- Birthday, Books, Quotes, Reading, Writing

Kathy Acker on Writing, Wonder, Freedom, and More


Happy birthday, Kathy Acker! Here are some quotes from her writing:


“Literature is that which denounces and slashes apart the repressing machine at the level of the signified.”


“The only characteristic freaks share is our knowledge that we don’t fit in. Anywhere. It is for you, freaks, my loves, I am writing and it is about you.”


“I’m writing for my own sense of wonder.”


“Well, a comma’s a breath, and a sentence is a thought, and a paragraph is an emotion…You’re always working the paragraph against the sentence.”


“Writing must break through the representational or fictional mirror and be equal in force to the horror experienced in daily life.”


“Writing is either hearing, listening, reading—or it’s destroying.”


“Writing for me is about my freedom. When I was a kid, my parents were like monsters to me, and the world extended from them. They were horrible. And I was this good little girl—I didn’t have the guts to oppose them. They told me what to do and how to be. So the only time I could have any freedom or joy was when I was alone in my room. Writing is what I did when I was alone with no one watching me or telling me what to do. I could do whatever I wanted. So writing was really associated with body pleasure—it was the same thing. It was like the only thing I had.”


“For me, writing is freedom. Therein lies (my) identity.”


“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.”


“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.”


“Moreover, the excitement of writing, for me, is that of a journey into strangeness: to write down what one thinks one knows is to destroy possibilities for joy.”


“I think writing is basically about time and rhythm. Like with jazz. You have your basic melody and then you just riff off of it. And the riffs are about timing. And about sex.”


“Writing—and I don’t give a damn about literature—but writing should be one arena for exploration, examination, and even criticism. Real criticism.”


“Teach me a new language.”


“The more that I write my own novels, the more it seems to me that to write is to read.”


“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.”


“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.”




“Oh, memory, it gets everything mixed up.”


“Love goes away when your mind goes away and then you’re someone else.”


“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.”


“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.”


“I sail as the winds of lusts and emotions bare me. Everywhere and anywhere. I who will never own, whatever and whenever I want, I take.”


“Even a woman who has the soul of a pirate, at least pirate morals, even a woman who prefer loneliness to the bickerings and constraints of heterosexual marriage, even such a woman who is a freak in our society needs a home.”


“Even freaks needs homes, countries, language, communication.”


“Basically the idea is that democracy doesn’t work. Communism doesn’t work. All these fucking models aren’t working. We’ve got to find some new models—a model of what society should look like.”


“You know, everyone’s always talking about trauma and pain and how this society isn’t working, that we shouldn’t have racism and sexism, but we never talk in positive terms—like what would joy be, what it would be like to have a totally great existence […], the joys that aren’t based on economic accumulation and the workaday world, but based on giving it all up—not having that specific, controlling, imprisoning ‘I.'”


“I’m starting to worry about self-censorship—that I might be internalizing some shit. I might be writing what people expect me to write, writing from that place where I might be ruled by economic considerations. To overcome that, I started working with my dreams, because I’m not so censored when I use dream material. And I’m working at trying to find a kind of language where I won’t be so easily modulated by expectation. I’m looking for what might be called a body language. One thing I do is stick a vibrator up my cunt and start writing—writing from the point of orgasm and losing control of the language and seeing what that’s like.”


“As long as we continue to regard the body, that which is subject to change, chance, and death, as disgusting and inimical, so long shall we continue to regard our own selves as dangerous.”


“Every day a sharp tool, a powerful destroyer, is necessary to cut away dullness, lobotomy, buzzing, belief in human beings, stagnancy, images, and accumulation. As soon as we stop believing in human beings, rather know we are dogs and trees, we’ll start to be happy.”


“I can’t take the isolation anymore. I can’t fight a class system by myself. I need my community back because, learning my needs, I need support in bad times. I’m too fucking alone.”


“I affirm that every day is a day of wonder. I affirm that though I don’t see it, I have more money than I need, I earn more than I need, I live in a house w/ room for all my books next to where I can walk in the woods, I am healthy I love my work, my money & my books are in the hands of the right people & I have time for my work, every day I open more & more to vision.”


Leave a Reply