Book Summaries Psychology

Part 1: The Dandy (The Art of Seduction)

I am a woman. Every artist is a woman and should have a taste for other women. Artists who are homosexual cannot be true artists because they like men, and since they themselves are women they are reverting to normality.


The world traps us into roles that we must play. Those who are more fluid and ambiguous, who create their own persona, excite us. These are known as the Dandies – they excite us because they can’t be categorized. They dance between masculinity and femininity. They are mysterious and elusive – and are artful in evoking repressed desires.

The Feminine Dandy

Do not think that the devastatingly masculine is what is most seductive. The Feminine Dandy is more sinister. He lures woman with what she wants – “a familiar, pleasing, graceful presence.”

Mirroring feminine psychology, he displays attention to his appearance, sensitivity to detail, a slight coquettishness—but also a hint of male cruelty. Women are narcissists, in love with the charms of their own sex. By showing them feminine charm, a man can mesmerize and disarm them, leaving them vulnerable to a bold, masculine move.

Robert Greene, The Art of Seduction

The Feminine Dandy can seduce on a mass scale. No single woman really possesses him—he is too elusive—but all can fantasize about doing so. The key is ambiguity: your sexuality is decidedly heterosexual, but your body and psychology float delightfully back and forth between the two poles.

The Masculine Dandy

Dandyism is not even, as many unthinking people seem to suppose, an immoderate interest in personal appearance and material elegance. For the true dandy these things are only a symbol of the aristocratic superiority of his personality….•What, then, is this ruling passion that has turned into a creed and created its own skilled tyrants? What is this unwritten constitution that has created so haughty a caste? It is, above all, a burning need to acquire originality, within the apparent bounds of convention. It is a sort of cult of oneself, which can dispense even with what are commonly called illusions. It is the delight in causing astonishment, and the proud satisfaction of never oneself being astonished….’’


Nietzsche fell in love with Salomé, an intellectual woman who spoke about philosophy and traditionally masculine disciplines. This fascinated men, Nieztsche including. The famous philosopher was rejected when he proposed to her. Ironically, Nietzsche who stood for the superman ideal, the transcending of ethical norms, appeared to be conventional in the end, while Salomé was truly different, and did not care for social convention. She was known as the woman who broke Nieztsche’s heart.

The Masculine Dandy succeeds by reversing the normal pattern of male superiority in matters of love and seduction. A man’s apparent independence, his capacity for detachment, often seems to give him the upper hand in the dynamic between men and women. A purely feminine woman will arouse desire, but is always vulnerable to the man’s capricious loss of interest; a purely masculine woman, on the other hand, will not arouse that interest at all. Follow the path of the Masculine Dandy, however, and you neutralize all a man’s powers.

Never give completely of yourself; while you are passionate and sexual, always retain an air of independence and self-possession. You might move on to the next man, or so he will think. You have other, more important matters to concern yourself with, such as your work. Men do not know how to fight women who use their own weapons against them; they are intrigued, aroused, and disarmed. Few men can resist the taboo pleasures offered up to them by the Masculine Dandy.

Robert Greene, The Art of Seduction

The seduction emanating from a person of uncertain or dissimulated sex is powerful.


Be Impudent

Dandies are supremely impudent. They don’t give a damn about other people, and never try to please. In the court of Louis XIV, the writer La Bruyère noticed that courtiers who tried hard to please were invariably on the way down; nothing was more anti-seductive. As Barbey d’Aurevilly wrote, “Dandies please women by displeasing them.”

Robert Greene, The Art of Seduction

Freud thought that the human libido is essentially bisexual; most people are in some way attracted to people of the same sex, but social constraints repress these impulses – to varying degrees depending on the culture and historical period.

Do not be misled by the surface disapproval your Dandy pose may elicit. Society may publicize its distrust of androgyny (in Christian theology, Satan is often represented as androgynous), but this conceals its fascination; what is most seductive is often what is most repressed. Learn a playful dandyism and you will become the magnet for people’s dark, unrealized yearnings.

Robert Greene, The Art of Seduction

The key is to be ambiguous. Society wants everyone to play an obvious role, but if you refuse to conform, you will excite interest.

Be both masculine and feminine, impudent and charming, subtle and outrageous. Let other people worry about being socially acceptable; those types are a dime a dozen, and you are after a power greater than they can imagine.

Robert Greene, The Art of Seduction

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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