On the Death of Luca di Meo, formerly Luther Blissett, formerly Wu Ming 3 (1964-2023)

Albrecht Dürer, «Nemesis, or The Great Fortune», engraving, 1502 ca.

Luca died on July 30, a Sunday. He died in his apartment in Bologna, nine days after turning 59, fifteen years after leaving Wu Ming, four years after our last event together, almost six months after the last chemo session, because it was no longer of any use. Painkillers, and away you go.

The news was not unexpected, but when it comes it is always unexpected. It began to circulate in the afternoon, reaching people scattered here and there in the four corners of Europe. Us included. One of us received it while on the ferry to Greece.

Luca «is no longer here.» That was Christiano’s turn of phrase on the phone from Berlin.

One of us — that is: one of the quartet that wrote Q — «is no longer here», in that sense. Years spent working on the borders between presence and absence, trying to be there without appearing, then comes that sense.

In the second half of the 1990s Luca was, among other things, Luther Blissett, whose name was Legion. At that time we wrote the novel that would change our lives.

In the year 2000 we founded Wu Ming. He left the collective eight years later. Between Manituana and Altai. In giving the news, we confessed to a mood

“not easy to describe. It’s the mood with which you gain the emergency exit if the theater is on fire: you paid for the ticket, but whatever. Everyone liked the movie, but whatever. [We had to] move, rush out, before the smoke smothered us and the flames burned our asses. That’s all we can tell you without trampling on the right to privacy – ours and Luca’s.”

We do not write about our personal matters, much less the matters of a member who left the group. Years later, Luca felt like doing so and wrote about them on Giap.

«I’ve been a very unlucky gambler. Because of that, I destroyed almost everything I had. Life, relationships, plans, work, love, dreams, money.
Good Luck — the really good one, not just a single stroke — is something that must be built with patience, persistence, method, work, analysis, reflection, and finally courage when it is time to strike, to act.
The ability of a great gambler, yes, there are some, is to Be Still for the vast majority of the time. To not be compulsive. To not want to react immediately to the inevitable failed shots, but to analyze them, calmly and coldly.
That’s a really difficult thing.
I’ve been a pathological player. Bad luck has nothing to do with it. I’ve had a lot of it, but it’s inevitable. This is about toxicity, addiction, inadequacy, and the failure to work on yourself. This is about ignoring everything that can be ignored. It can be drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, shopping, internet, any fucking thing. The problem is there, you have it in you. If you don’t deal with it, you’ve lost even before you start. Maybe because you want to lose everything, because you believe you don’t deserve anything.
I assure you that the discovery is devastating, the pain is terrible. You really risk being crushed by it.
Good fortune must be built. And most of the times, you can’t do it alone.»

In the meantime we had lost touch, and found each other again. We would lose touch and meet again several times. Every now and then we had reunions, like any band worth respecting. The first one was in 2011. The last one in 2019: Archiginnasio’s Stabat Mater Hall packed for Q‘s 20th anniversary. Those who were there will remember it as long as they live.

Then we turned away from each other again. For the umpteenth time. The last time. By then we couldn’t get back.

Today, as fifteen years ago, the mood is difficult to describe.

We will not line up anecdotes: the first time we met him, that day when he did such and such thing, the last words we exchanged — nothing.

We will not add any more words to these we’ve just written. At least for quite a while.

What we did together was important, and it remains.

The rest we keep to ourselves. The rest is the respect we owe to our common history.

Ciao Luca.

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