Haute Surveillance


haute-cover-BIGHaute Surveillance
Johannes Göransson

ISBN-13: 978-1-939460-00-4
May 2013. Fiction | Poetry | Other | 5.5″x7″, 200 pp., paperback
Cover art: Fi Jae Lee, “The Poet Yi Sang’s Wedding and Funeral”
2011. Fish Skin, Lace, Wire. 60 x 65 x 153 cm (Yi Sang), 61 x 50 x 178 cm (Yi Sang’s Wife).

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[A] feverish and explicit set of images and ideas revolving around power, fetish, porn, media, violence, translation, punishment, performance, and aesthetics. Taking its title from a Jean Genet play of the same name, it’s kind of like a novelization of a movie about the production of a play based on Abu Ghraib, though with way more starlets and cocaine and semen…. [B]eautifully startling and fucked and funny and tender and sad and putrid and glitter-covered all at once.

—Blake Butler, VICE Magazine

excerpt from Haute Surveillance

Insects are pumping their lancets in and out of my sore. It’s an almost purple sore. It’s a translation. Pornography. A child’s drawing. My preferred method of making art involves a torso.

I write this for the mute actress and the dead girls and the Virgin Father who speaks in this mausoleum and Mother Machine Gun who carries my body through the tumultuous crowds. Sticky and stricken-out, I write this for people on posters. I write this for the breathers and bleeders. I write this with a geometry suggesting awkwardness. I write this as a punishment. I write this for those infested and luxurious and teeming.

I write this for the people who are at war.

I write this from hotel rooms and because I have a medical condition. The skin bleeds and pinches. It’s a ridiculous death I am living and I live it ridiculously in an economy of trickle-down disease.

Speaking of dead children: There is no place for immigrants in utopia and all film-makers must be renounced. I could never grow up in a house like that. Unless I was a dead child. An embalmed child. A child that never vandalized his own do-wop body with surveillance equipment.

I vandalize my do-wop body due to my modest self-control.

I call my line of work haute surveillance.


More responses to Haute Surveillance

Maybe I should try to wake up. Maybe I should try and forget about Father Voice-Over. Maybe I should try and look away—but I can’t. “News organizations are setting up temporary stations in the mansion. When do you expect the Black Man to show up, one reporter asks me. I’m wearing a new suit, which was made in China, by a Chinese child listening to a mechanical bird tell them about Art.” Göransson’s Haute Surveillance is so riveting, so fiercely imagined, so febrile and alive to the violence of our moment, so passionate—its images unbidden, its narrative a continual surprise. It’s a work so filled with invention and wit and ferocity that I was compelled to read it, at times against my will, mesmerized, enthralled.

—Carole Maso

Göransson’s fast-paced, present-tense writing critiques itself while moving forward, collapsing together all of discourses and vocabularies associated with the nightly news, feminism, sexual identity, Hollywood movies, science fiction, performance art, pornography, and poetry invested in the stable lyric “I.” Bots from academia mix with bits of the street…. Goransson turns it into a book that is unclassifiable — part epic poem, part science fiction, part pornographic film, and all literature.

—John Yau, Hyperallergic

An evil Leaves of Grass — not a welcoming cosmic paean to all American citizens, but a nihilistic porno where the pure and the fake copulate with a sordid glory. By real, Göransson means: children burning in bombed buildings, the bodies of foreigners, sperm and blood, traumatized soldiers strangling their wives. By fake, he means: film sets, stunt doubles, poetry. You can see this combo in how he depicts America: America is not an emancipatory pluralistic haven, but an atavistic theater of war, brutally real and, as Baudrillard has written, as simulated as a video game.”

—Ken Chen, Culturestrike

There are allusions, throughout the book, to a theory of media. It’s spectacular, it’s pyrotechnics, it’s naked bodies and sex and orgies of the Virgin Father and the Black Man, carefully arranged around Hegelian hate. It’s a museum, where “I’ve become evil because language gets in the way.” It’s a B-movie where “the human body becomes more beautiful and less a subject.” You will discover that “Perhaps it’s an aesthetics, not an ethics.” And there is trauma there. It’s an emergency, a state of emergency. “The trauma saturates the mansion, it’s a trauma-rama.”

—Laura Carter, Fanzine

[P]ursues the genre to terra incognita extremes…. [I]n some ways more a prose poem, bludgeoned and stuffed into dramaturgical form…. Its kaleidoscopic impossibility presses down upon the reader, forcing the question: Who writes the stage directions of life, the role each person plays in society?… Like a mad scientist throwing together unexpected chemicals, Goransson delights in coupling divergent concepts, seeing which combinations smoke, sizzle, or explode….

—Erin Becker, MAKE Magazine

Gaps and ghosts, spaces and spectres pervade Haute Surveillance. The text is littered with monsters, murders, slaves, blacks, women, homosexuals, b-grade movie stars, migrants: the excluded who speak of unexpected, hidden, things that have not been authorised…. The narrative is itinerant, slippery. It unwinds, confused by voices, rhythms, and accents, “interlingual puns”, “auto-translations” and “automutilations” that befuddle the desire for a secure semantics. It is at once a prose poem, a “novel dedicated to the homos and the awkward perfumists”, a biography of its author, an “autobiography of a foreigner”, “a fashion show dedicated to a riot”, a film script and a theoretical text….

—Stacy Hardy, The Chimurenga Chronic


about the author


Photo: Tyler Flynn Dorholt

In addition to his Tarpaulin Sky Press titles The Sugar Book (2015), Haute Surveillance (2013), and entrance to a colonial pageant in which we all begin to intricate (2011), Johannes Göransson has published three other books of his own writings—A New Quarantine Will Take My Place, Dear Ra, Pilot (“Johann the Carousel Horse”)—and several books in translation, including Dark Matter and With Deer by Aase Berg, Ideals Clearance by Henry Parland, and Collobert Orbital by Johan Jönson.

Read more at our author page for Johannes Göransson