November 19th, 2010 / 4:13 pm

Johannes Göransson Does A Lot of Interesting Things, And Here Are Three Recent and Interesting Things from Johannes Göransson

1. Johannes Göransson interviews Robert Archambeau about the Cambridge School, among other things, at the UK’s Argotist Online:

JG: But what about Deleuze and Guattari’s idea of Kafka as “minor literature.” His very deformation of the German language becomes a profound type of political activity. Could there be a minor politics involved in the Cambridge School?

RA: This, I think, is an interesting path to pursue, and one that leads in a similar direction to the observations of Sadri and Kiberd. For Deleuze and Guattari, major literature is the literature that articulates the values of a dominant population. I think Goethe’s Faust was the example they used in the book on Kafka: Faust became a kind of model for the bourgeois subject of the nineteenth century, trying to police his own desires in a world of new powers and possibilities, and in the absence of the old hierarchical constraints on actions. But minor literature, in this scheme, is the really interesting thing: it’s the means by which dominant values, and even the language through which they are articulated, and inverted, parodied, questioned, and mocked. Deleuze and Guattari didn’t see this as necessarily the literature of a marginal or oppressed population, but to write in this mode was to position oneself outside the dominant values of one’s place and time.  Is this political? It depends on the definition of the term. If we take politics in a very strict sense—as a change in the polity—it’s probably fair to say that such a literature is political, but weakly so.  If we think of long-term shifts in consciousness, its role could be taken to be larger, perhaps considerably so, but of course it is easy to exaggerate this, and hard to demonstrate it. I remember a conversation back in 1996 at the “Assembling Alternatives” conference in New Hampshire, a huge event that gathered experimental poets from all over the English-speaking world.  A woman from the audience stood up, and declared that the funding for her experimental poetry magazine, and for all other magazines, was precarious, because “the power structure knows we’re the ones challenging their language.” This, I thought, was an understanding so crude as to be almost a parody. I’ve encountered that kind of thinking more than once, though. (

2. Montevidayo, a blog best described as HTMLGiant for Grownups, whose other contributors include Joyelle McSweeney, John Dermot Woods, John Beer, and Kate Bernheimer, and whose about page reads like so:

Welcome to Montevidayo—a new multi-authored blog that seeks to host a conversation about the arts, writing, politics, culture, media, genre, hygiene, genre-hygiene, food, war, chronometry, dissipation, propaganda, funerals, bicycles, haircuts and cutters, B-movies and Rimbaud, stunt-doubles and stutterers, in something like real time from many parts of something like the world. Many authors will post to this blog, and the hope is that many commentators will comment, moving the conversation off in new vectors and into contact with new regions of the mushy body of the contemporary. Meanwhile it will be forming its own body. Adumbrating, elaborating upon, decorating its mushiness.

“I said to myself, hang in there, Auxilio Lacouture. If you go out they’ll arrest you (and probably deport you to Montevideo, because, naturally, your immigration papers aren’t in order, you silly girl) they’ll spit on you and beat you up.”  –Roberto Bolaño, Amulet (trans. Chris Andrews) (

3. Pilot (“Johann the Carousel Horse”), a book (!), from Fairy Tale Review Press, which has also recently published or republished first-rate stuff from Joy Williams and Lily Hoang. Here is some catalog copy:

Pilot (“Johann the Carousel Horse”) is an assemblage, a book of nursery rhymes gone wrong in translation.  Its strange characters, abandoned from other texts, include Lilja, the Pearls of Stockholm and assorted imperiled girls.  Here, in Johannes Göransson’s glittering exocity, they find a new and beautifully stitched home. Göransson was born and raised in Skåne, Sweden, but has lived in the US for many years.   He is co-editor of Action Books and has translated the work of Aase Berg, Henry Parland, Ann Jäderlund and other Swedish and Finland Swedish poets. (

3+. Action Books, Action Yes, Marriage to Joyelle McSweeney, Smart Talk about the Posthumous Legacy of Basquiat, etc. (Commenters and  Johannes Göransson Fans Are Hereby Welcome to Offer Links and Enthuasiastic Talk Below):



  1. The MIB
  2. deadgod

      If we take “politics” in the sense of ‘social struggle for power’, then using language in some way to attack “dominant values” is certainly ‘strictly’ “politics”. But, as Goeransson gently suggests, to think that “dominant” players generally even notice that they’re being challenged in linguistically/literarily unconventional ways – much less fret about it – is “an understanding so crude as to be almost a parody”. (And what stops this self-regard from being parodic is not so much its abundance of crudity as its deficit of humor.)

      I think, though, that challenges to dominance are inherent in any ‘political’ relationship, institution, or field of action. Wherever there’s power – a relation of force – , the weaker is critical (somehow) of that imbalance, of its weakness. That’s what defines the polis as a social space: contest.

      If I understand the phrase “minor politics”, to me it sounds almost trivial: “politics” means “minor” and “dominant” ‘political’ action and behaviors (including, of course, discourses, generation of text, using words in unusual ways, and so on).

      More interesting (to me) would be to consider how the ‘minority’ view is visible/audible in the ‘political’ action of the ‘majority’/dominators. Likewise, it’s interesting how ‘major literature’ enfolds and is (at least a bit) riven by ‘minority’ – what, for example, works against bourgeois subjectivity/subjection in and through Faust‘s maintenance of dominant bourgeois “values”.

  3. Calebmussingrove

      Goeransson’s paycheck is signed by the Pope. “nuff said.