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“To be a letter-writer, you do have to kind of be an idiot for the future, too. You have to believe that what you’re sending will arrive.”

January 24, 2013

So if we think of the history of letters as also an implicit history of publics, of the animation (re-animation, after Frankenstein) of a public, can’t we also think of love letters as a history of counterpublics? As the epistolary form is historically a feminized genre and the letter is often a queer form in a social structure whose discursive production values more rational, impersonal forms of communication, how can we think about the erotics and politics of the letter form, a form of taking the world personally, and then making that personal feeling, public? What’s most radical about Frank Ocean’s love letter is that it was a love letter. A thank you letter, that was also a love letter, that was also a love story, that was also a history of love, that was also a counterhistory. Is gratitude, grace, a form of love, or is love a form of gratitude, grace? They inform each other. How the letter began: “WHOEVER YOU ARE, WHEREVER YOU ARE..I’M STARTING TO THINK WE’RE A LOT ALIKE.” We’re brought into a past, and a past love, that isn’t ours, but that we share, that he allows us to share, because he wrote it, and published it, and made a public of it. So that emotionally, affectively, we all become historicized, interdependently, with each other, which is how we should be historicized anyway: with each other. Whoever you are, wherever you are. The letter makes a counterpublic out of everyone who reads it and feels it. As bell hooks writes in “Love as the Practice of Freedom: “”A culture of domination is anti-love. It requires violence to sustain itself. To choose love is to go against the prevailing values of the culture.”

 

Read More | “Scattered Notes On Love, Counterpublics, Queer Time, The Care Industry & Frank Ocean’s ‘Thinkin Bout You’” | Pank Magazine