She was ahead of her time. There is no doubt about that. Acker really was interactive art. It's why she fronted bands -- most famously The Mekons on the CD of Pussy, King of the Pirates -- if you haven't heard it, buy it now. It's why her readings were more like stage shows than those creepy literary events where some dude mumbles in a monotone for half an hour. To see Kathy in her leopard-skin leotard, slash of red lipstick, gym-honed muscles, maybe a dildo, usually a backing track, seduce a packed crowd with that gorgeous voice and knowing childlike look was to discover how exciting art could be. Not rarefied, not back-dated, not dull, just something you suddenly wanted -- the way you suddenly want to be kissed by someone you hadn't even looked at before.
Okay, so Acker was art as performance and language as desire, but was she an important writer? Yes. Important work always has risk in it. That doesn't mean that all risky work is important,but it does mean that safety gets us nowhere. In science this is self-evident. In the arts, and particularly literature, we still moan and groan at experiment. Just gimme a good story, we say, with a beginning, middle, and end. Well, Acker won't do that for you, but she will help you get high.
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