Extracts from Blackout

Extracts from Blackout

Selections from Blackout, Balestrini's epic poem covering the movements of 1970s Italy.

5.

explore the artificial possibilities of the voice to reach the extreme
boundaries of the song

thousands hundreds of thousands of voices for communicating

the voice is silent

a photograph of a paper heart made by crushing a concert program

that he could use his voice like an instrument

the rite is all set

as in May 1968 and only recently declared null and void

the public has shown itself in a different form and is altogether
different now

all chances for recovery went up in smoke

because it marked the beginning of an era that will continue to return

they all had to admit that the ill-fated spirit of ’68 had returned

much to the sorrow of many of us are back to year zero

7.

as a nightmare of culture and society

you would like to ignore the consistency of the revolutionary so as to
dream in peace

the end of this bad literature of recovery that was itself a pretense of
hegemony

the public has shown itself in a different form and is altogether
different now

the proof lies in the magnitude of the responses that the mass media
has reported

the Arena is enough to stop the nightmare

who would like to continue to sell products that nobody wants anymore

much to the sorrow of many of us we are back to year zero

each day in the Italian factories more and more is happening

the ill-fated year 1968 is not yet over

there are new animals working in Fiat who recall their past their
private lives their intolerance of the authorities

Fiat fears their hatred of the factory

8.

power on the one hand young people on the other

the ill-fated year 1968 is not yet over

they tried to recall all the young people

the Arena is enough to stop the nightmare

all that in 1968 was still latent and indeterminate has now radicalized

you would like to ignore the consistency of the revolutionary so as to
dream in peace

for the new workers the factory is Agnelli’s they tell me it’s better to
make some money and get on with your life

they are not thinking about the day they will leave Fiat

the work you do each day is boring and harmful

Fiat fears their hatred of the factory

and that means the music the stereo travel reading going to the cinema

the Fiat bosses have never seen the workers laugh and it is an outrage
to our Lady

13.

the vocal chords do not vibrate as a result of the air pushed out by the
lungs but from impulses in the center of the brain

transplanting the spinal chord is a most difficult operation

the voice as an instrument of drives behind which there is an entire
universe of desires

attentive to the area that lies between the psychic universe an the
communication links between thought and word

the development of an absolute vocal system brought to the limits of
discovery

each day it is necessary to completely wash away the blood

as someone said it was a performance that broke through the current
communication gap

the things I do are spoken about by everyone

sing with the voice to liberate it from the conditioning of a cultural prison

an attempt to free ourselves from the condition of listener and viewer to
which culture

and politics have accustomed us

when the lights went out the niggers raged boasted a black youth

after a few minutes the night was illuminated by fires the streets invaded
by looters

15.

like a game in which lives are at risk

each day it is necessary to completely wash away the blood

it’s as if a fever had struck them they came out with trucks vans caravans
anything that could walk

a woman called me and said they are travelling on Bushwick avenue like
buffalos

at 9:30 pm the lights went out at 9:40 pm they were already ravaging the
shops

we’re going to take what we want and what we want is what we need

in the Bronx inside an Ace Pontiac reception room they knock down a steel
door take 50 new cars start the motors simultaneously and then walk away

after a few minutes the night was illuminated by fires the streets invaded
by looters

the metal grilles for the protection of shop windows are unhinged with
crowbars knocked down by cars and torn with brute force

a fifty-year-old woman with a shopping bag enters a store saying today she
shops for free

a third street was demolished as if it had been bombed reported a
police official

the music was drowned out by the howling of alarms and the sound of
broken glass

17.

what the fuck do I care about the Law

a fifty-year-old woman with a shopping bag enters a store saying today
she shops for free

the shelves of the new supermarket Fedco glistened white and empty
while a mush of various foods stained the floors

when I left the area was on fire and the flames seized the small amount
the looters had left behind

jets of black water from the broken hydrants swept away what remained
of the plunder to the center of the street

we’re going to take what we want and what we want is what we need

21.

namely the problem of power as the fundamental problem

the relationship has become a relationship of power

disintegration confusion chaos and general unrest there’s no end in
sight and it’s doubtful anyone would deny this

it is the level to which he said the internal contradictions of the bour-
geoisie have fallen

but the fact remains the movement is obstinate and not just capable
of renewing itself

it is a new concept emerging it is the concept of direct counterpower

to continually renew the conceptual forms in which it expresses
the struggle

they have turned all the struggles in this direction

and I believe that the entire series of factors that we are beginning to
understand now as conclusive confirms the struggle of the worker

in the first place the definitive collapse of the state’s ability to mediate
power by law

25.

I write to you opposite the balcony from whence I contemplate the
eternal light whose radiant fire slowly fades on the distant horizon

I often imagine the world turned upside down and the sky the sun the
ocean the entire earth aflame in the void

I assume a thousand arguments I overlook a thousand ideas I reject
then go back to choose again finally I write tear up cancel and often
lose the morning and evening

perhaps I think too much but it seems impossible to me that our
homeland is so ravaged in our time

if I had sold the faith denied the truth busied my wits instead do you
believe I would have lived a more honorable and peaceful life

you persecute your persecutors with the truth

but when I pass before the venerable poor who grow weak as their
veins are sucked by the omnipotent opulence

and when I see so many men ill imprisoned hungry and all the suppli-
ant ones under the terrible scourge of certain laws

no I cannot reconcile myself I shout for revenge

I know my name is on the wanted list

Doctor Pietro Calogero our substitute magistrate for the republic ap-
proves the actions of the penal procedure no.710 / 79 A

with regard to articles 252 253 254 of the penal code we order the arrest of

28.

the high degree of social danger inherent in the choice of implements
and the method of execution

expropriations and searches proletarian fires and corruption of the pub-
lic good kidnappings and sequestering of persons beatings wounds

sufficient evidence of guilt can be inferred from the laws as formulated
in the index books

carried out in houses and adjacent rooms in the middle of the night

1) the copious documentation seized or acquired above all those parts
that celebrate and program the violence and the armed struggle

the final goal being the general overthrow of the existing system

they will arise and assert themselves subversive acts by their nature
promote and incite the violent overthrow of the system

to direct the violent overthrow of the systems that constitute the state

2) from the Red Autonomous magazines that reveal counter-information
and from many other newspapers brochures flyers and from writings that
contain subversive content

and it is imposed because of the exceptional gravity of the threat to the
state and its institutions

34.

let us move forward which means attacking the enemy on the territory
favorable to us and inviting them to immerse themselves in our territory

a tiny fanatical elite that attempt to exorcize their frustrations supported
by sleazy backers

well known connections provide irrefutable evidence in the procession
of mournful events

opinion is no longer based on critical judgment it has become some
other thing

thought and action in a lucid and orderly probative context appear like
inseparable moments of a merciless unity and a rough subversive design

there won’t therefore be a bit of wisdom other than much caution
behind the silence and obscurity of intellectuals

tolerably cannibalistic and regurgitating auto-indulgence and auto-com-
plaisance writing and speaking between drawls and finished sentences

fewer constitutional false alarms at least on the job because we know
almost everything we need to know

the judge must work in peace

not guilty of foul play they say lightly and in bad faith

among the dead that come to life perhaps the most sinister is the most
constant and the least sexy

he has no personality he is only an arm driven by a mind that is foreign

35.

the decade of struggles that are now behind us form the principal
background for the activity of underground groups

as those who really engage in foul play say lightly or in bad faith

this poem should not be published because it is also a political manifesto

a bit of wisdom other than much caution behind the silence and obscurity
of intellectuals

it will then be partial and short-sighted point of view however it is
someone without money nor factories nor business in trade who does
the job of writing

that attempt to exorcize their frustrations

proving an excellent guardian of secluded gardens also serves as a scarecrow

is a dead man reduced to a dumb automaton faithfully following orders

in homage to his docility also takes the nickname Sucker

has no personality he is only an arm driven by a mind that is foreign

but you should never feed him salt that would make him immediately con-
scious of his state without a moment’s delay he would run to the tomb

39.

I saw the first flurry of snow at the end of August

from the night of August 1st three floodlights illuminated my cell every day

I was very nervous and unable to read I couldn’t retain any thoughts for a
long time nor reflect on my situation

like at the cinema when the film ends

I was in the grip of a dangerous disorientation my sense of space and time
was slowing down

the 500-watt lights were mounted at a distance of about 5 meters and
aimed directly at the windows of the cell

the more I sharpened my focus the more the view became vague
and immobile

threads tangled and transformed into spots whose dance moved ever
more slowly

if my concentration waned the glass melted into single dots that
swirled crazily

the guards on the night shift shouted at me to remove the cover from
the window

40.

I was afraid when the snow came into the cell

like at the cinema when the film ends

white threads stirred at the window’s double bars and drifted through
the openings

guards on the night shift shouted at me to remove the cover from
the window

it was like looking through a milky glass sheet

with my eyes closed I walked back and forth in the cell four steps forward
four steps back

I didn’t want them to think I was clutching the bars or looking outside
and planning an escape

from the night of August 1st three floodlights illuminated my cell every day

the contours of the roof and the wall that faces the courtyard for the vans
were cancelled in the storm

threads are entangled and transformed into spots whose dance moved
ever more slowly

forty or fifty thousand people a vast tide of colors and sectors in constant
motion

split up minute after minute in front of the cables that no longer
transmitted the occasional sounds to the vacant air and to life

Translated by Peter Valente
Commune Editions 2017

Posted By

R Totale
Jun 11 2019 18:58

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  • each day in the Italian factories more and more is happening the ill-fated year 1968 is not yet over there are new animals working in Fiat who recall their past their private lives their intolerance of the authorities Fiat fears their hatred of the factory

    Nanni Balestrini

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