Michelangelo Antonioni at 100 by Richard Brody @ New Yorker, 28 September 2012

Today would be the hundredth birthday of the cinema’s exemplary modernist, Michelangelo Antonioni, who, from the very beginning of his career, understood form to be the crucial content of his era—and made films that, themselves, had an advanced form of his own design. His fundamental subject is the bourgeoisie and the way that new methods of communication—mainly the mass media, but also the abstractions of high-tech industry, architecture, music, politics, and even fashion—have a feedback effect on the educated, white-collar thinkers who create them. These new ideas have as strong an effect on their creators and implementors as on the world around them, and knocks them off the course of their own lives.
Antonioni is also one of the cinema’s great pictorialists—his images reflect, with a cold enticement, the abstractions that fascinated him. That’s why the word most commonly used to describe his view of the modern world—“alienation”—is, rather, a common mistake. Certainly, many of his characters find themselves out of touch with their own desires, their own physicality, and seem distanced from themselves, in search of an anchor of immediate experience and spontaneous emotion. But he wasn’t nostalgic about the premodern; he understood that technology and advanced design arose in response to authentic needs, and that there is at least as much of a problem with the long-established ways that cry out for sophisticated technical improvements.
Let’s be specific. There has been a lot of talk lately about the death of the cinema, and this clip puts it in its place. It’s an excerpt from Wim Wenders’s 1982 film “Room 666,” featuring a remarkably prophetic and sanguine interview of sorts with Antonioni, when he was a young man of seventy who looked with confidence to the electronic future of the cinema. The premise of the film is that, at the Cannes Film Festival, Wenders posed one question to each of his interview subjects, film directors all—“Is cinema a language about to get lost, an art about to die?”—and left them alone in a hotel room, in front of a camera, to address it. (By chance, the clip begins with the tail end of Steven Spielberg’s segment, in which he incidentally reveals the same stunted and repressed approach to inner life that dulls his films.)
But Antonioni would have none of Wenders’s hand-wringing. He responded by considering “the influence of television”—and adding that, if it seems like a problem, it’s “only because we belong to a different generation.” He talks about “new technologies”—videotape, which, he says, “will probably replace film”—as may other technologies “like lasers, who knows, or others that are yet to be invented,” which will solve the problem “of being able to entertain ever-growing audiences.” He recognizes that many people are attached to film, but that this attachment will eventually vanish. “We should think of the entertainment needs of future viewers. I am not that pessimistic. Actually, I am quite … I’ve always tried to adapt myself to the means of expression characteristic of a certain time.” He mentions that he had already made a film on tape and was continuing to work in video (“I’m sure that the range of artistic possiblities ofered by video will make us feel differently about ourselves”). He understood that with the “big screen” at home, together with “high-definition magnetic tape, we will have cinema in our homes. We will no longer need to go to the cinema.” He knows that the change will be a big one—but “We will have but one option: we will have to adapt.” And he concludes, “My feeling is that it won’t be all that hard to transform us into new men more suited to our new technologies.”
He cites his 1964 film “Red Desert” as the place where he addressed that theme most directly. I agree; it’s his greatest film (it’s on DVD from Criterionhere’s a clip). It was forward-looking then, and remains so. Antonioni, born on this date in 1912, is younger at his posthumous centenary than are many active filmmakers today.

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/movies/2012/09/antonioni-at-100.html#ixzz27xs1z76f

Video: Rare interview with Antonioni directed by Wim Wenders. Taken from the documentary 'Room 666'.

Bergson-Deleuze Encounters : Transcendental Experience and the Thought of the Virtual - Valentine Moulard-Leonard (SUNY, USA, 2008)

"Bergson-Deleuze Encounters sheds light on the intricate bond between French philosophers Henri Bergson and Gilles Deleuze. It explores the major diffraction between the two thinkers, conveys a sense of the irreducible originality of Deleuze's thought, and offers a detailed account of Bergson's "Copernican Revolution." In so doing, it presents an explanation of thought and experience that contrasts with the dominant account of the phenomenological tradition. Valentine Moulard-Leonard argues that Bergson and Deleuze share a novel conception of the transcendental - which they call the Virtual - that marks a new era in thinking, in which what is ultimately at stake is a new vision of time, experience, and materiality. The Virtual provides an indispensable alternative to the totalizing systems spawned by the traditional transcendent image of thought - be they systems of idealism, scientific positivism, nationalism, racism, sexism, or dogmatism.".

Valentine Moulard-Leonard is an independent scholar living in Memphis, Tennessee.

“The relationship between Bergson’s and Deleuze’s works has yet to be explored fully, and the author makes a strong case for a fundamental continuity in their thought. Her focus on them as advocates of a post-Kantian philosophy of transcendental experience brings to the fore the fundamental ontological and epistemological dimensions of their thought.” — Ronald Bogue, author of Deleuze’s Wake: Tributes and Tributaries 

Table of Contents

Introduction. Virtual Empiricism: The Revaluation of the Transcendental
Briefly Mapping Our Experimental Journey
1. Bergson’s Genealogy of Consciousness: Freedom and Pure Perception
The Immediate Data of Consciousness: Time and Free Will
Emerging Consciousness:The Role of the Body
From Psychology to Metaphysics: Pure Perception and Beyond
2. Introducing Memory: From the Psychological to the Virtual
Bergsonian Dualisms—Memory and the Brain: Which Survival?
Folding Over: The Psychological Is Also Necessarily Virtual
3. The Unconscious as Ontology of the Virtual
From Dualism to Difference
The Élan Vital or the Ontologization of Duration
Memory as Virtual Coexistence
Sense and Sensibility: Bergsonian Positivism
4. Between Bergson and Deleuze: The Method of Intuition as Transcendental/Virtual Empiricism
Absolute Movement and Intuition
Intuition and Superior Empiricism
5. Cinematic Thought: The Deleuzean Image and the Crystals of Time
Why the Cinema?
Toward the Crystal-Image: A Vision of the Genesis of Time
6. Proust and Thought: Death, Art, and the Adventures of the Involuntary
Death Is the Truth of Thought
How Might Death Be Put to Work?
Art as the Production of Essences
Conclusion. Bergson-Deleuze Encounters: Machinic Becomings and Virtual Materialsm
First Question: What Does Deleuze Find in Bergson?
Second Question: Why the Image?
Third Question: Why Read Deleuze after Bergson?
Fourth Question: Which Machinic Becomings?


Rifrazioni n. 10 - Dossier Antonioni Zoom - Settembre 2012

anno 4, numero 10, settembre 2012



La pittrice del male

Film List
(tr. Jonny Costantino)

Su Antonioni
(tr. Federica Cremaschi)

A cura di Jonny Costantino

Intro Antonioni Zoom

Antonioni scrittore

Il (grido del) paesaggio

Le amiche


Blow-up / Zabriskie Point

Chung Kuo Cina

Identificazione di una donna

Professione: reporter

Professione: reporter (vs Seul contre tous)

Inediti antonioniani

Su Camus (Professione: reporter)
(tr. Federica Cremaschi)

Il personaggio Vittoria (L’eclisse)


Fare il regista?

Delitto e castigo di Aki Kaurismaki


Shame di Steve McQueen

A cura di Mario Pezzella e Katia Rossi

Intro Dossier

Nascita di una nazione di David W. Griffith

Greed di Erich Von Stroheim

Casablanca di Michael Curtiz

Quarto potere di Orson Welles

I cancelli del cielo di Michael Cimino

I cancelli del cielo / Barry Lyndon di Stanley Kubrick

Salvate il soldato Ryan di Steven Spielberg

La sottile linea rossa di Terrence Malick


Suite per macchina da presa
e ascolto musicale


The Tree of Life di Terrence Malick /
Melancholia di Lars Von Trier
(tr. Maria Moresco)

Pics: Monica Vitti, Michelangelo Antonioni - dipinti di Marlene Dumas

Michelangelo Antonioni Zoom @ Ferrara, 29 settembre 2012 (da Ravenna24ore website)

Il 29 settembre 2012 cadrà il centenario della nascita di Michelangelo Antonioni (29 settembre 1912 - 30 luglio 2007), uno dei padri della modernità cinematografica. Testimone tra i più lucidi del Novecento, con i suoi film Antonioni ha sondato l'animo umano con sguardo innovatore, radiografando le inquietudini del mondo contemporaneo. La sua opera, la cui attualità è oggi più forte che mai, ha superato i confini della settima arte esercitando un notevole ascendente in diversi ambiti culturali - dalle arti figurative, al teatro, alla musica - oltre che sul cinema di ieri e di oggi.
Per celebrare questo illustre concittadino, Ferrara dedica a Michelangelo Antonioni un ricco e sfaccettato calendario di iniziative che inaugurerà appunto il prossimo 29 settembre e si concluderà con la grande mostra Lo sguardo di Michelangelo. Antonioni e le arti in programma a Palazzo dei Diamanti, dal 10 marzo al 9 giugno 2013.
Il programma si apre alle 11.30 del 29 settembre, quando, in via San Maurelio 10, sarà scoperta una targa sul prospetto della casa dove il regista abitò dal 1918 al 1929. L'iniziativa è promossa da Ferrariae Decus d'intesa con il Comune di Ferrara, su proposta dell'Associazione "Michelangelo Antonioni". A seguire, alle ore 12.00 circa, si svolgerà la cerimonia di intitolazione a Michelangelo Antonioni del piazzale antistante il Conservatorio musicale G. Frescobaldi.
Nel pomeriggio, le Gallerie d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea-Museo Michelangelo Antonioni, Ferrara Arte e il quadrimestrale «Rifrazioni. Dal cinema all'oltre» organizzano, presso la Sala della Musica in via Boccaleone 19, Antonioni Zoom. L'evento prende le mosse dall'omonimo dossier dedicato al regista contenuto nel numero 10 della rivista (settembre 2012): ad alcuni pensatori e artisti ritenuti particolarmente sensibili all'arte del regista ferrarese è stato chiesto di andare oltre la critica e "zoomare" sulla sua opera dalla prospettiva del proprio fare creativo. Così, a partire dal dossier e mantenendone lo spirito, Antonioni Zoom intende rompere la forma consueta del convegno e si configura come un appuntamento, multi-media e multi-arte, giocato tra la riflessione e l'azione artistica: un progetto dinamico, dunque, che si articola su più livelli espressivi: racconto, riflessione, teatro, poesia, musica e danza. Tra gli ospiti della giornata vi saranno la compagnia teatrale Fanny & Alexander, la coreografa Simona Bertozzi, l'autore e regista Carlo di Carlo, l'autrice di libri per bambini Federica Iacobelli, la scrittrice e documentarista Maria Pace Ottieri e il musicista Alfonso Santimone. Al termine della tavola rotonda, alle 21.30 presso il cinema Apollo, Piazza Carbone 35, si terrà la proiezione de L'eclisse (ingresso gratuito).
Un altro appuntamento d'eccezione sarà la proiezione, sempre presso il cinema Apollo, nell'ambito del Festival di Internazionale, della copia personale di Antonioni di Professione: Reporter (1975), uno dei capolavori della maturità del regista. La proiezione del film, «uno dei più belli e misteriosi di Antonioni» (Mereghetti), sarà introdotta da Dominique Païni, già direttore della Cinémathèque française e curatore della mostra Lo sguardo di Michelangelo. Antonioni e le arti.
La proiezione di Professione: Reporter anticipa la rassegna cinematografica completa dei film e dei documentari del cineasta. La manifestazione è organizzata da Ferrara Arte, Gallerie d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea-Museo Michelangelo Antonioni e Arci Ferrara, e si svolgerà dal 10 ottobre al 12 dicembre 2012 presso il Cinema Boldini (via Previati 18, ingresso gratuito).
Nelle giornate del 11, 12 e 13 dicembre 2012 avrà poi luogo il Convegno Internazionale di studi dedicato al maestro organizzato dall'Università degli Studi di Ferrara. L'appuntamento, cui parteciperanno alcuni dei più importanti esperti di Storia del Cinema, permetterà di fare il punto sugli studi antonioniani.
Il calendario sarà poi arricchito da una pluralità di iniziative, organizzate da varie associazioni culturali ferraresi, che tra letteratura, danza, fotografia, musica, cinema e arti visive renderanno omaggio e indagheranno in modo multidisciplinare la figura del cineasta.
A chiudere il programma sarà la mostra Lo sguardo di Michelangelo. Antonioni e le arti che aprirà i battenti a Palazzo dei Diamanti il prossimo 10 marzo 2013, ideata e realizzata da Ferrara Arte e dalle Gallerie d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea-Museo Michelangelo Antonioni, in collaborazione con la Cineteca di Bologna. La prima rassegna mai dedicata al cineasta italiano ripercorre la sua parabola creativa alla luce del suo rapporto con le arti figurative, con le quali il regista strinse un intenso e fecondo rapporto. In un allestimento di grande fascino, il prezioso patrimonio di opere, oggetti e documenti relativi alla vita e al lavoro di Antonioni (oggi di proprietà del Comune di Ferrara) verrà accostato a opere di grandi artisti del Novecento, come Rothko, Pollock, De Chirico, Morandi, Burri e Vedova, offrendo un inedito e suggestivo dialogo tra film e pittura, letteratura e fotografia. Ad emergere con forza è il ritratto a tuttotondo di uno dei massimi "artisti" del secolo scorso, una testimonianza viva della sua forza creativa e dell'intramontabile attualità della sua poetica che, come ha scritto Martin Scorsese, ha offerto al «cinema possibilità sorprendentemente illimitate».

Antonioni avrebbe 100 anni Il regista dell'incomunicabilità di Alberto Crespi @ Unità, 29 settembre 2012

Se dovessimo citare la prima scena di un film di Antonioni che ci viene in mente, sarebbe un momento di «Zabriskie Point». Mark Frechette, il giovane protagonista, viene fermato durante una manifestazione e i poliziotti gli chiedono le generalità. Lui, alla domanda «come ti chiami?», risponde «Karl Marx». Quelli, ignoranti!, non fanno una piega. Ora, non è certo una battuta da cinepanettone, e nemmeno da commedia all’italiana, però ricordiamo benissimo che quando vedemmo Zabriskie Point per la prima volta, nei lontanissimi anni 70, ci fece ridere. Direte: vi accontentavate di poco. Vero, ma forse la risata veniva dalla sorpresa. 

Andando a vedere i film di Antonioni, tutto ci si aspettava meno che il divertimento. Scoprire che in un’opera di siffatto regista si annidava un grammo di ironia era cosa del tutto inaspettato. Oggi Michelangelo Antonioni compirebbe cent’anni, come un Manoel de Oliveira qualsiasi. In realtà il grande portoghese, il prossimo 11 dicembre, di anni ne farà 104: è del 1908, e nell’ambiente circola una leggenda metropolitana secondo la quale se ne toglierebbe due, per civetteria. Ne avrebbe, quindi, 106! Antonioni è arrivato quasi a 95: nato a Ferrara il 29 settembre 1912, è morto a Roma il 30 luglio 2007, lo stesso giorno di Ingmar Bergman. Tornando per un attimo a Oliveira, noi speriamo sinceramente che l’affettuosa malignità (passateci l’ossimoro) sulla sua età sia vera: trasformerebbe il Maestro in un uomo, ed è la stessa cosa che ci piacerebbe fare con Antonioni. Spinti, in questo, da un vecchio amico che è arrivato, anche lui, ai 95: Mario Monicelli. 

Come tutti ricorderete, Antonioni e Monicelli a un certo punto si «passarono» la Musa: Monica Vitti, che aveva incarnato le eroine dei famosi film sull’incomunicabilità ( L’avventura , La notte , L’eclisse , Deserto rosso ), saltò il fosso, fece La ragazza con la pistola e diventò una star comica. La ragazza con la pistola (che per metà si svolge in Inghilterra) è quasi coevo di Blow Up , ed è davvero curioso che due cineasti italiani, nel mezzo degli anni 60, siano andati a raccontare la Swingin’ London sia pure con stili e toni così diversi. Ma quando facevamo notare a Monicelli questa coincidenza, lui ci guardava come fossimo gli scopritori dell’ombrello: «Beh, erano gli anni 60, le novità venivano da lì, non eravamo mica scemi!». Dietro la battuta, in realtà, si nascondeva una fortissima stima reciproca: Antonioni e Monicelli erano amici, si frequentavano spesso, e fu nel corso di lunghe chiacchierate che Mario scoprì quanto Monica fosse buffa. «Li vedevo spesso e pensavo: ma guarda questa quanto è simpatica, potrebbe essere una grande attrice comica e Michelangelo le fa fare solo quei ruoli tristi…». 

Da lì venne l’idea, che naturalmente gli allora compagni di vita, Vitti & Antonioni, abbracciarono. È molto bello rivedere certi film di Antonioni (non tutti). Occorrerebbe, ad esempio, rivalutare i primissimi film, Cronaca di un amore , La signora senza camelie : bellissimi. E sono sempre godibili i film del periodo «anglofono»: i citati Blow Up e Zabriskie Point , e il successivo Professione: reporter . Dire Antonioni significa normalmente evocare i suddetti film «dell’incomunicabilità», in realtà i lavori meno datati del regista sembrano, oggi, quelli della prima e della penultima fase della carriera (lasciamo perdere l’ultima, da Identificazione di una donna in poi). Ma la verità è un’altra: la perfezione formale e la ricchezza strutturale dell’opera hanno messo in secondo piano gli aspetti più curiosi dell’uomo. A noi piacerebbe molto leggere una biografia (anche «non autorizzata») che rimettesse in primo piano l’uomo, perché gli scarni racconti che, a spizzichi e bocconi, vanno oltre l’apparenza del Grande Artista sono spesso illuminanti. Secondo Monicelli, appunto, Antonioni era simpatico: e ammetterete che, vedendo i film, non si direbbe. Anche altri grandi della commedia, come Scola e Risi, confermano: ma nei loro film l’hanno qua e là preso in giro. Scola in C’eravamo tanto amati , dove Elide - la meravigliosa Giovanna Ralli -, moglie ignorante e coatta di Gassman, appende quadri vuoti alle pareti dopo aver visto l’eclisse ed esserne rimasta «stranita»; Risi nel Sorpasso , dove Bruno Cortona/Gassman confessa di aver visto… L’eclisse , sempre quello!, e di averci dormito sopra. «Bel regista, Antonioni - prosegue Gassman - c’ha un Flaminia Zagato che una volta sulla fettuccia di Terracina m’ha fatto allungà er collo». 

Ecco: mancano, ad esempio, testimonianze dirette (o comunque noi non ne abbiamo mai incontrate) su come Antonioni reagisse a queste punzecchiature, amabili ma anche feroci, della commedia all’italiana. Avrà riso? Si sarà arrabbiato? Difficile indovinarlo. Perché un’altra caratteristica dell’Antonioni privato è una lieve permalosità. Stavolta la fonte è diretta: Francesco Maselli, suo storico aiuto-regista (ed è confermata nell’autobiografia di un’attrice americana che ha lavorato con entrambi, nel Grido e nei Delfini : Betsy Blair). Quando Maselli esordisce nella regia con Gli sbandati , nel 1955, comincia naturalmente a concedere svariate interviste in cui gli viene immancabilmente chiesto quali siano i suoi maestri, i suoi registi di riferimento. E invece di citare Antonioni, cita spesso e volentieri Kenji Mizoguchi, il grande giapponese di O-Haru e L’intendente Sansho (per altro, un sommo cineasta che spesso, nelle storie del cinema, viene accostato ad Antonioni). Qualche tempo dopo, Antonioni e Maselli si ritrovano ad una tavolata al ristorante (c’è anche, appunto, Betsy Blair). Arriva il momento del conto. Maselli si fruga le tasche e scopre di aver dimenticato il portafogli. A quel punto, chiede ad Antonioni se può prestargli 10.000 lire. La risposta di Michelangelo è raggelante: «Fattele prestare da Mizoguchi». 

Ecco, a noi piacerebbe leggere un libro pieno di storie così. L’Antonioni che si incazza (anche giustamente, suvvia!) perché il discepolo non l’ha omaggiato nei modi dovuti è, appunto, umano. Antonioni ripeteva sempre, in ogni intervista, che per lui fare cinema era un modo di vivere, non era «un’altra cosa» da fare mentre si viveva. Ci piacerebbe andare a fondo su questa identità fra arte e vita, partendo però dalla vita, che è stata lunga ed emozionante. Perché non bisognerebbe mai dimenticare che, essendo nato nel ’12, Antonioni ha vissuto due guerre mondiali, ha scritto sulla rivista Cinema già durante il fascismo (è rimasta famosa e controversa una sua recensione positiva del film nazista e antisemita Suss l’ebreo), è stato uno dei creatori teorici del neorealismo per poi abbandonarlo e superarlo, ne ha insomma combinate - in senso buono - di tutti i colori. Prima o poi accadrà. Nel frattempo tanti auguri, Michelangelo. 100 anni sono una bella età. Ci risentiamo quando ne farai 106, come Oliveira.

Read more Unità website

Dynamics of the Subway / Haisuinonasa (Official Video) by Keita Onishi


Deleuze, The Dark Precursor. Dialectic, Structure, Being by Eleanor Kaufman - The Johns Hopkins University Press (9 Aug 2012)

Deleuze, The Dark Precursor

Dialectic, Structure, BeingEleanor Kaufman

Rethinking Theory
Stephen G. Nichols and Victor E. Taylor, Series Editors 

Gilles Deleuze is considered one of the most important French philosophers of the twentieth century. Eleanor Kaufman situates Deleuze in relation to others of his generation, such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Pierre Klossowski, Maurice Blanchot, and Claude Lévi-Strauss, and she engages the provocative readings of Deleuze by Alain Badiou and Slavoj Žižek.

Deleuze, The Dark Precursor is organized around three themes that critically overlap: dialectic, structure, and being. Kaufman argues that Deleuze's work is deeply concerned with these concepts, even when he advocates for the seemingly opposite notions of univocity, nonsense, and becoming. By drawing on scholastic thought and reading somewhat against the grain, Kaufman suggests that these often-maligned themes allow for a nuanced, even positive reflection on apparently negative states of being, such as extreme inertia. This attention to the negative or minor category has implications that extend beyond philosophy and into feminist theory, film, American studies, anthropology, and architecture.
Eleanor Kaufman is a professor of comparative literature, English, and French and Francophone studies, as well as an affiliate in Jewish studies and the Center for the Study of Religion at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is author of The Delirium of Praise: Bataille, Blanchot, Deleuze, Foucault, Klossowski and coeditor of Deleuze and Guattari: New Mappings in Politics, Philosophy, and Culture.


Bologna e Ferrara in festa per i cent'anni di Antonioni di Emanuela Giampaoli @ Repubblica, 27 settembre 2012

Bologna e Ferrara in festa per i cent'anni di Antonioni

di Emanuela Giampaoli
@ Repubblica, 27 settembre 2012,

I primi sono stati gli americani, che alla National Gallery di Washington hanno appena dedicato una retrospettiva al «più influente regista del secondo dopoguerra». Ora, nel centenario della nascita, anche Bologna e Ferrara celebrano Michelangelo Antonioni, che nella città estense nacque il 29 settembre del 1912. Da oggi e fino al 2013, sotto l’egida della Cineteca di Bologna, le due città ne ricordano il lavoro di cineasta, ma anche di pittore e scrittore: un ventaglio di iniziative curate dall’amico e collaboratore Carlo di Carlo e dal critico Dominique Païni, già direttore della Cinémathèque Française. 

Si comincia stasera alle 20 al Lumière (via Azzo Gardino, 65) con la retrospettiva “Grandezza e declino dell’umanesimo secondo Antonioni” e i primi cortometraggi del regista, da Gente del Po fino ai corti degli anni ‘90 introdotti dagli stessi curatori. «Opere fondamentali — osserva Carlo di Carlo — dove c’è già l’inconfondibile sguardo di Michelangelo, quello che si ritrova nei suoi sedici lungometraggi, nei documentari, nelle sue pitture. Uno sguardo difficile da definire perché sempre nuovo eppur riconoscibilissimo». Lo si ritroverà man mano (da venerdì 28 a domenica 30 settembre) in Cronaca di un amore, L’avventura, La notte e L’eclisse (1962), la celebre “trilogia dell’incomunicabilità”. «Una delle tante etichette che gli hanno appiccicato — riflette di Carlo — e di cui lui rideva», stereotipi che il programma del centenario tenterà di scardinare, una volta per tutte.

Di Carlo, che sta curando una biografia di Antonioni in uscita a dicembre nelle Edizioni della Cineteca, racconta come «fosse il contrario dell’immagine che ne è stata tramandata: una delle persone più spiritose che io abbia mai conosciuto, un buongustaio, un godereccio, uno sportivo, da giovane campione di tennis. Tra i progetti rimasti nel cassetto, aveva perfino un film comico con Totò, che non gli hanno lasciato fare, perché era diventato un mostro sacro».

Quel mostro sacro era nato a Ferrara e vissuto fino al 1929 in via San Maurelio 10: è lì che sabato, il giorno del suo compleanno, la sua città gli intitola una targa (alle 11.30) e la piazza, antistante il Conservatorio. Nel pomeriggio, dalle 15, nella Sala della Musica per «Antonioni Zoom» racconta il regista ai ragazzi, infine alle 21.30 all’Apollo, si proietta L’eclisse (ingresso gratuito). Quasi un anno di manifestazioni, che culmineranno, a primavera 2013, con la mostra su “Lo sguardo di Michelangelo. Antonioni e le arti” a Palazzo dei Diamanti (dal 10 marzo). 

«Avremmo dovuto inaugurarla in questi giorni, ma a causa del sisma non è stato possibile — rivela di Carlo —: i musei che hanno prestato opere di Rothko, Pollock, De Chirico, Morandi, Burri e Vedova ci hanno chiesto di rinviarla. È una mostra importante, in attesa però che si faccia un museo per ospitare il patrimonio artistico del regista, donato a Ferrara da molti anni. Un luogo dove chiunque possa avere accesso a immagini, scritti, suggestioni di Michelangelo Antonioni. Se ne parla dal ‘95, non è stato ancora fatto».

Read more on La Repubblica website


Un frenetico apprendistato - (Recensione di Swinging City di Valentina Agostinis) by UT @ aNobii, 22 settembre 2012

"Niente appare come dovrebbe in un mondo dove nulla è certo. L'unica cosa certa è l'esistenza di una violenza segreta che rende tutto incerto." 
(Lucrezio, De rerum natura) (1)

“Sono qui per leggere le segnature di tutte le cose” (J.Joyce, Ulisse) (2)

“After watching Antonioni’s Blow-Up, Hitchcock felt he was a century behind the Italians in technique” (from Filmcomment website) (3)

“La successione empirica del tempo è sostituita dal misterioso e spesso trascurato collegarsi degli avvenimenti, che il biografo dell’anima, guardando all’indietro e dentro di sé, sente come l’unica cosa vera.” 
(Eric Auerbach, a proposito della Recherche proustiana) (4)

E’ possibile cogliere il film Blow Up di Antonioni da diverse angolature, tante quante sono le ramificazioni che l’opera permette. E’ però la prima volta che la superficie dell’opera, la swinging city, raggiunge l’onore del focus narrativo. Parrebbe strano, o forse non lo è, ma uno dei leitmotif per cui il fim ha mantenuto l’aura di culto che tuttora lo circonda è il seguente: Blow Up cattura l’età d’oro degli anni Sessanta, il momento magico per autonomasia, il 1966 di Londra. Ovvero, il film ha congelato per sempre, in 75 magici minuti, il culmine dell’onda sixties prima che arrivasse il fatidico maelstrom del 1968. Fin qui la gogna mediatica, il pavè istrionico che tanto piace, soprattutto alla critica anglosassone, quella più hype & stripe. 

La giornalista Valentina Agostinis è abilissima nel recuperare lo slancio, il mordente del contesto londinese in cui il regista di Blow Up, Michelangelo Antonioni, si trova ad operare allorquando il compito di girare il film diventa realtà. Con uno stile a metà tra il gossip e la documentata ricerca storica e giornalistica, la Agostinis ci offre un vibrante spaccato del biennio 1965-1966, lasso temporale che inizia con la visita e i primi sopralluoghi londinesi di Antonioni nel 1965 e termina con il lancio della rivista IT, nell’ottobre del 1966, a riprese del film terminate, alla Roundhouse di Londra con l’esplosivo party che svela al mondo la potenza visionaria dei Pink Floyd di Syd Barrett. Come avrete già capito si tratta di una narrazione già ampiamente documentata dalla stampa più frivola, dal mondo mainstream della rock music e da una certa industria dello spettacolo molto attenta al target giovanile di consumatori teen. Il lato migliore dell’opera Swinging City sta nell’enorme mole di dati che l’autrice riesce ad intrecciare tra notizie che riguardano le riprese del film Blow Up, grosso modo il periodo della primavera-estate del 1966, con le notizie che riguardano la Pop City londinese del 1965-1967. Grande spazio è assegnato al mondo della fotografia, della moda, delle riviste patinate e underground, delle gallerie d’arte e dei club musicali. L’affresco è convincente e vivido, la narrazione è sciolta e partecipe. 

Il lato incongruo dell’opera è determinato dalla quasi totale mancanza dell’analisi filmica antonioniana della swinging city, tanto più stupefacente se pensiamo che il film Blow Up non è un film convenzionale o compiacente verso il contesto pop dove si svolge il plot narrativo dell’opera. Ci è parsa una semplificazione forzata quella di equiparare il carattere glamour della città di Londra alle intenzioni del regista romagnolo. Come se il luccichio che Antonioni ritrae fosse il sentito dell’artista, come se la città pop avesse trovato il proprio cantore. Trasformare Antonioni in un puerile agiografo dell’atmosfera febbricitante londinese è del tutto azzardato. L’amore verso Londra, Blow Up e l’âge d’or dell’arte pop ha tradito il compito che si sarebbe potuta assegnare l'autrice in alcuni capitoli "mancanti" del libro, ovvero come il regista ha problematizzato la swinging era e il narcisismo inarrivabile della società dell’immagine nascente colto nei suoi primi vagiti. Prendiamo un solo esempio, paradigmatico: la scena clou degli Yardbirds al rock club Ricky Tic di Soho. In breve, la scena si svolge in questo modo: il protagonista, Thomas/Hemmings, vagando per Soho intravvede Jane/Redgrave. La insegue nelle backstreets ma ne perde le tracce. Pensa di ritrovarla dentro ad una sala da concerto gremita da giovani intenti a seguire la performance degli Yardbirds. Hemmings, attratto dallo spettacolo, si sofferma fino a quando il concerto degenera: il chitarrista del gruppo, Jeff Beck, distrugge il proprio strumento musicale e getta il manico della chitarra al pubblico. Si scatena una vera e proprio rissa per aggiudicarsi il reperto rotto, ed Hemmings, coinvolto, riesce ad entrarne in possesso e dopo una breve fuga che termina all’esterno del locale, getta via il manico stesso, divenuto un oggetto inutile e privo di interesse. La Agostinis dedica un intero capitolo a questo passaggio, giustamente famoso e si apre ad una disamina dei locali in voga in quel periodo, alla meticolosa ricostruzione in studio del Ricky Tic, si addentra a una profonda analisi ai gruppi musicali scelti da Antonioni, dai favoriti Who (come è noto, il gesto live estremo della chitarra spezzata è dovuto Pete Townshend) ai meno famosi Velvet Underground. L’autrice scrive a proposito della scena e del suo significato all’interno del contesto filmico: “Quello che gli serve (ad Antonioni, ndr) nel film è conservare quel gesto che Townshend ha trasformato in rituale, per restituirgli il senso di accidentalità, quasi banalità, in uno scenario in cui le cose assumono valore, e lo perdono, con la stessa casualità”. (5)

Antonioni è un regista, raffinato e sottile, al quale non sfugge la gran mole di segni che emette la mondanità urbana gaudente quale è quella rappresentata dalla scena al Ricky Tic. Mentre alla scrittrice, ai manager e ai gruppi rock intervistati sfugge il perché il regista svolga la scena in modo contratto e raggelato alla maniera dei tableaux vivants (lo stesso critico cinematografico Pete Brunette (6) è sgomento pensando - ma sbagliandosi completamente - che il lato documentaristico di Antonioni esca allo scoperto proprio in questa scena ma poi non si spiega perché i fans solitamente esagitati siano stati fatti posare, generando un fastidioso senso teatrale anziché optare per una ripresa naturale dell’evento). La nostra lettura della scena è diametralmente opposta. Riteniamo infatti che il regista abbia dato alla scena del concerto rock la stessa valenza della scena al party chilletterati dove Thomas/Hemmings incontra Ron, lo scrittore suo partner nel libro di fotografie da pubblicare, e Veruschka, la modella kantiana, grande protagonista nelle scene iniziali del film. Il concerto è un rituale, non di Townshend, ma della gioventù urbana pop. 

La scena del concerto degli Yardbirds è un rito della società dell’immagine - rito laico, ma che funge da religione giovanile nel mondo Pop - nel quale il gruppo musicale è l'officiante e tutti gli astanti sono spettatori muti. Come una missa in cantu urbana del XX secolo. La similitudine religiosa di questa messa laica si concretizza nel palco del concerto che simbolicamente è l’altare, il club è lo spazio liturgico nel quale si mostra ai fedeli l’ostia consacrata ovvero la chitarra spezzata dal musicista/sacerdote che, canonicamente, ricorda lo spezzare dell’ostia, corpo di Cristo per effetto della transustanziazione. Il lancio del manico rotto tra il pubblico indica il momento di comunione dei fedeli con il musicista - infatti Antonioni mostra gli astanti che da silenti e immobili divengono improvvisamente urlanti e aggressivi per il possesso dell’oggetto. Differenza di natura tra coscienza materialista che privilegia il possesso dell’oggetto consustanziato e lotta per averlo e coscienza religiosa che con-divide il pane e l’ostia officiata. La scena termina con Thomas che, una volta uscito dal locale Ricky Tic, getta il manico rotto della chitarra a terra, a simbolizzare che l’oggetto/segno, oggetto sopra-sensibile per dirla con Marx, all’interno del con-testo in cui nasce e si forma incorpora un significato “sacro” (oggetto/segno e merce/feticcio) ma una volta uscito dal con-testo è completamente inutilizzabile e ritorna ad essere un oggetto la cui forma-funzione è completamente sconosciuta, per cui perde il plus del suo valore reificato e viene quindi abbandonato. E’ un segno che non viene più riconosciuto come tale da Thomas che ne ha trovato il senso (e provato il valore) all’interno del rito officiato ma di cui dimentica prontamente l'equivalenza generale in una veloce de-transustanziazione dell’oggetto dovuta al nuovo scenario profano ove si viene a trovare. E’ quindi la mondanità, il contesto sociale nel quale il segno viene riconosciuto: “Nessun altro ambiente emette tanti segni, entro spazi altrettanto ridotti, a una velocità così grande”. (6)

Questo vale non solo per un oggetto solido, reale, legato al mondo dell’arte ma vale altresì per l’immagine e quindi per il mondo del cinema e della fotografia; infatti lo stesso non-valore del manico di chitarra rotto si ripete nella scena del furto delle fotografie nello studio di Thomas, quando rimane a terra una sola fotografia, quella del cadavere giacente, sfuggita ai rapinatori. Ebbene tale foto, sgranata eccessivamente dal blowing up di Thomas/Hemmings e ritraente una sagoma resa irriconoscibile dalle astratte linee grigie e dalle zone bianco-nere della stampa, al di fuori della neo-realtà ricostruita in studio dal fotografo - una meta-narrazione a tutti gli effetti - non significa nulla, riducendo a zero il suo appeal come prova documentale di un assassinio tutto da svelare. La foto sgranata ricorda in modo straordinario il quadro pollockiano dell’amico pittore, Bill. Il quale pittore, all’inizio del film, proclamava che i propri quadri non avevano un senso immediato, ma dovevano essere interpretati per attribuire loro un significato. Il mondo dei segni, ovvero il nostro mondo, deve essere da noi continuamente decifrato tramite un capiente apprendistato ma bisogna perseverare in questo studio, perché i segni che incontriamo possono essere incerti e oscuri. Ecco perché, ancora oggi, a distanza di oltre 40 anni da Blow Up, il film di Antonioni è ancora così denso di rilevanze e insegnamenti, non così nascosti come amerebbe presentarli un certo tipo cultura alla quale appartiene anche l’autrice di questo reportage giornalistico con l’ambizione di libro. Anche il frenetico apprendistato di Thomas/Hemmings ci può aiutare, ieri come oggi, a cercare il senso del segno.

1) citazione usata da Michelangelo Antonioni, pg. 151, Swinging City 
2) esergo di Frederic Jameson a “Firme del visibile. Hitchcock, Kubrick, Antonioni
3) http://www.filmlinc.com/index.php/film-comment-2012/article/film-comments-trivial-top-20-expanded-to-50-best-movies-never-made
4) sito Einaudi per Proust, Alla ricerca del tempo perduto: Read more
5) Valentina Agostinis - Swinging City, pg. 167
6) Pete Brunette - The films of Michelangelo Antonioni Read more
7) Gilles Deleuze - Marcel Proust e i segni, pg. 7

Codex/video della presentazione di Swinging City con l'autrice, Valentina Agostinis: 
See more


The Neuro-Image A Deleuzian Film-Philosophy of Digital Screen Culture - Patricia Pisters (Stanford University Press, Usa, October 2012

Arguing that today's viewers move through a character's brain instead of looking through his or her eyes or mental landscape, this book approaches twenty-first-century globalized cinema through the concept of the "neuro-image." Pisters explains why this concept has emerged now, and she elaborates its threefold nature through research from three domains—Deleuzian (schizoanalytic) philosophy, digital networked screen culture, and neuroscientific research. These domains return in the book's tripartite structure. Part One, on the brain as "neuroscreen," suggests rich connections between film theory, mental illness, and cognitive neuroscience. Part Two explores neuro-images from a philosophical perspective, paying close attention to their ontological, epistemological, and aesthetic dimensions. Political and ethical aspects of the neuro-image are discussed in Part Three. Topics covered along the way include the omnipresence of surveillance, the blurring of the false and the real and the affective powers of the neo-baroque, and the use of neuro-images in politics, historical memory, and war.

Read the introduction pdf

Patricia Pisters is Professor of Media Culture and Film Studies and Chair of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam. Her publications include The Matrix of Visual Culture: Working with Deleuze in Film Theory (Stanford, 2003).

Patricia Pisters is professor of media culture and film studies and chair of the department of Media Studies of the University of Amsterdam. She has published on film-philosophical questions on the nature of perception, the ontology of the image, on politics of contemporary screen culture and the idea of the “brain as screen” in connection to neuroscience. Publications include The Matrix of Visual Culture: Working with Deleuze in Film Theory (Stanford University Press, 2003), Shooting the Family: Transnational Media and Intercultural Values (ed. with Wim Staat; Amsterdam University Press, 2005) and Mind the Screen (ed. with Jaap Kooijman and Wanda Strauven, Amsterdam University Press, 2008). During a fellowship at the IKKM (Internationales Kolleg fur Kulturtechnikforshung und Medienphilosophie) of the Bauhaus University Weimar in 2010 she finished the manuscript of a book entitled The Neuro-Image (forthcoming, Stanford University Press) about a new type of image in digital screen culture. In July 2010 she organized with Professor Rosi Braidotti the International Deleuze Studies Conference in Amsterdam on the (methodological) connections between art, science and philosophy, including a double exhibition and international public debate on this topic (www.deleuze-amsterdam.nl) and (www.thesmoothandthestriated.wordpress.com)

Read more on SUP website


Deleuze and the Cinemas of Performance: Powers of Affection - Elena Del Rio (EUP, Uk, June 2008)

This book offers a unique reconsideration of the performing body that privileges the notion of affective force over the notion of visual form at the centre of former theories of spectacle and performativity. Drawing on Gilles Deleuze's philosophy of the body, and on Deleuze-Spinoza's relevant concepts of affect and expression, Elena del Río examines a kind of cinema that she calls 'affective-performative'. The features of this cinema unfold via detailed and engaging discussions of the movements, gestures and speeds of the body in a variety of films by Douglas Sirk, Rainer W. Fassbinder, Sally Potter, Claire Denis, and David Lynch. Key to the book's engagement with performance is a consistent attention to the body's powers of affection.
Key Features
  • The first study of the interface between Deleuzian theory and film performance.
  • A sustained consideration of the links between the body of performance and the body of affect.
  • An analysis of the relation of the performative body to a feminist politics.
  • New readings of classical melodramas as well as contemporary independent cinemas.
Introduction: Cinema and the Affective-Performative 1. Animated Fetishes 2. Choreographies of Affect 3. Dancing Feminisms 4. Kinesthetic Seductions 5. Powers of the False Conclusion

Elena del Río is Associate Professor of Film Studies at the University of Alberta, Canada.


Anonymous: behind the masks of the cyber insurgents by Carole Cadwalladr @ The Guardian, 8 September 2012

Anonymous: behind the masks of the cyber insurgents

Since 2008, the internet collective have hacked the CIA, the Sun newspaper, the Church of Scientology and a host of other large corporations, sparking a global police crackdown last year. But who and what are Anonymous? A radical new form of activism – or just bored teenagers? We talk to some of the 'hacktivists' and the experts who tracked them down in the deep web /by Carole Cadwalladr @ The Guardian 8 September 2012
Spalding railway station in Lincolnshire is not a big place. It takes me about two seconds to scan the platform and spot who I'm looking for:Jake Davis, aka Topiary, the computer hacker who at one point last year was the subject of one of the biggest manhunts on the planet.
For a period in 2011, LulzSec – an offshoot of Anonymous, the internet"hacktivist" collective who came to prominence around the time of the Wikileaks affair – wreaked a trail of chaos across the web. Their actions ranged from the transgressive – they had taken down the CIA's website and hacked into Sony's database and released more than a million user names and passwords – to the absurd: after the American network PBS aired a critical documentary about Julian Assange, LulzSec hacked into their website and replaced the homepage with an article about Tupac Shakur, the (very much dead) rapper, which bore the headline "Tupac Still Alive in New Zealand". During the Arab spring, members of the group hacked and defaced Tunisian and Egyptian government sites. One hacker, Tflow (later discovered to be a 16-year-old London schoolboy), allegedly wrote a webscript that enabled activists to circumvent government snooping.
LulzSec had also hacked into the website of Soca, the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency, and replaced the front page of the Sun online with a "report" that Rupert Murdoch had been found dead (with a helpful hint for the FBI in the closing paragraph: he'd been found, it said, "in his famous topiary garden").
For a time, LulzSec demanded and caught the world's attention. Their tweets made headlines. Their jokes were retweeted by thousands. And there, waiting for me at Spalding station, is LulzSec's PR guru. "Look out for the pale kid that needs a haircut," he'd texted me. And he's not wrong. He is quite pale and could do with a haircut. And he's impossibly young: just 19. A skinny teenager with a soft Scottish accent who – for a period of time last year, during "the 50 days of Lulz" – ran rings around law enforcement agencies on several continents.
Of course, I already know what Jake Davis looks like, because in July last year, Davis, then 18, was arrested at his home in the Shetland Isles. And after being charged with five hacking-related crimes and released on bail, he emerged into the sun outside Westminster magistrates court for the world to see. Anonymous suddenly had a face: and the face was of a furtive, greasy-haired youth, wearing a pair of dark glasses and carrying a book called Free Radicals: The Secret Anarchy of Science. If you had to imagine what a teenage computer hacker would look like, this was it.
The episode was front-page news on websites across the world, as a string of arrests were made: 19-year-old Ryan Cleary from Essex; 16-year-old Tflow from London; 27-year-old Jeremy Hammond from Chicago; a 25-year-old former soldier, Ryan Ackroyd, from Doncaster; 19-year-old Darren Martyn (or PwnSauce), from Galway, and Donncha O'Cearrbhail (or Palladium), also 19 and from Offaly, Ireland. The most recent arrest, 12 days ago, was of another American, 20-year-old Raynaldo Rivera of Arizona.
In March this year came the news of how it happened: the FBI had turned a LulzSec member in New York, a 28-year-old Puerto Rican father of two called Hector Xavier Monsegur, known online as "Sabu", and used him as their informant. It was like The Sopranos, but instead of organised crime and Italian hitmen it involved teenagers sitting at computer screens. And perhaps most confusing of all, the vast majority of the main players seemed to be living in Britain or Ireland.
Gabriella Coleman, professor of scientific and technological literacy at McGill University, in Montreal, probably knows more about Anonymous than anybody on the planet. She has studied them from the moment they first emerged as a new political force in 2008, and says that it's no coincidence that so many of the arrests were of British and Irish nationals. Anonymous is a vast, new, poorly understood global force who specialise in "ultra-co-ordinated motherfuckery", as one of Coleman's contacts puts it. And it attracts a huge British following.

In the chatrooms where Anons gather, Parmy Olson, a London-based journalist with Forbes magazine, found the British connection blindingly obvious. Her book, We Are Anonymous: Inside the Hacker World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency, published in America this June, offers a brilliant insight into the hacktivists' world. Almost by accident, Olson charted the emergence and domination of LulzSec, following the twists and turns of the story as it happened. "And," she says, "you could just see a lot of people talking about British things, British television shows, they were speaking with English spellings. You could tell they were British."
Olson met Jake Davis before he reverted to Jake Davis – when he was still Topiary – in the Shetlands. "It took a day and a half just to get there," she says. "And it was embarrassing really. He was one of the most wanted hackers on the planet, and he just seemed so young."
A year is a long time, though, when you're 18. I'd been expecting a socially awkward geek, but Davis turns out to be open-faced, chatty, good at eye contact and not geeky at all, though this may have something to do with the fact that he hasn't been allowed access to the internet for more than 12 months. He's pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit computer misuse under the Computer Misuse Act and is back in court in April next year. He's also waiting to see if he'll stand trial on another charge: conspiracy to commit fraud (the CPS is currently assessing whether a trial is in the public interest, given that he's already pleaded guilty to the first charge). He's currently at liberty on condition that he wears an electronic tag, is home by 10pm, and lives with his mum (who moved to Spalding shortly before his arrest).
And that he goes nowhere near the internet. His only means of communicating with the outside world is a mobile phone that looks like it was a recent model circa 1995. And the greatest surprise – not just to me, but to him – is that he's barely missing the internet at all. "I actually feel a lot better within myself. My life was the internet, pretty much. It was chatting on the internet and amassing groups of friends. And I had no life outside it. A year ago I would just be head-down kind of walking along, mumbling monosyllabically."
It's that lack of contact with the outside world that has led Jake Davis to me. He helped Parmy Olson with her book, and he seems keen to have some form of communication with the outside world. Because communicating was both his speciality and what got him into this mess in the first place.
"Living in the Shetlands, I didn't understand the impact of what we were doing," he says. "I didn't understand the impact on the real world. And now that I'm here in Spalding, and I've been a lot in London, I kind of see that the world does go round and it's not about hiding in a bedroom."
What seems incredible, even now (and maybe, especially, to Jake), is how a slightly troubled teenager living on the two-sheep island of Yell, in the Shetland Isles – a place as isolated and remote as anywhere on Earth – came to find himself at the heart of a radical global political movement.
But then, maybe that's the point. When I met Gabriella Coleman in Edinburgh she'd spent the previous evening meeting one of her contacts, who lived in a remote croft in the Scottish countryside. "He cooked me pheasant," she said. Olson, too, found that a disproportionate number of contacts she met "lived in out-of-the-way places".
For Jake, living in the Shetlands, the internet became his everything. It was where he made friends and socialised. "It's where I learned almost everything I now know. The thing I miss the most is Wikipedia. I mean, at school I learned to knit. I'm actually a pretty good knitter now." Jake had a somewhat difficult childhood, and that (combined with the knitting lessons) led him to drop out of school at 13, shortly after his stepfather was killed in an accident.
What's surprising, at first, is that he's not unhappy that he was caught, or that he faces the prospect of several years in prison. "People say that prison is bad, but I lived in my bedroom with a computer for years. It's not going to be as bad as that. I just want to go and do my sentence and get my education in there. I want to get a really good education and just read loads of books."
That's if he doesn't get extradited – because he's been charged in America, too, where his fellow hackers are facing up to 20 years inside. By contrast, in Ireland no charges have been brought against the arrested hackers. Anonymous may be an international phenomenon but there's no consensus (yet) on how to police the internet.
What's immediately apparent about Jake Davis (and about a lot of the people involved with Anonymous) is just how bright and intelligent he is. And how the internet is where they find an outlet for their intellect – an outlet that somehow seems to have eluded them in real life. "These weren't just normal individuals who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances," says Parmy Olson. "They really were extraordinary individuals in extraordinary circumstances."
What I find so interesting about Davis is how completely he seems to have been let down by the education system. It entirely failed to uncover or nurture his talents. "I literally have not a single qualification to my name," he tells me at one point, and looks rather sheepish. Davis rose to prominence in Anonymous and then LulzSec not because he was some expert hacker – he wasn't; his technical skills were limited – but because he is a naturally gifted writer and communicator. Among other things, he controlled the LulzSec Twitter account, from which issued forth a stream of jokey pronouncements, the last of which had the feeling of prophecy to it: "You cannot arrest an idea," he said. Which may be true, but almost exactly a month later a team of police officers burst into his living room, and then flew him by specially chartered plane to London, a place he'd never been to before. "It was like going to the future or something," he says.
You can't arrest an idea, though. And although Anonymous's impact may have been exaggerated (not least by itself), at its heart is a radical idea: that the internet can enable mass, participatory, possibly illegal action in a way the world has never seen before. Actions that can be controlled by neither governments nor international agencies, and which are decided by the horde, enacted by the horde, and policed by the horde.
According to Parmy Olson, the "hivemind", or getting people to "believe in the power" of the hivemind, is probably Anonymous's greatest achievement. There is no central organisation (though there are organisers) and no official membership. In some ways it resembles that other recent un-organisation, al-Qaida. If you believe in Anonymous, and call yourself Anonymous, you are Anonymous.
And in 2008, it seemingly came out of nowhere. At the time, Gabriella Coleman was studying the Open Source community (the network of programmers who believe in, and develop, free software open to all) and was based at the University of Alberta, which happened to have the largest Scientology archive in the world. And she couldn't help but notice what happened when a video of Tom Cruise being interviewed about Scientology appeared on the internet. A group of online hackers began "trolling" (mocking; trying to get a rise out of) the Church of Scientology. For a lot of people, the video – meant for internal PR purposes only within the church – was provocation enough: Cruise appears as a genuine, bona fide, swivel-eyed religious nutcase. Then things escalated. The church began issuing legal threats against the sites hosting the video, and it was this attempt to police the internet that prompted certain people to rise up and try to defend it.
"What I realised," says Coleman, "is that the Church of Scientology was like the perfect nemesis. It was the geeks' worst nightmare, because it is a religion of science and technology, but the technology doesn't work and the science is pseudoscience. And it's an extremely proprietary religion: they have very aggressive control over trademarks and copyright, so in every way it seemed like the hackers saw how the church was like them, but their evil twin."
And in doing so, they also realised that they possessed a hitherto unrealised power: strength in numbers. Instead of merely staging online protests, a day of global protest was organised. And on 10 February 2008, 7,000 people showed up in 127 cities around the world. They didn't know it then but a new political movement was born. "We are Anonymous," read one of the flyers. "We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us."
Talking to Coleman and Olson, I think I'm getting a handle on Anonymous, and what it is and what it has done. And then I start going into Anonymous chatrooms, on IRC (internet relay chat), on the so-called "deep web", a place unsearchable by Google. And I realise I don't understand a thing. People just seem to be talking about random crap in acronyms I don't understand. It's confusingly chaotic. There are people entering the room every five seconds, people leaving, people changing their nicknames. And then there's the slang. Everyone is a fag: there are newfags (newcomers) and oldfags (old-timers) and fagfags (homosexuals) and moralfags (those perceived as taking the moral high ground). I realise that I am a newsfag. But I can't spot the plans to conquer the universe between the casual misogynism and the Aids jokes.
It's only on the reporter channel that I find people who can type in sentences and speak a language that I recognise as English. It's where self-selected Anons interact with the press and explain Anonymous's objectives. A 17-year-old called The_Poet, who tells me he's of Iranian parentage, says he became involved because of Operation Iran (or OpIran as it's known, Anonymous's campaign to help activists in Iran following the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009). He wanted to feel that he was doing something to help activists there. He's at school, he says, and he was about as computer-savvy as I am when he found the forum (ie, not very) but now he spends up to five or more hours a day on it. We chat away, and he tells me that having helped draft press releases and the like, and having become interested in world affairs, he's now considering diplomacy as a career. Though saying you're in Anonymous is possibly not the most obvious CV-building step, I venture.
It's late when we chat, around 1am UK time, and it's obvious he's in Europe somewhere, and it's school the next day. "Go to bed," I keep telling him. And I can't help but feel relieved when he tells me that he hasn't done anything illegal. Because via the encrypted chat protocol,Jabber (the first step to communicating with anyone in Anon world), I have chatted to another teenage Anon who was arrested, but never charged. He was lucky. "I was immature and stupid and reckless," he says. "I caused a lot of damage. Hurt a lot of innocent people. I put millions of people at risk of identity theft by leaking their passwords. It is never justified. Never."
But you did it because…?
"At the time, it seemed great fun."
Because fun is the bedrock of it all. "Trolling". Agitating. Taking the piss. Lying to, manipulating and taking in fellow internet users. Making a joke of everything. Jake suspects it's why it's so big in Britain. "Anon humour is quite dark and ironic and is pretty similiar to British humour," he says. The origin of "lulz" is a corruption of LOLs, meaning "laugh out loud" (and not "lots of love", as David Cameron thought when he put LOL at the end of a text to Rebekah Brooks).
It's all about the lulz. On 4chan, the "image board" (like a chat board, but where people came initially to share images, and whose /b/ – or "random" – board spawned the idea of Anonymous), anything goes. Just so long as it's not taken seriously. In fact, 4chan is the originator of hundreds of internet memes and viral videos, many of which have found their way into mainstream media.
It's easy to grow paranoid researching an article on Anonymous. Some terrible things have happened to people who have tangled with them. LulzSec's first collective action was against Aaron Barr, the CEO of an internet security firm, HBGary Inc, who claimed to have penetrated Anonymous and worked out who the central players were. To cut a long story short, he hadn't. LulzSec cracked his email password, downloaded 40,000 of his emails and released them in a torrent online for anyone to read.
Soon after I start hanging out in Anonymous chatrooms, my computer starts running slowly. My phone starts glitching. I start waking in the night with paranoid dreams. Quinn Norton, a reporter for Wiredmagazine, tells me that there is a strong culture within the group of not attacking the press. Even so, she suspects there may be a "cache of [my] documents somewhere, but they're not doing anything bad with them". The main thing to bear in mind if writing about them, she says, is "not to be an asshole".
I tell Jake about my paranoia. "I had that every day," he says. "Every morning I spent an hour doing searches and running certain scripts to make me feel better." But in his case, at least, it comes down to the old truism that just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean that there isn't someone following you.
When Sabu, the Anonymous turncoat, was intercepted by the FBI, he disappeared offline for 24 hours, and when he came back his story didn't quite hang together. "I was completely suspicious of him," says Jake. "I was just too stupid to do anything about it. The idea that there was a group of Feds out to get me is the kind of stuff that happens in films. And I'm from the Shetland Islands. The FBI aren't going to be using one of my friends to spy on me. That happens in American action films, it is not real life. And it turns out that this is exactly what happened."
It was even stranger in some ways for Gabriella Coleman. She met Sabu in New York before any of the arrests, and immediately she knew that he must be working for the FBI. "I just knew," she says. "There was no way while he was still the world's most wanted hacker that he'd be wanting to meet me unless he'd been arrested. I knew he'd been arrested. But of course, I couldn't tell anyone. And that was really hard."
As an anthropologist studying Anonymous, at times, she says, she felt like a cross between "a detective and a priest". She watched the group take shape from the time of the Scientology uprising, and was online, in the chatrooms, at the moment it hit the big time: WikiLeaks.
Julian Assange had just released the US diplomatic cables, PayPal had announced that it would no longer accept donations on Wikileaks' behalf, and the internet was in uproar. "There were 7,000 people a time logging into the channels [chat rooms] when, usually, at the very most there would be 1,000," says Coleman. "More than 35,000 people downloaded the software."
"The software" was something called low orbit ion cannon (LOIC), and it meant that anyone with a few clicks of a mouse could become a "hacker", or at least a website attacker. Computers all over the world started sending packets of information to the PayPal and Visa websites, flooding its servers with a DDoS attack (distributed denial of service). In her book, Parmy Olson explains what actually happened. The PayPal and Visa websites were attacked successfully, but the main perpetrators weren't the "hive": the real firepower came from a couple of individuals with "botnets", illegal networks of compromised computers. Olson suggests the hive was a PR myth.
Still, it's a dangerous PR myth. A few months after the attacks, the FBI began to arrest people: people who had been drawn into Anonymous by the rhetoric, and either didn't realise that what they were doing was illegal, didn't have enough technical nous to cover their tracks, or simply didn't care. There were students, middle-class professionals… Anonymous wasn't just "the stereotypical kids living in their mum's basement", as Coleman puts it. "You'll probably find at least a couple in your IT department."
But when you look, for example, at the stunning visual nature of some of Anonymous's designs, that shouldn't come as too great a shock. Nor the brilliance of its operations in Egypt and Tunisia, and recently in Syria. At its most powerful and compelling, it has leaped to the defence of the internet itself. It was only when Anonymous started highlighting what was happening in Tunisia, for example, after the government banned Wikileaks in late 2010, that the rest of the world's press started paying attention to what became the Arab spring.
It is "political art as spectacle", according to Coleman. And it stands in opposition to almost everything mainstream society holds dear. Individual fame is neither sought nor welcomed. Anons who draw attention to themselves or claim to speak for Anonymous are ostracised. "It's almost like the polar opposite of everything that social media stands for," says Coleman. "They dramatise the importance of anonymity and privacy in an era when both are rapidly eroding. They are the anti-Facebook."
Being anonymous was the source of Jake's power: no one knew he was a kid. That, and the idea of the hive. "Everyone secretly knows that everyone else [in Anonymous] is kind of a lonely, geeky guy," says Jake. "But we all ignore it, and we all play this Anon game where we are all these invincible Anons."
And they were mostly guys. Anonymous is very male. In the Rules of the Internet, which came out of the 4chan site, Rule 30 states "there are no girls on the internet". The previous rule states that "all girls are men and all kids are undercover FBI agents", which contains a grain of truth.
At times it seems like Anonymous is a nest of slightly naive teenagers who are going to get into trouble. Teenagers have always acted out. Now they get to act out on a global stage, where just a few clicks of a mouse could lead to them spending the next 20 years behind bars. It's impossible to generalise, however. One figure behind one of the most popular Anonymous Twitter feeds told Coleman that he is a "member of the 1 per cent". "He's always in Paris on vacation," she tells me. "He's a very, very wealthy engineer and he's extremely careful in concealing his identity."
And on the #reporter channel, I chat for a while to an Anon called "nsh", who tells me that what we're witnessing is "the emergence of a new kind of identity, and with it a new form of identity politics. Traditional politics caters to fixed demographics, requires that participants have continuity of identity, can be located in geography. These are things that can be dispensed [with] online, and have been, with great effect."
He's a bit fond of his long words, nsh, and he likes his historical analogies. The random attacks on websites are really the contemporary version of writing a political slogan on a wall, he says. It's like online vandalism. "But the Vandals," he writes, "got the short stick, historically, didn't they?" He won't tell me anything about himself, but my guess is he's British and studying at one of our better universities. It's probably not a coincidence that both Cambridge and Oxford universities have been targeted in the past two weeks, as part of Anonymous's ongoing Operation Free Assange. If you're going to spray-paint a wall, you might as well do it somewhere your mates will see it. I like joshing with nsh, but I do feel the generational difference. When he makes a joke, he signals it with an emoticon. When I make a joke, he says "lol". I have to say, "Ha, ha!" because otherwise, I tell him, "I'll sound like Ali G. It'd be embarrassing. Like hearing your gran try to rap."
There is "no clear-cut moral assessment" of Anonymous that can be made, says Gabriella Coleman. "But if you hurt the internet, be careful, because the internet may well hurt you back."
In Spalding, Jake Davis can make even less sense of it, even though, for a time, he was it. His lawyers have made him read hundreds of pages of his chat logs as part of his case. "And I just think 'Who is this Topiary guy?'" he says. "He is just full of crap. We tried to do something funny, something political, something ideological, and it ended up just being a mess."
I'm possibly more confused about Anonymous now than when I started researching this article. When I look at pastebin.com, which is where hackers put up the latest data dumps, the results of their latest hacking and defacement operations, the targets seem random, perverse.
"Cadwal, there is always mad shit going on in Anonymous," an Anon called KnowledgeUS tells me. "It is even hard for an Anon to know all that's going on with Anonymous."
It makes me feel a little better. "Ha, ha!" I say. Because Anonymous is something that belongs to a new generation. It's their internet. Their Anonymous. And at my age, I'm just too old for the lulz.