Kathy Acker: What I was interested in was what happens when you just copy something, without any reason... but it was the simple fact of copying that fascinated me. I wanted to see whether I could do something similar with prose. I came to plagiarism from another point of view, from exploring schizophrenia and identity, and I wanted to see what pure plagiarism would look like, mainly because I didn't understand my fascination with it. I picked Don Quixote as a subject really by chance.
She decided that since she was setting out on the greatest adventure any person can take, that of the Holy Grail, she ought to have a name (identity). She had to name herself. When a doctor sticks a steel catheter into you while you're lying on your back and you do exactly what he and the nurses tell you; finally, blessedly, you let go of your mind. Letting go of your mind is dying. She needed a new life. She had to be named.
From Don Quixote.
Kathy Acker: I don't imagine an ideal reader. I write for myself and maybe my friends. Although as I give readings more and more, I try and see whether the audience is bored. So in that way I'm aware of an audience. There has to be that element of entertainment, really, or there's limited accessibility. So I do care about my readers in that way. Academics-I feel a confusion about academia.
Interviewer: You've come out of the academy?
Kathy Acker: I absolutely hate it. I've seen too many English departments destroy people's delight in reading.
In this female terrorist house which is disguised as a girls' school, you're free to move around. You're standing on the Delancey Street corner. It's raining lightly. You know you're older than the other girls. A man might not want you cause the skin on your face's slightly wrinkled. Men want young tight fresh girl skin. They want new. They want to own. They want to be amazed.
From Great Expectations.
Kathy Acker: For instance, while writing it, I never considered that Blood and Guts in High School is especially anti-male, but people have been very upset about it on that ground. When I wrote it I think it was in my mind to do a traditional narrative. I thought it was kind of sweet at the time, but of course it's not.
I have been alone for a very long time. I'm locked up in a room and I can't get out. Because I've been locked up in this room so long whatever desires are arising in me are rampaging around everywhere as wild and fierce and monstrous as gigantic starving jungle beasts. I don't know how to talk to people, I especially have difficulty talking to you; and I'm ashamed and scared 'cause I want you so badly, Dimwit.
From Blood and Guts in High School.
Interviewer: Empire of the Senseless seems to indicate a new direction for you. For instance, the plagiarism is not so apparent.
Kathy Acker: Empire is a new direction, but I did use a number of other texts to write it, though the plagiarism is much more covered, hidden. Almost all the book is taken from other texts,
Interviewer: What other texts?
Kathy Acker: I've used tons of other texts--sometimes it's just a phrase. You know I've gotten very good at it. There's a lot of Genet for instance. The beginning is based on Neuromancer, a book by William Gibson. But from page to page, I've adapted a lot of other texts. I couldn't even say exactly.
I think that because I perceived what marriage was for my grandmother and because I love her, I am not able to sexually love another human being or accept another human being's love. If I have to love, our of desperation or desperately, I know love only when it's allied with hate.
From Empire of the Senseless.
All quotes belong to Kathy Acker.