<-return to Esoteric Theory


1991
Semiotext(e)
522 Philosophy Hall
Columbia University
New York, NY


Hannibal Lecter, My Father - Kathy Acker
Can a reader ever truly experience a book in the way that was originally intended by the author? Each reading of a text is something new created by the unique associations triggered in the imagination of the reader. In a print-literate society, each person's unique interpretation of a text remains a private experience. In the oral tradition prior to the printing press, stories were passed by word of mouth through the generations: The original story was gradually morphed according to the whims or confabulations of each successive storyteller. Through publication a text becomes frozen: morphing or re-presenting of the original is discouraged by copyright laws.

Some post-modern writers use existing texts as fodder or foundation for new texts, a process which can produce some surprising results. In Hannibal Lecter, My Father author Kathy Acker explains what can be achieved through a representing of texts:

Lotringer: You have been accused of plagiarism in the past, specifically for a reworking of a text by Harold Robbins.
Acker: Robbins is really soft core porn, so I wanted to see what would happen if you changed contexts and just upped the sexuality of the language. It's a simplistic example of deconstruction.
Lotringer: I take it you mean deconstruction in the American sense.
Acker: Yes, as opposed to construction or reconstruction. You just take other texts and you put them in other contexts to see how they work. You take texts apart and you look at the language that's being used, the genre, the kind of sentence structure, there's a lot of contents here that most readers don't see.
Lotringer: It's some kind of active reading.
Acker: I've always loved doing that. Once I saw a James Bond film on TV and I copied the film, just did a plot summary and Jesus, the most obvious racism was apparent, which you wouldn't really quite think of if you watched the film.