On Seduction: A Romantic Conversation

On Seduction: A Romantic Conversation

Simber Atay (Dokuz Eylül University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0525-9.ch003


Seduction is a sexual act, a sex instinct expression, a love practice, a body performance, a psychoanalytical problematic, a philosophical issue, a creative strategy full of phantasies from art to politics, from advertising to entertainment, from personal intimacy to mass-media. Seduction is basis of strip-tease profession, of course! But it is also a cultural metaphor. Seduction is an indispensable part of acting in performing arts. In cinema, actors and actress seduce spectators. In photography, photographer and photographed one, they seduce reciprocally. Seduction has very strong mythological origins. On the other hand, superman of Nietzsche, gaze of Bataille, objet petit a of Lacan are some adequate contemporary parameters to discuss the seduction concept. In this context, Le Samura? (1967) of Jean-Pierre Melville, Magic Mike (2012) of Steven Soderbergh, Jupiter Ascending (2015) of Lana and Andy (Lilly) Wachowski are our cinematographic examples. Eikoh Hosoe's project ‘Barakei' (1961), Duane Michals' project ‘Questions without Answers' (2001), Mehmet Turgut's self-portrait series (2000's) are our photographic examples. Within the text, we evaluate all these popular culture examples by using the mentioned parameters to describe what the seduction is.
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A Mythological Introduction

Mircea Eliade has pointed out in The Myth of the Eternal Return: “even in the simplest human societies, “historical” memory, that is, the recollection of events that derive from no archetype, the recollection of personal events (“sins” in the majority of cases), is intolerable” (Eliade, 1994, p.80). In this sense, archetypes are important for the consciousness of archaic man, and popular memory could not retain anything but archetypes. (Eliade, 1994, p.57)

For traditional man, the eternal return is, within the scope of mythological belief systems, “a re-actualization of the mythical moment when the archetype was revealed for the first time” (Eliade, 1994, p.81) due to related rituals and ceremonies.

Consequently, these ceremonies too, which are neither periodic nor collective, suspend the flow of profane time, of duration, and project the celebrant into a mythical time, in illo tempore (Eliade, 1994, p.76).

This mythological re-actualization is generally the equivalent of the desire for a cosmic “new life” (Eliade, 1994, p.131) setup beyond historical time coordinates.

So archetypes are elements that constantly build modern Arcadia in the unconscious. Therefore, the primitive and classical mythology culture is an effective rhetoric context for our daily aesthetic experiences –both art criticism and artistic creation- within Aby Warburg’s Nachleben logic. If we mention Warburg’s Nachleben briefly: “ In Warburg’s work, the term Nachleben refers to the survival (the continuity or afterlife and metamorphous) of images and motifs –as opposed to their renascence after extinction or, conversely, then replacement by innovations in image and motif … Formed within the context of Renaissance studies –a field associated by definition with revival and innovation – Warburg’s concept of survival assumed a temporal model for art history radically different from any employed at the time” (Didi-Huberman, 2003, pp. 273-285).

In this sense, Eliadian innocence of the existence of archetypes obtained by human mind through repetitive eternal return and Warburgian immortality of archetypes were analyzed by Roland Barthes, and the approach he made is still valid even today. Barthes explained the contemporary meaning of myths as follows: “Myth does not deny things, on the contrary, its function is to talk about them; simply, it purifies them, it makes them innocent, it gives them a natural and eternal justification, it gives them a clarity which is not that of an explanation but that of a statement of fact (Barthes, 2005, p.58)…” Myth is constituted by the loss of the historical quality of things: in it, things lose the memory that they once were made. The World enters language as a dialectical relation between activities, between human actions; it comes out of myth as a harmonious display of essences” (Barthes, 2005, p.51).

Classical mythology is the source of inspiration and energy for humanity. Mythology does not only generate cultural and artistic examples through existing myths, it also puts into display the mechanism of being myth/creating myth. That fantasy world provides metaphors for an independent rhetoric; mythological patterns protect the harmony of universe. Today, mythology has achieved too many sublime interpretation thanks to digital technologies, software possibilities and the Internet.

Therefore, cultural power of myths' vivacity always forms a free territory that could not be restricted by daily, conventional moral patterns and that we could study whether its mythology, related artworks and potential transgressive properties are metaphorical or not. At this point, when we trace the seduction, which is an authentic transgression - love is its environment; sex is its medium - in Classical Greek Mythology:

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