BEYOND THE ADVANCED PSYCHIATRIC SOCIETY- A COLLECTIVE RESEARCH/ OLTRE LA SOCIETA' PSICHIATRICA AVANZATA- UNA RICERCA COLLETTIVA


cerca nel blog

Caricamento in corso...

Follow by Email

giovedì 21 luglio 2016

Revenge was an Eurythmics song





Auden, The shield of Achilles:
They died as men before their body died-




The Shield of Achilles
by WH Auden
She looked over his shoulder
For vines and olive trees,
Marble well-governed cities
And ships upon untamed seas,
But there on the shining metal
His hands had put instead
An artificial wilderness
And a sky like lead.
A plain without a feature, bare and brown,
No blade of grass, no sign of neighborhood,
Nothing to eat and nowhere to sit down,
Yet, congregated on its blankness, stood
An unintelligible multitude,
A million eyes, a million boots in line,
Without expression, waiting for a sign.
Out of the air a voice without a face
Proved by statistics that some cause was just
In tones as dry and level as the place:
No one was cheered and nothing was discussed;
Column by column in a cloud of dust
They marched away enduring a belief
Whose logic brought them, somewhere else, to grief.
She looked over his shoulder
For ritual pieties,
White flower-garlanded heifers,
Libation and sacrifice,
But there on the shining metal
Where the altar should have been,
She saw by his flickering forge-light
Quite another scene.
Barbed wire enclosed an arbitrary spot
Where bored officials lounged (one cracked a joke)
And sentries sweated for the day was hot:
A crowd of ordinary decent folk
Watched from without and neither moved nor spoke
As three pale figures were led forth and bound
To three posts driven upright in the ground.
The mass and majesty of this world, all
That carries weight and always weighs the same
Lay in the hands of others; they were small
And could not hope for help and no help came:
What their foes liked to do was done, their shame
Was all the worst could wish; they lost their pride
And died as men before their bodies died.
She looked over his shoulder
For athletes at their games,
Men and women in a dance
Moving their sweet limbs
Quick, quick, to music,
But there on the shining shield
His hands had set no dancing-floor
But a weed-choked field.
A ragged urchin, aimless and alone,
Loitered about that vacancy; a bird
Flew up to safety from his well-aimed stone:
That girls are raped, that two boys knife a third,
Were axioms to him, who’d never heard
Of any world where promises were kept,
Or one could weep because another wept.
The thin-lipped armorer,
Hephaestos, hobbled away,
Thetis of the shining breasts
Cried out in dismay
At what the god had wrought
To please her son, the strong
Iron-hearted man-slaying Achilles
Who would not live long.
(1937)







sabato 16 luglio 2016

Erdogan seems to have won: TRIUMPH



triumpe triumpe triumpe triumpe

Erdogan seems to have won. Hitler too had been, like him, democratically elected, and carried away hugely a somewhat less democratic referendum.

Let Erdogan triumph, as long as he can.

(je suis un putschiste turque)



martedì 12 luglio 2016

Jonathan Lethem, 'Sette stazioni del testimone trasferito' [il suo commento nel libro "Gregory Crewdson", del grande fotografo americano - del 2013 -, con Melissa Harris, e Nancy Spector]






https://www.amazon.com/Gregory-Crewdson/dp/0847840913/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1468343940&sr=1-4&keywords=gregory+crewdson

http://www.ansa.it/sito/notizie/cultura/2014/07/02/jonathan-lethem-sette-stazioni-del-testimone-trasferito_23a73027-0b5d-4f38-b358-76fdcf6bf27c.html



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregory_Crewdson



1.

Alle quattro del mattino i taxi attraversavano i ponti verso i distretti esterni prima di riparare nei loro lontani parcheggi sulla riva del mare, disturbando soltanto i coyote che pattugliavano le strade durante la loro migrazione dalle colline nelle tenebre. A quell’ora, i taxi recuperavano gli adolescenti dai locali, Max’s o il CBGB. A quell’ora i ponti erano boulevard sospesi nel cielo, insorvegliabili, illuminati dai bagliori dei progetti di costruzione. Un’altra notte, il ponte poteva essere pieno di gufi appollaiati. I taxi acceleravano. 
La città era ormai diventata d’annata, almeno quanto bastava per rivelarsi provvisoria, un’affermazione incerta. E più peggioravano le cose, più parlavano di quanto voi poveri ragazzi aveste bisogno di uscire dai confini della città per “una boccata d’aria fresca.” Il Testimone Trasferito fu fin dall’inizio una creatura appartenente tanto al centro degradato della metropoli quanto alle cittadine che ogni abitante della metropoli vagheggiava e sognava, dove la vita si apriva respirando a pieni polmoni. 
L’esistenza di una famiglia del centro era il contenitore di questo sogno. Carica i fratelli saturi di smog sulla station wagon parcheggiata in parallelo contro il cordolo dell’isolato cittadino e parti alla volta dell’interno, dei territori a nord. Queste spedizioni sudaticce e alienanti nel sogno punteggiavano i ricordi d’infanzia di T. Trasferito, mescolate allo struggimento, le cugine che potevi palpare su un sedile posteriore al drive-in o più tardi, nel nascondiglio vicino alla diga, dove ovunque scostassi l’erba c’erano mozziconi di sigaretta e linguette di lattine di birra.
La foresta non era solo fitta di storie naturali, ma altresì di fantasmi antropologici, vomeri arrugginiti e falci disseppellite insieme ai massi, vasi infranti con monete dell’era della Guerra civile e banconote marce. La macchia abbattuta per lasciar spazio al centro commerciale e al suo parcheggio non era foresta primaria, bensì un terreno disboscato in favore dei coltivi e poi abbandonato alle erbacce e agli insetti. Qui la popolazione umana era sfuggita al controllo e ancora sotto i livelli del diciottesimo secolo; le lucciole potevano essere i fantasmi di città morte. T. Trasferito, strappato alla propria casa, scopriva se stesso ovunque posasse lo sguardo. E non a torto.

2.

T. Trasferito subì un’espulsione dall’interno, affinché attendesse invece ai margini o presso la siepe. Era stato buttato fuori. Le sue mani erano zampe, forse quelle di una talpa o di una volpe, in ogni caso di una creatura senza uno specchio, né una voce con cui gridare domande tipo “Cosa sono diventato?” o “Vi prego, lasciate la porta socchiusa, o un bicchiere di latte sul davanzale.” In questa nuova forma pareva destinato ad attraversare un confine, consistente nell’oscurità e nel fango là dove terminava il prato. 
T. Trasferito tenne il naso a terra per scoprire i signori di questo regno: i vermi rosicchianti, il marciume e il terriccio, i viticci o le dita di funghi che esplodevano attraverso il tappeto erboso tagliato a spazzola. Erano privi di lingua, e scrivevano invece le proprie storie nell’impollinazione, nella fioritura e nella putrefazione. E tuttavia lo sguardo di T. Trasferito rimase puntato sulle splendenti finestre, da cui era stato bandito. Non aveva capito che dopo aver subito il suo primo trasferimento da una casa non sarebbe stato accolto all’interno della successiva.
Immaginava che sarebbe stato costretto a scavarsi un cunicolo per rientrare, ma non aveva alcuna fretta. Qui il cibo era migliore, anche se la caccia più difficile, i successi più rari; i risultati più preziosi da ogni punto di vista. Ogni conoscenza degna di essere posseduta era per sua natura notturna. 
Quando aveva spinto la gattaiola ed era sgusciato fuori fu solo per cercare un buon nascondiglio, da cui tenere d’occhio l’ingresso. In quei momenti era come se non stesse tanto guardando la propria casa quanto se stesso addormentato, e aveva la gioia di essere immerso in un sonno profondo e al tempo stesso vigilare attentamente su di sé. Quegli istanti fornivano indicazioni sul più ampio problema dell’essere, tanto per cominciare, un occhio. 
Alla luce del mattino sul gradino davanti alla porta non trovavano che ali, merda e petali. 

3. 
Il cielo era una roccia sollevata, incardinata al lontano orizzonte. Gli insetti sotto di esso si stavano muovendo, se non che non erano insetti, bensì mammiferi come lui, che uscivano dai boschi, che portavano vestiti, la cui preoccupazione rituale per la vita quotidiana equivaleva a una filosofia. Questi esseri emergevano infine dalle loro case, convocati al suo cospetto mentre lui saliva verso il cielo e cominciava a fluttuare lassù. Il vento agitava a malapena gli alberi, senza disturbare l’erba falciata di fresco dal prato, che giaceva pesantemente, nel suo rigoglio, traspirando il proprio profumo nel pomeriggio. 
La prima legge dei sogni in cui T. Trasferito volava era che nessuno gli lanciava mai neppure uno sguardo. Il vecchio problema, volo o invisibilità, era forse un falso dilemma. Se sognare significava volare, volare poteva significare essere invisibile. Lo sguardo delle altre creature restava radicato alla terra, come se gli occhi fossero piedi, ancora intenti a tastare la via, a imparare a muovere i primi passi. 
La seconda legge era che per volare non aveva bisogno di alcun velivolo, di alcun timone. T. Trasferito era il timone, ridotto ai turbini e ai singhiozzi del getto a reazione. Seppur impastoiato, si librava, un bulbo oculare ancorato a terra come un aquilone.
Nonostante la tentazione di farlo, non si considerava superiore. Applicava la disciplina dell’attenzione amorevole alle anime sotto la roccia imperniata. Le loro voci troppo lontane perché potesse sentirle, si rannicchiavano contro la pressione dell’atmosfera, sforzandosi di rendersi comprensibili con l’organizzazione data alla superficie della terra. Le cesellature e le falciature, le intromissioni nel caos naturale della crescita e della decadenza. I sobborghi residenziali formavano un golfo circolare tra città e campagna, dove gli edifici parevano sprofondare davanti agli occhi, persino mentre venivano eretti. Questo aboliva lo spazio, ma instaurava al suo posto una spaventosa distanza mentale. Ogni luogo pareva scivolare via, verso l’assenza.
Potevi caricare l’auto di famiglia e partire verso il margine dell’universo conosciuto per avvicinarti infine a una casa esattamente identica alla tua, abbandonata solo un istante prima. 
Al che, T. Trasferito poteva esser tentato di scivolare nel sonno in quel vento, solo per venir svegliato, nell’attimo in cui lasciava ciondolare il capo, da un certo intorpidimento alle dita dei piedi e delle mani. Alla fine, per quanto splendide fossero le seduzioni del sogno di volare, doveva atterrare e andare all’interno delle terribili mura incantate della casa e accettare una tazza di qualcosa di caldo per scrollarsi il gelo di dosso. 


4.

La giornata è una vacanza di qualche genere, e tuttavia T. Trasferito non riesce a ricordare quale attività tale giorno esiga da lui. Stabilisce invece che lavorerà in giardino, falcerà nel frutteto, o spargerà concime fragrante sulla malerba che ancora spunta dal terreno. Fa troppo caldo per tagliare l’erba. O forse questo è il giorno a lungo procrastinato in cui affronterà il seminterrato, lo strano filtrare di musica e luce da un luogo dove non dovrebbe esserci che oscurità, e tubi e le giunture a perfetta tenuta, che portano rifiuti e fresco fuori e dentro. Elettricità, certo, ma non dovrebbe esserci luce. E tuttavia T. Trasferito non riesce a ricordare se il seminterrato sia fresco in una giornata simile, o se sia, come il solaio, una sauna. Una casa è un compromesso con forze più potenti di quanto non gli piaccia pensare. 
Avanza e vede le linee del traffico intenso sull’autostrada principale, ridotte al silenzio dal vento sulle cime degli alberi. Dal fiume sale il suono di tamburi, e di tanto in tanto una battuta di musica metallica e dissonante. È come se la giornata seguisse un rigido copione, il caldo soffocante, i sandwich e le bibite fredde, e adesso le nuvole che si addensano e il fragore del tuono – tutto sembra parte di una qualche antica cerimonia. Aveva vissuto questa giornata centinaia di volte, e non era cambiato neppure un filo d’erba. Il fulmine balenò sulla veranda come un raggio di sole. 
Era giunto il momento di parlare della luce che si riversava spontaneamente, senza essere stata invitata, proprio nei momenti in cui speravi di stenderti sul divano, nell’ora in cui si perdono le staffe per un nonnulla, nell’istante in cui il whiskey viene versato. L’ora del cocktail, una volta la chiamavano così. T. Trasferito adesso si ritrova incastonato, un insetto nell’ambra, abitante di un denso presente privo di porosità. 
Le donne reagiscono in modo diverso dagli uomini, cominciano ad accendere le lampade, lasciano perdere quello che stanno facendo e vagano all’esterno mentre i loro mariti si immergono più profondamente nel compito a portata di mano. T. Trasferito non è certo l’unico a mettere insieme una sorta di offerta o monumento per difendersi dall’inesorabilità della luce, l’incursione del giorno. 
La vita di famiglia si è rivelata simile agli arresti domiciliari. T. Trasferito si sveglia, sentendosi misteriosamente sul gradino infimo della scala e tuttavia anche un re nel proprio castello. In una storia che ha letto il re viene accecato e sollevato dai suoi sudditi, portato sulle loro teste fino al fronte, nel cuore della battaglia. I soldati in prima linea sono però sonnambuli e forse lo stesso re sta soltanto sognando di essere sveglio. 
5. 
T. Trasferito escogitò quella che gli sembrava una specie di soluzione: stava costruendo un modello in scala ridotta della città all’interno di essa. Perché se questo mondo di prati, siepi e lotti era un labirinto in cui si era smarrito, la risposta poteva essere tratteggiarlo dall’alto, chinarsi sulla propria versione, un diorama o una boccia di vetro, e studiare le sagome della moglie del figlio mentre erravano nell’oblio. Ciò gli offriva un modo per essere simultaneamente all’interno della cittadina e sopra di essa. 
L’arte delle miniature non era difficile da padroneggiare. E così divenne un gigante con le pinzette, pennelli di due o tre peli per imprimere granelli di sabbia e di sale o chicchi di riso, per depositare una dose di bicarbonato del peso di un colibrì nel vulcano in garage per farlo spumeggiare, per accendere vampate di capocchie di fiammifero sul lontano tratto d’autostrada al fine di guardare il minuscolo pompiere affrettarsi verso la zona sinistrata delle dimensioni di un francobollo. Incapace di resistere, aggiungeva migliorie tanto inappuntabili da essere subliminali, per esempio un vasto parcheggio sotterraneo. Intorno a esso, la cintura arborea fu rimpolpata, ombreggiando vie pedonali splendidamente pavimentate e orlate dalle begonie. Chi mai avrebbe qualcosa da ridire sulle begonie? 
Giunse quindi la meravigliosa scoperta che il suo modello era abbastanza grande perché potesse entrarci fisicamente. Se dispieghi la mappa sul territorio potresti riuscire a dimenticare quale sia l’originale. T. Trasferito, con il nome che gli avevano dato, decise di candidarsi a sindaco della città. Si rase il travestimento da hippie, si schiarì energicamente la voce un paio di volte in pubblico e scoprì che non c’era nessuno a sfidarlo. In effetti, non ebbe rivali, sulla piattaforma del Sono stato io a mettere tutti noi in questo pasticcio, dovrei essere in grado di tirarci fuori! Adesso ogni parola che usciva dalla sua bocca sembrava una battuta, che fosse o meno sua intenzione. Abbiamo solo due stagioni in questa città, inverno e costruzione. 
In tutte le piazze su cui si svolse la sua campagna, nei campi di Marte o da baseball, scorgeva i buchi nelle siepi o il cerchio di piume insanguinate; ogni volta che bussava a una porta e qualcuno lo accoglieva nel proprio soggiorno, notava le eruzioni del suolo da sotto le assi del pavimento; tutte prove della sua fase iniziale come animale scavatore, un invasore dai boschi. Cosa gli era passato per la testa, quando si era ostinato a ricreare fino all’ultimo particolare? Cominciò ad augurarsi la sconfitta, ma non si presentò alcun avversario. 
A questo punto, quando si avvicinava all’apice della sua autorità d’orco, questo potere di dare sfogo ai propri dolori e desideri elefantiaci nelle stanze delicate come porcellane, T. Trasferito cominciò a struggersi per il periodo precedente, quando non era stato nulla di più che un occhio su una spiga di frumento nel campo, o sulla ghiaia in fondo all’acquario. Una spia nella casa del proprio stesso amore. Una mosca nella pomata, una canzone da sotto il parquet. 
Si bandì da sé dalla città, dato che le possibilità che qualcuno lo facesse al posto suo non sembravano molto concrete.





6. 
Nei viaggi notturni c’è una misteriosa urgenza. Appaiono segni di abitazioni umane – una lampada gialla a una finestra, uno steccato bianco – per poi sprofondare di colpo nelle tenebre. Mentre rallentava per attraversare la cittadina, comprese di non essere realmente solo nell’oscurità. La gente se ne stava seduta in veranda, persino a quell’ora, i volti che balenavano alla luce delle stelle filanti o dei razzi ad acqua che di tanto di tanto accendevano. A quanto ne sapeva, non era una qualche festività, ma l’outlet di fuochi d’artificio sul confine dello stato stava chiudendo i battenti, ormai da quasi due anni. Non c’era chi non si divertisse a sparare un razzo ogni tanto, rischiarando un piccolo quadrante della notte. 
Dovette sterzare per evitare un animale raggomitolatosi a dormire sulla strada, ma quando accostò e scese dall’auto per dare un’occhiata, scoprì che era confortevolmente rannicchiato in una profonda buca nella superficie spaccata dell’asfalto. Le ruote potevano passarci sopra tutta la notte lasciando quella bestiola, il ghiottone o ermellino, per sempre indisturbato.
Quando svoltò nella sua via c’era luce nel cielo, ma la notte aderiva ancora a tutte le superfici delle case e dei prati come uno strato di neve. All’improvviso, sentì l’urgente bisogno di rientrare in casa. Cominciò a correre, inciampò, e di colpo di ritrovò al contempo oggetto e osservatore. Un penoso disagio si impadronì dell’oggetto; l’osservatore sorrise senza fare alcun commento. Non aveva mai sperimentato un simile silenzio interiore. Era sempre presente, coperto dalle azioni dei vivi? Non si ricongiunse a se stesso che quando arrivò in cucina. 
Gli utensili erano tutti al loro posto, lì dove li aveva lasciati, il bollitore del caffè ancora abbastanza tiepido da spingerlo a riempirsi una tazza. Il suo piatto era nel lavandino, ma nessuno aveva aperto l’acqua del rubinetto. Le uova avevano ancora un discreto profumino. 
Dai gradini del vecchio argine osservò le automobili che toccavano il ghiaccio nero con voluttuosa lentezza e poi si piegavano, come spinte da un dito invisibile, raschiando contro il lato del ponte. Inutile gridare. La stessa coperta bianca che mascherava il ghiaccio assorbiva le urla come il silenziatore di una pistola. Eri saturo di simili informazioni ogni giorno, se solo eri disposto a lasciarle passare e a sopportare. C’erano parecchie cose sulle altre persone che non aveva mai capito, non tanto la questione delle motivazioni o dei fini, bensì il mistero dell’autorità, dell’importanza. E tuttavia era appena riuscito ad aprirsi a ciò che aveva da offrire la normalità: l’aiuto a mettere in moto l’auto con i cavi in una fredda mattina in cui la tua batteria era morta, una fetta di torta riscaldata, la metodica scrupolosità con cui lo spazzaneve rendeva visita ai vialetti d’accesso delle case ostruiti dalla neve, raschiando nella notte. 
La gente fa praticamente qualunque cosa se glielo si chiede educatamente. 

7.

Attraversò in volo l’oceano in cerca di rifugio o esilio. T. Trasferito sprofondò tra cumuli di nubi e notò le grigie stratificazioni della città costruita col cemento e la sabbia, i montanti e la tela da vele, visibili già mentre le ruote slittavano a terra e il suo aereo rullava fino al terminal. In quelle prime settimane nella città straniera trovò tuttavia continuamente scuse per rimandare il contatto. Le rovine si ergevano sopra il traffico sibilante come un monumento alle speranze condannate al disinganno. Potevano esserci dei doveri connessi a una visita di questo genere. Voleva per così dire scoprire quanto potesse puntare prima di varcare la soglia del casinò. Prima di appoggiarsi al feltro del tavolo e portarsi il dado alle labbra per propiziare un lancio fortunato. 
In questo nuovo luogo, T. Trasferito si sentiva come se fosse appena diventato visibile, inseguito dai paparazzi, infilato in uno smoking involontario, tenuto d’occhio da attricette o assassini nella lobby di marmo del proprio albergo. Nonostante ciò, fintanto che evitava le rovine, nessuno lo importunava, nessuno faceva la prima mossa. Errori e difetti non restavano attaccati come capitava a casa; poteva vagare per continenti e lingue, camminare intontito, socchiudendo gli occhi davanti a mappe spiegate. Forse sarebbe riuscito a esistere a questo livello per settimane e mesi senza biasimo né atroci conseguenze. 
Tuttavia, la città stessa lo esortava a visitare le rovine. In un posto di cui non comprendeva la lingua parlata, gli edifici si esprimevano con la chiarezza di qualunque voce umana. Certi colonnati quasi ululavano, sulle frequenze di un fischietto per casi, sussurrandogli della sua città perduta, delle palazzine di malta e arenaria. Accampavano diritti su T. Trasferito, lasciando intendere che non era altro che una parte raminga della loro tribù o del loro branco. L’architettura poteva essere in questo senso ferina, qualcosa che un tempo era stato sotto il controllo del padrone umano ma si era adesso ritirato al margine del fuoco, là dove le ombre guizzavano. 
Cedendo al richiamo, un pomeriggio T. Trasferito si staccò dai suoi accompagnatori, senza neppure chiudere la porta della limousine, e risalì la collina a piedi. Il mutamento fu immediato, il suo occhio interiore risvegliato. Nella luce del cielo che si abbassava la città era prossima e scolpita, senza la bianca cappa estiva, i suoi miraggi di distanza e prospettiva. Lasciò che le linee si raccogliessero in un’immagine unitaria, le cime dei colli orlati da chilometri di antiche mura, spalti merlati crollati, quella particolare, meditabonda mestizia.
T. Trasferito superò l’impalcatura e scese i gradini, sentendo una lingua dopo l’altra, ricca, aspra, misteriosa, forte. Le voci dello sguardo fisso. Ticchettavano quasi impercettibilmente – o forse era il ticchettio dell’orologio atomico della sua attenzione, che rimbalzava contro i cieli e aveva occhi solo per la propria casa sulla terra, tra i mammiferi. Le voci pulsavano come lucciole, compagni accettabili delle creature più grandi. Si mise al loro servizio, riconoscente.

Jonathan Lethem 









MURAKAMI RYŨ, "Almost Transparent Blue"/ "Kagirinaku tōmei ni chikai burū"- 1976






https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kSz6xnDTek


http://thoughtcatalog.com/tao-lin/2011/02/almost-transparent-blue-ryu-murakami



The thick drooping clouds, the ceaseless rain, the grass where the insects slept, the whole ash-gray Base, the wet runway reflecting the Base, and the air moving like waves—all were controlled by the jet spouting its enormous flames.
It started down the runway slowly. The earth shook. The huge silvery metal gradually picked up speed. Its high-pitched whine seared the air. Close in front of us, four enormous tube-shaped engines spouted blue flame. The stench of heavy oil and the violent blast of air blew me off my feet.
My face distorted, I hit the ground. My clouded eyes tried desperately to see. As I was thinking the white belly of the plane had just floated off the ground, before I knew it, it was sucked toward the clouds.
Lilly was looking at me. There was white froth between her teeth, and a trickle of blood as if she'd bitten the inside of her mouth.
Hey, Ryū, what about the city?
The plane came to rest in the middle of the sky.
It seemed to have stopped, a toy hanging by a wire from the ceiling of a department store. I thought we were the ones moving away with tremendous force. I thought the earth spreading away from our feet and the grass and the runway had all plunged downward.
Hey, Ryū, what about the city? Lilly asked, lying sprawled on her back on the runway.
She took lipstick from her pocket, tore off her clothes and smeared it on her body, laughingly drawing red lines on her belly, chest, neck.
I realized that my head was full of nothing but the stench of heavy oil. There was nothing like a city anywhere.
Lilly drew a design on her face with lipstick, becoming one of the African women who dance crazily at festivals.
Hey, Ryū, kill me. Something's weird, Ryū, I want you to kill me, Lilly called, tears in her eyes. I threw myself off the runway. My body was clawed by the wire. The barbs bit into the flesh of my shoulder. I thought I wanted a hole opened in me. I wanted to be free of the oil stench, that was all I thought. Concentrating on that I forgot where I was. Groveling on the ground, Lilly called to me. Her legs flung out, naked, bound redly to the ground, she kept saying, Kill me! I went close to her. Her body shaking violently, she sobbed aloud.
Kill me quick, kill me quick! I touched her red-striped neck.
Then one side of the sky lit up.
For an instant the blue-white flash made everything transparent. Lilly's body and my arms and the Base and the mountains and the cloudy sky were transparent. And then I discovered a single curved line running through the transparency there. It had a shape I'd never seen before, a white curving, a white curving that made splendid arcs.
Ryū, you know you're a baby? You're just a baby after all.
I took my hand from Lilly's neck, and scooped the white froth from her mouth with my tongue. She took off my clothes and embraced me.
Oil flowing from somewhere separated around our bodies; it was colored like a rainbow.


sabato 9 luglio 2016

Giacomo Conserva: 'Kathy Acker is long dead alas'





IN ANY SOCIETY BASED ON CLASS, HUMILIATION IS A POLITICAL REALITY. HUMILIATION IS ONE METHOD BY WHICH POLITICAL POWER IS TRANSFORMED INTO SOCIAL OR PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS. THE PERSONAL INTERIORIZATION OF HUMILIATION IS CALLED 'HUMILITY'. CAPITOL IS AN ARTIST WHO MAKES DOLLS. MAKES, DAMAGES, TRANSFORMS, SMASHES. ONE OF HER DOLLS IS A WRITER DOLL. THE WRITER DOLL ISN'T VERY LARGE AND IS ALL HAIR. HORSE MANE HAIR, RAT FUR, DIRTY HUMAN HAIR, PUSSY. ONE NIGHT CAPITOL GAVE THE FOLLOWING SCENARIO TO HER WRITER DOLL: ……………………………………….. ["DEAD DOLL HUMILITY", http://pmc.iath.virginia.edu/text-only/issue.990/acker.990]
Kathy went to Haiti stavamo discutendo del ciberspazio: Joyce, e Mc Luhan ed Eco, una macchina da scrivere portatile mentre il treno andava. La mano risaliva sulla coscia, mythical mannish lesbian- sessuata, gendered, non un atteggiamento puritano ma qualcosa d’altro. Allora una luce abbagliante, rossa- un globo dietro la fronte, in basso. E ancora! "Mi sento così stanca a volte. Avere vissuto tutto, averlo rivissuto. C’era un falò acceso lungo la spiaggia, qualcuno era andato a nuotare, altri si avviavano tenendosi per mano e carezzandosi verso il crinale, da dove giungeva una musica lontana, battente. Techno, dissi, techno. La temperatura saliva, il mio corpo prese a muoversi, un tremito sottile mi scompaginava, non aveva alcun senso eppure stava capitando; come avevo detto un’altra volta: la tristezza vola via.- Allora ti vidi per la prima volta." Tumore, AIDS- non è chiaro. Allora. (Kathy scese dall’aereo e si guardò attorno. Prima volta ad Haiti, sesso sfrenato e mysteres, i giorni che passavano, che sono passati. I-love-you sussurrati, un giorno come sempre. Mescolava inglese e francese parlando: una storia del confine, frontiera.)
Kathy went to Haiti, two
We were discussing about cyberspace: Joyce, and McLuhan and Eco, a portable typewriter as the train went. The hand was going up the thigh,- mythical mannish Lesbian, sexed, gendered,- not a puritan attitude but something different. Then a blinding light, red- a globe behind her forehead, down there. And again! (K.): “I feel so tired sometimes. To have lived everything, to have re-lived it. There was a bonfire burning along the beach, somebody had gone swimming, others set out holding hands and caressing each other towards the crest of the hill, from which a far, thudding music reached us. Techno, I said, techno. The temperature was growing, my body started moving, a thrill upset me, it did not have any meaning yet was under way; as I had said another time: sadness fades away.- Then I saw you for the first time”. Cancer, AIDS- things ain’t clear. Then. (Kathy came down from the plane and looked around. First time in Haiti, unbridled sex and mystères, the days that were passing, that have passed. Whispered I-love-you’s, one day as always. She would mix English and French speaking: a story of the border, frontera.) [SILENCE TO SAY GOODBYE]
REQUIEM. Kathy Acker died on November 30, 1997. It's still hard for me to imagine her dead. She was the most alive person I have ever known. Iwas never able to keep up with her. She lived with an intensity that left her friends exhausted. She threw herself into everything she did, without reserve. Anything less would have been a betrayal of the real. Kathy's intelligence was wide-ranging and ferocious. It wasmatched by a deep thirst for experience, of all kinds. Whatever Kathy encountered, orwas able to imagine, she insisted on exploring in her own flesh. This made her difficult toget along with, sometimes. She was never willing tocompromise, or let go. She was obstinate, to the point of exasperation.No wonder our friendship was stormy, with frequent quarrels, and difficult reconciliations. But of course,I wouldn't have wished Kathy any other way. "Whenever I get something that I want," she wrote, "it isn't good enough. For tobe female, to me, is to want everything." This is O.speaking, the heroine of Kathy's 1996 novel, Pussy, King of the Pirates. But it is also Kathy herself. Her novels were as much a part of her as her gorgeous tattoos. I love the sheer extravagance of Kathy's fiction.Pussy is a book bursting at the seams. It is full of poems and songs, dreams, jokes,stories within stories, porno sequences, myths and legends, political diatribes, translations from French and Latin, even drawings, diagrams, and maps. Most of all, Pussy pushes language to the breaking point. It is poised forever on the brink of orgasm, where words failand all you can do is scream. What pulls the book together is its furious drive to imagine everything anew. "The world has to begin again," isits repeated cry. Kathy's writing was much like bodybuilding, somethingelse she did with dedication and discipline. The bodybuilder must push her body to the limit, Kathy explained. For "muscles will grow only if they are… actually broken down." Language, too, must be broken down in order to be recreated. Writing can only cleave to the real by shattering it, and accepting the risk of being shattered in turn. Writing, no less than bodybuilding, "occurs in the face of the material, of the body's inexorable movement toward its final failure, toward death." Kathy worked out with words, just as she worked out with her muscles. It was her way of being true to the real. "What is, is," she once wrote."No fantasy. Pain. Just the details... The only anguish comes from running away." The finest thing I can say about Kathy is that she never ran away. Not even from the cancer that finally killed her. She faced it head-on,with full awareness. She grew intimate with this alien life that had usurped her own. She tells the story in her essay "The Gift of Disease." To come to terms with her illness, she says, she "entered the school ofthe body." She learned to listen to her body's rhythms, its blockages and flows. Thanks to the "gift" of illness, she stepped into the unknown. Her disease allowed her to reinvent herself. It led her away from everything she knew. It gave her the courage "to walk away from conventional medicine... to walk away from normal society."In the course of this healing process, Kathy says, she conquered fear, and "felt only intellectual excitement and joy." Yet the fact remains that none of this made her well. Thecancer stayed in her body, and she died. Part of me is angry with Kathy for letting this happen. I wish she had given conventional medicine more of a chance. Maybe it would have cured her; maybe not. We will never know. But I do not believe, as Kathy came to believe, that" all healing has to do with forgiveness." No, Kathy, I want to say, forgive all you want, but it will not make your tumor go away. You cannot heal yourself by will and faith alone. I should have said this to her, while she was still alive. But I never did. Nowthat it is too late, Ican't forgive either her or myself.Yet I also know that Kathy couldn't have acted any differently. She approached death the same way she livedher life, the same way she wrote her novels. You can see this at the end of Pussy, King of the Pirates, when the pirate girls don't keep the treasure they have found. For if they become rich, instead of having nothing, "the reign of girl piracy will stop." Wanting everything means refusing to settle for less. It means being ready to throw it all away. If this is how you live, then what are illness and death? Disease, Kathysays, "is equivalent to life, for bodies are always changing, going through what we call disease... We say 'good' health and 'bad' health, butwe're only making up what 'good' and 'bad' are." STEVEN SHAVIRO Stranded in the Jungle--22 30/06/16 http://www.dhalgren.com/Stranded/22.html IN MEMORIAM KATHY ACKER
Steven Shaviro KATHY ACKER (DOOM PATROLS ch.8) 1995-97 http://www.dhalgren.com/Doom/ch08.html What was it you whispered to me, that last nightwe were together? "The communication joining lovers depends on the nakedness of their laceration. Their love signifies that neither can see the being of the other but only a wound and a need to be ruined. No greater desire exists than a wounded person's need for another wound." Your voice was tender, but matter-of-fact, without a trace of urgency. I didn't understand that this was your way of saying good-bye. Only later did I realize that you had been quoting Bataille. And so we bled into each other, slowly, in the dark. At daybreak you left. I never saw you again. I needed your wound, but since that night you've withheld it from me. Instead, you've hurt me far more with your absence. Now my lust, my longing, can never be assuaged. "I wish I could eat your cancer," as Kurt Cobain sang. Why is it, Deleuze asks, that every love, every experience, every event, scars and shatters us? "Why is every event a kind of plague, war, wound, or death?" We are never equal to the event, Deleuzesays, but always too early or too late, too frenzied or too passive, too forward or too withdrawn. Either it is "my life which seems too weak for me, and slips away"; or else "it is I who am too weak for life, it is life which overwhelms me, scattering its singularities all about, inno relation to me." Either way, my love for you is a lost opportunity, a missed encounter. The events that move me, that affect me, that relate me to you, are precisely the ones that I am unable to grasp. It isn'tme and it isn't you, Bataille says, but something else that passes between us: "what goes from one person to another when we laugh or make love." Something lost in the instant, over as soon as it happens. Something inhuman, at the limits of communication. "Life doesn't exist inside language: too bad for me" (this is Kathy Acker, in My Mother: Demonology, appropriating, translating, and rewriting--channelling, in short--thevoice of Colette Peignot, better known as Laure, Bataille's lover). I can't hold on to your life, or your love; I can only retain the trace ofits passage, in the form of a scar. That's why every communication involves laceration. You got through to me only when you left a mark on my skin: a bruise, a puncture, a gash, an amputation, a burn. I was never able to possess the softness of your touch, the roughness with which you fucked me, the mocking irony of your voice. They were all too much for me, and vanished into the night. Only the memories remain, grotesque memorials etched ruinously into my flesh. Every line, every scar, concretizes your absence. For we suffer from reminiscences, and every reminiscence is a wound: whether slashed across the epidermis, or hacked out by the fraying of neural pathways in the brain. It's difficult to realize just how sensitive skin really is. Even the slightest breath sets itall aquiver. Even the oldest slash or bite never entirely disappears. The skin, like any membrane, serves two complementary functions. Functions that are both so vitally necessary that "no life without a membrane of some kind is known" (Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan). On one hand, the skin marks a boundary, separates the inside from the outside. It guarantees the distinction between me and the world. It protects me from the insatiability of your desire; it preserves my guts from spilling out, and oozing in a sticky, shapeless mass all over the floor. But on theother hand, the skin (like any membrane) is not an absolute barrier; its pores, orifices and chemical gradients facilitate all sorts of passages and transfers. All along this surface, inside and outside come into intimate contact. Nutrients are absorbed, poisons excreted, signals exchanged. This is how I remember you, flesh sliding over flesh. My skin is the limit that confines me to myself; but it's also the means by which I reach out to you. It's like the prison walls Blanchot writes about,that both isolate the inmates one from another, and allow them to communicate by tapping and banging. What would happen if these walls were tocome tumbling down? Could either of us endure a nakedness so extreme?How could we talk, how could we see, how could we touch one another? The exquisite pain of nerve endings in immediate contact... "Making love issuch an entire negation of isolated existence," Bataille enthuses, "that we find it natural, even wonderful in a sense, that an insect dies inthe consummation it sought out." But I didn't die when you came to me and when you fucked me; alas, I didn't even die when you left me. "I wanted us to be so naked with each other," Acker/Laure writes to Bataille,"that the violence of my passion was amputating me for you." But "as soon as you saw that I got pleasure from yielding to you, you turned awayfrom me... You stated that you were denying me because you needed to beprivate. But what's real to you isn't real to me. I'm not you. Precisely: my truth is that for me your presence in my life is absence." Which is why there is always a wound, whether of penetration or abandonment. We know that there can be no final nakedness. No last ecstatic unveiling of desire. Flay my skin, and all you'll do is uncover another layer. Fuck me hard, again and again, but it's never hard enough. "Love makes this demand," Bataille himself warned me: "either its object escapes you or you escape it. If love didn't run away from you, you'd run away from love." That's how I measured your distance from me, even before you left me. Your sweat, your saliva, your odors, your secretions: they penetrated every last one of my orifices and pores. But that's precisely how I knew that it was you. You seeped into my body like a beautiful toxin. Your alien stench remained, never losing itself in mine. The more our flesh intermingled, the more aware I became of your difference, yourindifference, your utter separation. I spent hours tracing your piercings and tattoos, unreadable signs, like the armor and display of an alien species. But isn't this torment really what I sought from you? It wasyour strangeness, your haughty coldness--your irony, in short--that so captivated me. Who knows what cruelties and deceptions you nurtured just for me, even from the very first time we met? Who knows with what subtle poisons you nourished my blood? "As soon as I see that I need you,"Acker/Laure tells Bataille, "I imagine your absence. Again and again I'm picturing you rejecting me. This is the moment I love." I felt you most powerfully at the moment of your departure. The proof that you were real (and not just my fantasy) is that, when the time came, you simply weren't there for me. I secretly always knew that you would escape me in the end, and so I tried to make your betrayal mine. And that, I think, was my deepest reason for going under the needle. "Getting pierced and tattooed tends to develop a person's awareness of memory," says the great tattoo artist Vyvyn Lazonga; tattoos "can function as physical reminders of something very meaningful that happened in the past, and stand alone as a powerful statement of who the person is or is becoming." These inscriptions in our living flesh are markers of intensity, memorials to impermanence and change. I resolved to monumentalize what I couldn'tforget in any case. I cherished these wounds, for they were all thatyou left me. Rather than mourning your absence, I emblazoned it in all its glory. Each stab of the needle renewed the tang of another memory, polished another facet of my joy and humiliation. "There was pain; the pain was sharp and particular; the pain was so particular that he was able to isolate it... Dreams are made actual through pain" (Acker). A figure slowly emerged, my totem animal, a spider in black and red. Carapace, poison sac, eight articulated legs, crawling flush with my shoulder. Pain, rather than death, is the mother of beauty. I didn't abjure my suffering; I transformed it into adornment. I made myself into a work of art, as Wilde and Foucault recommend. Look at me now. These tracings aren't on my skin, they are my skin. Postmodern art of surfaces, pulsations of the membrane. "A strafing of the surface," Deleuze calls it, "in order to transmute the stabbing of bodies." It's impossible to distinguish now between literal and metaphorical levels of meaning, between sensuous images and intellectual symbols, or between physical and metaphysical wounds. They all flow together in the folds and ripples of my flesh. "My wound existed before me, I was born to embody it" (Joe Bousquet). And there lies the whole problem of communication, does it not? What goes in, what comes out, what gets transmitted across the membrane? Ithought I was self-sufficient, but desire made me porous. Every symbolic articulation, every inscription of meaning, leaves a scar on my flesh. Every particle of sense is a kind of contamination, an antigen coursing through my bloodstream. That's why dialogue is impossible. For me, it's only my wounds and piercings that can talk. Now that you've left me, you tell me that of course we'll always be friends; but I'm not sure I want that sort of friendship. Hello, how are you, I'm fine, have a nice day: is this what it all comes down to? Interchangeable selves in a perfectly uniform world, so that one fuck, one lover, is just as good as another? That's your ideal of transparent communication: everything already agreed to in advance, so there's no danger of misunderstanding or conflict. I would have nothing to tell you in such a world, and you would mean nothing special to me. How convenient for you! It's preciselyfor this that Acker/Laure reproaches Bataille: "You believe that everything that's outside you ('reality') is a reflection of your perceptions, thoughts, ideas, etc. In other words, that you can see, feel, hear, understand the world. Other people." You think that all our problems could easily be resolved, if only we would sit around and talk them through calmly. Well, maybe friends converse that way, but surely lovers do not. And you claim to have a self that's coherent with the rest of the world. But not me; I certainly don't. "I don't believe that," Acker/Laure goes on, "I believe that I'm so apart from the world, from other people, that I have to explain everything to every single person to such anextent in order to communicate at all that, for me, communication's almost impossible."The moment you wanted and wounded me, you wrenched me apart from the world--and what's more, even worse, from myself. That very instant, I ceased to be a coherent, communicating self. My being was splayed, instead, upon the cross of your disregard. "I'm not an enclosed or self-sufficient being" (Acker/Laure) any longer. There's no common measure between the "I" and the "you. And that's why pleasure alone just isn't enough. "We're alive only at the top of the crest," says Bataille, "a flag flying high as the ship goes down. With the slightest relaxation, the banality of pleasure or boredom would supervene." Most Americans hate pleasure, especially someone else's: hence the moralizing campaigns today against smoking and drugs and promiscuity and obscenity. But Bataille's objection is altogether different. He's concerned ratherwith the feebleness, the mundanity of our pleasures. A pleasure that truly affirmed itself would turn into something else. "Any sensation," nomatter how pleasurable, as Pat Califia says, "that continues without a pause will eventually be perceived as painful, especially if it increases in intensity."And "many of us," she adds, "do court pain and welcomeit. There's the burn that runners pant for, the ache an athlete in training prizes. Pain is also a signal that an emotional impasse (an old conflict,buried grief) is being released. Pain can be a signal that sensation is returning to a part of the body or psyche that has gone numb." I can't separate the past from the present, I can't help myself; I scratch at these scars until they bleed afresh. Isn't that the difference between "me" and "you"? For you, pleasure is a kind of stasis that pacifies the self: "a way of interrupting desire, of instantly discharging it, and unburdening oneself of it" (Deleuze and Guattari). You're like Freud, who sees pleasure as a rehearsal for easeful death, the reductionof stress and excitation to zero. But what good is that to me, who no longer have a self? It's only pain that proves that I still exist. I can't discharge my desire, I can't lull it to sleep. I need you so much, you can never give me enough, you can never make me come. "In want," Acker/Laure cries, "everything is always being risked; being is being overturned and ends up on the other side." So: imagine a skin, a membrane, that's been inverted, twisted inside out. The immense universe of otherness is now compressed within its fragile walls. While the entrails extend beyond it, stretching outward to infinity. That's what my life has been like, since I encountered you. The otherness within me is more than I can bear. My being is dispersed, beyond what I can reach. I've goneso far already; how much further can I go? "Me, I'm insufficient, all Iam is fantasies that tear 'me' apart... My life's disintegrating under me, whatever is 'I' are the remnants" (Acker/Laure). You slay me when you touch me, and even more when you ignore me; I get so hot and excitedthat I can't imagine any respite. Each encounter with you is a kind of death; but I'll never have done with dying. That first night,you tied me up, and left me alone in the dark. I don't know how long I was suspended there, waiting for your return. It was "a time without negation, without decision... without end, without beginning... without a future" (Blanchot). I hung like a fly in a spider's web, a naked singularity. That's when I altogether lost control, when your existence reached out and usurped the place of mine. All my inhibitions crumbled; there was room only for your absence. I realized that "the opposite of love is indifference, not hate" (Kathe Koja), and that the only true opposite of fantasy is pain. You were real, just like an itch that one is unable to scratch. If you didn't come back to release me, well, that was only to beexpected: for there are never enough sadists for the masochists we mostly are.But I comforted myself by recalling Laurie Weeks' Theory of Total Humiliation: "we don't erect monolithic reified barriers against the humiliation; rather we welcome it, embrace it; then everyone wants to fuck us,for mysterious reasons." It was only then that I understood Bataille's terrible irony. I realized that his well-advertised anguish was something of a ruse, and that beneath it lay an incredible distance andcoldness. "The time has come to be hard. I have no option but to turn into stone... Is the pursuit of pleasure something cowardly? Yes, it seeks satisfaction. Desire, on the other hand, is avid not to be satisfied." It's not a matter, then, of frustration or of "lack," but of dissatisfaction deliberately sought out. I don't simply find myself in this state of agony; I've got to actively provoke it. I drink, not to be drunk, but to induce the next day's hangover. When you fuck me, I try not tocome, but to hold off as long as possible. There's always something slightly phony about Bataille's porno fiction, when he revels in impiety and blasphemy, or when he tells us that nudity is obscene. Sure, let thepriest drink his own piss from the communion cup. Sure, letPierre be scandalized by his mother's bisexual debauchery. Sure, let Madame Edwardarun naked through the streets of Paris, like a savage beast. But what makes these stories so sexy and disturbing isn't that, or isn't that alone. I 's more the sense we get that all these transgressions have somehow been staged; that the guilt and dread have been assumed by Bataille,for the sake of emotional effect. It's roleplaying, or performance, very much in the spirit of s&m. Isn't this what makes Bataille seem so, well, postmodern? Only by means of such corny fictions can we put ourselves at risk. Only through such exquisite irony can we shatter our everyday bourgeois selves, and accede to the heights of intense, impersonal passion. It's a bit like children playing with matches,after watching Beavis and Butt-head. For Bataille, there's not much difference between the heedlessness of a child, and the cynical apathy of the Marquis de Sade's heroes. Neither the child nor the jaded libertine believes that e has a self. Neither reposes for long in the stasis of satisfaction. Neither accepts responsibility for their actions. It's all a matter of ignoring limits, and pushing things just a little bit too far... Bataille records that a certain Wartberg, with whom Laure lived in Berlin, "had her wear dog collars, put her on a leash, made her walk four-legged, and beat her with a stick." Bow-wow. Isn't that much like the story of how you treated me? But whatever you made me do, oh yes I wanted it. And however much you neglected and abandoned me, oh yes, I reveled in it. You drove me to the brink of ruin, indeed you did; but don't presume to think that that makes you the winner. My loss of control, my hysteria, was more than a match for your niggardly airs of detachment. "How long does it take a man," William Burroughs asks, "to learn that he does not, cannot want what he 'wants'?" I only learn it, he suggests, when I have "reached the end of words,the end of what can be done with words." Bataille, too, insists that "the world of words is laughable. Threats, violence, and the blandishments of power are part of silence. Deep complicity can't be expressed in words... I'm only silence, and the universeis silence." Communication is unthinkable, literally unspeakable; only our wounds wordlessly touch one another. My mouth won't speak; like my other orifices, it's just a gaping sore. "I'm so horny when I awake," Acker/Laure writes to Bataille, "I place my fingers in your mouth so youcan bite them, only the mouth I'm placing them in is my own." In this silence, this separation, my identity disappeared; only this body remained, this pierced and wounded skin. I don't know what I want any more, perhaps it isn't even you. I could have told you what Marguerite Duras told Bataille one day: "you lived this love in the only manner possible for you, by losing it before it arrived." But I didn't say it; for whatuse are words and more words? After you left me, I didn't know where toturn. Intense, impersonal moods swept over me, coming and going in waves; I thought I was going to break, and I half hoped that I would. I wanted to kill those parts of me that loved and hated you; I wanted to escape them, I wanted to kill myself. But I found that I couldn't: the endlessness of my longing always returned. "I tried everything," ACKER/Laure says, "to lose myself, to get rid of memory, to resemble whom I don't resemble, to end... I tried to give my life away and life came back, gushed into its sources, the stream, the storm, into the full of noon, TRIUMPHANT, and it stayed there hidden, like a lightning stain."
Kathy Acker in Life and Death Arthur and Marilouise Kroker I. Spectres and Slim’s and Jade-Blue Eclipse San Francisco, January 22, 1998 Slim’s is a cavernous two-story, hard drinking, no smoking San Francisco-style club that is usually home to alternative and roots music. Tonight it is filled with friends and fans of Kathy Acker. All the counterculture tribes are there for the memorial: dykes and poets and writers and musiciansand strippers and s/m filmmakers and lovers and mourners, all the gay and the straight, the buzzed and the suicided, pumped-up women and flabbed-down guys, the happy and the despaired. A beautiful voodoo altar framed by a large serene portrait of Kathy marks the entrance, complete with burning votive candles and a collage of her favorite boots and biker gear and crystalline magic talismans and pens and paper and keyboards and Blood and Guts in High School and a bottle of rum and a brass container holding slips of paper where we all have written last messages to be burned ritualistically later in the evening. Incense burns and candles flicker and Kathy’s strong presence is deeply felt. Time is pushing up against the blank face of the millennium of the absurd but the spirits of the poetic night have been summoned, and you can just feelas you stand there Rimbaud and Artaud and Bataille and Ginsberg and Burroughs slip out of the spectral air of the imaginary and take material form. It’s a wake of dead spectres and living bodies, a kind of swirling commingling of poetic being. The mood of love and remembrance and invocation and sorrow and joy and just plain down and out gold nugget San Francisco craziness takes possession of the crowd and the performers.Everyone has a story to tell. R.U. Sirius, host with Machiko Saito, transforms himself into a data drag queen as the night progresses – fake furleopard and fox, velvet and satin and lycra pants and skirt, full make-up and pins in his hair. It’s magic. The music of Trance Mission shockwaves against a punk dyke band that advertises itself as the “most likely to blow up the White House.” A first generation American beat poet tells the story of Kathy’s political involvement in Food Not Bombs. A Mayan priestess with a heavy Russian accent invokes 4,000 year-old Siberian chants of the woman-spirit to take Kathy from birth (black candle) tobecoming (red candle) to death (white candle). Jade-Blue Eclipse – performance artist extraordinaire strips the surface and surfs the seams oflife, death and eternity. Her naked body illuminated by phosphorescent paint rhythmically moves to the sounds – stretching, spreading, splitting, opening, cutting, bathing in the red liquid of dreams. Aline Mare, a friend, laments Kathy’s death in beautiful and evocative and person verses punctuated with “Kathy Girl.” Matias speaks about Kathy dying in Tijuana, of her fear and denial and courage and her last large reading list of the Tibetan book of the dead cut with a lot of poetry and detective novels. The direct descendants of those good old American boys drinking Red Tail Ale and Calistoga water – jetstream, vapor-trails talking Mondoites and novelists and junk dream poets – gather backstage at the exit door, and in the usual way of writers talk through the pain of Kathy’s death by telling trade tales desultory of dead editors and disappearing publishing houses and new projects and up-and-coming literary outlaw takeover coups of early-90s California techno-lifestyle magazinesaimed, as R.U. says, at “young urban psychopaths.” Everybody was there.Tribe8, Dirtbox, Cypher in the Snow, Amber Asylum, Stellamara, Susie Bright, Sharon Grace, Michelle Handelman, Richard Kadrey, Amy Scholder, Frank Molinaro, Alice Joanou, Dodie Bellamy, Steven Shapiro, Anna Joy Springer, Mark Faigenbaum, Minnette Lehman, Rex Ray and many, many more. Of course, Kathy was too, in a brilliant and evocative and sad, because we would never see her in person again, filmic performance of In Memoriam to Identity. This was Kathy. This was Kathy’s San Francisco.
II. Screamin’ Eagle (for K.A.) It’s a sweet moving, easy livin’ summer evening, the twilight in the city air lingering on an endless repeat cycle, and I’m stompin’ St. Catherines on my Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle. Born in 63, the year Kennedy was assassinated, I’ve always been hooked on those too late at night b&w rebel with or without a cause bikermovies,‘specially Marlon Brando in his beautiful bod, Greek god-look, eyes to dream about days. Friends tell me that a woman, 62 inches vertical, has no business straddling a max cc, turbo-charged, neon red, chrome-plated, road hugging Daddy like a Screamin’ Eagle, but I just put on that moody Brando pout with my DOT helmet and black leather jacket and laced up the side pants and silver-tipped blast throttle boots, set thejet carb on full gas intake and ignite. Sort of a retro 50s take on thee-wire 90s, or maybe a girl flesh fresh from life in the wires out for a spin with all the boys. But before I get ahead of myself, let me tellyou how I got the name Cloner. It was about five years ago and I was onanother bike, a K-line BMW, cruisin’ a desert highway mid-winter. Nevereven saw that transport creaming my way. All I remember is the silver grill, high-top sun-tinted windows, snarling cougar roof design, gonna kill you, gonna maul you good, eat you right up, you’re in my lane, and my lane is the whole fuckin’ road kind of speed noise. I can still smell to this day burning tires, melted chrome, and the fear of me splashedon the highway. Woke up in Phoenix with half my face ripped off, and all I could think of was “Shit I don’t have any insurance.” No big deal, I’m told. The surgeon tells me it’s my lucky day. Turns out I’m one of those bike wrecks I’ve always read about. Something about donor tissue.I think to myself organ donors? Aren’t I still alive? Then I hear the word, SynSkin, the new artificial flesh grown in bio-gen labs from the foreskin of baby boys. And you know what the surgeon tells me: “A singlemale baby foreskin produces enough SynSkin to cover four football fields.” That’s a lot of skin, and not much foreskin. I’m lying there broken-bodied, torn face, feeling real bad, no Marlon Brando pout, but still something clicks in my DOT crushed head, and I can’t help but admire the ingenuity and audacity of Big Science marching ahead, or in this casemarching right over my face. Because as it turns out, the surgeon’s gotan Alien 4 suggestion. “How would you like to grow a new face, or at least half-a-face? No charge.” “Sure, I think to myself, ’cause it’s probably experimental.” And it was. And it was great. Took about four weeksfor the foreskin, or I should say SynSkin, to clone the remains of my face. That’s about the time I started calling myself Cloner. My FaceArtificial face for a time in which machines have migrated into the flesh. Before the accident, I was thinking hard about consciousness, aboutthe bicephalic brain split into right- and left hemispheres, about McLuhan’s theory that ever since the Gutenberg Galaxy we’ve lived in a right hemisphere world where all the values associated with uniform visual culture – specialization, privatization, the individuated ego, the eye not the ear – have been stamped on our memories, speech patterns, gestures, bodies, and, most of all, on our faces. Eye faces without ears or tearsor memory smears. Maybe that was why in the hospital in Phoenix, drugged down tight and mind drifting free, I had this strange recurring dream. I was always doubleheader, double-faced – a high-distortion camera red eye and a blue screen liquid ear – zooming outwards from an earth-bound tissue patch, coiling together, leering, touching, embracing, and then always splitting apart. And the difference that split wide openthe face ear and the face eye was a real screamin’ eagle with its no-blink stare and its shriek-shriek hunting scream and its razor-tooth talons doing max damage to the twirling double-headed flesh spiral. Didn’t muchlike that swirly dream, but I trapped its message good in my dream-catcher, and so when the surgeon asked me if I had any “special preferences” for my SynSkin face, I just told him that I wanted an ear for an eye and an eye for an ear and a Screamin’ Eagle for a mouth in between.Maybe not really, but it sure would be nice. Probably having read his McLuhan and knowing that revolting against the press-ganged, screwed down and screwed up, uniform visual culture Gutenberg face has to begin somewhere, sometime, he just said that he’d “see what he could do.” Maybehe even understood that what I really wanted was a wetware face as a kind of flesh bridge between software flesh and the hardware road. A post-biologics face. Which is exactly what I got. My left profile was the sameas always, sort of a memory box stuffed with flesh reminders of who I used to be, an eye and an ear and a tongue and some bad-assed scrapesand too-bruised bluish skin. Sort of a camera eye in permanent positionfixed-focused on facial features that moved to the more ancient rhythmsof time’s decay. The right-side face, my SynSkin face, was magnificent.It was as if the surgeon had Francis Bacon’d my skin, laying over the stripped down bones a liquid skin hologram, like a mutating slide dipping and weaving and flesh-blending. Put my face in front of the liquid array of a computer screen or under the black light of a dance club, and what you get is me hologrammed into the image of an eye for an ear, an ear for an eye, with this trip hop angry Screamin’ Eagle taking up the remainder. I looked in the mirror, and thought to myself. Great! Because who wants a perfect face anyway? The face has outlived its usefulness.We’ve been morphed and graphed and pixelated and mutated and serialized and downloaded and zip-drived and pinholes and infrareded and surveillanced and ABM recorded. What’s left is just some empty orifices, a hole for air, a canal for sound, sockets for light, a tongue for taste, and a mouth to spit away the difference. http://ctheory.net/ctheory_wp/kathy-acker-in-life-and-death
[HELLO ADIOS GOODBYE]
THEY'RE ALL DEAD, CAPITOL THOUGHT. THEIR DOLLS' FLESH IS NOW BECOMING PART OF THE DIRT. CAPITOL THOUGHT, IS MATTER MOVING THROUGH FORMS DEAD OR ALIVE? CAPITOL THOUGHT, THEY CAN'T KILL THE SPIRIT.

domenica 3 luglio 2016

LINK: Paige Sweet, "Where’s the Booty?: The Stakes of Textual and Economic Piracy as Seen Through the Work of Kathy Acker" [DARK MATTER, 20-12-2009]





http://www.darkmatter101.org/site/2009/12/20/where%E2%80%99s-the-booty-the-stakes-of-textual-and-economic-piracy-as-seen-through-the-work-of-kathy-acker/



“Once upon a Time, Not Long Ago, O…”: The title of the Preface to Kathy Acker’s Pussy, King of the Pirates at first may seem almost as trite as its pirate heroes. Almost, but not quite. Acker’s perverse juxtaposition of these sing-song fairy tale words with one of the most notorious female masochists of all time (O, of Pauline Reage’s The Story of O)[1] indicates from the outset that this story will be both familiar and foreign to the reader’s storybook sensitivities. For in the timbre of “Ago, O…” one hears the telltale tremors of trouble: “uh-oh…”
Kathy Acker (1947 – 1997) drew inspiration from the Western literary canon as one draws blood from a body: to extract, study, and experiment. Many of her stories are appropriated from well-known writers of the nineteenth and twentieth century including Charles Dickens, Daniel Hawthorne, Cervantes, Celan, and many others. She also mined content from stories told by fellow strippers, popular romance books, and pornography. As the title to the Preface of Pussy indicates, Acker’s technique is an unequal and impure combination of cut-up, mash-up, transposition, and transfusion. Through this technique Acker makes the first moves toward the betrayal of established literary standards.
Acker renders explicit the violence, perversity, and economic inequalities that are implicit in the texts she pirates.
Exhibiting her penchant for piracy both in her methods of plagiarism and the bountiful pirate figures that populate her books helped her to earn the label “literary terrorist.” Acker shamelessly copied character names, plots, and even the exact language from any discursive field that interested her. She would change the location of the story or the setting of the scene, but she never hid the sites of her pillages. On the contrary, because she practiced piracy with a purpose, her intent was to reveal the spurious nature of ownership and property with an eye fixed on how these ideas are embedded in language and how language is implicated in them. Piracy, her self-described writing style, valorizes plagiarism as a technique which challenges the legal categories that protect and even sanction one kind of thievery (that which operates on behalf of capitalist accumulation) while criminalizing another (such as copyright infringement). One might thus read her piracy as a kind of taking back, a reclaiming of a previously stolen good. But it is not merely a restorative gesture. Rather, analyzing Acker’s stylistic and thematic tributes to piracy serve as a productive entry point into analyzing the relationship between ownership and property on the one hand and the social, political, and legal aspects of literary language on the other. Acker renders explicit the violence, perversity, and economic inequalities that are implicit in the texts she pirates. In this way she produces a literary event that is able to illuminate the injustices of the historical and political circumstances that inspire much of her fiction. Her piracy thus works to expose the hypocrisy of social norms and values that act in concert with literary traditions in masking the violence and perversity of economic and political inequalities.
By examining the implications of the themes of piracy and her piratical style I aim to approach the question of whether the fictionalizing of revolt against economic and sexual inequality provides a means to understand historical forms of resistance and fashion a response to their contemporary counterparts. Rather than positing the question of whether her fiction mirrors, reproduces, or intensifies the violence it critiques, I am interested in navigating Acker’s textual seascapes and exploring what pirates as outlaws and piracy as a tactic can show about the treasure hidden within the bloated belly of global capital.
The Lure of the Pirate: Stealing and Styling
Kathy Acker demonstrated more than a cool recital of the observation, which has become something of a truism of postmodern literature and poststructuralist theory, that all writing is a form of re-writing. The concomitant intertwining of reading and writing implied in this observation is manifest in Acker’s process of composition. But Acker had no anxiety about influence, which also means that she did not exhibit the appropriate deference to literary tradition. Rather than politely absorbing literary tradition into her stories and demonstrating masterful composition through oblique references or literary inside jokes, she irreverently turned the stories inside out. Instead stitching her stories seamlessly into an ever-forming intertextual unconscious, she harnessed her vast knowledge of literature to place into the foreground the ubiquitous patterns of sexual, economic, and political violence that lie just beneath the surface of the most revered narratives and myths of the West as embodied in the Western literary tradition.
Acker’s piratical method takes various forms. Her novels Great Expectations and Don Quixote are clear about who and what they plunder. Alternately, plagiarism invades identity and generic form in her books The adult life of Toulouse Lautrec, My Death, My Life by Pier Paolo Pasolini, and Hello, I’m Erica Jong where she challenges the assumed authenticity of memoires, mocking the notion that they tell a truer story than novels and highlighting the textual production of identity. Her novel Blood and Guts in High School exemplifies her writing technique. Here the main character, Janey, is modeling Acker’s re-reading and writing strategy in the form of a book report on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlett Letter. The authorial persona represented by the grammatical “I,” however, is torturously and continuously in question as the subject of the book report slips back and forth between Janey and Hester Prynne:[2]
I want to fuck you, Dimwit [Dimmesdale]. I know I don’t know you very well you won’t ever let me get near you. I have no idea what you feel about me. You kissed me once with your tongue when I didn’t expect it and then you broke a date. I used to have lots of fantasies about you: you’d marry me, you’d fuck me, you were going again with your former girlfriend, you’d save me from blindness. You’d. Verb. Me. Now the only image in my mind is your cock in my cunt. I can’t think anything else.[3]
This retelling of The Scarlett Letter brings to the surface not the scandal caused by Hester Prynne; rather, it explodes the social norms that insist on the containment of women’s sexual expression within the institution of marriage. In this sense, The Scarlett Letter is but one articulation of a dominant cultural narrative about women’s sexuality. This crass and concise version of the story also updates Hawthorne’s tale. By intensifying the sexual vocabulary, shrinking the plot to its most basic elements, and contracting the words to near grammatical and linguistic nonsense, Acker’s version demonstrates that the moral and social condemnation of explicitly sexual women has not completely abated. That is, if part of Hawthorne’s purpose was to reveal the lingering Puritanism in New England Society, Acker’s is to disclose the dirty secret that it lingers still. Defying the enduring contemporary mores that constrict women’s sexuality to a few erotic venues, most of which are still tethered to reproduction, marriage, and heterosexuality, Acker’s texts reveal how feminine desire as masochism is culturally valued while disavowing the erotics of blood, pain, and filth on which it depends.
By making her version of the story about Hester’s sexuality (rather than about the moral and symbolic aftermath of her affair) Acker also exposes the prurient pulse that is enclosed within and drives the reader’s interest toward texts sanctified as classics. That is, in order to pass inspection of the unspoken literary laws that govern narrative propriety, so-called good literature is expected to abide by certain standards of sanitation; it is expected to purge any tasteless stimulation. As Acker explains,
[t]here were two kinds of writing…: good literature and schlock. Novels which won literary prizes were good literature; science fiction and horror novels, pornography were schlock. […] Schlock’s content was sex horror violence and other aspects of human existence abhorrent to all but the lowest of the low, the socially and morally unacceptable.[4]
Acker not only rebuffs the idea that low literature is immoral whereas high literature is good and morally upright. Instead, she demonstrates how “good” literature harbors the same impurities as “bad” literature, but it disguises them in more socially acceptable linguistic signs. The way to unveil this sham, in Acker’s view, is to show how the language of “good” literature not only depends upon the same vulgar narratives and cultural codes as schlock, but also how they reinforce social and structural inequalities. For example, Acker states that she constructed her first story “by placing mashed-up texts by and about Henry Kissinger next to ‘True Romance’ texts. What was the true romance of America? Changed these ‘True Romance’ texts only by heightening the sexual crudity of their style.”[5] Acker maintains that turning the volume down on plot and amplifying the sexual undertones it seeks to keep at bay effectively exposes the way that plot conventions often function as a flimsy cover for the same kind of banal pornography endemic to dime store romance novels.
The piece in which these explanations appeared, “Dead Doll Humility,” was written by Acker in response to the demand made by Harold Robbins that she publically apologize for plagiarizing his work.[6] As reasons for her refusal to apologize Acker listed the fact that she did not feel any guilt, there was already a large body of criticism on her work and others who used plagiarism as a method, other writers were flattered by her pirating of their work, and that such appropriation is central to her political project. Acker argued, “if the writer or critic (deconstructionist) didn’t work with the actual language of these texts, the writer or critic wouldn’t be able to uncover the political and social realities involved.”
At issue is a scene from one of Robbin’s books in which a rich white woman walks into a disco, picks up a black boy, and has sex with him. Acker, in her fragmented, cut-up mode, explains it in this way:
[When Robbins' book had been published years ago, the writer's mother had said that Robbins had used Jacqueline Onassis as the model for the rich white woman.] Wrote, had made apparent that bit of politics while amplifying the pulp quality of the style in order to see what would happen when the underlying presuppositions or meanings of Robbins’ writing became clear. Robbins as emblematic of a certain part of American culture. What happened was that the sterility of that part of American culture revealed itself. The real pornography. Cliches, especially sexual cliches, are always signs of power or political relationships.
By extracting Robbins’ language and isolating specific linguistic cells Acker reveals the delivery system responsible for transmitting sexual and racial codes into narrative form: language. Consequently, Acker observes that the demarcations among various textual and linguistic systems (various genres from high to low) are quite fuzzy. Drawing on post-structuralist insights, in which just about anything can be read as a text, Acker’s comments disclose the secret of Robbins’ method: a raid on the textual body of Jacqueline Onassis and a foray into social codes about race and sex permit a mild transgression of the color line for the sake of sexual excitement. This transgression is acceptable because it is but a flirtation with taboo rather than a challenge to racial or sexual logic that underwrite it. (It is also worth pointing out that while Jacqueline Onassis was the model that Robbins used to construct the white woman, the fact that the black boy does not have such a model points to the fact that “black boy” is itself the prototype for the scene Robbins in constructing.) Thus, although this scene may play with the complexities of racial, sexual, or gender dynamics, Robbins uses them to heighten sexual tension, which, in the end, reiterates and reinforces social inequalities. In contrast, Acker’s mash-up challenges the social and linguistic codes that make such a scene sexy.
Acker’s appropriation of Robbins’ work is threatening because its defiance of property law is accompanied by a defiance of the laws of propriety. Although “Dead Doll Humility” is itself a brilliant mash-up of artistic techniques, which include the construction of various dolls by an artist named CAPITOL,[7] autobiographical elements, a quote from a Rilke letter to Cezanne, and conversations with her publishers, agent, and solicitor, the heart of the matter is crystallized in the following statement: “Deconstruction demands not so much plagiarism as breaking into the copyright law.”
The distinction between plagiarism and copyright law is the difference between taking something and having that taking codified as a crime. The simple definition of plagiarism designates plagiarism as the passing off of another’s work as one’s own. This understanding of plagiarism derives from the intersecting ideologies of eighteenth century Romantic ideas of the genius and capitalist logic of the commodity. Romantic writers (specifically English Romantic writers building on the philosophies of Rousseau and Kant) held that authors were guided by their intuition and were divinely or naturally inspired. Ideas or artistic creations were believed to originate in an individual person; talent was not something one could learn or absorb from one’s environs. Although many tenets of Romanticism strove to oppose capitalism, it nonetheless shared capitalist ideas about private property. The shared scaffolding of private property linked the Romantic genius to capitalist logic and tether both to the commodity form. Over time, the laws that protected private property were adapted to protect the much less tangible products of the intellect, which contributed to the idea of intellectual property that underwrites copyright.[8]
Prior to joining forces with Romantic genius theory, copyright had functioned to ensure that printers maintained the rights over the works they published. Although the long and complicated history of copyright passes through many legal forms, it has consistently proven to benefit the printers (or publishers) to a much greater extent than writers. Despite the material form of the book, copyright, historically, has sought to establish ownership over ideas.[9]
The prototype for copyright was property rights, which, traditionally recognizes the possession of something by one to the exclusion of others. The logic that analogizes property rights to amorphous materials such as language is faulty yet revealing. Firstly, ideas are not alienated in the same way as property. One person’s use of an idea does not preclude another person from using the same idea, which raises the question of whether an idea can really be stolen and, if so, what’s the damage? Moreover, ideas and their manifestation in various media (art, literature, music, film, digital code, etc.) are products of specific cultural moments. They are therefore inherently social, collaborative, and collective. But the extension of private property to include ideas is telling in another respect. To consider John Oswald’s motto, “if creativity is a field, copyright is the fence,”[10] is to recall the great enclosure of land, particularly agrarian farmland, that played a key role in primitive accumulation in early capitalism.[11] Thus, to the extent that copyright bears any comparison to property rights, that is, to the forcible or fraudulent enclosure of a resource for one person’s exclusive use, copyright infringement (i.e., plagiarism, literary piracy) steals back the goods of an earlier theft.
Piracy on the high seas and piracy of artistic work both have a foothold in theft; however, there is a crucial distinction. Whereas maritime piracy steals goods for sustenance or material gain, copyright infringement is more concerned with the distribution of the stolen goods. Even as this difference highlights the fact that piracy does not produce its own goods,[12] it also illuminates the crude reality that copyright is primarily concerned with who can legally reap the profits of trade and distribution. Although “aesthetic merit” has ostensibly taken prominence over the concept of “originality,” copyright remains a mere cover for the protection of private property and profit margins—for capitalist thievery.
Clearly, from Acker’s perspective, the crime is the idea that language is a property that can reside in any one person’s possession. By undermining the notion that anyone can enclose language in categories of property, Acker interrogates the nebulous boundaries etched around language, the pretensions of such linguistic commodities, and the legal fictions that sanction this charade.
To call copyright infringement “piracy” is to join the moral panic that renders equivalent the copying of language (or other media) and thievery on the high seas. Although there are certainly similarities between the two, there are important differences as well. The word plagiarist, which derives from the Latin word plagiary and means kidnapper is mobilized to conflate the stealing of language with the stealing of a person. Although the semantic cousin of plagiarism, “pirate,” was first used in reference to printed works in the early seventeenth century (the first entry in the OED dates it at 1603), it morphs into a different beast when nurtured on the jurisprudential milk of the state. Piracy defined as copyright infringement functions as the legal protection of property on behalf of capital. Although definitions of plagiarism vacillate between framing it as an affront to aesthetic values or an attack on profits, the law is clearly more attuned to the criteria associated with economics rather than bad writing or deficient talent.[13]
One could valorize Acker’s writing practices and link them to an impressive aesthetic genealogy including William S. Burroughs, the surrealists (especially Tristan Tzara), T. S. Eliot (whose compositional style Burroughs cited as an influence), and Julio Cortázar (especially his novel Hopscotch). But it should also be remembered that ideas about plagiarism are also linked to a long history of attitudes toward mimesis: Plato barred copying in the name of the good, the true, and the beautiful; neo-classical writers championed copying on behalf of enhancing the modern world with gems from the ancient world; the Romantics shrouded the genius in a cloak immune to the influence of copying; and modernist (and post-modernist) writers from T. S. Eliot to Borges explored various methods of copying.[14] Moreover, imitation has been the primary rhetorical pedagogical method at least since Aristotle. Creativity has always been polluted with aesthetic antecedents; every literary (and scholarly) tradition is predicated on some methodological form of appropriation. As Acker says succinctly in a random heading in the middle of a chapter, “The Beginning of Poetry: The Origins of Piracy.”
Although legitimate appropriation is rendered through citation, quotation marks, or some other gesture of attribution, Acker’s sources are often recognizable by virtue of their canonical status—would anyone confuse her Don Quixote with Cervantes’? But more than a simple copy or mere methodological exercise, Acker rips passages from such a wide range of sources and leaves the seams exposed as she stitches it into her own pattern; she unravels the authority of the author in order to re-author authority. Thus, while she plunders the conceptual foundations of intellectual property, piracy as a mode of composition also shows how the given (textual) materials must be broken down and reconfigured.[15] The proliferation of pirate characters in her texts furthers this objective by reduplicating the stylistics of piracy in piratical motifs. Acker’s texts thus become archeological sites open to the reexamination of piracy in all its sordid and assorted forms. Through her texts the pirate reemerges to proffer other perspectives on already-familiar stories. Her pirates call to mind a history of imperial relations with deep roots in maritime trade and a proliferation of inequalities spawned by global capital.[16] Acker’s complicated figuration of piracy invites us to reexamine the buried remnants of a different economic structure, alternate modes of circulation, and a radically different conception of social organization. The pirate forces law to confront its outside. Whether as the law of the father in a psychoanalytic sense or the Law of the Father(s) as codified in the juridical system, the pirate reveals (as Derrida has also demonstrated),[17] that the logic and legitimacy of the law is tautological. The law self-referentially establishes its legitimacy, and, ultimately, law is always exercised through force of one kind or another.
The encounter with the pirate, a figure on the juridical horizon, provides a way to re-examine how law establishes its own legitimacy and how it legitimates its use of force. In fact, maritime piracy occupies a unique legal category. Until recently, piracy was the only crime that fell under universal jurisdiction.[18] The idea of universal jurisdiction is premised on the idea that the crime is universally recognized as extraordinarily heinous.[19] What distinguishes piracy is that it is committed on the high seas (beyond the twelve nautical miles that extend a nation’s border) by actors seeking private, economic gain. This definition excludes actions by governments (which distinguishes it from military operations) and actions with political motivation (which differentiates it from terrorism). Although the definition proffered fails to clarify how piracy is different from plain old robbery, it is often the case that pirates either do not claim any nationality or they are citizens of countries with relatively impotent governments. In the first case, pirates historically exhibited primary allegiance to the sea and to their fellow pirates. As Marcus Rediker notes, “[t]hough evidence is sketchy, most pirates seem not to have been bound to land and home by familial ties or obligations” (260). Moreover, despite popular images of anarchy and chaos, pirates exhibited what Rediker calls a “highly developed consciousness of kind” (275), which was strikingly communitarian. They often cooperated with one another, rarely attacked other pirate ships, collectively made decisions, avenged the abuses perpetrated by merchant sea captains, and distributed booty according to a pre-capitalist share system.[20] Secondly, given the absolute exclusion of pirates (or often their countries of origin as well) from the protection or enforcement of international law, piracy becomes one of the few response mechanisms available to crimes committed by more powerful countries on less stable ones (i.e., poaching of fish or dumping of toxic waste, two factors said to contribute to the rise of Somali piracy in the past fifteen years).[21]
Even from this brief sketch it is easy to see why pirates, as a figure for all social outcasts, appeal to Acker. But as Thivai comes to understand in Empire of the Senseless, the violence and thievery that fertilized the early seeds of capitalism have now come full bloom into the sterile, technocratic rationality of the multinationals that run the world: “By murdering raping and looting men get gold ’n jewels ’n engraved stationery ’n corporations ’n hospitals” (186). Empire tells a dystopic, futuristic tale set in Paris. Thivai, a pirate, and Abhor, his sometimes girlfriend and partner (who is part robot, part black), are revolutionaries involved in the takeover of Paris by the Algerians. The seizure of Paris is one way of re-writing the repeated drama of primitive accumulation, which began in the colonial period but reduplicates itself in ever newer guises. But there is also the slow realization that the shift in the seedy methods used by the multinationals to amass resources, wealth, and power require new tactics by the (literary) revolutionaries. As Abhor says, “Ten years ago it seem possible to destroy language through language: to destroy language which normalizes and controls by cutting that language. Nonsense would attack the empire-making (empirical) empire of language, the prisons of meaning. But this nonsense, since it depended on sense, simply pointed back to the normalizing institutions.”[22] Although Abhor’s words at first seem to go against Acker’s piratical style by questioning the efficacy of the cut-up method, they actually demonstrate a deeper engagement with the same ideas. Acker exhibits this in two ways.
First, in the section of Empire called “Pirate Night,” the focus shifts from the manipulation of language to its codes and, specifically, to the breaking of the code. The code is comprise of the atomic linguistic units that support and are supported by culture. The presupposition (as put forth by Levi-Strauss) is that the incest taboo is the thread that stitches the code together; the incest taboo is believed to be universal and essential for the birth and continued existence of culture. Moreover, it is specifically the circulation of women beyond the family that secures the functioning of the code. Acker tests this theory by injecting incest (usually, but not only, father-daughter incest) into her narratives and assessing the consequences. The violence and mayhem of her stories may seem to support the thesis that civilization does indeed collapse when the incest taboo is violated. A closer look, however, reveals that while civilization as we know it may have fallen to ruins, another culture or civilization may still be possible.
Like all pirate tales, this story also fantasizes about hidden treasures. The route to the treasure in this novel requires that the Algerians succeed in taking over France (they do). They then must become terrorists and criminals, but “[t]his criminality, being not the criminality of the businessman or of society, but that of the disenfranchised” is only another phase of their journey.[23] Finally, they become pirates. As Michael Clune argues, in this novel the transformation of terrorists into pirates is the “movement from no to yes.”[24] Piracy is figured as a hybrid identity assembled from the linguistic scraps and left-over detritus of the post-industrial ruins of civilization. It is a subjectivity posterior to a terroristic zone of degree zero; it is, as Clune also argues, the transformation of nihilism and negativity into affirmation. The pirate becomes the antidote to capitalism, the one who witnesses and assists in its dismantling. The pirate uncovers the treasures that capitalism has stolen, and steals them back.
The second way that Acker intensifies her language play is illustrated by the penetration into the body. Pussy, King of the Pirates, for example, features a different route to lost treasure. Rather than traversing national territories attempting to right the wrongs of colonialism, O and Ange’s search for the pirate map, which requires that they traverse the (dead) body of Ange’s mother. When they find the key to her box, they must then find the box. Ange opens the box, “the threshold of the unknown”.[25] If there is any doubt that this box is a double for the body of Ange’s mother, or the female body, one need only recall a similar scene at the beginning of the novel where O opens her mother’s jewel case, which “had insides of red velvet. O knew that this was also her mother’s cunt”.[26] Although Acker’s penchant for displaying what good girls should keep hidden (menstrual blood, tampons, bodily scents, prostitution, desire for pain), was well established by the time Pussy was written, what becomes more pronounced in this novel is a kind of disemboweling of the body. Blood and Guts in High School (1978) actually pales in comparison to Pussy, King of the Pirates (1996) in terms of the display of all that comes out of the body. For example, a section in Pussy titled “Dreaming Reality,” contains a poem by Ange (“cause poetry is what fucks up this world”) in which she writes, “the moon cracks my cunt” next to an image that ostensibly illustrates her point. There are cracks through the poem and throughout this chapter:
The whole rotten world
come down and break
and I’m crawling
through these cracks.
[…]
While the world cracks open
and all the rich men die,
and all the fucks who’ve sat on my face,
those sniveling shites.
We come crawling through these cracks, orphans, lobotomies;
if you ask me what I want I’ll tell you
I want everything.
whole rotten world come down and break.
let me spread my legs.[27]
The cracking of the code has far-reaching metaphysical implications. The crack rips through the woman’s body (“the moon cracks my cunt”), it cracks the world, which releases her along with orphans and lobotomies, and it splits open the moon breaking open the heavens. The woman’s body oozes (so impolitely), it spreads its legs and demands recognition of its guts. But in addition to the shameless excretion of bodily fluids, it is also the birth of the world—how not to think of Courbet’s L’Origine du monde? Finally, the poem evokes everything that orbits around the moon: the feminine, death, night, and creativity. Its placement in the narrative relative to Ange and O’s search for the pirate treasure, and in the context of the theme and style of the text, also suggests this cracking, which is ultimately the cracking of the code, results in the releasing of the rejected, the outlawed, and the abject—the repressed, disavowed, imprisoned, of abandoned fragments of the semiotic, cultural, and corporeal code.
This pirate language is ripped from various sources, pasted into syntactically torturous fragments, punctuated erratically, spliced with fluctuating fonts, illustrated with drawings or maps and seems bent at times on refusing any semiotic or epistemological cohesion. Set against the textual seascape of Acker’s novels, such linguistic experiments can extract the ubiquitous violence that works through real time historical situations. It can also isolate the variables involved in the cultural production of knowledge. These variables may involve naming (whore, criminal, Pussy); they may mark territorial boundaries around linguistic units, geographical space, and appropriate behavior; or they may express degrees of power, force, or fraud. In her view, “an attack on the institutions of prison via language would demand the use of a language or languages which aren’t acceptable, which are forbidden. […] Nonsense doesn’t per se break down the codes; speaking precisely that which the codes forbid breaks the codes”[28]. Speaking the taboo: the language of pirates.
Acker’s piracy and her pirate characters generate a textual and imaginative space in which to analyze conditions that are at once remote and intimate to Western readers.
Acker’s piracy and her pirate characters generate a textual and imaginative space in which to analyze conditions that are at once remote and intimate to Western readers. Remote because pirates, whether historical, contemporary, or fictional, are often viewed only as spectacle; to the Western gaze they are but inert images always situated elsewhere. Intimate because piracy laws, as they pertain to copyright and maritime robbery, fortify relations of dominance and submission that underpin all notions of property writ large (global capital) and small (erotic relations). Literary piracy is not equivalent to historical piracy, but there is a logic common to both that pulls on ideological, juridical, and rational presuppositions that often go unanalyzed. The textual, sexual, economic, and epistemological systems of global capital invade (Acker’s) pirates and piracy as ubiquitously and insidiously as blood flows through the body. Yet Acker’s pirates persevere. Refusing to cede belief in a buried treasure, they scrape together an identity and existence from remnants of the blood, guts, and debris found among the ruins of civilization.






Notes

1. O could also refer to Orpheus, Or, Poe, Jell-O, Joan Crawford, Ostracism, or Antigone. At one point in the novel Acker explicitly associates O with many other characters, no one in particular, but all conspicuously women: “Her name’s not important. She’s been called King Pussy, Pussycat, Ostracism, O, Ange. Once she was called Antigone…” Ange is mostly likely short for anger. Acker was fond of dropping letters or reconfiguring them to draw out multiple possible meanings. [↑]
2. In another section, with regard to the pronoun “I,” Janey says, “I wish that there was a reason to believe this letter” (108). Acker was already using such mash-up and cut-up methods to explore the schizo and multiple forms of identity when she discovered Deleuze and Guattari. But, as she discusses in her interview with Sylvère Lotringer, Deleuze and Guattari’s thought, especially Anti-Oedipus, explained to her what she had been doing and thinking all along. [↑]
3. 95 [↑]
4. Acker, Kathy. “Dead Doll Humility.” Postmodern Culture 1.1 (1990). [↑]
5. ibid. [↑]
6. Incidentally, the title of Robbin’s book is The Pirate[↑]
7. The form of “Dead Doll Humility” is one of two intersecting and dialogic stories: one documents the Harold Robbins issue, the other presents the situation (always told in all caps) from the perspective of CAPITOL. This style of presentation emphasizes the confrontation between the law and art. It also shows that while they seem to use the same language they use it in radically different ways, which reveals their different stances on the relationships among language, politics, and reality. [↑]
8. This paragraph and the next are indebted to an anti-copyright piece titled “Copyright, Copyleft and the Creative Anti-Commons” by “Anna Nimus.” [↑]
9. In its early manifestations, copyright focused on the form that the writing took rather than the actual content because the writer’s way of communicating his or her idea is what distinguished it from previous ideas. Although contemporary copyright law retains some sense of these Romantic filiations to originality, it shifts the legal protection to the content of the artistic expression rather than its form. [↑]
10. Quoted in Anna Nimus  [↑]
11. Enclosure primarily means “surrounding a piece of land with hedges, ditches, or other barriers to the free passage of men and animals, the hedge being the mark of exclusive ownership and land occupation. Hence, by enclosure, collective land use, usually accompanied by some degree of communal land ownership, would be abolished, superseded by individual ownership and separate occupation” (G. Slater quoted in Sylvia Federici’s Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation (Brooklyn: Autonomedia, 2004): (122 n. 24). Thanks to Morgan Adamson for this reference. For a detailed discussion of enclosure and early capitalism see also Jane Whittle, The Development of Agrarian Capitalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000). Also, in his book Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), Marcus Rediker discusses how enclosure and dispossession contributed to the influx of men into cities and, specifically, into maritime labor and, later, piracy. [↑]
12. Rediker also makes this point (285). [↑]
13. For a longer discussion of the aesthetic and juridical aspects of plagiarism in various historical incarnations see Marilyn Randall Pragmatic Plagiarism: Authorship, Profit, and Power. (Toronto: University of Toronto, 2001). [↑]
14. Nicola Pitchford offers a compelling account of how Acker’s style is useful for feminist and postmodern politics. See Tactical Readings: Feminist Postmodernism in the Novels of Kathy Acker and Angela Carter (London: Bucknell University Press, 2002). [↑]
15. For an analysis of the specifically gendered aspect of intellectual property and Kathy Acker’s work see Caren Irr. “Beyond Appropriation: Pussy, King of the Pirates and a Feminist Critique of Intellectual Property” in Devouring Institutions, Ed. Michael Hardin (San Diego: San Diego State University, 2004). [↑]
16. For an analysis of how the history of piracy and property relations are deeply interwoven into current trade policies see Vandana Shiva’s essay “The Second Coming of Columbus: Piracy Through Patents” Beyond Borders: Thinking Critically About Global Issues, Ed. Paula S. Rothenberg (New York: Worth Publishers, 2006). [↑]
17. See Jacques Derrida, “The Force of Law,” Cardozo Law Review (Vol. 11 (1990). [↑]
18. Universal jurisdiction allows states to claim criminal jurisdiction over crimes that were committed outside the boundaries of the prosecuting state, regardless of nationality, country of residence, or any other relation with the prosecuting country. It is premised on the idea that the crime committed is erga omnes (in relation to everyone), which any state is authorized to punish. [↑]
19. For a critique of the concept of universal jurisdiction and piracy as exceptional (rather than just another form of robbery) see Eugene Kontorovich, “The Piracy Analogy: Modern Universal Jurisdiction’s Hollow Foundation,” Harvard International Law Journal, 45.1 (2004). [↑]
20. Rediker presents a meticulous account of how piracy looked from the inside with particular attention to how the social organization of pirate life developed in contradistinction to traditional forms of authority. [↑]
21. Images from the recent kidnapping of Captain Richard Phillips by Somali pirates perversely show the power differential. Size may not be the determining factor in such standoffs, yet the images do offer a brutal metaphor of the economic and military disparity. The USS Bainbridge (charged with the rescue mission) is about 509 feet, six inches in length; the Somali pirates operated from a 28-foot lifeboat. [↑]
22. Empire 134. [↑]
23. Empire 124 [↑]
24. Michael Clune. “Blood Money: Sovereignty and Exchange in Kathy Acker.” Contemporary Literature. 45.3 (2004), 486. Clune offers a provocative analysis of monetary theory from a range of perspectives and Acker’s notion of blood as money (in Empire of the Senseless). However, by over-literalizing Acker’s rich language, he misses the vast network of metaphorical associations bound up in the notion of blood, which leads him to conclude that Acker’s (linguistic and consanguineous) economies are commensurate with capitalist economies in advanced form. A more productive analysis of blood, circulation (of various kinds), and value, in my view, would be to examine the alternate economies (à la Bataille) created in Acker’s work. [↑]
25. Kathy Acker, Pussy, King of the Pirates, (New York: Grove Press, 1996), 64 [↑]
26. Acker, 4 [↑]
27. Italics in original. The image of the cracked moon comes after the second line in the first stanza. [↑]
28. Empire 134 [↑]
Tags: , ,

Paige Sweet is a doctoral candidate in Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota. Her research examines literary experiments with punctuation and themes of forgetting in late nineteenth and twentieth century French, Brazilian, and American film, literature, and poetry. She really digs theories and histories of typography, punctuation, and language; theories of memory and forgetting; critical theory and cultural studies; gender, feminist, and queer theory; aesthetics and politics.
All posts by: Paige Sweet | Email