A Phenomenological Seduction or
A Critique of Pure Booty
Since Plato, seduction has remained forgotten in Western philosophy. Philosophy has yet to contemplate the meaning of seduction. Seduction, the process of persuading or enticing another person from rectitude or duty, provides an insight into the nature of human relations and morality that strict ‘epistemology’ or ‘ethics’ cannot capture.
I am here today to carry out an analysis of what I call ‘the phenomenological seduction’, or what may also be referred to as ‘a critique of pure booty’. Instead of trying to tell you ‘what’ seduction is in a series of propositions, I will bring you through the process.
The realm of the seducer is not that of natural science, but of the booty. I use the term ‘pure booty’ to indicate booty in-itself, without reference to social status, manner of dressing, or sobriety. In any case, these features of booty-hood may be important for other reasons. The term ‘booty’, depending on the seducer, may be either male or female, though in my analysis I am supposing that the Other is female. The domain of the booty may be a party, a pub, or in rare cases, one’s family reunion. When the booty is spotted, that’s when the process of seduction begins. First, one must scope out the situation – are there any friends with the booty, and is the booty with someone else who may hamper the seductive plans? Once these matters are put aside in this preliminary phenomenological reduction to seduction, we can approach the booty-in-itself without distractions, and we can act on our intentions. As any good seducer knows, seduction is not an ‘I think’, nor an ‘I can’, but an ‘I’ll try’. Therefore, seduction is not of the sphere of knowledge or certainty, nor is it ethical. Seduction mediates between these two. More specifically, it weaves between them in order to avoid them.
In a phenomenological seduction, we can intuit the essence of the booty. Although the booty may be well-clothed we know with absolute certainty what is concealed, even though it escapes our immediate vision. With clothes on, the booty is ‘inadequate’. Seduction, in Heideggerian terms, is an attempt to unconceal the concealed. One may call this process ‘undressing with one’s eyes’, and I use this here as a technical term. Now, up to this point, seduction is a subject-object relation with no reciprocity. When the booty looks in the direction of the seducer, however, the traditional distinctions ‘theory and practice’ and ‘subject and object’ melt into a pleasurable unity. After the primordial look from the booty, we see that seduction contains an equal amount of activity and passivity. In affecting the other, I myself become affected. This ‘affection’, which may cause bodily reactions, is what I call transcendence, or ‘rising above’. Now, these processes occur with a simple look, and if she starts walking towards the booty-intending-ego then the ego becomes a pure ‘I’ll try’ with no other mental content. One may also go so far as to say that the booty-intending-ego is ‘thinking with the wrong head’. At this point, all mental content is erased from the seducer as booty-intending-ego, and the complete reduction to seduction is now forgotten, though it is still present in a temporal retention. Regarding time, seduction favours the present, presupposes (though suspends) the past, and is focussed on a Levinas-like escape from the present into the future. This possibility for escape is the eschatological hope for a better night.
Levinas was fond of saying that the Other, as feminine, approaches from above and needs to be spoken to. Levinas is right that we don’t need to worry about the name of the Other. However, speaking to the Other is necessary only insofar as it brings along the process of seduction. In seduction, names do not matter. As for coming from above, one would be inclined to think that for Levinas the woman is always on top. I find this difficult to grasp because seduction is the process of proceeding from a vertical existence to a horizontal one and this horizontality favours neither the booty-intending-ego nor the booty itself. So, instead of the booty breaking through the ego, as Levinas would have it, it is also the Same that breaks through the Other. We thus have access to the phrase, ‘breaking-her-in’.
Seduction, as I have said, is the ‘I’ll try’. The ‘I’ll try’ removes seduction from the sphere of epistemology, and thus separates it from deduction or induction. Seduction, however, must not take a backseat to these other forms of reasoning, although seduction itself may also involve a backseat. In seduction, the Cartesian ego loses its fundamental privilege as the starting-point for philosophy. The Cartesian ego risks becoming dis-appointed.
The teleological accomplishment of seduction results in a unity, although this unity will once again fall back into a multiplicity the very next morning, perhaps when the seducer turns over and takes a look to his right. When the booty-intending-ego tells the booty to ‘call me’, the certitude he possesses mistakenly puts seduction in the sphere of epistemology. Proximally and for the most part, the Other withdraws absolutely from the ego after the night of fulfilled intentions. The process of seduction involves immediacy – the look, the smile, the touch. Come the next morning, nonetheless, the immediate pleasure of the previous night will be compromised by a mediated reflection because of the feelings of shame and embarrassment. To answer an ageless philosophical question, the Other is not always beautiful.
Unfortunately, I have spoken in propositions and have reduced seduction to formal logic and linguistic concepts. Seduction is not to be uttered or described, but experienced and lived. This philosophy, which I now call ‘seductionism’, must be resurrected from its philosophical dormancy and brought to the center of philosophical attention. A phenomenological ethics or even a proper understanding of human relations as such must include seduction, for seduction provides an insight into intersubjective human relations that neither epistemology nor ethics can provide. In conclusion, I say that it is a shame that one of the most important Platonic dialogues, the Symposium, has not yet received the philosophical attention it deserves. Philosophy, as it turns out, is not yet ready for seduction, and I have been misunderstood. As a faithful Husserlian, I spend much time offering introductions to my phenomenology of intentions but I never actually get around to carrying them out. I, the preacher of seduction, have yet to experience the process of seduction and await the fulfilment of my eschatological hope for a better night.