Italian writer and magician
working for a better Rule #34:
«If it exists, there is magic of it.
If not, let’s make it!»







 2014 (36)



Science Foo Camp (or “Sci Foo”) is an invitation-only gathering organized by Digital Science, O'Reilly Media, and Google, with support from Nature. The 9th edition of Sci Foo takes place on 8-10 August 2014 at the Googleplex in Mountain View, CA. Lord Martin Rees has defined it as “a sort of mini Woodstock of the Mind”. Participants include researchers, writers, educators, artists, policy makers, investors, and other thought leaders, all doing groundbreaking work in diverse areas of science and technology.


Magic & Literature

Who is gonna lose the head?

Posted on monday 16 june 2014, 53 days before scifoo14 • Written by Mariano Tomatis

Wu Ming is a collective of Italian writers based in Bologna, best known for their best-selling novel Q, written under the pseudonym Luther Blissett (see here their website). Their main purpose is to tell stories by any means necessary, involving even the readers in the creation of transmedial spin-off. So far their works have inspired songs, theatrical performances, comics, paintings, even board games.

Their latest novel L’armata dei sonnambuli (“The Army of Sleepwalkers”), set in France during the Jacobin Terror, sparks a brand new hybrid, mingling Magic & Literature. Inspired to Robert Darnton’s suggestions, the book stages an unusual conflict between Illuminist/Rational Magic and the opposite, exploring the underground influence of Mesmerism on the French Revolution.

L’armata dei sonnambuli has been published one week after my book written with Ferdinando Buscema: our L’arte di stupire (“Amaze”) is the Manifesto of “Magic Experience Design” and deals with bringing magic outside the theaters and spreading it in the real world.

Not only the two books share the acronym of the title (L’ADS) but a subplot of L’armata dei sonnambuli follows the birth of a New Theater, far from the stage and set in the real world. Léo is one of the first to conceive the idea; the actor from Bologna thinks by himself:

It was great. Here is the New Theater of Revolution. How could I come back to act an old script in a closed hall, when the theater has made History under the French sky? (1)

If a magician is nothing more than a storyteller with special effects and if there is no magic trick not telling a story, literature and magic share deep roots. In order to explore the fruitful hybrid, together with Wu Ming we have created a theatrical experience — the Laboratorio di Magnetismo Rivoluzionario (“Laboratory of Revolutionary Magnetism”), presented on 6 May 2014 in the theater of the Circolo Amici della Magia in Turin, Italy. The show involved readings from the book, interactive exercises involving the audience, comments by the authors, magic tricks performed by a collective of 6 magicians and even a somnambulist with her medium in a typical Second Sight performance. (2)

A still from the first Act of the Laboratory (left) and the playbill of the show, together with the novel (right).

The activity from the 3rd Act of the Laboratory is available as an interactive videogame: «Who is gonna lose the head?» is my homage to the first chapter of the novel set in 21 January 1793, the day King Louis XVI was executed by guillotine. Take out the 10 cards of spades and be ready to be mesmerized!

Click here to play

Revolution is like those decks of cards where kings, queens and knights are divided in halves, one straight and the other inverted, head up and head down, you turn and turn it again but fuck! …nothing changes, the straight king is always paired with the inverted one, as if he was teasing him, as if — from his lower position — he was saying: «I am the you who’s breaking bad! Enjoy it until you can, ’cause the world is arbalting!» (3)


(1) Wu Ming, L’armata dei sonnambuli, Einaudi, Turin (Italy) 2014, p. 323.

(2) The show has involved Wu Ming, me, Marco Aimone, Davide Brizio, Angelo Cauda, Nella Zorà, Beppe Brondino, Carlo Bono and Gianluca Gallina.

(3) Wu Ming, p. 554.

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