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Category Archives: love & erotica

knowing & being known in the bridges of madison county: love & erotica series

knowing & being known in the bridges of madison county: love & erotica series

“Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Those who follow my writings know that I can be rather cynical about tomorrow – its hyper-commercialization and the very thought that all the love we feel should be compressed and best expressed during one 24-hour period with flowers that are already dead, cards that will hopefully be recycled and candy and alcohol that will throw off the healthy lifestyle resolutions made just 6 weeks prior. (Check out an archived article: “How Do We Love Ourselves? Self-love, An Ultimate Gift for Valentine’s Day”)

While my cynicism still exists, it is not as prominent this year as my continued fascination with the concept of different kinds of loves. Margaret Farley contends: “[L]ove is the problem in ethics, not the solution. [Our] experiences of love, and our loves take multiple forms. . . . [N]ot all of our loves are good, though they are loves. There are wise loves and foolish, good loves and bad, true loves and mistaken loves. The question ultimately is, what is a right love, a good, just, and true love?” (quoted from Who Told You That You Were Naked? Black Women Reclaiming Sexual & Spiritual Goodness)

So, this season is a prime time to pick back up on our love and eroticism series with a post about The Bridges of Madison County and how we love to love inappropriate love affairs (i.e., Liv and Fitz on “Scandal”). In Bridges we celebrate the love born from a brief affair over 4 days between an Iowa housewife and a celebrated National Geographic photographer. We don’t bemoan the fact that Francesca is betraying the loving trust her husband places in her. For over an hour we watch the chemistry ignite and the tension build between her and Robert. And then we watch for about another hour as they resolve their dilemma of forbidden love.

Francesca and Robert

Francesca and Robert in The Bridges of Madison County (from

What is it that draws us in, particularly those of us who ascribe to some level of moral and ethical accountability?

Perhaps when we applaud long-term married couples we are not celebrating the longevity of their union. Perhaps we are cheering for the depth of love we surmise they share because they have been together for so long. It’s the depth of love to which we connect, not the social and legal construct [marriage] we tend to perch upon pedestals. So, when we witness it between lovers, it matters not that they are married or even connect outside the bounds of another committed relationship. We seek love and we celebrate it wherever we find it – the kind of love that means “you get me.”

Francesca declares early in the movie, “What becomes more and more important is to be known, known for who you are.”

While she’s been with her dear husband for probably about 20 years, we understand that he does not truly know his wife for who she really is. They met in her native Italy and her agreeing to marry him meant that she would immigrate to America, an adventurous notion. Instead of her perceived glitz and glam, she got rural Iowa with its stable and loving community devoid of adventure. Even when she found joy in teaching, her husband preferred that she be a stay-at-home mom. Meeting Robert, she experiences an almost instant connection with a kindred soul. Both are intrigued by the other. He touches her place of adventure within and she wants more. After they make love for the first time on her living room floor in front of the fireplace, Francesca requests with tears in her eyes, “Take me some place, huh? Right now, take me some place that you’ve been. Some place on the other side of the world.”

 And we root for them because we root for [depth of] love, however it’s defined.

Let’s love ourselves first and well this Valentine’s Day. Then we will draw unto us a depth of love that burns with authenticity. Now, that is worth celebrating!

the cdllc calendar

Current Events

  • “Interrupting Race & Gender Oppression” – Now through March 1, 2013 – Travel to the west coast is expensive right now and I’m attending this fabulous training that addresses race & gender oppression “using storytelling, laughter, deep listening and other creative models and media.” Any amount is helpful! To donate (tax-deductible) and learn more, please visit my fundraising page. Thank you for your generous support!

Upcoming Events

  • “Single, Saved & Sexin’: The Redux” – Coming in March, Google+ Hangout – Revisiting the renowned Crunk Feminist Collective (CFC) post, I join Crunktastic, Rev. Arabella Littlepage, and Rev. Theresa Thames on a panel to discuss “what it means to be a spiritual person and have an intimate life,” especially in singleness. We will be live; so, get your comments and questions ready! Read the original postCFC on Google+.

  • Urban Grind Book Club” – Premiering April 2013, every 2nd Sunday, Urban Grind Coffeehouse, Atlanta, GA  – Featuring books (fiction & non-fiction) and their authors, as a community that loves to read, write, and discuss interesting literary work. Interested authors should email me at to register.

Recent Events

  • “Doug Pagitt Radio: Religious Radio That’s Not Quite Right” – Last month I was a guest on Doug Pagitt’s radio show discussing Who Told You That You Were Naked? What a great conversation! Here are the links, in 2 parts: Part 1 and Part 2.

Annnnd . . . Texts for Our (Re)Consideration:

  • “Love never ends. . . . For we know only in part, but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. . . . For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Cor 13:8-12, NRSV)
  • “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will [rescue] you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” (Gospel of Thomas, Saying #70)
  • “When have you last had a good session with yourself? Or have ever had it out with you? Most often you are brought face to face with yourself only when such an encounter is forced upon you. Usually it is in connection with a crisis situation. . . . Now you look for some clues outside yourself and there are none to be found. You must decide and abide. . . . Whatever may be the occasion there comes a deep necessity that leads you finally into the closet of yourself. It is here you raise the real questions about yourself. The leading one is, “What is it, after all, that I amount to, ultimately?” Such a question cuts through all that is superficial and trivial in life to the very nerve center of yourself. . . . This is found only in relation to God whose Presence [Light] makes itself known in the most lucid moments of self-awareness. For all of us are God’s children [or children of Light] and the most crucial clue to a knowledge of God [or the Light] is to be found in the most honest and most total knowledge of the self. (The Inward Journey, Howard Thurman, 40)

NOTE: Since a wonderful group, CommonUnity, shared points 2 & 3 with me, I share them with you. Check them out on Facebook.

(c) copyright 2013, candi dugas, llc. All rights reserved.

pursuing the possibilities: love jones as love and erotica in film

pursuing the possibilities: love jones as love and erotica in film

They meet in the Sanctuary where music and words flow as poetic lovers. Meeting Nina here spontaneously inspires Darius to name one of his poems after her, “A Blues for Nina.” But this isn’t his first response to her presence. Initially he seems nervous, exhibiting clumsiness when he knocks over her glass, spilling her newly ordered glass of white wine. After Nina accepts his replacement glass of wine, she returns to the table with her BFF, Josie, and Darius takes the stage for his next response – “A Blues for Nina:”

“[C]an I be your slave? . . . I’m digging you like a grave. . . . Is your name Yemaya? Oh, hell no. It’s got to be Oshun. . . . Talk that talk, honey. Walk that walk, money. High on legs that’ll spite Jehovah. . . . Who am I? . . . I’m the blues in your left thigh, trying to become the funk in your right. . . . I’ll be whoever you say. But right now I’m the sight-raped hunter . . . blindly pursuing you as my prey. And I just want to give you injections . . . of sublime erections and get you to dance to my rhythms. . . . I’d rather dance and romance your sweet ass in a wet dream. . . . Is that all right?”

At least he asks permission in the end.

Who is Darius? Prior to meeting Nina, he shares with his friends a short speech about romance being the essence of possibility.

“Romance is about the possibility of the thing. You see, it’s about the time between when you first meet the woman, and when you first make love to her; when you first ask a woman to marry you, and when she says I do. When people who been together a long time say that the romance is gone, what they’re really saying is they’ve exhausted the possibility.” ~Darius

So from this appreciation of romance to the nervous klutz to the erotically charged poet we have a man smitten by a love jones for a woman he just met. defines love jones as “a strong overwhelming desire for someone.” Our blog post yesterday explores a reconfigured definition of love. With these two descriptions, we can label Darius’ feelings as love – though that is not my first reaction when re-viewing love jones after 15 years.

This time around, initially I think that he is being way too familiar with Nina. Later in the film, his friend Stephanie expresses this observation, warning him, “You move too fast.” And his pursuit of Nina isn’t ringing true with me as an overwhelming desire for her. It’s more like he’s walking some predetermined steps toward her, outlined by someone else.

Of course, this is not how I responded to love jones when it first premiered. At the time, I am totally connecting with all the characters and the story, loving for the first time in my memory the engagement of intelligent dialogue laced with appropriately placed slang and profanity – a perfect depiction of young urban professionals of color. Funny how some things can look differently after a decade or so.

Today, as I listen to Darius’ poem, dedicated to his beloved, I wonder about:

  • the implications of S&M and rape imagery as a means of seducing her,
  • his eagerness for her orgasm only serving to satisfy him and to indicate that he made it into her intimate place, and
  • the female audience being completely enamored by his poetic style.

Is it a sub-culture to which I’m not connecting anymore? Or is it that “A Blues for Nina” really seems to be more about delivery and arousing words rather than overall substance? Is Darius truly a hopeless romantic who, in his sudden affected state after meeting Nina, chooses to be in a less vulnerable place with his poetic presentation?

Is this love? According to the definitions we’ve established, yes it is. Is my reaction today one that indicates that this kind of love repels me? Fifteen years later, I suppose so. I suppose I’m simply in a different place. Perhaps love jones is good for what it’s good for in a certain space and time.

What about Nina?

Of the two leading characters, we meet her first. She’s in transition represented by a physical move to a new home after a marriage engagement that doesn’t work out. Nina vows to Josie that she’ll never make the mistake of falling in love again: “That shit is played out like an 8-track.” Josie welcomes her to the world of feminine cynicism. And then Josie watches Nina’s response to “her” poem. Josie knows recognizes this response and calls Nina on the fact that she’s already reneging on her self-avowed loveless goals. Is it love, as well, for Nina? Upon leaving the Sanctuary, Nina assures Darius that if she recites a poem it will be about more than sex; it will be about love. Nina is referring to the high-standard kind of love to which we normally refer when we characterize emotions this way. Yet her actions tell a different story.

Nina is more like Darius than she admits, at least initially. Josie knows her friend. Nina follows stereotypical female behavior of cloaking sexual attraction in romantic notions of love. She is quite affected by Darius’ very familiar, sexually charged approach. She looks back at the record store upon leaving, though she turns down his invitation to go out on a date. She lets him into her new home despite his stalker-like behavior. Finally, she accepts his invitation to join him at a friend’s dinner party. Later, she asserts that they shouldn’t have sex on the first date, but that’s exactly what they do. Nina moves fast too.

“I see you in me.”

When this recognition happens, it prompts us to explore the possibilities of connecting with another person – romantic or sexual. It’s all love.

love jones – R, released in 1997. (March 2012 marked its 15th anniversary.) Stars Larenz Tate and Nia Long. Written & directed by Theodore Witcher. Distributed by New Line Cinema. Production budget – $10M. Lifetime box office – $12.5M. (source – Note of interest: Box office performance was sluggish until the soundtrack blew up with cuts from Lauryn Hill (“The Sweetest Thing”) and Maxwell (“Sumthin’ Sumthin’”).

love jones is a peer film for Desire’s Kiss because its authentic portrayal of the pursuit of the possibilities of ordinary love, if any love is ordinary.


Desire's Kiss

About this blog series: The “love & erotica” blog series supports the development of the fundraising campaign for Desire’s Kiss – The Short Film. Desire’s Kiss celebrates feminine sexuality and spirituality, based on candi’s book, Who Told You That You Were Naked? Black Women Reclaiming Sexual and Spiritual Goodness and the Judeo-Christian sacred text, Song of Songs. Desire is a nontraditional Christian woman who asserts her independence from conservative views on sex and G~d. The 10 films we will explore over the next five weeks or so come to mind as we produce Desire’s Kiss. We will highlight the love themes (including erotica) in each film.

To learn more about Desire’s Kiss

To purchase your copy of the book, Who Told You That You Were Naked?

To learn more about candi and her work

© 2012 candi dugas, llc

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