The Decameron Burning

You’d think that the state would just give-in under the duress of cool.

The Berlusconi ‘government’ is aiming to cut €9 Billion and 130,000 jobs from education by 2013. In Rome, students protesting these cuts have formed a bookbloc, using shields painted with various titles from literature, philosophy and politics to combat the police. In just political points alone, these students now cannot be defeated.

It is a good lesson in protest. There are different elements to protesting. There is the need for violence at appropriate times, there is the need for non-violence. But  there is also a need, under either of these tactics, to develop a message within the materiality of the protest itself. Protest is irreducibly spectacular.

The use of books forces the materiality of the situation to embody the political situation. The books are used as shields. It is like our only defence, our only protection, is in these books. All we have to put against the violence of the state is inside these books.

Or again, what the police are really smashing are books. If you want to violate these protesters you must violate these books … burn them. The police end up violating knowledge, learning, excellence and so on – which is exactly what the state is doing. The police are Berlusconi and Berlusconi is the police, and both are doing violence. One student is carrying the Italian constitution; it must be quite a site to see a cop smashing it.

The helmets are a nice touch also. Books and helmets are like thought and action. Ideas made counter-violence. It is a very nice composition. The protest makes what we read in books a direct weapon of protest.

The selection is also interesting. Perhaps they are not simply forcing the materiality of the protest to embody the politics of the situation. Perhaps they are providing an indication of the literary resources for fighting back. Perhaps we ought to put these titles onto our reading lists:

Arturo’s Island (Morante), Moby Dick (Melville), What is to be Done? (Lenin), A Thousand Plateaus (Deleuze & Guattari), The Italian Constitution, Satyricon (Petronius), Q (Luther Blissett), The Decameron (Boccaccio).

Tropic of Cancer (Miller), Q (Luther Blissett), A Thousand Plateaus (Deleuze & Guattari), The Republic (Plato), Moby Dick (Melville), The Italian Constitution, Satyricon (Petronius), The Naked Sun (Asimov), The Decameron (Boccaccio), The Prince (Machiavelli).
Don Quixote (Cervantes), Q (Luther Blissett), Arturo’s Island (Morante).

Blindness (Saramago), Moby Dick (Melville), A Thousand Plateaus (Deleuze & Guattari), pǝʎoɹʇsǝp uɐɯoʍ ɐ (ɹıoʌnɐǝq), Satyricon (Petronius), A Thousand Years of Solutide (Marquez), Arturo’s Island (Morante), The Ragazzi (Pasolini).