Review: Kraus’s I Love Dick

I Love Dick (Semiotext(e) / Native Agents)
Chris Kraus

 

A strange book; it unsettled me. Now, months after finishing it, I’m still not sure what I thought of it.

 

The basic premise is well known – Kraus, filmmaker, theorist, and wife of French theorist Sylvere Lotringer has a short encounter with a theorist named Dick* and becomes infatuated. She and Lotringer begin playing a game with Dick where they send him letters ruminating on the nature of Kraus’s “love” for Dick, a man she has met once. As the book progresses, Lotringer and Kraus relationship begins to fail, Kraus has a number of other encounters with Dick, and all the while she writes him these long, letters describing her “love” for him, but also her life, and her thoughts on various artists and political activists.

 

Let’s start by saying that I initially found the conceit of the book off putting. Dick did not ask to be the object of Kraus’s obsession, nor did he consent to be the subject of the book. I understand that Kraus is subverting gender roles here – that in many cases women are the object of desire, without their consent, but I’m not sure the best way to challenge this is to inflict the same cruelty on a unsuspecting man.

 

That said, Dick does, eventually, consent. Maybe? He sleeps with Kraus, that’s for sure, yet still claims he doesn’t want to be part of the game. That doesn’t seem like fair play. Or does it? Can he have it both ways? Make love to her, but not love her? Could a women? In the end, Dick comes off like a dick. But so does Kraus.

 

Kraus’s place as a woman in the male dominated world of “theory” is, in the end, the central premise of the book. Dick and Sylvere travel the world giving lectures on their ideas about art, Kraus’s only space for these thoughts is in love letters to a stranger all the while wondering about how she ended up here. I’m not sure how much of this book is true, nor am I sure how much that matters. Basically, it’s all a big mess. But its an engaging one, and the mix of memoir, criticism, humor and cynicism has had a huge impact on other books I love, like Nelson’s the Argonauts. All in all, a compelling, if confusing, read.

 

Recommended.

 

*In the book, Dick is only referred to by his first name, but it is now well known that he is Dick Hebdige

Advertisements

About seanv2

Scholar, gentleman, jock. I run the website Milo and the Calf. There you will find the Boston Qualifier Questionnaire where runners share their stories of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. You'll also find my thoughts on endurance sports, ancient history, Judaism, and hundreds of book reviews.
This entry was posted in Books and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Review: Kraus’s I Love Dick

  1. Pingback: 2015: My Year In Books | Milo and the Calf

  2. Pingback: Top ten stand alone posts and pages | Milo and the Calf

  3. Pingback: Top Ten Book Reviews | Milo and the Calf

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s