What makes you think you need to go to Russia?

“You who seek out the object of a lasting love, learn the places which the fair ones most haunt,” writes the poet Ovid in his 2,000-year-old poem, The Art of Love.

I have given a few tips about where to find your soulmate before.

If spam emails are anything to go by, there must be a fair number of men out there who fall for Russian woman who are very romantic and are looking for an honest man in the West for love and marriage. Now there is of course nothing at all wrong with Russian women. But if you can’t attract a woman in your own home town, why do you imagine you’ll have more luck with a woman from hundreds or thousands of miles away?

If the relationship is based on money (which it may be) then is that what you really want? Wouldn’t you rather learn the arts of attraction and find a woman much nearer home and who wants you because of what you really are? (Ok, you really like Russian women. There are probably thousands in London. You still don’t need to find the air fare.)

Ovid says, “You won’t have to put to sea or undertake any distant journeys … Rome alone will give you a choice of such lovely women, and so many of them, that you will be forced to confess that she gathers within her own bosom all the treasures that the world can show. As numerous as the ears of corn on Gargarus, grapes in Methymna, fish in the ocean, birds in the thickets, stars in the heavens, so numerous are the beautiful girls you’ll find in Rome. Venus has made her seat of empire the city of her beloved Aeneas.”

And for the benefit of us in England, note that our own Henry Purcell made a song called ‘Fairest Isle’ from John Dryden’s words, in which the poet explains that Venus has made her dwelling here, too.

Here are the words:
Fairest isle, all isles excelling,
Seat of pleasure and of love
Venus here will choose her dwelling,
And forsake her Cyprian grove.
Cupid from his fav’rite nation
Care and envy will remove;
Jealousy, that poisons passion,
And despair, that dies for love.

Gentle murmurs, sweet complaining,
Sighs that blow the fire of love
Soft repulses, kind disdaining,
Shall be all the pains you prove.
Ev’ry swain shall pay his duty,
Grateful ev’ry nymph shall prove;
And as these excel in beauty,
Those shall be renown’d for love.

Ovid’s banned book

To catch the woman who will be our heart’s desire we need a plan.

But first, at the beginning of any new activity it is necessary to call upon the appropriate god. Be patient – I’ll explain.

Let us not be put off by our modern ideas. Some of us will be atheists, and yet others subscribe to one of the religions that recognise only one God. I’ll address the latter first.

If you’re a Roman Catholic you’ll understand the idea of praying to the appropriate saint, so you need only think of the matter in this way. If you’re a follower of a more austere faith then you can think of it as praying that your actions will accord with God’s will. And if you are an unbeliever, simply consider that your intention at the outset will determine your success or otherwise, and that an unclear intention cannot result in a clear result. We all have gods – the petty gods that are our obsessions and the larger gods that inspire our nobler aims – it’s just that atheists don’t call them by that name.

(By the way, if your god is a devil then I can assure you that the results will turn out unpleasant in due course. Perhaps I’ll expand on this another time. This is one of those obvious things that nevertheless people don’t get.)

The point is to know what it is we want clearly enough that we can state it, so that we can be sure that it is good, and so that we shall not be deviated from our aim or settle for less.

So, who is the god that Ovid invokes at the beginning of his book, ‘The Art of Love‘?

It is not Apollo. This should be for us a warning: there is a mischievous twinkle in Ovid’s eye. He is writing poetry, yet he tells us his inspiration is not from Apollo or one of the Muses, the goddesses of all the arts. For a poem that has lasted two thousand years this is an odd claim. Personally, I think the Muses smiled on him anyway. And perhaps his failure to give the Muses their due was why he was banished to Tomis (now Constanta) on the Black Sea coast – “a town located in a war-stricken cultural wasteland on the remotest margins of the empire,” according to Wikipedia.

No, Ovid claims not to be inspired by the Muses, nor to have had the arts of love sung by birds into his ear.

“Experience is my guide,” he says.

As you know, I say the same, although I also acknowledge some fate or invisible power that brought to me the woman of my dreams – but of this perhaps another time. But for grace to occur, work is necessary.

Ovid does ask a goddess to smile on his undertaking – Venus, goddess of love, mother of wild boy Cupid. Ovid also says he will “sing of love where danger is not; I sing permitted pilferings; free of all offence my verses are.” Unfortunately the Emperor Augustus did take offence, and the ‘Art of Love’ was banned and Ovid banished.

So, take care. For this undertaking you have dedicated yourself to Venus, not Apollo. As for “permitted pilferings” – hmm. And you know that Cupid is notorious for shooting arrows of love without regard for age, social propriety or your convenience.

Nevertheless, I commend this study to you, for the same reason Ovid gives right at the beginning. As he says, “I, too, will bring Love to heel, even though his arrows pierce my breast and he brandish over my head his flaming torch. The keener his arrows, the fiercer his fires, the more they stir me to avenge my wounds.”

If you would conquer, know your enemy.

Next: Ovid’s plan of action.

Ovid – The Art of Love

Cupid

Amor stringing his bow, Roman copy after Greek original by Lysippos. Musei Capitolini, Rome. Photo: Ricardo André Frantz

Love is a boy.

Ovid begins his treatise, The Art of Love with Cupid, a wild boy.

By this we know that we are dealing with Eros, desire, Cupid’s Greek equivalent, from whom we get the words erotic and erogenous zones. There are of course other loves.

C. S. Lewis in The Four Loves gives us not only Eros but also Storge (affection, as a parent for a child or a child for a pet), Philia (friendship) and Agape (in the sense used in 1 Corinthians 13 – divine love).

The happiest marriages and sexual partnerships include all four loves. The case for friendship is easy to make, and of the others I shall perhaps treat another time.

Back to our ancient Roman guide through the difficulties of love. Ovid says that he is well-qualified to write on this subject because he is old enough to have learned Cupid’s ways. Cupid is notoriously mischievous. If you are anything like me, you will have fallen in love many times and had no idea how even to get a kiss. But Ovid says his poem springs from experience.

Just as the fierce warrior Achilles was taught and tamed as a boy by his teacher, the old Centaur Chiron, so Ovid says he will tame the wild boy Cupid, ‘though his arrows riddle me.’

Over the coming weeks it is my intention to look at what Ovid says and see how much of it still applies today.

If you want to be loved, be lovable

If you want to be loved, be lovable

– Ovid, Ars Amatoria (The Art of Love) II:ii

As I wrote in last week’s post Patience and attraction, “if you become a better, stronger, kinder human being then the right kind of woman will be attracted to you.”

Afterwards I found the quotation at the top of this post in Ovid’s Art of Love.

Ovid was a Roman writer (43BC – 17AD) who was friendly with Horace and may have met Virgil (the Virgil who wrote that extraordinary prediction of the coming of Jesus in Eclogues IV – some may dispute that this refers to Jesus but the coincidence is to be wondered at). Anyway, the poem Ars Amatoria (The Art of Love) is Ovid’s guide to dating and sex.

This work got him banished to a cold, wet place by the Black Sea in what is now Constanta in Romania, ostensibly because the Ars Amatoria was far too naughty.

Over the coming weeks I shall be going through Ovid’s poem at a gentle pace, seeing what is still good advice today and what perhaps should be avoided by the wise.

Don’t buy my book!

dating cover imageI’m very excited now because my book “Dating – the missing manual – you can attract and keep the woman of your dreams (if they had taught this in school alongside algebra and French irregular verbs, my whole life would have been different)” now has the Look Inside feature working!

Link to Amazon.com for Dating – the missing manual

Link to Amazon.co.uk for Dating – the missing manual

I am also excited because I have the first review of my dating book on Amazon.com.

I’m going to come completely clean here. The reviewer is a friend. But before you discount his opinion, I have a few things to say.

You all know that many writers get their friends to write 5-star reviews of their books. Probably some authors even review their own books under false names. That’s why many people, myself included, often prefer to read the 3-star reviews to get the real low-down. I know this and you know this, and that’s why I want all the reviews of my books to be genuine. (You will note that so far I have not got any reviews for my other book, despite my giving away free copies no strings attached – the offer still stands, by the way.) So what’s all this about my friend reviewing my book?

First of all, I gave him a draft copy to read and comment on, before publication. I did this because at that time he was in the same situation I had been in, looking for a soulmate in vain and doubting his own ability to attract women. So I thought he would be an ideal person to test my book on. Why not pass on to a friend what had worked so well for me?

Some months passed, and as yet he hasn’t told me the full story of what happened. But suffice it to say, a short while ago I saw him with a very attractive woman, and the other day I saw them still together and she could hardly keep her hands off him. He also had a very big smile.

So I asked him, no pressure, but if you would please post an honest review of my book on Amazon.com I should be grateful. I emailed him, ‘If you are happy to do this it should be an honest review. Some new authors get their chums to write 5-star reviews but I suspect that if all the early reviews are 5-star people don’t believe them.’

Well, he gave the book 5 stars anyway.

So, why am I telling you not to buy my book? Because I am working on the Kindle edition and I am going to publish the Kindle edition free for a limited period, as Amazon allows. This is because I want the book to get known and I’m hoping for as many honest reviews as possible. So I don’t want any loyal followers of this blog to buy the paperback and then feel cross because they spent £5.50 (US$9.50) when they didn’t have to.

If you want to know about it as soon as the free promotion starts, all you have to do is follow this blog. The ‘follow’ button is at the top right of the page (or just below the posts if you are reading this on a mobile).

But if you can’t wait, £5.50 (US$9.50) is hardly going to blow a huge hole in your finances, is it?

Why I decided not to take the advice of internet marketing gurus

There are said to be ways of making piles of money publishing information products.

There are ways of getting people to part with large sums of cash for information which if published in the normal way would be a book with a cover price less than £20 or $30.

There are certainly a lot of marketing gurus out there marketing information products about marketing information products, and I suppose at least some of them are making a lot of money.

To make a lot of money marketing an information product, this is what you are supposed to do. You create an internet ‘squeeze page’ with a lot of very long copy that tells you what the product is going to do for you. So for example a squeeze page about dating should have long copy explaining how you can learn to overcome your fear of talking to attractive women, how you will learn to become attractive to women by developing confidence and so on. There may or may not be photographs of scantily-clad temptresses interspersed with testimonials from fellows who got lucky.

The further down the page you read, the more you are imagining overcoming all your fears and being able to get hot dates, in short, becoming a man with choices.

Then the marketer will tell you what they think the product is worth. The principle behind this is trying to get the potential customer into the frame of mind that thinks, “what would I be willing to pay to get this area of my life sorted out?” The marketer wants you to think, “Yes, if I was certain of becoming a babe magnet I’d happily pay $2,000.”

Then the marketer tells you that as it happens there is a special limited time offer so that this information product is marked down to only $300 (or $291, because a number without zeros looks less as though it’s been plucked out of thin air), but only if you buy now. What’s more you can stage your payments into three easy instalments. Not only that but if not truly delighted you can return the materials for a full refund, no questions asked. And you get bonus items just for replying which are yours to keep whether you return the materials or not.

At this point your head is in a whirl, you’re looking at the instalment payment of $100 (or more likely, $97.00 because there is some weird alchemy in the number 97) and you’re thinking, “hey, that’s not much money,” (unless of course you don’t live in the USA and $97.00 is more money than you’ve ever seen in one place at one time) and you click the pay link.

Now, while I should like to be rich, the truth is that doing all this would require a considerable investment of time and energy. I think the people who do this and succeed actually put a lot of effort into it. The time I would spend doing this would be better spent writing more books.

The marketing model I am adopting is pile ’em high, sell ’em cheap. Even so, I believe that the insights that I have packed into ‘Dating – the missing manual’ are as good as you’ll get anywhere, basically because they work.

In order to get a high sales ranking on Amazon I am deliberately pitching the price for the paperback book below its main book rivals. I shall keep the price low at least until sales volumes suggest I should increase it. (There’s my limited time offer right there – to quote Bugs Bunny, “Ain’t I a devil?”) The booksellers’ discount is sufficiently generous for regular bookstores to get it for you, too.

The price at publication will be a mere £5.50 (US$9.50) – that’s less than the price of a coffee and a decent sandwich to learn how to attract and keep the woman of your dreams.

Falling in love

Here is what Plato wrote:

This then is the fourth type of madness, which befalls when a man, reminded by the sight of beauty on earth of the true beauty, grows his wings and endeavours to fly upwards, but in vain, exposing himself to the reproach of insanity because like a bird he fixes his gaze on the heights… – Phaedrus 249

And here is an extract from my soon-to-be published Dating – the missing manual, from the section towards the end called, ‘Is true love possible?’:

Love at first sight.

Yes, it can happen.

In rare cases it really works out. Lovers sometimes feel that they must have met in a previous life. Whether they really did or not neither they nor anyone else can tell, but sometimes it works out.

But it isn’t the only way and these feelings are not always reliable. I’m not saying they’re never true, but us humans are also very good at fooling ourselves.

It is quite possible to fall in love because of our own unmet need for warmth and affection. No doubt the desire for sex plays a big part in this too. For some, the sex part looms largest, for others sex follows on from love. Either way, a starving man will accept any food.

We must beware our own unmet needs.

Serious mistakes can be made, such as unwanted sticky relationships. Obvious perhaps, but such mistakes are common. Be skeptical of your own falling in love, be cautious, don’t commit too soon.

I have heard it said that falling in love lasts for twelve weeks, or in rare cases if you are exceptionally lucky, thirteen. (I don’t think this is absolutely accurate, but you get the point.)

Sure, it is fine indeed to see everything bathed in unusual light, to know that the world is a dream, to feel the strangeness and the ache of being in love. Trying to avoid this state is either going to fail or turn you into a grey zombie. You can’t and shouldn’t fight it.

But don’t promise anything you may not be able to deliver. You don’t need to make promises to keep a woman. You just need to be yourself, and if she’s right for you, it will work out.

Relationships that are good for the long haul will evolve over time. Falling in love is the match that lights the candle. The candle may or may not be lit by the time the match goes out.

For others, it is a slow burn process – they meet, they kind of like each other but aren’t sure, they hang around each other some more, and gradually like a smoky bonfire of damp wood, steam comes and then the fire.

Dating – the missing manual – you can attract and keep the woman of your dreams (if they had taught this in school alongside algebra and French irregular verbs, my whole life would have been different) is theoretically now available from all good bookstores. In practice it won’t be on their computers yet, but in the very near future it will be available to bookshops from their usual wholesalers: Bertrams, Ingram, Barnes and Noble, Gardners, Blackwell etc. I shall post on here as soon as it is available on Amazon, anticipated in about the next two weeks.
Stop press: it looks as though Dating – the missing manual will be available from Amazon from 1st October.