August 24, 2016

Spend a few minutes in Kathy Acker’s New York: “I’ve always loved impossibility, of course.”


Q: Do you have any idea—or interest, even—in any reader?
A: The only interest I have in the reader is at the end. I do now five, six drafts. At the first point, I don’t care about the reader. The first draft is totally my pleasure. At the end, my interest in the reader is: I really feel I should make my intentions, what I’m doing, very, very clear. So that if the reader is interested the reader can follow. The other thing is in a whole text to set up different sections — such as a sexual section, a violent section. I always felt the book should be like a world. So there are different things. You know, someone can read this if they want to, someone can read that if they want to, they don’t have to read the whole book. There’s no overall narrative that demands that they have to read the whole book. It’s as if to set up a pleasure dome.

That is the wild and excellent Kathy Acker speaking to a documentary crew at her Lower East Side home in 1984. Acker, who died in 1997 at the age of fifty, was the author of books including Blood and Guts in High School and Great Expectations, a winner of the Pushcart Prize, and surely the most interesting interviewer ever loosed upon the Spice Girls. The footage follows her around Manhattan, including to the gym, and to be photographed by the legendary Robert Mapplethorpe. Besides a vantage into Acker’s own dingily luminous mind, the film also offers a glimpse of the luminous dinge that was New York City in 1984, and it’s highly recommended: