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Jack’s Naughty Bits: S

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Jack's Naughty Bits


There be three things which

are too wonderful for me,

yea, four which I know not:

The way of an eagle in the air;

the way of a serpent upon a rock;

the way of a ship in the midst of the sea;

and the way of a man with a maid.

— Proverbs 30

I have known the joys of seduction, I have known the thrill of the chase, the simultaneous empowerment and disempowerment of pursuit, of feeling you might but not yet feeling you will. I, like St. Augustine, have felt more strongly about that which was harder to attain, and I, like Job, have felt that I was unfairly tested, and, in my frustration, asked only to be delivered. I have desired and been spurned, only later to be embraced, and I have relished that turnaround, that surprise. I have enjoyed kisses from people I thought lost to me, gone on dates with those I thought impossible. Once I was engaged to a woman I never would have believed could want me, only to realize, one day, the truth that I didn’t want her. I have known people who dream and are rarely disappointed and those whom disappointment has taught never to dream again. I am neither of these people; I dream, and I fail, and it hurts me, so when I succeed I feel the force of the success, the brief, rapturous sense that maybe I deserve my achievement, however fleeting it may be.


    

There was a time when my ego needed the reinforcement that seduction provides, yet no amount of conquest ever proved enough. The seducer assumes that the quest is for something external, but it is clear that the lack comes from within. How much affirmation does one need? And from whom? I was told once by a policeman in India that happiness is a quotient of what you have divided by what you want. In the West, he told me, you try to increase the numerator, accumulating more and more of everything. In the East, he said, they try to reduce the denominator, trimming their expectations to correspond to what’s probable. I think he had it dead on, and what’s worse, as the numerator increases — as we begin to get what we thought we were after — it often causes us to set our aims higher and not reap the rewards of what we’ve achieved.


    

Serial seduction, like gambling, is all too likely to fall prey to this dynamic. Each conquest ups the ante for the subsequent one, and that which is desired, when attained, loses its value. A sad phenomenon, more so because the objects in question are emotive humans. The perils of sexual insatiability are chronicled in two great fictional studies: Laclos’ Les liasons dangereuses and Kierkegaard’s “Diary of the Seducer.” I’m excerpting two paragraphs of the latter to indicate the poles of the seducer’s logic: the attraction that makes him grab and the repulsion that makes him throw away. A word to the wise . . .



* * *  



From “Diary of the Seducer”


by Søren Kierkegaard



My eyes can never become tried of hastening over this peripheral manifoldness, these scattered emanations of womanly beauty. Every single point has its little part and yet is complete in itself, happy, glad, beautiful. Each one has her own; the cheerful smile, the roguish glance, the desiring eye, the inclined head, the hilarious mind, the quiet wistfulness, the profound foreboding, the brooding melancholy, the earthly homesickness, the unrepentant movements, the beckoning brow, the questioning lips, the mysterious brow, the captivating locks, the concealing eyelashes, the heavenly pride, the earthly modesty, the angelic purity, the clandestine blush, the light step, the lovely gliding, the languishing posture, the yearning dream, and unexplained sighs, the slim figure, the soft forms, the luxuriant bosom, the swelling hips, the little foot, the pretty hand. Each one has her own, and the one does not have what the other has. When I have seen and seen again, considered and again considered the manifoldness of the world, when I have smiled, sighed, flattered, threatened, desired, tempted, laughed, cried, hoped, feared, won, lost — then I close the fan, collect what has been dispersed into the one, the parts into the whole, then my soul rejoices, then my heart throbs, then the passion flares up. This one girl, the only one in the whole world, she must belong to me, she must be mine . . .


    

I am an aesthete, an eroticist, who has grasped the essence of love and the point of it, who believes in love and knows it from the ground, and only retain for myself the private opinion that every love affair should, at the most, last six months, and that every relationship is over as soon as one has enjoyed the ultimate. I know all this, I know also that the highest conceivable enjoyment consists in being loved; to be loved is higher than everything in the world. To poetize oneself into a girl’s feelings is an art, to poetize oneself out of her feelings is a masterpiece. But the latter essentially depends on the former.