Journal Article
Love, by the Book: On Affective Clichés in Sophie Calle’s Double Game

Paul Auster’s novel Leviathan (1992) features a fictional character (Maria) based on the artist Sophie Calle (b. 1953 Paris). The novel is about a man who decides to take actions over words to deliver his message to the world, and Maria is his love interest: an artist. Fulfilling Auster’s claim that Calle loves self-contained adventures, she decided she would live her life by the book, literalizing all the hyperboles and metaphors used to describe her. Her response was documented and published as a book of texts and photographs titled Double Game (2000). Critics often remark that Calle’s project is merging fact and fiction. This essay seeks to move beyond this rather obvious conception of Calle’s work so as to see to what ends Calle mingles fiction and fact—for the implications are far-reaching. In living out a love story by the book, Calle gives form to questions about love posed by Lauren Berlant, whose concept of “hegemonic fantasies” asks to what extent we love because of a raw and visceral affect that originates from within, or because of social convention. I argue that clichés are necessary to the love plot, and that it is impossible to tease artificiality from genuine affect, both inDouble Game and in life. For if love were not socially scripted with clichés, we could not communicate it with others (or is it that we could not feel love if social codes didn’t tell us how to?). And, love itself always requires fantasy projection to sustain itself, and is thus always a mingling of fiction and fact.

Title
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsWatlington E
JournalŽivot Umjetnosti
Volume100
Start Page100
ISSN0514-7794
Abstract

Paul Auster’s novel Leviathan (1992) features a fictional character (Maria) based on the artist Sophie Calle (b. 1953 Paris). The novel is about a man who decides to take actions over words to deliver his message to the world, and Maria is his love interest: an artist. Fulfilling Auster’s claim that Calle loves self-contained adventures, she decided she would live her life by the book, literalizing all the hyperboles and metaphors used to describe her. Her response was documented and published as a book of texts and photographs titled Double Game (2000). Critics often remark that Calle’s project is merging fact and fiction. This essay seeks to move beyond this rather obvious conception of Calle’s work so as to see to what ends Calle mingles fiction and fact—for the implications are far-reaching. In living out a love story by the book, Calle gives form to questions about love posed by Lauren Berlant, whose concept of “hegemonic fantasies” asks to what extent we love because of a raw and visceral affect that originates from within, or because of social convention. I argue that clichés are necessary to the love plot, and that it is impossible to tease artificiality from genuine affect, both inDouble Game and in life. For if love were not socially scripted with clichés, we could not communicate it with others (or is it that we could not feel love if social codes didn’t tell us how to?). And, love itself always requires fantasy projection to sustain itself, and is thus always a mingling of fiction and fact.