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Luther Blissett (nom de plume)

Luther Blissett is a multiple identity, a nom de plume that anyone is welcome to use for activist and artistic endeavour. Other multiple identities in use include Monty Cantsin, Karen Eliot and Michael K. These multiple names were developed and popularized in artistic subcultures of the 1970s to 1990 like Mail Art, Neoism and post-situationist discourse, with the pseudonym Rrose Sélavy jointly used by Dada artist Marcel Duchamp and the surrealist poet Robert Desnos forming a historical pretext.

Luther Blissett, the multiple identity is named after the footballer Luther Blissett who use to play for A.C. Milan amongst other teams.

The Luther Blissett multiple identity is particularly popular among Italian subcultural activists and artists, possibly because of the A.C. Milan connection.

Indeed the BBC reported (see [1]) that Luther Blissett is also the name of a "group of Italian anarchists". Much of the reported news about this "group of anarchists" appears to be speculation. Blissett, the footballer, is known to be aware of the 'group' taking his name but reports differ widely in saying whether he likes the attention he receives because of them. Some reports have said he is flattered by the attention, others claim he is very upset about it. The reasons why the group chose the name are unclear to mainstream journalists (e.g. the BBC 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).

The following passage taken from a manifesto page of the group, republished under fair use, gives a flavour of the philosophy:

"'Mac Guffin' is the name by which we call this sort of action: stealing papers, stealing a document, stealing a secret. The thing is 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.

In August 2003, Q written by four authors under the name Luther Blissett was nominated for the Guardian First Book Prize.

Publications by 'Luther Blissett':

External references