“I’ve fused my silence and repression with the entire female gender’s silence and repression. I think the sheer fact of women talking, being, paradoxical, inexplicable, flip, self-destructive but above all else public is the most revolutionary thing in the world.” – I Love Dick
I Love Dick by Chris Kraus is complicated to categorise. Essay, memoir and cultural criticism all come to mind. It is, in many respects, genre-defying. The difficulty in placing I Love Dick mirrors a central thread in the book’s narrative: its main character’s questioning of a woman’s role, her self-expression and her relationships to and with men.
I Love Dick is the story of a love triangle between its author (Chris Kraus), her husband at the time Sylvère Lotringer, and Dick (assumed to be the British cultural critic Dick Hebdige). The narrative is divided into two parts. The first, “Scenes from a Marriage”, explains the context in which Kraus’s infatuation with Dick is born. The second, “Every Letter is a Love Letter”, unfolds after Kraus leaves her husband. Kraus meets Dick through Lotriger. They spend the night at Dick’s house and Kraus feels a profound connection to Dick. Lotringer encourages Kraus’s crush and they begin to write letters to Dick, a venture that rapidly becomes obsessive. In writing to someone they find mutually fascinating, Kraus’s and Lotriger’s letters to Dick are an attempt at dealing with the disintegration of their marriage.
The final letter of the book, addressed to Lotringer, is from Dick himself. Joan Hawkins notes in her essay in the Serpent’s Tail edition of I Love Dick that the first letter was written by Lotringer, not Kraus: “One of the things the “novel” unveils is the degree to which women, in the classic Girardian triangle function as a conduit for a homosocial relationship between men.” Dick performs the ultimate rejection in writing to Lotringer rather than Kraus and including a xeroxed copy of his letter to Lotringer for Kraus instead of addressing her personally. Kraus’s act of defiance is understanding and questioning the experience of being a woman and writing a perceptive, profound and seminal book in the process.
Every December I come home to Brussels and lie low for a while. I finish the books I started, cook, watch films, walk, spend time with those I love most. I also celebrate my birthday. This year I bought a pomegranate to eat as a birthday breakfast. There is something simple, beautiful and satisfying about fresh fruit. The edible parts of pomegranates are a bit frustrating to extricate, but good things come to those who wait (and like pomegranates enough to get their hands stained scarlet in the process).