As the rope was tightening around my neck, an Alien made love to me. Belief is a technology for softening the landscape. The world becomes more beautiful when God is in it. Here is what happens inside a person's body when they starve.
Written in the shadow of Georg Buchner's Lenz at razor pitch, Aliens & Anorexia, first published in 2000, defines a female form of chance that is both emotional and radical. The book unfolds like a set of Chinese boxes, using stories and polemics to travel through a maze that spirals back into itself. Its characters include Simone Weil, the first radical philosopher of sadness, the artist Paul Thek, Kraus herself, and "Africa," her virtual S&M partner who's shooting a big-budget Hollywood film in Namibia while Kraus holes up in the Northwest Woods for the winter to chronicle the failure of Gravity & Grace, her own low-budget independent film.
In Aliens & Anorexia, Kraus argues for empathy as the ultimate perceptive tool, and reclaims anorexia from the psychoanalytic girl-ghetto of poor "self-esteem." Anorexia, Kraus writes, could be an attempt to leave the body altogether: a rejection of the cynicism this culture hands us through its food.
About the Author
Chris Kraus is the author of the novels Aliens and Anorexia, I Love Dick, and Torpor, as well as Video Green: Los Angeles Art and the Triumph of Nothingness and Where Art Belongs, all published by Semiotext(e). A Professor of Writing at the European Graduate School, she writes for various magazines and lives in Los Angeles.
"Kraus's books are unsparing, provocative, and in their own way beautiful."
-Jean Rassenberger, Index
"Aliens & Anorexia is a tantalizing, messy, wildly associative and often brilliant book that leaps effortlessly between autobiography, art criticism, philosophy and fiction. [...] There are more ideas on every page of Aliens & Anorexia than in most books published in the last year. It is an exciting and courageous work."
—Ben Ehrenreich, L.A. Weekly, (19 January 2001)
"Aliens & Anorexia, read in conjunction with I Love Dick, comes apart in a rhapsody of longing; themes and characters are introduced, then altered by associations and reappearance. The unraveling escalates toward a form that resembles a knife wound: scalpel-sharp, female, radical, emotional, and completely original."
—Rachel Kessler, The Stranger, (27 April 2000)
"If America were to fling up a chain of roadside motels to be used as a needed, neon refuge for girls too smart for their own good, the writings of Chris Kraus would be the bitterly comforting Gideon Bibles tucked into the bedside."
"Reading Aliens & Anorexia is like drinking cream: so rich you can only take one page at the time. It kept distracting me from itself. I had to get up and leave the book, possessed by some new idea I wanted to be alone with."
—Lisa Carver, The Globe and Mail, (15 April 2000)