Johannes Göransson, Entrance to a Colonial Pageant in which we all begin to intricate, Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2011.
“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
"There was a moment while reading Johannes Göransson’s new book, Entrance to a colonial pageant in which we all begin to intricate, when I thought of John Miller’s piece Dick/Jane. I believe it was when the character “The Author Function” parenthetically states the action meant to occur to his/her body: “(My naked body is brought out on a mirror, a tin wreath on my messy head, my body smeared in what could be feces, my eyes looking gouged out…).”
In the title of Miller’s piece, we recognize the children’s primer which not only taught students how to read but also how to distinguish between the roles of female and male. Miller takes the paternal law and perverts it: the blonde-haired, blue-eyed female doll is transformed not only into a phallic symbol but also into an indeterminacy that challenges the distinction between black and white. Furthermore, the mound of dung in which the doll head is plunged is a site of the “I” having crossed the boundary of self, or, as Kristeva states, “It is no longer I who expel, ‘I’ is expelled” . This disturbance (or “intrication”) of subjecthood, gender, and race are currents that run through this pageant of Göransson’s.
The collection (can we call it a collection?) begins with a “Note on the Production,” in which Göransson makes not only a reference to his home state Indiana but also to “[his] daughter Sinead.” In doing so, he establishes the performative nature of the text as well as the author as a character. The characters of author and daughter become conflated with other aspects of the production—there are multiple daughters in the book, so Sinead’s role is clearly present, though it is also interwoven with other characters, primarily through titles designating characters as “daughter.” The real and the fictive are not clearly delineated.
Early in the book, we are plunged into a world that takes the form of a dramatic text, with titles indicating characters and parentheticals indicating stage directions. We are introduced immediately to a key “character” in the performance, The Passenger:
I was admitted. I had to answer questions. Are you gay? Are you a terrorist? Are you a communist?
Here, we become aware that the culture in which the drama is set is one with a notable amount of xenophobia. The Passenger undergoes a mandatory cerebral operation, assisted by a nurse who perceives this passenger as a threat to children and society as a whole. This is a terrifying world we have entered, one that might be likened to a frenzied America souped-up with steroids, LSD, and the rhetoric of fear.
This fear and persecution of “strangeness” is combated through the intrication/blurring of subjecthood. For instance, the character Miss World:
(walks on his tip-toes into the middle of the stage. He is wearing only a basketball jersey. He is 5 years old. He is covered in fine dust. The audience is covered in fine dust. He turns to look at us and the loudspeakers emit the following like semen)
In this excerpt, masculine and feminine blur—the pairing of “Miss” with the pronoun “he” and also the basketball jersey, which becomes a dress of sorts. Character and audience are also blurred. The parallel phrasing of “He is covered in fine dust” and “The audience is covered in fine dust” make he/audience interchangeable. This intrication continues to build and magnify throughout the book—“I,” “We,” and “You” are blurred, the titles and stage directions evolve into characters themselves, and the distinction between author/reader/performer dissolve.
Göransson’s prose is obsessive, feverish; it feels as if there is simultaneously an overwhelming joy and a keen aversion that animates his descent into the language inhabited by the characters. This pageant is ultimately redemptive—in a world where much is hidden and persecuted, all parties involved are catapulted into a liminal state that requires a confrontation of the concealed/uncanny. Instead of accepting the paternal law as such, we must create our own, while allowing for a multiplicity of laws to flourish and coexist." - Drew Krewer
Johannes Göransson, Dear Ra (A Story In Flinches), Starcherone Books, 2008.
BEST POETRY (Porno-from-the-pogroms Category) BOOK OF THE DECADE
"My cinematographer says you're pretty enough to be a razor-blade symphony" - JG
"Here the unnamed narrator writes compulsively to Ra, perhaps the Egyptian sun god, perhaps a teenaged penpal, telling him (her? For 'Ra' is sometimes a spectre of a girlfriend, a coy mistress, a Mom) of his days, complaining of his life in a white suburb in a carpeted basement and living with his parents. He speaks of his missing twin, Jesse Garon, a phantom self that won't let him go – 'Jesse Garon' was the name of Vernon and Gladys Presley's second son, stillborn in the same birth as Elvis--and in such passages a note of genuine melancholia and acedia enters the rhythms of the life unfolding. Otherwise it's a boy's world of discontent and horny fantasy and the belief that the whole world revolves around one's ups and downs. 'I can't jack offwithout history peering in.'
In the second half of the book, as in life, our boy's circle of acquaintance grows larger, and he experiments branching out with letters to others. Godardian maxims, so beautiful when Godard first coined them, undergo the angst and strain of being pulled to pieces by a born deconstructor, and guns enter the picture. We get the image of a Swedish boys transplanted to the USA at an early age, a teen perhaps, and made to live in a house of his own imagination. No more hands across the water, 'You've got a handgun, I've got a hand to shake.' At an unnamed academy he is surprised to encounter lessons in writing divorced from specific social contexts, to avoid using the word napalm in a poem, for example. 'Say knife instead. A knife will always mean the same thing.' Goransson's achievement here is to collapse, successfully, the Bildungsroman into the Paris Spleen-esque sort of prose poem that is the bedrock of today's mainstream poetry industry, and to both genres he applies the two fingered salute, while managing to strike all kinds of emotional, narratological, and sexual sparks. Me likey!
Feisty stalwart Starcherone Books has given Johannes Goransson's book the luxury treatment, and it is handsome almost beyond its means. The back jacket copy is a little misleading however. 'Each sentence,' it says, 'is like being stabbed by a beautiful murderer.' I did not feel that. 'Each entry [is like] crossing the border into some new language.' That's a little bit more reasonable.
Nevertheless the book has its startling passages and a general air of anything goes, which made me enjoy the rollicking ride. If occasionally DEAR RA sports the jaded air of having been written by one who has seen too many Sofia Coppola films, it reminds us of why we liked her in the first place - her fresh eye on the sweet and cheap wares life sells us." - Kevin Killian
"YEARS AFTER BURROUGHS DIED I STARTED THINKING ABOUT WHOSE BODY HIS MIND HAD ABSORBED INTO AT HIS DEATH.
There never seemed anyone for years. I think I read the most during my undergrad blur at a major technical college spending my library hours masturbating in the bathroom or staring at texts I knew no one had really written on the massive databank computers in the library, walking around in circles. I don't think I believe in rebirthing, maybe I do, but I definitely believe in invocation or attachment, or consumption via layering.
If anyone has been infected as the heir of the mass-apocalyptic Burroughs language virus megaburden, it must be Johannes Göransson.
I realized this while reading his new DEAR RA, out from Starcherone Books.
I don't know whether how he would take this idea (though the Burroughs surname is layered in the book along with other loaded refs like offhanded shotputs), if you've ever spent any time reading Exoskeleton you know the man is made of some kind of multipolymer plastic that glows in no light, but I still think the transcription is illuminary, at least for me, in that no one else since Burroughs seems as capable of inveigling such mass hysteria, hyper-sexual anti-sex mutation, cultural whitewall, rhythmic jargon, and just plain ravaged flesh language in such tangible, tasted bursts.
Though at the same time, Göransson is too made of himself to be just an infection, even one so now-real.
DEAR RA is like 89 hyper-prose pages, stuffed with white space, though here the white space is as loaded as the floor of the Tangier hotel covered in black muck where Burroughs was discovered in a daze with the pages of NAKED LUNCH strewn all around him. These are letters to the sun god, though some might say now this god's replacement is a florescent lamp, a tanning bulb, a whoops. Göransson's text is the kind that slips past spam filters and makes you consider the dick surgery. Göransson's mind is the kind you feel breathing behind you while you're watching that slightly more filthy than usual porn download that you will delete from your web browser's history when you are finished even though no one ever looks at your web browsing history because one day motherfucker you will die.
This book made Breton cry because Breton knew he never had such glimmer, and Breton is very dead.
DEAR RA knows more than it knows it knows, and the channels can't quite control their color.
Göransson, if he's not shotgun/cathair infected, is at least here an associative kingkong, stirring up Göransson's already hyperattended vocabs (sternum, animal, thievery, problematic answers to unasked questions, orifices, fucking, drive-bys) into little things that might sliver your balls hairs into new ball hairs. Then you'd have some hair ass balls and you'd wake up earlier and go places you didn't see despite having walked past them 1500 times doused in gasoline.
Did I mention J. G. has among the finest gloss of craniums in our wordland? You kind of want to kiss it." - Blake Butler
From Dear Ra:
"In this chapter you will be played by the pretty little curly-headed singer from the Bangles; my dick will be played by a moron; Jesse Garon will be played - poorly - by the bored ghost of Bertold Brecht; and I'll be played by an old homosexual with white wispy hair and glasses and a definite problem with booze and nostalgia. Don't ask me how I'll be able to make it marketable. All I really need is you dancing naked like an Egyptian. What do you think about setting it in a pool hall? A public pool with hair in the water? This is an exhibitionist flick, a nervous tick, a tattered bit of barroom humor, bloated by a heavy payroll racket I can't kick out of my skull.
The Screenplay of Our Porno
Our Lady of Snow and Our Slow Lady: These are the two girls I keep in my garage, these are the trinkets I tinker with when my day droops yellow. Dear Lady of Snow, are you the girlfriend of a teenage mutiny? A message in a bottle from a desperate bleeder? A song written in jail about whiskey? Was it supposed to be about childhood? Either way, the only important question is: Will you hide my raw with your white, will you sooth my scarlet, will you wool my tool?
Dear Lady Slowly, did you maybe dream of babies who wheeze strangely? Is this the card you were thinking of? The Queen of Pork. Did you squeeze it when I wetted you? Do you play with lye? Do you slowly slacken when I've slipped it out? Why do you like to be licked slowly, my tongue not even touching your clit, while you sister likes to be almost nibbled and chewed? I'm not missing your teeth. Why do you talk so dearly to the geezer with the glasses? His wig is fried like chicken. His charm is a tampered piece of evidence from the lost case of the man who thought he was the first but was not even second and proceeded to peel things that don't peel."
Johannes Göransson, A New Quarantine Will Take My Place, Apostrophe Books, 2007.
"Johannes Göransson is the artery from which a gratefully beaten last avant garde circle of writers continue their pump — a sick and brilliant huddle who have been endlessly attacked by over a century’s worth of justified analytical acumen from an amassed castrati. Göransson’s first full length collection of poetry a new quarantine will take my place explodes with so much amazing wrong I am convinced it is one of the best books ever written. This book will ruin further reading experiences, because it weakens a lot of previous efforts to write imaginatively, poetically, and at all. Here is Rimbaud the terrorist, simultaneously new and willfully anachronistic. Each line bites and outperforms itself, oozes into new arithmetic. Göransson maintains a rhythm of Beckett death rattles mixed over his own pure animal nightmare, all while being post-everything and indebted to no one. An attempt to describe this sublime verse demeans the reviewer and is the only reason I am writing a review. Eat this:
Come back to my strangle. I want everything we do
to involve gibberish anatomies. That’s how best to
transform our teenage milieu into something less
freezing in the basement. Your skin looks lovely and
milky tonight, Hypothermia. Your youth looks like
the fake state flower of this hyperbole. I could do such
offensive wonders to your mouth, but I won’t. Not
yet. There are enough parasites in this bed to make me
royalty. King of Milk. Street of Thighs. I could make
such a wonderful cake out of your face.
I am thankful for homeless languages, lucky to be alienated. I believe in artifice that can panic well, that reflects the undeniable chaos of interpersonal communication. Avant garde literature is the most obviously underappreciated art form because it strives to be. I am always shocked when anyone uses this sentiment as an excuse to dismiss what has been, consistently and universally between cultures over the past one-hundred years, a trademark of the best contemporary writing available. Yes, the avant garde, the front line for critical defecation, invites no friendly audience. Yes, I believe people who strongly dismiss it have not learned the pleasure of a good beating, see no beauty in self-mutilation, and are generally pious and lack sex organs, but let me appeal to them, reluctantly, like this: no one likes dogma, especially purveyors of the avant garde. Manifestos happened because we are born defensive, born expecting, correctly, that no one is there to help. Certainly continue the bored sigh, spend no money on our books. Does any artist expect recognition? What writer doesn’t look forward to dying broke? Why do we write? For appreciation? To edify? Share? Be loved? Absolutely not — for excessive response alone." - Sean Kilpatrick