A fixed destiny weighs on seduction. For religion seduction was a strategy of the devil, whether in the guise of witchcraft or love. It is always the seduction of evil - or of the world. It is the very artifice of the world. Its malediction has been unchanged in ethics and philosophy, and today it is maintained in psychoanalysis and the 'liberation of desire.' Given the present-day promotion of sex, evil and perversion, along with the celebration of the off times programmatic resurrection of all that was once accursed, it might seem paradoxical that seduction has remained in the shadows - and even returned thereto permanently.
The eighteenth century still spoke of seduction. It was, with valour and honour, a central preoccupation of the aristocratic spheres. The bourgeois Revolution put an end to this preoccupation (and the others, the later revolutions ended it irrevocably - every revolution, in its beginnings, seeks to end the seduction of appearances). The bourgeois era dedicated itself to nature and production, things quite foreign and even expressly fatal to seduction. And since sexuality arises, as Foucault notes, from a process of production (of discourse, speech or desire), it is not at all surprising that seduction has been all the more covered over. We live today the promotion of nature, be it the good nature of the soul of yesteryear, or the good material nature of things, or even the psychic nature of desire. Nature pursues its realization through all the metamorphosis of the repressed, and through the liberation of all energies, be they psychic, social or material.
Seduction, however, never belongs to the order of nature, but that of artifice - never to the order of energy, but that of signs and rituals. This is why all the great systems of production and interpretation have not ceased to exclude seduction - to its good fortune - from their conceptual field. For seduction continues to haunt them from without, and from deep within its forsaken state, threatening them with collapse. It awaits the destruction of every godly order, including those of production and desire. Seduction continues to appear to all orthodoxies as malefice and artifice, a black magic for the deviation of all truths, an exaltation of the malicious use of signs, a conspiracy of signs. Every discourse is threatened with this sudden reversibility, absorbed into its own signs without a trace of meaning. This is why all disciplines, which have as an axiom the coherence and finality of their discourse, must try to exorcize it. This is where seduction and femininity are confounded, indeed, confused. Masculinity has always been haunted by this sudden reversibility within the feminine. Seduction and femininity are ineluctable as the reverse side of sex, meaning and power.
Today the exorcism is more violent and systematic. We are entering the era of final solutions; for example, that of the sexual revolution, of the production and management of all liminal and subliminal pleasures, the micro-processing of desire, with the woman who produces herself as woman, and as sex, being the last avatar. Ending seduction.
Or else the triumph of a soft seduction, a white, diffuse feminization and eroticization of all relations in an enervated social universe.
Or else none of the above. For nothing can be greater than seduction itself, not even the order that destroys it ...
... Seduction too would have had its ritual phase (duel, magical, agonistic); its aesthetic phase (as reflected in the "aesthetic strategy" of the seducer, whose domain approaches that of the feminine and sexuality, the ironic and the diabolic - it is then that seduction takes on the meaning it has for us: the possibly accursed distraction of appearances, their strategies, their play); and finally its "political" phase (biking up Benjamin's term, here somewhat ambiguous). In this last phase the original of seduction, its ritual and aesthetic form, disappears in favour of an all-out ventilation whereby seduction becomes the informal form of politics, the scaled-down framework for an elusive politics devoted to the endless reproduction of a form without content. (This informal form is inseparable from its technical nature, which is that of networks - just as the political form of the object is inseparable from the techniques of serial reproduction). As with the object, this "political" form corresponds to seduction's maximum diffusion and minimum intensity.
Is this to be seduction's destiny? Or can we oppose this involutional fate, and lay a wager on seduction as destiny? Production as destiny, or seduction as destiny? Against the deepstructures and their truth, appearances and their destiny? Be that as it may, we are living today in non-sense, and if simulation is its disenchanted form, seduction is its enchanted form. Anatomy is not destiny, nor is politics: seduction is destiny. It is what remains of a magical, fateful world, a risky, vertiginous and predestined world; it is what is quietly effective in a visibly efficient and stolid world.
The world is naked, the king is naked, and things are clear. All of production, and truth itself, are directed towards disclosure, the unbearable "truth" of sex being but the most recent consequence. Luckily, at bottom, there is nothing to it. And seduction still holds, in the face of truth, a most sibylline response, which is that "perhaps we wish to uncover the truth because it is so difficult to imagine it naked."
... Seduction, Jean Baudrillard