Not so much the ‘Doceo, ergo pedicabo’, the seducer is a more subtle type of scholar. In this case, the scholar in question uses not strong argument but the techniques of seduction to win over an audience.

Picture the scene: a not unattractive man or woman is before a reasonable audience, whether a class, a conference session, or indeed the wider public. He begins in a somewhat quiet way, but then catches himself, draws breath and begins again. Now the voice has a mellifluous intonation to it, deployed to full advantage. He teases, hints, smiles, jokes, suggesting between the lines outrageous possibilities and the soft attraction of a glass of wine, a quiet evening, a vigorous romp – all while ostensibly talking about the history of concrete. Women and men wait in lines afterwards to say hello, to offer praise …

Or she invokes a certain huskiness in her voice, moves her body to accentuate certain assets, flicks her hair, looks out from under lowered brows, offers a half-smile, sensuous puns and allusions, with the glimmer of more, far more possibilities for the groupies. And groupies there are: I have seen grown men with their mouths open and tongues hanging out after such a session, mobbing the speaker, saying it was the best lecture they have ever heard …

The seducer takes the erotics of knowledge to a whole new level, drawing upon age-old skills involved in the art of persuasion. And often the seducer has been used to the attentions of men and women for some time, is able to call them forth and bend them to his or her own advantage. Yet the seducer is not a flirt, for the difference is that flirting is a fine skill that does not lead to seduction. Instead, the seducer has learned that in the cut-throat world of the competition of ideas, the hint of sex sells.

Like the advertiser trying to sell a shonky product, the seducer has developed such a strategy precisely because he or she has never really had a good argument at all. Or perhaps the seducer is like the minister or priest, who notes in his sermons: ‘weak point; shout here!’

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