An impossible equation: the more I am seduced, the less I succeed in seducing; I am petrified by inhibition. In a very high-tension climate, I should be amusing, brilliant, thoroughly relaxed. Totally flummoxed, I am struck dumb, dulled by my desire to be inventive. To court someone is first of all to blow one’s own trumpet, to engage in self-embellishment. Even the most paralyzed lover has to pretend to be a lady-killer, to make use of the stratagems of flashiness. The adoring lover used to be a strutting beau who was able to shine and yield to the excitement of bidding at the risk of falling into virtuosity. But there is also a seductiveness in the refusal to seduce. There are strategies of silence and simplicity that captivate more than gratuitous volubility. Not to mention the figure of the charming, dazed lover who wins hearts by making one blunder after another. The really fine encounter is one that is unexpected and unaware of its value, and thus escapes the obligation to produce a result. If something happens, it is like the denouement of a story that was not premeditated. The obligation to proceed with verve is suspended for a freewheeling conversation that develops at its own pace because there is nothing at stake. A divine stroke of luck has held out a helping hand; it is up to us to seize it or forget it.
The Paradox of Love