As the rope was tightening around my neck, an Alien made love to me. Belief is a technology for softening the landscape. The world becomes more beautiful when God is in it. Here is what happens inside a person's body when they starve.
Written in the shadow of Georg Buchner's Lenz at razor pitch, Aliens & Anorexia, first published in 2000, defines a female form of chance that is both emotional and radical. The book unfolds like a set of Chinese boxes, using stories and polemics to travel through a maze that spirals back into itself. Its characters include Simone Weil, the first radical philosopher of sadness, the artist Paul Thek, Kraus herself, and "Africa," her virtual S&M partner who's shooting a big-budget Hollywood film in Namibia while Kraus holes up in the Northwest Woods for the winter to chronicle the failure of Gravity & Grace, her own low-budget independent film.
In Aliens & Anorexia, Kraus argues for empathy as the ultimate perceptive tool, and reclaims anorexia from the psychoanalytic girl-ghetto of poor "self-esteem." Anorexia, Kraus writes, could be an attempt to leave the body altogether: a rejection of the cynicism this culture hands us through its food.
About the Authors
Chris Kraus is the author of the novels Aliens and Anorexia, I Love Dick, and Summer of Hate as well as Video Green: Los Angeles Art and the Triumph of Nothingness and Where Art Belongs, all published by Semiotext(e). A Professor of Writing at the European Graduate School, she writes for various magazines and lives in Los Angeles.
Sharon Rotbard, an Israeli architect, author, and publisher, is Senior Lecturer in the Architecture Department at Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem and Chair of Architecture at the CARE School of Architecture in Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, India.
"Kraus's books are unsparing, provocative, and in their own way beautiful."
-Jean Rassenberger, Index
"Aliens & Anorexia is a tantalizing, messy, wildly associative and often brilliant book that leaps effortlessly between autobiography, art criticism, philosophy and fiction. [...] There are more ideas on every page of Aliens & Anorexia than in most books published in the last year. It is an exciting and courageous work."
—Ben Ehrenreich, L.A. Weekly, (19 January 2001)
"Aliens & Anorexia, read in conjunction with I Love Dick, comes apart in a rhapsody of longing; themes and characters are introduced, then altered by associations and reappearance. The unraveling escalates toward a form that resembles a knife wound: scalpel-sharp, female, radical, emotional, and completely original."
—Rachel Kessler, The Stranger, (27 April 2000)
"If America were to fling up a chain of roadside motels to be used as a needed, neon refuge for girls too smart for their own good, the writings of Chris Kraus would be the bitterly comforting Gideon Bibles tucked into the bedside."
"Reading Aliens & Anorexia is like drinking cream: so rich you can only take one page at the time. It kept distracting me from itself. I had to get up and leave the book, possessed by some new idea I wanted to be alone with."
—Lisa Carver, The Globe and Mail, (15 April 2000)