Book Summaries Psychology

Part 1: The Natural (The Art of Seduction)

We think of childhood as a golden paradise, and we consciously or unconsciously try to re-recreate it. The Natural embodies the lost qualities of the child: spontaneity, sincerity, unpretentiousness. We feel at ease in their presence, hypnotized by their playfulness. We want to protect them and help them. Much about them is natural, but some aspects are exaggerated – a conscious attempt to seduce.

Apparently the possession of humor implies the possession of a number of typical habit-systems. The first is an emotional one: the habit of playfulness. Why should one be proud of being playful? For a double reason. First, playfulness connotes childhood and youth. If one can be playful, one still possesses something of the vigor and the joy of young life … • But there is a deeper implication. To be playful is, in a sense, to be free. When a person is playful, he momentarily disregards the binding necessities which compel him, in business and morals, in domestic and community life…. • What galls us is that the binding necessities do not permit us to shape our world as we please…. What we most deeply desire, however, is to create our world for ourselves. Whenever we can do that, even in the slightest degree, we are happy. Now in play we create our own world….


Spoiled children have a bad reputation, but it is undeserved. Those who were spoiled with material things are annoying, but those who were spoiled with affection know that they are deeply seductive. This becomes an advantage when they are adults. Freud said that spoiled children have a confidence that stays with them all their lives. This quality radiates outward and attracts other people too them. This, in turn, gets them more affection – they are more spoiled. Their natural energy and buoyant spirit were never tamed by a disciplining parent, they become bold adventurers as adults, and shamelessly so.

People attracted to those who expect a lot out of life, and they are repulsed by those who are fearful and undemanding.

Wild independence has a provocative effect on us: it appeals to us, while also presenting us with a challenge—we want to be the one to tame it, to make the spirited person dependent on us. Half of seduction is stirring such competitive desires.

Robert Greene, The Art of Seduction

Josephine Baker couldn’t stand being helpless. Her unpromising circumstances were difficult to overcome. Some young girls pin their hopes on a future husband, but Josephine’s father left her mother soon after she was born. She saw marriage as an invitation to more misery. Her solution was something children often do when confronted in a hopeless environment. She created a world of her own and chose to ignore the ugliness around her. Let others wail and moan, she would fill her world with dancing and clowning, she would dream of great things and remain confident and self-reliant. Most people who met her commented on how seductive this quality was.

Her refusal to compromise, or to be what she was expected to be, made everything she did seem authentic and natural.

Robert Greene, The Art of Seduction

Children love to play in their own self-contained world. They are hopelessly charming when they do so. Adult Naturals do something similar, especially if they’re artists. They create their fantasy world and live in it. This fantasy world is much more pleasant than reality, and since most people are afraid of creating such a world, they enjoy being around those that do. The more absorbed you are in this world, the more seductive you become.

Society can only tolerate a few Naturals. Too many and the charm would wear off. It is usually only artists or people with a lot of free time that can afford to go all the way.

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

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