Kathy Acker

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Kathy Acker (April 18, 1947November 30, 1997), born Karen Alexander, was an American experimental writer.


  • For 2.000 years, you've had the nerve to tell women who we are. We use your words; we eat your food. Every way we get money has to be a crime. We are plagiarists, liars and criminals.
  • I am as closed-up and fucked-up as everybody else. I am hell. The world is hell. "No, it isn't", I scream, but I know it is. Hell. Hell. Hell. Hell. Help. Help me. Help me. Love me.
    • Blood and Guts in High School (1978)
  • Teach me how to talk to you. WANT. Is my wanting you so bad, wanting your cock so bad, wanting the feel of your lips on my lips just me being selfish and egoistic? Teach me a new language.
    • Blood and Guts in High School (1978)
  • It's all up to you, girls. You have to be strong. These are the days of post-women's liberation. You have grown up by now and you have to take care of yourself. No one's going to help you.
    • Don Quixote (1986)
  • Even a woman who has the soul of a pirate, at least pirate morals, even a woman who … has constraints to heterosexual marriage, even a woman who is a freak in our society needs a home. The only characteristic freaks share is our knowledge that we don't fit in.
    • Don Quixote (1986)
  • The German Romantics had to destroy the same bastions we do. Logocentrism and idealism, theology, all supports of the repressive society. Property's pillars. Reason which always homogenizes and reduces, represses and unifies phenomena or actuality into what can be perceived and so controlled. The subjects, us, are now stable and socializable. Reason is always in the service of the political and economic masters. It is here that literature strikes, at this base, where the concepts and actings of order impose themselves. Literature is that which denounces and slashes apart the repressing machine at the level of the signified.
    • Empire of the Senseless (1988), Elegy for the World of the Fathers, Part I, Rape by the Father, p. 12
  • You create identity, you're not given identity per se. What became more interesting to me wasn't the I, it was text because it's texts that create the identity. That's how I got interested in plagiarism.
    • Hannibal Lecter, My Father (1991)
  • At a certain point I realized that the "I" doesn't exist. So I said to myself: If the "I" doesn't exist, I have to construct one, or maybe even more than one.
    • Interview with Sylvere Lothringer (1991)
  • My nutritionist read my pathology report and said, "There's only one way you can beat your cancer."
    "What's that?"
    "You have to find out what caused it."
    • The Gift of Disease (1996)
  • I had been confused why I had gotten cancer. Three weeks later, I saw the network of causation so clearly I wondered why I wasn't more disease-riddled. My healer reminded me that if health is based on forgiveness, then I had to forgive ...
    • The Gift of Disease (1996)
  • Every book, remember, is dead until a reader activates it by reading. Every time that you read you are walking among the dead, and, if you are listening, you just might hear prophecies. Aeneas did. Odysseus did. Listen to Delany, a prophet.
    • "On Delany the Magician", a foreword to Trouble on Triton (1996) by Samuel R. Delany, and reprinted in Acker's collection Bodies of Work (1996)
  • Women need to become literary "criminals", break the literary laws and reinvent their own, because the established laws prevent women from presenting the reality of their lives.
    • Bodies of Work (1996)
  • 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.
    • Pussy, King of the Pirates (1996)
  • The students who come to my class are very closely related to all the evil girls who are very interested in their bodies and sex and pleasure. I learn a lot from them about how to have pleasure and how cool the female body is. One of my students had a piercing through her labia. And she told me about how when you ride on a motorcycle, the little bead on the ring acts like a vibrator. Her story turned me on so I did it. I got two. It was very cool.
    I'm very staid compared to my students, actually. I come from a generation where you've got the PC dykes and confused heterosexuals. No one ever told me that you could walk around with a strap-on, having orgasms.
  • We don't have a clue what it is to be male or female, or if there are intermediate genders. Male and female might be fields which overlap into androgyny or different kinds of sexual desires. But because we live in a Western, patriarchal world, we have very little chance of exploring these gender possibilities.

Quotes about Acker[edit]

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