Book Summaries Psychology

Part 2: Create a Need – Stir Anxiety and Discontent (The Art of Seduction)

“What can Love be then?” I said. “A mortal?” “Far from it.” “Well, what?” “As in my previous examples, he is half-way between mortal and immortal.” What sort of being is he then, Diotima?” “He is a great spirit, Socrates; everything that is of the nature of a spirit is half-god and half- man.” . . . “Who are his parents?” I asked. “That is rather a long story,” she answered, ”but I will tell you. On the day that Aphrodite was born the gods were feasting, among them Contrivance the son of Invention; and after dinner, seeing that a party was in progress, Poverty came to beg and stood at the door. Now Contrivance was drunk with nectar— wine, I may say, had not yet been discovered—and went out into the garden of Zeus, and was overcome by sleep. So Poverty, thinking to alleviate her wretched condition by bearing a child to Contrivance, lay with him and conceived Love. Since Love was begotten on Aphrodite’s birthday, and since he has also an innate passion for the beautiful, and so for the beauty of Aphrodite herself, he became her follower and servant. Again, having Contrivance for his father and Poverty for his mother, he bears the following character. He is always poor, and, far from being sensitive and beautiful, as most people imagine, he is hard and weather-beaten, shoeless and homeless, always sleeping out for want of a bed, on the ground, on doorsteps, and in the street. So far he takes after his mother and lives in want. But, being also his father’s son, he schemes to get for himself whatever is beautiful and good; he is bold and forward and strenuous, always devising tricks like a cunning huntsman.”


David Lawrence, author of Sons and Lovers was a pale-skinned, slightly feminine, and was considered strange. He was friends with Jessie Chambers, a quiet, shy, serious girl who he studied with regularly. David managed to seduce Jessie by criticizing her occasionally. This created a feeling of discontent in her and would make her more attached to him. He would point out her physical coldness, and with others, he did the same, throwing critical remarks that would touch a sore spot.

Greene’s premise here is that we all have insecurities. We put on a brave face and we act self-assured and confident, but in truth, we are all somewhat discontent with our lives. We either feel we are living too boringly, are tired by routine, or want to reclaim the adventurousness of our youth. Cleopatra spoke about Alexander the Great in front of Julius Caesar, this drove him mad with jealousy, and made him pay more attention to her. Cleopatra knew that Caesar’s weakness was feeling inferior to other men – his masculinity.

Sow seeds of discontent in your victims. People who are happy will not be seduced. You are more likely to fall in love when you are younger than older. When you are young, you are more insecure about yourself, you feel more strongly that the answer to your problems can be found in another person. Make the person you want to seduce feel that something is missing in their lives and positioning yourself as the solution. Make sure that your criticism is accurate.

The reason this form of seduction works is because people need to think about themselves before they are seduced and pointing out their flaws forces them to reflect. This gives them the illusion that choosing you was their idea.

But never be too harsh without sweetening the blow, that is what Lawrence always did. He followed up his criticisms with kindness and was forgiven. He stirred two thoughts in their minds. One was why Lawrence was acting harsh, and the other was a feeling that he was right.

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

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