www.nettime.org
Nettime mailing list archives

<nettime> Bifo and the Antichrist of information
Luther Blissettt on Wed, 19 Aug 1998 19:15:49 +0200 (MET DST)


[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> Bifo and the Antichrist of information


A few weeks ago we re-found a pearl we had lost, that is the videotape of
an interview given by Franco Berardi aka Bifo on the Italian public
television in 1997. The context was Mediamente, a daily TV program on the
Internet and electronic communication in general. It was a special
feature, entirely dedicated to the notion of identity, with specific
references to the deeds of Luther Blissett.  We wrote it down and
translated it into English. OK, it=92s not exactly news, but we think that
many people (especially nettimers) will be amused reading this lazy parody
of kathedernihilismus: Bifo is coiled like a snake lying in ambush.
Initially he plays with cyber-drivel in order to confuse the anchorman
Carlo Massarini, then he stretches himself and coins one of the best
definitions of the work we=92ve been doing for all these years. I like it
very much.=20

Bye,

Luther.

P.S. We=92re currently working on a text that explains the latest twists an=
d
turns of the Musti affair (first session of the trial: January 14th,
1999). The Rome trial is also going to begin again (this is the trial
against the four night bus hijackers, charged with violent resistance to
public officers).=20
----------------------


"Mediamente", RAI3, 16 april 1997, h.1.30 pm=20


MASSARINI: Once a week Mediamente hosts Franco Bifo Berardi, our
cybernetic consultant. Today we=92re going to talk with him about Luther
Blissett, the ghostly identity adopted as a cover by the author - or the
authors - of hoaxes and pranks recently pulled on newspapers, TV channels
and radio stations.  Luther Blissett was a Jamaican footballer, he played
in AC Watford and AC Milan. Let me tell you that, from the point of view
of the average football fan, Blissett wasn=92t a great champion. Luther
Blissett is also a terrorist though, as well as an artist and a virus
inoculated into the infosphere.  But who=92s Luther Blissett? We could
speculate on this for hours and hours, and we still wouldn=92t have a clue,
simply because Luther Blissett isn=92t anyone in particular, it is a
multiple name, an identity that we all are invited to adopt whenever we
want... It sounds like a joke, and yet the existence of Luther Blissett
forces us to reflect upon some important issues, I mean, can we still
cling to some strong concept of "identity" as the newest technologies
bring to light the limits of all traditional belief in property,
personality, copyrights, sexuality and corporeality?  The age of global
computer communications is blowing away one of the last myths of western
culture: the Individual. By individual we mean a singular subject with
his/her own exclusive and unchangeable characteristics. Can such a subject
survive in the world of collective intelligence?  The progress of
technology and the consequent social changes have forced us to acquire a
flexible mentality, a nomadic way of thinking - this also changes our
ideas about personal identity. To change identity, gender and/or
physiognomy, to be everyone or no one, to erase the traces of a possible
identification, to confuse ourselves into a collective identity. Is this
going to be the new way of life?  Enter Franco Bifo Berardi. Good morning,
Bifo, we got a hard issue today, don=92t we?  First of all, let=92s talk ab=
out
Luther Blissett. You say that Luther Blissett is a multiple name, which is
more than a mere collective identity. What do you mean by that?=20

BIFO: Let=92s start by saying that we=92ll take the liberty of using words =
as
we like...=20

MASSARINI: Sure, that suits the subject...=20

BIFO: ...because words are useless, one can multiply and demultiply them
to infinity, one can forget them. This is the starting point. Now, what
does =91multiple name=92 mean? Why do I talk about =91multiple names=92 and=
 not
about =91collective identities=92?  =91Collective identity=92 means that we=
 all
get on well together, found a party, are faithful to an ideal, fight for
it... Bullshit. =91Multiple name=92 means that each of us is what happens t=
o
her/him. Pay attention: not what s/he is, but all that happens to her/him.
The relations to the world, to the media, to the past and the future, we
can stick our favourite label on all these things. Our favourite is
=91multiple name=92, which implies a non-identity.=20

MASSARINI: Therefore, =91collective name=92 means that people are in
accordance with each other, while =91multiple name=92 means that everybody
acts as they like.=20

 BIFO: Yeah.

MASSARINI: And what do these people who act as they like actually do? I
mean those who use the =91Luther Blissett=92 label...=20

BIFO: One must not overvalue the importance of Luther Blissett. We could
even say that Luther Blissett doesn=92t count for anything. All that really
counts is the fact that we=92re all Luther Blissett, we all have lost any
ability of saying where we come from and where we=92re going to. This is
what Luther Blissett is about. "Psychogeographical drifts"? Naaaah.
"Fakes"? Those are merely labels which advertise something different from
the actual content of the can. Who gives a damn? After all Luther Blissett
is the point of drifting which we all have reached, the moment when each
wo/man admits that his/her journey is aimless, because the aim has been
abstracted from our journeys. Is this good or evil? I dunno. That=92s what
Luther Blissett is about.=20

MASSARINI: Thus it is pointless to wonder if [Luther Blissett] is serious,
because he can do anything. I daresay that Luther Blissett might be the
mover of such activities as struggles and protests, a sort of Greenpeace
of information - but he might also be a completely different thing.=20

BIFO: Luther Blissett is our contribution to the extinction of
civilization.=20

MASSARINI: [ nervously giggling] Oh dear...=20

BIFO: ... and the extinction of Truth.=20

MASSARINI: [looking at the camera] Beware!=20

BIFO: On the other hand, what does =91truth=92 mean as we learn day after d=
ay,
moment by moment, that our society is based upon such lies as identity,
work, communication, family, all those things which are described as
necessary though we perfectly know it isn=92t like that?=20

MASSARINI: But why was he born in the cyberspace? Is that a more fertile
soil? Is it because communication is easier there than in the traditional
media?=20

BIFO: Well, I think that the Net is the place where the loss of meaning is
more apparent and clear. If I communicate through a screen, by a name that
can=92t be verified, then everything re-emerges, I can lie, multiply,
abstract... In our everyday lives we lie all the time, but we=92re ashamed
of it, and we bump into security checks, someone wants to see our ID card.
On the Net, thank God - nay, no thanks to God - we are beyond that block,
beyond that necessity.=20

MASSARINI: So he was born on the Net as a metaphor of the Net itself, and
at the same time as a metaphor of the whole society. Is this what you
mean?=20

BIFO: Yes, it is.

MASSARINI: Having said this, can we also say that Luther Blissett is a
liberating idea... Or is it a new prison?=20

BIFO: Luther Blissett stems from the fact that we=92re free from the necess=
ity of intelligence... The end of intelligence is everywhere, people even m=
ake a display of this condition, and we must be able to go through the whol=
e process. In case we happen to be intelligent, that=92s all right, Luther =
Blissett gives us the possibility of facing the everyday without being asha=
med of our intelligence.

MASSARINI: But, from the point of view of an outsider, since Blissett is
everything and its opposite, both a positive action of counter-information
and a mere pretext for talking nonsense, doesn=92t this damage his
credibility? By mixing good and bad, don=92t he elide all the terms?=20

BIFO: No he doesn=92t, because something remains.

MASSARINI: What?

BIFO: Pleasure, suffering, authentic life, psychogeographical driftings,
actions that may look meaningless but have an immediate authenticity, the
authenticity of pleasure, the pleasure of being in touch with each other,
feeling the presence of our own bodies and living this time even if it=92s
destitute of any meaning, because life is enjoyable even in times of lies.
Luther Blissett stems from the end of intelligence as a declaration of the
fact that intelligence may reappear anywhere if we=92re able to get out of
the frame built by capital and the media, and live apart from the things
we were forced to endure.=20

MASSARINI: Yet the attitude of the Luther Blissett group is somewhat
nihilistic and destructive, as if Blissett were the Antichrist of
information...=20

BIFO [a wicked light in his eyes]: =91Antichrist of information=92 is a
wonderful expression, indeed, I call on all the Luther Blissetts in the
audience, that is eighteen million people, to start over from here:
antichrist of information means the saver of authentic life - this is the
beginning of a reconstruction, not the reconstruction of identity, but the
reconstruction of the pleasure that=92s still possible.=20

MASSARINI: But what is the corner stone of this reconstruction? Personal
identity?=20

BIFO: It is the flesh, the immediateness of a community that we must live
rather than describe, a collective that=92s got nothing to do with
mediation, information, television and the family.=20

MASSARINI: I think I get it now: Luther Blissett is just a paradigm, it=92s
what we need in order to find ourselves...=20

BIFO: Damn, Massarini, you=92re in perfect accordance with me!=20

MASSARINI: I don=92t know why, but today I=92m able to follow you, dr. Bifo=
...
Excuse me, how many goals did Luther Blissett score in AC Milan?=20

BIFO: Dozens of thousands, because every kid has always been Luther
Blissett running towards the goal.=20
=20

Re-designed, still " no-frills" but better looking,
forever under construction, last updated 7 August 1998:

The Luther Blissett Mythopoetic On-line Guide,
http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Rampart/6812/


Per contribuire alle spese legali del Luther Blissett Project
nel caso " Lasciate che i bimbi", versamenti sul
Conto Corrente Postale n.28374403
intestato a Roberto Bui

E' uscito il primo numero dei
"Quaderni Rossi di Luther Blissett"
Distribuzione: DIEST, Torino, 011-8981164
Reperibile in tutte le  librerie Feltrinelli e altrove=20
contatti, informazioni, mailorder (lit.5000 + spese di spedizione):
Grafton 9, Bologna,tel/fax  051/271066

Per ricevere il singolo "Mind Invaders"
dei Klasse Kriminale (lyrics by Luther Blissett):
Marco Balestrino, tel/fax 019/489715

In uscita ad ottobre o poco piu' in la',
per Einaudi - Stile Libero:
Luther Blissett, "Q", pagg.550, lit.18.000

---
#  distributed via nettime-l : no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a closed moderated mailinglist for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: majordomo {AT} desk.nl and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  URL: http://www.desk.nl/~nettime/  contact: nettime-owner {AT} desk.nl