York: A Love Story

“JACK: Charming day it has been, Miss Fairfax. GWENDOLEN: Pray don’t talk to me about the weather, Mr Worthing. Whenever people talk to me about the weather, I always feel quite certain that they mean something else. And that makes me so nervous. JACK: I do mean something else. GWENDOLEN: I thought so. In fact, I am never wrong. JACK: And I would like to be allowed to take advantage of Lady Bracknell’s temporary absence…. GWENDOLEN: I would certainly advise you to do so. Mamma has a way of coming back suddenly into a room that I have often had to speak to her about. JACK (nervously): Miss Fairfax, ever since I met you I have admired you more than any girl… I have ever met since… I met you. GWENDOLEN: Yes, I am quite aware of the fact. And I often wish that in public, at any rate, you had been more demonstrative. For me you have always had an irresistible fascination. Even before I met you I was far from indifferent to you. (Jack looks at her in amazement) We live, as I hope you know, Mr Worthing, in an age of ideals. The fact is constantly mentioned in the more expensive monthly magazines, and has reached the provincial pulpits I am told; and my ideal has always been to love someone of the name of Ernest. There is something in that name that inspires absolutely confidence. The moment Algernon first mentioned to me that he had a friend called Ernest, I knew I was destined to love you. JACK: You really love me, Gwendolen? GWENDOLEN: Passionately! JACK: Darling! You don’t know how happy you’ve made me. GWENDOLEN: My own Ernest! (2. 360 – 88)”

— The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), Oscar Wilde

“It’s a native housing estate to the south of the city. His place is modern, hastily furnished from the look of it, with furniture supposed to be ultramodern. He says: I didn’t choose the furniture. It’s dark in the studio, but she doesn’t ask him to open the shutters. She doesn’t feel anything in particular, no hate, no repugnance either, so probably it’s already desire. She doesn’t know it. She agreed to come as soon as he asked her the previous evening. She’s where she has to be, placed here. She feels a tinge of fear. It’s as if this must be not only what she expects, but also what had to happen especially to her. She pays close attention to externals, to the light, to the noise of the city in which the room is immersed. He’s trembling. At first he looks at her as though he expects her to speak, but she doesn’t. So he doesn’t do anything either, doesn’t undress her, says he loves her madly, says it very softly. Then is silent. She doesn’t answer. She could say she doesn’t love him. She says nothing. Suddenly, all at once, she knows, knows that he doesn’t understand her, that he never will, that he lacks the power to understand such perverseness. And that he can never move fast enough to catch her. It’s up to her to know. And she does. Because of his ignorance she suddenly knows: She was attracted to him already on the ferry. She was attracted to him. It depended on her alone.”

— The Lover (1984), Marguerite Duras

“They are exposed to the other in such a manner that you can’t say, ‘This is a body’ or ‘This is an idea’. The two are mixed up, language seizes the body, just as when you tell someone, “I love you”: you say that to someone living, standing there in front of you, but you are also addressing something that cannot be reduced to this simple material presence, something that is absolutely and simultaneously both beyond and within.”

— In Praise of Love (2009), Alain Badiou with Nicolas Truong

“There were days, rainy gray days, when the streets of Brooklyn were worthy of a photograph, every window the lends of a Leica, the view grainy and immobile. We gathered our colored pencils and sheets of paper and drew like wild, feral children into the night, until, exhausted, we fell into bed. We lay in each other’s arms, still awkward but happy, exchanging breathless kisses into sleep.

The boy I had met was shy and inarticulate. He liked to be led, to be taken by the hand and enter wholeheartedly another world. He was masculine and protective, even as he was feminine and submissive. Meticulous in his dress and demeanour, he was also capable of a frightening disorder within his work. His own worlds were solitary and dangerous, anticipating freedom, ecstasy, and release.

Sometimes I would awaken and find him working in the dim light of votive candles. Adding touches to a drawing, turning the work this way and that, he would examine it from every angle. Pensive, preoccupied, he’d look up and see me watching him and he’d smile. That smile broke through anything else he was feeling or experiencing – even later, when he was dying, in mortal pain.”

— Just Kids (2010), Patti Smith

“When you close a dead person’s eyes, you give them back a little bit of life. She looks like the woman I watched wake up each morning. I want to lie next to her languorous body, warm her up, tell her she is the most beautiful woman I ever met. I want to close my eyes too and wait for Melvil to call out to us, wait for him to start tangling himself up in our crumpled sheets.”

— You Will Not Have My Hate (2016), Antoine Leiris

“And then you got away, didn’t you babe. I don’t mean to suggest that I loved you the best, I can’t keep track of each fallen robin. I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel, That’s all, I don’t even think of you that often.”

— Chelsea Hotel No. 2 (1974)


In memory of Leonard Cohen


Editor: Axel Wang

Design: Tracy Truong

Photography: Axel Wang

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