduate students at Transart Institute.

I am currently immersed in an interdisciplinary project exploring knowledge and the body of the hysteric. In 2013, together with Child and Adolescent Mental Health practitioner Frances Davies, I co-edited the book ‘Madness, Women and the Power of Art’, to which I contributed a work authored with Eleanor Bowen. My book ‘Make Me Yours: How Art Seduces’ was published by Cambridge Scholars in 2016. In this text, investigates psychoanalytic approaches to making and understanding objects of seduction, including an examination of parallels between artistic and analytic practices, a study of Manolo Blahnik’s shoes as objects of desire, a disturbing encounter with Marcel Duchamp’s last work, and the creation of a psychoanalytically inspired Discourse of the Artefact, a framework enabling the circulation of questions and answers through a relational approach to artworks.