Luther Blissett (nom de plume)
Overview
 
Luther Blissett is a multiple-use name
Multiple-use name
A multiple-use name is a name used by many different people to protect anonymity. It is a strategy that has been adopted by many unconnected radical and cultural groups, where the construct of personal identity has been criticised...

, an "open reputation" informally adopted and shared by hundreds of artists and activists all over Europe and the Americas since 1994. The pseudo-name first appeared in Bologna, Italy, in mid-1994, when a number of cultural activists began using it for staging a series of urban and media pranks and to experiment with new forms of authorship and identity. From Bologna the multiple-use name spread to other European cities, such as Rome and London, as well as countries such as Germany, Spain, and Slovenia.
Encyclopedia
Luther Blissett is a multiple-use name
Multiple-use name
A multiple-use name is a name used by many different people to protect anonymity. It is a strategy that has been adopted by many unconnected radical and cultural groups, where the construct of personal identity has been criticised...

, an "open reputation" informally adopted and shared by hundreds of artists and activists all over Europe and the Americas since 1994. The pseudo-name first appeared in Bologna, Italy, in mid-1994, when a number of cultural activists began using it for staging a series of urban and media pranks and to experiment with new forms of authorship and identity. From Bologna the multiple-use name spread to other European cities, such as Rome and London, as well as countries such as Germany, Spain, and Slovenia. Sporadic appearances of Luther Blissett have been also noted in Canada, the United States, and Brazil.

For reasons that remain unknown, the pseudonym was borrowed from a real-life Luther Blissett
Luther Blissett
Luther Loide Blissett is a former professional footballer and manager, who is currently a first-team coach at Hemel Hempstead Town. Blissett played as a striker, and is best known for his time at Watford, whom he helped win promotion from the Fourth Division to the First Division...

, a notable association football player, who played for A.C. Milan
A.C. Milan
Associazione Calcio Milan, commonly referred to as A.C. Milan or simply Milan , is a professional Italian football club based in Milan, Lombardy, that plays in the Serie A. Milan was founded in 1899 by English lace-maker Herbert Kilpin and businessman Alfred Edwards among others...

, Watford F.C.
Watford F.C.
Watford Football Club is an English professional football club based in Watford, Hertfordshire. It is often referred to as Watford F.C., Watford, or by the team's nickname The Hornets . Watford Rovers, Founded in 1881, entered the FA Cup for the first time in 1886, and the Southern League a decade...

 and England
England national football team
The England national football team represents England in association football and is controlled by the Football Association, the governing body for football in England. England is the joint oldest national football team in the world, alongside Scotland, whom they played in the world's first...

 in the 1980s.

In December 1999, the Italian activists who had launched the Luther Blissett Project in 1994 decided to discontinue usage of the name by committing symbolic ritual suicide, or seppuku
Seppuku
is a form of Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment. Seppuku was originally reserved only for samurai. Part of the samurai bushido honor code, seppuku was either used voluntarily by samurai to die with honor rather than fall into the hands of their enemies , or as a form of capital punishment...

. After authoring the best-selling historic novel Q
Q (novel)
Q is a novel by Luther Blissett first published in Italian in 1999. The novel is set in Europe during the 16th century, and deals with Protestant reformation movements....

 as "Luther Blissett", five of them went on to found the writers' collective Wu Ming
Wu Ming
Wu Ming is a pseudonym for a group of Italian authors formed in 2000 from a subset of the Luther Blissett community in Bologna.In their pre-Wu Ming days, the group wrote the novel Q ....

.

Luther Blissett's Mythmaking and Politics

While the folk hero
Folk hero
A folk hero is a type of hero, real, fictional, or mythological. The single salient characteristic which makes a character a folk hero is the imprinting of the name, personality and deeds of the character in the popular consciousness. This presence in the popular consciousness is evidenced by...

es of the early-modern period and the nineteenth century served a variety of social and political purposes, the Luther Blissett Project (LBP) were able to utilize the media and communication strategies unavailable to their predecessors. According to Marco Deseriis, the main purpose of the LBP was to create "a folk hero of the information society" whereby knowledge worker
Knowledge worker
Knowledge workers in today's workforce are individuals who are valued for their ability to act and communicate with knowledge within a specific subject area. They will often advance the overall understanding of that subject through focused analysis, design and/or development. They use research...

s and immaterial workers could organize and recognize themselves. Thus, rather than being understood only as a media prankster
Prankster
The Prankster is a fictional character, a supervillain in the DC Comics universe and primarily a foe of Superman. The Prankster's first appearance was in Action Comics #51 ....

 and culture jammer
Culture jamming
Culture jamming, coined in 1984, denotes a tactic used by many anti-consumerist social movements to disrupt or subvert mainstream cultural institutions, including corporate advertising. Guerrilla semiotics and night discourse are sometimes used synonymously with the term culture jamming.Culture...

, Luther Blissett became a positive mythic figure that was supposed to embody the very process of community and cross-media storytelling. Roberto Bui—one of the co-founders of the LBP and Wu Ming—explains the function of Luther Blissett and other radical folk heroes as mythmaking or mythopoesis:

Mythopoesis is the social process of constructing myths, by which we do not
mean “false stories,” we mean stories that are told and shared, re-told and manipulated,
by a vast and multifarious community, stories that may give shape to some
kind of ritual, some sense of continuity between what we do and what other people
did in the past. A tradition. In Latin the verb “tradere” simply meant “to hand down
something,” it did not entail any narrow-mindedness, conservatism or forced respect
for the past. Revolutions and radical movements have always found and told their
own myths.


Another important element was relationship of the Italian LBP to the Autonomist-Marxist theory of labor known as Italian Workerism
Workerism
Workerism is a name given to different trends in left-wing political discourse, especially anarchism and Marxism. In one sense, it describes a political position concerning the political importance and centrality of the working class. Because this was of particular significance in the Italian...

. Drawing from the work of Italian Workerists, such as Antonio Negri
Antonio Negri
Antonio Negri is an Italian Marxist sociologist and political philosopher.Negri is best-known for his co-authorship of Empire, and secondarily for his work on Spinoza. Born in Padua, he became a political philosophy professor in his hometown university...

, Paolo Virno
Paolo Virno
-In Castilian:* * * * * * * * * * * -Other languages:* * * * *...

, Maurizio Lazzarato and others, the activists of the LBP envisioned Blissett as the expression of the capacity of immaterial workers to produce forms of wealth that cannot be properly measured and attributed to an individual producer. The incalculability of these new forms of labor is articulated in the "Declaration of Rights of Luther Blissett", redacted by the Roman LBP in 1995. In this manifesto
Manifesto
A manifesto is a public declaration of principles and intentions, often political in nature. Manifestos relating to religious belief are generally referred to as creeds. Manifestos may also be life stance-related.-Etymology:...

, the LBP claims that because in late capitalism
Late capitalism
"Late capitalism" is a term used by neo-Marxists to refer to capitalism from about 1945 onwards, with the implication that it is a historically limited stage rather than an eternal feature of all future human society. Postwar German sociologists needed a term to describe contemporary society...

 any social activity can potentially generate value, the culture and media industries should guarantee a basic income
Basic income
A basic income guarantee is a proposed system of social security, that regularly provides each citizen with a sum of money. In contrast to income redistribution between nations themselves, the phrase basic income defines payments to individuals rather than households, groups, or nations, in order...

 to every citizen detached from individual productivity:

The industry of the integrated spectacle and immaterial command owes me money.
I will not come to terms with it until I will not have what is owed to me. For all the times
I appeared on TV, films, and on the radio as a casual passersby or as an element of the
landscape, and my image has not been compensated . . . for all the words or expressions
of high communicative impact I have coined in peripheral cafes, squares, street
corners, and social centers that became powerful advertising jingles, without seeing a
dime; for all the times my name and my personal data have been put at work inside
stats, to adjust the demand, refine marketing strategies, increase the productivity of
firms to which I could not be more indifferent; for all the advertising I continuously
make by wearing branded t-shirts, backpacks, socks, jackets, bathing suits, towels,
without my body being remunerated as a commercial billboard; for all of this and much
more, the industry of the integrated spectacle owes me money!
I understand it may be difficult to calculate how much they owe me as an individual.
But this is not necessary at all, because I am Luther Blissett, the multiple and the multiplex.
And what the industry of the integrated spectacle owes me, it is owed to the
many that I am, and is owed to me because I am many. From this viewpoint, we can
agree on a generalized compensation. You will not have peace until I will not have
the money! LOTS OF MONEY BECAUSE I AM MANY: CITIZEN INCOME FOR LUTHER
BLISSETT!

A limited selection of Blissett's stunts, pranks and media hoaxes

January 1995. Harry Kipper
Harry Kipper
Harry Kipper was the pseudonym created by the performance art duo the Kipper Kids who were known as Harry and Harry Kipper. Based on a family friend of Kipper Kid and performance Artist, Brian Routh, the name Harry was added as a first name for each Kipper Kid in 1971...

, a British conceptual artist, disappears at the Italo-Slovenian border while touring Europe on a mountain bike, allegedly with the purpose of tracing the word 'ART' on the map of the continent. The victim of the prank is a famous missing-persons prime-time show on the Italian state television. They send out a crew and spend taxpayers' money to look for a person that never existed. They go as far as London, where novelist Stewart Home
Stewart Home
Stewart Home is an English artist, filmmaker, writer, pamphleteer, art historian, and activist. He is best known for his novels such as the non-narrative 69 Things To Do With A Dead Princess , his re-imagining of the 1960s in Tainted Love , and earlier parodistic pulp fictions Pure Mania, Red...

 and Richard Essex of the London Psychogeographical Association
London Psychogeographical Association
The London Psychogeographical Association is an organisation devoted to psychogeography. The LPA is perhaps best understood in the context of psychogeographical praxis.-London Psychogeographical Institute:...

 pose as close friends of Kipper's. The hoax goes on until "Luther Blissett" claims responsibility for it

September 1994-May 1995. In September 1994, a Bolognese community radio began broadcasting Radio Blissett, a
late-night show featuring a variable number of Luther Blissetts who "patrolled" the city on
foot and called the studio from local phone booths. Inspired by the Lettrist-Situationist urban drift or dérive
Dérive
In psychogeography, a dérive is an unplanned journey through a landscape, usually urban, where an individual travels where the subtle aesthetic contours of the surrounding architecture and geography subconsciously direct them with the ultimate goal of encountering an entirely new and authentic...

--a seemingly aimless wandering through the city whereby pyschogeographers
Psychogeography
Psychogeography was defined in 1955 by Guy Debord as "the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals." Another definition is "a whole toy box full of playful, inventive strategies for...

 go in search of heightened emotional experiences—Radio Blissett allowed players to interact at a distance in real time. Listeners could also call in from home and direct the patrols to various locations to join or create unexpected social events, including guerrilla-theater interventions, street parties, three-sided football matches, and “psychic attacks” against public buildings and institutions. In the Spring 1995, the experiment was duplicated in Rome, where the wider extension of the city required the simultaneous use of car patrols and cell phones. The Saturday night show, which aired on the frequencies of Radio Città Futura, featured psychic
attacks against the Italian copyright office, the office of employment, and other semi-improvised direct actions which culminated in one of the most well-known episodes of the Blissett’s saga.

June 17, 1995. A few dozen participating to the Roman Radio Blissett boarded a night tram at different consecutive stops. A rave party took place on the vehicle until the police decided to stop it. Requested to disembark and identify themselves, the ravers refused to identify themselves other than with the multiple-use name. A riot ensued in which the police fired three shots in the air. A journalist from Radio Citta' Futura covered the event with his cell phone broadcasting the riot and the shots on the radio program. The radio program caused a media sensation.

June 1995. Loota is a female chimpanzee
Chimpanzee
Chimpanzee, sometimes colloquially chimp, is the common name for the two extant species of ape in the genus Pan. The Congo River forms the boundary between the native habitat of the two species:...

 whose paintings are to be exhibited at the Venice Biennale of Contemporary Arts. In the context of the hoax, Loota is described as a former victim of sadistic experiments in a pharmaceutical lab. The monkey was then saved by the Animal Liberation Front
Animal Liberation Front
The Animal Liberation Front is an international, underground leaderless resistance that engages in illegal direct action in pursuit of animal liberation...

, and later became a talented artist. Some newspapers announced the event. Unfortunately, Loota did not exist.

Nov 1995. An article in the "Workshop For A Non-Linear Architecture" journal Viscosity that the K Foundation
K Foundation
The K Foundation was an art foundation set up by Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty in 1993, following their 'retirement' from the music industry. The Foundation served as an artistic outlet for the duo's post-retirement KLF income...

 had announced a 23 year moratorium on "all further activity" following their burning of a million pounds in cash on the Isle of Jura is accredited to Luther Blissett.

1998-2000. In 1998, Italian art magazines such as Tema Celeste and Flesh Art begin reporting about the activities of Darko Maver, a hitherto unknown radical Serbian performance artist who has been disseminating hyper-realistic replicas of dismembered bodies in public spaces and hotel rooms across the former Yugoslavia. The magazines and a web site called "Free Art Campaign" report that the artist has been arrested by the Serbian authorities for his performances, which are meant to offer a scathing meditation on the hyperreality and media representation of the Yugoslav Wars
Yugoslav wars
The Yugoslav Wars were a series of wars, fought throughout the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 1995. The wars were complex: characterized by bitter ethnic conflicts among the peoples of the former Yugoslavia, mostly between Serbs on the one side and Croats and Bosniaks on the other; but also...

. On April 30, 1999 the Free Art Campaign announces that Maver has been found dead in a prison cell in Podgorica, Kosovo. In March 2000, after alternative art spaces such as Kapelica Gallery in Ljubljana, Forte Prenestino in Rome, and major art venues such as the Venice Biennale have dedicated retrospectives and paid tribute to the artist, the Luther Blissett Project, along with the newborn net art collective 0100101110101101.org, announce that Darko Maver is himself a work of art.

2007. A month before the appearance on the bookshelves of Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows, an email was sent to the Full Disclosure
Full disclosure
In computer security, full disclosure means to disclose all the details of a security problem which are known. It is a philosophy of security management completely opposed to the idea of security through obscurity...

 mailing list. In the e-mail, a self-declared group of Catholic hackers purportedly gave away the ending of the book, declaring they violated the computer systems of Bloomsbury (exclusive publisher of the Harry Potter books) to obtain it. The e-mail quoted Joseph Ratzinger's words against Harry Potter. The news escalated from niche IT security mailing lists to mainstream media outlets, and in about 48 hours, it was run by CNN
CNN
Cable News Network is a U.S. cable news channel founded in 1980 by Ted Turner. Upon its launch, CNN was the first channel to provide 24-hour television news coverage, and the first all-news television channel in the United States...

, BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

, Reuters
Reuters
Reuters is a news agency headquartered in New York City. Until 2008 the Reuters news agency formed part of a British independent company, Reuters Group plc, which was also a provider of financial market data...

, and over 9000 blogs (declared in the claim). Three days after, Luther Blissett claimed responsibility for the hoax
Hoax
A hoax is a deliberately fabricated falsehood made to masquerade as truth. It is distinguishable from errors in observation or judgment, or rumors, urban legends, pseudosciences or April Fools' Day events that are passed along in good faith by believers or as jokes.-Definition:The British...

 in a public email in which he described how easily the media could be manipulated and how this could be used for Psyops purposes. The revelation was ignored by most media outlets, with the notable exception of Noticiasdot, that published an interview with Luther Blissett. The PSYOP may be the cause of the -5% drop of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC stock quoted on the London Stock Exchange.

The novel Q

The novel Q was written by four Bologna-based members of the LBP, as a final contribution to the project, and published in Italy in 1999. So far, it has been translated into English (British and American), Spanish, German, Dutch, French, Portuguese (Brazilian), Danish, Polish, Greek, Czech, Russian, Turkish, Basque and Korean. In August 2003 the book was nominated for the Guardian First Book Prize.

In January 2000, after their "seppuku
Seppuku
is a form of Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment. Seppuku was originally reserved only for samurai. Part of the samurai bushido honor code, seppuku was either used voluntarily by samurai to die with honor rather than fall into the hands of their enemies , or as a form of capital punishment...

", the authors of Q formed a new group called Wu Ming
Wu Ming
Wu Ming is a pseudonym for a group of Italian authors formed in 2000 from a subset of the Luther Blissett community in Bologna.In their pre-Wu Ming days, the group wrote the novel Q ....

, under which name many novels were published in several languages and countries.

The real Luther Blissett

The multiple identity is named after the footballer Luther Blissett
Luther Blissett
Luther Loide Blissett is a former professional footballer and manager, who is currently a first-team coach at Hemel Hempstead Town. Blissett played as a striker, and is best known for his time at Watford, whom he helped win promotion from the Fourth Division to the First Division...

, who used to play for Watford
Watford F.C.
Watford Football Club is an English professional football club based in Watford, Hertfordshire. It is often referred to as Watford F.C., Watford, or by the team's nickname The Hornets . Watford Rovers, Founded in 1881, entered the FA Cup for the first time in 1886, and the Southern League a decade...

 and A.C. Milan in the 1980s, amongst other teams. It is particularly popular among Italian subcultural activists and artists, possibly because of the Milan connection.

The reasons why the group chose the name remain unclear to mainstream journalists (e.g. the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 suggested that Blissett, one of the first black footballers to play in Italy, may have been chosen to make a statement against right-wing extremists in the country). It has also been suggested that, when being scouted by A.C. Milan, the Watford
Watford F.C.
Watford Football Club is an English professional football club based in Watford, Hertfordshire. It is often referred to as Watford F.C., Watford, or by the team's nickname The Hornets . Watford Rovers, Founded in 1881, entered the FA Cup for the first time in 1886, and the Southern League a decade...

 player they were impressed with was in fact John Barnes
John Barnes (footballer)
John Charles Bryan Barnes MBE is an English football manager and former player.During his playing career, Barnes had successful periods at Watford and Liverpool in the 1980s and 1990s, winning the First Division twice, the FA Cup twice, and playing for England 79 times...

 and they mistakenly bid for Blissett being one of the two black strikers at the club. If this is the case the group may have taken the name as a reference to a red herring.

Since the beginning of the project, the real Blissett has been aware of the 'group' taking his name. However, early reports differed widely in saying whether he liked the attention he received because of them.

Blissett dispelled all doubts on 30 June 2004, when he appeared on the British television sports show Fantasy Football League
Fantasy Football League
Fantasy Football League is a British television programme hosted by Frank Skinner and David Baddiel. The Programme began on BBC Radio 5 and was hosted by Dominik Diamond before transferring to BBC 2, with three series being broadcast from January 1994 to May 1996...

 - Euro 2004, broadcast on ITV
ITV
ITV is the major commercial public service TV network in the United Kingdom. Launched in 1955 under the auspices of the Independent Television Authority to provide competition to the BBC, it is also the oldest commercial network in the UK...

. During the whole show, Blissett intelligently joked and quipped about his own (alleged) involvement in the Luther Blissett Project. After host Frank Skinner
Frank Skinner
Frank Skinner is a British writer, comedian and actor. He is best known for his television presenting, often alongside David Baddiel, with whom he also collaborated for the football song "Three Lions."He is a radio presenter on the Saturday morning slot on Absolute Radio.-Youth and early career...

 read a line from the novel Qs prologue ("The coin of the kingdom of the mad dangles on my chest to remind me of the eternal oscillation of human fortunes"), Blissett produced a copy of Luther Blissett's Italian book Totò, Peppino e la guerra psichica ("Toto, Peppino and the Psychic War", AAA Edizioni, 1996) and quoted extensively from it, in the original Italian:
"Chiunque può essere Luther Blissett, semplicemente adottando il nome Luther Blissett" [Anyone can be Luther Blissett simply by adopting the name Luther Blissett].

At the end of the show, hosts and guests all said in unison: "I am Luther Blissett!". Two years later, highlights of this broadcast were posted on YouTube
YouTube
YouTube is a video-sharing website, created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005, on which users can upload, view and share videos....

.

Works

  • Mind Invaders (Italian, 1995).
  • Guy Debord è morto davvero (Italian, 1995; English edition: Guy Debord is Really Dead).
  • Totò, Peppino e la guerra psichica 2.0 ("Toto, Peppino and the Psychic War", AAA edition, 1996, ISBN 88-86828-00-4).
  • Green Apocalypse (with Stewart Home
    Stewart Home
    Stewart Home is an English artist, filmmaker, writer, pamphleteer, art historian, and activist. He is best known for his novels such as the non-narrative 69 Things To Do With A Dead Princess , his re-imagining of the 1960s in Tainted Love , and earlier parodistic pulp fictions Pure Mania, Red...

    , 1996).
  • Anarchist Integralism (1997).
  • Handbuch der Kommunikationsguerilla ("Handbook of a Communications Fighter", German, 1997, with autonome a.f.r.i.k.a. gruppe and Sonja Brünzels).
  • Q (Italian, 1999).
  • Luther Blissett - The Open Pop Star (Italian, 1999 compilation album of electronic / experimental music by various artists).
  • The Invisible College
    Invisible College
    The Invisible College has been described as a precursor group to the Royal Society of London, consisting of a number of natural philosophers around Robert Boyle...

     (2002).
  • Numerous software recipes in the Python
    Python (programming language)
    Python is a general-purpose, high-level programming language whose design philosophy emphasizes code readability. Python claims to "[combine] remarkable power with very clear syntax", and its standard library is large and comprehensive...

     Cookbook edited by Alex Martelli
    Alex Martelli
    Alex Martelli is an Italian computer engineer and member of the Python Software Foundation. Since early 2005, he works as "Über Tech Lead" for Google, Inc. in Mountain View, California...

     and published by O'Reilly and Associates.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK