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“If you say, I love you, then you have already fallen in love with language, which is already a form of break up and infidelity.”

 Cool Memories

 

“To love someone is to isolate him from the world, wipe out every trace of him, dispossess him of his shadow, drag him into a murderous future. It is to circle around the other like a dead star and absorb him into black light.”

 Fatal Strategies



 

Things aren’t going so well between western males and females, Jean Baudrillard says, in The Perfect Crime and Seduction, his major analyses of current straight relations, an analysis otherwise known as the sweet nothings of the world’s best mansplain. But he has tips to improve our romances, whose highlights I’ll summarise in what I hope will be a helpful and practical post.


 

DATING TIPS

FROM BAUDRILLARD

 

 

1. THE ASYMMETRIC SECRET 

 

“The sexes eye each other up, squint out through each others’ eyes… Where do we find passion now?”

The Perfect Crime

 

Men are from Mars and women are from Venus, we’re told. Different, but similarly different: you’re a little bit blue, I’m a little bit pink. But since women’s ‘liberation’ we all exist in the same shape on the same playing field, we have the same rights and destinies, we can blend and merge into each other across a spectrum. We are symmetrical.

 

Not for Baudrillard. 

 

He isn’t a fan of the “woman as a projective resurrection of the selfsame,” the “twin-like, almost incestuous figure[s]” we’ve become. “We are sliding from ecstasy to metastasis,” he warns, because we are forgetting that the differences between male and female can’t be liberated, are in fact vast and asymmetrical. We aren’t different, we are other, unequal, alien to each other: 

 

“The feminine is not opposed to the masculine, but plays with the masculine, somewhere beyond sexual difference.”

The Perfect Crime

 

And that’s the joy of life, Baudrillard says. Being so different means when male and female come together we wipe each other out, we lose ourselves, which is good. Connecting with something really other forces us to go beyond our identities. And wiping each other out is good because it is the secret truth we all know: the world is nothing, we come from nothing, nothing really exists in real time, especially our identities, it’s all a bunch of crock ending in death whose only possible consolation comes from chiming that truth in a connection beyond words with each other, a connection that our lying culture commodifies and cookie-cuts from us today.

 

“For the secret never lies in the equivalent exchange of desires, under the sign of egalitarian difference; it lies in inventing the other who will be able to play on – and make sport of – my own desire, defer it, suspend it, and thus arouse it indefinitely.”

The Perfect Crime

 

 

 

2. INHERENT FEMALE PRIVILEGE

 

What’s the inherent difference, the inequality between men and women, according to Baudrillard? 

 

Firstly, women grow up with the potential to give birth, with all the magic, purpose, connection and backdoor routes to immortality that entails. 

 

Secondly, men are vulnerable to the beauty of bodies (male and female bodies) in a way that women aren’t, despite Chippendale calendars and Cosmo centrefolds. Men get off on bodies and women get off on experiencing the power their bodies have over other bodies. That’s a power imbalance with big potential for abuse. 

 

Poor men. No wonder they’ve tried to tell us we’re dumb and docile and monogamous and less sexual and inherently powerless. No wonder they’ve rewritten history to tell us women never had power until our recent ‘liberation’. So we are shocked, for example, to read that the druids Julius Caesar fought in Anglesey in 60AD were mainly women. 

 

It’s no wonder men have hated us and used their greater physical strength to build the modern world of production as a “phallic fortress” against us, to try to control us and our bodies and make us forget the power of our privilege by projecting their own hysteria into our motives. 

 

“At the cost of total disenchantment, we would enjoy a total immunity.”

The Perfect Crime

 

And men have erections, definite visual proof of the power someone has over them. That’s the third part of our privilege. Women can keep it vague.

 

 

 

 

 

3. THE TURN OF THE HAND 

 

Keeping it vague and ambiguous, not wholly buying in to ‘reality’, is women’s great asset: 

 

“The immense privilege of the feminine… the privilege of having never acceded to truth or meaning and of having remained absolute master of the realm of appearances.”

Seduction

 

Being master of the realm of appearances may seem like meagre gruel compared to being master of the realm of reality, as Baudrillard says men are. But for Baudrillard, appearance, the void – the knowledge that things aren’t in fact real and set as we pretend they are, that the only things we can actually be sure about are death and uncertainty – is the deep true fact about the world, as we all secretly know, the truth that always upturns everything else and seduces us. This seduction for Baudrillard has nothing to do with “rouge and lace” and everything to do with playing with the world, stepping back from the world. 

 

“Nothing can be greater than seduction itself, not even the order that destroys it… Seduction has no power of its own, only that of annulling the power of production. But it always annuls that.”

Seduction

 

This advice can seem perverse, wrong, insulting to very real horrors. But:

 

“No one has ever been dispossessed of the power associated with seduction... Yes, women have been dispossessed of their bodies, their desires, happiness and rights. But they have always remained mistresses of this possibility of eclipse… and so have always been capable of eclipsing the power of their masters.”

Seduction

 

And to those “good apostles” who say: “you aren’t going to discredit reality in the eyes of those who already find it difficult enough to get by, and who surely have a right to reality and the fact that they exist… you aren’t going to discredit feminist and egalitarian demands in the eyes of all those who haven’t even heard of women’s rights?” Baudrillard is hardcore:

 

“Underlying these charitable intentions is a profound contempt... in crediting people with placing their hope only in the visible proofs of their existence, by imputing this plaster-saint realism to them, one takes them for naïve and feeble-minded.”

The Perfect Crime

 

Yes, men may have built and be running our whole current world, they may be richer and stronger and more powerful and better than women, they may abuse their position. But all that can be upturned in an instant by one simple hand gesture from women, Baudrillard tells us:

 

“The capacity immanent to seduction to deny things their truth… and thereby foil all systems of power and meaning by a mere turn of the hand...”

Seduction

 

 

 

 

4. THE POWER OF TABLES

 

We must feel sorry for western men, Baudrillard shows us. Their neurotic quest for a defence against this hand gesture has led them to simulate reality, to make themselves the all-powerful subjects obsessed at all cost with ruling objects – people and things. And where has this great project left them? 

 

In our indifferent world of mass-production and simulacra that reflects back the “eccentric, paradoxical, paranoid and tiresome masculine state.” 

 

In our world of too many objects than we know what to do with, where actual physical things themselves–tables for example–take their revenge on their masters by glowering back: “objects thumbing their noses at us” with “tiny ironic glimmer”. 

 

At least tables have a job to do, a real purpose, Baudrillard says. And they may yet take over from us in the end. In this confused, ill-made world, that means a table has more power than your average western man. At least it has a use.

 

 

 

 5. WHAT MEN WANT

 

What western men secretly want, Baudrillard says, is to become objects themselves, to be penetrated, put to use, relieved of responsibility at last. To search for things unaffected by their project they have imprisoned us all in, to be taken back to “the attraction of the void.”

 

 

 

6. PLAYING WITH DEATH IS BETTER THAN SEX 

 

How very capitalistic and production-based, Baudrillard shows us, to think that sex is the thing when it is just a “disenchanted form of seduction”.

 

“A culture that produces everything, makes everything speak, everything babble, everything climax… In the absence or denial of the orgasm, superior intensity is possible… There is something stronger than passion: illusion. There is something stronger than sex or happiness: the passion for illusion”

Seduction

 

Sex is part of nature and we must not trust nature. 

 

“One must rid oneself of the idea that all happiness derives from nature, and all pleasure from the satisfaction of a desire.”

Seduction

 

Nature wants us to procreate, like animals do. But we have built a more complex culture than other animals, we are – perhaps – more aware. And the awareness of where we are and where nature is taking us is pretty bleak. How much more charged to use awareness and attraction as a game, where, locked in with another like-minded participant, we can enact a ritual that ducks out of the ‘real’ world to toy with what nature and the ‘real’ world want from us:

 

“an ironic alternative form that breaks sex and provides a space, not of desire, but of play and defiance.”

Seduction

 

“We seduce with our death, our vulnerability and with the void that haunts us. The secret is to know how to play with death.”

Seduction

 

 

 

7. DON'T DO IT 

 

The best relationships these days are never consummated, are never even formally acknowledged in words, according to Baudrillard. The purest thrills are to be found in the “seduction of the eyes.”

 

“Where looks alone join in a sort of duel, an immediate intertwining, unbeknownst to others... a single subtle instant, as in a stroke of wit… the sealing of an indestructible pact amongst the participants… Once the delightful tension of the gaze gives way to words or loving gestures the intensity declines.”

Seduction

 

 

 

8. DON'T SETTLE 

 

We must not fall for the cold seduction of our current twinned, cloned, incestuous, screen-based reality of egalitarian difference and simulation: that’s a given. But above all, in the face of overwhelming message and tech, we mustn’t give up, we mustn’t settle. 

 

“Existence is something we must not consent to. It has been given to us as a consolation prize and we must not believe in it.”

The Perfect Crime

 

And we must fight back: we must be passionate. Once there was value and style in detachment, but no more: 

 

“Now what good is it being passionless in a world without passion, or detached in a world without desire?”

The Perfect Crime

 

“This reconciliation of all antagonistic forms in the name of consensus and conviviality is the worst thing we can do. We must reconcile nothing. We must keep open the otherness of forms.”

The Perfect Crime

 

And how do we do that? Like all great dating guides, Baudrillard has his rules:

 

“The absolute rule is to give back more than we were given. Never less, always more.”

The Perfect Crime

 

We mustn’t settle. We mustn’t give up hope of the fellowship of the void. We must deal with relationships as Baudrillard suggests we deal with radical thought: 

 

“Promote a clandestine trade in ideas, of all inadmissible ideas, of unassailable ideas, as the liquor trade had to be promoted  in the 1930s. For we are already in a state of full-scale prohibition. Thought has become an extremely rare commodity which has to be cultivated in secret places following esoteric rules.”

The Perfect Crime

 

Or something like that…