Philosophy for Spiders

On the Low Theory of Kathy Acker

Philosophy for Spiders

Book Pages: 192 Illustrations: Published: September 2021

Author: McKenzie Wark

Cultural Studies, Gender and Sexuality, Theory and Philosophy

It's time to recognize Kathy Acker as one of the great postwar American writers. Over the decades readers have found a punk Acker, a feminist Acker, a queer Acker, a kink Acker, and an avant-garde Acker. In Philosophy for Spiders, McKenzie Wark adds a trans Acker. Wark recounts her memories of Acker (with whom she had a passionate affair) and gives a comprehensive reading of her published and archived works. Wark finds not just an inventive writer of fiction who pressed against the boundaries of gender, but a theorist whose comprehensive philosophy of life brings a conceptual intelligence to the everyday life of those usually excluded from philosophy's purview. As Wark shows, Acker's engagement with topics such as masturbation, sadism, body-building, and penetrative sex are central to her distinct phenomenology of the body that theorizes the body's relation to others, the city, and technology.


“In this brilliant reading of one of the late twentieth century's most interesting writers, language ‘messes with flesh’ while ‘logic messes with language,’ transmuting Kathy Acker's sign-worlds into philosophy. I love the fearless way in which McKenzie Wark thinks. I also love the calm voice with which she walks herself (and us) through difficult spaces in theory and memory. Exploring how gender structures writing in ways related to, but ultimately different from, the norms that structure heterosexuality, Philosophy for Spiders radically expands the field of trans girl lit.” — Sianne Ngai, author of Theory of the Gimmick: Aesthetic Judgment and Capitalist Form

“McKenzie Wark’s highly personal sex memoir evolves the growing ‘My Kathy’ genre in trans directions. This impassioned, reasonable and subjective tribute makes more room for Kathy to live on as the future's own creations.” — Sarah Schulman, author of Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987–1993


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McKenzie Wark is Professor of Media and Culture at Eugene Lang College at The New School and author of several books, including Sensoria: Thinkers for the Twenty-First Century, Reverse Cowgirl, and Capital is Dead: Is This Something Worse? Her correspondence with Kathy Acker was published as I'm Very Into You.

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Table of Contents Forthcoming
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1468-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1375-4