Of the new, that doesn't seduce yet
Rute Rosas UP- FBAUP e Enric Tormo Ballester UB
Members of i2ADS - Research Institute of Art, Design and Society
There is no other way of putting it, seduction means entering in the less rational aspects of the human being. We enter in the purely sensitive field and we possibly face the primordial traces of our existence. This is why it’s considered that the only good method to approach the theme is by doubting, interrogating, by the circumstance. Therefore, it’s under a questioning structure that we pretend to search for the requisites, the conditions and the contents of a possible definition of seduction.
In Jean Baudrillard, the word seduction refers directly to its original meaning: seducere, se-ducer, although it guides us to the idea of symbolic deviation of its identity and representation. Essentially, it’s understood as a displacement, a deconstruction of the relation subject/object, cause/effect, acting in our lives as a powerful original crime.
We should start by asking ourselves
“why do we need to be seduced?”
The wording of the first question itself already demonstrates one of the authors’ positions regarding the point of observation. It came from a generical or ambiguous state. However, on the contrary, it establishes a passive and inactive position concerning seduction making. It would lead us to think that there’s something in the environment, in our life scenario, that floats in the air contaminating and transforming us towards the achievement of something or simply because, for us to be alive and live, we need to incorporate a state of positive attitude in our emotional setting, somewhat subjective. Either way, it seems clear that we are facing a basic communication process where either by action or passivity we can change some of the emotional springs that we benefit from.
Being seduced or seduce are two sides of the same coin that feeds itself possibly until the process ends up formulating the seduction of the seduction itself.
In the same line of thought, we should consider that the processes of seduction are both the base of our relationship with our partners and with the environments where we live in.
Either because of cultural traditions or simply because we are biological beings, we can establish different gradients in the quality of the seduction: from the basics equals to that impulse of sensorial character intimately connected to sexuality and perhaps love, that has allowed the succession of generations and the evolution of the species; to those where the mystic and the transcendence allowed to bet on a “poiesis” that should be translated to a rational system of the sensualities.
Being seduced and seduce is not the same. The seduced one is the one with the freedom limited to the capability of reaction and, in the last analysis, they condition the possible answers regarding the received stimulus?. The one who seduces, also known as the seducer, is the one who establishes a series of strategies and behaviours to capture and control the will of others. Notice that the seduced has always a certain unfortunate connotation, while the seducer is generally supposed to have a morally reprovable attitude, recognizing their abilities and some spark or admiration.
Accordingly, the second question inquires us “is it to integrate me in the society?"
The seduction processes are always arts of communication. Of course, as Sebastián Serrano announces, that seduction is that part of the relationship between beings destined to the perpetuation of the species and, therefore, is at the most basic level of instinct, the most primitive and irrational state of ourselves.
On the other hand, we have to assume that Man in their humanity intends simply to be in an artificial essence. The technique, the language and the art… are meant directly to progressively, but not gradually, distance ourselves from the natural setting. We could say we have so much tenacity for not being natural that we live under the law of the maximum effort, while nature rules itself exactly by the opposite. This way, our experience lives under constant schizophrenia? between what is left of natural in ourselves, which is just a little, and what makes us social. Hegel stated that we are two in one: one rational part, scientific and controlled, connected obviously to the language processes with the consequent hierarchization of thought and feeling; against the intuitive, irrational and misbehaved part, heritage of the primordial states. While not speaking about Nietzsche…
In our lives, we have two platforms to settle the future. Thanks to culture and education, we normalize our relationship's behaviours. We have accomplished to settle down in societies ruled by the order and regimented by the norm, where, if you leave in excess, it's assumed a fast disappearing of the relationship context. The curious part is that these kinds of restrictions are only motivated by the impossibility to undo this instinct, the one who makes us, whether we want it or not, to be social beings. All our acts, from the routine to the more subliminal ones are inspired by the search for the emotional domain of others. All, and each one of the acts we conduct throughout life are nothing but attempts to please others, please ourselves and definitely to seduce our congeners. Our life is simply one continuous flirtation, an adaptation of the circumstances under emotional tension.
We will be social as long as we are capable of pleasing and thrill.
Thus we can formulate the third question:
Why is it still unknown to us?
The answer to this question is implicit in the argumentation of the last one. Seduction is unknown to us because its place is outside of reason and it's far away from the social normalisation. We are capable of recognizing it, executing it and enjoy it inclusively. However, we are powerless when its existence and its acting is before us. When we lost touch with nature, we forgot there were transcendent aspects that couldn't be objective and, when they are, they lead us to the absolute biggest disasters. Maybe this should be the moment to remember sad Tristán who, by taking a potion and accidentally overusing it, stayed marked by the tyranny of a desire for his whole life that guided him to the more dire sufferings. It's the announcement of the fight between the madness of the appetite, always irrational, and the sanity of the obligation and honour.
In reality, it indicates it would be possible to control this instinct that leads us to lose control of our emotions. If there are filters for love, if the literature and the living experience indicate us we can alter our more primary abilities with chemical compounds, it means that all of it is maybe more than a game of chemical combinations.
We all use the expression “there’s no chemistry” to announce to the four winds there’s no chance for a relationship between two or more people.
Knowing the mechanisms of seduction would definitely cancel the possibility of freedom. This would implicate the establishment of a rational, descriptive and organized field that would assure the success of relationships, whether they are personal, social or physical and natural.
Definitely, we would annul the possibility of poetry to exist as a medium of acquisition, I don’t know if it would be by knowledge or for the circumstance good?
On another hand, we should consider that the seduction processes are the ones that allow us to stay human emotionally. They are the ones that weaken us and make us strong, paradoxically. They are the ones that guarantee us the capability of adaptation and that allow us to keep being analogue settled in the representation. Because, of course: who imagines a digital robot or a female computer falling in love or being seduced by the same model or superior? Can we imagine what will happen when the intelligent fridge becomes crazy in love with the washing machine or runs away with them?
We follow the path and, in consequence, we create a fourth question: is it by lack of culture or scientific ignorance?
We consider both aspects influence this perception of generic ignorance of seduction's existence because definitely, its own presence derives from its total lack of functional knowledge. Maybe it would be interesting to remember that a few years ago, someone very technical attempted to elaborate an informatics program destined to the composition of great musical hits. The hypothesis was good: "if we measure every aspect that has conditioned the biggest hits until this moment, we can undoubtedly accomplish hit compositions. Someone realised the evident: Hits are achieved irrationally and not by the sanity.
The emotional exists while its existence is simply intuited. We could say that the set is the place where the feeling, an appetite, is located. Therefore, intuition indicates us a way where we should circulate and where we define an aim, allowing to only keep the elaboration of pertinent strategies to discuss along the way.
To establish those situations, it's necessary to have an broad personal or living experience, elaborated by the experience itself and not of the moment of interest. We are in the most hidden places of our psyche? and we are only referencing ourselves. We can not export or transfer any feeling. We can announce it, we can describe it, we can even theoretically formalize it, but in no case can the other experiment it. This way, we are ourselves, unique in our existence and in our feeling - private and intimate.
On the other hand, we should consider a base for all pieces of knowledge, in the sense that it could be announced verbally and organised by clear and concise syntax giving it an internal organisation, which means, having an exemplary organisation and expression available. This is directly opposite to the intuitive states, that are irrational and instinctive because they are not dependent on any external factor that would define them like in the last case. Here is where "poiesis" can be born in its most pure essence, the one that assures the generation, the born or the flowering of an intermediate state between the rational and what is not rational.
We could say, paraphrasing Wittgenstein, we are in this area, in the darkness of the darkness and in the clearness of the light, this space that proposes little concretions?, pleasures and unconfirmed lust.
This way we reached the next question: “why don’t we know how to speak about he/she or with her/him?”
It's clear we don't know or we can't talk about seduction honestly and openly for the reasons we just announced. The linguistic competences are lacking and it's only installed in the experience and action contexts. How can we explain an appetite? How can we determine the limits between the senses and the actions? It's impossible, perhaps it would be better to consider and propose an approximation to the circumstance.
Returning to what we have commented at the beginning, we could formulate something as the qualities of seduction. We could start by proving how almost all the different synonyms for the word enhance a reflective/transitive attribution, such as: attraction, incitation, persuasion, fascination, suggestion, etc. Expressions and words that by themselves already mark a territory where should be produced a trade of state, a transformation that transits from a state, let’s say, fixed and signalled to other that, without being announced, presupposes a positive change in the being itself.
It would let us consider the possibility that all the process resides in an utopic value where the intention of the improvement of the circumstance is the engine of the behaviour.
This being said, we can consider the existence of, at least, three clear fields for action. One of them, perhaps the most basic, is the one that makes reference to the biological context and takes us to the sensorial attraction, that either cuts it or broadens it. It is connected directly with sexuality, with the ability to reproduce and that ultimately secures the permanence of the species and their evolution. This field is characterized by the loss of control that operates over the individuals, either humans or not, and that conducts to a social appreciation of negative character. We are not going to quote the vulgar expressions commonly used when someone has a behaviour of this kind. We all have them in mind. We could consider a second seductive gradient, that would correspond to that necessity to socially please and that normally is translated into a series of behaviours of courtier nature that assures social esteem to the person that practices those behaviours. This popular recognition, that provokes a self-esteem boost to the one who practices the behaviour, reinforces the bond between the congeners until it transforms any action into a model. We would have, however, a third state directly linked to the economic context, that can be summarized by provoking the desire to consume. We are referring to the strategies used by advertising concerned to seduce the consumer to encourage their desire to buy and to consume the products on the market. It's necessary to create an appetite for this consumption from the most insignificant to the most complex and elitist. Clearly, advertisement juggles with the creation of desires through the manipulation of the most basic instincts and creates a context in which the most important thing is the emotional protection beyond what is expected, to stimulate a self-complacence that motivates a new state of desire and enter in a never-ending cycle.
These games are based on the processes of seduction have a sad consequence for our society, that, arriving at the expected limit in previous societies, is defined by "post" everything, including the society itself became the "post-truth". This way, it has lost the ability to seduce and being seduced by the future. In reality, we have reached this point, because we have lost the poets and where we should imagine "utopias" we can only shimmer "dystopias".
This takes us to the following question: Why haven’t we ever experienced it? Is it because of social materialism?
It is completely impossible not to have experienced a frenetic process of loving seduction or simply sexual/erotic, either with the active attitude or the passive one, because, as we have said previously, they are two sides of the same coin. Perhaps, Kierkegaard expresses it the best with a famous sentence "The woman believes to be the conquered one; the man is the winner". Obviously, we have to save the distance and forget such concrete roles. Here is settled who is the seduced and who is the seducer or, in other words, there can't be one without the other. The only quality of the first regarding the second lives within the fact that the first needs to be active and predictable while the second one is passive but stimulant and can be or not seduced. The final triumph of the first will be the achievement, the triumph of the second will be the refuse to be seduced, which isn’t a defeat, just the unchanging state.
If we transpose that to the art field, we can tell how the role of the possible seducer must be assumed by the author who, through the work, which is still a timely materialization of a continuum, provokes the reaction of the viewer. This one may feel seduced, or not. If yes, the art appears in capital letters, otherwise, we would simply be facing a decorative element.
Perhaps the best way to answer this question is to stay with the philosopher. He stated that the formation of emotion and the human soul should follow a path of improvement that covered three successive phases, which we will give ourselves the luxury to reinterpret. He called "aesthetic" to the first one and it was defined by the relationship with form. Our conscience was only touched by the contemplation of the environment from which certain concomitant parameters could be established that ultimately offered a broad morphological catalogue where some type of sensory value could be inserted. A second step that the author called "ethical" implied the overcoming of simple plasticity to find and elaborate some of the moral behaviours linked to the own experiential circumstance of human beings. At this point, the material, the physical, ceases to be a reference, contingent and referent, to be the basis of a psychic elaboration of reality, so that anyone can elaborate a cast of honourable values that allow them to organize a paradigm of relationship. Consequently, in this phase, the criteria for assessing the non-material, the significance of the acts and ultimately the assessment components of human behaviour and relationships are established. How could it be otherwise, the third phase directly addresses what is above all, metaphysics and theology. The final stage of the human being completely detached from the earth that has seen him born. It is the optimal stage to be able to relate to everything that does not involve matter.
Perhaps intentionally, or not, this scheme matches what we exposed previously almost perfectly. I don’t believe it needs any more commentary regarding coincidence.
Following with the questions, we need to ask Why?
Here the answer is quick and simple. Contrary to Hegel, who wrote in his introduction of Philosophy of Right: “What is rational is real, and what is real is rational", life goes beyond rationality and, statistically, it offers us more instinctive, intuitive and irrational aspects than the ones stated by the philosopher. The very act of life creation, particularly of human beings, is the result of an irreflective action submitted by passion and, generally, by seduction.
The artificiality of man lies specifically within the material/technological aspects that have been forming a vital scenario for several centuries where the natural has been replaced with substitutes that appeared naturally normal and that have completely changed our natural springs in the long run. We arrived at the zenith of adultery. Finally, we managed to create and live in the "virtual reality". There's nothing more artificial. We have the means and the technologies for that, but we are only at the level of the sensitive, of the aesthetic. We need to create the rest of the gaps, ethical and theological. We are facing a complete renovation of our civilization and culture. Therefore, we must redo the path with different attributes and alternative paradigms. However, we can never forget or despise that, overall, there's an animal substrate that is ruled by non-rational reactions and, in the last resort, they are the engine and coordinator of our experiences.
It is through the animal substrate that we arrive at the last question: why do we need an emotional projection?
At this point, it should be clear in which springs we move through life. Whether we want it or not, from our analogue beginning with god, we cannot subtract the ultimate purpose of existence that is the existence itself and the survival as a species in the planet's quota. We are designed for transcendence through the succession of states and, therefore, our basic mission is to remain faithful to the biological requirements that nature demands.
Seduction is ultimately the only real medium for us to preserve ourselves.
This is an act we perform that is prefixed by anxiety, by a dark intention to access spaces, whether physical or moral, not yet examined and known to us. Spaces that in a deductive attitude indicate a high degree of satisfaction as a reward. All the efforts are made for the idealized compensation that promotes and proposes a system of action that organises our existence hierarchically so that we are not lethal to ourselves and our fellow human beings.
We don’t want to finish this answer and all the rest, without remembering that principle in the knowledge generation that indicates that for a good understanding of reality there must be a sequence of stages and human roles that distil environment’s content.
Originally, there must be a nature, scrutinized by the poet who, through the word or the form, leaves it for the philosopher to interpret it and, then, the scientist manipulates it so that the technician can put it at the service of the humanity.
Definitely, seduction and “poiesis" walk hand in hand, one implies the other, they imply each other, they transition from one state to another by, or through, non-rational, intuitive and, especially, sensual acts.
- 16º Encontro Internacional de Arte e Tecnologia:
- #16.ART: Artis intelligentia: IMAGINAR O REAL
- i2ADS – Instituto de Investigação em Arte, Design e Sociedade
- Editora | Publisher
- i2ADS – Instituto de Investigação em Arte, Design e Sociedade
- depósito legal
- outubro 2017
- PP. 816_822 Praxis e Poiesis