Jeanette Winterson on saving Saint Valentine’s

There is no escaping the date on the calendar, but everyone who is sick of being confronted with oversized helium balloons, fluffy heart-bearing teddies and cartoon Cupids will surely be heartened to read this article that appears on the front-page of today’s Guardian by supporter of The Reader Organisation Jeanette Winterson.

In the article, Jeanette suggests that we take a leaf out of the book of the organisers of the growing worldwide movement Occupy by reclaiming Valentine’s Day from its increasing commercialised and money-driven purposes and instead remember the reason behind it: love in all its forms, something that is not a commodity but instead an ‘alternative currency’ for everyone to enjoy.

This is the day to recognise love in every shape and size and disguise. Known love, new love, love’s ghosts, love’s hopes. Loss is here too, and the spaces in between love.

Reclaiming love is the best thing we can do. Love has been squatted for too long by those false cupids with their “for sale” signs. It’s not a coincidence that Venus is the goddess of love and money. Or that her fat friend with the arrows lends his name to desire of both kinds. Cupidity is the all-consuming longing for riches. Love and money are both an exchange.

Wise words indeed – and we’d also point out that reading is the perfect exchange, of love, friendship, community, so why not read something lovely with someone you love this Valentine’s Day? We could think of few better ways to reclaim love for its original purposes.

Jeanette will be appearing with director of The Reader Organisation Jane Davis at an event at this year’s LSE Space for Thought Literary Festival at the London School of Economics and Political Science on Wednesday 29th February 2012, 4.30-6pm. ‘The Medicine Chest of the Soul: Arts and Health’ will explore the substantial role the arts can play in improving health and wellbeing, especially the healing power of literature.

Director of the Rayne Foundation Tim Joss will be chairing the discussion and alongside contributions from Jane and Jeanette, other featured speakers are David McDaid, LSE senior research fellow in Health and Social Care and Margaret Perkins, research officer within the Personal Social Services Research Unit at LSE.

The event is part of the 4th annual Space for Thought Festival, this year with the theme of ‘Relating Cultures’. The festival runs from Wednesday 29th February-Saturday 3rd March and has a very varied programme featuring a range of star speakers including London Penny Readings guest AS Byatt, Claire Tomalin and Michael Rosen.

‘The Medicine Chest of the Soul: Arts and Health’ event is now fully booked, but check the LSE website for details on possible returns or changes or consider going to the venue on the day in case of last-minute empty seats.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *