Kathy Acker rang my head like a bell.
It happened sometime in the spring of 1990, while she was reading out loud, a passage to our class from Gertrude Stein’s 1914 book Tender Buttons.
I had just read it myself and thought little of it. In fact I clearly remember not liking it.
The book is comprised of three parts: Objects, Food and Rooms. I didn’t understand what any of the passages had to do with any of the subjects that they were listed under. When Kathy read, she did so simply, without sentiment and with a New York accent that delivered the words with matter-of-factness.
She was sitting at the end of a long conference table at the San Francisco Art Institute, and I was with half of the class, looking out through the window at Alcatraz, our backs facing the wall with the then entombed painting, The Rose (1958-1966) by Jay Defeo.
“The care with which the rain is wrong and the green is wrong and the white is wrong, the care with which there is a chair and plenty of breathing. The care with which there is incredible justice and likeness, all this makes a magnificent asparagus, and also a fountain.”
Then the sound of a bell.
“The care with which the rain is wrong and the green is wrong and the white is wrong…”
I’m thinking about this now, in New York, while I look out at the rain from the circular window of my hotel room.
Geoffrey Farmer born 1967