* *


Note: This is not the full text of the tome of this title published by Invisible Books in 1997, but neither is it merely an abridged version of that text; since it includes small amounts of additional material edited from the final cut of the book. Reproduced here are the exchanges between Home and Cramer, but these are taken from an earlier and slightly lighter edit to the print version. Home's letters to other parties (comprising about half the published book) have been edited out here.


What follows is structured around a sequence of letters I exchanged with Florian Cramer. We are both interested in Neoism but the rhetorical systems we have fabricated around this 'movement' are quite distinct. Naturally, this leads to a considerable amount of disagreement, with both of us modifying and sharpening our positions during the course of diverse argumentation It should go without saying that such antagonism is necessary if the discourse that has developed around Neoism is to be kept from degeneration into a hideous caricature of itself.

I like Florian a great deal, but I am also one of his cruel critics. However, people can remain friends without agreeing on anything at all. That said, my appreciation of Florian extends well beyond an admiration for his sharp mind. Florian has a biting wit and lives what he writes in a way that illiterates will find difficult to understand. Florian and I also agree that every narrative constructed around Neoism is inaccurate and manipulative. Given the success of my own particular historicisation of Neoism as a cultural movement in the tradition of the twentieth-century avant-garde, Florian's strenuous efforts to recontextualise it as an epistemological experiment in speculation must be viewed as Herculean. Florian, whose knowledge of rhetoric is both broad and deep, is to be applauded for his success in propagating a rival version of Neoism through the House Of Seven By Nine Squares web site.

In Florian's view, Neoism is a construction. The specific quality of Neoist constructs - such as 'Monty Cantsin' 'Akademgorod' or 'Neoism' - is that, rather than simply being arbitrary, they are self-contained signs and that everything done with them affects what they represent. I agree with Florian, but simultaneously insist that Neoism is no more ridiculous as a 'cultural' phenomenon than Futurism, Dadaism, Surrealism, Lettrism or Situationism. All of these 'groups' operated on the basis of speculation, aiming to create the illusion that a 'movement' that bore their name actually existed. Florian's position is not so very far removed from my own, although neither of us are likely to admit it. The 'avant-garde' has long denied its 'avant-garde' status because it does not wish to acknowledge the ebb and flow of its own discontinuous 'tradition'. I hope the selection of letters to third parties (note added: all removed from this web version of the text) cut into this blend and clash of opinion adds productively to the general sense of disorientation and confusion.

Stewart Home, London July 1996.


Dear Stewart,

Stuck in an argument with and about'Luther Blissett,' I am dropping a line to let you know about Berndt's mention of your appreciation of "Cannibal Holocaust" which I share. Haufen recently released a CD of the admirable soundtrack. Once in my life, I would like to have the chance of producing a mock mondo-style cannibal movie loosely based on Shakespeare's "Tempest", preferably with Jess Franco as the director and Udo Kier as Prospero (in the appearance of a 20th century South American dictator of a jungle colony.) Once I even wrote a story outline.

I used up my vacation discovering Giorgio Manganelli and P'u Sun Ling's ghost stories, plus writing and working on the Seven by Nine Squares. TARP 3 is practically finished, and since it will contain new translations of a chapter of Salomon Maimon's autobiography and the dream book of Astrampsychos, I am expecting a double issue. I won't be able to afford printing it before October when I am gaining revenue from tutoring a down-scale 'structural anthropology' course, after all a pretty hilarious enterprise.So I seem to have got involved with those people you and Fabian mentioned last year, The reply to my mail:

Some of the things Cantsin wrote in her/his message are true, but as far as Luther Blissett is concerned, s/he's not well-informed. Luther Blissett is not a 'proposal', it's something real which already exists. This multiple name concept aims at superseding any preceding experience. It is no longer possible such a failure as that of Monty Cantsin etc., first of all because there is no Istvan Kantor here, the real origins of the project are hidden in a mythological dimension (i.e. urban legends concerning UK, USA and Jamaica) and are not knowable by the media and the police. Cops are going mad to know who and what the fuck is Luther Blissett, and the increasing press coverage is unbelievably contradictory. The Transmaniacs have never been regarded by the media as the launchers of the project, but only as translators of a legendary 'Luther Blissett Manifesto' written by Harry Kipper (or, in an alternative tale, by Ray Johnson, and ever new details are constantly given by those who join the project). The Transmaniac collective no longer exists since 1994, and the first people who made use of the name have been supplanted by its actual propagation. As an example, I was one of the first to become Luther Blissett, and I myself am surprised at the success of the global performance. I'm unaware of many actions signed with the multiple name (mainly psychic attacks, swindles, fights with the cops...). And what's more, most of the 'Luther Blissetts' (urgh!) have nothing to do with 'artistic milieus' (an artistic dimension would lead to the exiguousness of the adherents, and was one of the causes of the preceding fiascos): they got to do with class war and riots, as well as with trash-pop culture, architecture, science, sociology, finance and so on. By the way, Cantsin wrote: 'There can be little doubt that Monty Cantsin remains the multiple name adopted by the largest number of people (more than 100 since 1977)'. Well, Luther is not interested in such a competition, nevertheless there can be no little doubt that people involved in RADIO BLISSETT, a Rome-based weekly psychogeographical night-program broadcasted by Radio Citta Futura, are more or less one hundred, and that the most recent 'psychic attack' involved 200 people claiming to be Luther Blissett. And this regards only one of the towns in which this multiple name is adopted!

According to L'ESPRESSO, the most important Italian information magazine, there have been actions performed by more than 400 Luther Blissetts simultaneously (see Giu la maschera, Luther Blissett!', L'Espresso, July 14th 1995). So fucking what? It's true that Stewart Home's books are not signed 'Karen Eliot', but this doesn't prevent Luther's books (MIND INVADERS, which will be issued in October) being signed 'Luther Blissett', all the pieces in the LUTHER BLISSETT journal and elsewhere being signed Luther Blissett, all the CDs (see HTTP://WWW.PLANET.IT/VOXPOP.HTML), records, videos and radio-shows concerning Luther and his/her psychogeographical activity being signed Luther Blissett, etc. It obviously is not Cantsin's fault not to know all this: unfortunately the Luther's WWW homepage (HTTP://LINUX1.CISI.UNITO.IT/LUTHER) is still very incomplete and we got some technical problems, so what I said above can't yet be found there, but if s/he gives her/his 'physical mail' address we can then send much more material than s/he'd imagine (both Italian and English). Clearly I'm not against the use of many different aliases, for the important thing is multiplication of the identities, but the LB project is an experimental subversive urban legend which is spreading itself nicely, and I am interested in pushing it forward and further.
All the best, SALUTHER!

Needless to say how much I despise all that leftist claptrap Although I have to admit my overall detachment from the Neoist Alliance manifestations, these people seem somewhat unsophisticated taking them, obviously, for some plain pro-situ leftism (My replies;)....

An over-identification of Cantsin with Istvan Kantor has mainly been claimed by Stewart Home. While Home may have had a point in the mid- 1980s, he has perpetuated a private war against Kantor since, and his accounts of Neoism (notably in "The Assault on Culture") seem, beyond other questionable aspects, hilariously overshadowed by respective polemics. Since virtually all Neoists refused to write about Neoism in other than - obviously - manipulated forms, Home's historicising, by appearing "serious" although lacking standards of scholarly criticism, significantly helped to make Neoism known to an outside public; but it also strategically reinforced one particular view of it.

In just fashion similar to Luther Blissett's, Cantsin is known to surround himself with a vast body of contradictory mythologies, and there are many different narratives about his 'origin' (e.g. Monty Cantsin being derived from the Lithuanian puppet player Maris Kundzins, from the Californian performer Monte Cazzaza, or from the Hungarian singer Istvan Kantor, Monty Cantsin as an allusion to Raymond Roussel's Martial Canterel, to late medieval mystics, or to Jesus Christ, or as an allusion to the 'Jesus Christus Ltd.' of the Berlin dadaists as the first 'multiple name concept', or Monty Cantsin as a reverse reaction to 'Portland Academy' member Dr. Al Ackerman's more than dozen pseudonyms etc.)

Luther Blissett wrote: "And what's more, most of the 'Luther Blissetts' (urgh!) have nothing to do with 'artistic milieus' but seemingly with the classic urban leftist ones: cultural terrorism, international gang of revolutionaries, mail artists, poets, performers, underground 'zines, cybernauts and squatters, effecting sabotages, hoaxes, urban legends, performances, magazines, bulletin boards and TV or radio broadcasts are spreading the name all over the world, psychogeographical warfare."

At present, Luther Blissett may be the most "alive" multiple name while Cantsin has tended to become rather speculative, an endlessly aporetical emblem of an arbitrary signifier that is stable at the same time. As mentioned in Cantsin's previous post, such a signifier cannot be exhausted in 'resistance mythologies' based on clear-cut twofold epistemologies. Like in Neoism before, this might be Luther Blissett's potential to trick his perpetuators. Cantsin

John Berndt wrote to Luther Blissett: "What Monty Cantsin missed in her response to your news group posting is that there is no need to differentiate between using many names for one thing and one name for many things. The paradigmatic shift is the dissociation between names and things, ascending to a more refined spectrum of these dissociations which open up semantics. The contradictions so produced need to be potentiated towards the transformation of social reality, opening up the human psychology as well as the objectified realm of communication. Anything is Anything. There is no need to exclude or differentiate between them. An often missed factoid: Neoism itself is a multiple name. 'The Neoist Alliance' was an attempt to potentiate a contradiction in 'Neoism' by the following paradox: Neoism claims not to be limited so why can't it accept a Neoism that is limited to not be Neoism. Provable unprovability is provable or else untrue."

My reply: "Yes, but the attribute specific (multitude, hence specific, hence...) of Cantsin is to focus the paradox of that dissociation within one (multiple...) signifier. By saying that 'there is no need to differentiate between using many names for one thing and one name for many things' you're caught in the paradox that you actually 'name one thing' (etc.). Therefore, Cantsin remains [a signifier (a symbol, an allegory, a signified) of] a constant problematisation of one and multitude, signifier and signified, a differentiation always to be (somehow, temporarily) solved, but never dissolved. 'Anything is anything' is a paradox by the predication 'is', " "Anything is anything" is a paradox" is a paradox. Etc..

If there wasn't the 'dissociation paradox' (if 'anything could just be anything'), there wouldn't be the name 'Monty Cantsin'. Cantsin


Dear Florian

Your letter of 30/8/95 arrived just as I was about to sit down and write to you, Alastair Dickson and Luther Blissett A few days ago, Alastair sent me a copy of the electronic communication you'd sent to him about Blissett et al. Obviously, we have different views about Neoism and various other matters, but I think your dislike of Hegelianism makes your response to Luther Blissett somewhat one-sided (Hegelianism is a tool, not something anyone with any sense actually believes in). As far as I'm concerned, Luther Blissett is easily the best multiple name to date, precisely because of the conscious use of a 'creation myth' to detach the project from those who initiated it.

Again, competition on this subject is pointless, but I do think you're wrong to suggest Monty Cantsin has been more used than Karen Eliot, since Karen Eliot permeated a much wider milieu and in the late eighties regularly turned up in places such as the letters pages of CITY LIMITS, and still appears in the correspondence sections of everything from FIFTH ESTATE to Socialist Worker Party publications (I have no idea who is responsible for most of these epistles). Luther Blissett is the name that has been the most widely used as far as I can see, although as someone using the name pointed out in the electronic exchanges with you, this isn't important. Obviously, you simply weren't aware of a lot of the Blissett usage when you sent your earlier communications, so I can understand why you made this mistake. You didn't seem very interested in the Blissett stuff I sent you last year, so I hadn't sent the more recent things I have.

It wasn't me who spread the Kantor myth, I deconstructed it and very often simply ignored it, but it turns up yet again in its unreconstructed form in the INTO THE PIGS catalogue that I just got a few days ago, reproducing Pete Scott's garbage about the subject yet again, along with more dreck from Kantor. However, if you can turn the Cantsin name around and make something good out of it, I'll be pleased to see you do it. I've never presented my texts as scholarly, and in any case this mode of discourse has it own myths and limitations, so I was somewhat mystified by your descriptions of my writing as failing to live up to the form (surely much of what we're all involved with places us in a position of opposition to academic formalities). Likewise, I didn't use Karen Eliot as a name for my novels precisely because a multiple identity won't work if one individual does a disproportionate amount of things with it, if others had been doing as much with the name, then I might have done more too. This is exactly where Luther Blissett works very well.

As you know, I have always found your texts and comments useful in helping me develop my own thoughts, so I think it's healthy that you should be involved in debate with members of the LB project. Both parties are capable of carrying on a mutually productive dialogue and then (please excuse my left Hegelianism), forging a passage from theory to practice. One of the many failings of the Neoist Network of the eighties was the anti-art activism of its participants, which meant things were simply done rather than being thought through, resulting in an unfortunately inevitable lack of debate. As you know, I consider Neoism to have been finished by the end of 1986, but if you'd got involved a year or two before, things might have worked out very differently. By the way, I decided to quit Neoism in April '85, but went to the Ninth Neoist Festival because I'd already agreed to do so, what took place in Italy had no bearing on my decision to end my involvement with Neoism, as you erroneously suggest to Alastair Dickson.

With regard to this type of activity, there are, of course, still a lot of issues that need to be confronted. For example, the whole question of the nature of the relationship between the avant-garde and the underground; a 'common sense' view might be that the avant-garde feeds off the underground (what I've said so far seems to characterise the thinking of those individuals associated with the AMERICAN BOOK REVIEW who are promoting the notion of an 'avant-pop'). Connected to this idea is the notion that the avant-garde simultaneously attacks the underground for its lack of theoretical coherence. However, with multiple names and similar concepts we can see the whole issue from a very different perspective, since multiple identities are a means of creating a context for ideas and activities that might otherwise have no way of finding an effective social space in which to function. Since such contexts are created most effectively by those who tend toward a more 'theoretically coherent' perspective (in other words, those to whose activities it makes some sense to attach the label 'avant-garde'), it is clear that in this case, it is the avant-garde that is creating the possibility for various underground activities to take place. Of course, a lot of what has been produced under the rubric of SMILE or Neoism is of no interest to me beyond the fact that this is the context in which it has occurred. However, I don't feel that this particular issue needs to be addressed directly. Nevertheless, I don't see my position in relation to all this as vanguardist; while I accept that some individuals have a much better grasp of the issues than others (and I would, of course, include you among them), the Luther Blissett project illustrates that these matters are resolved most effectively when undertaken by a large group that is collectively confronted with practical tasks.

I haven't yet had a chance to go through everything on the last disk you sent me. I thought the Shawn P. Wilbur piece on the ART STRIKE was surprisingly sympathetic and a nice example of second order discourse in relation to what we've all been doing, although perhaps inevitably, I didn't feel it advanced the debate that's gone on among those who were involved, but maybe it has among those who weren't. Enclosed with this is a disk with the typeset versions of SMILE 11 and THE ART STRIKE HANDBOOK. They're still in Pagemaker 3 but I'm sure you'll be able to sort this out. I'm afraid I haven't got any of the earlier issues of SMILE on disk, so that's it basically, as far as the material you asked for goes. I do have electronic versions of most of the more recent non
-fiction, so if you want any of that, I can send it. Ciao, Stewart.


Dear Stewart,

An objective humorist, I am not sure whether I should 'dislike Hegelianism,' perhaps just Hegelian metaphysics of history. But let me plunge into my Internet postings which Alastair Dickson forwarded to you, and then comment:

The efficacy of multiple names becomes dubious when there tend to be as many as 'individual' names. The premises of my initial Luther Blissett critique were wrong indeed, since I took the Luther Blissett pamphlet for a proposal, instead of a footnote to something already established. While I am still skeptical about the "counter-cultural" claptrap running through the Blissett writings... and the milieus pushing the concept, I have come to terms with Blissett up to the point of adopting the name myself and pasting it below my door bell. John Berndt and I decided to install a mirror of The Seven by Nine Squares which all 'Monty Cantsin' mentions will be replaced with 'Luther Blissett'.

I also agree that it wasn't a very good idea to compare and judge about
Blissett, Eliot and Cantsin in terms of quantitative 'success.' However, I still see important differences in the conceptions of these three. Karen Eliot was introduced by Stewart Home in 1985 after his declared split from Neoism as a dedicated 'anti-Monty Cantsin' concept. While the Neoists who adopted the name Monty Cantsin attempted to live and explore the paradox of a persona that was one and multiple (e.g. a 'collective individualist subjectivity', Karen Eliot was not supposed to be a person, but only a signature: it should not be used for daily activities. Home thereby intended to avoid a multiple name being too closely identified with a specific person, which in the case of Monty Cantsin he thought was the Hungarian singer and performer Istvan Kantor. Assuming there's nothing in this summary you wouldn't confirm, I would like to describe Monty Cantsin as a multiple identity, Karen Eliot as a multiple pen-name and, judging from the information I have, Luther Blissett as a collective phantom. That's why I am tending to find Monty Cantsin still the most interesting...

My attitude towards Istvan is like my attitudes towards every Neoist, ambivalent. While I understand those who left Neoism sick of having him around, like most of the Montreal guys, I also see him, especially in the early years of Neoism, as a perfect 'banner.' Your objection that Istvan believes to be Monty Cantsin like other people believe to be Napoleon or Jesus Christ seems to actually mark his greatest strength. I find the Kantor critique in SMILE 8 and in "The Assault on Culture" hilarious because it takes him and his utterings - which everybody knew were mostly ridiculous - so seriously. On the other hand, I was alienated by your statements about Neoism in Kinokaze while Istvan's were surprisingly close to what I would have said.

Our 'different views about Neoism' result from your explanation of Neoism as a 'movement in the tradition of the avant-garde, particularly Situationism and Fluxus', which seems rather accurate for your own - Neoist and Pre-Neoist - activities and fields of interest, while the smarter half of the Neoists I know, the 'mind game players' as tENT calls them, (Ackerman, Tristan Renaud, Gordon W., Stiletto, John Berndt and last not least the Krononauts and tENT himself) certainly did not perceive Neoism as derived from that tradition, but as a 'mind game,' 'mad science' or whatever else, so that your characterisation misses the point by claiming to be a global characterisation. On the other hand, I agree that Neoism is completely laughable when considered a 'movement in the tradition of the modern art avant-garde,' which would both hit the nail on its most blatant shortcomings, and, being the oxymoron it is, mark the structural irony of the whole enterprise. On the next-other hand, I am always astonished by your historification again since your pre-SMILE 8 writings clearly stress an interest in Neoism as 'experimental practical philosophy' which I share.

(One might claim that most 'avant-garde' movements were also experimenting with epistemologies, but I can hardly see this in the case of Fluxus (aside from Henry Flynt) and even less in the Debordist S.I. (Asger Jorn being the exception). I guess your argument is that these movements were particularly capable of 'practically' carrying out epistemological experiments, but then you make a distinction of 'theory' and 'praxis'/'base' and 'superstructure'/'signifier' and 'signified' that oddly falls behind your premises and interest in such discourses.)

But, returning to Kantor, I see the development of Neoism from a 'visible' towards an 'invisible' movement rooted in the phenomenon that third- and fourth-generation Neoists like you, John Berndt and finally me were perhaps better writers, but much less charismatic in public appearance than him (and less charismatic than tENTATIVELY who managed to write interesting texts anyway).

I wrote that... Home's historicising, by appearing 'serious' although lacking standards of scholarly criticism, significantly helped to make Neoism known to an outside public; but it also strategically reinforced one particular view of it. By the mere range of topics, its rhetoric and its title, "The Assault on Culture" suggests to be a 'history' or even a theoretical work that also has to be judged by academic standards. Apart from the rather aphoristic and polemic manner of selecting chapters and wading through them, I mainly see terminological shortcomings. While the book is supposedly about 'culture', the notion itself is not critically examined, but heuristically re-inforced in a rather feuilletonistic sense of 'the art world,' manifest in such linguistic constructs as the 'cultural worker' (a word that would be all the more tautological if 'culture' would have been used in an anthropological or even 'sophisticated' Marxist sense a la Horkheimer/Adorno or Raymond Williams) serving only the purpose of replacing, hence affirming the term 'artist'. While "The Assault on Culture" may sound to the uninitiated like vulgarised Rousseau or late Taoism, "The Assault on the Art World" would have described the project better, and it would have left the terminological calamities more obviously unresolved. You seem to have been aware of these problems when putting certain terms into quotation marks throughout the book. Although 'conserving old concepts within our critique while here and there denouncing their limits' might be doing what comes naturally,

"The Assault on Culture" could have been more thrilling and closer to scholarly standards when departing from a theoretical groundwork which would have abandoned the necessity of using those words-in-quotation- marks (comparable to Foucault's enterprise in "The Archaeology of Knowledge"). I am sure, the resulting book, if still a 'history', would have been thoroughly different.

I see your point why you 'didn't use Karen Eliot as a name for my novels' and, regarding the rest, I can understand that things become different once they make your living. I wouldn't, truth to tell, publish a doctoral thesis as Monty Cantsin. Kantor appropriated the Cantsin identity to a point where his respective production was no longer 'anonymous,' and even John distributes his Flyntian writings, which he considers 'serious,' under his 'proper' name. Nevertheless, you could have published most of your non-fiction booklets and books as Karen Eliot. In the case of the 1991 Neoist Manifestos, the texts are even retrospectively identified as your writing while their first versions appeared under multiple names. You also seem to have given up multiple names in all your post-Art Strike pamphlets and pieces.

My narrative of your break with Neoism was mainly based on one of your letters to Graf Haufen which he reprinted in his SMILE 63 and later in the "Neoism Now" anthology (now completely incorporated into The Seven by Nine Squares). But, reciting from memory, I apparently blurred the differentiation between your decision to quit Neoism shortly before APT 9 and Stiletto's and Horobin's prank that, to quote your text, 'served to reinforce the resolve I had made. (...) It was certainly embittered by the events in Ponte Nossa,' or, re-considering my text, I should have written 'speeded up' instead of 'effected' as implied in the last few words....

Lyndon LaRouche's German sectarians are campaigning for the Berlin county elections. Formerly 'European Worker's Party,' then 'Patriots for Germany,' they now go under the name 'Civil Rights Movement Solidarity' and claim indebtedness to Martin Luther King! Last year, I made plans for the 'Democratic People's Alliance', a 'centrist' phantom party solely based on recycled and meaningless slogans, but then refrained because I didn't have enough time and money and the type of rhetoric I had in mind happened to be perfectly delivered by the chairman of the German Liberal Party and minister of foreign affairs. Bonspiel/Kiki Bonbon is rumoured to have gained much attention when running for mayor in Montreal with his 'Vote Here' party. Aside from the admirable name, he is supposed to bear all the necessary attributes - corpulent, jovial and perfectly bilingual.

I forgot to mention that, alas, I received your letter some weeks too late after it had been mistakenly delivered to a neighbour who was on vacation then. Yours with total freedom, Cramer.


Dear Mr. Home,

In the midst of dispute, I forgot a few things I wanted to let you know about. If this letter should arrive first, consider it a postscript to what I mailed yesterday.

In an Internet news group, I stumbled over the foundation manifesto of the 'New England Institute of Pataphysics,' but, after corresponding with its chairman, it doesn't seem to be overly reflected and rather fall into the categories of college humour. The 'Internet Point Survey' got, unfortunately, the same impression of Neoism and The Seven by Nine Squares. I would have preferred any other description or misreading instead: "...This text-heavy monument to absurdist philosophy spends a long time making a point of its pointlessness, espousing a 'Neoist' belief in using 'fraud as a revolutionary device.' What this means is anybody's guess, but it looks a lot like pranks by college kids coupled with pictograms and (intentionally) confusing hypertext. Buried deep in this mish-mash are enough serious treasures to keep you tied up a while (such as The Gospel of Thomas in its entirety), and plenty of amusing/aggravating descriptions of experiments in being weird for the sake of weird. 'The lies of the last two hundred years,' the Neoists say, 'are nothing compared to the lies of the last two centuries.' " Of course, the quote was made up by the reviewer. This all means nevertheless that The Seven by Nine Squares are rated 'among the top 5% of Internet sites' in the most important Net survey. They also had the honour of being 'Web of the Week' in the commercial British FLAMES magazine.

Your floppy disk came at the right moment as it allowed me to mail the Jorn critique to the New England pataphysicians - a critique which, upon re-reading, seems a hilarious polemic against a partially similar and therefore competing project (as Rumney says on the same page). While Jorn's Marxist categorisation of the history of religions may have a point in observing a late-modern tendency towards a 'pataphysical' occult underground and establishment manifested in movements like the Church of SubGenius (where the maxim 'anything is anything' might apply), the Discordians, the Crowleyean Satanists, the Steinerites or, in a negative sense, Scientology where in Korzybskian fashion all phenomena of equality or 'false identity' are attributed to the 'reactive mind' and subsequently 'cleared'. But Jorn overlooks gnosticism and Taoism entirely; bearing just those attributes he describes as 'pataphysical', they disprove the historical linearity of his theory. (After all, Jorn's critique of 'pataphysics' can easily be turned against the S.I. itself.)...

In my letter, I also forgot to mention a new book, "Destruktionskunst" (Destruction Art) by Justin Hoffmann, subtitled The Myth of Destruction in Art of the Early 1960s, Munich: Verlag Silke Schreiber, 1995 (ISBN 3-88960-033-6 - I got a review copy, so the book might not officially be out yet). While most of the material presented is well-known and - researched (Fluxus, Nouveau Realisme, S.I. and Vienna Actionism in detail up to a comprehensive chapter about the Yippies, Art Worker's Coalition, Kommune 1 and Provos) and the theoretical discussion is rather superficial, the book might be the first to cover Gustav Metzger's 'Auto-destructive art' in greatest detail - filling 20 pages about the three manifestos and the two lectures and another 20 pages about the London and New York symposia. The S.I. section is heavily drawing on "The Assault on Culture" and mainly serves to describe the development from the Spur group to K1 and the Baader-Meinhofs (Hoffmann seems to have difficulties making the S.I. itself productive for his subject). In fact, the whole chapter From artistic to political action (pp. 167-181) plagiarises "The Assault on Culture" while elaborating on the German and Austrian groups.

I used to know Hoffmann from his work as a freelance critic for "Kunstforum" and member of the Bavarian New Wave rock band FSK. "Destruktionskunst" is the book adaptation of his Ph.D. thesis. It exemplifies the typical sadness of the more ambitious feuilletonistic 'art' criticism in Germany in its desire to engage in a theoretical debate all the while referring to the usual second-rate works cited in the 'art' journals, i.e. Baudrillard, Wolfgang Welsch, Slavoj Zizek and the 'Post-structuralism for Beginners' readers. Cramer.


Dear Stewart

Today I sent you some German reviews and a new pamphlet, GUY DEBORD IS REALLY DEAD, by a Luther Blissett from Italy. Actually, I too have done a few things with this name recently, although it was never my intention to carry on with this type of activity in any coherent fashion after the Art Strike. I liked your categorisation of Kantor, Eliot and Blissett as a multiple identity, a multiple pen-name and a collective phantom. However, I do not share your obsession with the former, my own playful engagement with quasi-Hegelian metaphysical versions of history (and history is always reductive bunk, so don't imagine I believe any of this shit, it's been said before but BELIEF IS THE ENEMY), leads me to favour the latter. A spectre is haunting Europe, the spectre of Luther Blissett! Glad the floppy disk was useful, it would be good to have updates on the House Of Seven By Nine Squares...

Obviously, we have different interpretations of Neoism. However, I feel you are too quick to make judgements about my texts, when they are often far less straight-forward than your statements about them indicate. I'm not really interested in defending THE ASSAULT ON CULTURE, the book was written a long time ago by someone I once might have been, am certainly no longer, and who doesn't really interest me. However, I don't understand why you say that the book has 'to be judged by academic standards,' since once you get past first impressions, it ought to be clear to anyone that the text isn't intended as an academic work and that it is completely pointless to judge it as such. The title might suggest a 'history or even a theoretical work' to someone unfamiliar with sixties freak culture, but the phrase is actually taken from rhetoric employed by the likes of John Sinclair of the White Panthers, and then picked up by people like Richard Neville, editor of OZ and author of PLAY POWER. I also note that in your polemic with AD, you make extensive use of information contained in that book about the use of multiple identities prior to the Cantsin moniker &c. Having taken on board so much of this material from THE ASSAULT ON CULTURE, I'm not surprised that you don't like what's left! Your attitude is extremely healthy. From your description of the book DESTRUKTIONSKUNST, it seems that you have made much better use of the work penned by my would-be alter-ego than Herr Hoffmann. Perhaps I have been hoisted by my own petard, since it was never my intention that the more sympathetic sections of my readership should take my pronouncements on plagiarism literally _ I would, of course, be very grateful for a photocopy of pages 167-181 of Justin Hoffmann's book. Thanks, perhaps, to your dislike of the Debordists, it is obvious that Herr Hoffman is the more expert detourner. Placing a literal, indeed fixed, meaning on texts that were intended to contribute to a fluid discourse, a veritable cum culture, is a diversion indeed!

Although I find tentatively's output amusing, I don't think it is at all rigorous, as should be obvious from texts such as REFLECTIONS ON SILENCE. I find the criteria you are using for the notion of charisma wilfully perverse, perhaps this is your intention. There does seem to be some correlation between what a judgmental personality-type might view as social maladjustment and how you rank Neoists in terms of charisma, but this is clearly an inversion of how these things are 'normally' judged. While I enjoy watching you make this kind of Hegelian inversion, by going against 'consensus reality' in this fashion, your assertions are actually a mirror image of who is most likely to be found charismatic by that utterly abstract category, the masses. By its very nature, the notion of charisma is socially negotiated, the quality exists in the minds of the people who perceive it, rather than it being something that is indwelling (or not) in any given individual. Judged by these criteria, and they are the ones I'm insisting on using for the purposes of this current exchange of opinions, Kantor and tentatively are not charismatic, the kind of people I meet when I go to the supermarket would go out of their way to avoid them. Hope this finds you well, ciao, Florian


Dear Florian,

It's not just the 'criteria I am using for the notion of charisma' which are 'wilfully perverse', but of course the notion itself! GUY THE BORE is hanging around this hard drive since some time while I caught a dead-humoured Herr 'send me the reference' Stiletto penetrating tENT's host, Laura Kikauka, with a red mini-replica of his has-beenism,(1) late at night on Castorf territory (2). At last, Berit and I were recognised as those 'sex stars' of TV fame (3), but what a waste of tax money!

While having little interest in a prolonged dispute, I thought my letter made quite clear that judging something (in that case, "The Assault on Culture") by academic standards might, frequently, not be 'pointless', but lay the finger onto the wound, as the Germans say, i.e., point at lacks of critical rigor. Of course, being the plagiarist I am, this doesn't prevent me from fooling the subscribers of the 'Avant-Garde' mailing list (among them A. Dickson) with exploiting the book at the same time! As above, Stewart.

1. The shopping cart chair which made him known as a furniture designer.
2. The Berlin 'Volksbuhne' theatre where Stewart Home's reading was to take place later that year.
3. Referring to an appearance of Florian Cramer and Berit Schuck on Stiletto's and tENTATIVELY's "TV Hospital", a night show broadcast via ISDN telephone line to Berlin's public access TV, in March 1994. Cramer and Schuck staged an 8-hour variation of the sleep deprivation prank played against Stewart Home at the 9th Neoist Apartment Festival, Ponte Nossa 1985 and created a minor scandal because many viewers thought there had been live sex on TV.


Dear Stewart,

Translating the "Stellungskrieg" (German edition of Home's novel "Defiant Pose") reviews once more nourished my prejudices against the German 'alternative'/pop cultural press and reinforced my preference for the Frankfurter Allgemeine feuilleton. I think these papers should pay me money since their writers seem to have spent even less time on their reviews than I did on my quick-and-dirty renderings! (See enclosed disk.)

...retrospectively, I am not satisfied with the level of discussion on 'art' the Art Strike proposal has provoked. This critique of course includes the someone I might have been six years ago and am certainly no longer. It also means that I don't agree with your view of the 'plagiarism and Art Strike movements as being far more significant than Neoism'. After all, I rather see these 'movements' as a particular discourse among people who never called themselves 'plagiarists' or 'Art Strikers' like the Neoists called themselves 'Neoists'. At least outside Britain, the vast majority of people contributing to these discourse were straight-forward mail artists (as any close look at YAWN or even the participant lists of the Festivals of Plagiarism reveals) who neither contributed anything substantial to the debate, nor drew any significant results for themselves. I even suspect the hardcore supporters in the U.S., Lloyd Dunn and Stephen Perkins, to have understood the Art Strike in terms of a libertarian humanism or moralist purgatory, as obvious in statements like 'how can you have shows when people even don't have shoes' (20 of the most difficult... questions, Perkins) or 'the whole point is that life during the strike is going to be more creative, not less' (Dunn, YAWN no. 4). As much as I like Lloyd, it also seems significant that he and Perkins hosted a number of mail art shows during the Strike project, one of them as a spontaneous reaction to the Gulf war, and pushed the 1992 'Decentralised Networker Congress', activities which any thorough rethinking of the issues raised by the Art Strike would have dismantled as utterly mindless. Similarly, most people who could be counted to a 'plagiarism movement' in the late '80s seem to have taken the plagiarism debate merely as some half-accepted kind of theoretical justification of their mail art xerox collage work (or 'recycling', to quote tENTATIVELY), which again became apparent on the shows accompanying "Festivals of Plagiarism", even in Glasgow. On the flip side, there are leftist pro- and post-situs like Drake Scott (editor of the Wisconsin SMILEs), Bob Black and Neal Keating or even Matthew Fuller who saw plagiarism and the Art Strike as radical anarchist actionism without being aware of their aporetic structures. I found one of your first letters to me from 1990 in which you wrote: 'you're one of the few people interested in and also seemingly able to develop the debate raised by Art Strike, Plagiarism, Multiple Names &c. Until the beginning of 1990 this was rather frustrating because even most of those involved with this stuff seemed to miss what to me it was all about.' In fact, I don't recall many more people to go beyond mail art humanism or pro-situ leftism in their plagiarism/Art Strike support than John Berndt, tENTATIVELY (if you couple his Confession with his own commentary written as E.G. Head), some VARIANT writers, Sadie Plant, a French guy defining the Art Strike as a logical paradox in a response to a "Lettre Documentaire" poll (reprinted in YAWN and the Art Strike Papers) and the anonymous from Cambridge, Mass. who wrote YAWN/FROWN. None of them can be counted as a 'plagiarism/Art Strike movement member'. If you take Berndt, tENT and me, then you can't even put this 'movement' in opposition to, let alone succession of, Neoism.

I was pissed off reading in Neoism, Plagiarism and Praxis that I had been keen to claim your late SMILEs and plagiarism/Art Strike campaigns to be Neoist because I perhaps wished 'to present the Neoists as the last possible avant-garde'. On the contrary, my entire involvement with Neoism, most obviously in my SMILE issues, is about purging Neoism from all associations with so-called 'avant-gardes' and re-writing it into other fields. My interest in Neoism is certainly not about 'avant-garde', whatever that may be, but -literally speaking - about 'speculation'. You are right saying that I consider your plagiarism/Art Strike campaigns as entirely within the habitual combinatorics, incoherence and after all affirmative offsprings of Neoism (to quote your SMILE 8, 'to leave neoism is to realise it'), hence perfectly 'Neoist'. While your implicit claim that I would consider plagiarism/Art Strike indispensable for Neoism may be an entertaining synecdochical inversion, it certainly constructs a false hierarchy. You are my best example, since you, just as any other Neoist who has tried, cannot get rid of the word 'Neoism' as the positive and negative reference point of your writing and thought since eleven years, ten years of them being marked by your alleged break with or even 'end of' Neoism. Un jour Neoiste, toujours Neoiste.

...Anyway, I am looking forward to meet you in Berlin and have you stay here. I hope you receive this before you leave. It's sad that Nautilus has put you right onto the pop and youth cultural track. Perhaps they don't dare to present the German novels to a critical audience with a sense of language and merely sell them as slapstick. The Roter Salon is the classic example of a bohemian hang-out (a place which is otherwise used for 'video art' displays, release parties of a 'pop cultural theory zine', political cabaret and gay techno parties) while the LiteraturWerkstatt, although in a remote Eastern district, would have been a good place for an original English reading with probably a smarter, albeit young and not overly academic audience... As above, Cramer.


Dear Florian

I keep hearing amusing accounts of your internet exchanges with various people, which generally seem to propagate a very one-sided perspective on my activities. I am better known for my novels than anything else, and most of these really have very little to do with Neoism as it existed back in the eighties. However, my next novel SLOW DEATH, out in the UK in April, will do a lot for Neoism, since it features a gang of socially ambitious skinheads rampaging through the London art world in search of this elusive 'avant-garde' movement. Although one of the main characters in the composition is called Karen Eliot, the majority of those reading it will not necessarily know that Neoism has nothing to do with either art or the 'avant-garde.' This is a piece of information that I have chosen to share with the bulk of the readership in only the most obtuse of fashions, thereby ensuring that any 'meaning' this work might have contained will be completely dissipated by the utterly opposed readings of it that are bound to ensue as a result of the blend and clash of opinions around our mutually destructive strategies of textual 'deception.'

AD in Stirling showed Marshall Anderson a copy of a message you e-mailed, and MA is well pleased that you consider his FESTIVAL OF NON-PARTICIPATION 'better' than the various FESTIVALS OF PLAGIARISM. However, if MA understood that you were chiefly interested in the creation of aporias, I don't think he'd feel quite so flattered. I'm sure he used the word 'better' in his letter - I haven't actually checked - but whatever term he used, it seemed a little too crude to be one of your choosing. I like this constant misrepresentation, it gives 'critics' something to get their teeth into and debate. Nevertheless, I think you are wrong to see the FESTIVALS OF PLAGIARISM as a continuation of the Neoist Apartment Festivals, since the first FOP in London extended over two months. There wasn't a single Neoist event in the eighties that was as extensive in terms of the completely arbitrary constructs of 'time' and 'space.'

Likewise, the placing of names on texts and other productions which were originally 'anonymous' (most of the stuff in my SMILES wasn't credited to anyone, not even Monty Cantsin or Karen Eliot as you seemed to assume in a letter of last year), makes an even greater aporia out of material that was produced to achieve precisely that end. Also, although divers texts were rewritten among miscellaneous parties, most of the stuff I plagiarised/detourned during the eighties, I brought in from outside the Neoist Network. While Michael Tolson did the odd thing that I found useful, I tended to pick up on John Berndt's reworkings of material that had already passed through 'my' 'hands.' Incidentally, does 'Stewart Home' 'actually" exist outside the deformed 'imaginations' of various 'individuals' suffering from extremely severe forms of linguistic hallucination? Personally, I find the alleged existence of this 'individual' deeply problematic.

In re-using material that passed back and forth between Berndt and myself, I was, to use the 'situationist' terminology constructed around the notion of detournement, 'devaluing' this metaphorical 'body' of 'parturition,' i.e. reinvigorating a discourse that despite its non-Hegelian 'appearance,' was unquestionably proselytising in favour of 'continuous becoming'. It should go without saying that the looser nature of 'plagiarism' made that particular 'concept' more 'omnidirectional'. To return to the main 'thrust' of this 'anti-narrative,' such systematic 'devaluation' is something I've consistently engaged in for many years and it seems to greatly 'annoy' you. Having said this, I think we should be clear about the 'fact' that neither Berndt, nor any other member of the Neoist Network, can 'realistically' be 'evaluated' as the main source for the corporeal aspects of my theoretico-practice. That said, I think Berndt's reworking and simultaneous critique of material in his promotional flyers for the FESTIVAL OF CENSORSHIP were particularly pleasing. He picked bare the bones of the plagiarist cadaver and then did something that really fleshed out the discourse we were all engaged in. Although you personally had not joined the dance at that time, I refuse to take up the crass Bergsonian position which insists that 'time' is 'real,' and will therefore refrain from making an issue of this point. To re-use a well worn slogan, belief is the enemy! It may be a digression, but after all isn't that the 'point' of the manifestations in which I have been engaged for more than a dozen years, to state that I am particularly fond of Berndt's DIALECTICAL IMMATERIALISM and his account of the so called MILLIONTH APARTMENT FESTIVAL. However, I think one of the joys of eighties Neoism was how utterly mediocre much of the moil was, that's a real aporia for you!

You said in Berlin, that Neoism failed to address the question of power, and while I would agree with you about this in regard to most of those who were involved in the N-ist Network, I think any close reading of my texts reveals this as one of my central concerns. However, just as you agreed with me about the problematic nature of your use of the notion of charisma with regard to various Neoists, I must concur that the notion itself is quite useless and it was 'correct' of you to flesh out my initial critique in a letter of last year. I must apologise for not replying to your last two letters or indeed re-initiating this most occluded and occult of correspondences since my return from Germany. Please perceive the textual production that is apparently passing before your eyes at this/that 'moment' in 'time' as an honorarium for your friendship and repartee. The phantom 'time' is, of course, one of the most valued commodities in our world of collusion, and as a result I often find myself too 'busy' to write the very letters that I find most pleasure in composing. I hope you received the two small packages I've sent to you since the solstice, that bi-annual reversal of perspective in the dialectical interplay between darkness and light, was observed by one of our London fraternities with a psychogeographical excursion to Shepherd's Bush. The first package I sent contained disks inscribed with the various texts you asked me to supply in electronic form, the meat of the second was a copy of RE:ACTION 3, which was then bulked out with xeroxes of German press cuttings.

Since seeing you in Berlin, I've been doing up my new flat, that's all out of the way now. I've just got to get on with more textual production, which as you know is my chief interest. I understand from various sources that you didn't like the event in Berlin, although from what I've been told, you disliked the audience much more than the actual performance. That's fine by me, since I'm not looking for a uniform response to what I do and the things that go on around it, or indeed the people who interact with it. Hopefully, next time I'm in Berlin or you're in London, there will be less pressure on my 'time.' I really enjoyed the chat with you, Graf Haufen and Mario Mentrup in the cafe whose name I've forgotten. It would have been nice to have spent a few more days that way, I remember that particular afternoon as being enjoyable precisely because we weren't measuring out 'time' with coffee spoons. To anyone but a cultural conservative, 'time' is the 'enemy' Ciao, Stewart.


Dear Home,

Many complain that the words of the wise are always merely parables and of no use in daily life, which is the only life we have. Concerning this a man once said: 'Why such reluctance? If you only followed the parables you yourselves would become parables and with that rid of all your daily cares.' Another said: 'I bet that is also a parable.' The first said: 'You have won.'The second said: 'But unfortunately only in parable.'The first said: 'No, in reality: in parable you have lost.'


Dear Florian

I keep forgetting what I've already written to you, I could check because all those letters have been saved electronically but then I'm not afraid of repetition. I'm going to see Marshall Anderson in the far north of Scotland in a few days. MA in his persona of the eighties certainly saw Neoism as an art movement, and he wasn't the only one. I'm probably repeating myself but isn't that exactly what parables do, reduce experience to cliche and all for the benefit of power. Parables are ways of transmitting common sense notions of knowledge and 'reality' and thus always serve the interests of the dominant classes. Their paradoxical nature is merely that, paradoxical, because power must camouflage its operation to maximise its effectiveness.. But like I've said elsewhere, I've been addressing the issue of power for a long time. I was in Brighton the other week to do a lecture for the Zap Live Art Festival. Kantor was there two years ago, this time people got a much better version of Neoism. I got a lot of laughs, especially when I showed a slide of Kantor and described him as an idiot. I did a lecture on my self-promotion techniques at the Royal College Of Art the week before that and at the end was asked by a student if I'd considered teaching business studies. I was flattered. I've got myself a better Mac, Fabian's old SE/30 with 8 megs and 120SC. So now I can deal satisfactorily with some of the disks you've sent in the past. Okay, that's all for now. Ciao, Stewart.


Dear Home,

Given our latest dispute, my role as "Analecta's" digital nurse is not without irony. In turn, you receive the first SMILE issue written by a computer program plus a Neoast choice anthology which I collected and typeset some months ago but never released due to financial calamity. The disk includes another Neoast collection which overcomes some Web- site disadvantages, such as titles, signatures, the given 'hypertext' embedding and limited cross-platform portability. One might consider it the bankrupt's estate of the 7x9 Squares, but it contains both more and less material. Finally, there's some water on your mills of historification - everything I could find about the MacMag (Brandow/Barnoz & Wanowitch) virus in the Internet.

You're right assuming that I didn't use the word 'better' to qualify the Festival of Non-Participation against the Festivals of Plagiarism: (From AD) "Hi, I just thought I'd mention that I'd the artist formerly known as Pete Horobin staying here last week and he was well impressed by the 7x9 squares pages, perhaps in a kind of bemused way at the thoroughness of the cross-indexing, etc., but impressed nonetheless. Alastair."

(My reply:) "The 7x9 are partly indebted to Horobin's Data Project, but I never wrote him about their existence. He might have been surprised to find his own index page, if he found it at all. Stewart Home told me about Anderson's present obsession with British Mail Art, supposedly coupled with thorough disinterest in his Neoist past. While not agreeing with everything he wrote and conceptualised, I think of Horobin as one of the 'central marginals' whose contributions were more thorough than those tactically adapted according to the expectations of a certain uncritical audience. I also agree with the person formerly known as tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE that the Festivals of Non-Participation were much more interesting than the so-called Festivals of Plagiarism."

Regarding your defence of using/not using the name Stewart Home, I can only say that personally, I find the alleged existence of the individual 'Stewart Home' just as uninteresting as that of 'Florian Cramer', 'John Berndt' or whomever else - at least irrelevant enough to find any construction of aporias with/against these names utterly futile. After all, such aporias seem to function as re-valuations rather than those de-valuations you claim for yourself - although their object is obviously different.

I actually disliked your performance, not the audience which seemed critically intelligent. My derogatory remarks however were aimed at your local followership, those 'Neoists' safely recruited from the most idiotic cabal of Berlin, yeah, 'underground'... Cramer


Dear Florian

Thanks for the disk and the Smile Auto-Plagiarism. I've gone through the Neoast selection, which amused me greatly... Actually, I don't think we're in dispute at all, our positions seem to be very close. For example, you talk about your disinterest in the alleged existence of 'Florian Cramer', I share this attitude since I know very well that the alleged 'Cramer' is simply a fiction, or more precisely a minor character who appears in the novel "Slow Death" between pages 233-5. The book is published next month by Serpent's Tail. Likewise, since 'Stewart Home' is by your own admission only alleged to exist, it certainly is aporetic to talk of 'his' 'involuntary and apparently unaware self-demolition'. Of course, if such a thing could take place, it would be infinitely preferable to voluntary self-demolition, which would be masochism. Your distinction between a critically intelligent audience and the idiotic cabal of the Berlin underground seems to echo the distinction the alleged 'individual' 'Hegel' makes between critics and the public in the introduction to 'his' "Phenomenology". It would seem that our positions are closer than either of us might imagine if we were able to constitute ourselves as that pathetic abstraction, a bourgeois-centred subject.

If you have electronically saved your letters to me, I would very much appreciate copies of them on disk. Last weekend I visited the alleged individual known as 'Marshall Anderson'. He is living in the far north -west of Scotland with Lotte Glob, daughter or P. V. Glob, author of "The Bog People" and friend of the Cobra group. These days, Anderson seems very interested in Neoism, much more so than mail art. This is certainly a turn around from a year or two ago. We did a little hill walking and a lot of talking. I had a fine time, staying in a very remote bothy on 24 March. Ciao, Stewart.


Dear 'Stewart,'

Regarding our 'valuation' and use of certain names, let me just resort to the wisdom of my mailbox: "...Mr. Home, I don't know if 'Stewart Home' is a pseudonym or not but if it is not then I just wanted to share with you the fact that there exists a school in Kentucky which is called 'Stewart Home School.' This school is for mentally retarded children and adults. Just wanted to share this with you but I think you already knew. Thank you for your time, Karen."

A conceit or a Hegelian synthesis? ...Luther Blissett's material about the Mondadori controversy arrived today. As if to provoke my mixed happiness, he describes the dissolved Seven by Nine Squares as: "one of the most interesting sites dedicated to relations between 'avant-garde' and 'counter-culture' (multiple names, 'psychic warfare,' conspiration aesthetics) and in full scope: Monty Cantsin/Luther Blissett, founder and Web master of the site, who tells that he is so indifferent and bored of it that he decided to eliminate one link per day up to its complete dissolution on March 24, 1996. His Proclamation Of Self- Destruction contains the phrase: 'While everyone is trying to get on the Internet, I'm doing my best to get off.' "

The above is 'my' translation. Nevertheless, 'my' text carefully avoided the word 'destruction' and was 'actually titled "The Seven by Nine Squares Dissolve". The sentence, which Blissett 'quotes' in 'original' English, read: "While everyone else tries their best to get on the Internet, The Seven by Nine Squares will be the first trying hard to get off!" The quote was part of Castelvecchi-Blissett's apology of non-Internet 'counter-cultural' networking against the Internet hype in Mondadori-Blissett's Net.gener@tion.

Ironically, I was contacted by a journalist of the Panorama news weekly - which itself is published by Mondadori/Berlusconi - without knowing about the Net.gener@tion controversy. As a result, Panorama printed a Luther Blissett feature on March 28 with some 7x9 references. The article mentions Vittore Baroni and Fabrizio Giuliani as the men behind the name, stating that: "he [Blissett] is indepted to ironical journals from the Anglo-Saxon world like Smile, Yawn and Tarp. Blissett is {also} a pseudonym of the German Monty Cantsin collective and its 'Neoist' philosophy which just undergoes its negative phase: Every day, they are cancelling parts of their Web site. It will be finished on March 24th. In Italy, 'situationism' and marginal philosophers like Giorgio Agamben prevail. But generally, all the schools and orders collaborate. The entire information published by Blissett is gigantic, his hypertext is labyrinthine. Those who wish to know who Blissett is are prompted with the on-line response 'a pseudonym of Monty Cantsin.' And for those who wish to know who Cantsin is: 'a pseudonym of Luther Blissett.'

In all those twists and turns, it particularly amuses me that an Italian writer wouldn't recognise two (utterly unironic) classics of 16th and 17th century Italian literature and attribute them/TARP plainly to the SMILE tradition! The rest is on disk. Best, 'Cramer'.


Dear 'Florian'

Thanks for your letter, disk and other material. The message was very funny, as was re-reading some of your letters. I'd misplaced the 'original' of the letter advising the spread of a false rumour that I had some nazi involvement to create interest in my novels and boost sales. A very solid piece of advice and it is good to have it to hand again. As you probably guessed, I am quite likely to nudge a selection of these letters into print in the not too distant future. I've only kept copies of my letters to you since last autumn because I think it is important to give certain documents the opportunity to be lost....I think both Luther Blissett and 'Stewart Home' are completely uncontrollable by any clique, one can nudge them in different directions but there is no possibility of the milieu from which they emerged exercising much influence over them now that they've entered the 'spectacle'. I think everything is working out very well for all of us. Ciao, Stewart.


Dear 'Home'

I guess you already received "Texas Hick", the open letter, attacking, oddly enough, your "Assault On Culture" and your picks at Greil Marcus... My comment from an E-Mail to John Berndt (and by cc:, to "Hick".... "I received that pamphlet, too, from its author. Not much to say about it really. While it started off in a promising way by addressing the 'technical' flaws in Home's book, it became laughable when turning into a Greil Marcus apology... My contribution to the Literature & Internet conference/festival was, apparently, such a success that I must be careful not to start believing that I could be the 'literature critic and Internet expert'... I am now being dubbed in the media!..."

At the congress mentioned, I stumbled over two people who are about to meet you in London - Mark Amerika and Mario Mentrup. While I can't tell much about Amerika and his Alt-X zine, I must correct my arrogance towards Mentrup. He is a nice guy - full stop. ....As always, 'Cramer'.


Dear Florian

If the Texas Hick piece you refer to is "The Assault On Greil Marcus", then I think it was very disappointing since it only lends Home credibility to be attacked so stupidly. If it was something else, could you please send it. With this I enclose some of the worse reviews of "Slow Death". I won't send you the one from the "New Statesman", where the reviewer understands that Neoism was a genuine 'movement',. let me know if you really want to see it, but be warned it is likely to depress you.

My own thinking on Home is as follows: Stewart Home became a Neoist in 1984. He puts emphasis on the fact that he split from Neoism in 1985 (after a sleep-deprivation prank had been played on him during the 9th Neoist Apartment Festival in Ponte Nossa, Italy) and that his "Neoist Alliance", which consists solely of himself, has "nothing whatsoever to do with the old Neoist network." From 1984 to 1985, Stewart Home's influence on Neoism was healthy as he reinforced the concept of Monty Cantsin as a multiple name and added those of SMILE magazine and White Colours.

His subsequent activities, the plagiarism and Art Strike campaigns from 1985 to 1989, were marked by his attempt to find a broader audience. I will enclose additional material concerning my opinion about this. I see his 1990s activities and publications as signifiers of an admirable intellectual decline. While many of his former friends and collaborators have been critical about his blatantly self-serving and ideologically simplified campaigns in the late 1980s but at least acknowledged that these partly raised interesting debates, we all see the Stewart Home of 1995/96 as a willingly stupefied, pale caricature of himself. Consequently, his present supporters - or rather, admirers - come from lowbrow pop cultural "underground" milieus in Italy and Germany. Being no longer pressed to define his position in negative terms, he has managed to appropriate the brand "Neoism" for his own activities and sell this discourse at the same level as, say, the Discordians (with himself as R.A. Wilson), the Immediatists (with himself as Hakim Bey), the Church of SubGenius (with himself as Ivan Stang) or the pro-situ anarchists (with himself as Bob Black). Ultimately, Neoists are not interested in Wilson, Bey, Stang or Black.

With Home being skilled rather in sloganeering than versatile perception, his activities always benefited from unobvious collaboration with friends who remained in the background. In the early 1980s, this was a philosophy student who had probably inspired Home's early SMILE issue to reinvigorate Neoism as "practical philosophy", and in the case of the Festival of Plagiarism activities, it was Ed Baxter who made the most lucid and profound contribution to Home's "Plagiarism" reader. The "Neoist Alliance" as an occult order was inspired both by my own pre-1993 publications and letters (the essay "Reading for Immortality" which likened Neoism and Neo-Platonism, letters on the Kabbalah and Anthroposophy which flew, partly literally, into "Neoism, Plagiarism and Praxis") and more substantially by the person behind the "London Psychogeographical Association". It is Home's misfortune that the LPA Newsletter appears simultaneously with his Neoist Alliance pamphlets and manages to be so obviously better and wittier than the latter. Ciao, Florian.


Dear Stewart,

Just a few points concerning 'history' I am firing off at you before I pass out or pass into the rest of the working week which, in true Groupe Absence fashion, never seems to get started: Far be it from me to demand 'correct historification,' but whether it might be your transcendental subjectivity tending to encode your spirit as the Hegelian objective, or not, this is my eleventh letter in this time of decreasing sperm cells.

"The Flying Cats" video was shot by Kiki Bonbon and Tristan Stephane Renaud who then had an obsession with kicking cats in the street and poisoning food in grocery stores. So they were being invited to dinner by a friend who hated these obsessions and, since they knew this, they started to become paranoid suspecting her to have poisoned the dinner. (Caught in hypochondria, they both ended up at the emergency station of a hospital where they were found perfectly healthy.) However, and I wonder that nobody has informed you about that after 1988 - i.e. I am not wondering in fact since you were one of the few or even the only Neoist not being indifferent about 'history' - the "Flying Cats" video didn't show cats being thrown down from a tower block, but Kiki Bonbon and Tristan Renaud cutting the throats of a bunch of kittens (in an apartment room), and according to Tristan, it was mainly a situation to explore the actor's behavioural limits, i.e. repulsion of themselves, and insofar perhaps 'existentialist.'

However, the 'point' of Neoism as it emerged around 1980 in Montreal seemed to be rather a Hungarian weirdo who could just speak a few rags of English and French going from cafe to cafe and claiming to be an immortal leader and pop star, which a group of young people found hilarious enough to join him, maybe in a similar way as the Berlin dadaists called Johannes Baader their 'supreme.' Since Neoism was, above all, a collaborative exchange between Montreal and Baltimore for a couple of years, I suspect a whatever 'situationist' influence to have strongly been present through the Krononautic Organism, notably Richard Elsberry, whose ex-girlfriend Laura Anders (now at Re/search publications) I happened to meet by chance in 1987 on a tour through Kleve, Germany. What you call 'Post-Neoism' existed at least as two phenomena, the one being the Montreal activities from the late 80s to the present, mainly involving the Society of Conserving the Present ('Conserving the Future' would totally miss both the conceit and the point of its activities) with Jean Dube (who left it to found the Groupe Absence), Philippe Cote, a philosophy graduate, and Alain Bergeron, a computer programmer. The SCP is, even more than the Groupe Absence, heavily based on a reception of recent 'theory'; both display a very francophone intellectual humour. Closely associated to both (SCP) and GA are Alain Napoleon Moffat who works at the Canadian section of Gallimard publishers and was temporarily alienated from the earlier Neoist group due to his close ties to gay bohemia, Jean-Luc Bonspeil (Kiki Bonbon) who eventually works as a journalist. Although a rather superficial novel about a computer bulletin board system, Dube's "Vouloir de l'art" seems to be a key text, in which Renaud, Bonspeil, Alan Lord, Bergeron and Moffat appear in dedications, fictionalised as characters or quoted from unpublished manuscripts ('Ce n'est pas cet echange des principaux remdes qui nous rendra sensibles aux forces en presence. C'est l') Neoism as text as its own threshold of permanent postponement. Cramer.


Dear Stewart,

Far be it from me to be obsessed with 'correct historification', all the more as I only could, if at all, be called a tertiary, quartary, quintary source, or even lower. But I tend to doubt a more than superficial relatedness of Neoasm to the concept of 'avant-garde'. My own obsession with 'tradition' is different from the Debordist notion of 'anti-avant-garde.' At this point I agree with tENT who said that for him, Neoasm was never concerned with 'avant-garde,' as I don't agree with him at others. Istvan Kantor would say the opposite, Graf Haufen and Sevol, too. I would have said the opposite in 1989 when I came to Glasgow and was obsessed with modernism. And so on.

There was manifest situationist influence on 'CoAccident,' the superstructure of both BaltiMedia/the Krononauts and the grant-funded 'art professional' Merzaum collective including, among others, Kirby Malone, Marshall Reese, Cris Creek, Lee Warren (author of The Grooming Tool in John Berndt's SMILE issue 6, vol. 2) and Chris Mason, founder of Widemouth Tapes which tENT turned into WiDEMOuth Tapes. In 1980, the Maryland arts magazine Aura portrayed both factions of CoAccident in 'Mad Science & Folk Math' (Aura, vol. 3, no. 1, pgs. 12-13) mentioning 'a number of projects, including Crab-Feast, Sleep Deprivation School, & Society of Spectacle' (page 12).

S.I. awareness is said to have spread by Kirby Malone with whom Richard Elsberry became closely associated with by 1981. Since Malone was bisexual, most people supposed them to be lovers, although heterosexual Elsberry insisted they weren't. (In 1982, they both set up a party 'Welcome to the Future' as part of the four-week event Odd Days in March.) While this doesn't help to locate a prevalence of situationist impact in precisely one wing of CoAccident, it seems irrelevant to me anyway, since members of both groups participated in early Baltimore- based Neoist activities, as "The Assault on Culture" documents on page 89 (quoted, as some name misspellings suggest, from "What is a uh uh Apartment Festival?"). According to a flyer with a schedule of events, APT 3 involved, next to Kantor and Zack, participants from Montreal (Napoleon Moffat, Kiki Bonbon/Jean-Luc Bonspiel with his Workshop on how 2 vis the postal system and Zbigniew Brotgehern a.k.a. Tristan Renaud featuring From the Continuing Beschwerlich BŸgeleisen), the Krononauts (Bob Dorsey, Michael Gentile, Ruth Turner, Sumu Pretzler/Doug Retzler, Richard Elsberry) and at least three members of the Merzaum collective Ñ Mitchell Pressman, Marshall Reese and Kirby Malone.

I found it partly interesting to read Aura quoting the Merzaum faction with 'In performance the role of the individual changes as an identity. Our work changes what is taken as identity from being a label to that of functioning as part of an action' (page 13).

My reason to refer to Flying Cats again was not the passage in "The
Assault on Culture" whose carefulness was well in my mind, but the interview from which I gathered that even after five years, nobody had disclaimed it. In (remaining) 'fact,' I don't care much about the supposed facts and find it hilarious how the myth gets perpetuated again and again, like in these collective anonymous anti-Stewart Home letters.

If the term 'Post-Neoasm' makes sense - should it? - as third generation oxymoral cheapening -, it might, if synonymous with 'Post-Anti-Ishtvanism', fit the (SCP)'s case and the Groupe Absence as well, both assembling former Neoasts who got sick of Istvan and Neoasm, shifting from 'existential' to 'ironic' grammars. However, since their activities are geographically and lingually limited in the (SCP)'s case, separated from networking channels, or, like the Groupe Absence, hardly involving activity at all, they surely cannot be considered 'mainstream.' Otherwise, I seem neither qualified to judge nor much concerned about 'significance'...Yours, Cramer.


Dear Florian

I have just been editing together the letters you sent on disk with some of my own to various personages. I think the result does you a great deal of credit. I have had to select and edit and I'm sure the outcome would have been very different if you had been given the material to work upon. The whole thing is spun around our correspondence of the past year. What I've tended to edit out of this is the copious details of where on the Net you were intending to place the various electronic versions of the texts I'd sent you. Toward the end, I've 'cheated' things a little. Having made extensive use of your e-mail message to Zion Train in my letter to you of 19 May 1996 (after being provided with a copy of it by the band), I thought your hilarious reworking of it into a critique of yourself by way of reply, was a little too repetitious for casual readers. Therefore, the compendium concludes with a couple of your earlier undated letters about Montreal Neoism. The selection of my correspondence to other parties is hardly representative either. For example, there isn't a single line to Jussi Ahokas, my Finnish translator, simply because the extensive correspondence with him is off on another tangent completely - a combination of translation queries and stuff about punk rock. Likewise, my snail mail interactions with Alastair Dickson just didn't gel with the other stuff I've collected together in "Disputations". The 238 letters I've preserved since last August really don't merit publication in their entirety, or at least not in my opinion. It might have been nice to include some of the letters I've received from Luther Blissett and others, but I didn't have the patience to type them up. Despite these limitations, I think the result is 'illuminating' and in many ways I'd consider it the best piece of 'Neoist' text with which I can claim an involvement.

I thought both of your recent mailings were great fun. The open letter to tENTATIVELY was excellent. Whether or not it was intended as a defence of my position in the light of various ridiculous attacks made by morons who have no understanding of Neoism, I certainly feel it will have that effect. I greatly appreciate your support and solidarity. Having delivered this devastating blow to various external critics, I was delighted that you should follow it with the 'Clifford Brown' text, a kind of best of selection of your criticisms. Needless to say, the effect is very different to that attained when these morsels of text are viewed in their previous context of an exchange of letters. Ciao, Stewart.


'Neoism is sound where there is sound, any vacuum imagined.' The Neoism Machine

Hello and farewell to The House of Nine Squares, the international book of language games and total freedom. It may be difficult for the casual reader to understand or appreciate "The House of Nine Squares" as an allegorical edifice because "The House of Nine Squares" itself is the vehicle of its understanding. When it is no longer possible to differentiate between the signs and the things, the structure of things must begin to repair itself. "The House of Nine Squares" is here to fix these things once and for all.

A chief concern of The House of Nine Squares is to rewrite its readers into players. This is to be gradually achieved. First, "The House of Nine Squares" denies there is a game. Second, it hides the rules from those involved. Third, it gives them all penalties and no wins. Fourth, it removes all goals, enforces their playing, inhibits their enjoying. Fifth, it makes them look like players, but forbids them playing. To make a reader remain a piece in the game, it permits him to associate only with pieces and denies the existence of players.

Imagine a house. Six walls. A house, no door, no window. A reader inside that house. The house is 20 feet across and 20 feet high and 20 feet wide. But the reader's diameter is only 19 feet. His awareness is only 19 feet. Does he see the walls? No! The House of Nine Squares makes him think he is a one-lifetimer, and his awareness goes down to 18 feet. And when it goes down to 18 feet, The House of Nine Squares moves its walls in to 19 feet. When The House of Nine Squares gets him down to the size of a fist, its walls are the size of stretched out arms, and everything is nicely repaired. And if anyone jumps out of the line, we got lobotomy, epistemological trepidation, shock treatment, Siberia - whatever you want, baby, it's there.

So be on your guard! Read The House of Nine Squares. Take it home. Don't be ignorant. The House of Nine Squares is compassionate, and it is cruel. Be on your guard! Don't hate its obedience and don't love its self-control. Don't dismiss it in its weakness, and don't be afraid of its power. Why do you despise its fear and curse its pride? It lives in fears and strengthens in trembling. The House of Nine Squares is stupid and it is wise. The House of Nine Squares will be silent among the silent, and it will appear and speak. Why then have you dismissed it?

The House of Nine Squares appears when you are away, and it hides when you appear. Take it home to places which are ugly and in ruin. Out of shame, take it home and scatter its members shamelessly. Approach it and turn away. The House of Nine Squares is the reading that is attainable to anything; it is the speech that cannot be grasped.

If you want to understand The House of Nine Squares, differentiate. If you want to know what it's all about, understand its philosophy. Understand its technical application, and regard The House of Nine Squares in its own words, and regard its writers (Stewart Home and Florian Cramer). Conceptual understanding is of importance here. Not everything written in The House of Nine Squares is of equal value. The House of Nine Squares has its own opinion, and it has a right to keep its own opinion. And boy, it's got some wild opinions. You oughta hear them sometime. But that's a different thing ... a different thing ... and you can tell very easily when it swings over into its opinion, when it starts rambling about this or that. Take it as amusing, but it doesn't have anything really to do with The House of Nine Squares. The House of Nine Squares itself is cleaner than a wolf's tooth. There are a lot of wolves' teeth out there and they aren't too clean.

Neoistically (1) The House of Nine Squares is perfect, perhaps the only perfection in man that has superseded nature. By differentiating a little bit, one can get the true intention of what The House of Nine Squares tries to accomplish. It really wants to help mankind and at last we owe it great respect for that.

Florian Cramer, Berlin January 1997.

1. 'Neoism' simply means that what is done in its name is both new and yet part of a discourse. It does not imply that it is original. In this sense, Neoism coincides 'past', 'present' and 'future', rendering them pointless. Neoists find any obsession with the concept of freedom futile. Neoism is not a means to freedom, but seeks to prescribe structural sets to provide the discipline of a combinatorics within the lives of Neoists, with perpetual permutations. The purpose of Neoism is to construct mnemonic structures on the mental plane and so experimentally invigorate the notion of culture. Of all values and norms we believe the value of tradition is the greatest; this is the one we try hardest to reinforce.

In a Neoist view, the world is not things colliding in space, but a disjointed row of unconnected phenomena. Neoism does not conceive of the spatial as lasting in time. Since each state is irreducible, the mere act of giving it a name implies falsification. The paradox however is that names and epistemologies exist in Neoism, in countless numbers. There are Neoists who consider a certain pain, an overly yellow white, a temperature, a certain tone the only reality. Other Neoists perceive all people having sex as the same being, and all people memorising a line of Shakespeare as Shakespeare. Another group has reached the point of denying time. It reasons that the present is undefined, that the future has no reality than as present hope, that the past is no more than present memory. Yet another group has it that the history of the universe is the handwriting produced by a minor god in order to communicate with a demon; that the world is an emblem whose subscription is fragmented, where only that which happens every three hundredth night is true. Another believes that while we are asleep here, we are awake somewhere else, so that everyone is two. Books are rarely signed, and the notion of plagiarism does not exist.

Neoism is, most generally speaking, a prefix and a suffix without a middle. Stewart Home wrote that Neoism was invented in the year 1346, by one Wolfgang von Cantsin. He joined Neoism in 1984 when, if we believe his history, it was already about to 'dissolve'. But what else was Neoism about than dissolving? Neoists even claim that 'Neoism' never existed and is a mere invention of its enemies, Anti-Neoists. Since the Neoists want to create a situation in which a definition of Neoism should make no sense, Stewart Home's attempt to write off Neoism by historicising it proves how well he has learnt his Neoist lesson. Obsessed with reality adjustment and mad science, the Neoists themselves produced nothing but manipulations of their own and other histories.

In his introduction to this book, Stewart Home quotes me saying that Neoist names like Monty Cantsin, Akademgorod, Neoism are looked upon not as arbitrary, but as self-contained signs so that everything done with these signs immediately affects what they represent. While we agree on this point, our views of the history of Neoism differ. Neoism, as I see it, was at first probably nothing but a collection of private ironies. They were elaborated in allegories, hieroglyphs and fables whose hidden meaning only insiders could decode. Later, this hidden meaning got lost, and the signs were taken for their signified. Since the signs obviously had to mean something, Neoists had to reinvent their meaning. The remotest analogies between signs and things were taken until Neoism became an art of concordant discord, a self-refuting perpetuum mobile. Its great promise to willingly affect matter, space and time, the sublime solemnity of its proclamations had an extraordinary impact on those unenlightened by intellectual thoroughness.

Neoists established the name Monty Cantsin to live and explore the paradox of a persona that is one and multiple. They research the aporias of a subjectivity which, as 'both/and' and 'neither/nor', attempts to render its own dialectical base invalid. Neoists prefer tradition and speculation to avant-garde. They declare Neoism amovement, which, just like Stewart Home, creates the illusion of a movement called Neoism.

This web text is an alternative version of the book The House of Nine Squares: Letters on Neoism, Psychogeography & Epistemological Trepidation by Stewart Home and Florian Cramer (Invisible Books, London 1997).

Note: This is not the full text of the tome of this title published by Invisible Books, but neither is it merely an abridged version of that text; since it includes small amounts of additional material edited from the final cut of the book. Reproduced here are the exchanges between Home and Cramer, but these are taken from an earlier and slightly lighter edit to the print version. Home's letters to other parties (comprising about half the published book) have been edited out here.

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