March 1999

Q's Deflagration

The piece on Luther Blissett written by the Italian correspondent of The London Times (see my previous message) is one of the most ridiculous accounts of the LBP since its birth. It would be impossible to handle and de-construct all the absurd contradictions and non-sensical assumptions contained in the article. That tall story about tickets and trains is a ball of bullshit which has bounced from a British rag off to another for more than two years. In 1995 a bunch of Roman Luther Blissetts, during a broadcast of their psychogeographical radio show, occupied and hi-jacked a night bus. The police attacked the vehicle and the "psychogeographical rave party" flowed into a street riot, with cops shooting skywards and eighteen "hijackers" brought to the nearest police station. Given the slowness of our judiciary, the court trial is still dragging on. This has clearly nothing to do with Richard Owen's account. Even the description of LB as an 'anarchist' and the false statement about 'showing one's anger' is 100% copycat crap, already featured on The Daily Express and other toilet paper. None of the four "authors" who "revealed" their "real" names is an Anarchist. Moreover, *Q* has no similitarities with *The Name of the Rose*: no monastries, no Agatha Christie-like mysteries. Q's plot stretches for nearly 40 years (not just a week!) and unfolds in the open air. The 16th Century doesn't resemble the early Middle Ages in the slightest and, what is more, the political content of the two books is extremely different. It must also be said that Umberto Eco is growing foolish and reactionary: last week he praised the New York City Police Department from his weekly column on *L'Espresso*. The London Times also "forgot" to mention that rumors about Eco being the 'big brain' behind Luther Blissett are part of a Nazi conspiracy theory. I also remind you that the London Times bought those forged Hitler diaries in 1983... :-)
Here is the Repubblica interview, which was badly translated, heavily re-written and dishonestly cut-and-pasted by Mr. Owen. It is preceded by an official disavowal of the Repubblica piece, and followed by excerpts from *Il Messaggero*. In the next update (#4b) comrade Vo Nguyen Giap will comment upon our latest move. Keeping you up-to-date on the twists and turns related to a novel that you can't read (at least for the time being) may seem bizarre and redundant. However, I believe that the latest controversies may cast new light on the Luther Blissett multi-use name and the ways one can adopt it in order to perforate the media and inoculate radical content. As always, I exhort people to adopt the name for
activism and electronic civil disobedience.





In compliance with article 8 of Act n.47/1948 (law on the press), governing the right of rectification, we demand that you publish what follows: The headline, subheads and captions of the interview with us "authors" of *Q* ('Luther Blissett is Us', La Repubblica, 6 March 1999, p. 6) have no correspondence whatsoever with the content of our statements, nor with the tone of Loredana Lipperini's introduction. We never uttered the headlined words (although they were dishonestly put in quotation marks), nor have we claimed to be the authors of any 'computer hoax'. We do not intend to incur all the police and DA investigations on presumed offences committed by Blissett's name in several Italian towns. We will not do it, because we are NOT 'the four people who hide themselves behind Luther Blissett'. 'Luther Blissett' is a multi-use name that can be adopted by anyone and is used every day and every night in the rest of Europe and the world. As regards Bologna, dozens of people are involved in the Project. In fact, the statement that kicked off the interview goes: 'We are less than the 0.04% of the Luther Blissett Project'.

In witness thereof,

Fabrizio P. Belletati - Luca Di Meo - Federico Guglielmi - Giovanni Cattabriga


[La Repubblica, details above]


By means of an uncommon novel, four people claim to be the authors of past computer hoaxes and unveil their identity for the first time


by Loredana Lipperini

ROME. What happened to minimalism? Where have all those indoor short stories gone? This is quite another story: enter *Q*, a novel people were craving for because it would be the debut in fiction of subversive Luther Blissett (a pseudonym behind which several authors played computer pranks in the past few years) and proved to be a real literary coup, a very solid book that goes beyond any scandal or sensation. An extraordinary 643-pages-long adventure set in the early 16th Century, made of faith, revolution, conspiracies and massacres. We read about Saxony and armoured horsemen, Anabaptist utopians storming Westphalia, pontifical Rome swarming with spies weaving the bloodiest plots and, what is more, two foes chasing each other. They are a nameless theological student and Q., the "eye" of Gian Pietro Carafa, the Great Inquisitor who will become Pope Paul IV. The novel is published by Stile Libero Einaudi [...] It is cultured, charming and sharply written despite its complexity, and was appreciated by more than one prestigious reader who enjoyed it before the publication and spread the predictable rumors: the "real" author was assumed to be some heretic clergyman and/or (obviously) Umberto Eco.
Things are not what they seem. The authors are four and have been involved in the "Luther Blissett Project" since its beginnings. They accepted to tell us their names, because they do not throw any weight about them. Society news: they are Federico Guglielmi, Luca Di Meo, Giovanni Cattabriga and Fabrizio P. Belletati. They are between 26 and 35 and live in Bologna: some of them work in social welfare assistance or in the publishing industry, one works as a bouncer in night clubs. End of the biography. 'Our names' they state in a strictly collective interview, 'have little importance. Our biographies are even less relevant. We are the team that actually wrote *Q*, and yet we are less than the 0.04% of the Luther Blissett Project'. Why did you accept to come out then? 'Not in order to spectacularize ourselves and become young fashionable hacks or talk show guests, which would be a very dishonourable end. If that ever happens we hope that other Blissetts will finish us off like wounded horses. This move is aimed at showing that we are a collective entity, not a single "Author". Behind Luther Blissett (and behind *Q* as well) there is no boss, no mysterious scholar, nor have we been the only Blissetts who contributed. It is network the future of creative writing'. Yes, but you started from the past. Why did you choose to write a historical novel set in the 16th Century? 'Q is a novel that encompasses several genres: it is a crime novel, a spy story, an adventure novel and, finally, a historical novel. We engaged in a back-breaking narrative, crammed with intertwining sub-texts and sub-plots. This is what we like, what literature should be about: telling stories, making mythologies. We're fed up with with magnified short stories based upon one concept (at best!), which are nothing more than style exercise, pseudo-autobiographical and "generational" booklets. The minimalist wave is going to end, nay it *must* end. Indeed, it's already over, and long-forgotten. As to the 16th Century, we chose it because it gave birth to Modernity and everything that is rotting today: Europe, mass communications, police apparatuses, financial capital and the State. And what's more, as the book-seller Pietro Perna says in the novel: "Whores, business, forbidden books and papal conspiracies. Is there anything else that makes life worth living?"'
What was the initial hint? 'There were more than one. At the end of 1995 we were inspired by reading the papal encyclical *Ut Unum Sint* [That all may be one], Raoul Vaneigem's study on the movement of the Free Spirit and James Ellroy's *American Tabloid*. We might describe *Q* as a synthesis of all these things. It took six months to research the history, another six months to work out the plot, and two years to write it. How was collective writing? 'It's like playing in a jazz combo: good understanding, collective arrangement and individual solos. Another possible example is the production of a videogame: you bump into at least 20 names credites as authors. Is there any difference between a novel and interactive software?
Besides, Blissett has been saying for years that creative writing is an utterly collective operation: concepts can't be anyone's property, the genius doesn't exist, there's just a Great Ricombination'. The book has a yet unpublished clause: it may be totally or partially re-used and re-printed, except by other publishing houses... 'Yeah. For the first time in the history of the publishing industry we forced a major to accept an anti-copyright formula. It's an important precedent, and we're extremely pleased with it'. Besides, *Q* is also the *summa theologica* of the "Luther Blissett Project, certainly not because the word 'Luther' appears on the walls at page 69 (in this case, it is Martin Luther), but because one can find all your concepts: multiple identities (the protagonist's numberless names, ways of infiltrating the establishment... What more? 'We'd rather people find the references themselves, however, one thing must be said: *Q* pays homage to all those "second leads" that make history, the lively and anonymous multitude sustaining the weight of human vicissitudes. Some time ago this multitude was named "Luther Blissett".
Anyhow, baptism is optional'. By the way: Italy's "Luther Blissett Project" will end by 2000. Why? 'As our cherished Cary Grant said, it's better to go a minute early, leaving people wanting more, rather than a minute too late, when people are getting bored'.


From *Il Messaggero*, 6 March 1999, p.20, section "Cultura & spettacoli"


A thriller, a document. The first novel published in Italy by the mysterious author of several computer hoaxes. Luther and the Anabaptists, Gutenberg's revolution and the Inquisition. A historical fresco. A saga of the Powers-that-be, which is having its first effect: the pursuit of the author.


by Fiorella Iannucci

It caused sensation even before entering bookstores. Not bad for Luther Blissett, the Master of Deception, the Big Sapper, the impregnable pirate that baptizes his initiates by his own name, assuring that their opinions and actions will get much publicity and remain anonymous [...] Here is *Q*... whose only synthetic thing is the title, which is followed by 651 pages filled with historical events, dates, crimes, protagonists and second leads, walk-ons and completely fictional characters. It all belongs
to that feverish, terrible period which shattered 16th Century Europe. Holy wars and heresies, Gutenberg's revolution and Luther's Reform, the Anabaptist cult and proto-Communist beliefs, the Peasants' War upon the steel-covered mercenaries paid by princes and bishops. It was both the big prologue of Modernity and its undetachable shadow. [...] A thriller. A document. A novel, as well as a metaphor of the present. Charles V's boundless empire (funded by the German bank, swarming with a thousand irredentisms) sounds like today's Europe. The Jubilee's road-yards were the same as today's, and many people (Martin Luther first among equals) were indignant with the sale of indulgences to buy Heaven. They still are. As to Gutenberg's revolution (concepts printed on books, classes and hierarchies overcome by new knowledge) sounds like the computer revolution, sweeping hierarchies away on a planetary scale, thanks to the Net. These are just a few cues, useful for a multi-levelled reading of *Q*. This book is a stone thrown into the system's pond [...]