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Just a few excerpts from a book I was flipping through this evening. The timing of the re-reading of these passages strikes me as pretty funny in light of some recent conversations I've been having with various co-workers about some of the stuff that's been going on at the office.



Dandies excite us because they cannot be categorized, and hint at a freedom we want for ourselves. They play with masculinity and femininity; they fashion their own physical image, which is always startling; they are mysterious and elusive. They also appeal to the narcissism of each sex: to a woman they are psychologically female, to man they are male.

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"There was something terrifying about her embrace. Looking at you with her radiant blue eyes, she would say, 'The reception of the semen is for me the height of ecstasy.' And she had an insatiable appetite for it. She was completely amoral...a vampire."

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People were intoxicated by her strange mix of the masculine and the feminine; she was beautiful, with a radiant smile and a graceful, flirtatious manner, but her independence and her intensely analytical nature made her seem oddly male. This ambiguity was expressed in her eyes, which were both coquettish and probing.

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She was a complete noncomformist, and to be involved with her was to break all kinds of taboos. Her masculinity made the relationship seem vaguely homosexual; her slightly cruel, slightly domineering streak could stir up masochistic yearnings. She radiated a forbidden sexuality.

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It is, above all, a burning need to acquire originality, within the apparent bounds of convention. It is a sort of cult of oneself, which can dispense even with what are commonly called illusions. It is the delight in causing astonishment, and the proud satisfaction of never oneself being astonished...

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"The seduction emanating from a person of uncertain or dissimulated sex is powerful." -- Colette

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The Dandy displays a true and radical difference from other people, a difference of appearance and manner. Since most of us are secretly oppressed by our lack of freedom, we are drawn to those who are more fluid and flaunt their difference.

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...different in ways that are both striking and aesthetic, never vulgar; poke fun at current trends and styles, go in a novel directions, and supremely uninterested in what anyone else is doing...

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...style cannot be obvious, for Dandies are subtle, and never try hard for attention -- attention comes to them.

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Dandies show their difference in the little touches that mark their disdain for convention: Theophile Gautier's red vest, Oscar Wilde's green velvet suit, Andy Warhol's silver wigs. The female Dandy works similarly. She may adopt male clothing, say, but if she does, a touch here or there will set her truly apart...

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Dandies are supremely impudent. They don't give a damn about other people, and never try to please.

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The insolence of the Dandy is aimed at society and its conventions. It is not a man she cares to conquer but a whole group, an entire social world. And since people are generally oppressed by the obligation of always being polite and self-sacrificing, they are delighted to spend time around a person who disdains such niceties.

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...by adopting psychological traits of the opposite sex, they appeal to our inherent narcissism.

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Do not be misled by the surface disapproval your Dandy pose may elicit. ... what is most seductive is often what is most repressed. ...become the magnet for people's dark, unrelealized yearnings.

The key to such power is ambiguity. In a society where the roles everyone plays are obvious, the refusal to conform to any standard will excite interest. ... both masculine and feminine, impudent and charming, subtle and outrageous. Let other people worry about being socially acceptable; those types are a dime a dozen, and you are after a power greater than they can imagine.


from: The Art of Seduction -- Robert Greene

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December 2011

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