Witte de With Contemporary Art
Program—Tania Screams
Image | October 2013

Tania Screams
By Kate Zambreno

Chapter from the 650-page novel entitled FREEDOM, on the dual personalities of Patty Hearst and Tania written by Monika, aka Monkey, while being kept as a sex slave in her father’s cellar.

Patty Hearst yelling commands at bank customers, April 4, 1974. Source: Wikipedia.

Notes scribbled down in Monkey’s notebook:

Tania = Slut, criminal, dirty, grotesque, feral, will fuck you up, revolutionary, likes girls

Patty = Good girl, innocent, heiress, Ann Taylor, honor roll, stuck-up, volleyball, likes boys

Was Patty brainwashed to become Tania? Was Tania brainwashed to become Patty again? Was Patty always brainwashed? Is anyone clean? Can we finally understand now that the notion of the unified personality is an illusion?

Patty doesn’t write her own script. Pattycakes is passive.

Tania screams. Tania screams TAKE THAT MOTHERFUCKER.


MISTAKES WERE MADE: Autobiography of Patty Hearst by Patty Hearst (Composed at her Therapist’s Suggestion while in the prison cell, Composed also with an eye to the commercial memoir, keeping in mind presidential pardoning and public acceptance).


Based on her inability to recall her state of consciousness as a child, the autobiographer is led to believe that perhaps she was never really conscious. Based on her inability to recall her state of consciousness as a child, the autobiographer is led to believe that memory is a fickle entity, one that can be vulnerable to gaps and exceptions. Nothing really traumatic happened when she was younger. The autobiographer felt kind of dumb and sad all the time. But she was happy enough, her parents meant well, her sisters made fun of her and were really kind of artsy-fartsy but it was all okay. She is so grateful that her parents never believed that she became that monster, that feral thing. They always believed in her. They greeted her with roses when she was arrested. They knew she would never say those awful things, and call her father, who was a nice moral man, a Nazi, and etcetera. They knew she was forced to read from a script. All fuck the bourgeoisie. All shit on the military-industrial complex. All the poverty and oppression. They knew she was forced by the members of the SLA to reproduce their foul street language, to stop talking like she was in a Katharine Hepburn film, but inside she cringed at all the casual fucks and assholes, they tripped out foreign in her mouth, because good breeding and cultivation never goes away.

She would like to thank the board of the Hearst Corporation for their belief in her through this struggle and for attempting the impossible task of negotiating with madmen.

The autobiographer is getting ahead of herself. Her mother was strict, but meant well. She wouldn’t let her bike to school, she insisted she be driven. She was afraid someone would knock her off her bicycle, drag her to their car. Which is pretty ironic now. She also picked out all these little matching outfits for her to wear, like culottes. She wouldn’t let her wear blue jeans. She was always watching her. She laid out her clothes for her in the morning. She was telling her not to chew gum. She was saying Patty cross your legs. She was saying Patty don’t be a slut. She was saying Patty don’t be a lesbian. She was saying Patty there’s nothing worse than a drunken woman. Don’t get knocked up. Don’t swear. Be a proper lady. Don’t go around with strange boys. Be a good girl. And then one time her sister ran out on the roof, and so her mother installed bars on the windows. Like, real bars. So she guess her childhood was kind of a prison.

Oh and her mother made her play piano. The worst. She had to practice the theme song for CATS over and over again. Memory light the corners of my mind.

Her first sexual experience was being raped by a boorish boy from a good family. It was not something she would like to dwell upon. This is what she remembers. She remembers being blanketed by his body, her silence. This is what was so humiliating. She was just a body. She was nothing to him. SHE JUST WANTED HIM TO KNOW SHE EXISTED. She was nothing to this insignificant sweating slathering boy who smelled like cherry cola. She didn’t even scream. Why didn’t you scream her parents asked her later? Well if it was a real rape and not a gray rape you would have screamed. Why didn’t she scream, still now, the autobiographer wonders? Sometimes she thinks that she didn’t scream because she didn’t know how to scream.

Thank you please, Thank you, Thank you please, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, I will, okay, I will, okay, I will, okay, I will, okay okay okay. Thank you.

She realizes this mirrored how acquiescent she was in the SLA cell, in that dirty, smelly one-bedroom apartment. Those two months blindfolded in the closet. She let the men do their business with her. They would ask if she wanted to fuck and it was uncomradely to say no. So she let them. She let them inside of her. She didn’t know how to refuse. She was really focused on survival. She learned to leave her body. To go in and out of herself.

The autobiographer guesses she was in a small way relieved when they burst in and stole her whole life away. When they bound her hands behind her back she felt something like the possibility of freedom, at her own confinement. It’s over. It’s over. Who knows what can bubble out?

It was the black man that she was afraid of. Even though they lied to her and said they were but one cell of many within the Symbionese Liberation Army, radicalized within prisons to fight the injustice of the treatment of black men there, and the oppression of minorities in Amerikkka, he was the only black person in the group. Thus, he was their leader and they deferred to him. When he told her his name she thought he said Sin and she thought, yes, these people are Sin Incarnate. Of course she learned later that she was trained in racism to identify him as the Other, in a fascist system of a binary of opposites.

When she was in the closet Cin threatened to rape her for daring to question his authority. He called her a bourgeois bitch and grabbed her crotch, then pinched her nipple, brutally. They kept her in that closet for months. She felt caged, like a wild animal. The inside of that closet stank, like BO. It was like she was in her own coffin. The closet was about six feet long and a bit more than two feet wide.

She did let Cin fuck her with her blindfold on in the closet. She didn’t want to protest or everyone would think she was racist. He came into the closet, and said Take Off your Clothes, and then he did his thing with her, and that was that.


She was starving, she refused to eat the mung beans and brown rice paste blah hippieglook they fed her. She was always constipated and cramped and she forgot when she last had her period. She asked if she could go to the bathroom. They laughed. They said say shit. Say piss. Talk like poor people talk. She was subjected to an endless stream of their reading from revolutionary tracts. An endless monologue on Marxism. She had never read Marx before. She was a captive audience. She only wanted to cooperate and not make them angry with her. They were determined to reeducate her. Marriage was enslaving women. She was a bourgeois materialist who spent money on Oriental rugs and gleaming copper pots at Williams-Sonoma and yoga classes. Eventually she came to realize that she was not free. She had never really thought of the poor and oppressed.

They broke her. She forgot who she was anymore. She cried all the time. She sobbed and just wrenched and they were disgusted at her feminine bullshit bourgeois emotions.


What does it mean to be held prisoner? What are the effects of isolation on the mind? Do we lose language, memory? What does it mean to be caged? What does it mean to be free? Aren’t we all trapped? How do we survive this containment?

They made her make a series of taped recordings they released to the press. They really wanted to be media stars. They wrote the script for her, but she was supposed to imbue it with authenticity.

Dear Mom and Dad,
I am sorry to have worried you. There is no need to worry. I am fine. You don’t need to wear your black dress in public. There is no need to mourn for me. I’m OK. I had a few scrapes and stuff, but they washed them up and they’re getting OK. And I caught a cold, but they’re giving me pills for it and stuff. I’m not being starved or beaten or unnecessarily frightened. But I know that the SLA members here are upset about press distortions about what’s happening. They have not been shooting down helicopters or shooting down innocent people on the streets. I’m kept blindfolded usually so I can’t identify anyone. My hands are often tied, but generally they’re not. I’m not gagged or anything, and I’m comfortable. And I think you can tell that I’m not really terrified or anything and that I’m okay.


Eventually she decided to join their underground revolutionary army. She was given the name Tania. She figured she had no choice, otherwise they would kill her if she resisted, and she felt curiously compelled. She thinks she really did it all for survival. Everything was day to day. She didn’t try to dig too deep. She also felt with everything she now knew she couldn’t return to her life before. When they finally took off her blindfold her vision was blurry. What an ugly ragtag group of hippie-dippy pseudo-revolutionaries she thought, like she’d imagine you’d find at an anti-war rally or an orgy.

So she was successfully reeducated. Or indoctrinated, however you want to look at it. She decided to cast off her middle-class family values. She became a revolutionary feminist. The girls ganged up together and protested that the boys were always in charge, they always ran the missions. It felt good to be strong and learn how to defend herself with weapons.

She thought about racism and capitalism and exploitation. She had never thought about THE MAN. She thought about the haves and the have-nots. She thought about violence and overthrowing the regime. She thought about revolution. She decided to stay and fight.

Dear Mom and Dad,

I’m sorry that I went off all of a sudden and scared everyone, but I have decided to find myself. I have joined up with a band of patchouli-hippies. I have prostrated myself to Charlie Manson. I have taken up with a cult who wear Nike sneakers. I am campaigning for the Democratic Party. I have been gang banged by the entire Notre Dame football team. I have decided to join the circus, like in Wings of Desire. I have converted to Wicca. I have fallen in love with a black man. We have had a brown baby. I have become a secret prisoner of the CIA. I have become addicted to meth. I have become an abortionist at Planned Parenthood. I have moved to France and have decided to renounce citizenship. Every night I take a different cock into my mouth. I have fallen madly in love with a beautiful woman named Sue—every night her fist flowers in my cunt. I have become an exhibitionist and a famous burlesque performer. I have moved to New York and am working in a radical left-wing vegan bakery. I have joined the SLA. I have taken LSD. I have started work on the Bunny Ranch. I have moved to Hollywood to become a call girl. I have become a Mormon and I am the third wife of a very lovely orthodontist. I have decided to renounce Christmas for its consumerism. I am very very sorry for all this but as you can see it’s impossible for me to see you anymore.

ove love,



I became someone else. Who is it I became? Who was I before? Perhaps I was doing a striptease down the pole of the virgin/whore dialectic?

That’s the crime right

I became Tania

I began to scream

Maybe I don’t want to be nice and pretty

Maybe I don’t want to be hot and fuckable

I want to be scary and grotesque

I want to be Andrea Dworkin sheltered in her fat and overalls

I want to be Kathy Acker with her muscles and shaved head

I want to be Valerie Solanas

I want to be Shulamith when she was wild and schizo and ugly

I have become your American nightmare Mom and Dad

An Apple a Day
Jessica Loudis
Army of Lovers
Ingo Niermann
As Mud as Clear
Guy Mannes-Abbott
Matthew Schum
Expect the Expected
Sarah Demeuse
His Own Personal Signed Copy
Patrick Goddard
In Cara, a Phantom
Alena Williams
The Blob
Maria Barnas
The Red Undead
Ana Teixeira Pinto
Tintoretto's Ecce Homo
Bertrand Prévost