"As he pulls hair out of the back of his head onto the sheet metal some stones blow up
"My mother is the most beautiful woman in the world.”
This text is a passage from the late transgressive fiction writer Kathy Acker’s 1981 masterpiece Great Expectations. However, the centre paragraph was actually lifted, or “pirated” as was Acker’s preferred term for the practice, from French author Pierre Guyotat’s masterpiece Eden, Eden, Eden. And of course the book’s title is pirated from the masterpiece of the same name by Charles Dickens, which Kathy also re-wrote the first passage of to open her book. In the appropriation of her favourite texts, Acker framed her artistic and philosophical interests as inseparable from her literary identity. The appropriated texts weren’t just Acker’s influences, they were the texts that she used to explore her own role in literature and culture. And despite Acker’s reliance on heavy academic research, her work was undeniably personal. It was a primal and visceral expression of rage, anxiety, and desire that was derived from an intense practice of studious rigour.
“A significant element of Acker’s creative process was her personal library,” wrote Julian Brimmers for the Paris Review. “She was an avid and active reader. She frequently marked passages that she later pirated for her own novels. Most important, she used margins, blank pages, and empty spaces in front matter to formulate spontaneous ideas about her own art and (love) life—a glimpse into the writer’s mind at its most unfiltered.”
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