Luther Blissett on Wed, 28 Jul 1999 23:19:03 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Who the fuck is Luther Blissett?

>From l'Unita (Italian left-wing daily paper), 30 April 1999, Friday :

The affair: 
>From the *Q* breakthrough to the latest book on our republic's plots,
*Enemies of the State*, an essay on Italian "emergencies" from the
Seventies to these days

by Stefania Scateni

"Luther Blissett represents the power of communication and collective
intelligence - no copyright can fight him back". This was the last
sentence of an early text by the Luther Blissett Project, possibly its
very birth certificate, which was published on *Derive Approdi* magazine
in March 1995. Today, less than five years later, that statement does not
sound overambitious anymore. Indeed, it has become a mere ascertainment,
not only because the group hiding behind the "Luther Blissett" multiple
name has performed several actions of media terrorism (e.g. the creation
and propagation of false news about inexistent satanic cults - by which LB
egged on a plenty of newspapers) and authored many serious texts (e.g. 
essays against the Italian judiciary), but also because their literary
work, the very famous *Q* (Einaudi, pp. 643 - for the first time a major
publishing house waived copyright on one of their novels!) has been read
by thousands of readers (the first edition sold 15,000 copies, the second
sold 10,000 more).  Now, consider that *Q* is not simply a very good
novel, exciting and skillfully written - it also has a strongly subversive
political subtext. This throws more light on the counter-cultural value of
the whole operation.

Another Luther Blissett book hit the bookstores just now. It is the
latest, maybe the last one, because the Luther Blissett Project, nay, the
Bologna-based group adopting this collective alias, has decided to
continue their journey in another disguise. The book is titled *Enemies of
the State: Criminals, "Monsters" and Special Laws in the Society of
Control* (Derive Approdi, pp.282). It is the other side of *Q*, or rather
a sort of handbook for *Q*'s readers. OK, it is less captivating and
charming than the novel, because it is a theoretical text filled with
footnotes and references, court verdicts and law texts, and certainly it
is going to remain less popular, and yet it is the same book. I mean it.
While *Q* is an allegory of Blissett's theory and practice, *Enemies of
the State* is a more explicit enunciation. Although the two books were not
authored by precisely the same members of the collective, "they both are
emblematic of our way of investigating and writing", as LB themselves

Let's try a brief summary of the two "plots". *Q* narrates thirty years of
violent repression in the Europe of Reformation and Counter-Reformation,
by the voice of an anonymous dissenter and revolutionary fighter (the last
man standing after an overwhelming wave of blood and repression) and
through the watchful eyes of "Q", a secret agent in the pay of cardinal
Giovanni Pietro Carafa (i.e. the supreme brain of the Holy Inquisition,
who later became Pope Paul IV). The big historical and human fresco
painted by the novelists shows us all the plots of 16th century politics,
especially the alliances between princes, emperors and powerful bankers.
The mighty Vatican shadow stretches out on everything: Carafa is always at
work to create scapegoats and public enemies, in order to find more and
more allies and strengthen the Church's power. 

*Enemies of the State* reconstructs thirty years of Italian history in
order to "cast new light on some judicial and media mechanisms which link
the 1970's emergency laws to today's molecular emergencies. The historical
setting is economic globalization, the full restoration of the Catholic
model and the rise of a new constituent power that will dare speak its
name soon". The book's "counter-inquiry" starts from some stories which
Blissett tells in order to make mechanisms visible: from the Cossiga Act
(1980) to the 7th April affair, from the endless preventive detention of
Giuliano Naria to the judicial persecution of Enzo Tortora, from the
Anti-mafia season to the "Clean Hands" inquiry, down to the latest public
"emergencies", i.e. squatters, pedophiles, satanic cults etc. Luther
Blissett writes: "We call 'emergency' a continual re-definition of the
'public enemy' by the powers-that-be. Thanks to emergencies, so-called
public opinion accepts not only the violation, but even the *suspension*
of all freedoms and rights formally warranted by the constitution and the
declarations of human rights. All this is accepted because the media
describes it as *necessary* in order to defend democracy".  >From
terrorism to the Internet, from *molar* to *molecular* emergencies, from
politics to culture. In default of a clear conflict between labor and
capital, as well as between the society and the state, any conflict can be
turned into an emergency.. According to Blissett, in the name of the
defence of the state, the constitution was torn to pieces, with the
engagement of intellegence agencies, the alliances between politicians and
magistrates, the vicious circle between the media and public prosecutors,
and the full-time interference of Vatican long hands.  Yes, the thesis is
pretty extreme, and certainly not agreeable, especially when Blissett
deals with such complex phenomena as pedophilia. However, what the Luther
Blissett Project wants to do is giving us a new pair of glasses,
"uncomfortable" glasses to take a new lokk on reality.

I wrote: 'uncomfortable'. In fact, Blissett risks being sentenced to a
fine of 100 million lira [about $ 53,000] for having caused "moral damage"
to a Bologna magistrate. The court trial is about the scandal provoked by
Blissett's book *Let The Children... "Pedophilia" as a Pretext for a Witch
Hunt*, a pamphlet about the most recent "emergency", in which the
collective tells the story of Mr. Marco Dimitri and his group "The
Children of Satan", who were victims of a sensational judicial error. The
public prosecutor, Mrs. Lucia Musti, brought a legal action against the
authors, for "defamation" and "misuse of the right to critique". Musti
asked the Bologna tribunal to seize and destroy all the copies of the
book. Before this happened the authors, whose freedom of speech is in
danger, made the text freely available on nearly 50 websites [the list is
at, t.n.]. Now censorship
has become impossible. 

This is Luther Blissett's force: being ubiquitous, elusive and
indestructible. The power of the multiple name is a nomadic,
uncontrollable, rhizomatic power. "A line, not a dot".

'Never been to a cinema school, never learnt the cinematographic technique.
It's by chance that I entered this profession. Simply, I had the urge to
create something, either a text, either a film, by any means. I wished my
desires to come true, for example the desire to kill cops. I cannot do this
in real life, of course. But in a film I can exterminate a huge number of
cops all at once. There you are, I started making movies for a very crude
motive.' (Koji Wakamatsu)

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