Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE POWER OF SEDUCTION by Jean-Claude Hagège


Conceptions of Beauty and Cosmetic Surgery

by Jean-Claude Hagège & translated by Marjolijn de Jager

Pub Date: Nov. 28th, 2005
ISBN: 1-59051-121-2
Publisher: Other Press

From a French cosmetic surgeon comes word that true beauty is found not in facial perfection but in a certain je ne sais quoi that he labels seductiveness.

Actually, Hagège takes many, many words to say this, and either he is a master of verbosity and obscurity or his translator has made him out to be one. Seduction, he tells the reader in one of his numerous struggles to define his terms, “escapes any calculation, it is a way of belonging to life, it is a movement, a truth,” and being seductive is “first of all pleasing yourself, being confident, surprising yourself, loving yourself, letting yourself be.” In his view, the key to acquiring this elusive but essential internal quality lies in the limbic system, the brain of emotions and passion, which one must liberate from the tyranny of the cortex, the brain of reason and intelligence, for doing so releases a flood of neurotransmitters that are essential to sensuality and bring about a state of confidence, daring and harmony. As he puts it: “Let us then convert our brain so it will seduce, live, and help to construct the man to be selected. It is the only chance for survival our species has.” Hagège’s take on neurology, evolution and the place of reason in the history of Western civilization occupies a substantial portion of this curious opus, which also features conversations with potential cosmetic-surgery patients, long letters from former patients, analysis of the charms of bygone movie stars and some criticism of the misleading visions of ideal beauty presented in advertising. Oddly, tucked into the back is a short, semi-technical piece on the maintenance of a cervicofacial lift.

Reading or attempting to read this ponderous and pretentious treatise will not help the ambivalent woman come to a decision about cosmetic surgery, but it may well induce some beauty sleep.