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The fateful chaos

After Kathy Acker
Forfatter: Chris Kraus
Forlag: Penguin Books Storbritannia (USA, Canada, Irland, Australia, India, New Zealand, Sør-Afrika)
After Katchy Acker describes the chaotic life of author Kathy Acker, who is characterized by childhood trauma, illness and lots of sex. The story hits on an emotional level.


The American author and artist Chris Kraus (b. 1955), who is best known as the author of the international bestseller I Love Dick (1997), has written the biography After Kathy Acker (2017) about the radical American writer and feminist Kathy Acker (1947 – 1997).

The book is divided into nine chapters, where the titles are inspired by her own book titles, and is chronologically divided according to the first chapter "Littoral Madness" (inspired by the title Literal Madness: Three Novels from 1987), which describes how friends and family have gathered to spread her ashes into the ocean, to the words: "You're free, Kathy! You're finally free! »

"I'm telling you that I felt pleasure when Bush (dad) raped me."

After Kathy Acker  is a compilation of repeated interviews, diaries, e-mail correspondences, letters and postcards. I get swallowed up in the restless universe, where the search for love, affirmation and success as a writer sometimes gives me cramps, and I realize that our lives have many similarities.

Daddy issues

Kathy Acker, born Karen Alexander April 18, 1947 in New York City, is not a planned child, just like me. When her mother is three months on the road, she is abandoned by her husband. Acker never contacts her biological father, but she writes about him throughout her life, and just like her writing, her privacy is characterized by daddy issues. Partners and friends act as father figures to her. Through them she desperately tries, on the verge of the manic, to fill the sore void inside her. As the divorced child myself, with an absentee father, it is heartbreaking for me to read what she writes about her friend: “Alan is my father. […] If Alan isn't my perfect Father, I'll turn away from him unless he touches me again. ”

Her authorship and privacy are marked by daddy issues.

The traces of the absent and deeply missing father figure appear in the aggressive, hypersexual and unhealthy lifestyle; Acker changes sex partners as often as I change panties. Her authorship starts through her so-called sex shows. At the age of 25 she makes her debut Politics (1972), which ends with the phrase: "I'm sick of fucking and not knowing who I am." Don Quixote, Which Was a Dream (1986) she writes: "I will not go against the truth of my life which is my sexuality." Sex permeates her autobiographical writing: sex as a power play and social comedy, sex as the exchange of the sexual revolution, sex as pornography and sex like love.

I recognize in this dangerous notion of sex as love, where I often, in the face of men, have thought that sex means love, but unfortunately my experiences say something else. Physical contact, sometimes just a touch, made me think he loved me. Acker writes in I Dream I Was a Nymphomaniac: Imagining (1974): "I'm 27 and I love to fuck. Sometimes with people I want to fuck; sometimes, and I can't tell when but I remember these times, with anybody who'll touch me. ”

That oedipal

Incestuous father-daughter relationships, with a father raping her daughter, recur in her novels. This rape marks the beginning of the daughter's dual attitude toward men, where power plays a major role. IN My Mother: Demonology (1993) she writes: "I'm telling you that I felt pleasure when Bush (Father) raped me."

Although she never met her biological father and therefore could never have been raped by him, there is something autobiographical about this dual attitude of men, whom she treats in her private life as fathers and sex partners – objects of love and hate. What lies at the bottom of this schizophrenic attitude is a wounded, angry, powerless and most of all confused little Acker who was abandoned by his father. I experience this trauma in itself as an abuse, which she processes in both professional and private life.

During the reading, I lose track of how many times she leaves New York and then comes back again. Despite living a chaotic life, she is very productive and publishes a full 26 works. Since my daughter came to the world, my life has been one of great chaos. It's just as if this chaos brings life to my work. I am restless, and the uncertainty about the future makes me productive, just like Acker, even though she never has children.

Acker dies of cancer at the age of 50, in Mexico. IN Blood and Guts in High School (1984) she compares the power of having a baby: "Having cancer is like having a baby. […] It eats you, and, gradually, you learn, as all good mothers learn, to love yourself. […] I have to make all my living as interesting to myself as my writing. ”At least her life is interesting, and this mayhem – or hot mess, as the writer in The Guardian calls it – gets destitute, and leads her to success as a writer.


Pinar Ciftci
Pinar Ciftci
Ciftci is a journalist and actor.

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