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

The Luther Blissett Manifesto
di Luther Blissett


"'Mac Guffin' is the name by which we call this sort of action: stealing papers, stealing a document, stealing a secret. The thing i s not important in itself, and logicians go wrong in searching for a truth in the Mac Guffin. In my work I've always thought that while the 'papers', the 'documents' or the 'secret' of the construction of a fortress must be important for the characters of the movie, they have to be of no interest to me, to the story-teller "
(Alfred Hitchcock).
Luther Blissett is both the story-teller and the Mac Guffin of a board-game played on the stage of the world. It is essentially a grim theory of conspiracy which mostly makes use of techniques tested in the Mail Art (Ethe)real Network (MULTIPLE NAMES, 'Add, Pass & Return' creations etc.) in order to manipulate and overturn the language of myths, the archetypes of the popular culture as well as the neo-pagan religious experience. It is a sort of lucid shamanism which does not belong to a pre-democratic and pre-individual view of the world (i.e. a claim to a totalitarian social unity); on the contrary it puts itself BEYOND democracy and the individuality, in the name of a free chaotic empathy between the creatures, as if we were charming Betazoids.

Sometimes the links between the elements of the project happen to recall the most entangled detective stories (e.g. "The Long Goodbye" by Raymond Chandler or "White Jazz" by James Ellroy), or maybe 'Paco Ignacio Taibo meets Paracelsus at an Illegal Rave'.

The game consists in forcing the Wo/Mankind to deal with the Catastrophe and lie down next to it, so that we can't be caught while we sleep. When one feels up to being in safety, at worst her/his mind will PLAY WITH the Catastrophe as an improbable contingency, and some modest assurance will be enough to give her/him shelter. But we are NOT in safety: as a whole, the present-day social relations are nothing but an infectious neuro-epidemic, so we must PLAY INTO the Catastrophe and tie our symbolic capital up to it, in order to keep the Northwest Passage open. The Multiple Name becomes a borderline experience, a live broadcast from the last promontory of the centuries: "At the beginning of a century you may act the experimentalist, but the end is like a western, one makes it a point of duty to describe what's happening and sum it up..." (Andrea G. Pinketts).

Luther Blissett is not a 'teamwork identity' as reported by the journalists; rather, it is a MULTIPLE SINGLE: the 'Luther Blissetts' don't exist, only Luther Blissett exist. Today we can infuse ourselves with vitality by exploring any possibility of escaping the conventional identities.

There is nothing new when someone affirms that the nihilistic tyranny of the spectacle could be faced and fought by "talking big and telling tall stories", i.e. by raising a whirl of fibs and lies "till a communication short-circuit dissipates the virtual world and the real one will settle again" (Paul Virilio). In fact, a radical criticism of the world order, and even the right to criticize, was an achievement by the "plagiarist" pirates of the past centuries, i.e. by rascals, buffoons and court jesters. The Middle Age social conflict was similar to that of the present day: the language of the powers that be (that is the language as Law, State and Identity) was objected, perverted and subverted by the words of the détournement, by parody and the plagiarism, by a 'resistance through lies' which used to keep the language in motion as well as to frustrate all authoritarian codification. Tramps, tumblers and criminals deviated from the "straight path" of the high poem of chivalry in order to practise such minor literary genres as satire, coarse songs and blasphemous prayers. So they saved the linguistic cross-fertilisation. Thanks to them, the speaking of each class, rank or profession might cross and modify one another. The XVIth century novel "Gargantua et Pantagruel" by François Rabelais owed to this practice of the "merry prank" its radicalism and its subversive change which consists in "breaking all hierarchical false link between ideals and things by destroying any ideological partition between them" (M. Bakhtin). In plain words, it was necessary to free anything and let them naturally link up each other, however strange this might seem considering Tradition and the customary connections. It was necessary to enable things to come into contact one another with all their concreteness and variety, in order to reapproach what had been fallaciously divided and redivide what had been fallaciously approached. It was a question of "a radical skepticism about the direct speaking and its seriousness, a skepticism which went so far as to negate any possibility that a direct speaking couldn't be false" (M. Bakhtin). Rabelais, Villon and their anonymous predecessors did not put their feet down trying to state Truth in a world of lies: quite the contrary they used to "circumvent" any official truth and dismember it from the inside by carrying its logic to paradox. Today, on the analogy, it's question of preventing the writing of an informal constitution which submits the general intellect to a system based on exploitation and the ecocide. The struggle is still against the language of the powers that be, in order to create by merry pranks new links between things (i.e. networking) and break any old hierarchy. As Rabelais emphasized in his works that the Middle Age was over and that new social relations were beating up the inertial force of the feudal world, so we have to point out that wagework has become unnecessary, that information and technology must belong to everybody, and so on. However, it is insufficient to wait for a 'short-circuit' or to hope for cathartic explosions: rather, we must create a scientific strategy of the merry prank. In the mid-eighties cyberpunk propagated an interesting metaphor, according to which information is a bank that we have to force open in the name of a free admittance to the data, challenging their secrecy. That was correct, yet the 1989 Amsterdam ICATA (an international conference on the alternative use of technology) had also stated that "any information is in the meantime deformation, the right of the former is inseparable from that of the latter, which belongs to the whole world...We should subvert the conventional channels by means of detournements and surrealistic changes of the events in order to raise chaos, rumours and waste which in their turn shall be regarded as carriers of information". This provocative use of the term 'right' had to cause a breakdown in the liberal phraseology, as though we used the term 'non-statal public sphere'. Actually, those who decided to follow that statement opened breaches in the liberal-democratic horizon which had limited any discussion on 'infoglasnost' and the cybermedia up to that time. Those XXIth century rascals and buffoons weren't interested in the myth of a "new new frontier": rather, they decided to deal with rumours, noises and interferences, just standing in the dark shades which the information outgrowth couldn't help throwing on the capitalist society, i.e. the symptoms of a psychochemical illness. The morals of those who ride the waves of the digital ocean are necessarily provisional. Especially in Italy, some called all this 'Transmaniacality' (see the 1979 John Shirley S-F novel "Transmaniacon"). In the depths of the informal 'network of events' which these teams of mind invaders are setting up, one of the most interesting practices of merry prank is the so-called MULTIPLE NAME, a technique particularly improved by the NEOISTS. KAREN ELIOT was an important multiple name. The Luther Blissett Project has been launched in the Summer '94 by an international gang of revolutionaries, mail artists, poets, performers, underground 'zines, cybernauts and squatters. A multiple name, if it was used outside small circles of radicals, would be a practical solution of problems such as the relation between community and individual, or the quest for identity. All the debates on the necessity of a 'Nomadology' and all idle talk on 'situations' are superseded by this concept. Luther Blissett is a -dividual, because the character has many personalities and reputations; Luther Blissett is also a con-dividual, because many individuals share the name; Luther Blissett is a multitude as well as a 'decentralized subject', a project aiming to what Karl Marx called 'Gemeinwesen' (i.e. the common essence of the Wo/Mankind, the awareness of the global community). Luther Blissett is not an (anti)artist like KAREN ELIOT: s/he's a cultural terrorist who supports the religious programme of the NEOIST ALLIANCE. Sabotages, hoaxes, urban legends, performances, magazines, bulletin boards and TV or radio broadcasts are spreading the name all over the world. Especially in Italy, this merry prank is reaching new heights of subversion and mythopoiesis. Anyone can be Luther Blissett simply by adopting the name. Become Luther Blissett.