Dear Dick

And then Chris went alone into her room and wrote a letter, thinking she would send it, about sex and love. She was all confused about wanting to have sex, sensing that at this point if she slept with Dick the whole thing would be over. THE—UNEXAMINED—LIFE—IS NOT—WORTH—LIVING flashed the titles of a Ken Kobland film against the backbeat of a carfuck 1950s song. “As soon as sex takes place, we fall,” she wrote, thinking, knowing from experience, that sex short circuits all imaginative exchange. The two together get too scary. So she wrote some more about Henry James. Although she really wanted both. “Is there a way,” she wrote in closing, “to dignify sex, make it as complicated as we are, to make it not grotesque?”

Sylvère must’ve known that she was writing and at the same moment, in his room, he wrote:

“Dear Dick, it’s funny how things have a way of turning around. Just when I thought I was taking some initiative I find myself in the position of the Dumb Dick, pushed around by other people’s drives. Actually what hurt me most was how confused and disoriented Chris was, reverting to her reaction to younger crushes that I wasn’t around to witness the first time. And then the difference between our ages widened to the half century. And I felt old and sad. And yet we’re sharing something.”

And yet being together as a couple was all either of them could imagine. Did they read their “private” letters to each other out loud? Probably. And then they made love, thinking about what? The absent Dick? At any rate they were on the bus again, committed to the game. Lying in bed beside Sylvère, Chris wrote this post-coital letter:

Crestline, California

December 10, 1994

Dear Dick,

It’s several hours later and we’ve just had sex and before that spent the last two hours talking about you. Since you’ve come into our lives our house has turned into a brothel. We smoke cigarettes, knock ashtrays over without picking them up, lay around for hours. We’ve only worked halfheartedly and for a few hours at a time. We’ve lost all interest in packing for the move, or trips ahead, the future, consolidating our possessions or moving forward with our work and our careers. It isn’t fair that you’re so unaffected. Are you spending Saturday night thinking about Sylvère’s phone call? I doubt it. Sylvère says you’re right to tune it out, because this correspondence has nothing to do with you. He says it’s just about us as a couple, but that’s not true.

When I was 23 my best friend Liza Martin and I invited a famous rock star known for his forays into the bizarre to fuck us as if we were one person. Under the guidance of two artists we revered, Richard Schechner and Louise Bourgeois, we’d been developing a schizophrenic twin act in the backrooms of several topless bars (Oops the phone is ringing. Is it you? No, it’s just another fax about the fucked up EDL of my movie from the negative cutter in New Zealand, which I’ve become so indifferent to.) Anyway we told him Liza’d do the physical part of sex, I’d do the verbal. Together we incarnated the cyborgian split projected on all females by this culture. We even offered ——his choice of venue: the Gramercy Park Hotel or the Chelsea. But —— never answered. Easier I guess to fuck a bimbo than get involved with such weird girls.

And now Sylvère and I are the weird girls. I never dreamed I’d do anything like this again, especially never with Sylvère. But frankly I feel like I’ve come to the end of something with the movie. I don’t know what will happen next and maybe you’ve fallen into the vacuum. Don’t you think the only way of truly understanding things is through Case Studies? I read a book last month about the Guatemalan Coca Cola strike by Henry Frundt: a total reconstruction of events through documents and transcripts. By understanding one simple thing—a strike—it’s possible to understand everything about corporate capitalism in third world countries. Anyway I think a case study is what we’ve started to create with you.

I feel like I’m awaiting an execution. Probably all this will come screeching to a halt tomorrow morning when you call. There’re just a few hours left for the whole story (what story?) to unfold.


Chris Kraus, I love Dick, 1997.