"What do you do with the Serious Young Woman [...] You slap her, fuck her up the ass and treat her like a boy. The Serious Young Woman looked everywhere for sex but when she got it it became an exercise in disintegration. What was the motivation of these men? Was it hatred she evoked? Was it some kind of challenge, trying to make the Serious Young Woman femme?"
If there's been a book hovering in my periphery each time I go inside a bookstore (which is everyday) then Chris Kraus' "I Love Dick" is it. When finally I faced it head on I only wish I'd done so a lot sooner. Hers is a voice I'd never heard before but that immediately sounded familiar. A voice hitting each pressure point of the hyperexclusice male dominated art world, of the time wasted in seeking your own identity through other people, and--of course--Dick, a mutual friend of the narrators husband whom she falls in love with on page 1. •
The book veers towards an epistolary format. Soon, however, the letters form more of a diary, then its own independent art project. Intros such as "I'm not sure I still want to fuck you. At least, not in the same way [...] There's nothing so remarkable in one more woman adoring you. It's a 'problem' you're confronting all the time. I'm just a particularly annoying one, one who refuses to behave" pull the narrative cord taut, flashing introspection into our 39 year old female artist mindset. •
Throughout the chapters Kraus threads topics such as growing up in New Zealand, schizophrenia, and critiquing art critique. If that sounds all over the place, well, yes it is. The talent lies in Kraus' voice: a trustworthy stream of consciousness we follow smoothly, never falling into a droll lecturing tone. It's engrossing enough to forget there's a Dick waiting at the end of each letter. •
Dick, as a whole, represents the achey jostle of unrequited adoration. More than that he encapsulates the entirety of "I know better than this" as if we really can control who we fall for. Because obviously we only say we know better when it's more thrilling not to.
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