by Victor and Victoria
11. THE MANIPULATOR
OF EROTIC LOVE
However, his interest in the newest scientific discoveries and his fascination with the late Hellenistic esotericism very soon led him to leave his order, a for the times most courageous undertaking. From this point on he began a hectic life on the road which took him all over Europe. Nonetheless, the restless and ingenious ex-monk wrote and published numerous “revolutionary” works in which he took a critical stance toward the dogmata of the church on all manner of topics.
The fact that Bruno championed many ideas from the modern view of the world that was emerging at the time, especially the Copernican system, made him a hero of the new during his own lifetime. After he was found guilty of heresy by the Inquisition in 1600 and burned at the stake at the Campo dei Fiori in Rome, the European intelligentsia proclaimed him to be the greatest “martyr of modern science”.
This image has stayed with him up until
the present day. Yet this is not entirely justified, then Bruno was
far more interested in the esoteric ideas of antiquity and the
occultism of his day than in modern scientific research. Nearly all
of his works concern magic/mystic/mythological themes.
Love in all its variations ruled the world, from physical nature to the metaphysical heavens, from sexuality to heartfelt love of the mystics:
Bruno extended the term Eros (erotic love) to encompass in the final instance all human emotions and described it in general terms as the primal force which bonded, or rather—as he put it—"chained”, through affect.
The lover is “chained” to the individual loved. But there is no need for the reverse to apply, then the beloved does not themselves have to love.
This definition of love as a “chain”
made it possible for Bruno to see even hate as a way of expressing
erotic love, since he or she who hates is just as “chained” to the
hated by his feelings as the lover is to the beloved. To more
graphically illustrate the parallels between Bruno’s philosophy and
Tantrism, we will in the following speak of the lover as feminine
rather than masculine. Bruno used the term completely generically
for both women and men.
More than anything else, love binds people, and this gives it something of the demonic, especially when it is exploited by one partner to the disadvantage of the other.
Now how does this erotic magic work?
According to Bruno an erotic/magic involvement arises between the lovers, a fabric of affect, feelings, and moods. He refers to this as rete (net or fabric). It is woven from subtle “threads of affect”, but is thus all the more binding. (Let us recall that the Sanskrit word “tantra” translates as “fabric” or “net”.)
The rete (the erotic net) can be expressed in a sexual relationship (through sexual dependency), but in the majority of cases it is of a psychological nature which nonetheless further strengthens its power to bind.
Every form of love chains in its own way:
If they wish, a person can control the one whom they bind to themselves with love,
Accordingly, the real magician is the beloved, who exploits the erotic energy of the lover in the accumulation of his own power. He transforms love into power, he is a manipulator of erotic love. 
As we shall soon see, even if Bruno’s manipulator is not literally a Tantric, the second part of the definition with which we prefaced our study still seems to fit:
The manipulator, also referred to as a “soul hunter” by Bruno, can reach the heart of the lover through her sense of sight, through her hearing, through her spirit, and through her imagination, and thus chain her to him.
He can look at her, smile at her, hold her hand, shower her with flattering compliments, sleep with her, or influence her through his power of imagination.
That is, not only does the lover let
herself be enchained, she must also experience the greatest desire
for this bond. This lust has to increase to the point that she wants
to offer herself with her entire being to the beloved manipulator
and would like to “disappear in him”. This gives the latter absolute
power over the enchained one.
He is lord over foreign emotions and,
Yet the magically enacted enchainment
may never occur against the manifest will of the enchanted one. In
contrast, the manipulator must always awake the suggestion in his
victim that everything is happening in her interests alone. He
creates the total illusion that the lover is a chosen one, an
independent individual following her own will.
We learn from the following quotation how these invoked spirits work for the manipulator:
The lover thus believes she is acting in
her own interests and according to her own will, whilst she is in
fact being steered and controlled through magic blandishments.
The manipulator has to completely bridle and control his fantasy:
The real European magician must, like his oriental colleague (the Siddha), be able,
He must not develop any reciprocal feelings for the lover, but he has to pretend to have these, since, as Bruno says,
This statement is of thoroughly cynical intent, then the manipulator is not interested in reciprocating the erotic love of the lover, but rather in simulating such a reciprocity. But for the deception to succeed the manipulator may not remain completely cold.
He has to know from his own experience the feelings that he evokes in the lover, but he may never surrender himself to these:
The evocation of passions without
falling prey to them is, as we know, almost a tantric leitmotif.
In a further passage we can read:
Or the reverse: a person who retains
their semen, can thereby strengthen the erotic bondage of the lover.
They also help us to understand why women surrender themselves to the Buddhist yogis and what is played out in their emotional worlds during the rites. As we have already indicated, this topic is completely suppressed in the tantric discussion. But Bruno addresses it openly and cynically — it is the heart of the lover which is manipulated.
The effect for the manipulator (or yogi)
is thus all the greater the more his karma mudra surrenders
herself to him.
The former monk from Nola recognized
manipulated “love” as a powerful instrument of control for the
seduction of the masses. His theory thus contributes much to an
understanding of the ecstatic attractiveness that dictators
and pontiffs exercise over the people who love them. This
makes Bruno’s work up to date despite its cynical content.
The manipulation of more subtle forms of love like the look (Carya Tantra), the smile (Kriya Tantra), and the touch (Yoga Tantra) are also known in Vajrayana.
Likewise, in Tantric Buddhism as
in every religious institution, the “spiritual love” of its
believers is a life energy without which it could not exist. In the
second part of our study we shall have to demonstrate how the
Tibetan leader of the Buddhists, the Dalai Lama, succeeds in
binding ever more Western believers to him with the “chains of
At the end of her analysis of Bruno’s treatise on power she concludes:
But Couliano fails to provide an answer to the question of who this manipulator could be.
In the second part of our analysis we
shall need to examine whether the Dalai Lama with his worldwide
message of love, his power over the net (rete) of Western
media, and his sexual magic techniques from the Kalachakra Tantra,
fulfills the criteria to be a magician in Giordano Bruno’s sense.