Giap/digest # 37 - End/beginning Of The Year Issue - 23 December 2007
1. END/BEGINNING OF THE YEAR
1a. RADIOHEAD AND, ER, US
1b. THOM YORKE HAS A NEW MISSION
1c. L'AXIOME DE WU MING (!)
1d. 2008 INTERNATIONAL TOUR: CANADA, VERMONT, FRANCE, BELGIUM, SPAIN, SWEDEN
2. A MURAL IN SAN FRANCISCO
3. NEW STUFF IN ENGLISH ON MANITUANA.COM: ROBERTO SAVIANO (AUTHOR OF GOMORRAH)
4. MUSIC INSPIRED BY MANITUANA: JET SET ROGER AND WU MING 5
Here's a new issue of our much neglected newsletter.
We already explained why issues are so few and far between: we lack the necessary time to translate our stuff into English. We think we're pretty good at it, but it takes time. Production of text goes on non-stop in Italian and Spanish (to the extent that our main websites are practically bi-lingual), and two of our novels were recently published in French causing a decent stream of material in that language, but English, well, for some reason English keeps being a problem. However, we couldn't let 2007 end without sending out an update on our work and activities.
Yes, we did know it, but thanks, thanks to all the people who sent messages to inform us. Radiohead's blog Dead Air Space hosts a link to our website, and Thom Yorke talks about us in interviews. Even had we been in the dark about that, by October we would have realized something was going on, for as soon as Radiohead put In Rainbows online for download, thousands of unique visitors clicked that link and landed on wumingfoundation.com, from all corners of the earth. This lasted for the whole month, then traffic (slightly) decreased, but it's still huge.
We're happy that this happened on such an occasion, like rounding the Cape of Good Hope of 21st century popular culture. And on top of that, we're happy that the rounding was in the direction we've been pointing to for years.
Thanks also to those who promptly sent us this amusing excerpt from an interview with Radiohead on The Observer Music Monthly (December 9, 2007):
Thom's reading Q by mysterious Italian anarchist group Luther Blisset [ehm...]. I tried to read that once, I tell him.
'Oh it's fucking ace! But my missus, that's her specialist field, so she's been explaining it to me all the way through. Medieval church carnage. It's mental. I want to get it made into a film. That's my next mission.'
Using the In Rainbows profits?
'Mmm-mm,' says Thom Yorke, shaking his head. 'I doubt it. That would cover basically the catering.'
Hey, Mr Interviewer: we are neither mysterious nor anarchist, and we're not very much in love with being Italian either, and there's a missing 't' in Luther's surname, but yes, we're a group, and Thom's right, the book is fucking ace, and mental. Whenever Mr Yorke and his missus want to get in touch, here we are.
Speaking of the direction we've been pointing too, at last we're starting to get some credit from publishers. Even in France, which is far from being the easiest ground for us. Indeed, it's the only country where Q flopped, back in 2000 AD. Maybe it was because of that letter. As the book's entry on Amazon's Amapedia wittily puts it:
In France the novel Q was published with another title (L'Oeil de Carafa, i.e. Carafa's Eye) because in French "Q" is shorthand for "cul", the most common bad word for "buttocks". Marcel Duchamp's infamous caption for his "Mona Lisa with moustache" was "L.H.O.O.Q", which reads as "Elle a chaud au cul" ("she feels hot in the a**").
That is not the only country where Q could not retain its original title: in Greek the letter "Q" does not exist, therefore the Greek title is "Eκκλησιαστή" (Ekklesiasté). The book was also published in South Korea. The person inaugurating Q's Amazon ProductWiki was unable to locate the Korean title anywhere on the web, maybe because she cannot tell Korean from Morse code alphabet. In every other country the novel had the same name.
Madam, your company must be really enjoyable (drop us a line if you're reading this), but as far as google is concerned, you're not a very clever searcher. Q's Korean title is not that hard to find. You can read it here.
What were we talking about? Oh, yes: France. Some people in France are beginning to use the phrase "l'axiome de Wu Ming". A publisher called Grégoire Chamayou, chief editor at Zones (a sub-label of big publishing group La Découverte) recently announced that all the books in the catalogue will be put online to read for free. This regards such titles as Mike Davis' Buda's Wagon: A Brief History of the Car Bomb. Chamayou cited us abundantly in this interview on Nouvel Observateur magazine. Eight years ago, when we talked about copyleft and the likes with the people in charge at Editions du Seuil (the folks that published Q in a rather appalling edition), they reacted as though we were menacing aliens, "Klaatu barada nikto!" All in all, some progress is detectable, and after Radiohead doubled that promontory, well, who knows what can happen.
Just so, what can happen. This is the end of a very intense, fatiguing year, which was marked for us by the publication of Manituana [ here's the official website: English version still under construction], then by an extended, almost gratefuldeadesque book tour all over Italy (more than 50 dates so far, including a reconnaissance in force in Swiss territory).
For two members of the collective, WM3 and WM5, 2007 was also marked by a satisfying journey to Canada. They did two lectures at McGill University in Montréal, visited the graves of Joseph and Molly Brant (main characters of our novel), and flew all the way through the country to meet representatives of the First Nations in Vancouver.
Well, it looks like the new year will be as intense as the old one. Let's limit ourselves to what will happen internationally, and forget domestic activities for a while.
Manituana will be published in French and Spanish. Wu Ming 1's solo novel New Thing will be published in Spanish and Portuguese. As a consequence, we're gonna hit a lot of places.
SPAIN. At the end of March 2008 (24-28 are the days) a delegation of the collective is likely to be in Sevilla, Spain, doing a seminar at the ZEMOS98 festival.
CANADA & THE US. In the meantime, last days of March / early days of April, another member of the collective will be back speaking at McGill University, Montréal, and then at Middlebury College, Vermont. More details to come.
FRANCE AND BELGIUM. A few weeks later, last days of April, a delegation of the collective will do a mini-tour of France and Belgium, talking about the solo novels recently published by Editions Métailié [WM1's New Thing and WM2's War on the Humans]. More details to come.
SPAIN (again). In June, WM1 will tour Spain presenting his novel New Thing. More details to come.
SWEDEN. In July, WM1 will attend WALTIC 2008 (Writers’ and Literary Translators’ International Congress) in Stockholm, Sweden, speaking in a panel whose very title sounds like a tribute to our work: The Revolution is Faceless: New Technologies, New Literary Forms ("A follow-up round table discussion about new digital forms of publication. How is the role of the author affected by digitalization? A discussion on collective writing, technology and copyright among some of the foremost literary activists from many parts of the world").
And there are more dates orbitating around us, but they're still too vague to be listed here.
Click on the picture on the right to enlarge it.
Ok, take a look at the notice hanging on the right column.
It's the Market Street Railway Mural, which Swiss artist Mona Caron painted in the 2003-2004 period in San Francisco.
The subject is the history of public transport in Market Street since the beginning of 20th century.
Here's a video of the artist at work .
And here's a description of the mural made by Caron herself, plus a section-by-section guided tour.
A friend of us was taking photographs of the mural when she discovered that detail in the 8th section.
We were really surprised (and amused) when she showed us the pic.
As we told you above, the English version of manituana.com is still under construction, but there's already some interesting stuff. Especially in the past few days, we've added new material translated by friends and volunteers.
Our colleague and good friend Roberto Saviano is becoming famous in many countries.
His frightening book Gomorrah (published in Italy in 2006) was translated in dozens of languages, and recently made it to the New York Times list of the best 100 books of the year.
Here's the NYT review of the book.
[Evidently, he's got more luck than we had with US critics :-) ]
A few months ago, Roberto wrote a passionate - albeit loose and somewhat puzzling - article about Manituana on one of the most read Italian weeklies, L'Espresso.
Jason Di Rosso embarked on the bold enterprise of translating parts of the text. And now those parts are on the website.
There's a section of the website called "Sounds". Every day all sorts of musicians and composers send us their audio contributions to the universe we depicted in Manituana. What we're doing, we're assembling the soundtrack(s) of the novel. There's only one rule: either the music or the lyrics (or both) must be inspired by what's in the book or on the website.
Among the recent contributions are:
- A track simply called Manituana, composed and recorded by an anglo-italian fella who calls himself Jet Set Roger (double version with Italian and English lyrics). Serbian comic artist Zograf provided two color plates inspired by the song. It's all here.
- Two instrumental compositions by our Wu Ming 5, who once was a musician (he used to play bass in that quintessential 1980's Oi! band, Nabat).
Streets of Westminster marks the entrance of the London Mohocks - a street gang active in the second part of Manituana - as though accompanied by a nastified Henry Mancini. Slightly faulty-timed string bursts express the Londoners' perceptive shock at the appearance of such urban aliens.
Boardwalk Talk is about Philip Lacroix aka Le Grand Diable - one of the main Indian characters - walking the streets of the megalopolis, open to anything that might happen, a real "promenade du schizo" straight out of Deleuze & Guattari's Anti-Oedipus.
Listen/download the tunes here.
We're aware that people who haven't yet had the chance to read the novel can't enjoy all the references, but look at it this way: music may also work as an appetizer. If Manituana isn't yet available in your native language, well, make a complaint to the publishers active in your country.
That's all for now. Next issue into the new year. Ciao.