From l'Unità (Italian left-wing daily paper), 30 April 1999, Friday
ALL LUTHER BLISSETT'S MYSTERIES
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
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 said.
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 http://www.syntac.net/lutherblissett/url.html, 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".