In the last two weeks we’ve been campaigning hard against right-wing officials trying to ban books and authors in Veneto (North-East Italy). Alongside many writers and readers, we’ve been helping to coordinate a rich, manifold counter-informative operation which has taught us (and is still teaching us) many lessons. We already scored some important goals, as we managed to stop some hateful initiatives dead in their tracks. Unfortunately, we’ve been so engulfed in the campaign that we haven’t had time to keep you anglophones reasonably up-to-date with what was going on. If you look at this post’s comment section, you’ll find some useful texts and pingbacks. We even held a public meeting and made a demonstration “in the belly of the Beast”, ie in Preganziol, province of Treviso, the den of the hideous Northern League. A brief, partial report on what happened can be found here.
Anyway, we can’t omit to post stuff specifically related to our work as writers.
Thus, here’s the first batch of news of 2011. (more…)
Here’s the recording of the talk Wu Ming 1 and Wu Ming 4 gave at the British Library Conference Centre, London, on 13 October 2010. Thanks to Joshua Eichen for sending the mp3. He warned us: “It’s not a clean edit at the front nor the back.” In fact, it stops abruptly. No ending. If we remember correctly, what was left out was a more political question on Italy etc., and our answer(s). Anyway, here you’ve got more than 1 hour of stuff. Enjoy! (As your Superego commands).
[Click on the small Playtagger icon to listen without leaving this page. Click on the text link to listen on a new page. Right click and save (or ctrl + click and save) to download the mp3s.]
In April 2008 Wu Ming 1 – on behalf of the whole collective – published the so-called “memorandum” on the New Italian Epic, which since then has been rippling the surface of Italian culture. The debate is still hot, attacks on our vision are constantly delivered by powerful senior critics and windbags, but we also opened several breaches: since 2008, no discussion of the current state of Italian literature has been possible without references – either positive or negative – to what we wrote. They just couldn’t ignore the “memorandum” (and the expanded version that was published as a book by Einaudi in 2009).
Not surprisingly, the first monography on the subject wasn’t published in Italy but in the UK. It is entitled Overcoming Postmodernism: The Debate on New Italian Epic, and it’s a special issue of the Journal of Romance Studies (Volume 10, Number 1, Spring 2010). We reproduce the Editor’s introduction and the Notes on Contributors.
Aims and origin
The contributors of this special issue of Journal of Romance Studies all offer a critical view of a single text. They all engage with different novels as primary material, but their analysis is based on Italian author Wu Ming 1’s essay New Italian Epic: Memorandum 1993-2008, the first version of which was published online in April 2008. Wu Ming is the name of a collective of Italian authors based in Bologna, formerly known as the Luther Blissett Project  The collective is currently formed by four members, known by a number from 1 to 5 (Wu Ming 1, Wu Ming 2, Wu Ming 4 and Wu Ming 5 – Wu Ming 3 left the group in 2008). New Italian Epic is commonly known as the ‘Memorandum’ . It describes and provides a taxonomy for a corpus of Italian contemporary novels by various authors – including Wu Ming. (more…)
1. Marcos, Müntzer and Q (1994-99)
«[...] I fought [...] alongside men who really thought they would put an end to injustice and wickedness on earth. There were thousands of us, we were an army. Our hope was shattered on the plain at Frankenhausen, on the fifteenth of May 1525. Then I abandoned a man to his fate, to the weapons of the lansquenets. I carried with me his bag full of letters, names and hopes. And the suspicion of having been betrayed, sold to the forces of the princes like a herd at a market.’ It’s still hard to utter the name. ‘That man was Thomas Müntzer.’
I can’t see him, but I sense his astonishment, perhaps the incredulity of someone who thinks he’s talking to a ghost.
His voice is practically a whisper. ‘You really fought with Thomas Müntzer?’»
- Luther Blissett, Q
To this day, we don’t know if Marcos ever had a chance to read the book. He’s been supernaturally busy in the following years, and the situation in Chiapas (indeed, the whole Mexico) seems to have worsened considerably. However, to give him a copy had a precise meaning. To us, that present symbolised the completion of a cycle, from the 16th century Peasants’ War (the subject of the novel) to the Zapatista Levantamiento [Uprising].
The Peasants’ war was the biggest popular revolt of its time, it broke out at the heart of the Holy Roman Empire and was savagely repressed in 1525, one year before the Spanish Conquistadores started their bloody invasion of Southern Mexico and destroyed the Maya civilisation.
The Zapatista Levantamiento was the most inspiring peasant rebellion of our time, it took place in Southern Mexico on the initiative of Maya activists and had an influence on struggles all across today’s unholy empire.
Call it a chiasmus if you like.
The Peasants’ War was a prefiguring event, in the same way its main agitator Thomas Müntzer was a prefiguring character. It was literally a pre-figuration because the social order that Müntzer and the revolutionary peasants envisioned was far ahead of their time, indeed, it’s still ahead of our time, and yet it wasn’t just a collective hallucination followed by bursts of mass violence. That’s the conservative interpretation started by Martin Luther and refined by Norman Cohn, who described Müntzer as a forerunner of modern-day totalitarianism and Nazi madness. Bullshit. (more…)
It’s official, the Dixon Place event won’t be at Dixon Place. See you at PS122 (click to enlarge the pic). Here’s the news release:
Dixon Place and PS 122
are proud to present
Experiments and Disorders
with Wu Ming 1 and Wu Ming 5 (formerly Luther Blissett)
and Justin Taylor.
Monday November 23rd, 7:30 PM, $6.00
at PS 122
150 First Avenue (corner of East 9th Street) Directions: L train to 1st Avenue,
F/V train to 2nd Avenue,
N/R to 8th Street,
6 to Astor Place (more…)
On 17 October 2009, Wu Ming 1 and Wu Ming 4 will still be in LONDON, UK. They will present Manituana (UK/US edition, Verso Books) at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), The Mall, London SW1Y 5AH. We’re pleased to announce that the British novelist Stewart Home will read pages from our book. With the participation of Shaun Whiteside (the translator into English of all our books). 9 PM
On 20 October 2009, Wu Ming 2 and Wu Ming 5 will be in PARIS, France, to present Manituana at La Libreria (89 rue du Fbg Poissonnière, Paris 9e). More details to follow.
On 21 October 2009, Wu Ming 2 and Wu Ming 5 will be in LILLE, France, to present Manituana at the Librairie internationale V.O. 36 rue de Tournai, 59000 Lille. More details to follow.
On 18 November 2009, Wu Ming 1 and Wu Ming 5 will be in NEW YORK CITY. They will present Manituana at the New School, Room 510, 66 West 12th Street, 8 PM.
On 20 November 2009, Wu Ming 1 and Wu Ming 5 will be in NEW YORK CITY. They will present Manituana at Bluestockings, 172 Allen Street, (Lower East Side, between Stanton and Rivington). 7 PM.
On 23 November 2009, Wu Ming 1 and Wu Ming 5 will be in NEW YORK CITY. They will present Manituana (and read from the book in their thick Italian accent) at PS122, 150 First Avenue (corner of East 9th Street) Directions: L train to 1st Avenue,
F/V train to 2nd Avenue,
N/R to 8th Street,
6 to Astor Place. $6.
A few days ago we wrote:
There isn’t yet an English entry [on the New Italian Epic]
Well, now there is.
“New Italian Epic is a definition suggested by the Italian author Wu Ming 1 to describe a body of literary works written in Italy by various authors – including the Wu Ming Collective itself – starting in 1993, at the end of the ‘First Republic’. This body of works is described as being formed of novels – chiefly, if not exclusively, historical novels – and other literary texts, which share various stylistic characteristics, thematic constants and an underlying allegorical nature. They are a particular kind of metahistorical fiction, with peculiar features that derive from the Italian context.”
Colonel Qaddafi arrived with a provocation pinned to one lapel of his baggy military uniform: a black-and-white photograph of a Libyan resistance leader, Omar al-Mukhtar, who was hanged by the Italians in 1931.
“This hanging is like the crucifixion of Christ for Christians,” Colonel Qaddafi said at the news conference. “For us, this image is a bit like the cross that some of you wear.”
- NYT, June 10, 2009
[WM1:] Yesterday I was reading accounts of Qaddafi‘s official visit to Rome, a gaudy event if there ever was one, and I thought: “This is one of our short-stories come true! Such a post-colonial freak-show looks like coming straight out of Wumingland.”
Turns out I wasn’t the only one to have that feeling. A guy we know named Alessandro Vicenzi posted the picture above on his Tumblr and added a caption: “Qaddafi brings the New Italian Epic into the heart of the State“.
For those of you not in the know, “New Italian Epic” is (more…)