is a best-selling book written in Italian by "Luther Blissett" which
into circulation a metropolitan legend on Ray Johnson and his
in the "Luther Blissett" international multiple name project. The name
of the book is "Mind Invaders. How to Fuck [with] the Media", it was
in November 1995 and sold out before the end of December. Its
Rome-based Castelvecchi Edizioni, immediately reprinted it .
that MI was projected to comply with a Vittore
Baroni's directive (on "Arte Postale! # 69", Springtime 1995) which
more or less sounded like "Create your works of Ray Johnson...Keep
and visible the legends of the virtual Rays...scare the shit out of the
exploiters of posthumous glory". It seems that those who were using and
sharing the name "Luther Blissett" since the beginning of 1994 (nobody
knows who launched this project, there's a lot of myths flying around
decided then to insert Ray Johnson in the pantheon of the "imaginary
Before and after the publication of MI, they spread contradictory
which were amplificated and hyped by newspapers and magazines; the name
of Ray began to appear in the articles which described the pranks,
psychogeographical explorations, performances, exhibitions, videos and
radio shows set up in Italy by people adopting the name. MI carried the
whole thing farther by ascribing to Johnson some of the key Blissett's
texts available on alternative Italian BBSs (actually written both by
and Italian psychogeographers) and heavily whinging on some sort of
conspiracy aimed at killing him (a chapter even reports a rumour that
was a Fifth Column of the EZLN in the US!). Of course the gulls - as
as the disguised LBs - in the Italian press started echoing this
although the prologue and many paragraphs outspokenly warned the
that they were expected in turn to re-manipulate the "networking myth"
in order to create a sensational buzz which would help to make the most
of "invisibility" and "effectiveness" of the "actual" LBs. Belief is
something was true (...maybe), as revealed by a more prosaic account of
the contraybution: I was told that a few years ago Johnson received
an Italian corrayspondent (most probably Ruggero Maggi) a press cutting
which mentioned him. On the reverse there was a piece on the national
league (actually we call it "football"..."Soccer" is the American word)
containing the sentence: "Even Luther Blissett would have score such a
goal!". A brief explanation is required: Luther Blissett was a British
soccer player who retired in the late Eighties. He used to play in the
Watford Football Club, whose owner and president was... Elton John. In
1983 the Milan Football Club signed on him, thus he moved to Italy.
he never got used to the Italian league, one year later the club sent
back to the UK. He's remembered as a proverbial washout.
In a very
short letter to Vittore Baroni (or maybe to the aforementioned Maggi),
Johnson dropped the line: "By the way, who is Luther Blissett?". The
(whoever he was) suddenly remembered the calamitous footballer, and
laughing. In a letter he diverted the question to Stewart Home of the
Alliance. On February 15th 1994, after having answered that the
of Blissett was more good in England than in Italy (in the 1982-83
he scored 27 goals!), Stewart Home joined his fellows of the London
Association for a planned psychogeograpical "drift" in Greenwich. There
the party found... Blissett Street. In the following days the LPA
that it was named after Rev. George Blissett, a Victorian do-gooder.
Blissett" went to London as a funny story and came back as an
To sum up,
Ray Johnson was such a contagious artist that even his "by-the-ways"
incidental remarks were viable for the culture jamming guerilla! At the
best he's been a half-conscious originator of the project! At the
he never got to know what monster he had given birth to.
the legends moved to other countries via E-mail, ended up on some
(e.g. P.O.Box, recently issued in Barcelona, Spain) and bifurcated
The recent increase in the use and circulation of the LB's name in
(see the "Luther Blissett Display" at the San Diego Sociometry Fair
puzzling graffiti appeared in Baltimore, unexpected "virtual"
in Albany, strange messages received by the Salt Lake Masonic Lodge, as
well as many mail art projects and exhibitions) will probably sprayd
other local varayants of the story, strayking with
delight the geograyphical heart of Ray's life and gloray.
I think I'll give up these fuckin' puns, they're boraying me!
one of the best tributes to an artist who skillfully mastered the codes
of networking culture, of pop mythologies and even of coincidence of
(This article has been sent to us by
Tartarugo from Spain in 1996).