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Wu Ming1: "After the world we know has fallen down"

Leo Goretti 5 December 2011

On the occasion of the publication of I'm With the Bears: Short Stories from a Damaged Planet, Stir Magazine has interviewed one of the contributors, Wu Ming1, part of the quintet behind the novel Manituana.Wu Ming1 describes his short story in the anthology, Arzèstula, as

a heavily, disturbingly autobiographical story ... a surrealistic, dreamlike tale of hope and redemption.

Asked about the limits of science, the Italian novelist emphasises how deeply rational knowledge and emotions are interwoven: "I think that there's no real comprehension of the world without feelings," he says. Referring to philosophers such as Nietzsche, Deleuze and Foucault, Wu Ming1 notes that

continental philosophy developed a very fruitful relationship with poetry and literature, and sometimes even merged with them.

With humanity facing an environmental crisis on a potentially apocalyptic scale, the role that writers can play is to

raise awareness of a great problem and take part in spurring a decision process. ... Moreover, literature and fiction can make us imagine "worst case scenarios" and thus serve as admonitions, to avert further deterioration of the situations.

In Wu Ming1's view, good examples of this kind of arts are the anti-nuclear movie The Day After, or Stephen King's The Dead Zone. In the present scenario, however, the question may no longer be whether a catastrophe will happen, but instead "how people could go on and live and find a new sense of community after the world we know has fallen down," he argues.

In the interview, Wu Ming1 also salutes the birth of the Occupy Movement. Compared with the early alter-globalization movements, Occupy "is already a step—maybe several steps—ahead", he says. In fact, the targets of the movement are not farcical events such as the G8 summits, but instead the centres of financial capital:

There is a more precise insight on how power works. In Italy we had "Occupy Bank of Italy": campers weren't really occupying the bank, they were shifting the focus of public discussion from Burlesquoni's theatrical antics to the austerity measures dictated to Italy by the European Central Bank. They chose Banca d'Italia as a target because that was Mario Draghi's last week as governor of the Bank. He was going to become president of the ECB. The movement was attacking enemy troops not in the positions they were leaving, but in the positions they were about to take possess of. In short, there were no trivialities like "Let's besiege the palaces of power.

Visit Stir to read the interview with Wu Ming1 in full.

Filed under: interviews, occupy