When I was writing my PhD dissertation, I wanted to explore the concept of love as a public good. Was there a way to think about love beyond the family and interpersonal exchanges, or what political scientists call “the private sphere”? Could love even exist in the public sphere without being reduced to a commodity? Was there a quality of love that could be detected in political movements that change the world?
I never came up with a super satisfying answer; instead, it was something like “sort of, yes, but it depends on where you’re looking and what your definition of love is.” Not exactly a thunderous conclusion (good thing they still gave me my degree.)
When I got to divinity school, a full 11 years later, I realized that the question was still preoccupying me. After all, I’m pretty sure that a foundation of most world religions has something to do with the mobilization of love (you know, “love thy neighbour” and all).
And now, six years after dropping out of divinity school, I see how the concept of writing love letters from your body on this blog (and in my book!) is the continuation of this contemplation.
And that makes me so happy.
When I was conducting my dissertation research, I turned to popular culture for a lot of source material. Probably my favourite was Queen and David Bowie’s 1982 hit “Under Pressure,” which include some of the best song lyrics of all time:
‘Cause love’s such an old-fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
The idea of love daring you to a) care for marginalized people (“on the edge of the night”) and b) change our way of caring about ourselves—I have always found this tremendously compelling.
And so here I am, then: writing public love letters that contemplate changing your way of caring about yourself/your body, and perhaps in doing so, change the way you care about others who have bodies that don’t fit the socially acceptable mold.
What a lovely bit of congruence.
So today, I just have a short message from your body:
Sabina (+ your body!)