I’m Very Into You

Kathy Acker and Mckenzie Wark, I’m Very Into You: Correspondence 1995-1996
(South Pasadena: Semiotext(e), 2015)

MY phone just rang? Can my phone ring when I’m on this? Weird. It’s RU. I’ll have to call him back. How can I have two phone lines when I have one? Schizophrenia of machinery? Well, I better get off.


The second thing you said: regarding your always discussing your emotions about your girlfriends, but not about me—that being a problem. You see—I’m awful at paraphrasing you. Your words. Well, sweetie, I’m probably worse than you. And telephones—I can’t handle those things at all. I wish we could spend some days together. Perhaps in the future. Time is so weird… emailing now, I feel like the time between your email and this is usual email time: time elapsed. Five days never happened.

After a brief affair in Australia in 1995, experimental author Kathy Acker and cultural theorist McKenzie Wark shared an intense email exchange for two weeks, Wark still in Sydney, Acker in San Francisco. This was during the early days of the web and dial-up internet access; computer modems connected to internet service providers by dialling a telephone number on a conventional telephone line, using this line to decode and encode audio signals. Wark and Acker’s exchange took place during a transitional period, as telephones became redundant in themselves—the handset untouched, the line filled not with conversation but electronic grinding—yet essential to the most cutting-edge networks. The telephone was a technology alienated from itself, from its traditionally recognised functions. Acker’s emails in particular reflect this unease, the confusion as she receives a phone call while connected to the internet (which should, of course, be impossible) and the radical shift computers engender in the experience of passing time.

by Oscar Nearly