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Johannes Göransson

Johannes Göransson co-edits Action Books with Joyelle McSweeney, and co-edits the online journal Action, Yes with John Dermot Woods. He teaches at the University of Notre Dame and writes regularly on the blog montevidayo.com.

Blurbs

"I don't know where else you could contract the plague in these words but by ten TVs at once. On the TVs play: Salo, the weather channel, 2x Fassbinder (any), Family Double Dare, ads for ground beef, blurry surgical recordings, porno, porno, Anger (all). An 11th TV right behind you will show you yourself reading to the backside of your head. You'll need a machine gun and a body double. You will not feel your disease: as here these words bring such high pleasure: this malaria is fun. It's also fidgety, petrifying, elegantly rash, giddy, stunned. Burroughs and Genet and 'Pac are dead. Long live Göransson."

– Blake Butler

"It would take a miracle to perform this pageant. For a start, you would have to reanimate Charlotte Brontë, Adolf Loos, and Ronald Reagan, and you would need an ungodly amount of wax. Most of the action is obscene, and therefore takes place offstage. The actors enter and report on scenes of spectacular violence that go on all the time every day. The audience is part of the spectacle too. We are all transformed into images somewhere in this script. At one point, all of Hollywood appears onstage on the form of dead horses, perhaps because Hollywood film continues to rely on narrative conventions that it exhausted long ago. The entire world also appears, played by a boy who, in a series of rapid costume changes, puts on increasingly pretty dresses."

– Aaron Kunin

"Voluptuous, turbulent, and focused, inventive and strictly faithful to the performative instability of our queer moment, Johannes Goransson’s new book brings page and stage together in order to put genre (and gender) to a series of on-going tests. Here body and body of work (inextricable) are in a critical condition: subject to an invasive and relentless interpretation producing excessive, unruly 'truths.' Here the debased coin of feeling is rung hard and the 'Authenticity kitsch' of an easily accepted idea of the poetic is returned for a better metal, mined from a deeper vein. The love child—in this book at least—of Sylvia Plath and Antonin Artaud (if one can assign parentage at the end of an orgy?), Goransson gives us realisms complicated and fast enough to believe in. Entrance to a colonial pageant in which we all begin to intricate is an immensely important and absolutely thrilling experience. Read this! 'Something tells me he is the poet of social justice. Peekaboo!"

– Laura Mullen

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Entrance To A Colonial Pageant In Which We All Begin To Intricate

"The Symptoms of Language Made Useless"

09/06/11

When Johannes Göransson contacted me to see if I wanted a review copy of entrance to a colonial pageant in which we all begin to intricateI kinda freaked out. For a while, I have followed Johannes’s group blog Montevidayo with great interest. Being primarily a prose writer, I get frustrated by how most fiction writers talk about form and content as fully separate things, and how this separation seems to wind up associating the political only with content, and never with aesthetics. But Montevidayo’s contributors seem to take the politicization of aesthetics and the aestheticization of politics as a given, and are already engaged in an advanced conversation about the relationship between art and “otherness.” But although I received, read and devoured my review copy of entrance to a colonial pageant months ago, I’ve remained too terrified to write a proper review. My own theory background is mostly in social movement theory, not art and lit theory, and I’ve been worried I would not be literate enough to engage Johannes’s ideas at the level they deserve (for a really sharp analysis of the book, I highly recommend Nick Demske’s review).

In her book Imperial Leather: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest, feminist scholar Anne McClintock examines colonial explorers’ use of fetish objects — spears, rifles, helmets, leather — to assert their domination over the unfamiliar landscape they fear will engulf them. In entrance to a colonial pageant in which we all begin to intricateit’s too late, we are already engulged. Johannes presents many of the familiar symbols and images of colonialism and nation-building — there are horses, a colonel, “innocent” children — but presents them corrupted, perverse, refusing to function in service to any sort of narratively or ideologically coherent agenda. In Johannes’s sentences, all language, like all nations, is always already forged, contaminated.

In his critical writing, Johannes is a big advocate for an aesthetics that embraces kitsch, excess, surface, and other modes or qualities dismissed by many purveyors of “true” art. All art, he argues, is counterfeit, and he is more interested in what he has called “the dynamics of softness and the rabble” than the so-called “natural” and “authentic.” As I have explored my own interest in aesthetics that aggressively embrace surface over interiority, Johannes’s writing has inspired me. Johannes’s relationship to surface is shaped in part by his experiences as an immigrant; he sees the immigrant as a destabilizing, unnatural figure, as inherently kitsch. In my own texts and performances, I have begun using sequins, pop songs, fashion and glamour to explore gender, desire and authorship as unstable and counterfeit. I think this may have something to do with why, out of all the bloggers at Big Other (the group blog for which I am a contributor), Johannes sent me a review copy, and also why I have felt too intimidated to write a proper review.

entrance to a colonial pageant in which we all begin to intricate lays out in in great detail stage directions for a performance that is deliberately unperformable. Yet when I flip through my copy of the book, which has now taken up residence on the shelf beside my desk, what I find is a performance already in progress, perhaps the ultimate realization of language’s performative potential. For me, this book is now a go-to resource, an open idea file of images and sentences that are simultaneously hilarious, delightful and discomfiting. It is a book I will continually return to, that has already influenced my own writing and thinking and will continue to do so.

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