When Love Is: A Valentine's Alphabet

A is for Araki. His way of loving marks your skin.

B is for Burroughs. His way of loving unsettles your mugwumpian identities. And for Josephine Baker for the same reasons.

C is for Cixous. Her way of loving created whispers of new languages.

“We should write as we dream; we should even try and write, we should all do it for ourselves, it’s very healthy, because it’s the only place where we never lie. At night we don’t lie. Now if we think that our whole lives are built on lying-they are strange buildings-we should try and write as our dreams teach us; shamelessly, fearlessly, and by facing what is inside very human being-sheer violence, disgust, terror, shit, invention, poetry. In our dreams we are criminals; we kill, and we kill with a lot of enjoyment. But we are also the happiest people on earth; we make love as we never make love in life.”
— Helene Cixous

D is for David Bowie. His fashion sense helped me re-imagine what a body and desire could be.

E is for Eartha Kitt. Not only her Catwoman. Her words.

F is for Faulkner. What love would feel like if it were a sentence.

 G is for Godard. Along with Coutard. The movements of the camera. The uncertainty of thinking you are certain.

 H is for Hank Williams. I grew up listening to his stories.

I is for Luce Irigaray. The gift of language and of thinking of giving in new ways.

Our eyes are not capable of seeing, nor even contemplating, intimacy, at least not directly. They can only imagine something about intimacy from the light, the gestures, the words, that it radiates. But intimacy as such will remain invisible, irreducible to appropriation, and thus strange to the logic of Western discourse, to the logos, except in its delusion its lack, its derelictions and artificial ecstasies. Intimacy allows itself neither to be seen nor to be seized. Nevertheless it is probably the core of our being. And any attempts to appropriate it risks annihilating being itself. However, it is not a question of magic, of irrationality, of madness—it is a question of touch.
— Luce Irigaray

J is for Jarman, Derek. He created new ways for seeing love.

 K is for Alicia Keyes. Seriously, you need to know why.

 L is for Lennox, Annie. Her body in movement. Her voice in time.

 M is for Moonlight. Because desire breaks language.

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N is for narcissism. Because sometimes self-love feels good.

 O is for One Love . The real desires of voice and longing.

 P is for Prince. Because is/was Prince and exists/ed outside of tense. And P is for Pittsburgh, the city of love. And Pittsburgh, not Paris, is the City of Lights. Proof you ask? Drive through the tunnels into the city at night. Rivers.

Q is Queen. The impossible voice.

 R is for Rainer Marie Rilke. Not just for his poetry and letters and diaries and prose, but also for his parents uncertainty of their desires at the moment of his birth.

 S is for Springsteen. Every story he tells.

 T is for The Taste of Cherry. Because, as we grow older, we need to remember to see with new eyes.

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U is for Urban Bush Women. For everything they do and for everything they make possible.

 V is for Varda, Agnes. Her sense of the slow camera. And Vivienne Westwood. For creating clothes for the imagination.

 W is for Wong Kar Wai. In. The. Mood. For. Love. And Wenders. Wings. Of. Desire.

In In The Mood for Love, Wong Kar-Wai’s camera wants to see what cannot possibly be seen. His camera wants to articulate what can never be spoken, or what can only be whispered as a secret into a hole in a tree, then, once whispered, covered over with mud. His camera is exploring, not recording, the mood for love. Wong’s camera caresses time. It knows how to wait without any intention aside from seeing. His camera holds time still in ways that are rare in contemporary cinema.
— Doug Rice, When Love Was

X is for silence.

 Y is for Y Tu Mama Tambien. Road trip.

 Z is for Zoolander. Because of the woman I was with when I saw this film. The things we do for love.

“When he lay beside her, or when she lay on top of him and he felt the girl weight of her young body on his old body, he forgot the pain of every heartbreak he had ever experienced. The pain of every bone that had ever been broken in his body, the pain of losing his parents and of nearly dying from starvation, all of it lifted and disappeared into thin air as if none of it, as if nothing bad, had ever happened to him. She gave him this. So he stood before her. He stood and waited, unsure of what he was waiting for, of what there was left in the world that a man like him could ever see or know again.” From When Love Was and Here Lies Memory.