Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A sample of the many possible interpretations of Sophie Calle's break-up letter:


I'm afraid he really is, and always will be, a literary man and not a simple man. I can understand your sadness and, in spite of it all, I am not surprised by this letter which reeks of self-obsession. Well, in his defense, he does things properly: "disquiet" (not bad), "masquerade" (tragic), "irreparable" (solemn)...

He certainly has literary talent, and what a blessing that is!


Applicant with a convoluted form of speech.


To translate "tell you what I have to say out loud" I write: "say, I present you to present," as a pastiche of the famous formula used by Suetonius (Life of Titus, VII) when Titus leaves Berenice: Berenicen dimisit inuitus inuitam (he dismissed her against his will, against her will).


(in text message)

He thinks he's cool!


The first thing that struck me about X's letter is that he opted to express his unilateral decision in writing, as if he was worried that a discussion or confrontation with the protagonist might undermine his determination to put an end to a relationship that seems to be important to him, but that he can no longer cope with.

French Intelligence Officer

Encoded the letter using the Vigenere encryption system, keyword chosen for the encryption was "Rupture."

Talmudic exegesis:

At the end of the debate we say:
"Teku." It cannot be decided. Cowardice or sublimity?

[The Talmud uses the word "teku" to indicate that the rabbis could not reach a decision on the matter under discussion. Derivation uncertain, possibly from "tekum" meaning "it will stand/remain a question." May also be an acronym of the Aramaic phrase "Tishbi yetaretz kushiot v-abayot" - "The Tishbite [Elijah] will answer all unresolved questions" [when the messianic age is proclaimed].

Some responses to "Take care of yourself" (which ends the break-up letter)-

Consultant for savoir-vivre and protocole:

At last, he is thinking about someone other than himself.

Graduate of the Ecole Normale Superieure:
"Since you have not taken care of me"? "Since I am incapable of doing so?" "Do what you can with all this"? The lexical field remains admirably consistent: care is the only avenue in this viral climate, in which love is like an incurable sickness.

Linguist, semiologist, medievalist:
Has it occurred to you how a woman might feel when you tell her that?

And the final murderous sentence: "Take care of yourself." Here we grasp the brutality of the vacuity of this action...The nerve! Of course, because I will no longer be taking care of you.


trash said...

Am trying to think of a way I can get to London before this exhibition ends. Oh I would delight in reading these. Thank you Eleanor.

Mary said...


my new word..