Luther Blissett on Mon, 22 Feb 1999 06:36:56 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Luther Blissett Update #1

Luther Blissett Project, Italian Situation, Updates 
Late February 1999 - # 1
New Publications, Rumors and the Big Seppuku  

Numberless people asked me why I haven't sent any English LB updates around
since last Fall. Well, that's because I'm busy, working my ass off as a
translator, freelance writer and even LBP historian. I also got involved in
a "sans papiers" struggle that perturbed my town in December and January. I
hope I can bridge the gaps with a few hastily written postings, there's a
lot of big news about the Project, which is heading into its last amplic
phase before the Big Seppuku [ritual suicide]. The way events are unfolding
is of good omen, Italian pop culture and net culture are going to get
Blissett-crazy for the umpteenth time.

Since the end of 1995, some of us have been working on a Luther Blissett's
novel, which is in the press right now and will hit the bookstores on 2
March. The title is 'Q', and it's an anti-copyright 700-pages-long
hard-boiled flick. We managed to impose the anti-copyright clause to
Einaudi, that is one of the most prestigious and biggest publishers,
comparable to Gallimard in France or Faber & Faber in the UK. We protected
our work by a series of smoke-screens and rather absurd rumors, letting
some mind-boggling info leak out to the media. Some hacks speculated about
the "Brain" behind the renowned multi-use-name, called Umberto Eco into
question (originally, it was a Neo-Fascist conspiracy theory), then alluded
to some "heretic prelate" as the real author of the book. In the meanwhile,
we got in touch with some serious media operators, people who were less
interested in the author's identity than in the book itself. We sent them
the page-proofs, and a few advance reviews appeared, one of which I've
translated in order to make you grasp what the novel is about (see appendix). 
Last week we issued a press release that went: 
'Bourgeois narrow-mindedness encloses the field of creation then sows
"Authors", "Copyright" and big "Names". This prevents people from realizing
that writing is always a collective process, ideas are nobody’s property,
"Genius" does not exist, there's just a Great Ricombination. This is what
Blissett's been trying to tell you for years, you obtuse defenders of
intellectual property. "Q" is the product of an invisible insurrection of a
million minds (and two million feet kicking John Paul's ass). For more than
three years this large network of events poured hundreds of sub-texts and
sub-plots into the novel. Even if a few individuals had made the final
editing, this would not count for spit, but in case you are dying to know,
keep cool, the recognition's timing will be perfect.'
When the book will be out, we'll spread the following statement:
'We are [...the names of the four editors...]. All you are going to know
about us is that we are based in Bologna. We are from 26 up to 35 years
old. Some of us work as bouncers at night clubs [...] We have been active
in the Luther Blissett Project since its beginnings, and integral parts of
the Bologna scene since the late Eighties. We had and keep having problems
with the Law.
Our names are far from being important. Our biographies are even less
relevant. We are the team that actually wrote "Q", and yet we are less than
the 0.04% of the LBP. The fact that we are coming out does not comprise our
self-spectacularization, we do not intend to give up our privacy to become
(moderately) "young" fashionable novelists and talk show guests, which
would be a very dishonourable end. If that ever happens we hope that other
Blissetts will finish us off like wounded horses.
Quite the contrary, our move is aimed at showing that we are a collective
entity, not a single "Author". Behind Luther Blissett (and behind 'Q' as
well) there is no boss, no mysterious scholar, nor have we been the only
Blissetts who contributed. 
It is the network the future of creative writing.'


In March, the LBP will also put out a lengthy essay (about 300 pages)
titled "Nemici dello Stato. Criminali, "mostri" e leggi speciali nella
societa' di controllo" [Enemies Of The State. Criminals, "Monsters" and
Special Laws in the Society of Control]. 
The publisher is Rome-based "autonomous" collective Derive Approdi, the
same as Toni Negri's. After the controversial Lasciate Che I Bimbi (1997),
that generated two civil trials, a libel suit and an official ban request,
we're ramming another anti-copyright fist into the stomachs of magistrates,
cops, priests and "law & order" politicians. We examined the series of
liberticide "emergency laws" [in German: "Notstandsgesetze"] that started
in the mid-Seventies in order to repress "Terrorism", reached new heights
with the 1980’s 'anti-mafia' and the "totale mobilmachung" known as the
Clean Hands Inquiry (1992-96), then stretched out to some early 1990's law
against "football hooligans" and "nazi skinheads", till the recent 'Act on
Child Pornography and Pedophilia' and the Church-driven mass hysteria on
"Satanic cults" and "crazy sects". Our thesis is that early emergency laws
were suitable to the crisis of Taylorism/Fordism and the disciplinary
society, while the most recent ones perfectly fit a society of control
based on a "molecular" prevention of social conflict. 
In the 20th anniversary of the "7 Aprile" inquiry (which took into prison
the whole Autonomia Operaia movement and must be considered the very
paradigm of everything followed), the LBP looks into the
political/juridical/media mechanisms by which the political establishment
and the judiciary have started a perpetual, authoritarian screw turn. As
Liberal jurist Italo Mereu put it in his  book "Storia dell’Intolleranza in
Europa" (1979), this perennial state of emergency is based on the 'Catholic
[juridical] Model', i.e. that of the Holy Inquisition (e.g. the use of
so-called "pentiti" [repentants, i.e. former "terrorists" or criminals who
became narks], the use of torture, "preventive detention" as a way to
extort confessions etc.). 
We admit that the book is somewhat scary, including as it does many sad
stories of witch hunt journalism, judicial horror, liberticide law, police
abuse, censorship and Catholic revanche. A "state of freedom" report from
this sector of Southern Europe, as well as an explanation of Q's dark
This will be the last book signed by the Italian milieux of the LBP before
the Big Seppuku. We'll commit a symbolic suicide in January 2000 and stop
adopting the name, so the Project will jettison the last piece of ballast
and perhaps flourish elsewhere (the Spanish are doing fucking fine, for


Prior to reporting a bizarre editorial/scientific achievement of the LBP,
I'll mention our mag, the Quaderni Rossi di Luther Blissett [Luther
Blissett's Red Notebooks], which are named after the seminal early 1960's
operaista (proto-Autonomous) journal and completely devoted to LB's
self-historification and reports from other countries. The first issue
(Summer '98) included a section on the German book 'Handbuch der
Kommunicationsguerilla' (Communication Guerrilla Handbook, authored by
Autonome Afrika Gruppe, Luther Blissett and Sonja Bruenzels), including
Florian Cramer's wicked review of it. The second issue (Autumn 1998)
included reports from the Spanish/Catalan scene. [Down there, Luther
Blissett is promoting a Huelga de Arte [art strike], info (only in
Castillan) at: 
<> and>]
The third issue is in the press now and will be devoted to the "Musti
affair" (i.e. the libel suit against the presumed author of Lasciate Che I
Bimbi, more info at:
<> and the linked
sites ). 


Eurispes is a well-known institute for social studies, researches and
surveys. Every year they publish a bulky book titled "Rapporto Italia"
[Italy Report, or Italy Files], a shitload of data, surveys, essays on the
phenomena and trends Eurispes considers the most important in Italian
culture and society. The Rapporto is invariably used as a reference book
(and a primary source for further research work) by journalists,
sociologists, economists and various kinds of scholars. 
Well, the funny thing is that the last Rapporto contains a long section
(almost 70k bytes) titled "The Invisible Insurrection", completely
dedicated to Luther Blissett! It is one of the most complex critical essays
on LBP ever published, which "consecrates" our avatar as one of the most
relevant phenomena of Italian culture. Some journalists were stunned by
LB's presence in the Rapporto. On January 29 they were attending the
official presentation of the book at the University of Rome, skimming
through the pages, found the chapter and... Geez! 
An excerpt from "L’insurrezione invisibile":
'This way of crossing and superceding the usual dichotomies of contemporary
society (singularity/multitude, individual/community, true/false) [was] the
invariance of all subsequent experiments signed by "Luther Blissett", and
any research work that does not take this aspect into consideration is
doomed to fail. Luther Blissett has always tended to pass over (or
"short-circuit", it depends on the point of view) all cultural and
disciplinary separations, and solve in an experimental way the social
contradictions generated by separation. Since 1995 [the Luther Blissett's
name] has been adopted by thousands of people all over the world, and
established itself as collective, anonymous, transnational project which
makes use of all the existing media, even the most underestimated or even
ignored ones (urban legends, mail art, bulletin boards, graffiti,
fanzines). [Luther Blissett] managed to go through the most different
territories of communication, without any embarassment. It's precisely this
cultural nomadism the base of Blissett's shifting identity, which proved to
be adverse to academic investigations. For instance, think of the phrases
that the newspapers used to describe this anthropomorphized project:
"cognitive dissident", "psycho-informatic pirate", "cyber-pirate", "leader
of the net-gener@tion", "media terrorist", "cultural terrorist", "cerebral
terrorist", "guerrilla semiologist", "media chaos cultist", "art conjuror",
"transgender militant", "Fantomas of pranks", "fake scoop manifacturer",
"global performance", "philosofical sect", "polimorphous musician" and so
on. All these definitions were invariably disavowed by Blissett, yet their
variety bears witness for the impossibility of describing this experience
once and for all. Moreover, as they stated themselves in several writings
and interviews, the multi-use-name bearers are never the same, do not know
each other and their respective activities are completely different.'


From-La Stampa, 25 gennaio 1999, Thursday:

Coming soon:
A Survivor From The XVIth Century
Q: An Action Novel and A Breath-taking thriller authored by Luther Blissett

[...] 650 pages that make us sink in Sixteenth Century Europe, a continent
fractured by that war of religions which generated the modern world. This
is Q's historical frame (Is Q for Qoelet? Yes and no). It is an action
novel and a breath-taking thriller, using a razor-sharp language and
cinematic sequences in order to capture the reader and drag them into a
remarkable political/theological magma. The author is unknown, except for
the Luther Blissett *nomen omen*, i.e. the ineffable alias that means both
everybody and nobody. And we might say that Nobody (a *sui generis*
Ulysses) is the novel's protagonist for thirty years of violence, arson,
heretics, the Church (Pietro Carafa, not yet Pope Paul IV),
excommunications, corruption and swindles. He is The Survivor, going
through the Peasants' War declared by Thomas Muenzer then strangled in
blood at the battle of Frankenhausen, 1525 [...]; going through the defeat
of the Anabaptists in Muenster... going through the Inquisition, till he
comes to the pleasure-loving Venice of whorehouses and then to the Bosford,
where the colossal duel with Q comes to an end. "Q" is as scholarly as
Professors Ginzburg and Prosperi's essays, yet it is compelling and
colorful [...]. The search for the anonymous has already started, although
reading the novel is more amusing.' 

Next postings in a few days:
update #2: No-Art And Pranks
update #3: Repression And The Musti affair
F.P. Belletati, Bologna, Italy
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