Hijacking Haute Surveillance & reflected venster winkelen in the nether regions
Dear Internet, EWR to AMS—Sept 28, 2013
«I'm on a plane. I can't complain.»
A lot has changed since Kurt Cobain said that ... air travel not nearly as glamorous or rock n' roll as it used to be. Now a necessary inconvenience to get from point A to point B.
Maybe that's not even what plane Cobain is talking about ... maybe he's talking about a different kind of plane ... of consciousness, or a plain plane.
... that's what's going thru my head. That & this.
Think about that—what it means for something to travel thru your head. A lyric, a melody, words, an image—triggering some neurons to fire fleetingly & then the sodium ions dissipate. But the nagging lyric keeps lingering, so we don our walkman & put on the new Mazzy Star. Was it worth the 17-year wait? Not sure yet. Need to listen to it once or twice before the hooks catch.
For someone who hates Cobain, we seem to mention him a lot lately. Speaking of Perfume (his favorite book) which we talked about recently, we saw the movie. Not as bad as we thought it would be, once you get past the initial voice-overs. This is where writing beats movies—how do you portray smell visually or aurally? Hard enough with language. Great story either way.
Black town car to Newark. Why not? It's expensed. Sikh driver with bags under his eyes, talked to himself the whole way. More like chanting, reading something off his lap, verses of some sort.
Stowing away in j's baggage again, this time flying with her, unlike last time when we had to travel separately.
It's not actually a walkman, but may as well be. An iPod that is over 5 years old. Technology gets dated so fast. Thick & bulky, already kitsch.
Before leaving the ground, started to read The Erasers by Alain Robbe-Grillet. Wasn't into much, not as much as some of his others. Murder is overdone & we don't care so much about the 'mystery.' But his descriptions are spatially unique, his ability to geometrically orient you in a scene. Especially, in light of our destination, as it takes place on canals. But even the interspersed fragments of, say, the inner-workings of drawbridges are not enough to keep us from derailing.
So switched gears to Haute Surveillance by Johannes Göransson. «There is no place for immigrants in utopia and all film-makers must be renounced» he says towards the beginning. Are we hijacking Haute Surveillance or is Haute Surveillance hijacking us?
Had oysters & calamari at Newark airport. Force-fed CNN in one ear while trying to read. Small little plane, the first time we've flown across the Atlantic on a DC-10 sort of plane.
Haute Surveillance is about gasoline, cannibalism and sweets. Not necessarily in any particular order. It's about huffing the vaporized ashes of JonBenét Ramsey. It could be about whatever you want.
When we read books, we wear them like fur coats. Or like the skin suit that creep in Silence of the Lambs was making.
Didn't hear the jumping beans back in our apartment the last few days before we left. When we get back they will have laid eggs in our clothes.
The clock on this laptop is still on Spanish time, which apparently is the same as Dutch time. We didn't bother to reset it. Nor will we after this.
«Atrocity kitsch» says Göransson. Like two words fucking in a bathtub to yield more words. Like moths knowingly kamikazing into a candle, because they can't help themselves.
Ian Curtis wrote the Atrocity Exhibition before he actually read the book. And why not? It has a nice ring to it. As does Haute Surveillance. The soundtrack to this post.
«Reagan is dead but I'm still spazzing around in front of this mirror trying to perform an unborn dance.»
The last section of Atrocity Exhibition (which we talked of recently in Brighton) was at one point it's own chapbook, Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan, that Unicorn Bookshop in Brighton published, until it was banned & confiscated as obscene.
«Culture is a taxidermy museum but the horses are beautiful and the letter openers disinfected.»
We have the middle seat in the back row, 40B. Next to some American guy that seems like he could be in the FBI.
The title conjures a high-art line of questioning to haughty Abu Ghraib detainees sporting juicy couture. Terrorists in drag strutting down a well-lit catwalk not giving a damn. Göransson hijacks our associations for his own sick devices. High-brow but lo-fi. Concentration campy. While most poets avoid kitsch & tacky aesthetic, Göransson embraces it. He sucks the milk right out, cultures into human cheese. Makes a sensational spectacle of it, sensationalized.
In a long room with lots of light & wood. In some random place (Noordwijkerhout) that seems it could be anywhere. J's conference is here. Walked around to figure out where we were, through an agricultural sort of area, fields of flowers, horses, canals. At one point got trapped because we couldn't get over a canal, tramping down plowed rows. Eventually to the shore. Wide beach with big sand dunes. Lots of bike trails & bikes of course. Everyone has dogs, leashes not necessary. Everything very civilized.
Further impressions from Haute Surveillance we didn't log, or hi-jack yet to frame our own narrative ...
«Voice-Over: I look the part of the exhibitor.»—continues Göransson.
This is our exhibition of his exhibition. «Nothing was fake.» Nothing is fake.
This place seems at times fake, like an IKEA catalog. Postcard perfect fields of tulips. Windmills, canals, etc.
We still laugh when we hear the Dutch language. Sorry, we can't help ourselves. It sounds like a parody of a made-up language. Even written it looks funny.
No animals were harmed in the making of the book. Nor this bloggy engagement. Faux fur is real. But real fur is okay too, in the name of art. Refreshingly free of snooty p.c. judgment.
«I rehearsed with thinner at least forty times in the dark we were allowed to speak with accents but I had noseblood my pillow in the morning. This was the second fantasy of the maternal voice and it was more difficult than the first one and very much based on court procedures against illegals.»
Of all the images from the Westgate massacre, the one Göransson would probably appreciate most is the street urchins huffing & gawking at the media.
The feel of an art film looping in the background of a cocktail party. A high-art skin-flick mockumentary on barf as cuisine. Lo-fi B-roll of torture & twerking. Normally things we are not so interested in, but Göransson's curated filter makes it palatable, as poetry. Flarf fetish.
To Göransson, art takes us out of the suburbs, releases us from our «kitschy safe homes». Not that we have a 'home,' especially of the suburban type.
Göransson is anorexic. «It has begun to dawn on my that I'm never going to be rich. I'll never afford that white-whitest spoon with which I've dreamed of eating caviar. As a result all my performances have been staggering exaggerations.»
In all fairness, it's not really him, but the narrator. We always have trouble disassociating the two.
One long montage sequence. A documentary of staggering exaggerations.
«Explain: Fame, napalm, glistens, exoskeletons, waterboarding, muscular spasms, stun bodies, stunts.»
Mostly the book is about a Black Man & an expresident. It is composed of statements like this: «The Black Man has a visionary body, according to the expresident. The kind of body that blurs the boundaries between spirituality and hate crimes.» & then «The Black Man's body may, according to the expresident, be modeled on historical documents.»
Also started to read Salamandrine by Joyelle McSweeney, who happens to be Göransson's wife. Who appears frequently in his book, if you believe it as narrative truth. Her belly swollen from scorpions. Their daughter getting pregnant from licking a towel his wife uses after they have sex.
Some of the stories in Salamandrine equally personal, about child birthing & rearing. Animal husbandry.
In regards to what we were saying about inhabiting language, or a book, wearing it like fur—McSweeney's language is difficult to wear. Not prêt-à-porter. Feels foreign & impenetrable, a catwalk tongue not fit for the streets. Not that the language itself is dense, but the word-weaves are densely layered. But we were also tired, our eyes glazed. The night accelerating by, flying east to west.
Switched to the entertainment console, watched some movie called The East, about an FBI undercover agent that infiltrates a hobo-punk commune of monkey-wrenching anarchists. Interesting enough to occupy the time. Otherwise just sat there with eyes closed, unable to sleep.
Funny that McSweeney in a roundabout way has something to do with McSweeney's. Dave Eggers named it after Joyelle's crazy homeless uncle, or some such thing.
Then we went to a cocktail party with a bunch of aggies & then some of us splintered off to eat bad Chinese food in a casino/bowling alley.
Been thinking lately that it might be nice to not 'live' anywhere in particular. But at the same time live wherever.
Someone once told me something a long time ago, we think it was in regards to an early explorer of America, Cortez or Coronado, that to boost the morale of his men he renounced destination. His expedition renounced destination to keep from getting lost. But now we can find no record of this on you, The Internet. So we'll claim these words as our own.
J had meetings so the first morning we went off solo ... bus to the train station. Commuter train to the airport to switch to another train to Amsterdam central. Flâneured around. All the typical touristy kitschy shit you'd expect—quaint canals, flower pots, bikes galore, semi-naked fake-looking women in window-displays beckoning you, fast food, wax museums, wafts of hash smoke around every cobbled corner.
It's sad though, the part about the institutionalized commodification of women. On display like any other product. Especially when marketed as an export.
Amsterdam, a parody of itself.
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