Monty Cantsin, pseudonym of Luther Blissett and Karen Eliot
David Zack recalls: "Maris and I were in Portland. We'd been working with a Xerox 3107 that makes big copies and reductions. We were making giant folios; monster folios and dinosaur folios we called them. And one night Maris started fooling around with the tape recorder, singing songs in Latuvian about toilets and traffic. Well, we decided to make a pop star out of Maris. But it had to be an open pop star, that is, anyone who wanted could assume the personality of the pop star. This open pop star would be the most talented in history, better than Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Sal Mineo and even Ry Cooder all rolled together in one. Pop stars have always been special to me, growing up the son of a symphony conductor the way I did. To me they stand for rebellion and acceptance, revolution and success and a whole lot of other things at the same time. We were mouthing Maris Kundzins' name, and it came out Monty Cantsins. Then we got to saying can't sin and can't sing and quite a few other things to give the impression that this pop star could be a thief as well as a saint."
Monty Cantsin is another name for Karen Eliot. Like Karen Eliot it refers to an individual human being who can be anyone. The name is fixed, the people using it aren't. The purpose of many different people using the same name is to create a situation for which no one in particular is responsible and to practically examine philosophical notions of identity, individuality, originality, value and truth originating in a Platonic metaphysics of presence.
Anyone can become Monty Cantsin simply by adopting the name, but they are only Monty Cantsin for the period in which they adopt the name. Monty Cantsin was materialised, rather than born. When one becomes Monty Cantsin one's previous existence consists of the acts other people have undertaken using the name. This, of course, creates severe problems for the philosophical problematic of personal identity. When one becomes Monty Cantsin one has no family, no parents, no birth. Monty Cantsin was never born, but rather this staggering figure materialised from social forces, constructed as a means of entering the shifting terrain that circumscribes culture.
"Monty Cantsin," the man "who can't sin" is both attribute of a spiritual leader and the name of every 'Neoist.' His primary task was to convince others to adopt his name and thereby undergo a gnostic self-purification, transmuting into a time- and bodiless being, the "collective soul" or "world spirit" in the promised land of "Akademgorod." Like Rudolf Steiner, the 'Neoists' believed in a correspondence of material and 'spiritual' spheres and used to sign their letters with "As above so below."
The 'Neoist' project was an attempt to fuse Steiner's dialectical immaterialism with the totalitarian aesthetics of romanticism. Its sign of recognition, a flaming steam iron, is basically a Steinerian emblem: The burning glue on the iron exemplifies the "anthroposophistic" dialectic of entropy, warm and amorphous versus hard and cold material. The flame on the iron and the blood of the 'Neoist' stand for a constant supply and conservation of energy. Just like the "Anthroposophists," the 'Neoists' seeked to 'warm the world by attaching chaotic elements to it. Guiding their audience to do the same, they tried to evoke its hidden faculties. Hence the slogan "everybody can become Monty Cantsin" had a different implication than "everybody is an artist" in Pop Art.'
Akademgorod, the final stage of material transformation and collective spiritualization, is prefigured in Rudolf Steiner's comment on the divinity of bees. The 'Neoists' adapted his theory of the correspondence between the cell-structure of bee-wax and the cell-structure of blood in their "Blood Campaign" and their "Data Cells." The bee-hive as a transcendental, self-sufficient collective space is the model of "Akademgorod." According to Steiner, the bee creates warmth with its breast muscles. He describes honey as the product of an alchemical transformation: just like a 'Neoist,' the bee "collects what is there and takes it to a higher level."