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<nettime> Wu-ming's first strike
Roberto Bui (Wu Ming Yi) on Wed, 8 Mar 2000 03:14:29 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> Wu-ming's first strike


Wu-ming's first media strike - we've just made frontpage news. On March 7,
*La Repubblica* (the Italian biggest daily paper) published a lengthy
article beginning on the frontpage and continuing in the cultural section.
Apart from the sensationalist headlines, which mistake the Seppuku of the
LBP's "historical" members for the end of the whole Luther Blissett
Project, the piece is very good. Owing to technical reasons, one of our
answers was cut out of the article - I enclose it herewith, at the foot of
the message.    


from *La repubblica*, Tuesday 7 March 2000, front-page:

LUTHER BLISSETT'S SUICIDE
The virtual author of *Q* vanishes, his place is taken by Wu-ming, which is
chinese for "nameless"

by Loredana Lipperini

Luther Blissett is dead, long live Luther Blissett! The Information
Bogeyman, the Great Trickster, the renowned pusher of fake has committed
suicide at the dawn of Y2K. He chose the most honourable way, i.e.
*seppuku*, samurai ritual suicide, and pulled out of the game. Since last
January 1st, those who had been involved in the Luther Blissett Project for
more than a lustre have ceased to adopt the multiple name, without clamour.
Now they call themselves *Wu-ming*, which is mandarin for "nameless". 

By the way, Luther Blissett does not exist as an individual; he exists,
pardon the difficult word, as a *con-dividual*. Since 1995 at least four
hundred people in Italy (and many more abroad) have adopted this name
(which originally belonged to a former AC Milan footballer, himself being
little more than a prank) for their anti-media activities [to be continued
at p. 50]

[p.50:]
LUTHER BLISSETT DIES, WU-MING IS BORN
The notorious group of media pranksters adopt a new identity

by Loredana Lipperini 
[continues from front-page]

Some of their golden achievements? *Il Resto del Carlino* [Bologna
right-wing daily paper, t.n.] published a false letter by a HIV-positive
prostitute who confessed she used to pierce the customers' condoms.
Newspapers advertised an exhibition by a non-existent monkey painter at the
Venice Biennale 1995. A couple of national TV channels broadcasted scoop
news about black masses which never took place. Mondadori published a false
Blissett book, and so on. The last stunt was about Darko Maver, an artist
who died in the Balkans during the NATO air attacks. It goes without saying
that he did not exist in the first place.

Why a suicide? As the four authors of *Q* (whose successful novel -
published by Einaudi - has sold more than 60,000 copies) put it with Cary
Grant's words, it is better to leave a few minute earlier, rather than stay
until people get bored. One in a billion, in a world where even radical
subcultures yield to prime-time flattery, and ex-hackers like Raoul Chiesa
become talk-show superstars, Gilletti and Cucuzza competing for them [two
of the most nasty junk-TV talk-show hosts, t.n.]. 

Therefore, while the Luther Blissett Project enjoys a transfusion of fresh
blood, the ex-Blissetts devote themselves to something else. For example,
the four authors of *Q* (Roberto Bui, Giovanni Cattabriga, Luca Di Meo and
Federico Guglielmi) have founded Wu-ming, the new talk of the town.

Wu-ming is a factory, nay, a trademark administered by "a collective of
writers/activists", indeed, more precisely, it is an autonomous political
enterprise. The founders themselves describe it as "a laboratory of
literary design".
The Monty Python's Flying Circus would say: "And now,  for something
completely different..."

"We've set up a business company whose aim is telling stories, (no matter
the medium: novels, screenplays, reports, concepts for videogames or
board-games etc.). We also happen to take care of stories designed by other
people, as happened with *Libera Baku Ora* [Free Baku Now], Riccardo
Pedrini's excellent novel, just published by Derive Approdi. Recently
Pedrini joined the project as the fifth member." 

Why did you choose a Chinese name?

"We think that the planet's socio-ecological future depends on what is
going to happen in mainland China, an over-crowded, over-polluted country
which is suffering a harsh mixture of economic liberalism and political
stalinism".

Wu-ming may be translated as "no name". Luther Blissett was a multiple
name. What is the difference?

"The choice serves to remind everybody that this is a collective project as
well. We don't wish to become stars of the literary jet-set. We want to
challenge capitalist culture on its battlefield, rather than becoming the
show's dancing bears. This is the way we'll use the name: in alphabetical
order, each one of us adopts a name followed by a chinese numeral: Bui is
Wuming Yi (Nameless One), Cattabriga is Wuming Liang (Nameless Two, and so
on), Di Meo is Wuming San, Guglielmi is Wuming Si, Pedrini is Wuming Wu.
All the projects acknowledged by the Commission will carry the 'Wu-ming'
signature and logo, as happens with those bands whose line-up changes, the
members come and go, but the name remains the same".

How do you intend to deal with the Italian publishing industry?

"If you mean the way we'll handle our public image, our conduct is still:
"show up but don't *appear*. Be accessible to the readers and opaque in the
media". In plain words: no VIP personality cult, no photo sessions, no TV
appearances, no gossip columns etc. As regards our commercial strategy,
wu-ming will be a transversal quality brand, independent from any
publishing house. We'll deal with partners like any other business company.
The 'romantic' relationship between author and publisher is dead and
buried. We are aware of that, and have no regrets."

Will you keep fostering the anti-copyright ethic?

"Yes, we will. Every product bearing the Wu-ming trademark will be free
from copyright, each time with the specifications and limitations that
Wu-ming will deem necessary. However, free copying is not to be mistaken
for a waiver of royalties. This will happen only in Cuba, where we won't
make any money out of our books. It is our modest contribution to a revival
of publishing and cultural activities on the island. Such activities have
been jeopardized by the long-lasting economic *embargo* [economic block,
t.n.] imposed by the USA."  

Wu-ming will make their debut next Autumn, as authors of the biography of
Vitaliano Ravagli, a 67-year-old man from Imola [a small town near Bologna,
t.n.]. In 1956 Ravagli enlisted through clandestine channels (nothing to do
with the Italian Communist Party) and went to Laos to fight the French
colonial army.  

"Right. The book will contain a lot of historiographic details on armed
dissent and the far-left fringe in the post-war until the late Fifties."

Next year Einaudi will publish your second novel *54*, which is set in 1954
between Italy and Yugoslavia, with dazzling apparitions by Cary Grant,
Lucky Luciano and Tito. After *Q*, history is still extremely important as
far as your narrative choices are concerned.

"History is a big reservoir of events that wait for someone to tell them.
Our mission is to find tales of conflicts, snatch them out of the winners'
filthy hands, disassemble and rebuild their epos, cast a new light on them.
We write the novels we'd like to read, working on the gloomy side of
history, re-processing distorted or forgotten stories. The most important
thing is keeping light-years of distance between us and bourgeois or
hypercommercial "historical novels": the real protagonist of history is not
the Great Man; quite on the contrary, it is the nameless crowd of second
and third leads and, behind them (or through them) the nameless and
swarming multitude of events, destinies, movements and human vicissitudes."

One more question, and sorry for this final comparison with the Luther
Blissett Project: can one person "become" Wu-ming by adopting the
signature, as happens with the name Luther Blissett?

"No, s/he can't. Certainly Wu-ming is an 'expansionist' project, yet it
isn't 'virally' inclusive. We want to keep a gradual approach. In fact,
membership is "frozen" at least until the release of *54*, i.e. weel into
2001."



[box:] A CD TRIBUTE TO THE MYTH
"Post-humous" releases: the republication of a key text

There are different kinds of suicide. The suicide by which many
subjectivities of the Luther Blissett Project have ceased to use the
multiple name (after years of writings and pranks on televisions,
newpapers, radio stations and publishing houses) is not, as the suicides
themselves say, the end of Blissett. Far from it, it's the beginning of a
new phase: "to leave off this name and walk on a new path". After the two
last official actions (the non-existent artist Darko Maver and the fake
vatican website), here is a couple of lively *post mortem* celebrations. 
The first release is a CD edited by the Associazione Psicogeografica
Romana, titled after the most famous LBP magazine, *Quaderni rossi di
Luther Blissett* [Luther Blissett's Red Notebooks], a re-mix of sensations,
sounds and thoughts by the Multiple. The second one is a re-publication (by
Stile Libero Einaudi) of one of Blissett's key theoretical texts, *Toto',
Peppino e la guerra psichica 2.0* [Toto', Peppino and psychic warfare -
Toto' & Peppino were two famous 1950's comedians, far better than Abbott &
Costello t.n.]. The book was published three years ago by Piermario Ciani's
and Vittore Baroni's small and sophisticated AAA publishing house. It tells
the birth of the myth, explains its techniques of communication guerrilla
warfare and includes philosophical extracts from the pamphlet *Mind
Invaders* (which was published by Castelvecchi), as well as pieces from
radio shows and stories about the most famous pranks. You had better
remember that Blissett "has numberless bodies, many of them will stay alive
notwithstanding the death of some others." LO. LIP.

-----------------------
And now, the "ghost answer":

After the Maver affair and the fake Roman Jubilee website
<www.vaticano.org>, here's a couple of new Blissett releases, i.e. the cd
and the anthology. Thus the Project goes on after the Seppuku, as you had
told. What is the relationship between Wu-ming and the LBP? 

"The symbolic ritual suicide involved only the 'veterans' of the Italian
LBP, in particular the Bologna and Rome columns that joined the Project in
1994. The book and the CD are posthumous operations by these historical
nuclea, they explain and celebrate our goodbye. And yet the legend of
Luther Blissett prospers in Italy and other countries, thanks to the many
people who keep using the name. Blissett strikes again. Reality belies
those superficial critics who attacked us four after the release of *Q* and
our partial 'outing'. They charged us with 'careerism' and, in retrospect,
'authoritarianism' within the LBP. To their opinion, we had inflicted a
deadly blow on the multi-use name, for no other purpose than gain credit as
(former) *eminences grises*. And yet we said we were nothing more than the
0.004% of the Project, and reality proved us right: there was no central
committee. Now, we don't intend to become 'blissettologists', we won't talk
about the past anymore. Wu-ming is something else."  


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