Kathy Acker

Kathy Acker was a novelist, essayist and performance artist whose books include Blood and Guts in High School, The Childlike Life of the Black Tarantula, Empire of the Senseless, In Memoriam to Identity, Don Quixote, My Mother: Demonology, and her last novel, Pussy King of the Pirates. Born and raised on New York's Upper East Side, she died of breast cancer in Tijuana, Mexico, in 1997.

  • I'm Very into You

    I'm Very into You

    Correspondence 1995–1996

    Kathy Acker, McKenzie Wark, and Matias Viegener

    The tempestuous email correspondence between Kathy Acker and McKenzie Wark, shimmering with insight, gossip, sex, and cultural commentary.

    “Why am I telling you all this? Partly 'cause the whole queerness/identity thing for me stretches through everything, absolutely everything. Slipping between straight/gay is child's play compared to slipping between writer/teacher/influence-peddler whatever. I forget who I am. You reminded me of who I prefer to be.” [M.W.]

    “It's two in the morning... I know what you mean about slipping roles: I love it, going high low, power helpless even captive, male female, all over the place, space totally together and brain-sharp, if it wasn't for play I'd be bored stiff and I think boredom is the emotion I find most unbearable... ” [KA]—from I'm Very into You

    After Kathy Acker met McKenzie Wark on a trip to Australia in 1995, they had a brief fling and immediately began a heated two-week email correspondence. Their emails shimmer with insight, gossip, sex, and cultural commentary. They write in a frenzy, several times a day; their emails cross somewhere over the International Date Line, and themselves become a site of analysis. What results is an index of how two brilliant and idiosyncratic writers might go about a courtship across 7,500 miles of airspace—by pulling in Alfred Hitchcock, stuffed animals, Georges Bataille, Elvis Presley, phenomenology, Marxism, The X-files, psychoanalysis, and the I Ching.

    Their corresepondence is a Plato's Symposium for the twenty-first century, but written for queers, transsexuals, nerds, and book geeks. I'm Very Into You is a text of incipience, a text of beginnings, and a set of notes on the short, shared passage of two iconic individuals of our time.

  • Hannibal Lecter, My Father

    Hannibal Lecter, My Father

    Kathy Acker and Sylvère Lotringer

    A collection of early and not-so-early work by the mistress of gut-level fiction-making.

    You can say I write stories with sex and violence and therefore my writing isn't worth considering because it uses content much less lots of content. Well, I tell you this: 'Prickly race, who know nothing except how to eat out your hearts with envy, you don't eat cunt'... Edited by Sylvere Lotringer and published in 1991, this handy, pocket-sized collection of some early and not-so-early work by the mistress of gut-level fiction-making, Hannibal Lecter, My Father gathers together Acker's raw, brilliant, emotional and cerebral texts from 1970s, including the self-published 'zines written under the nom-de-plume, The Black Tarantula. This volume features, among others, the full text of Acker's opera, The Birth of the Poet, produced at Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1985, Algeria, 1979 and fragments of Politics, written at the age of 21. Also included is the longest and definitive interview Acker ever gave over two years: a chatty, intriguing and delightfully self-deprecating conversation with Semiotext(e) editor Sylvere Lotringer—which is trippy enough in itself as Lotringer, besides being a real person, has appeared as a character in Acker's fiction. And last, but not least, is the full transcript of the decision reached by West Germany's Federal Inspection Office for Publications Harmful to Minors in which Acker's work was judged to be "not only youth-threatening but also dangerous to adults," and subsequently banned. Acker is the sort of the writer that should be read first at 16, so that you can spend the rest of your life trying to figure her out; she confuses, infuriates, perplexes and then all of a sudden the writing seems to be in your bloodstream, like some kind of benign virus. She's definitely not for the easily offended—but then, there are worse things in life than being offended. Such as the things that Acker writes about...

Contributor

  • Schizo-Culture, 2-vol. set

    Schizo-Culture, 2-vol. set

    The Event, The Book

    Sylvère Lotringer and David Morris

    Never-before-published lectures, Q&As, and squabbles from the conference that introduced French theory into America, with a facsimile of the journal issue that emerged from it.

    I think “schizo-culture” here is being used rather in a special sense. Not referring to clinical schizophrenia, but to the fact that the culture is divided up into all sorts of classes and groups, etc., and that some of the old lines are breaking down. And that this is a healthy sign. —William Burroughs, from Schizo-Culture

    The legendary 1975 “Schizo-Culture” conference, conceived by the early Semiotext(e) collective, began as an attempt to introduce the then-unknown radical philosophies of post-'68 France to the American avant-garde. The event featured a series of seminal papers, from Deleuze's first presentation of the concept of the “rhizome” to Foucault's introduction of his History of Sexuality project. The conference was equally important on a political level, and brought together a diverse group of activists, thinkers, patients, and ex-cons in order to address the challenge of penal and psychiatric institutions. The combination proved to be explosive, but amid the fighting and confusion “Schizo-Culture” revealed deep ruptures in left politics, French thought, and American culture.

    The “Schizo-Culture” issue of the Semiotext(e) journal came three years later. Designed by a group of artists and filmmakers including Kathryn Bigelow and Denise Green, it documented the chaotic creativity of an emerging downtown New York scene, and offered interviews with artists, theorists, writers, and No Wave and pre-punk musicians together with new texts from Deleuze, Foucault, R. D. Laing, and other conference participants.

    This slip-cased edition includes The Book: 1978, a facsimile reproduction of the original Schizo-Culture publication; and The Event: 1975, a previously unpublished and comprehensive record of the conference that set it all off. It assembles many previously unpublished texts, including a detailed selection of interviews reconstructing the events, and features Félix Guattari, William Burroughs, Kathy Acker, Michel Foucault, Sylvère Lotringer, Guy Hocquenghem, Gilles Deleuze, John Rajchman, Robert Wilson, Joel Kovel, Jack Smith, Jean-François Lyotard, Ti-Grace Atkinson, François Peraldi, and John Cage.

  • Hatred of Capitalism

    Hatred of Capitalism

    A Semiotext(e) Reader

    Chris Kraus and Sylvère Lotringer

    Jean Baudrillard meets Cookie Mueller in this gathering of French theory and new American fiction.

    Compiled in 2001 to commemorate the passing of an era, Hatred of Capitalism brings together highlights of Semiotext(e)'s most beloved and prescient works. Semiotext(e)'s three-decade history mirrors the history of American thought. Founded by French theorist and critic Sylvere Lotringer as a scholarly journal in 1974, Semiotext(e) quickly took on the mission of melding French theory with the American art world and punk underground. Its Foreign Agents, Native Agents, Active Agents and Double Agents imprints have brought together thinkers and writers as diverse as Gilles Deleuze, Assata Shakur, Bob Flanagan, Paul Virillio, Kate Millet, Jean Baudrillard, Michelle Tea, William S. Burroughs, Eileen Myles, Ulrike Meinhof, and Fanny Howe. In Hatred of Capitalism, editors Kraus and Lotringer bring these people together in the same volume for the first time.