Q. and not U.
(or, Conspiracy Means To Breathe Together)
Presented as part of Disinformation Cultures
- Jean-Luc Picard
- Speech 2 Text
- Wu Ming 1
- Q.(Star Trek)
- James Bond
- Talking Head
- Jodi Dean
- Q.(Bond 2)
- Counselor Troi
- Talking Head 2
- Stéphane Chapheau
JLP: What do you want Q!? You state your business and get on with it!
S2T: ‘… We’ve never had any interest in generic calls to peace: war today, like war four centuries ago, has its own very powerful raison d’être, deeply rooted in the criminal economic and political choices of the multinational powers and nation-states. The choices of the United States, like those of the empire of Charles V. Just as there is a nauseating reason for ethnic cleansings and reprisals, a reason that does not belong to us, and which we have never stopped fighting against […] It would be immoral and incoherent not to use every space and every public occasion to denounce the madness of the rulers and the apathy of the ruled.’
WM1: Of course, I know him, yes, very famous…
QG: What QAnon is is just an amalgamation of all of the greatest conspiracy theories, thrown into one, uh… belief.
JLP: Simply speaking, we don’t trust you.
Q.: Oh! Well. You may not trust me, but you do need me. You’re not prepared for what awaits you.
JLP: …Can we be prepared for that which we do not know? But I do know we are ready to encounter it. Yes, absolutely. That’s why we’re out here.
Q.: Oh! The arrogance! They don’t have a clue as to what’s out here.
G: They will learn. Adapt. That is their greatest advantage.
Q.: They’re moving faster than expected. Further than they should.
JLP: By whose calculations?
WM1: Posts signed by Q started to be published by an anonymous source, allegedly writing from the top levels of the government – US government – machine. Very cryptic messages, which came to be referred to as Breadcrumbs. Messages that don’t appear to make any sense at all, or are open to any interpretation.
Q.: Oh, you’d like me to connect the dots for you, lead you from A to B to C so that your puny mind could comprehend. How. Boring.
Chorus: Boring! Boring! [laughs]
WM1: Users call themselves Bakers. Because they make all these breadcrumbs into dough.
JB: Does it do anything?
Q.: It tells the time.
WM1: What is the paranoid style? Paranoid style is a phrase that was used for the first time by a political scientist – an American political scientist – called Richard Hofstader, in an essay which he wrote in 1964, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics.” Basically what he said was that conspiracy theories are defined by the paranoid style.
Q.: Pedantic psychobabble.
45: If I can help save the world from problems, I’m willing to do it. I’m willing to put myself out there. And we are, actually. We’re saving the world from a Radical Left philosophy that will destroy this country, and when this country is gone, the rest of the world will follow.
WM1: “Future proves past.”
JLP: What’s today’s date? The date!
WM1: “Learn to read the map.”
JLP: Mr. Data, what can you tell us?
WM1: “Godfather 3.”
CSD: Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in!
Chorus: [laughs] Eh? Is that Pacino or is that Pacino?
Chorus: Fucking spitting image.
S2T: Q’s Diary: Innocence has been lost over the half-century that lies behind us, along with the hopes that I have helped to destroy: I nurture no illusions of escaping the fate that I know awaits me. It is not life that concerns me, because apart from the plan I am nothing but an old unarmed mercenary, surrounded by corpses. The ones who were left in the battlefield, and the ones who are taking over the world. I will not flee in the face of any of them, but my task ends here. Others will take the plan to its conclusion. I am preparing to meet one last old adversary, I hope that he will be the one to take the light from the eyes that have served You so loyally throughout my life. A life that has slipped away along with the thousands of others who have, decade after decade, drowned in blood. A life that I am choosing to finish in my own way.
WM1: Ok. Q.
Q.: Do we stay out here years? Decades? I’m ageless. You are not.
TH: The most far out of these beliefs say that celebrities and political elites actually farm children in underground caves so that they can drink blood, which supposedly staves off aging.
Q.: This is the proper venue for our discussion.
WM1: 17 17 17 17 17 17 17 17 17 17 17….
WM1: … conveyed through letters, signed Qoèlet. Ok, which is a book of the Bible. It means “Preacher,” in Hebrew.
WM1: The theory is that there is a cabal that has been running the US government and the whole planet for decades for the purpose of having a child sex ring in the back ground. They’re all paedophiles.
S2T: ‘Filthy fuckers, queer-lovers, Jew-lovers!’ A slap. ‘The party’s over!’
JD: Symbolic efficiencies refers to the way that symbols symbolize. The decline of symbolic efficiency, then, points to a decrease in the circulatory capacities of symbols. Outside of a specific context they’re opaque, unmeaningful, they don’t translate. […] Facts, theories, judgments, opinions, fantasies, jokes, lies: they circulate indiscriminately.
WM1: In the first half of 2018, the QAnon community moved from 4chan and 8chan – image board and sites where you can do anything you want, without normal direction. They moved form there to Reddit, YouTube, and Twitter. They colonized vast areas of those social media, to the extent that in April 2018, the QAnon app, called Qdrops, was launched. It made the top seller’s list in Apple’s App store and Google’s Play store.
JD: Right, “there’s an app for that.”
Q. (Bond 2): Here’s a nice little transmitting device.
JD: Social media are not powerful forces specifically for egalitarian people’s struggles. Particularly when they occlude class antagonism. Anyone can use them: states, capitalists, nationalists, fascists.
QG: The only reason I have this red hat on right now, which I still feel like an idiot sometimes wearing it, is because I believe this is a real thing.
CT: We’re not dealing with an individual mind. They don’t have a single leader. It’s the collective minds of all of them
JLP: That would have definite advantages.
CT: Yes, a single leader can make mistakes, which is far less likely in the combined whole.
Q. (Bond2): Right.
WM1: It’s a participatory conspiracy theory.
JD: These networks presuppose and intensify individualism, such that widely shared ideas and concerns are conceived less in terms of a self-conscious collective, less in terms of class, than they are as viruses, mobs, trends, moments, and swarms.
TH2: The thing that really scares me the most about Q is that it has all the right ingredients for geniuine and sincere and intense violence.
WM1: The allegedly underlying theory which is called The Storm.
Chorus: They’re breaking the window! Hit it! Hit it! Go!
SC: We are not English! We are not the King’s Men! We are free! But the King sent these Red Coats to push us around. They are not our masters! This is our city! Let’s show them who owns it. It’s time to fight!
S2T: The new age that You are preparing to inaugurate will have to forget its anonymous architects, the ones who have seen to it that events fitted together in accordance with the plan. The illustrious names of the defeated and the victors remain in the chronicles, available to anyone who wants to reconstruct the intricate events of an era and that which it produced. When those deeds are long gone and those lives have made way for the future, not a trace will remain of that silent army of soldiers of fortune and obscure labyrinth-builders. So it is only a matter of hastening the moment of that disappearance, just enough to allow us to escape the final execution.
Q.: No and no.
Q.: If you can’t take a little bloody nose maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It’s not safe out here. It’s wondrous. With treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross. But it’s not for the timid.
JD: These struggles unfold in a turbulent information and communication environment, where information and communication are weapons and forces, as well as setting and environment.
WM1: After all, we’ve learned a lot about how internet communities can manipulate public attention and media to make themselves appear larger and more powerful than they are.
QG: I’ve only been actively posting, I’d say, for the past couple of months, but the responses I’ve gotten is insane. I mean, people are online looking for this stuff right now.
JD: You know, some people argued that what was most significant about the movement was the use of social media. That’s a mistake that works to deradicalize the movement. Rather than remaining inside, in front of their screens, people went outside. That’s kind of amazing in the United States, people were no longer just sort of trapped in their apartments. People experienced working together directly face to face working with strangers for a political purpose.
Q.: The trial never ends. We wanted to see if you had the ability to expand your minds and your horizons. And for one brief moment you did.
JLP: When I realized the paradox.
Q.: Exactly. For that one fraction of a second, you were open to options you had ever considered. That is the exploration that awaits you.
QG: And we are large, we are strong. And “where we go 1 we go all.”
WM1: They start to play a game, which consists in putting all existing conspiracy theories together in order to build the narrative of a mega meta conspiracy theory, linking everything, ok, encompassing everything, explaining everything. It’s a game they are playing for the sake of parody, for the sake of satire. But, in the end, they eerily start to believe their own fabrication. Conspiracy theorists provide these to people and channel the people’s anxiety about their lives into a belief in an all explaining narrative. Very often, satire feeds the same vicious circle as any other kind of coverage. Every intent and critical aspect of parody evaporates in a very short time, because for a conspiracist mentality there’s no excessive interpretation. Everything is believable. OK? The impossibility of an effectively critical parody of conspiracies: parody is impossible. Conspiracism provides a parodistic description of how capitalism works. No? Everything’s decided, everything’s intentional.
On January 6, 2021, Americans learned what Italians have known since the 2001 G8 summit in Genoa: power is not a site to which one can lay siege. It is past time to retire this Medieval fantasy of the sovereign confined inside the walls of their castle.Q. and not U. (or, Conspiracy Means To Breathe Together) is a plunderphonic exercise in free association. The length of this radio play was determined by one solo match of the videogame Fortnite Battle Royale.
Darin Barney et al., eds. The Participatory Condition in the Digital Age. 2016.
Luther Blissett. Q. Shaun Whiteside, trans. 1999.
Umberto Eco. Foucault’s Pendulum. William Weaver, trans. 1989.
Richard Hofstadter. The Paranoid Style in American Politics. 1964.
Jodi Dean, “The Limits of the Web in an Age of Communicative Capitalism.” Left Forum. Connolly Books, Temple Bar, Dublin. 29 June 2013.
Wu Ming 1 (Roberto Bui). “Beyond the Paranoid Style: A Lecture on Conspiracism with Focus on QAnon.” Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, McGill University, Montréal. 20 September 2018.
Films, Television, Internet
BBC Newsnight. “QAnon: The conspiracy theory spreading fake news.” 23 July 2020.
Capitol Riots, 6 January 2021.
From Russia With Love (1963).
Star Trek: The Next Generation, “Encounter at Farpoint” (1987), “Q Who” (1989), “All Good Things…” (1994).
Fortnite Battle Royale
Assassin’s Creed III: “Boston Tea Party”
CENSOR was discovered by Joseph Sannicandro, a doctoral candidate in the department of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota. His work explores creative labor and (un)popular culture, encompassing the philosophy of technology, media theory, and institutional critique. His dissertation explores the nature of doing things together through a cultural history of aesthetics and politics in post-1968 Italy. His work has appeared in publications including eContact, dpi., Carceral Notebooks, The Journal for Sonic Studies, and in edited book collections. He is co-founder of the music blog A Closer Listen, and producer of Sound Propositions, a series of audio documentaries profiling musicians and sound artists.