I WAS INTRODUCED to the work of McKenzie Wark in 2021, with her book Philosophy for Spiders. This book is part memoir and part literary criticism of Kathy Acker, Wark’s friend and lover. I appreciated their candid conversations about solitude and sexual desire, masturbation, and what pronouns to use for Acker’s dildo collection. Both saw experimentation, specifically through language, as something equally present on the page and on the body.
Acker and Wark met in 1995 and continued emailing back and forth for over a year, the result of which was collected in I’m Very Into You, published in 2015, eighteen years after Acker’s death. The emails are sporadic and passionate. They range from cultural commentary to discussions of sex and gender play, each message a window into the ways we receive and appreciate intimacy, and the ways we notice those we adore, even (especially) when they’re not physically with us.
Wark’s latest memoir, Love and Money, Sex and Death, returns to letter-writing as a way of revisiting past lovers and past friends, and those who fall somewhere in between. She turns the idea of a traditional, linear memoir on its head, using hindsight as a tool to reapproach, and in some cases recover, past relationships: “Changing sex edits your relation to a lot of things. Including history.”