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10 November 2023

Interview with Corrado Melluso (Timeo editions)

Author:
Laura Pugno

In this series of interviews, newitalianbooks has decided to give a voice to the new publishing realities of the Italian scene. Today we meet Corrado Melluso who, after the experience of the Not-Nero on Theory series from Nero edizioni, has created, with other partners, the Timeo brand. We asked him our usual question: “How would you explain the Timeo publishing project and its identity to the foreign readers of newitalianbooks?”

 

Corrado Melluso
Timeo is a publishing house that came into being in February 2023. We will be publishing around 15 titles a year, mainly non-fiction, but not exclusively: among the books in the next few months there will be a memoir, a book of short stories, a mutant story of speculative mysticism and a poetic text. Together with Federico Antonini, Federico Campagna and Assunta Martinese, we are trying to rebuild something that had always existed on the Italian publishing scene, but which disappeared a few decades ago: a regional publishing house that restores both a sense of belonging and a critical interlocutor to turn to when it is no longer possible to escape analysing one’s own present and the prospects it offers.

 

A few years ago, I collaborated with Federico Antonini to publish Mark Fisher’s Realismo capitalista (Capitalist Realism), perhaps the book that has had the greatest impact and, at the same time, expressed the feeling of reflexive powerlessness – as Fisher calls it – felt by the younger generations. This book, which notoriously revolved around the question of why it had become easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism, ended with a glimmer of hope: capitalist realism could be overcome overnight, once we were capable of constructing a radically new vision, and with it inventing the rules of a new world from scratch. And Timeo focuses on how the world is conceived, its construction, and the resulting practices, all of which form its central axis of meaning.

 

The first book was an edition of Thomas More’s Utopia, with commentary by China Mieville and Ursula K. Le Guin, who highlight the two great tragedies of utopia: its continual construction and, at the same time, the impossibility of achieving it. Reading More’s text, we discover that what he is describing are the centuries to come (but all to be imagined, from his point of view) of colonial devastation.

 

But the word utopia has taken on an opposite semantic charge over the centuries, denoting the impossibility of a good life. In Deep Listening, Pauline Oliveros recounts the utopia of a lifetime: how she tried (and still tries, through her work and the ongoing work of the Deep Listening Foundation) to broaden collective awareness of the time-space continuum that surrounds us, to define a new way of conceiving the relationship we have with everything around us, and to transmit a method capable of resonating with noise until it is transformed into a harmonic sound. Satoshi Yakamoto’s The White Paper, on the other hand, tells of an evil utopia, one in which we are most at risk of living in and which we must begin to fear. A utopia in which economic value is created by burning energy resources to extract the greatest possible profit, yet which coincides with the environmental devastation of the planet and our probable extinction.

 

Franco Bifo Berardi’s Disertate, the first book we published as “first publisher”, begins with the war in Ukraine: when two armies clash on the battlefield, claiming lives even among the civilian population, there is nothing to celebrate for either side. The noblest action capable of resolving everything in the blink of an eye is the simple and banal desertion of every soldier in the field. A reflection that stems from the observation of a more general trend embodied by the neet, the hikikomori, the great resignations, the silent abandonments and a thousand other trends that see the generation defining itself most as “last” in the face of a future that seems inescapable. Boris Groys’s Filosofia della cura (Philosophy of care), on the other hand, considers what to do once you’ve deserted. On how societies care (and should care) for the physical and symbolic bodies of their inhabitants, and on the fact that it is more necessary than ever to redefine the very concept of health: what is it? What is its purpose? What should we do with it?

 

Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter concludes the series of books published so far by leading us to think beyond the limits of the human and even the organic, in search of useful answers for a new kind of political thinking, one that proposes more sustainable choices, built around greater consideration of the whole complex system of material relations that surrounds us. Bennett calls this ‘vital materialism’, and I believe it is one of the most interesting and necessary postulations for intervening in the present that contemporary philosophy has to offer.

 

In the second half of the year we will be publishing Undrowned. Lezioni di femminismo nero dai mammiferi marini (Undrowned. Black Feminism Lessons from Marine Mammals) by Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Lingua ignota (Unknown Language) by Hildegard de Bingen and Huw Lemmey, Storie dell’arte contemporanea by Andrea Bellini, Ottimismo crudele (Cruel Optimism) by Lauren Berlant, Fare mondi (Emissary’s Guide to Worlding) by Ian Cheng and Isole (Islands), a book of extraordinary short stories that marks Nicolas Jaar’s narrative debut.

 

In order to be the first to implement the experimental principles we are proposing in terms of philosophical speculation, we are experimenting with new forms of online presence, offering ‘deplatforming’ and a tool for contacting and discussing with the publisher directly. At www.time0.zone, you’ll find a small social network that we’ve built to demonstrate that it’s possible to live a social life without likes, algorithmic content, sponsored advertising or a strict chronological criterion for displaying content, showing that a healthier online presence is indeed possible, which even allows us to dispense with any form of moderation.

 

In short, our aim is to become a constant laboratory in which to play with utopian thought and practice, in which to listen and be aware of the constantly evolving exchange with others. We want to build a publishing house that is open to dialogue and attentive to the critical questions of our times, aware of the impermanence of all practices and curious about all forms of subversion of reality.

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