Electronic Center of Arts

Direttore: Emilio Piccolo

Sans passion il n'y a pas d'art

Gatti rossi
Del situazionismo ed altre cose
a cura di Emilio Piccolo

Luther Blissett is dead
di Ashley Bingo

Long live Luther Blissett

Taking inspiration from Yukio Mishima, Luther Blissett has announced he will be committing ritual suicide on the first day of the new millennium. At the same time, he has been kidnapping religious icons in the south of Italy, the ransom notes demanding money for the poor. While on the publishing front, his novel "Q" is taking Italy by storm. Random coincidences perhaps, or a beautiful example of the diverse identities a collective identity can develop. So why the call to Seppuku?

Rumours of the imminent demise of Luther Blisset had been circulating on Italian mailing lists for a few months, some declaring him already dead, until Luther himself announced his Seppuku on the Nihil list a few days ago, and has now gone global by posting on mailing lists such as Nettime and Rhizome his intention of committing ritual suicide on 1 January 2000. But as a multi-user name, who will die? According to Luther Blissett, it will be the veteran posse behind Bologna's equivalent of Karen Elliot, the anonymous ones that have been operating behind the name for at least five years. It is time, LB says, "to let the 'newcomers' free to develop their own plans". But who are these 'newcomers'? and could it be that Luther Blissett is pissed off with Luther Blissett?

The recent publication of the novel "Q" by LB and its subsequent success, with 30,000 copies already sold in Italy and soon to be published in Germany (by Piper who bought it from Einaudi for 120 million D-marks; a small fortune for a first novel), seems to have upset many of those behind Luther Blissett, opposed to the commercial exploitation of the name. Worse still, is the fact that the four authors of "Q" have revealed their own names behind the pseudonym, thus depriving LB of his image and giving him four actual faces. It is maybe not a coincidence that Luther Blissett's Seppuku note followed on the trail of a LB posting made by the authors of "Q", signed Luther Blissett and, in brackets, their four names. When we consider that multiple names were established to break away from recognition and financial reward in favour of anonymity, it becomes apparent that the authors of "Q" have committed what is in effect an act of cold-blooded murder. And if so, is the call to Seppuku simply coming from the ghost of Luther Blissett, dreaming of a more noble death?

At the same time, can multiple figures die? One thing is for certain, away from book and Net incarnations, Luther Blissett is currently alive and kicking (shit) in the south of Italy. Over the last two weeks, along the southern Adriatic coast, four statuettes of the Baby Jesus have been stolen from four different churches. At the feet of each Jesus-less Virgin Mary a note demanding the church authorities pay a ransom of 100 million lire (just over 50,000 US dollars) to be distributed among the poor, and signed by Luther Blissett. If the money is not paid, the statuettes will be destroyed, the note recites. Curiously, for a techno-saboteur, the notes were written on an old Olivetti typewriter.