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Book Summaries Psychology

Part 1: The Star (The Art of Seduction)

The Star is a fetishized object. Most people are too complex, reactive, and moody to let us see them as objects. The Star’s power is that they can become an object, and see themselves as one.

Hollywood had found ways to unite the entire country around certain themes, or myths—often the great American myth of the West. The great stars embodied mythic types: John Wayne the patriarch, Clift the Promethean rebel, Jimmy Stewart the noble hero, Marilyn Monroe the siren. These were not mere mortals but gods and goddesses to be dreamed and fantasized about.

The Mythic Star is the most powerful character type because they appeal to all groups of people, they are beyond race, religion, class, or politics. We are naturally drawn to the mythical.

The patterns of myth, born out of warring feelings of helplessness on the one hand and thirst for immortality on the other, are deeply engraved in us all.

Robert Greene, The Art of Seduction

Mythic stars represent mythological figures in real life. They adopt a distinctive style; they are calm and attractive. Then they embody a more specific archetype: the rebel, the wise patriarch, the adventurer.

The savage worships idols of wood and stone; the civilized man, idols of flesh and blood.

George Bernard Shaw

Seduction is a form of persuasion that appeals to the unconscious. We are usually bombarded with stimuli that competes for our attention, we are manipulated by the overtly political but we are rarely deceived by them. We have grown tired and cynical of these types. If you try to make more appeals to people’s consciousness, they will ignore you – you are just another distraction.

To avoid this, learn the art of insinuation. This involves communicating with the unconscious. Appeal to people by resembling their dreams.

The gestures, the words, the very being of men like Kennedy or Andy Warhol, for example, evoke both the real and the unreal: we may not realize it (and how could we, really), but they are like dream figures to us. They have qualities that anchor them in reality—sincerity, playfulness, sensuality—but at the same time their aloofness, their superiority, their almost surreal quality makes them seem like something out of a movie.

Robert Greene, The Art of Seduction

But these Stars will not cross our path, and this adds to the fascination. We become obsessed with them and imitate them unconsciously.

The psychologist Sandor Ferenczi calls this “introjection”: another person becomes part of our ego, we internalize their character. That is the insidious seductive power of a Star, a power you can appropriate by making yourself into a cipher, a mix of the real and the unreal. Most people are hopelessly banal; that is, far too real.  What you need to do is etherealize yourself. Your words and actions seem to come from your unconscious—have a certain looseness to them. You hold yourself back, occasionally revealing a trait that makes people wonder whether they really know you.

Robert Greene, The Art of Seduction

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

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