10.0800 ontological mischief

WILLARD MCCARTY (willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Thu, 20 Mar 1997 08:32:53 +0000 (GMT)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 10, No. 800.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Information at http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/

[1] From: Willard McCarty <Willard.McCarty@kcl.ac.uk> (41)
Subject: ontological mischief

The following appeared in The Guardian for 15 March 1997. I pass it along
purely because on this brilliant morning in a usually overcast city, delight
in such mischief seems part of waking up.

According to James Tandy, in his article "'Luther Blissett' still finds
Italy a trial", four Italian youths were arrested last Summer because they
were "found traveling without tickets on a night tram.... When asked by
police to identify themselves, all four gave the name Luther Blissett in
memory of the British football player still remembered in Italy for his
disastrous 1982 season with AC Milan.

"According to their lawyer, when the four were apprehended on the night of
June 17 1995, they were staging an itinerant party with improvised music and
dancing on the tram. The peaceful 'socio-cultural happening' was being
broadcast live on a local leftwing radio station, Radio Citta Futura. In the
words of the Blissetts themselves: 'The forces of law and order arrived and,
incapable of understanding the event decided immediately to repress it even
firing shots into the air.'

"The four are members of a loosely-knit anarchic youth movement that has
adopted the identity of Luther Blissett as a cover for a series of hoaxes
and practical jokes."

This is where all students of Ovid's Metamorphoses and other sustained
attacks on the notion of fixed identity will find soul-mates.

"'The group considers identity to be the prison of the self,' said Checchino
Antonini, an editor at Radio Citta Futura. 'Identity and fixity are the
enemies of communication and have to be combated by nomadism and collective
identity. When the conductor asked for their tickets, they replied that a
collective identity does not travel with a ticket.'

"He said the group had selected Luther Blissett, once known by British fans
as 'Luther Missit' as a cultural icon because his career in Italy had been
so unlucky. Blissett was 'famous for missing open goals and for the
inexorable precision with which he would find the goalpost,' according to an
unforgiving account in an Italian newspaper.

"The prosecutor, Gloria Attanasio, has failed to see the funny side,

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Dr. Willard McCarty, Senior Lecturer, King's College London
voice: +44 (0)171 873 2784 fax: +44 (0)171 873 5801
e-mail: Willard.McCarty@kcl.ac.uk