Let’s not talk about desires anymore: Radio Alice through the looking glass.

‘Radio alice broadcasts: music, news, flowered gardens, rants, inventions, discoveries, recipes, horoscopes, magic filters, love, bulletins of war, photos, messages, messages, lies... radio alice broadcasts all sorts of things: whatever you want, whatever you don’t want, what you think and whatever you think you think, come over and say it, or give us a call.’

A tale begun in other days,

When summer suns were glowing –

A simple chime, that served to time

The rhythm of our rowing

The recordings are fuzzy, the kind of sonic hiss that makes you sit up and listen lest you miss a word. They give you everything and assume your full attention in return. Listen closely and you can hear every doubt in the room, every smirk, every rogue eyelash landing gently on the cheek. Analogue is a promise, and more - a well shaken coca cola. To press play is to fall backwards, welcome the spirits into your home, bottled up phantasms that fizz out through the speakers. Tempo rubato. Portals of stolen time seething with the energy of the past. Breathing together.

In 2016 I got the train from Padova to Bologna. When I exited the station I was greeted by a mass of chanting football fans, their collective voice a wall that stopped me in my tracks. One huge lung, the air above them a puncture of fists and flags. I’d been living in Italy for just three months and this was my first jaunt out of Veneto. I don’t know what I expected, but I was surprised at how youthful the city seemed, or maybe it was just the summer. Umberto Eco noted how the city resembled Cy Twombly paintings, the walls of its renowned arcades covered with graffiti, no scribble more or less important than the last. They invite participation, multiply, ‘two of them created an epidemic’. During that year I became an unassuming comedian, making people laugh wherever I went with my inadvertently surreal use of language. My poor italian was squashed by my desperation to communicate and I travelled around on my days off asking for sacks of oranges in cafes or requesting tiny, tiny tickets from bus drivers. That year, I existed somewhere on the cusp of language, slipping around at its edges, and it was fun, an adventure even. Like a child I learnt to play with the sounds tumbling around my mouth. I was forced to slow down, invent new ways of communicating my desires, look twice at everything, alter my perceptions. ‘Why?’ became a mantra that hung between my lips. Occasionally it brought trouble, this peripheral living, but it had its uses too. When I was approached by the ticketmaster on the train back to Padova, I understood I had the wrong ticket, and in order to avoid a fine, reclined into the non-speech of that edge, ‘Huh? Ermmmm? hmmm.’ Luckily for me, it worked.

Bologna in the years 1974-1977, has been compared to Paris in 1968; ‘an immense ethical-political laboratory building the foundations of the world to come’. The arrival of that world has since been deferred but visiting the city, even now, it’s easy to see why it became the stage for Italy’s attempt at a new future. Bologna is known affectionately by three different names; La Rossa, La Dotta and La Grassa, which speak respectively to the city’s historical political disposition, it’s vibrant student culture and it’s nourishing, hearty love of food and life. A free commune in the Roman Empire, and the anti-fascist capital of the Second World War, it’s red leanings are still visible today. Returning to the city in January this year, I was once again struck by the vibrancy of it’s streets. Students and refugees drink together in le piazze, an artist in a side street works on a huge collage - a patchwork sheet that hangs from two windows. Another stands outside a bookshop promoting his new comic strip - humorous variations of the hammer and sickle with captions such as ‘compagni sporcaccioni’’ and ‘comangi confusi’. Elsewhere, offices had been opened up to house exhibitions by local artists, a young boy plays piano outside the cathedral and a freshly pasted poster exclaims ‘if something you recognise as being wrong is not being changed, you have to be the one to change it’. This is the spirit from which Radio Alice was conceived, A spirit which still pulsates within the city walls, one of imagination, joy, integrity and above all, good humour.

Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, `and what is the use of a book,' thought Alice `without pictures or conversation?'

Radio Days 

Born under the sign of aquarius, Radio Alice took its first breath on the 9th February 1976 using an ex-military transmitter on a frequency of 100.6MHz.

Here Radio Alice

Finally Radio Alice

You’re listening on the frequency of 100.6 megahertz and you will continue to hear us for a long time, if the Germans don’t kill us.

Radio Alice, and this is Jefferson Airplane with White Rabbit …

Within the context of a state monopoly of communications, the birth of free radios in 1970s Italy marked the start of a new relationship to media. The airwaves opened up to constitute an alternative arena in which the closed ‘one-many’ relationship of sanctioned communication became a spontaneous, participatory ‘many-many’ network. Doors and telephone lines were left open for anyone who wanted to be heard, ‘Alice is the voice of those who have never had a word.’ Essentially a rudimentary version of the internet, it was a democratic and open-source network of free interlocutors. But perhaps one of the biggest achievements of Radio Alice, in the mere 13 months of its broadcast, were the social relations it was able to organise around it. Radio asserts a sense of intimacy with its listeners, and coupled with Alice’s radical openness - to all sounds, colours and vibrations, she carved out a space where expression could thrive unrestrained.

Phone Call 1: We are workers on strike, we want you to play some music and we want to talk about the 35 hour week…

Phone Call 2: Dirty communists, we’re going to make you pay dearly for this radio station, we know who you are…

Phone Call 3: We are from the anti-fascist committee of Rizzoli Hospital, don’t worry about anything, and call up if something happens, we are here night and day

Technology became a catalyst for action, as this expression manifested itself materially, spilling out into the Piazza’s. In this respect, Radio Alice was a blueprint for movements of more recent times, such as the Arab Spring or Occupy, who utilised social media as an organisational tool. The difference being the inherent autonomy of pirate radio, a technology which sits outside of commercial or state interference. That interference has now become so insipid that perhaps it is difficult to imagine something like Radio Alice today. The internet, for example, is now a long way from the cyber-utopia that was envisioned in the 90s by the likes of John Perry Barlow, and our media landscape has been sabotaged by the infinite proliferation of capital entangled within an ever accelerating infosphere. The current landscape is one in which the limits of our minds, bodies, and souls have been reached, not to mention the limits of our planet. Capitalism has seized our perception of time, and the trusted future of the 20th century has all but disappeared. To this extent, the year of 1977 could be seen as a turning point, a year when that belief in the future started to wane. It was the year the Sex Pistols, cried ‘no future’ from behind dead eyes, the year political tensions came to the boil and Alice was stormed by armed cabinieri and shut down. Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi, one of the founders of the station, observed that ‘rather than a year, ‘68 is the name of a mindset which actually prevailed in the world throughout two decades (In Italy, it lasted from 1960 to 1977). In this sense, ‘68 means the opening of the heart and of the brain to the emergence of countless possibilities’. It was expected that a social consciousness would take control over technological change, direct it toward the common good, but in reality, the opposite occurred. 1977 was the year the lights started to flicker and dim and the illusion of infinite progress began to unravel, giving way to what ‘Bifo’ later termed ‘the slow cancellation of the future’. Alice was defeated in 1977, went underground, but the devil has returned to earth, she roams through our neighbourhoods, our schools, our offices. The devil is everywhere, all at once. The devil is Alice. 

"Where do you come from?” said the Red Queen.

“And where are you going? Lookup, speak nicely, and don’t twiddle your fingers all the time.”

Alice attended to all these directions, and explained, as well as she could, that she had lost her way.

“I don’t know what you mean by your way,” said the Queen: “all the ways about here belong to me"

Anti-Political Politics

Whilst the protest movements of other European countries had burnt out in the year or two following May 1968, in Italy, this moment of political unrest stretched out to fill the next nine years. During the early 1970s there was an outbreak of struggles against the traditional establishments of the left; the trade unions, the Communist Party, and other vanguard groups which, alongside the rise of the women’s movement, produced a crisis for these organisations and led to their subjects dissolving to form a constellation of smaller, autonomous fractions. One of the largest of these was the Marxist-Leninist Potere Operaio, from which a huge section of the left had dispersed, including the founders of Radio Alice. These new autonomie consisted of diverse subjectivities not typically represented by the ‘zombies’ of the old left. Feminists, students, homosexuals, the unemployed and migrant workers from the South created a molecular network that organised themselves around different social practices, but ultimately shared the same goal of autonomous struggle against the established political system. This movement came to be known as Autonomia. It was a movement without a head, without a center, ‘the body without organs of politics, anti-hierarchic, anti-dialectic, anti-representative. It is not only a political project, it is a project for existence’. Unlike the struggles of 1968, Il movimento 77 had broken all ties with the institutional left, cemented by the ‘historical compromise’, a coalition of sorts between the ICP and the conservative Christian Democrats. The gulf between the party and the people it was supposed to represent became so wide that they came to consider each other outright enemies. The ICP failed to tap into the counter-cultural moment of the 60s and 70s as they stagnated in austere, bureaucratic authoritarianism. Radio Alice and the fractions that surrounded it, it’s sister magazine A/Traverso, the Metropolitan Indians stepped in to fill the void, errupting with a turbulant, carnivalesque, erotic kind of politics, whose caustic irony and satirical wit was a direct assault to the humourless front of the ICP and its affiliates. In one recording from 1976, a voice leaps through an elaborate translation of Francis Picabia’s ‘Cannibal Manifesto’ with increasing speed; ‘In fact, you are serious, no? Serious, serious, serious until death, and death is a serious thing, no? One dies a hero or an idiot but in both cases, it's the same result.’ Just as the Hatter and the Hare live in opposite directions, ‘Visit either you like’, says the Cheshire Cat, ‘they're both mad.'

In another moment Alice was through the glass, and had jumped lightly down into the looking-glass room. The first thing she did was to look whether there was a fire in the fireplace, and she was quite pleased to find that there was a real one, blazing away as brightly as the one she had left behind. “So I shall be as warm here as I was in the old room,” thought Alice: “warmer, in fact, because there’ll be no one here to scold me away from the fire. Oh, what fun it’ll be, when they see me through the glass here and can’t get at me!”

Through the Looking Glass

Lifting its name from the heroine of Lewis Carroll’s ‘Through the Looking Glass’, the station mirrored Carroll’s surreal world of portals and thresholds. ‘Let’s allow holes to grow, let’s not fear orifices, let’s fall into them and pass on elsewhere. Wonderland’. Through speech, silences, flows and rhythms, they toyed with how language itself reflected a worldview of the dominant reality. That worldview was made multiple and tentacular by their broadcast of live telephone calls, something that seems very mundane now, but in fact had never been done before Alice in 1976. Alice was a radical experiment in the laboratory of Bologna, an experiment in thought and speech that wanted to test the limits of established linguistic and cultural norms, and in doing so demonstrate that other discourses, ways of being, and indeed other worlds, are possible. ‘Language is not a means but a practice, an absolutely material terrain, which changes reality, the relationships between classes, the form of interpersonal relationships, the conditions of struggle for power. A field on which a real battle is played, on which real desires act’. Alice understands that there is always a tension between exact language and subjective experience, the more exacting language gets the more diminished that subjective experience becomes, she knows that sooner or later ‘the word comes to swallow the world’ The possibility of self-realisation becomes impossible when drained by binary code of speaking. ‘Who in the world am I?’ Alice wonders, ‘Ah, that's the great puzzle!’ Instead of directly challenging the form of political power, Alice dropped out of Politics suspecting that the real revolution was to be found elsewhere. Rather, her adventure constituted an experiment in producing new forms of social awareness, intangible as that is,  a new consciousness that the world could not continue as it was, that the acceleration of profit was carving out a highway toward apocalypse. The very intangibility of Alice’s project was mirrored in sound, voices separated from their bodies, ‘words in suspension, words that cannot be found and refuses to change into another one, outbursts of laughter, stammering, silence’. It is these gaps in between sound and silence where one can enter through the looking glass, empty spaces that draw attention to the unstated, what is left unsaid. To fall through the looking glass, then, is to shift our attention, to focus in on the cracks. It is here where new fields of imagination are enclosed. ‘Alice opened the door and found that it led into a small passage, not much larger than a rat-hole: she knelt down and looked along the passage into the loveliest garden you ever saw.’  Alice makes us sit up, magnifying glass at the ready. She makes strange by spitting out words, rearranging them, laughing at her creations, playing dress up. She undertakes what Victor Schlovsky called ‘defamiliarization’, a technique of presenting the audience common things in a strange way in order to heighten perceptions of the familiar. If everyday life is so cloaked in routine, it’s possible to move through it automatically and unconsciously, life disappears, its contents having been gobbled up by automatization. Art, then, the language of poetry, exists to restore the sensation of life, to peel back the eye. It exists in order to make us feel things, in order to ‘make a stone stony’.

Or maybe a burst of laughter will show us an instant, together with a small piece of gold hidden right down in the bottom left, the patinated teeth. Now the rice shakes them. All bent, sobbing, they can’t take it anymore. If they can manage it, they’ll keep throwing a word, a word, a word. 

Alice asks the listener to undertake an act of imaginative interpretation. She encourages us to live through the making of a word. What could it mean, the bottom left of a tooth? What rice could possibly shake? Italian is full of double-meanings, ‘riso’ for example, can mean both rice and laughter. Just as a patinated tooth could refer to both a layer which protects from aging, and the result of wear and weather. ‘maybe it’s both, or more’ says Alice, ‘take your time.’ She defamiliarizes by toying with her words, stretching her mouth to the limits (a trick she learnt from the Cheshire Cat). Alice is a place ‘where rabbits wear a waistcoat and the speakers trot’, populated with doubles, a place where meaning has a thousand faces, always mutating. 

Radio Alice is pure air / Radio Alice gives thanks / Radio Alice is good wool / a pole, bale hunter, policeman, vanity, severe moralist / Radio Alice is the Marquis De Sade, / Robin Hood, the reverend Freud, Mandrake, Maria Madalena, Ivan the Terrible, Donkey skin, Guglielmo Marconi Valacarenghi

Desiring Machines

Alice walks the streets of Bologna, twiddling her thumbs, zig-zagging through i portici, pulling raspberries, drinking potions, shrinking, swelling, whatever. Alice sits in silence and watches the clouds. She talks to strangers, animals, flowers. They talk about ‘everyday struggles, every day’. They talk about ‘that which you want and that which you don’t want, that which you think, and that which you think that you think’. Their words drown out those of, ‘the jabberwockies and the zombies, the retired generals and the scabs, the mothers that lie and the babies that always tell the truth, the speculating pharmacists, the christian democrats, the fathers butchers and the eternal fathers, the leaders and the offsiders, the firefighters and the bankers, the forerunners and the standard-bearers’ They speak of what is unspeakable - about magic and desire and the poetry of bodies in motion. ‘Let’s not speak of desires anymore, let’s desire’. Alice nodded in agreement when Joseph Beuys asserted ‘We are the revolution’, and ‘Everyone's an artist’, and set out to abolish not only the divide between speaker and listener, but that of art and life. ‘The true work of art is the body of man moving through all the incredible mutations of one lifetime’. Adapting a practise of Maodadism Alice sculpted a world that called for the transformation of time, of the body, of language, by using a method of subversive assemblage, where a (w)hole is produced alongside its parts. Broadcasting a spontaneous flow of music, poetry, phone calls, yoga, horoscopes and ramblings, Alice was a delirious collage. A collage of subjectivities, of process, of speech genres, of noise, and most importantly, of time. Democratic by nature, collage requires no specific skill, only a curious mind. ‘Collective assemblages of enunciation that absorb or traverse specialities.’ It invites the artist to reposition reality, to slice it, multiply it, and make connections, to go through (A/traversare) the ‘dictatorship of meaning and the ‘separated organisations of discourse’ It short circuits the chronological and actualises the non-linear, a poetics of contradiction. Radio Alice was a blurring of textual and theoretical concerns into embodied experience that took place in the corporeal body of the present. A thinking through doing, producing new frames of reference. A libidinal, ‘desiring machine’, an assemblage of ‘flows, switches, and loops, connective, disjunctive, and conjunctive synthesis - implementing the machinic unconscious as a non-linear pragmatics of flux.’

So she went on, wondering more and more at every step, as everything turned into a tree the moment she came up to it, and she quite expected the egg to do the same

Lavorare con Lentezza

Analogue Radio was the perfect technology for a movement that rejected the future as a cultural idea, the medium becoming the message. In its immediacy, radio lends itself to the idea of a continuous flow of the present. Unlike digital, analogue radio has no delay, it is an opportunity to experience time together, to be with each other in the same instant, listening separately but breathing together. Alice took as it’s theme tune Enzo Del Rey’s ‘Lavorare con Lentezza’, which was played every day from 6:30 to 8:30 in the morning, ‘so you could go to work happier’, and from 2pm to 2am, ‘so you could have something to do while waiting to go to work’. Translating as ‘Work Slowly’, the song shares Alice’s disdain with the imposition, acceleration and totality of work upon life, mocking the absurdity of dead labour and with its languid marching beats that roll round faster and faster before fading back out. A rallying cry that reclines into its tea-break whilst ushering in the next; pausa pausa pausa pausa pausa pausa.

Lavorare con Lentezza

Senza fare alcuno sforzo

Ritmo pausa pausa ritmo

Pausa pausa pausa pausa pausa pausa…

Lavorare con lentezza

Senza fare alcuno sforzo

Il lavoro ti fa male

E ti mana


Lavorare con lentezza

Senza fare alcuno sforzo

La salute non ha prezzo.

Alice argued against work by embodying all that which was seized by it. Succeeding Del Rey was a programme called ‘Far Finta di essere sani’ or ‘Pretend to be healthy’ in which they broadcast yoga lessons and breathing exercises in order to interrupt the language of machines, of work-ethic, of productivity. The programme took its name from a track by Giorgio Gaber, who sings; “There’s no more time for love, there’s no more time for fantasy. Happiness must be chased at all costs...climb, climb, climb the social ladder. Climb up to the sun and then burn. Pretending to be happy....”. These broadcasts were a call to drop out of the race, ‘an invitation not to get up this morning, to stay in bed with someone, to make musical instruments and war devices for yourselves’. It was a way of extending the present, to find space for the soul to catch up, a gesture that flew against the idea that more was always better. In Through the looking Glass, The Red Queen explains to Alice that “Here, you see, it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place”, to which Alice replies “I’d rather not try please”, rejecting the logic of her kingdom with nothing more than a shrug.

‘They keep speaking, throwing symbols, words, portions of symbols, portions of words…they keep speaking of economy, order, democracy, but that has nothing to do with all of us; they want us to work as we used to: silently, quietly, peacefully. Compared to those who talk through radio, TV, newspapers, and academic pulpits, we can only speak from the assembly line, condemned to stick with the production line for the rest of our life in exchange for a salary. The machines speak through an ever-changing iron language, which has been flawlessly tuned up. And we keep answering the orders that the machines quietly give us. They keep talking and everything they say it’s against us, in order to exclude us, in order to scam us, in order to suffer.’

Whilst the assembly line has been swapped out for increasingly more cognitive forms of labour, the ‘running’ to which the Red Queen refers has only increased. Alice was onto something when she spoke of the flawless tuning up of machines, too. The increase of precarious labour has created a situation in which every worker is fighting against the other for the possibility of working tomorrow. It has created competition and aggressiveness, which, alongside the pervasiveness of digital culture, has invaded every space of our imagination. And yet, the force of technology available in the contemporary moment has made it possible to liberate our time from the necessity of labour. It is a real possibility, more so than ever before.  Alice asks us what life would look like in the case of a radical reduction of work, an opening for education, art, sex, music, care and play. She exposes the ‘natural’ state of things for the artificial construction that it is. “There's a lot of talk of the ways in which the masses must make sacrifices. But nobody seems to note that the laws of economics are not a natural fact, and there is no natural reason why life should be constricted within the cage of sacrifices” As Jeremy Corbyn pointed out in 2015, austerity is a political choice, not an economic necessity, something that is beginning to become clear in light of this virus that has abruptly interrupted the ritournelle of unregulated expansion.

And she went on planning to herself how she would manage it. `They must go by the carrier,' she thought; `and how funny it'll seem, sending presents to one's own feet! And how odd the directions will look!



                    NEAR THE FENDER,

                        (WITH ALICE'S LOVE).

Oh dear, what nonsense I'm talking!'


Alice metabolises time and tongue, turns them inside out, upside down to expose the absurdity of their constructions. She does cartwheels around any sniff of dullness, dogmatism or hypocrisy. Her methods can be traced back to Deleuze’s The Logic of Sense. It is a book about the potentials and flows of sense and nonsense which live together, symbiotically, ‘nonsense is the assumption of sense. Without sense there is no nonsense’. Radio Alice opened up political communication to the non-political - the personal, the strange, the banal. The incredible range of Alice’s broadcasts was intended to exceed the limits of what radio communication could be, they left themselves open to the absurd - made a politics out of it. Poetic delirium sat next to real political events, and unreal political events, too.  “I’ve heard nonsense, compared with which that would be as sensible as a dictionary”, says the Red Queen, but is there anything as nonsensical as a dictionary, a telephone book, an encyclopedia? All of which arrange the world on a hermetic surface of arbitrary conventions  Alice uses nonsense to reject the idea of ‘political truth’, exposing the lies of power and revealing their functions. Nonsense revealing more nonsense. In nonsense, anything can cause anything else and everything causes everything else, and Radio Alice engaged with this under their slogan ‘Let’s spread false news that produce real events’.

“ I was at the Radio and I called the head of police telling him that I was a journalist from a big newspaper in Bologna. I told him that I realised he had arrested 35 people and I wanted to know whether he would continue to go on with these politics because the town had been asking him to get rid of these dirty people from the squares for a long time. He said yes, and that he had been waiting for a long time to do it but he would be arresting more people the next day. I then asked whether the arrests would just be confined to drug dealers or to extremists as well because it was surely not enough just to arrest the drug dealers. He agreed and was so happy to speak to a big journalist. But then another section of the police who was listening in to Radio Alice, went to the office of the sheriff to tell him what was happening, so that ended the call. But that was a form of real information. We were obliging the sheriff to tell the truth by us telling a little lie.”

More than a simple prank or act of comedy, this was another attempt at passing through the looking glass. Counter-information restores the truth only in a reflective way, like a mirror, denouncing the lies of power, but not the truth of it. By throwing out false signals and adopting that same voice of power, Alice broke through the mirror to reveal what power hides behind it’s smokescreen, lifting up the mask of neutrality. Today, ‘fake news’ has become a hot topic, it’s been suggested that we live in a ‘post-truth’ era. Fake news, however, has always existed, just as politicians have always lied. The problem is not so much the propagation of fake news, but that people all too often blindly trust it. The infosphere is not based on human time but the time of information, which Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi suggests reduces our capacity for decision-making and emotional elaboration. The collective mind is no longer able to criticise when it is forced outside of its own rhythms. ‘More information, less meaning, more information, less pleasure’ but sensuality is slow, like therapy or  a knotted back, it calls for a deep intense ‘working-out’ when the stimulus is too fast. Alice calls for a refocus of our attention, not in order to decipher what is true or false, which in any case is futile, but back onto the mind. Knowing how to act whether there is truth or not. Alice brought the absurd to the fore, and in doing so started to edge the door open to new truths. She asked us to trust every kind of crazy tale, because, paradoxically, everything is true when everything is fake. What is needed now is a period of radical imagination, one in which we can step outside of what is true and what is false, and begin to search instead for what else is also true. In 2015, Tony Blair wrote an opinion piece for the Guardian titled ‘Jeremy Corbyn’s politics are fantasy - just like Alice in Wonderland.’ He wrote that Jeremy Corbyn was ‘operating in a politics of parallel reality’ suggesting that Corbyn's Labour provided a refuge from ‘real’ reality, before going on to state with confidence that Trump would never be president, nor Corbyn the prime minister of the UK. Obviously, he was wrong about Trump. But even if it’s true that Corbyn never quite made PM, it’s a truth that tells us nothing. A truth that sits alongside other truths just as important; that he inspired a generation otherwise disenfranchised from politics, brought hope and solidarity to millions who went on to form relationships around his ideas, relationships that continue to grow. Alice lives in the multiplication of these other truths, Alice is always elsewhere.

Oh, how I wish I could shut up like a telescope! I think I could, if I only know how to begin.' For, you see, so many out-of-the-way things had happened lately, that Alice had begun to think that very few things indeed were really impossible.

Cospirare vuol dire respirare insieme

At the present moment we are faced with a new emergency — that of a global pandemic. It is no longer the nonsense of man, but an indiscriminate biological sweep that is revealing the absurdist constructions of our political systems. Even before the emergence of Covid-19, the neoliberal order was starting to slip, with uprisings cropping up across Chile, Hong Kong, Iraq, Lebanon and Spain. All of a sudden that future which started to wane back in 1977 seems to have resurrected itself as a renewed possibility. The virus has shone a light on the failings of global capitalism and the practical problems it is producing point directly to socialist solutions. For perhaps the first time, Universal basic income is being seriously considered throughout Europe, and the myth of work is starting to crumble. The financial and technological automatisms that have disabled political subjectivity have been destabilised. Emergencies aren’t just things where everything gets worse. Disasters open up reserves of improvisation, solidarity and resolve, just as they did during those years in Bologna. In everything terrible there is an opportunity. It is only when Bugs Bunny finds himself up against the wall of an alleyway that he remembers his chalk, draws a door and passes through to the other side. The victory of Trump, Brexit, and now, the effects of Covid-19, show us that the inconceivable is indeed possible. “The probable is no friend of the possible”, writes Bifo, ‘the probable is the gestalt that allows us to see what we already know, and at the same time prevents us from seeing what we do not know and yet what is right there in front of our eyes’, suggesting the solution lies not in action but in radical interpretation, in poetry. In a 1983 interview with Nicaraguan poet and priest Ernesto Cardenal, he said of the Sandinistas; ‘The revolutionaries are poets because they have created something new - the whole revolutionary process is a creative act’ Whether a freedom fighter or a fisherman, Alice reminds us that we are all artists infusing meaning constantly into our lives. With the wreckage of this virus comes the opportunity to decide what it is that we want to rebuild, and what it is that we want to forget. The inconceivable is what cannot be translated into an existing concept, it is that which these new worlds must be built upon.

Since it’s insurrection and consequent closure, Radio Alice has entered into a certain mythology. Unavoidably, since only a few crumbs of recordings remain today. Whoever approaches Alice without the shield of memory behind them is destined to retrace the steps of dear old Hansel and Gretal, straight into the witches mouth, and yet maybe these fragments are all that’s needed. Maybe it’s not necessary to know every word, every lyric, every silence, in order to extract value, perhaps it's enough to seize the spirit of Alice, and infuse into our daily lives the energy of her adventures, passed on through stories, mouth to mouth. Alice was a warning, a message in a bottle, an invitation to organise against the devouring of creativity and everyday life. ‘At that point began the crossing of the desert, which isn’t finished yet. A long march though humanity began there. A new politics must look to the social unconscious, social rhythms, social breathing — ‘to conspire means to breathe together’. Let’s read our horoscopes, flower our gardens, stretch out the morning in bed with a lover, curiouser and curiouser. Let’s do nothing. We are ascending through the looking glass, and only Alice knows how beautiful life can be beyond it.

For a PDF copy of this text (including footnotes), a bibliogrphy, or general enquiries, please email: stephaniegavan@gmail.com