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Ten years ago it seemed possible to destroy language through language: to destroy language which normalizes and controls by cutting that language. Nonsense would attack the empire-making (empirical) empire of language, the prisons of meaning.

Empire of the Senseless
Empire of the Senseless by Kathy Acker
Kathy Acker

But this nonsense, since it depended on sense, simply pointed back to the normalizing institutions.

What is the language of the 'unconscious'? (If this ideal unconscious or freedom doesn't exist: pretend it does, use fiction, for the sake of survival, all of our survival.) Its primary language must be taboo, all that is forbidden. Thus, an attack on the institutions of prison via language would demand the use of a language or languages which aren't acceptable, which are forbidden. Language, on one level, constitutes a set of codes and social and historical agreements. Nonsense doesn't break down the codes; speaking precisely that which the codes forbid breaks the codes.

About the Author

Kathy Acker Memorial and Tributes
Kathy Acker Interview
Kathy Acker Bibliography
Kathy Acker: In Memoriam to Friendship
Signed, Acker


As with William S. Burroughs, Acker's prose tends to use elements of science fiction but is generally not regarded as sf. Within the postmodern, her work, as well as that of Burroughs, Samuel R. Delany, Italo Calvino, Thomas Pynchon, Jeff Noon, David Foster Wallace, Teresa Halford, J.B. Sclisizzi and many others, constitute a type of writing which makes the borders between sf and fiction meaningless.