Review by Lia Trinka-Browner
“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.”
Love Dog is a collection, a diary, a chronicle, a published book of posts and entries and reposts, a book that, like almost all books, begins and ends, but there is scarce plot. Circling the same concepts, Love Dog is a large unending scroll of paper rucked up into vignettes or sketches. We only get to it via blog as it began as a blog, I hold it and read it as a book on paper, and those blog-like tendencies, those circlings, somehow possess a bit more agency. I’m not going to argue that a blog is not actual writing, but a bound and published book still has more weight (still, but maybe not for long). This book is, in an obvious and not so obvious way, an experiment of temporality.
Masha Tupitsyn, our author, brings us daily, entry after entry on cinema, colors, colors in cinema, theory, philosophy, the entangled ideas of feminism, childhood, adulthood, estrangement, pop culture, music and love. 321 posts – a year, essentially, give or take a few days. As this is a book about love lost, what’s contained in these pages is a work about moving through loss, through time and unraveling the interior, substratum of love-lost-ness, day by day.
One post, “Enough is Enough (6.28.2012)” goes into a simple, but complicated questioning of what it means to do one’s life work, while the next post is a repost of her tweets while watching “An Affair to Remember” (6.29.2012). There is a thread or a bloodline between everything even if it’s just her style or the themes that appear and re-appear. My favorite entries are about her ex, “X” (really, everything in Love Dog is about “X” but I enjoy when “X” is actually named) because these are intimate entries. I hunt through these posts, but I never really get to see the intricate details of what happened. I only get to third-party-experience-it through New Order’s “Age of Consent”, which I listen to while taking a break from the text to pull out my laptop and find on YouTube when it appears in the book (6.19.2012) or through Daft Punk’s “Make Love” or a clip from Hitchcock’s The Birds or Gina Kim’s 2007 film Never Forever.
It’s sort of like reading and listening to the diary of a seventeen-year-old girl, if that teenage girl was extremely familiar with Gilles Deleuze, Avital Ronell and Anne Carson. Of course, other entries are much more adult. And other entries are just quotes. There are many quotes and astute unpacking of said quotes. There are links to music videos and then the questioning of the lyrics or the regaling of the first time she heard the song. Ultimately, there is no end and no beginning because it’s still ongoing. She goes to Greece and Europe (I think). She remembers things past and wonders of the future, like all of us humans and (I think). She writes in a way that makes the book flippable and read out of order. It is both desultory and methodical.
What interests me most about Love Dog is that I keep questioning whether or not this format works and keep coming back to the fact that it does, mostly, because we are used to information like this now. We are used to the scrolling through quotes, the quick, short anecdote and the unpacking of a minor piece of the pie, via YouTube video, song lyric and cinematic snippet, sometimes reading the longer bits, piecing together the narrative that we will never fully feel satisfied with because it’s ongoing. This structure allows bell hooks, John Cusack, Flannery O’Conner, Sleepless in Seattle and Robert Bresson to all occupy the same space. And this space is not the space where you find complete answers, but only more questions and fantastically small poems—however, it can be difficult to get into if you aren’t sharing the same turmoil. It’s like how a love song will sound so different during a break-up. I believe that this is possibly the right type of space for her to write about love—she sees it and writes it as an ongoing, wobbly, and possibly contentious undertaking.
As Tupitsyn puts it, “The big project, big scheme meta-narrative approach is not something I uphold or advocate, as I’m someone who argues and cheers for the small, the nano, the speck, the minor, the laconic every time. Especially now, when we can’t afford to go big or grand anymore, not only because the world can’t hold it, but because there isn’t space or energy left for it- politically, psychically, ethically. There is simply no more room.”
Oh and did I mention that there is a trailer?
Masha Tupitsyn, Love Dog, (Penny-Ante Editions, 2012 )
Images: Cover and interior of Love Dog