Leggete Nanni Balestrini
April 17, 2012 9:49 AM   Subscribe

"An imprecation to read an avant-garde novelist is not something you often see written in spray-paint". And why should we pay attention? Because it "will fill your spine with gunpowder and light a match in your brain". Verso republishes Nanni Balestrini's The Unseen (with a brand new foreword by Antonio Negri), an epic monument to the struggle of the Italian Autonomia movement of the 1970s.
posted by hydatius (23 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
im·pre·ca·tion [im-pri-key-shuhn] noun
1. the act of imprecating; cursing.
2. a curse; malediction.

I prefer my bloggers literate.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 10:15 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I was in college, I accidentally used the word "anathema" in a paper I was writing where I meant to use the word "enigma." It made that particular sentence very confusing.

Nice to know that happens to other people too.
posted by etc. at 10:17 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


OED:

†2. A prayer, invocation, petition, entreaty. Obs.

1585 T. Washington tr. N. de Nicolay Nauigations Turkie iv. ii. 115 After some imprecations made, [he] annoynted their sacrifice with oyle, milk and hony.
1631 J. Weever Anc. Funerall Monuments 374 Brute‥made his imprecation to the Goddesse to this effect.


Your move, fishpants.
posted by hydatius at 10:18 AM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


hydatius - isn't that just "precation"?
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:21 AM on April 17, 2012


I mean nowadays.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:21 AM on April 17, 2012


It is my experience that attempts to talk Autonomia or about radical social movements often get dislocated in this manner - dismiss a turn of phrase as barbaric or ignorant and by implication dismiss the topic of the post, preferably without having to do the heavy lifting of arguing history. This is especially important if you want to avoid talking about the lived experience of people in social movements as if it had any validity.

The book looks fantastic; I've just ordered it.

Verso is a very nice press with kind and helpful staff. And after years of having one of the worst websites I've ever seen, they've put the money into making a useful one.
posted by Frowner at 10:22 AM on April 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


An imprecation to read an avant-garde novelist is not something you often see written in spray-paint

Well, it wasn't until now.


PERCIVAL EVERETT RULEZ OK


Seriously, cool post, and thanks. This is one of the novels I have always meant to read but never gotten around to.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:29 AM on April 17, 2012


Seconding the Verso love. Good people there.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:29 AM on April 17, 2012


The graffiti reminds me of this, while I just love. Also, MAHLER GROOVES.
posted by troika at 10:32 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


while = which
posted by troika at 10:32 AM on April 17, 2012


Nicholas Lezard said it best, in his review of a Verso-published new edition of Adorno's music criticism:
"...in a sane and just world someone would be paid to go to Verso's offices in London W1, and shower its employees with rose petals every day..."
posted by hydatius at 10:32 AM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Picked up a copy of this just before moving - now I can't find it, which is vexing. Glad Verso brought this back into print.
posted by with hidden noise at 10:58 AM on April 17, 2012


Cool post, but I think he meant 'exhortation'.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 11:00 AM on April 17, 2012


quonsar, I think you're right that he meant "exhortation" rather than "imprecation", but a brainfreeze resulting in a word substitution is hardly a sign of illiteracy.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:17 AM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


With their trademark black outfits, their standoffs with riot police, and their willingness to engage in property destruction, practitioners of Black Bloc tactics invoke the legacy of the German and Italian Autonomen of the 1970s and 80s (whether the current-day practitioners recognize this lineage is irrelevant, as the key here is to trace the origins of the form, not the intellectual trajectories of its advocates).

Amidst the social and political ferment of the 1970s, these groups built autonomous squatter communities, complete with community centers, housing services, canteens, and other resources. The original Black Blocs emerged to defend against violent police repression of the Autonomen communities. Horrified by the levels of police brutality, which hadn’t been seen since the days of the Third Reich, many Germans sympathized with the Autonomen. The attacks put the legitimacy of the state into question, so the militant and violent defense against the attacks seemed justified. But as the battles wore on, support began to wane. As the communities crumbled under the weight of state repression, the Black Blocs took on a life of their own, detached from the now non-existent communities they were set up to defend.
-The Black Bloc and the Cargo Cult

Living in Oakland, CA and being involved with the Occupy movement, one hears frequent references to "autonomy". "Autonomous action" and solidarity, good. Hierarchical repression and any kind of "leadership" or "Cult of Personality", bad. Balestrini sounds quite interesting, if only to get some insight to where all this came from.

Very much interested in The Unseen, especially about how the schism w/in the movement proceeded.

History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme. And this tune sounds familiar.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:36 AM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


im·pre·ca·tion [im-pri-key-shuhn] noun
1. the act of imprecating; cursing.
2. a curse; malediction.


DAMN YOU, read Nanni Balestrini!

Except the "Damn you" part was left off. It was an implicationion bereft of punctuation.

Or the implication could be one of remonstrationr: "Why haven't you read Nanni Balestrini yet?"

One might offer the interpretation that the implication is one of denigration "What kind of person hasn't read Balestrini?"

But in the end this is all mostly interpolation based on supposition.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:48 AM on April 17, 2012


Oh sweet! I'm putting this book at the top of my reading list. Thanks for the post, hydatius.

P-B-Z-M, The Subversion of Politics by George Katsiaficas covers a lot of that ground in more detail, and somewhat more sympathetically than the article you linked to. It's a history of autonomous movements from 1968 to the present (well, he gets as far as 1996, but there's a pretty clear historical continuity that extends through the WTO protests in Seattle up to the present-day Occupy movement).
posted by twirlip at 11:53 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Give me ten good men and some climbing spikes. I'll imprecate the bitch.
posted by rahnefan at 11:54 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


... ma anche no.
posted by 3mendo at 2:46 PM on April 17, 2012


I gave a good try to read the links, but it's pretty impenetrable to someone without previous knowledge of the era and the references used. It reads like something you'd be given in the 10th week of a course after covering the basics.

Parts like:

The republication of The Unseen therefore has the advantage today of telling us about proletarian subjects whose class nature has finally been revealed: the unseen individual of yesterday is the proletarian of today, the immaterial worker, the cognitive precariat, the new figure of the worker as social labour power in the movements of the multitude.

and

The settling of scores with caricature Leninists aside, Balestrini’s novel reserves considerable ire for those on the hard left who collaborated with the Italian state, especially the communist parties and those party to the ‘historic compromise’, especially those who become gleeful persecutors of autonomists through roles in the courts.

Left my brain twisted into a know trying to understand the point.

Did anyone else have a tough time with this?
posted by Argyle at 2:51 PM on April 17, 2012


When I was in college, I accidentally used the word "anathema" in a paper I was writing where I meant to use the word "enigma." It made that particular sentence very confusing.

When I was in college I wrote a paper for my French class about The Trojan War Will Not Take Place by Giraudoux, based on the topic suggested by the teacher that the play dramatized the "lutte" between the individual and the community.

For some reason, I didn't look up the word "lutte" (which I had never encountered previously) and I thought it meant "link". It means "struggle", of course.

The irony is that I got a B+ anyway. Thanks, Giraudoux, for being so ambiguous that examples of links turned out to be examples of struggles!
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:55 PM on April 17, 2012


Neat, thanks.

It is my experience that attempts to talk Autonomia or about radical social movements often get dislocated in this manner - dismiss a turn of phrase as barbaric or ignorant and by implication dismiss the topic of the post, preferably without having to do the heavy lifting of arguing history.

In fairness, radical social movements have tended to dislocate themselves with arguments about words, definitions, and boundaries; if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, this kind of derailment is high praise indeed.
posted by Forktine at 5:28 PM on April 17, 2012


Go away for a few weeks and you miss the most interesting things around here...,

Katsiaficas picked me up hitch hiking years ago in LA. After some completely insane conversations about the nature of SWAT and LA cops in general, he gave me a copy of this book. Changed my life.

I am not kidding.
posted by artof.mulata at 7:52 PM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


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