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Empire of the Senseless

by Kathy Acker

Kathy Acker's novels are constructive exercises in creative destruction, surefire intellectual excitement for all whose minds like to battle with texts that fight back. Acker demolishes conventionalized modes of representing gender, class, sexuality, and individual psychology.

In "Empire of the Senseless" passionate linguistic implosions reflect fiercely envisioned explosions on the streets of a decomposing, revolution shaken, economically collapsed, and disease infested Paris. "Empire" is speculative cyber-fiction inspired more by the scenarios of Frantz Fanon and Wilhelm Reich than Gerard O'Neill or Hans Moravec, scenarios involving the collapse of the "First World" and the destruction of the white Bourgeois male imperium.

Deeper than standard-issue allegorical dystopian future fantasy, the novel gets down to the level of dramatic ritual enactment. Acker's is a monstrously luminous vision of the turbulent return of the repressed - the id, the female, the black, the "Third World" and the outcast.

(P. Leggiere)

Empire of the Senseless
Kathy Acker
Grove, 1988

graphic - Bart Nagel photo from Mondo 2000


Here is the TEXT POPUP for Empire of the Senseless:

The long-postponed realization of my dream conceived in the confines of the cursed, obliterated city: hitching myself to the yoke, joining the horde of Dervish camp followers and ex-whores trailing along in the wake of the North African, mainly Morrocan, infantrywomen and soldiers of the Legion, throwing away my useless high-heel shoes, sinking my bare feet into the delicate ripples of the sands of what once must have been a city, Paris; lifted, thick sand dunes, walking on and on, losing myself in the desert.

The Algerians had taken over Paris so they would own something. Maybe soon the whole world. "The old man: there's something else about him. My father's no longer important cause interpersonal power in this world means corporate power. The multinationals along with their computers have changed and are changing reality. Viewed as organisms, they've attained immortality via bio-chips. Who needs slaves anymore? So killing someone, anyone, like Reagan or the top IBM executive board members, whoever they are, can't accomplish anything, and I wondered what would accomplish anything, and I wondered if there was only despair and nihilism and then I remembered.

A boat floating under the bridge. The body of an old man lay in the boat. I looked and saw the boat.

"Old man", the black skeleton said. "He an important man. Whole stretches are being ripped to steel and concrete. Now he dead man." In the boat my father I had never known was dead.

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