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[Nettime-bold] Flesh and Blood, One Person After Another
Wu-ming Yi on Fri, 19 May 2000 18:05:47 +0200 (CEST)


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[Nettime-bold] Flesh and Blood, One Person After Another


These were written in December 1999 as the final words on my activism in
the L***** B******** Project. People still ask me about that phase of my
life, and I never answer. It may be useful to forward this farewell essay,
which was not translated by myself. The uncensored bilingual text is now
included in the catalogue of an international exhibit called "Vanished
Paths: Crisis of Representation and Iconoclasm in Art from the 1950's to
the End of the XXth Century" (Bassano del Grappa, Italy, June 17 - August
20, 2000). For info: <museobas {AT} x-land.it>



FLESH AND BLOOD, ONE PERSON AFTER ANOTHER
Muddled Reflections *In Articulo Mortis* on the L****** B******** Project
and on Neoism (December 1999)

by Roberto Bui (Wu-ming Yi)
No (c) - all rights disperded forever


Perhaps I am the poet of the Revolution,
as a fellow inmate, moaning, once said?
No. The poet of the Revolution is the
people: the people in Flesh and blood, one
person after another;...
- Francisco Urondo

[Music Recommended for reading: Aaron Copland, *Fanfare for the Common
Man*, 1942]

The inclusion of "L***** B*******" in an exhibition devoted to the
aesthetic avant-garde movements from the Second World War to the present
day, and more generally to "iconoclasm in the arts" in the century that has
just come to an end, poses quite a number of problems for someone who has
followed the development of this multi-use collective pseudonym. L*****
B******* has no more to do with Art than dothe Chinese Communist Party or
the Italian Football Federation. True, L***** B******* has crossed the fied
of the *practical criticism* of art just as it has crossed that of
politics, sports, religion, etc. B******* has declared its solidarity with
"vandals" such as Piero Cannata and Alexander Brener, and with "art
thieves" like http://www.0100101110101101.org, as well as with a number of
acts of vandalism claimed by the Multiple "in first person" (if this
expression can still be used with reference to a spectre generated and
moved by the collective imagination, "the invisible insurrection of a
million minds"), like the decapitation of a statue by Henry Moore in
Bologna (1996) and the sabotage of the computers in the Austrian Pavillon
at the Venice Biennale of 1997...
The people behind this project are, however, far from considering
themselves the heirs of an aesthetic-political path that began with the
revolutionary Surrealists and the Lettristes. The whole B******* experience
is like a continuous *echappement*, a movement in flight from any
inappropriate twentieth-century comparison, whether it be "high" or "low"
(the Situationist, Mail Art, Cyberpunk, Neoism, etc.), with a number of
provocative exceptions (Autonomia Operaia, for example).
B******* has gone so far as to choose its "historical" precedents in
ancient mythology (both Indo-European and Far Eastern) or in pre-modern
peasant revolts and uprisings: the epic of multiple names that leads to
L***** B******* includes Armen Konrad (sixteenth century), Captain Swing
(eighteenth century) and General Ludd (nineteenth century). So-called
multiple names (individual names adopted by more than one person) date back
to "Buddha", and are therefore an ancient practice, which was certainly not
born with the historical avant-garde movements (and here I disagree with
the genealogy proposed by Stewart Home in *The Assault on Culture*).
This non-compromise with the twentieth century has allowed the practice to
flourish again at the end of the century, riding the digital revolution.
already beyond the steel age, Fordism, the two world wars, Hiroshima, etc.
In the L***** B******* Project there is no artistic process, except that
evoked by the expression "martial arts": the art of guerrilla warfare
*within* and *against* that which in ancient times was called "the cultural
industry" and now coincides with the entire semiosphere. As a rule, there
are no works to exhibit, the work has been the action itself, the ambush,
the rush, the hand-to-hand combat with fists, elbows, knees, clubs, throws,
lever moves.
The arbitrary inclusion of L***** B******* in this exhibition is actually
the umpteenth infiltration, the self-inoculation of this extraneous body,
an "overnight sensation" that stir things up.

[Aaron Copland, *Appalachian Spring*, 1944]

Luther Blissett was and is first of all a *style*, a word that crops up
recurrently in writings signed with the name of the Multiple, and with
various meanings:
*style* as a series of unwritten, yet *rewritable* rules, in which the
attention to detail serves the beauty and the efficacy of the whole (the
reputation of L***** B******* as an imaginary person who performs actions -
often extremely *political* - in reality);
*style* as a series of techniques of a psychic martial art that is
perfected from one combat to the next, for the use of new combatants,
whether they be individuals or collectives;
*style* as the *etiquette* (small ethics) of a community, an *etiquette* that
spreads by empathy and by contagion: there are, for example, no Tables of
the Law which say: "Thou Shalt Have No Copyright", but the rejection of
intellectual property was a natural feature of the Project, eventually
becoming one of its cornerstones.
As well as a style, L***** B******* is an auto-poietic organism, a concrete
body, made of the flesh and blood of those who use the weapon of the name.
Countless individuals have tried to raise constantly the profile and the
quality of the Project, trying to keep it *as inclusive as possible*, but
at the same time pointing out that, like any other organism, L*****
B******* could reject certains uses that trivialize its nature. There has
never been a "watchdog committee", let alone a "board of censors", but
networks of different B******** can express a *practical criticism* of
particular uses of the name. The name, for example, cannot and must not be
used for racist or nationalist purposes, or for those of paranoiac identity
- such uses would clearly contradict the style and the nature of the LBP.
The lack of need for censorship in the improvement of the practice has been
a collective victory of the entire network: "Quality is our strenght".
Those who use the name just once are L***** B******* as much as those who
use it twenty-hours a day, but only if the name is used in the respect (and
I stress the word *respect*) of its characteristics and peculiarities, as
well as of the commitment of others, with whom it is useful and possible to
interact.
"The aim seems, once again, to be the creation of a network of
interpersonal relations based, after the crumbling of the logic of pure
profit, on free exchanges of the production of the unconscious, with an
immoderately utopian slant." (Riccardo Boglione, 1998).

L***** B******* is spelled with two 't's, and is pronounced exactly as it
is written, not forgetting the dental occlusive. This has always been the
case: anyone who needs further proof can consult the *Almanacco del Calcio
1984* and the Panini picture-card of the epnymous football-player, whose
name we "borrowed". The recurrent error "B******" (with one 't', sometimes
horribly pronounced in French manner as Blisse') is the litmus test, the
acid test (or whatever other idiomatic expression that gets the idea
across): it serves to assess the superficiality in approach and the respect
of the B******* style by those who adopt the name or those who write about
it. In the early years of the Project, the error was extremely annoying, so
much so that some B******** begane to write"B*********" with three 't's,
knowing that the cultural hacks would adopt their usual selective blindness
and eventually use the correct spelling. Later we became inured to it. You
can't illuminate or save everyone: some people have condemned themselves to
ignorance, and it is only right that it should be their own business.

§§§

"The premise of my initial L***** B******* critique were wrong indeed [...]
While I am still skeptical about the 'counter-cultural' claptrap running
through the B******* writings [...] and the milieux pusing the concept, I
have come to terms with B******* up to the point of adopting the name
myself and pasting it below my door bell."
- Florian Cramer, in a letter to Stewart Home, Oct. 2nd 1995

"However, I do not share your obsession with [Monty Cantsin], my own
playful engagement with quasi-Hegelian metaphysical versions of history
(and history is always reductive bunk, so don't imagine I believe any of
this shit, it's been said before but BELIEF IS THE ENEMY), leads me to
favor [L***** B*******]. A spectre is haunting Europe, the spectre of
L***** B*******!"
- Stewart Home, in a letter to Florian Cramer, Oct 19th 1995

The inclusion in the exhibition of so-called Neoism is less problematic,
though by no means easy. The best definition of Neoism is: a prefix (neo-)
and a suffix (-ism) with absolutely nothing in the middle. Neoism does not
exist, except in the reactions it creates; it is no coincidence that the
favoring aphorism of the Neoists, a detournement of a famous saying by
Amadeo Bordiga, is: "the best product of Neoism is anti-Neoism."
In reality Neoism is a multiple name, freely adpatable by any action or
phenomenon that chooses to define itself as Neoist. Born at the end of the
1970s in the US and Canada on the initiative of semi-legendary figures like
David "Oz" Zack and "Blaster" Al Ackerman, the expression originally
defined a vague mixture of Dada, Fluxus, Futurism, Mail Art, electronic
music and video making, with a clear fascination for mathematics,
psychiatry and the science-fiction world of the 1950s and 1960s.
Another strand tends to interpret early Neoism as a mad science of
behavior, the extra-artistic fall-out of Dada, Viennese Action Art and Body
Art.
One of the most interesting exponents of Neoism is tENTATIVELY a
cONVENIENCE, a musician, performer, writer and swimming champion who wears
a 3-D tattoo on his skull, a detailed representation of the human brain. In
the 1990s, tENTATIVELY a cONVENIENCE took an active part in the L*****
B******* Project; he contributed, for example, to the anthological CD *The
Open Pop Star* (WOT4, 2000) with a number entitled *Whoop Up  {AT}  the Funny
Farm".
In the "heroic" phase, all Neoists signed themselves with the multiple name
"Monty Cantsin" (a clear reference to the heresies of the Free Spirit:
"Monty Can't Sin"). During the 1980's, especially thanks to the English
writer Stewart Home, Neoism underwent various mutations, soaking up
Situationist theory (re-read - and perhaps deliberately misunderstood -
through the lens of the new "plagiarist" culture: the opposition to
copyright, the subversive use of scissors, recorders, computers,
photocopiers and later samplers). It was in this period that the multiple
journal SMILE appeared: anyone could produce a magazine with the name.
SMILE is another multiple name, as is "Karen Eliot", a pseudonym that
gradually joined Monty Cantsin (and ended up almost completely replacing
it), publishing wiritings and graphics in SMILE and organising two
"Festivals of Plagiarism" (Glasgow 1988 and London 1989). During the period
in question, Home took part in a three-year "art strike" which he promoted
and organized himself, taking up an old idea developed by Gustav Metzger.
The idea would be taken up again ten years later by various Spanish
brainworkers, whose "Huelga de Arte" will last from January 2000 to
December 2001 (see <http://aleph-arts.org/eco2web/eco/ecoidx0.htm> adn
<http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Lofts/8666/refractor.htm>).
[...]
When he re-emerged from this period of public inactivity, Home established
himself as a novelist (never translated in Italy, unfortunately), joined
the L***** B******* Project and founder a para-esoteric group, the Neoist
Alliance - which, in his words, "has nothing to do with Neoism: I simply
liked the idea of using the same name for completely different things".
In the meantime, from the end of the 1980s, the Neoists began a paradoxical
"self-historicisation", or a "hermeneutic drift" that leads each exponent
to re-interpret the common path in any way s/he likes. The main exponents
of this trend are Florian Cramer (a German philologist and a leading
exponent of the L***** B******* Project) and the American entrepreneur John
Berndt. Neoist self-historicisation soon became an impassable maze. This
explains why it is so difficult to approach this art whose only work has
been the incessant mologoue about itself. To complicate things even
further, Florian Cramer now refuses categorically to reply to any questions
or requests for information about Neoism.
Is there ultimately any close association between Neoism and the L*****
B******* Project? Or would it be more correct to say the the LBP has
allowed the more intelligent of the Neoists to abandon a ship that was
already sinking, at the end of a voyage that had become boring? It depends
on what type of historical interpretation we wish to adopt: if, following
the liberal line, we believe that history is the *diachronic* history of
ideas, and that ideas improve following a linear, teleological development,
then we can define Neoism as the precursor and inspirer of the LBP. I,
however, prefer a different reading, that which sees the two phenomena side
by side *synchronically*, as part of the same great landslide set off by
the micro-electronic revolution, which has "democratised" access to
strategic media and instruments, extending the DIY culture, creating new
figures of brainworkers and mass-intellectuals. By re-appropriating the
means of cultural production, these small units, mobile and intelligent,
have threatened the obsolete belief in intellectual property, eventually
attacking the very idea of the Author (Author = Authority), trying to
demolish all fossilized identities and belongings.

§§§

"...He withdrew from view. There were no opportunities for disenchantment
[...] He never told us how he had managed to be Cary Grant so well for so
long. He cared too much, or too little, to let on; he liked to keep us
guessing. To accept definition was to invite disqualification. He was
content, it seemed, just to live with - or behind - the mystery. The
mystery had, after all, served him very well. Why let in daylight upon magic?"
- Graham McCann, *Cary Grant: A Class Apart*, Columbia University Press,
New York, 1996

[Aaron Copland, *Saturday Night Waltx*, 4th movement of the *Rodeo* suite,
1942]

An inalienable clause of style will prevent me from talking about L*****
B******* after the symbolic *seppuku* (ritual suicide) I am about to
commit. If I continued in the future to reply to questions and requests, I
would rapidly turn into a "B*******ologist" - a fate which does not appeal
to me - and, what's more, I would be perceived as a sort of "Breton of the
L***** B******* Project", which would not do justice to the horizontal,
open character of the transnational network that adopts the multi-use
heteronym.
My function, assigned to me by no-one except myself, within the LBP (it is
strange to use the term "within", since there have never been any walls
fences), has been - "simply" - as an information hub: for five years i have
edited, with the help of various other people, the electronic newsletter
*LBP News*.
The Italian edition of *LBP News* was mailed once or twice a week to almost
400 subscribers, who often forwarded the messages to an "outer ring"
(mailing lists, newgroups, or individual contacts), doubling and at times
even tripling the circulation. All this material can be consulted at the
archive site <http://www.LutherBlissett.net/>.
I also edited an English version, with a rather more limited circulation:
it was received by about a hundred people around the world, and sent
regularly to the Nettime list (about 1,000 subscribers).
Nothing could be better, to explain what the Seppuku consists in, than the
following excerpts an open letter circulated in the autumn of 1999:
[http://www.LutherBlissett.net/primer/seppuku.html]

I want to (and can) live without the Multiple. If you meet B******* in the
street, knock him out, left *tae lam tua* to the stomach, *jarakee fad
hang* to the head. I will not let my Tyler Durden hit me and knock me down
the stairs (cf. *Fight Club*).
There is a huge difference between *seppuku* and *harakiri*: *harakiri*
consists in mere disembowelment; with *seppuku*, after the disembowelment a
second officiant decapitates the person who has committed suicide. Anyone
who adopts the name in the future will contribute to the decapitation of
the late B*******s. The LBP will not die with our choice to no longer use
the name.
Perhaps the best thing to do to understand Seppuku is to rent the videotape
or the DVD of the movie *The Mask of Zorro* (1998), starring Anthony
Hopkins and Antonio Banderas. The film explores the figure of Zorro as an
open character, a mask that can be worn by different people. The fact that
Don Diego de la Vega stops using the name does not imply the death of the
character, for the young Alejandro Murrieta receives suitable instruction
in the martial arts to become the new Zorro. It is a classic
cloak-and-dagger film, with some strange features.
This is what will happen to L***** B*******.

For *Vanished Paths*, Piermario Ciani (pioneer and first publisher of the
L***** B******* project) has worked on the media impact of the Multiple
over the years. In various European countries, but above all in Italy, the
actions of L***** B******* have produced an orgy of headlines; hundreds of
articles in newspapers and weeklies of all kinds have been dissected,
glossed and put back together by the various L******, in an endless
mythopoietic cut-up. Ciuani has searched through the archives and press
reviews, mixed everything up and put the material together according to his
own will. A long film of pseudo-definitions of B*******, spelling mistakes,
inappropriate quotations and examples, sensationalism and superficiality.
Standing on the promontory of the years, looking back at the nonsense I
have had to put up with from slovenly hacks "as ignorant as a slap on the
ice" (to use an idiom from Ferrara) I cannot conclude this article with
anything other than a fine phrase by Carmelo Bene: "The press have always
got on my nerves. They have pissed me off so much that I don't know how I
managed not to give everything up even before I started."
But it was worth it.
"If I could wake up in a different place, at a different time, could I wake
up as a different person?" (Chuck Palahniuk, *Fight Club*, 1996).





http://www.wumingfoundation.com
------------
/Giap/ e' la newsletter telematica di wu-ming. Viene spedita con cadenza
irregolare a chiunque ne faccia richiesta spedendo un messaggio con oggetto
"Vo Nguyen Giap"
all’indirizzo <giap {AT} wumingfoundation.com>. Chi non volesse piu' riceverlo 
deve invece spedire un messaggio con oggetto "Giamaica" (abbreviazione di 
"Gia’ m’hai cagato il cazzo").


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