Luther Blissett on Thu, 11 Mar 1999 19:29:04 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Luther Blissett Update #4-a

Luther Blissett Project, Italian Situation, Updates 
March 1999 - #4-a
Q's  Deflagration

The piece on Luther Blissett written by the Italian correspondent of The
London Times (see my previous message) is one of the most ridiculous
accounts of the LBP since its birth. It would be impossible to handle and
de-construct all the absurd contradictions and non-sensical assumptions
contained in the article.  That tall story about tickets and trains is a
ball of bullshit which has bounced from a British rag off to another for
more than two years. In 1995 a bunch of Roman Luther Blissetts, during a
broadcast of their psychogeographical radio show, occupied and hi-jacked a
night bus. The police attacked the vehicle and the "psychogeographical
rave party" flowed into a street riot, with cops shooting skywards and
eighteen "hijackers" brought to the nearest police station. Given the
slowness of our judiciary, the court trial is still dragging on. This has
clearly nothing to do with Richard Owen's account. Even the description of
LB as an 'anarchist' and the false statement about 'showing one's anger'
is 100% copycat crap, already featured on The Daily Express and other
toilet paper. None of the four "authors" who "revealed" their "real" names
is an Anarchist.  Moreover, *Q* has no similitarities with *The Name of
the Rose*: no monastries, no Agatha Christie-like mysteries. Q's plot
stretches for nearly 40 years (not just a week!) and unfolds in the open
air. The 16th Century doesn't resemble the early Middle Ages in the
slightest and, what is more, the political content of the two books is
extremely different.  It must also be said that Umberto Eco is growing
foolish and reactionary: last week he praised the New York City Police
Department from his weekly column on *L'Espresso*. The London Times also
"forgot" to mention that rumors about Eco being the 'big brain' behind
Luther Blissett are part of a Nazi conspiracy theory. I also remind you
that the London Times bought those forged Hitler diaries in 1983... :-)
Here is the Repubblica interview, which was badly translated, heavily
re-written and dishonestly cut-and-pasted by Mr. Owen. It is preceded by
an official disavowal of the Repubblica piece, and followed by excerpts
from *Il Messaggero*. In the next update (#4b) comrade Vo Nguyen Giap will
comment upon our latest move. Keeping you up-to-date on the twists and
turns related to a novel that you can't read (at least for the time being)
may seem bizarre and redundant. However, I believe that the latest
controversies may cast new light on the Luther Blissett multi-use name and
the ways one can adopt it in order to perforate the media and inoculate
radical content.  As always, I exhort people to adopt the name for
activism and electronic civil disobedience. 


In compliance with article 8 of Act n.47/1948 (law on the press),
governing the right of rectification, we demand that you publish what
follows: The headline, subheads and captions of the interview with us
"authors" of *Q* ('Luther Blissett is Us', La Repubblica, 6 March 1999, p.
6) have no correspondence whatsoever with the content of our statements,
nor with the tone of Loredana Lipperini's introduction. We never uttered
the headlined words (although they were dishonestly put in quotation
marks), nor have we claimed to be the authors of any 'computer hoax'. We
do not intend to incur all the police and DA investigations on presumed
offences committed by Blissett's name in several Italian towns. We will
not do it, because we are NOT 'the four people who hide themselves behind
Luther Blissett'.  'Luther Blissett' is a multi-use name that can be
adopted by anyone and is used every day and every night in the rest of
Europe and the world. As regards Bologna, dozens of people are involved in
the Project. In fact, the statement that kicked off the interview goes:
'We are less than the 0.04% of the Luther Blissett Project'. 
In witness thereof,

Fabrizio P. Belletati - Luca Di Meo - Federico Guglielmi - Giovanni Cattabriga

[La Repubblica, details above]

'LUTHER BLISSETT IS US' By means of an uncommon novel, four people claim
to be the authors of past computer hoaxes and unveil their identity for
the first time

by Loredana Lipperini

ROME. What happened to minimalism? Where have all those indoor short
stories gone? This is quite another story: enter *Q*, a novel people were
craving for because it would be the debut in fiction of subversive Luther
Blissett (a pseudonym behind which several authors played computer pranks
in the past few years) and proved to be a real literary coup, a very solid
book that goes beyond any scandal or sensation. An extraordinary
643-pages-long adventure set in the early 16th Century, made of faith,
revolution, conspiracies and massacres. We read about Saxony and armoured
horsemen, Anabaptist utopians storming Westphalia, pontifical Rome
swarming with spies weaving the bloodiest plots and, what is more, two
foes chasing each other. They are a nameless theological student and Q.,
the "eye" of Gian Pietro Carafa, the Great Inquisitor who will become Pope
Paul IV. The novel is published by Stile Libero Einaudi [...] It is
cultured, charming and sharply written despite its complexity, and was
appreciated by more than one prestigious reader who enjoyed it before the
publication and spread the predictable rumors: the "real" author was
assumed to be some heretic clergyman and/or (obviously) Umberto Eco.
Things are not what they seem. The authors are four and have been involved
in the "Luther Blissett Project" since its beginnings. They accepted to
tell us their names, because they do not throw any weight about them.
Society news: they are Federico Guglielmi, Luca Di Meo, Giovanni
Cattabriga and Fabrizio P. Belletati. They are between 26 and 35 and live
in Bologna: some of them work in social welfare assistance or in the
publishing industry, one works as a bouncer in night clubs. End of the
biography.  'Our names' they state in a strictly collective interview,
'have little importance. 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 Luther Blissett Project'.  Why did you accept to come out then? 'Not
in order to spectacularize ourselves and become young fashionable hacks or
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. This 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 network the future of creative writing'. Yes, but you
started from the past. Why did you choose to write a historical novel set
in the 16th Century?  'Q is a novel that encompasses several genres: it is
a crime novel, a spy story, an adventure novel and, finally, a historical
novel. We engaged in a back-breaking narrative, crammed with intertwining
sub-texts and sub-plots. This is what we like, what literature should be
about: telling stories, making mythologies. We're fed up with with
magnified short stories based upon one concept (at best!), which are
nothing more than style exercise, pseudo-autobiographical and
"generational" booklets. The minimalist wave is going to end, nay it
*must* end. Indeed, it's already over, and long-forgotten. As to the 16th
Century, we chose it because it gave birth to Modernity and everything
that is rotting today: Europe, mass communications, police apparatuses,
financial capital and the State. And what's more, as the book-seller
Pietro Perna says in the novel: "Whores, business, forbidden books and
papal conspiracies. Is there anything else that makes life worth living?"'
What was the initial hint? 'There were more than one. At the end of 1995
we were inspired by reading the papal encyclical *Ut Unum Sint* [That all
may be one], Raoul Vaneigem's study on the movement of the Free Spirit and
James Ellroy's *American Tabloid*. We might describe *Q* as a synthesis of
all these things. It took six months to research the history, another six
months to work out the plot, and two years to write it. How was collective
writing? 'It's like playing in a jazz combo: good understanding,
collective arrangement and individual solos. Another possible example is
the production of a videogame: you bump into at least 20 names credites as
authors. Is there any difference between a novel and interactive software?
Besides, Blissett has been saying for years that creative writing is an
utterly collective operation: concepts can't be anyone's property, the
genius doesn't exist, there's just a Great Ricombination'.  The book has a
yet unpublished clause: it may be totally or partially re-used and
re-printed, except by other publishing houses... 'Yeah. For the first time
in the history of the publishing industry we forced a major to accept an
anti-copyright formula. It's an important precedent, and we're extremely
pleased with it'. Besides, *Q* is also the *summa theologica* of the
"Luther Blissett Project, certainly not because the word 'Luther' appears
on the walls at page 69 (in this case, it is Martin Luther), but because
one can find all your concepts: multiple identities (the protagonist's
numberless names, ways of infiltrating the establishment... What more?
'We'd rather people find the references themselves, however, one thing
must be said: *Q* pays homage to all those "second leads" that make
history, the lively and anonymous multitude sustaining the weight of human
vicissitudes. Some time ago this multitude was named "Luther Blissett".
Anyhow, baptism is optional'. By the way: Italy's "Luther Blissett
Project" will end by 2000. Why? 'As our cherished Cary Grant said, it's
better to go a minute early, leaving people wanting more, rather than a
minute too late, when people are getting bored'. 

3.  >From *Il Messaggero*, 6 March 1999, p.20, section "Cultura &


A thriller, a document. The first novel published in Italy by the
mysterious author of several computer hoaxes. Luther and the Anabaptists,
Gutenberg's revolution and the Inquisition. A historical fresco. A saga of
the Powers-that-be, which is having its first effect: the pursuit of the

by Fiorella Iannucci

It caused sensation even before entering bookstores. Not bad for Luther
Blissett, the Master of Deception, the Big Sapper, the impregnable pirate
that baptizes his initiates by his own name, assuring that their opinions
and actions will get much publicity and remain anonymous [...] Here is
*Q*... whose only synthetic thing is the title, which is followed by 651
pages filled with historical events, dates, crimes, protagonists and
second leads, walk-ons and completely fictional characters. It all belongs
to that feverish, terrible period which shattered 16th Century Europe.
Holy wars and heresies, Gutenberg's revolution and Luther's Reform, the
Anabaptist cult and proto-Communist beliefs, the Peasants' War upon the
steel-covered mercenaries paid by princes and bishops. It was both the big
prologue of Modernity and its undetachable shadow. [...] A thriller. A
document. A novel, as well as a metaphor of the present. Charles V's
boundless empire (funded by the German bank, swarming with a thousand
irredentisms) sounds like today's Europe. The Jubilee's road-yards were
the same as today's, and many people (Martin Luther first among equals)
were indignant with the sale of indulgences to buy Heaven. They still are.
As to Gutenberg's revolution (concepts printed on books, classes and
hierarchies overcome by new knowledge) sounds like the computer
revolution, sweeping hierarchies away on a planetary scale, thanks to the
Net. These are just a few cues, useful for a multi-levelled reading of
*Q*. This book is a stone thrown into the system's pond [...]

Next updates:
#4-b  -  The four names: Blissett's most subtle hoax exposed and praised by
comrade General Vo Nguyen Giap

F.P. Belletati, Bologna, Italy

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