Dodie Bellamy’s “Digging Through Kathy Acker’s Stuff,” WHEN THE SICK RULE THE WORLD pp. 141-142
A copy of Kathy’s Hannibal Lecter, My Father appears on my bedroom floor. A note tucked inside reminds me the book was a farewell gift from Laurie, a student who graduated a couple of years ago. Kathy would tell her students at the Art Institute, “Don’t let anybody tell you how to write” — a warning I gave to Laurie as well, to no avail. Kathy apparently didn’t criticize student work, she just gave them permission. A typical Kathy assignment: write a piece in which you have sex with the most disgusting person in your family. Lynn Breedlove told me Kathy advised them to write while masturbating. Acker: 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. Vanity Scare. The Art Institute was too sterile for her methods, so she held her classes at a bar — the appropriately Gothic Edinburgh Castle. Bob Gluck theorizes that students didn’t learn from Kathy, they absorbed her. Kathy’s ghoulish white face looms out at me from the back Hannibal Lecter. All other details are obscured except a half-zipped leather jacket. The jacket splits open with the curvaceous grace of a calla lily, Kathy’s head is its pistil, her right ear dripping with gewgaws, a studded choker about her neck, her short bangs dipping into a V, her puffy lips hinting at a pout. Beside her head, a quote from her “Diaries of Laure”: This writing is all fake (copied from other writing) so you should go away and not read any of it. She looks like Billy Idol in his “White Wedding” video. Hey little sister, shot gun. Inside the book on the title page in the top right corner, written in black ballpoint: Love, Acker. Kathy’s round childlike printing is unmistakable. I write in my journal: Kathy’s leaving me breadcrumbs — she’s the witch at the end of the trail, stoking the fires of her big cunt oven. I crack open Hannibal Lecter at random and read: The desperate needs I feel are now burning.