Essay Acker's Message to Postmodernism in Blood and Guts in High School

Essay Acker's Message to Postmodernism in Blood and Guts in High School

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A common complaint with Kathy Acker's work, particularly with Blood and Guts in High School, is that it is anti-male. This criticism, while valid, neglects to understand the methodology used in order to create a text in which patriarchal norms are no longer rampant. Despite its purpose of removing a gendered voice, postmodern fiction still contains elements of an authority which is predominately white and male. Acker changes this connotation by creating a “female text” in which women's bodies and desires must be internalized in order to create a new type of characterization unburdened by prior patriarchal texture. The absurdity of this technique makes the acts 'unsexy'—it departs from pornography as its intended purpose is to not be arousing or to divulge into male fantasy. Acker blends vulgarity, hypersexuality, masochism, and continual attempts of self-discovery (and ultimately failure) to incorporate a sense of change or revolution for a reader to interpret. Janey's first person journal narrative (and possibly Acker's autobiographical input) creates the allusion that there should be a strong emotional bond between reader and character, however Janey remains a flat and unchanging character for the duration of the text. Why is that? As a piece in which perspective must be shifted, Janey is required to be a flat character for the story to stay female. Her identity is structured around interactions and responses with other characters (many of which have already existed prior to this book). In fact, Blood and Guts in High School is as much plagiarism as Acker's Great Expectations or Don Quixote, since the underlying goal is to re-appropriate postmodernism as feminist by deconstructing male models through their interactions with Jane...

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...etween the end of the story and the epilogue entitled, “The World”, the voice must change because of the main protagonist's death. This is where the layering of Janey/Acker becomes especially important. Without Janey present, Acker must use her own voice to finish off the story Janey's body was physically unable to undergo. Or is Janey truly dead? Her voice may actually be present in the epilogue but only as a voice without any body. Both Acker and Janey's voices must pick up where the female body left off. In terms of the post-modern, female death results in total death.

Works Cited

Redding, Arthur F.. "Bruises, Roses: Masochism and the Writing of Kathy
Acker."Contemporary Literature: 281. Print.
Brennan, Kelly. "The Geography of Enunciation: Hysterical Pastiche in Kathy Acker's
Fiction." boundary 2 21: 243-268. JSTOR. Web. 20 May 2014.

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