365Trigger warnings, the sanctity of self-desecration + the summer of SSES

Dear Internet,

29.5.14. NYC> Just x-ferred all files to this laptop—our working machine for the next 3 months ... 4 days til we're UK-bound, but don't want any surprises. There's ways to sync up between 2 machines, but seems more trouble than it's worth ... + seems it could potentially lead to conflicts (regarding who is master). We are satellite slave now.

Reading Blood and Guts in High School by Kathy Acker ... not sure what to think of it ... it's easy to criticize Acker, to say she is promoting misogyny + rape, etc... what's to be gained from reading her fucked-up fantasies of being fucked by her father? We had similar feelings about What purpose did I serve in your life by Marie Calloway, tho perhaps we can relate to Acker more ... probly a generational thing. Specially as at least initially Acker is in Mexico living w/ a degenerate single parent like we did + then the early LES 'punk' aesthetic of it ... + w/ Acker, the language speaks to us more, influenced by the likes of Mac Low (who we read in the last post) + has more literary flashes, less gratuitous ... like in the middle of some ordinarily warped dialogue between her (or her alter-ego 'Janey') + her father or Persian pimp, she'll cry out «TURN MY EYES INSANE, WHILE BEING CORRUPTS ITSELF, AS A POOL OF SHAME, IN THAT HOPE.» Or in the middle of some random graphic experimentation (lots of her juvenile penis doodlings interspersed), she'll say something brutally direct + seemingly autobiographical like: «I have to figure this out: I have certain characteristics from childhood traumas, etc. Since I never had real parents, I never knew who my father was and my mother didn't give a hoot about me (I wasn't brought up, I just grew up like a wild plant), I want love affection the sort of love and affection you get from a parent rather than a jealous lover, and especially a father.»

Kathy Acker: Blood + Guts in High School

There's 2 kinds of readers for such books—those that can relate personally + those whose life is far from it but want to experience it vicariously (+ a 3rd group that doesn't give a shit either way). U could say that about most books + films on vice (which probly comprises the majority) ... they allow us to commit murder + live lives of debauchery w/out the ramifications. In the case of Acker + Calloway, the experience changes depending on gender. Some woman can perhaps relate or therapeutically benefit from such books (tho any1 who's been thru the trauma of say, being raped by their father would likely be seriously offended + further damaged by reading Blood and Guts in High School). And for other women, again, it affords the opportunity to empathetically act out such trauma or sick fetishes w/out the stigma, STD, unwanted pregnancy, etc.

It's the male perspective we wonder about ... by saying we liked or enjoyed Blood and Guts... in some ways feels complicit ... that we enjoy rape + violence towards women. For some individuals—like that psycho in Isla Vista this past week whose name is not even worth propagating—reading books like Blood and Guts... or What purpose did I serve... could perhaps diffuse any latent or repressed tendencies, to let them act them out in their sick heads rather than in real life. Or not ... in the hands of some, the message of the book could be construed as implying that women secretly want to be violated + desecrated in the ways described in these books. And the argument that women but not men are entitled to portray misogyny is like saying only N_s are entitled to use the N word.

Our guess is most men are not able to objectively process these books as responsible 'adults'—to know the difference between fact + fiction, life + art. Not that they are books that should be censored, condoned or even criticized ... this only fans the flames or furthers their purpose ... + all this talk of trigger warnings is plain silly .... people should be exposed to everything + make up their own minds about it. Most violence we see on T.V. we just look away + wait for it to be over ... we are specially adverse to scenes where people stick needles in their skin ... should books + films w/ needle sticking carry trigger warnings? Or a disclaimer that the book contains scenes w/ birds for those w/ ornithophobia? Then virtually all books would have a laundry list of things at the beginning of the book, giving it all away. And should there be spoiler alerts or trigger warnings for trigger warnings? What if just seeing the word «rape» or the N-word sets people off? How do you warn them of it w/out reminding them of it? Some1 should write a book called Trigger Warning where the cover has all the trigger warnings + then the content of the book is blank. Or a book called Spoiler Alert, where the content is in itself a spoiler alert for itself.

Such intense self-hatred + self-loathing is undoubtedly a hard thing to live with (if genuine ... which in the case of Acker we'd think so, but in the case of Calloway we're not so sure ...). And to live w/ it w/out expressing it is even more horrible. Writing it down on paper serves as cathartic release. The authors can't be faulted ... they are honestly spilling their blood + guts (at least Acker is ... Calloway seems more the insincere attention-whore). It's more a question of whether the world knows how to handle Acker compassionately + objectively ... to allow her to self-destruct + humiliate herself in a sort of ritualistic performance art ... to publicly shame + sacrifice herself, so her troubles + misery serve some sort of purpose ... catharsis, transformation, self-annihilation, resurrection, whatever.

Acker says elsewhere, «The personal interiorization of the practice of humiliation is called humility.» In both Acker + Calloway's books there's a certain callous numbness to the abuse they invite upon themselves ... as if to say men can physically fuck + humiliate them all they want, but they can't touch their inner core. But we're not so sure if such mind-body separation is possible ... such self-desecration undoubtedly seeps deep down to the blood + guts. Then again, we are a man + 1 w/ little interest in sexual fetish, specially when combined w/ violence. Seems to us like shitting + eating in the same place. And we can't relate to any book where the authors put life-size headshots of themselves on the cover. Mostly we just felt sort of sad + sorry for Acker. That said, we haven't read her other books ... maybe in others she is putting her language to better use.

03.06.2014 03:30> should be on the way to JFK to hop a plane to Heathrow right about now, but we're sitting on our couch ... UK plans fell thru. All this travel + work stress is taking its toll on our better ½ ... specially the air travel is running her into the ground ... + this is even after the 2nd leg of her Africa trip was nixed cuz of the recent violence in Kenya. So at least for now we decided to chill on the isle of Manhattan. Sometimes the unexpected cancellation of travel plans is exciting as unexpected travel planes ... makes it feel more like staycation.

Kathy Acker: Blood + Guts in High School

j on our last trip to Sussex

+ speaking of Beachy Head ... was listening to Throbbing Gristle the other day + it occurred to us that the LP cover of 20 Jazz Funk Greats that we used to stare out for hours on end as a teenager was taken there ... essentially the spot J is looking at.

And while we might not be summering in Sussex, it's still the summer of SSES ... perhaps moreso as now we won't have the distraction of feeling compelled to explore new surroundings. Since 'SSES" 'SSES" "SSEY' is a reflexive technotext, an ever self-conscious process document of the making of [the book] (post-post-modern if u will), we've been mining thru Joyce's original Ulysses notebooks + manuscripts, which the National Library of Ireland has graciously put online (why go anywhere when you have all this at the tips of your fingers!) ... including the draft Circe manuscript they paid $1.5M for.

cover of 1 of Joyce's working notebooks for Ulysses


samples pages from his Circe notebook


cashed Ithaca + Penelope notes

Inside our own version of such notebooks is where you'll find us for the next few months...

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