Blake Butler interviews me at HTML Giant.
From Blake’s intro:
I can’t say enough about how important the work of Johannes Göransson has been to me, both as a field of language and image, and as a person. Besides co-editing both Action Books and Action Yes, two places where you can always depend on reading work that is new, singular, challenging, and actually fun, he has published four full length books of his own work, including Dear Ra, A New Quarantine Will Take My Place, Pilot, and most recently Entrance to a colonial pageant in which we all begin to intricate from Tarpaulin Sky, as well as translations of important Swedish writers like Aase Berg and Johan Jönsson[if you haven’t read his Swedish issue of Typo, holy shit], and wrangling of the insane machine that is the hybrid litblog Montevidayo. Not to mention being a teacher (which, when reading some of his students’ work, and what mechanisms he gets out of them so early, equals a particular feat), a father, a husband, and a person. In no small words, a fucking force.
From the interview (Johannes):
…At some point I decided that it would have to be a pageant. I think I decided that after doing The Widow Party performances in Chicago, which was such an amazing, electrifying experience for me. One key influence in this choice was the pageantry of Abu Ghraib, which figures heavily in The Widow Party, and this made me think about JonBenet Ramsey, how her death seemed according to the TV news to be foreshadowed (or almost equated) with her pageant participation, so that the artifice of her getups was seen as a kind of violence on par with her murder.
Also, one of the main causes for the pageant was when my daughter Sinead and I were out walking one day in our city in Indiana and we came across this boy who was naked except for a too-small “dream team” basketball jersey from the 90s. He mumbled incoherently. I tried foolishly to talk to him, then these other people came and called a cop and he was taken away. I thought about him as the opposite of JonBenet – naked and mumbling in Indiana, instead of dressed up in front of cameras and singing. So that became one of the main characters, Miss World. So then I formed an assemblage between artifice and abuse. And I fused Courtney Love and Genet in him. I didn’t want him to be a victim child. I wanted him to forge a connection between contagion, artifice and crime. Singing and mumbling: I wanted these modes of language to be part of the dynamic.
…The text interacts with figures from “outside” of the text and that I don’t fully integrate them into the text. My feeling is that I want the text to function like a conduit of violence, an interaction, not a separate autonomous space. I don’t want the text to be an authoritative description of a historical context. I don’t want to be Charles Olson and folks like that – I don’t want to be a documentor. I don’t think of art as separate from the world, nature etc. Nor am I interested in art which claims to be part of the world; art that claims to not be art. I am interested in art that is invested in its own Art-ness – with all of its crass devices and costumes, all of its kitschy metaphors and pageantry, all of its infected toys. On the other hand I’m not interested in creating a kind of refined space of contemplative art either, I don’t want art as an escape. I suppose in all of these what I object to is a kind of stability, a kind of space that art depicts or documents or provides. I’m more interested in art as violence, art as a haunting, as a spirit photograph, as what Aase Berg calls a “deformation zone” or what Joyelle has called “necropastoral.” (Joyelle’s actually right now downstairs playing some gloomy Cure song from the 80s for our daughters.) Art that is both Art and a contagion in the world. By not fully accounting for these figures, what I want them to be is this unstable matter. I want it all to be kind of shitty, you know.