The Rebel Sense of Kathy ‘Sugar’ Celeste -a romance
By Matthew Kalessin
The lateral sequel (kind of) to Kathy Acker’s Empire of the Senseless, and a progressive cut-up manual for system change.
Dedicated to all the fine people in Extinction Rebellion. (If this book makes more than 15K I’ll give the rest to XR)
‘There aint no fold-in shit going on here. I don’t even understand that shit’ –the author.
Chapter The First
In which we learn that the novel is a most remarkable thing, but not quite what we thought. In which we also learn the place of ladies in modern industrial culture, and the importance of being prepared for unexpected and inclement weather.
When writing a cut-up novel for the 21st Century, or a novel that includes cut-up, my advice is to choose your texts well. Remember that the primary role of a cut-up novel should be to transform the consciousness of the reader, to a higher level of perception and understanding of ‘texts’ in general (meaning anything in life that can be read for its underlying and inherent influences, not just the written word -in this sense all of human experience and art can be viewed as ‘text’, from ‘objective’ and subjective perspectives). Additionally, at this late stage of the globalised neoliberal capitalist empire (Acker’s Empire got even more senseless) the only valid cut-up has to attempt to help Rebellion, or else it’s a complete fucking waste of time, do you feel me? I don’t know if Acker’s work can strictly be defined as ‘cut-up’, but to me it is. My treaties here are a response to the spirits of Acker, Gysin and Burroughs, to the extent that they were interested in loosening the connection between the written word and what it (supposedly) refers to –a reaction against the deification of words and the use of words to oppress, by certain entrenched systems of power. Perhaps you could also see this as a shock tactic to blast through the wilful ignorance of lazy people.
Don’t worry if you didn’t get any of that. Just follow the instructions below. This is my way of doing cut-up. It’s not the only way. I encourage you to experiment, and take this in new directions. Feel free to cut-up this book and re-write it as your own, and try to sell it and profit from it if you dare. (If you’re stupid enough to pass this tripe off as your own, then good luck to you. I for one won’t be taking you to court. I wouldn’t embarrass myself).
So, back to choosing texts.
As the New Statesman review on the back of my copy of Empire of The Senseless says, ‘In this domain, everything signifies, but nothing refers’. Every novel is simultaneously a work of individual creative will, and the sum of disparate infinite threads of underlying momentum, meaning and power, many not realised by the author. In the cut-up form the author is beginning to make conscious the unconscious forces which drive literature, and thus society in general.
Exercise One: Block Form Cut-Up: I think we’ll start by choosing some large blocks of text. So when I wrote above, ‘This is my way of doing cut-up’, what I meant was, I’m making it up as I go along. Choose several diverse blocks of text. The idea is that you are trying to represent your idea of the modern world you live in, or even the feelings that modern society raise in you. So don’t just choose texts that you ‘like’ aesthetically or that explain the world well for you, although you could include those. The overall angle is to choose texts which are representations or significations or signs of what you perceive to be going on in the world, or of how you perceive the world to be, including your place in it. It would make sense to include material related to your own life and anything that’s been on your mind recently. The texts don’t have to make sense in a narrative way –they only have to make holistic sense to you personally, when taken together. You’ll see what I mean below. If you can choose multimedia texts, so much the better. Try including some food labels of the stuff you eat, or the stuff you definitely don’t.
The order you put the texts in will affect how the reader views them individually and holistically, as an impressionist whole. How can you best represent your impression of the world by the order in which you place the texts? Even if you don’t put them in any order consciously, your unconscious and the universal unconscious will be ordering them according to some logic of their own –so beware. (Just how conscious can we be?)
Here are my texts, some written, some visual, (and when I have the payment plan, some audio and some audio-visual). Throughout this WordPress version of the book, all sources for every portion of every chapter are at the bottom of the portion (published post) except for this first chapter. For this first chapter I’ve included the sources in the text. The published audiobook and hard visual text copy will be completely different versions, and both will be different from this WordPress version. Thanks to WordPress for allowing this to happen etc blah.
A final note before we get stuck in: The internet allows unlimited possibility for cut-up. In fact the internet is one gigantic unconscious cut-up. This is the age of unconscious cut-up. I wonder, is that why cut-up has not proliferated as a conscious art form, except in obscure pockets?
Kathy Acker, Empire of the Senseless: ‘Someone may wonder whether in a post-industrial world a revolution can change a city’s architecture. Or anything. The streets were now the property of cars. The cars were now the property of those who had real (government) jobs. No prostitute had a car. This is why there were almost only women in the visible world. The men who worked in the corporations spent so much time in the corporations or driving to and from the corporations inside mirrored styrofoam cars, they were no longer visible. They were dead.’
https://www.ektinteractive.com/history-of-oil/: ‘With the dawn of the 20th century, environmental concerns and new technologies led another energy source shift from coal to oil. Interestingly, although women were not yet allowed to vote, ladies’ societies in the United States were instrumental in lobbying for laws to improve air quality and reduce the dense smoke caused by burning coal.’
For Teacher’s Use Only:
Student has demonstrated ability to blindly follow instructions: Y / N
Student is not inspired by subject matter to point of unnecessary disruption of debate: Y / N