Love Dog

11 22 2011 – LOVE DOG



For months Hamlet has been floating around. Its book covers popping up everywhere. Non sequitur references during my classes with Avital Ronell. In other texts. In my letters to Elaine and in her letters to me. The other night, in my laundry room, someone left a copy on a shelf of donated books. On tables at work. I even stole one copy and took it home with me as a token, as proof.


Ronell says, ‘In Hamlet readiness is all’ and ‘All of Hamlet happened in the ear.’ A few weeks later, Žižek came to Ronell’s class and said that Hamlet is about the way the beginning of ethics is trying to decide something and decision always involves indecision and procrastination. How an act always comes both too early and too late, so there is never really a ‘right’ moment for an act. One begins with the wrong moment because it is always the wrong moment.

A few days ago, Elaine sent me a quote by John Berger: ‘In the minute that’s still left we have to do everything.’

The day X. came to class Ronell brought up Hamlet, again, and suddenly all the ghosts had a name, making them real. I couldn’t believe my ears. Yet even though we were finally in the same room together, how can you know what someone hears – (what X. heard) – when we never really know this about anyone?

When I asked a female acquaintance at the bar we were at if she thought X. had heard what I said under my breath the night we were together, she answered: ‘He doesn’t need to hear you. He knows.’ The question is, how did she know? When I mumbled something cutting to him as he went outside to smoke a cigarette, taking a risk by saying anything at all, he asked me to repeat what I’d said. I pretended I hadn’t said anything and he pretended he didn’t hear anything. Denial is one of the ways cognition works. You’re just hearing things and You’re just seeing things are both spectral idioms. They are about the ghosts you see and hear as well as the ones you pretend not to see or hear. The spectral interrupts ordinary reality, puts you somewhere else. Somewhere interstitial. Somewhere you can’t prove.

There is what you see. There is what you don’t see. The knowledge that crawls into you. Knowing even when you don’t know.

Hamlet is also about a self-naming dog and so am I. It’s important to make a name for yourself in a world that calls you names.

When your name isn’t called and other people’s names are. When you don’t even want your name called.

I walk around foraging for a heartland that almost only exists in movies now. Movies, which have taught us to be cynical idol worshippers, as much as they have taught us to believe in love. I now find myself running to movies more and more because in movies things still matter. People still matter to people. Love still matters, and readiness is all. In the movies, the world is still held together by more than just a string.

The Hamletian stance: You don’t let go of your object.

Of course you are a fool for not letting go in the twenty-first century, which is all about not holding on and always letting go.

A text can be a recurring dream. A ghost. A sound in your head like an alarm in your heart. The Great Dane that knocks Rousseau down and sends him careening in the Second Walk of Reveries of the Solitary Walker is also Hamlet, another Great Dane, Ronell says. By the time she said this on the first day of class (a class on the Debilitated Subject), I’d already been thinking about the relation between X. and Hamlet for weeks.

Ronell: ‘If something is meant to happen, and it has the power and weightiness of destiny, then it’s no longer chance or an accident. It’s destinal… Rousseau’s physical harming is only secondary to the mutilation of his texts. He’s in the air when he falls – in a ghost-like pose.’ In Rousseau’s case, the unforeseen is something that breaks off with destiny and destination.

The Strokes (‘Take It Or Leave It’):

I fell off the track, now

I can’t go back

I’m not like that.

You, X., have become a book. The person for whom I read everything now and will write this year, making the ‘you’ into a world (the you that came into mine) – an Event. I think all I’ve ever wanted to do is rise to an occasion, to answer a call.

The you will make this a love letter at times, or all the time. It will be a form of address. The you will make this intimate – you, close – but will also refer to the you that is never here and might never be. The you I am dreaming of. Calling forth. Writing to and for a you will make it easier to write. I need an imaginary person on the other side of the page – for a speech act, which is always for the Other. You. Both X. and not X. I need an addressee – someone to whom I write, and just one is enough – because everything I write is really just a letter to One. Elaine and I talk about this all the time, as we write letters to each other.

To whom do you tell things and to whom do you not tell things? The Web has collapsed all of these distinctions, making the reader – the intimate – anyone, everyone, and no one all at once. It also collapses the where and when of writing. Sometimes even the why. In the end does it matter if the you to whom you are writing, to whom you are dedicating, and towards whom you are moving in order to become, never or always hears us? I don’t know. There are different kinds of presence and absence. Silence and testament. Now disappearance and silence are tied to failure. But writers used to disappear all the time. Lovers too.



The camera is always on, so how do we live? We live like it is always on. Like without it, we’re nothing. We live like there is no other way. Like being off is being dead. We live like life is one episode after another. We have to be reminded of what we’ve seen, what and who we’re seeing, over and over. There is this unbearable loop of image. This horrible rub of spectacle and knowingness that erodes.

You see mistakes being made all the time. You see everyone relishing everyone’s mistakes. A culture, an epoch, a style of mistakes. Of sloppiness, of no attention. But you have never been allowed a single mistake. Forgiven a single mistake. People wait for you to do nothing wrong. Nothing counts but with you it counts. Why? What is the difference? You live watching your own every move and still no one gives you an inch. Everything is on record but that record is never held responsible. Never remembered. So what is the record of? Who is it for?

The new reign of media, in this case Reality TV, is not just about watching the way others live, or turning life into something you watch, then live, or live in order to watch. It’s the way we have learned to live through and from the camera, as though the camera and screen are subjectivity itself, and so our lives are only worth the show. Worth the showing. Life becomes a new instrument, a new technology, a career move.

Where would we be without this camera? In it, on it, behind it, because of it. We are just like what it shows. We learn by example. By watching. Life becomes mise en abyme. Everything we get by the time we get it has passed through a visual system. Through what we’ve already seen and heard. Do we even believe anything we see and hear anymore or do we see the end at the very beginning? The beginning at the very end. Behind the scenes, behind the curtain, has almost never counted. Only covering it up counted. Counts. The being that was there never mattered.

Since you always hide; since you only want to be with the people you choose; since you always want to be for your writing and in your writing—only; since you think this is enough; since you do not want to perform or supplement the writing with performance; since you do not want to perform the writing or for the writing anywhere but in the writing itself, what will you do and who will you be and what will become of you?

Your idea of the writer, your way of being a writer, is outdated, outmoded, anachronistic. Shy, quiet, serious, slow, alone. Private. There is no public persona, there’s only who you are, whatever and whoever that is. So will the writing die because of it? Is the writing enough? Is the book enough? Are the ideas enough? Is being a real human being enough? Will it not show or count, or will people not see it because you won’t clown around for it? You won’t and can’t be everywhere or everyone. And if it’s not enough, it only makes you want to do what you don’t want to, even less. The filmaker and Tarot historian Alejandro Jodorowsky says, ‘the Tarot will teach you how to create a soul.’ You often pull The Hermit.

All your life, in fact. Jodorowsky describes The Hermit as, ‘deep connection with yourself, to go through a crisis to rise to the lamp, that is, to find your inner light.’

Your fantasy has always been to run away. To a faraway place, into a book and into love with just one person. Into the writing, into the place you need in order to write. In order to live, in order to think, in order to get away.


Alejandro Jodorowsky, clip: Tarot of Marseilles

When will you stop despairing over people and just get cynical and detached and used to it like everyone else? Last night, you accidentally ended up watching all these old interviews with Boy George on YouTube because you loved him as a child. Because you thought he was delicate and tough. Last night you discovered that all his Culture Club love songs were about his romantic relationship with the straight-acting Jon Moss. You couldn’t believe the way he spoke his mind in a world where that might be the worst thing you can do and where you lose everything because of it. In one interview he said, ‘Love is like God. You just have to believe it exists.’

You don’t know. You are starting to think maybe it doesn’t. There are certain things you haven’t lost because of what you’ve lost. This is the irony.




I would like to walk into a room and have it feel this way. Like the score to this scene from the movie Klute. I would like to feel like this song, for the walk to feel like this song, for the person on the other side of the room to feel like this song.


Michael Small, Goldfarb’s Fantasy, Music from the Motion Picture: Klute (1971).



Talking to my publisher about what colour the cover of my new book should be. We both agree on green, as green is everywhere in Love Dog, and everywhere in love.

Tonight, it occurs to me that like LACONIA, my last book, Love Dog (the third book of mine with an L title) should be the kind of green you see in 70s cinema. That Love Dog should be 70s green the way that LACONIA is 70s yellow and blue.

I want Love Dog to be the gray-green of The Long Goodbye and the blue-green of Deliverance. Both films were lit by the cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond. Both greens were made by him. There is also the sun-filled, wide-open green that predates The Long Goodbye and Deliverance, which is the green of Easy Rider, shot by László Kovács, who also lit Say Anything.

Colour is also a memory. These greens aren’t made anymore. It’s a green that’s gone like a certain time is gone. It’s a green that has everything to do with time and the way the world doesn’t look anymore. The way photographs of the world used to look. The way books used to look. The way people used to look. And feel. The world changed and the pictures changed. Or, as Zsigmond put it about his cinematography in McCabe & Mrs. Miller, ‘it looked real at one time.’

The book will be like this.

07 19 2012 – THE DEATH OF REAL LIFE 

In the documentary America in Primetime, which I wrote about last week, everyone happily reports that TV has come a long way from its 1950s origins, which were ‘fake,’ ‘unrealistic,’ and ‘out of touch’ with the way things really are. Every program ended with some tidy conclusion, they say. Some epiphanal or redemptive moment. But today, every obedient, calculating, opportunistic, divisive, fame-hungry, media savvy Reality TV contestant sums up their so-called ‘meaningful’ and ‘life-changing’ experience on TV with: ‘I’ve learned so much and I am so much stronger because of this.’ It didn’t take 50 years for TV to catch up with reality. It took 50 years for Americans to completely lose touch with reality. Before TV was not like real people, but now real people are not like real people. They are like TV. This is a much bigger problem.

11 19 2012 – NO ONE LIKES ANYONE

Someone says they like you, but really they like everybody, which is really nobody. I hate this kind of person and this kind of person is everywhere these days and the people who like these kinds of people, who respond to them, and make it all so easy to continue, are everywhere too. And even when some person who likes everyone suddenly meets someone that they actually do like in a way that is unfamiliar, a game changer, in a way they’re not used to liking anyone, in a way that they have forgotten or never known, they can’t do anything about it because they don’t know how to do anything about something or someone like this, because it is easier not to know, and they fuck it all up because, again, what do they, or anyone else for that matter, know about what to do these days with someone they actually like. So they go back to not liking anyone, to not caring either way, and the world is just fine and much easier this way.



is a writer, critic, and multi-media artist. She is the author of the books Like Someone in Love: An Addendum to Love Dog, Love Dog, LACONIA: 1,200 Tweets on Film Beauty Talk & Monsters, the anthology Life As We Show It: Writing on Film. In 2015, she completed the film Love Sounds, a 24-hour audio-essay and history of love in English-speaking cinema. Her fiction and criticism have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals. She teaches film and gender studies at The New School. Her new film, Time Tells, is forthcoming in 2017.



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