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Caring for Eve Sedgwick


At the New Yorker website, Jane Hu writes about the late Eve Sedgwick and her longtime companion, Hal Sedgwick, who today continues to care for Eve’s archive and legacy the way he cared for her in life. Check out an excerpt from the moving piece below, or the full text here.

“The idea of having one love in your life was not an aspiration for us,” Hal said, when I ask him what it was like to be the primary love object of a queer theorist who wrote so prolifically about the complexities of desire and relationships. Later, Hal referenced D. W. Winnicott’s concept of the “holding environment,” in which the mother creates a safe space for the child that allows the child to then look out into the world, to think about something else beyond the mother’s care. Eve used this idea in her work. Hal offered it as a way of thinking about what they both did for one another.

“Yesterday when you asked me about love,” he wrote the next day, in an e-mail, “I talked a little about Winnicott’s ‘holding environment’ and my notion of a mutuality in which Eve and I provided that for each other. But there’s more to love than that. Here’s another aspect of it that was essential to Eve and to me.” He then quoted from “A Dialogue on Love.”

Oh, right, I keep forgetting, for lots and lots of people in the world, the notion of “falling in love” has (of all things) sexual connotations. No, that’s not what I think is happening. For me, what falling in love means is different. It’s a matter of suddenly, globally, “knowing” that another person represents your only access to some vitally
transmissible truth
or radiantly heightened
mode of perception,
and that if you lose the thread of this intimacy, both your soul and your whole world might subsist forever in some desert-like state of ontological impoverishment.

Image of Eve Sedgwick via The New Yorker.