I became friends with Dr. Al Ackermen, C.A.S.F.C., the great mail artist, painter and black-humor writer when I was about 15. He had a profound effect on my life as a friend, collaborator, source of inspiration, and occasional room-mate until he passed away in 2013.
Ackerman was a singular modern genius whose profoundly funny writing, disturbing images, and crackpot sensibility deserve extensive popularization and critical unpacking. This web site will not do any of that, though I hope that happens elsewhere.
No, this site will instead focus on a very narrow aspect (as in the obsessive sense of Ackerman’s own “Narrow focus” publications like “Macaroni Fancier Digest”): Ackerman’s tendancy to stick on certain odd turms of phrase, patented self-idioms that reoccurred in conversations, peppered the back of his mail-art envelopes, and then also sometimes showed up in his short stories or paintings.
Though he never used the word “meme,” these fragments fit that modern definition, as they banged about in his head and conversation, absorbing distinct meanings and mutating to fit different situations. Behind most of these “memes” was a pretty good story, usually.
It was a fascinating (and hilarious) side of how he was as a person that is unlikely to ever be vivid to people who didn’t spend much time with him. None the less, the protean goal of this site is to collect and elucidate as many of these Ackerman memes as possible.
I am very open to submissions, but will only publish things if they fit the concept/format of the site and seem genuine. I also may edit, or expand, as I see fit. The whole thing will be a work in progress, and I may update different memes as new facts come to light. I appreciate anything others can contribute, and will attribute accordingly.
In 2043, my hope is that this site will be so rich with detail that it can be used to “upload” or “scan” Ackerman’s entire consciousness (—which is of course holographically representable by the totality of his memes—) into an organic super computer! We all live in hope.
Last but not least, I miss you, Al. there are so many things that you were the best possible person to talk about, whole categories of thought that are wasted on the others.
And hey, I WANT TO BUILD 50,000 ROBOTS!
- John Berndt, Feb 2014