The Following Myth of Romantic Suffering Has to be Done Away With by Kathy Acker

BOMB 9 Spring 1984
009 Spring Summer 1984
Martha Diamond 01

Martha Diamond, Sun, 1983, oil on canvas, 66 × 88 inches. Courtesy of Brooke Alexander, New York.

Description of Female Weight-Lifter

1. on nature

Writing must be a machine for breaking down, that is, allowing the now uncontrolled and uncontrollable reconstitutions of thoughts and expressions. All other kinds of writing simply express.

The first given, then, or the always-present beginning or return to is nothing. I(dentity) is and does nothing. Once there’s (there always is) nothingness, any event’s possible. My methodology’s total rigor. This or any total rigor is meaningless.

Those who are driven by poverty, those who’re free from material worries hunger exhausting labor a joyless existence ask the same question, the question of meaning.

A language is the appearances of connections therefore language as in writing doesn’t express anything: it creates.


2. description of her family.

My father’s and my mother’s family’re both from Alsace-Lorraine and Jewish. I know nothing else about my father’s family. My mother’s mother, her two sisters, and her mother and father came over to America when my grandmother was young, in about 1900. Though rich in the old country, they couldn’t bring their wealth to America. (Am I making up these details?) I don’t know why. Nana (my grandmother) must have detested being poor because in her late adolescence, she told me she’s now inordinately (that’s my word: hers is very) proud of having started a successful millinery shop. The millinery shop was in Brooklyn. Being in the shop introduced her, when she was 30 years old, to her first and only husband. (These dates don’t match.) “I waited until I found the right man.” The right man ran the American ladies’ glove business.


The man I love’s grandmother: The Mayfair section of London lies about 17 blocks from the Picadilly tube station. You walk down Regent Street down a wide stone staircase to the mall when a parade passes between two lines of screeching tourists, sharply then to the right along a wide dirt road. The road moves past the Queen Mother’s house, two more houses who have huge gardens, through non-descript Buckingham palace, slightly to the right now through a small patch of foot-high wild grass. An iron man holds an iron gun. Behind the gun stone-relief English soldiers slaughter stone-relief African soldiers. Behind this statue, the words: St. (don’t remember)’s Hospital. Dirt so dry it’s almost nothing cuts through long vistas of almost dried grasses. Long iron gate. The first street is Curzon. Curzon Place where down one street every other huge red brick building is FOR LET. My grandmother lives here opposite the American Embassy. She and my grandfather like Jews only. Who is she? She’s very wealthy. Oh (not caring). She’s very snobby and opinionated. I’ve tried to change her, but I haven’t succeeded. You can’t change old people. Unlike middle-aged people, they do what they want.

I’m going to tell you about my family. My grandmother adored her husband (whom I can’t remember cause he died when I was three). I know this because one day when I was (an unusually brave act for me cause when a kid I didn’t dare do anything on my own) looking through the family mementos in the drawers of a captain’s desk hidden in the recesses of my parents’ closet, a captain’s desk which had secret drawers, I found a soft gray hat. I wanted it because it was wonderful. So I put it on my head. My mother, snatching it off immediately, slapped me hard. “That was your grandfather’s. He was exceptional. You’re never allowed to touch that.” Another time: “My father was gentle. He was the kindest man who ever lived. He wouldn’t hurt another human being. Whereas Nana … you know what she’s like …” “Yes.” “… she still tells me what to do. You saw what happened with that dress I bought at the beginning of this week. She saw it on me and didn’t like it. I had to take it back to the store. I’m 37 years old.” Nana: “I never married again.”

Robbe-Grillet thus flatly refuses to embrace the “tragic vision” embodied in absurdity. “I prefer hollowness to meaning.” Our Navy has to achieve “outright maritime superiority over any power or powers which might attempt to prevent our use of the seas and the maintenance of our vital interests worldwide … We must blank out the Russian Navy … We must make the Soviet Union an isolated island.”: President Ronald Reagan on the “Lehman” Doctrine’s fundamental axiom.

A top Navy priority is fortifying the Pacific Command (PACOM)—the only unified command in which the Navy has undisputed hegemony. Its methods: 36 new F-16 fighters bombers to Korea and 48 more to Japan (fortification of tactical air forces); multiple aircraft carrier task forces deployed to South Korean coast; aircraft carrier deployed to Sea of Japan and periodic naval exercises in Sea of Japan and Sea of Okhostsk to challenge Soviet fleet directly; 24 hour Japanese and USA patrols in at least three out of the five straits leading out of Sea of Japan; Pentagon integrates China into its plans by providing logistical support for Chinese military maneuvers …

Secretary Lehman: “… he who gets the signal to fire first will enjoy a tremendous tactical advantage.” President Ronald Reagan: “You can have a nuclear exchange without necessarily turning it into a bigger war.”

My grandmother and my grandfather: When I went to school, I went to school in a horses’ stable. Above the stable was a four-story townhouse. The entrance way was two tremendous double red doors. The floor of the hall is black-and-white checkered. As you enter the hall, to your right, there’s the white marble snail staircase only the twelfth-grade girls have the privilege of using to climb up to their locker-room on the second floor. “Onward Christian soldiers, marching on to war. With the cross of Jesus, going on before.”


The higher you rise in this building, the younger the girls. The roof is the first and second-graders’ play area. High wire netting surrounds, in one corner, a see-saw three times the size of any child’s body; in an adjacent corner a playhouse which can be entered contains a real tea-set. A swing sits between these two corners.

Penelope Woodward is the most hideous girl. I’m running a race with her. Of course I’m going to win. Just like in the dream I had about my father’s going to rape me after he tried to fuck me, but that happened nine years later, my legs aren’t won’t run as fast as I want them to run. Have I won? I look around. I don’t know why, but Penelope’s lost her eye. I didn’t mean to do it because I’m guilty. I don’t know whether I did it.

Nana has a razor in her hand. The razor is sharper than a knife. Even though the razor’s sharp, her right hand’s curving around the blade and only its end juts out beyond her flesh. Her eyes, so brightly blue they’re almost lavender, pinpoint. Her head shakes up and down. A brusque wrist movement carves out one of the rabbit’s eyes. The other hand, meanwhile, is holding a chipped lightly gray china bowl under the eye socket. A small amount of white mucus lies in the blood in the socket. The blood empties out of the eye socket.

The drops of blood are coming out of the rabbit’s eye socket. First they stain the white fur under the eye. In the beginning there’s only one drop. The temporal space between blood drops is shorter. After several minutes, for a minute or so, or perhaps for just a few seconds, for the human sense of passing time is spacial, the drops come so close there appears to be and is a thin blood stream, trickling over the socket’s side, pouring into the bowl she’s holding. In the beginning blood drops on, stains the the bowl’s sides. As these blood drops slide curvingly downward along the slightly unpolished stone, they form irregular patterns of red mixed with gray-tending-toward brown. The more blood enters, the more the patterns disintegrate into muddles, splotches, almost chaos. A blood pool lies in the bowl’s bottom. The blood streams in. The blood level rises. When the blood stops, one blood drop spatters a bit of blood to the bowl’s top.


The man pressed his head covered by curly black and silver hairs against her freely-offered white neck. One of her hands, curving around his head, pulls it into her mental body. Obviously, she feels, his cock’s rising as if it’s an alive being who wants to enter the hole between her legs. She moans half audibly because whenever she sensed his cock’s going to touch her flesh her cunt’s insides she starts to come. She can’t tell if she’s coming.

The politics of the United States of America and of England are historically and presently intertwined. The specter of hundreds of Irish men and woman staring out from barbed wire concentration camps as well as the publicity given to reports of torture during and for interrogations compelled Britain to introduce a new system which sported a modicum or cover-over of judicial procedure. The passages of the Emergency Provisions Act (1973) and the Prevention of Terrorism Act (1974) installed the Diplock Court System, which critics deride as the “Diplock conveyor belt system of judicial injustice.” Under the Diplock system, suspects can be held for up to seven days during which time they are induced to sign confessions.

Nana must have loved sex cause even in her seventies she traveled once a year down to Palm Beach to see the “dance teacher” (I don’t know if they fucked) at the same time she didn’t necessarily associate sex and love. She gave up her independence (though never her loneliness) only for my grandfather and when he died didn’t want to share her life with another man. My adopted father worshipped mommy. Mommy despised her new husband. Most of the time mommy and her husband were together and awake, they sat on their twin double beds while mommy told him he was a worthless human being because he always fell asleep the moment he returned from work and because he never took her out to the theater or fancy restaurants.

Both Nana and mommy made up their worlds. Nana’s was a world in which a woman makes a success of her life only by marrying a rich and powerful man. Because this is what she did and what she had to do.


British Prime Minister Ronald Reagan is sending thank you notes to Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet for the aid he gave Britain during that country’s 1982 war against Argentina over the Falklands/Malvina islands. These t(h)ank you’s include planes, helicopters, a Magnox nuclear power reactor, and some 300 tons of natural uranium.

Whereas mommy’s world was a world in which she was the perpetual child. Both Nana and mommy, I come from a matriarchy, were nuts. The difference between their “madnesses” or created worlds—a difference between many people—a difference which determines whether someone becomes is taken for a social leader or an outcast—was that Nana didn’t question herself and as part of her beliefs or world had a self-image of power and strength, both women had money, whereas mommy believed she was the child, for instance when her father left her half his fortune, she gave this money back to Nana even though she was married so Nana would keep being her mother. She remained dependent on and hating (her dependence on) Nana: a child. When her second husband died, even though she was 48 years old, she was so naive and irresponsible two years later she killed herself because she had run out of money, even though Nana was rich, and she didn’t know how to get money a child can’t manage a child is mad.

When I was reading Mourning Becomes Electra my next-to-last year in high school, I was frightened I had inherited familial madness just as the child in the O’Neill play inherits madness.

When in my family Long Island summer house Nana took a bath, I would enter the bathroom watch her two breasts which resembled long dead snakes float on the water. Her breasts made my stomach turn. Her clothes, unlike my mother’s dresses though she used to control what my mother wore (that’s why mommy tried to control what I wore), seemed elegant. She rarely purchased a store dress. She used a dressmaker. Most of her summer dresses were printed silk knee-length cut close but never against the body. Since she had traveled to a different strange land once every year up till five years before she died, she owned a few garments which held me in as much of a trance as her mirrored-ceiling-and-wall hall. Swirls of reddish-brown and thinner black lines grow out and down one full-length robe. Tiny real black beads outline each reddish-brown, brown, and black swirl. Another dress, short and straight, is only varying patterns of black beads covering almost-transparent black silk gauze. When I was either three or five years old she brought my half-sister and I back from China very thick satin very bright orange pajamas lined in even thicker white silk. Through Nana’s gifts to me, my world appeared:

​Martha Diamond 02

Martha Diamond, Flame, 1980, oil on canvas, 40 × 54 inches. Courtesy of Brooke Alexander Gallery.

3. she becomes natural

In a country pub:

BIG FAT UGLY MALE IN PUB: Did you say somethin’, girl?

WEIGHT-LIFTER: I said that if it weren’t for my weightlifting, I’d be an outcast cause I’m unable to be in this world.

MALE IN PUB (sipping his beer): Makin’ a bit much of yourself, ain’t ya?

WEIGHT-LIFTER: Shut up, Michael. I’m not as good as other people. Maybe I was born working-class undernourished, but rather than social I’m a genital freak.

MOTHER: What’s that, slob?

WEIGHT-LIFTER: Since I’m never going to stop being a freak I want Society to accept me. I don’t care if the people who don’t matter don’t accept me—which is almost all people. Only artists matter. I want the artists to decide I’m a weight-lifter. This is the utmost importance to me. Do you understand, this is the utmost importance to me?

MALE IN PUB: I know everything.

WEIGHT-LIFTER: When my work becomes accepted because it has to be, will I lose my weight-lifting’s source: my madness? Is madness all there really is?

(Outside, in the countryside. Continuing this argument:)

YOUNG BLACK SHEPHERD: D’ya think your weight-lifting’s got any form and’s good?

(Grinding out my own loneliness: The Marquis De Sade didn’t talk to anyone during most of the end of his life.)

WEIGHT-LIFTER (drunk): I think it’s good solely cause I’m not going to spend the rest my life in hating myself.

YOUNG BLACK SHEPHERD: The only thing you care about is the approval of the upper-class London intelligensia.

WEIGHT-LIFTER: Why’re you so fuckin’ interested in judging me? I know I’m a freak. Why can’t you accept something besides your dumb fake so polite fake fake behavior? I HAVE to act as I’m doing cause I have to be accepted cause I have to survive. Worse: this pain. I’m feeling so much pain I have to make my life into a fabulous amazing object, more than that, into something, not just that mushy shit your sheep are living in.


WEIGHT-LIFTER: Okay. So you hate me. Everyone hates me. I know what life in this world is. It doesn’t just have to do with class. Today I’m thinking again about killing myself. This’ the way I come back to normalcy in New York City: my private unsocial life. When I’m normal, I hate other people cause they’re monsters or I’m weird. The world: Humbug. Bullshit. Bulls’ balls. Beefstew. I’m sensitive. No one knows this. I’m human. I’ll ball anyone I don’t care cause any action that’s feelingless enough alleviates my pain. You hear this, you motherfuckers, and you still even more want feelinglessly to fuck me. Ball ball black sheep. I’m gonna jump out of this cab I’m in with you cause I hope you hurt, cause I have to make you perceive I hurt. I want a home, I want someone, anyone, to love me. I want you, young boy, to love me cause I, personally, love you.


The animal’ll slip out of its cage and lie in the fields; those who have been last, the lambs of God, will be first; and sunlight’ll bathe everything in its warmth, not fire.

Soon we’ll stretch our limbs which’ve been aching from these shackles and these fetters and these self-imposed bonds these Fears Greeds-That-Are-Repressed Thoughts-Clung-To-And-Made-Much-Of The imprisonments of human beings by other human beings. Which human being feels joy by inflicting another human being’s pain? Why?

From night until morning, the small animals: weasel, mole, otter, muskrat, opossum, rabbit and hare, anteater, tiniest of deer, guinea pig, fox will be able to sleep without nervousness in their holes.

The animal slips out of its cage, and lies in the fields: those who have been last, the lambs of God, are first; and sunlight is bathing everything in its warmth, not fire.

Now we stretch our limbs which’ve been aching from the shackles and the fetters and the self-imposed bonds Fears Greeds-That-Are-Repressed Thoughts-Clung-To-And-Made-Much-Of The imprisonments of human beings by other human beings. Which human being feels joy by inflicting another human being’s pain. Why?

From this night until morning, the small animals: weasel, mole, otter, muskrat, opossum, rabbit and hare, anteater, tiniest of deer, guinea pig, fox’re sleeping without nervousness in their holes.

Art’s process is destroying only.

Muck has filled most peoples’ perceptual faculties. I can’t depend on anyone else’s opinion. All I have or know is what I’m being presented including other people’s opinions. Therefore I act simply or, all action’s simple.

Part of what I’m presented’s causality or expectedness. Since causality’s just another given event, there’s only nothingness. Everything’s presented so there’s no need to make anything appear; everything that can be presented has to be real. Art illustrates, is this.

Art’s first principle is no principle. As far as living g(r)oes, there’s only total responsibility or meaningless methodological rigor.

Hollowness breaks open the common bounds of the possible.

All I have is all I’m presented which is nothing. Art’s the clearing-out of everything else, so here’s paradise.


A Second Poem

In London I lived with a theater director for six weeks.

He adored me and loved me.

He said he didn’t love me. He threw me out of his house I lived on a friend’s couch.

I fucked a married man to get the hole out of my heart. The married friend and I kept fucking.

I can’t figure out if this married guy loves me or just loves being with someone outside his wife and I can’t figure out what his relation is to his wife.

I know I’m going to be hurt by him I’m being hurt.



THE THEATER DIRECTOR’S MOTHER: I love you so much. Right now I love you the most cause you’re doing what I want you to do.

THE THEATER DIRECTOR (my husband, aside): The lousiest bitchiest cruelest children’re the only ones who have mothers who love them. Look at me. I hate her.

MOTHER: Who’s this female cunt? (The American you’ve been harboring in your house?)

THE THEATER DIRECTOR: I’m madly in love with this one, mom, I’m hooked, even though I’ve no intention of giving her a tuppence or even lending her five quid when she’s dying of hepatitis and for that reason crawling along the street. What I love most about her, mom, is she likes to suck ass as much as I do and she lets me tell her what to do except when she cries cause she’s schizo.

I love her so much I’ve stopped fucking around. What more can any man do for a cunt? I have only one problem: I’m a thief.

MOTHER: A son of mine isn’t a thief.

THE THEATER DIRECTOR: No one can know we’re married cause marriage is the most disgusting institution in the world.

MOTHER: How can a son of mine get married? You know your father wants money.

THE THEATER DIRECTOR: She doesn’t have any cause her rich parents’ll recognize her only if she marries a man who’s wealthier than them. Cause I want her, I’ve stolen her away from her life.

MOTHER: We don’t have any money, Lamb: I’ve blown a million these last two years. You should’ve waited till she had control over the money: Why’d you marry if not for money? What about your training? Women marry for money. They don’t marry for any other reason. Women want money. You’ve lost all your money cause of me: Cause you don’t have money, you won’t own her.

THE THEATER DIRECTOR: Shut up. For the last three weeks she’s living with me for love (so neither her belly nor her greed swells), so she does exactly what I tell her to do. She buys coffee filters and swing-bin liners. When she doesn’t and even when she does I beat her. She’s perfect now because she doesn’t want.

MOTHER: That’s how I expect every cunt to act toward my son. Being English, I expect total politeness. There’s no food in this house.

WEIGHT-LIFTER (outside door, to mother): Since I’ve left my country behind since I’ve left my friends behind since I know neither the customs nor anyone here, I’m dependent on my husband and he doesn’t love me. He doesn’t even want me. His success in the world’s my success though he won’t tell me what his life is. The few waking hours we’ve got together, we eat each other and fuck.

THE THEATER DIRECTOR: You’re talking again like you’re schizo.

WEIGHT-LIFTER: I’m sorry. I’m really sorry. It’s all my fault.

THE THEATER DIRECTOR (even more sternly): You always act like this.

MOTHER: Would you like to enter our house?

WEIGHT-LIFTER (sobbing with relief [it’s hard to be on the streets of a strange city where there’s no women’s gyms]): Yes. (Enters through door.)

THE THEATER DIRECTOR (alone on the streets): I love her more than I love my work. I never get to see her except the few weekends when I can take a breather from working. She’s the most perfect of all women so I have to make her as ugly as possible. When I’m not with her, she fucks every man she can get her hands on especially all her old boyfriends.

(On English marriage.)

UDI (a dumb fat boy): I’m as dumb as they come. I’m having fun. I never went to school because the dumb working classes go to school. (He walks off stage.)

FABRITIO (to his daughter I(sabel)): Do you like your new husband? I don’t care whether or not you like him: I’m your father. I say you’re going to fuck him. You’re going to like fucking him.

L(IVER) (Fabritio’s wife): You can’t tell a woman who she loves.

FABRITIO: Is love fucking? We agreed, L(iver), to do what we want.

MISSERAL (Fabritio’ s brother-in-law): I want to fuck her. (Pointing to I(sabel).)

I(SABEL): I hate the SOB fool they want me to marry and stick my cunt around; most of all I hate a lack of intelligence. All these people around me, (looking around her,) are drooling greedy avaricious fools. If I have to marry one of them, once I’m married, I’ll fuck every man in sight. The only revenge women have is to fuck every man in sight. That’s why we’re naturally nymphomaniacs.

Men who are stupid aren’t real men though they’re most men. Since they’re not men, their wives don’t get fucked. So if I’m going to be married to a stupid man, I’m—if I’m faithful—I’m faithful to nothing. What’s faith to a woman who lives among stupid men?

Because men’re stupid, a woman does and gives whatever she can and more to get a man. Men prize money most; women prize men. The gotten, so-to-speak, man then does exactly as he pleases and the woman has to keep pleasing him more and more or else he’ll leave her for one of those younger and therefore prettier cunts he’s been fucking though he can’t fuck. Jail prisoners are better off than the woman who lives with men because prisoners don’t work their asses off and even pay the jailers to be their jailers. Why do women want to be prisoners?

Because love solves all problems. Love’s, you see, irrational. What’s this SOB fool these people’re making me marry? Even a woman who wants to be a prisoner wouldn’t marry him. But I, a man, have to marry him. What’s the matter with you, unc? ’Re you sick?

MISSERAL: I’m sick to death. I can’t tell you about that one. Leave me alone.

I(SABEL): You’re my only relation I can talk to. I thought you loved me. (She’s so fed up and exhausted she’s about to start crying.)

MISSERAL: I love you.

I(SABEL): I love you too. (Sobbing.)

MISSERAL (placing his hand on her cunt): I adore your cunt.

I(SABEL): It’s more trouble to love than to be a zombie. I can either love when love destroys like the Duchess of Malfi or like myself this summer, or else fuck a man I think’s less than shit on the New York streets in the summer.

MISSERAL: I’d kill myself only I’m not that passionate.


THE THEATER DIRECTOR (alone): My head’s stuffed with vomit. My head’s always stuffed with vomit. Just like when a man and a woman meet for the first time, all they can do is fuck (their whole lives livelihoods which they’ve so carefully built up go to hell): so the only thing I want is this cunt and I don’t care about any other part of my living. Cunt’s my religion. This cunt’s my religion I adore her. Love lasts only when the person who’s loving the strongest destroys his or her own loving, otherwise loving’ll destroy itself. Passion’s consuming me.

WEIGHT-LIFTER: If you’re not going, stay with me. (Grabbing on to his cock.) I don’t think you want to be committed to me.

THE THEATER DIRECTOR: I don’t trust you. It takes me a long time to trust someone.

WEIGHT-LIFTER (rubbing his cock): You can’t half commit yourself to me and half not.

THE THEATER DIRECTOR: I have to control this desire to own everything or else it’s gonna destroy us and any possibility for love between us.

WEIGHT-LIFTER: Fuck me just one night.

THE THEATER DIRECTOR: Once I start fucking you you know I can’t stop because then the only thing I care about is fucking you. Go to hell.

L(IVER) (to I(sabel)): Are you unhappy, darling, cause we’re forcing you to marry a moron?

I(SABEL): The pain in me’s so bad, (it’s nothing to do with that shit), I have to keep it to myself.

L(IVER): The moron’s absolutely repulsive.

I(SABEL) (screaming): What does that have to do with me he’s like every other man! If I have to marry a man, I might as well marry one more moronic than a moron. Any man who has more brains than that’ll control my life and make me into hell.

L(IVER): You could say NO. Any human can say NO to morons.

I(SABEL): Know. There are just so many choices. I can commit suicide. Know. If it’s not him, it’s another man, or another. What does it matter? I hate this moronic-more-than-a-moron more than a beautiful woman doesn’t want to die and I do.

L(IVER): Why’re you pretending all the time? Don’t you feel anything? Or are you, just cause you’re a woman, more moronic than that moron you’re going to have to marry?

I(SABEL): I feel total hate. I can’t deal with hate. I don’t feel. I do what a woman does.

L(IVER): I won’t have my relative cunt a slave.

I(SABEL): Women’re slaves.

L(IVER): That’s a belief that lets them make you a slave. You know you like being whipped.

I(SABEL): Are you suggesting I kill myself?

L(IVER): You don’t need to kill yourself. Most women don’t need to kill themselves. They’re dead.

I(SABEL): I wish I was deader. Then I wouldn’t feel what it’s like day after day to fuck men you don’t love, don’t even like, and nevertheless who treat you like trash. Mental genitals’re the most wonderful things in life and the worst hell.

L(IVER): If you’re not controlling your life, who is?

I(SABEL): Cause I’ve got genitals, I can’t believe I can do what I want.

L(IVER): You narcissistic slave: you believe everyone in the world has it easy therefore you should have it easy. Why the hell do you think women get married? Do you think any woman wants payless work while she’s footlicking a lobotomy or Reagan Satan forever and ever? Do you think women’re mindless? Women get married to use the men they marry thus to be freer.

I(SABEL): I’d be doing what men do to me.

L(IVER): Everything you’re saying has no meaning because you’re a moron. Your father orders you to marry. He’s not your father. Your real father, some rich Spaniard you never met, fucked your mother while she was married to the eunuch. You’re now giving your life away to obey a fake father’s orders. There’re no fathers.

I(SABEL): I’m glad my father isn’t my father. (Exits.)

L(IVER) (to Misseral): I got her body for you.

MISSERAL: She won’t let me screw her.

L(IVER): She will now. (Aside,) I’d do anything for you, my brother. I love you so much, I’d cut out a chunk of my left arm. Any cunt you want to stick yourself into I’ll get you. (Kissing him passionately,) Me, the slave.

MISSERAL: I’ll screw her.

I(SABEL) (entering, ignoring Misseral): Okay I’ll marry him. I’ve learned. I’ll marry him so I can use him for everything. I’m the only one who can make myself happy. Maybe behind this absolutely evil marriage facade, once or twice in my life I’ll find a love. This is all there is for us human beings.

L(IVER) (to Misseral, as I(sabel) exits): She’s doing what I tell her to.


THE THEATER DIRECTOR: I’m about to get what I want. It’s my only happiness. I can smell cunt all the time. I have to get married cause I have to fuck. If I don’t fuck a wife, I have to fuck a whore who’s just a bag of skin holding, barely, a batch of maggots. I don’t care what you are, cunt. Women want to marry me cause I’ve got money. As for me: I can go for three months without fucking. When I’m in love, I wait for the woman I love and I don’t fuck someone I don’t love. (Fantasizing,) I’ll do anything to kiss, excuse me, to fuck you five days straight cause you’re horny. You haven’t fucked in so long your cunt curls around even my smell.

WEIGHT-LIFTER (entering the restaurant, shyly): Hello. (Sticks her hand out,) How are you?

THE THEATER DIRECTOR (looking at her hand, aside): Shit. Now I’m going to have to play this. The situation’s as false as a dying rich man. (To the Weight-lifter,) How’re you doing. ’Re you okay?

WEIGHT-LIFTER: Haven’t you tested me enough? (Starts crying.) I’m sorry. I thought I was going to act better. I’m upset.

THE THEATER DIRECTOR: What can I do? (Aside,) I hate her for bothering me like this. I’m a busy man.

WEIGHT-LIFTER: The only reason I love you is because I’m mad.

THE THEATER DIRECTOR: Write a book about weight-lifting. That’ll make you feel better. You know, I hurt too. I’m not feelingless. I’m not feelingless about your leaving.

THE THEATER DIRECTOR: I’d do anything to put my hand on your cunt. I’m the one who cares about you. I’m fucking someone else.

WEIGHT-LIFTER (aside): You’re the one who kicked me out, fascist. I wanted you. I want you. I’ll do anything for you. (To the Theatre Director,) When I love someone, I love so much obsessively fetishistically, I don’t do right so I destroy. Loving someone’s too dangerous. You can fuck someone casually only if there’s no feeling. When it matters, I have to pretend also to myself I feel nothing. Don’t believe I feel nothing. I love you, Lamb. I adore you. You never loved me and I know you haven’t and everything you say’s a lie.

It’s very evil to love too much, that is fetishize, that is allow any thought to be rigid. Is desiring you bad? What I want is Hell. I love living in Hell. I don’t know how else to speak.

Maybe if I want two men at the same time, I’ll live in two Hells at once. Then I’ll be an adult.

THE THEATER DIRECTOR: I have to fuck you.

WEIGHT-LIFTER: When we fucked, my darling, we didn’t think and that’s why it was something that simply doesn’t exist in this rotten world. So how am I going to fuck you now that you’ve cut off my head? That’s the ideal woman every man wants. I can’t love you and not love you at the same time. How the hell in this hell do two people manage to fuck more than three times in a row?

THE THEATER DIRECTOR (aside): All she knows how to do is cry. (To the Weight-lifter,) Come here. I love you.

WEIGHT-LIFTER: Lamb. We’re going to have to work this through. Your blood’s the same as my blood.

THE THEATER DIRECTOR: You know that I’m cautious. I never get into anything without knowing what I’m doing.

WEIGHT-LIFTER: Except for sex. (Knocking, like the weight-lifter being beaten over the head.)

THE THEATER DIRECTOR: Get out of here, Bianca. I don’t want any of my friends knowing about us.

“The Following Myth of Romantic Suffering Has to be Done Away With” is excerpted from Kathy Acker’s Scenes of World War III.

Kathy Acker is a novelist and performer who lives and works in New York City. Picador Press in London has just published her novel, Blood and Guts in High School.

Kathy Acker by Mark Magill
Acker 01
Nine Come by Elana Greenfield

III: The Voyager Returns

Chaos In Order by Craig Gholson
Jimmy DeSana 1


Dream the Myth Onward by Amber Power
Town Hall Affair 1

Feminists face off against Norman Mailer in the Wooster Group’s reenactment of the notorious ‘71 Town Hall debate

Originally published in

BOMB 9, Spring 1984

Nicolas Echevarria, Pam Yates, art by James Nares and Tom Otterness, writing by Daisy Zamora, Kathy Acker, Glenn O’Brien, and more.

Read the issue
009 Spring Summer 1984