Life isn’t divided into genres. It’s a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel … with a bit of pornography if you're lucky.
It struck me that it might be interesting for once to do an almost blue-collar warlock. Somebody who was streetwise, working class, and from a different background than the standard run of comic book mystics.
Alan Moore (born November 181953) is a British writer, most famous for his influential work in comic-books and graphic novels.
Yes, there is a conspiracy, in fact there are a great number of conspiracies that are all tripping each other up. And all of those conspiracies are run by paranoid fantasists and ham-fisted clowns.
The truth is, that it is not the Jewish banking conspiracy or the grey aliens or the 12 foot reptiloids from another dimension that are in control. The truth is more frightening, nobody is in control. The world is rudderless.
Now, as I understand it, the bards were feared. They were respected, but more than that they were feared.
It doesn’t even matter if we ever fire these missiles or not. They are having their effect upon us because there is a generation growing up now who cannot see past the final exclamation mark of a mushroom cloud. They are a generation who can see no moral values that do not end in a crackling crater somewhere. I’m not saying that nuclear bombs are at the root of all of it, but I think it is very, very naïve to assume that you can expose the entire population of the world to the threat of being turned to cinders without them starting to act, perhaps, a little oddly. I believe in some sort of strange fashion that the presence of the atom bomb might almost be forcing a level of human development that wouldn’t have occurred without the presence of the atom bomb. Maybe this degree of terror will force changes in human attitudes that could not have occurred without the presence of these awful, destructive things. Perhaps we are faced with a race between the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse in one line and the 7th Calvary in the other. We have not got an awful lot of mid ground between Utopia and Apocalypse, and if somehow our children ever see the day in which it is announced that we do not have these weapons any more, and that we can no longer destroy ourselves and that we’ve got to do something else to do with our time than they will have the right to throw up their arms, let down their streamers and let forth a resounding cheer.
It struck me that it might be interesting for once to do an almost blue-collar warlock. Somebody who was streetwise, working class, and from a different background than the standard run of comic book mystics.Constantine started to grow out of that.
I'm not a millionaire but I'm very comfortable doing what I do, and I'm more productive now than I was in my mid-20s. It's all down to functionality eventually. If you're functional it doesn't matter if you're mad.
Yes, there is a conspiracy, in fact there are a great number of conspiracies that are all tripping each other up. And all of those conspiracies are run by paranoid fantasists and ham-fisted clowns. If you are on a list targeted by the CIA, you really have nothing to worry about. If however, you have a name similar to somebody on a list targeted by the CIA, then you are dead.
I've no objection to the term 'graphic novel,' as long as what it is talking about is actually some sort of graphic work that could conceivably be described as a novel. My main objection to the term is that usually it means a collection of six issues of Spider-Man, or something that does not have the structure or any of the qualities of a novel, but is perhaps roughly the same size.
The main thing that I learned about conspiracy theory is that conspiracy theorists actually believe in a conspiracy because that is more comforting. The truth of the world is that it is chaotic. The truth is, that it is not the Jewish banking conspiracy or the grey aliens or the 12 foot reptiloids from another dimension that are in control. The truth is more frightening, nobody is in control. The world is rudderless.
"The Mindscape of Alan Moore" (2003)
Truth is a well-known pathological liar. It invariably turns out to be Fiction wearing a fancy frock. Self-proclaimed Fiction, on the other hand, is entirely honest. You can tell this, because it comes right out and says, "I'm a Liar," right there on the dust jacket.
In "Correspondence: From Hell" Alan Moore & Dave Sim, part 3, Cerebus #219, (2003)
Admittedly, I do have several bones... whole war fields full of bones, in fact... to pick with organised religion of whatever stripe. This should be seen as a critique of purely temporal agencies who have, to my mind, erected more obstacles between whatever notion of spirituality and Godhead one subscribes to than they have opened doors. To me, the difference between Godhead and the Church is the difference between Elvis and Colonel Parker... although that conjures images of God dying on the toilet, which is not what I meant at all.
In "Correspondence: From Hell" by Alan Moore & Dave Sim, conclusion, Cerebus #220 (2003)
Most of the people who get sent to die in wars are young men who've got a lot of energy and would probably rather, in a better world, be putting that energy into copulation rather than going over there and blowing some other young man's guts out.
"The Craft" - interview with Daniel Whiston, Engine Comics (January 2005)
Life isn’t divided into genres. It’s a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel. You know, with a bit of pornography if you're lucky.
"The Mustard magazine interview" (January 2005)
Now, as I understand it, the bards were feared. They were respected, but more than that they were feared. If you were just some magician, if you'd pissed off some witch, then what's she gonna do, she's gonna put a curse on you, and what's gonna happen? Your hens are gonna lay funny, your milk's gonna go sour, maybe one of your kids is gonna get a hare-lip or something like that — no big deal. You piss off a bard, and forget about putting a curse on you, he might put a satire on you. And if he was a skilful bard, he puts a satire on you, it destroys you in the eyes of your community, it shows you up as ridiculous, lame, pathetic, worthless, in the eyes of your community, in the eyes of your family, in the eyes of your children, in the eyes of yourself, and if it's a particularly good bard, and he's written a particularly good satire then, three hundred years after you're dead, people are still gonna be laughing at what a twat you were.
"The Craft" - interview with Daniel Whiston, Engine Comics (January 2005)
The DC comics were always a lot more true blue. Very enjoyable, but they were big, brave uncles and aunties who probably insisted on a high standard of you know mental and physical hygiene. Whereas the Stan Lee stuff, the Marvel comics, he went from one dimensional characters whose only characteristic was they dressed up in costumes and did good. Whereas Stan Lee had this huge breakthrough of two-dimensional characters. So, they dress up in costumes and do good, but they've got a bad heart. Or a bad leg. I actually did think for a long while that having a bad leg was an actual character trait.
Originally I was content to just simply accept the money, that was offered when people had adapted my comic books into films. Eventually I decided to refuse to accept any of the money for the films, and to ask if my name could be taken off of them, so that I no longer had to endure the embarrasment of seeing my work travested in this manner. The first film that they made of my work was "From Hell" Which was an adaptation of my "Jack the Ripper" narrative … In which they replaced my gruff Dorset police constable with Johnny Depp's Absinthe-swigging dandy. The next film to be made from one of my books was the regrettable "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"… Where the only resemblence it had to my book was a similar title. The most recent film that they have made of mine is apparently this new "V for Vendetta" movie which was probably the final straw between me and Hollywood. They were written to be impossible to reproduce in terms of cinema, and so why not leave them simply as a comic in the way that they were intended to be. And if you are going to make them into films, please try to make them into better ones, than the ones I have been cursed with thus far.
From the BBC2 show The Culture Show (9 March 2006) (seperate quotes shown; edited together for the segment of the show)
If I write a crappy comic book, it doesn't cost the budget of an emergent Third World nation. When you've got these kinds of sums involved in creating another two hours of entertainment for Western teenagers, I feel it crosses the line from being merely distasteful to being wrong. To paint comic books as childish and illiterate is lazy. A lot of comic books are very literate — unlike most films.
I saw no reason why you couldn't create a work of pornography that adhered to all the same standards as the best art or literature. The big difference between art and pornography is that art, at its best, makes you feel less alone. You see a painting or read a piece of writing that expresses a thought that you had but didn't express, and you suddenly feel less alone. Pornography, on the other hand, tends to engender feelings of self-disgust, isolation and wretchedness. I wanted to change that.
Sexually progressive cultures gave us mathematics, literature, philosophy, civilization and the rest, while sexually restrictive cultures gave us the Dark Ages and the Holocaust. Not that I’m trying to load my argument, of course.
I did an interview where I was asked for the best advice I'd been given. I couldn't think of anything, so I read from the back of a packet of Swan Vestas matches by the phone: "Keep in a dry place, keep away from children and strike gently away from the body." They'd written it up without any sense of irony.
There's been a growing dissatisfaction and distrust with the conventional publishing industry, in that you tend to have a lot of formerly reputable imprints now owned by big conglomerates. As a result, there's a growing number of professional writers now going to small presses, self-publishing, or trying other kinds of [distribution] strategies. The same is true of music and cinema. It seems that every movie is a remake of something that was better when it was first released in a foreign language, as a 1960s TV show, or even as a comic book. Now you've got theme park rides as the source material of movies. The only things left are breakfast cereal mascots. In our lifetime, we will see Johnny Depp playing Captain Crunch.
Maybe the world..has run out of room..for monsters.
There is a red and angry world... Red things happen there.
The world eats your wife...
Eats your friends...
Eats all the things... that make you human...
And you become a monster.
And the world... just keeps on eating.
There are people. There are stories. The people think they shape the stories, but the reverse is often closer to the truth.
"Down Among the Dead Men", Swamp Thing Annual #2, 1985
Murder? Don't talk to me about murder. I invented murder!
You can't kill a vegetable by shooting it in the head.
Floronic Man, Saga of the Swamp Thing #21 (The Anatomy Lesson)
"If you wear black, then kindly, irritating strangers will touch your arm consolingly and inform you that the world keeps on turning.
They're right. It does.
However much you beg it to stop.
It turns and lets grenadine spill over the horizon, sends hard bars of gold through my window and I wake up and feel happy for three seconds and then I remember.
It turns and tips people out of their beds and into their cars, their offices, an avalanche of tiny men and women tumbling through life...
All trying not to think about what's waiting at the bottom.
Sometimes it turns and sends us reeling into each other's arms. We cling tight, excited and laughing, strangers thrown together on a moving funhouse floor.
Intoxicated by the motion we forget all the risks.
And then the world turns...
And somebody falls off...
And oh God it's such a long way down.
Numb with shock, we can only stand and watch as they fall away from us, gradually getting smaller...
Receding in our memories until they're no longer visible.
We gather in cemeteries, tense and silent as if for listening for the impact; the splash of a pebble dropped into a dark well, trying to measure its depth.
Trying to measure how far we have to fall.
No impact comes; no splash. The moment passes. The world turns and we turn away, getting on with our lives...
Wrapping ourselves in comforting banalities to keep us warm against the cold.
"Time's a great healer."
"At least it was quick."
"The world keeps turning.
Once we were very different — our psyches constantly at war — [so] we struck a bargain, a spiritual compromise. We would grow more like each other, there would be a balance, but a bargain with a demon is no bargain at all. Demons cheat; it is their nature. Oh yes, I have grown more like Etrigan, and he… he too has grown more like Etrigan.
Jason Blood, Saga of the Swamp Thing #27 ("By Demons Driven")
They were kept in the dark, squatting there with nothing to dwell upon beyond the fact they were unclean. Even the touch of their shadow would sour the land, blighting crops that grew there....At the end of their confinement they were led out blinking into the harsh and masculine glare of the sun. Their clothing was taken from them and destroyed. Their anger in darkness turning, unreleased, unspoken, its mouth a red wound...
There is a house above the world, where the over-people gather.
There is a man with wings like a bird.
There is a man who can see across the planet and wring diamonds from its anthracite.
There is a man who moves so fast that his life is an endless gallery of statues.
In the house above the world, the over-people gather...
...To a dry, mad voice that whispers of Earthdeath.
Swamp Thing #24
It's a new world, Arcane...
It's full of shopping malls...
and striplights and software. The dark corners are being pushed back...
a little more every day.
We're things of the shadow, you and I...
And there isn't as much shadow...
as there used to be..
Laurie: You're telling me! I remember, I caught him coming out of this jeweller's. I didn't know what his racket was. I start hitting him and I think "Jeez! He's breathing funny! Does he have asthma?
Dan: Ha Ha Ha. He tried that with me, only I'd heard about him, so I just walked away. He follows me down the street… broad daylight, right? He's saying "PUNISH me!" I'm saying "No! Get lost!"
Laurie: Ha Ha Ha. What ever happened to him?
Dan: Well, he pulled it on Rorschach, and Rorschach dropped him down an elevator shaft.
Laurie: PHAAA HA HA HA! Oh, God, I'm sorry, that isn't funny, Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!
Dan: Ha Ha Ha! No, I guess it's not...
Laurie:Ahuh. Ahuhuhuh...Jeez, y'know, that felt Good. There don't seem to be that many laughs around these days.
Dan: Well, what do you expect? The Comedian is Dead.
Watchmen # 1
I looked at the Rorschach blot. I tried to pretend it looked like a spreading tree, shadows pooled beneath it, but it didn’t. It looked more like a dead cat I once found, the fat, glistening grubs writhing blindly, squirming over each other, frantically tunneling away from the light. But even that is avoiding the real horror. The horror is this: In the end, it is simply a picture of empty meaningless blackness. We are alone. There is nothing else.
Dr. Malcolm Long, Watchmen #6
We’re all puppets, Laurie. I’m just a puppet who can see the strings.
Doctor Manhattan, in Watchmen #9 (referring to Doctor Manhattans's theory of time)
"In the end? Nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing ever ends."
When you find yourself locked onto an unpleasant train of thought, heading for the places in your past where the screaming is unbearable, remember there's always madness. Madness is the emergency exit. You can just step outside, and close the door on all those dreadful things that happened. Forever.
I've demonstrated there's no difference between me and everyone else! All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. That's how far the world is from where I am. Just one bad day.
People still sometimes glance up hopefully from the sidewalks, glimpsing a distant speck in the sky... but no: it's only a bird, only a plane — Supermandied ten years ago.
This is an imaginary story (which may never happen, but then again may) about a perfectman who came from the sky and did only good. It tells of his twilight, when the great battles were over and the great miracles long since performed; of how his enemies conspired against him and of that final war in the snowblind wastes beneath the Northern Lights; of the women he loved and of the choice he made between them; of how he broke his most sacred oath, and how finally all the things he had were taken from him save one. It ends with a wink. It begins in a quiet midwestern town, one summer afternoon in the quiet midwestern future. Away in the big city, people still sometimes glance up hopefully from the sidewalks, glimpsing a distant speck in the sky... but no: it's only a bird, only a plane — Supermandied ten years ago. This is an imaginary story... aren't they all?
There's no flesh and blood within this cloak to kill. There is only an idea. Ideas are bulletproof.
In fact, let us not mince words… the management is terrible! We’ve had a string of embezzlers, frauds, liars, and lunatics making a string of catastrophic decisions. This is plain fact. But who elected them? It was you! You who appointed these people! You who gave them the power to make decisions for you! While I’ll admit that anyone can make a mistake once, to go on making the same lethal errors century after century seems to me to be nothing short of deliberate. You have encouraged these malicious incompetents, who have made your working life a shambles. You have accepted without question their senseless orders. You have allowed them to fill your workplace with dangerous and unproven machines. All you had to say was “No.” You have no spine. You have no pride. You are no longer an asset to the company.
Happiness is the most insidious prison of all.
Did you think to kill me? There's no flesh or blood within this cloak to kill. There is only an idea. Ideas are bulletproof.
Science looks at the universe, doesn’t see itself there, doesn’t see mind there, so you have a world in which mind has no place.
There is only one awareness here, that is trying out different patterns. We are going to have to come to some resolution about a lot of things in the next twenty years time, our notions of time, space, identity.
There is something strange looming on the human horizon. If you draw a graph of all our consciousness, there is a point we seem to be heading towards.
I can’t see coherent political structures in the traditional sense lasting beyond the next twenty years, I don’t think that would be possible.
The origin of money is something to do with representational thinking.
I like a film where you can see every penny of the budget up there on the screen.
I’ve known a lot of people go mad over the years, and it is more distressing than people dying. People dying is quite natural, people going mad is the complete antithesis of that.
The thing you learn about waves, is that when you see a big one coming, you run towards it.
There is a big event in the future and because time is not what we think it is, that event radiates in all directions. We are entering its field and have been for hundreds of years. We are starting to approach the core of it.
It’s only science that cannot consider thought as a real event, and science is not reality. It’s a map of reality, and not a very good one. It’s good, it’s useful, but it has its limits.
The difference between religion and magic … I think you could map that over those two poles of fascism and anarchism. Magic is closer to anarchism.
Hollywood, television and film is not my prime area of interest. Because I would never have any control, working in those areas. It’s nice to get the money from a Hollywood project, but whatever they do with it, it would be their piece of work, and not mine.
There is a kind of synergy between the different forms of work, you’ll learn things from one sort of work that will have tremendous application in another. They all tend to pull each other forward.
I have a more fractal way of working, if you like, it is more like the way most people’s minds actually work. They don’t work in any linear way. When your mind wanders if you ever pay attention to some of the paths it takes, you generally find it’s these paths of association that can link all over the place. …The movements of the mind don’t follow any linear pattern, they can’t be explained with a mechanistic, clockwork view. You could find quantum models of how the mind works that might fit.
All our scientific observations of the universe and quanta can only, in the end, be observations of ourselves.
Mind has come up with this brilliant way of looking at the world — science — but it can’t look at itself. Science has no place for the mind. The whole of our science is based upon empirical, repeatable experiments. Whereas thought is not in that category, you can’t take thought into a laboratory. The essential fact of our existence, perhaps the only fact of our existence – our own thought and perception is ruled off-side by the science it has invented. Science looks at the universe, doesn’t see itself there, doesn’t see mind there, so you have a world in which mind has no place. We are still no nearer to coming to terms with the actual dynamics of what consciousness is.
It strikes me that self, not just my self, but all self, the phenomenon of self, is perhaps one field, one consciousness – perhaps there is only one ‘I’, perhaps our brains, our selves, our entire identity is little more than a label on a waveband. We are only us when we are here. At this particular moment in space and time, this particular locus, the overall awareness of the entire continuum happens to believe it is Alan Moore. Over there – [he points to another table in the pizza restaurant] – it happens to believe it is something else.
I get the sense that if you can pull back from this particular locus, this web-site if you like, then you could be the whole net. All of us could be. That there is only one awareness here, that is trying out different patterns. We are going to have to come to some resolution about a lot of things in the next twenty years time, our notions of time, space, identity.
All of us collectively are fumbling towards an apprehension of something that feels like a kind of group awareness – we are trying to feel the shape of it, it’s not here yet, and a lot of us are probably saying a lot of silly things. That’s understandable. There is something strange looming on the human horizon. If you draw a graph of all our consciousness, there is a point we seem to be heading towards. Our physics, our philosophy, our art, our literature – there is a kind of coherence there, it may look disorganised at first glance, but there is a fumbling towards a new way of apprehending of certain basic fundamentals.
To me, when we talk about the world, we are talking about our ideas of the world. Our ideas of organisation, our different religions, our different economic systems, our ideas about it are the world. We are heading for a radical revision where you could say we are heading towards the end of the world, but more in the R.E.M. sense than the Revelation sense. That is what apocalypse means – revelation. I could square that with the end of the world, a revelation, a new way of looking at things, something that completely radicalises our notions of the where we were, when we were, what we were, something like that would constitute an end to the world in the kind of abstract – yet very real sense – that I am talking about. A change in the language, a change in the thinking, a change in the music. It wouldn’t take much – one big scientific idea, or artistic idea, one good book, one good painting – who knows – we are at a critical point where the ideas are coming thicker and faster and stranger and stranger than they ever were before. They are realised at a greater speed, everything has become very fluid.
We are approaching a more fluid state. I have talked about cultural boiling. The idea of the phase-transition period which, in fractal mathematics, is the chaotic flux between one state and another. …Culturally, and as a species, we are approaching a phase-transition. I don’t know quite what that means, on a human level.
I don’t know quite what I mean by my own metaphor, but I have feeling, it may bring in an even greater, faster space of fluid transmission, where no structures, as we used to understand structure, will sustain itself – we will have to come up with new notions of structure where things can change by the moment. I’m talking about physical structures, political structures, I can’t see coherent political structures in the traditional sense lasting beyond the next twenty years, I don’t think that would be possible.
In terms of almost everything, things are getting more vaporous, more fluid. National boundaries are being eroded by technology and economics. Most of us work for companies that, if you trace it back, exist within another country. You are paid in an abstract swarm of bytes. Consequently, the line on a map means less and less. The territorial imperatives that until very recently have been the main reason for war start to make way. As the physical and material world gives way to this infosphere, these things become less and less important. The nationalists then go into a kind of death spasm, where they realise where the map is evaporating, and there is only response to that is to dig their hooves in. To stick with nationalism at its most primitive, brutal form. The same thing happens with religion, and that is the reasons behind the Fundamentalist Christians. If you look at the power of the Church, starting from the end of the Dark Ages up until the end of the Nineteenth century, you can see a solid power base there with a guaranteed influence over the development of society. If you look at this century, it is a third division team facing relegation. Fundamentalism in religion is the same as the political fundamentalism represented by various nationalist groups, or in science.
Mental space and its existence is what makes things like remote viewing possible. There shouldn’t be any limit to it. As I understand mental space, one of the differences between it and physical space, is that there is no space in it. All the distances are associative. In the real world, Land's End and John O’Groats are famously far apart. Yet you can’t say one without thinking of the other. In conceptual space they are right next to one another. Distances can only be associative, even vast interstellar distances shouldn’t be a problem. Time would also function like this.
As I understand, or as I hallucinate conceptual space, nearly all form in conceptual space is language, I might even say all the form in non-conceptual space is language, I’m not even sure of what the difference between physical space and conceptual space is anymore, in the interface. All form is language. The forms that we see, or imagine, or perceive, or whatever it is Remote Viewers are doing, in conceptual space are mindforms made from language, and by language I also mean images, sounds. We dress these basic ideas in language we can understand. Sometimes there are sizable errors of translation.
A lot of conspiracy theorists, they find it comforting, secretly. The idea of the Illuminati and the CIA and whoever controlling our lives and destinies. You know, because that means that at least someone is in control, at least someone is at the steering wheel. And it’s not a runaway train. Paranoia is a security blanket, a massive security blanket. Whereas I think that yes these people do try to have an influence, and they often do have a very big influence, the CIA’s unique method of funding its wars over the last thirty years has contributed to the crippling drug problems of most of the Western world. So, yes they have an effect. Do they control our destinies? No, they don’t. They are nowhere near that powerful or organised. Does anything human control our destinies? No. Does this mean that God does? No, for all I know, God might just be a simple, two-line, iterative equation, with no more awareness of itself than that.
The origin of money is something to do with representational thinking. Representational thinking is the real leap, where somebody says ‘hey I can draw this shape on the cave wall and it is, in some way, the bison we saw at the meadow. These lines are the bison. That of course lead to language – this squiggle is, of course, a tree, or something. Is the tree. Money is code for the whole of life – you can bind in everything that is contained within life for money, money is a certain amount of sex, a certain amount of shelter, a certain amount of sustenance. … Money is the code for the entire world. Money is the world, the world in the sense I was talking about earlier, our abstract ideas about the world. Money is a perfect symbol for all that, and if you don’t believe in it, and you set a match to it, it’s just firewood – it doesn’t mean anything anymore.
I like a film where you can see every penny of the budget up there on the screen.
The K Foundation are interesting and lively, a good laugh and they mean it. They are very dedicated to their irrational ideas, which I am wholeheartedly in favour of. …There is an underground again. Probably kill it stone dead to call it that. But I get the sense that there is an underground again, it’s not as self-conscious as it was in the Sixties.
New-age woolly-hat Glastonbury mystics weary me, sometimes, but they talk about energy, the energy of a place, of a person. We all know what they mean, but at the same time it has to be said that this is not energy that is going to show up on an autometer. We’re not talking about energy in the conventional sense that physics talks about energy. To me, energy is information – I think you can make that bold a statement. The only lines of energy that link up disparate sites in London are lines of information, that have been drawn by an informed mind. The energy that we put forth is information we have taken in. We will see a work of art and it will give us inspiration, it will give us energy. It’s given us information that we can turn to our own use and put out as something else. That’s the kind of energy that we – and psychogeography – are talking about.
We are all the aggregate of the ideas about us, including our own ideas about us. That is all that any of us can be considered as – units of information in a sea of information. When you get to a certain point, there is not much more to it than information.
We only know the world as we have lived in it. A lot of things we thought were givens have turned out to be local and temporary phenomena. Capitalism and communism felt like they were always going to be around, but it turns out they were just two ways of ordering an industrial society. If you were looking for more fundamental human political poles, you’d take anarchy and fascism, for my money. Which are not dependent upon economic trends because they are both a bit mad. One of them is complete abdication of individual responsibility into the collective, and one of them absolute responsibility for the individual. I think these will both still be with us, but fascism becomes less and less possible. We have to accept that we are moving towards some sort of anarchy.
Take disintegration far enough and you get a new form of integration. I tend to see all this in neural terms. It doesn’t matter how big your brain is, or how many cells or neurons in it, what matters is the synaptic fusions, the connections that determine how intelligent you are. As with the individual, so with the macrocosm. That’s how the kind of society I live in works, me and my friends and my contacts, we don’t work in any hierarchical sense. No one wants a boss, to be a boss, to work under a boss. The people you like working with are the people you respect as individuals.
The sexuality of creativity – on that level, human interaction becomes less of an oppressive pyramid and more of a dance, an orgy, something that you can imagine being a bit of fun. It seems to work naturally, except when order is imposed upon it, from above, and then everything starts getting a bit screwed up. The information, the energy, starts to get messed up.
The twigs will be tied together in a neater and stronger bundle if they are all the same size and length. That’s fascism. It suggests that you have two contrary organisational principles involved … One is a kind of linear, meccano-like organisation – tie up all the sticks, make sure they are the same length, and you have a brick wall or something. The other one – anarchy – is a more fractal more natural more human organisational system in that it organises society in much the same way that we organise our personalities. Where it is purely the interplay of neurons – we haven’t got a king neuron that tells all the other neurons what to do. It seems to me to be a more emotionally natural way of working with other people.
Anarchy – anarchon – no leaders. Which means, everybody is a leader. You can’t have an official set of rules for anarchy. I tend to think such connections casually, and break and form and break and form throughout our lives. If you look back ten years, you will remember a group of friends who you were productively involved with at that time, now some of them have drifted away, new people have come in. These are more naturalistic linkages, which exist while there is a need for them to exist. It’s more like the way ants work.
Things tend to organise themselves. If there is any message from contemporary science, it is surely that. I am very fond of the anarchist proverb regarding laws – good people have no need for them, bad people pay no attention to them, what are they there for, other than as a symbol of power – ‘We can say this is law’. I could say I rule the universe, it depends on whether anyone believes me or not. To some degree, I don’t think the authorities care whether the law is observed or not, as long as it is there, and everyone accepts the idea of law. As long as they buy into the idea of law.
There is a certain amount of sham in shamanism. There is a certain amount of theatre. It’s as loosely knit as that. We’re sort of coming out of the closet a bit more over the next couple of years. We’re going to be bringing out – manifesto’s too pushy a word – if it’s a theatre of marvels, we’re bringing out a theatre programme in the next couple of years. We’re working on it at the moment – our unified field theory of spookiness where we try to explain everything from language, consciousness, grey aliens to Rosicrucianism or whatever. It is a grand, mad theory which I’m working my best on at the moment to make it rational. It is an anti-rationalistic theory but I’m trying to couch it in rational terms so that it is not as insular as a lot of magic stuff.
I understand that the word ‘occult’ means hidden, but surely that is not meant to be the final state of all this information, hidden forever. I don’t see why there is any need to further obscure things that are actually lucid and bright. Language and strange terminology – to keep them as some private mystery. I think there is too much darkness in magic. I can understand that it is part of the theatre. I can understand Aleister Crowley – who I think was a great intellect that was sometimes let down by his own flair for showmanship — but he did a lot to generate the scary aura of the magician that you find these sad, Crowleyite fucks making a fetish of. The ones who say ‘oh we’re into Aleister Crowley because he was the wickedest man in the world, and we’re also into Charles Manson because we’re bad. And we are middle-class as well, but we’re bad’. There are some people who seek evil – I don’t think there is such a thing as evil – but there are people who seek it as a kind of Goth thing. That just adds to the murk to what to me is a very lucid and flourescent subject. What occultism needs is someone to open the window, it’s too stuffy and it smells. Let’s get some fresh air, throw open the curtains – I can’t go for that posturing, spooky guy stuff. When they wanted me to do Fortean TV it became apparent that they wanted me to be Spooky Bloke. But I’m not actually trying to look spooky. I dress in black because it makes me look less fat, it’s as simple as that. It’s not a gothic flourish. I don’t want to be thought of as a figure of mystery or a master of the occult, surely this is about illumination, casting light on things. I’m an illuminist, that’d do for me.
The more I look at most of the art movements, it’s all occultism, when you get down to it. The Surrealists were openly talking about being magicians.
Annie Besant’s book where she put forward the idea that theosophical mystical energies could be portrayed as colours or abstract shapes was practically the invention of abstract art. A lot of artists rushed out and read it and suddenly thought, ‘oh God you could, you could portray love as a colour, or depression as a colour” All of a sudden abstract art happens, a flowering out of occultism.
What I would prefer to have is to have a kind of magic where we say, "OK, we’re going to do a magical performance on this night, at this time. You come along, if you don’t think it’s magical, that’s fine. We’ll show you. We’ll show you what we mean, and you judge for yourself." That’s only fair. So a lot of the magic we do tends to gravitate toward the practical end, toward something that is tangible. Where you’ve got a record at the end of it, a performance at the end of it, a painting at the end of it. You’ve conjured some energy, some idea, some information from somewhere and put it in a tangible form. You conjure something into existence in a literal sense. A rabbit out of a hat. Something out of nothing. That’s one level to it, but there’s a lot of background to that. That’s the stuff that people see, that’s the end result of the process. But we also do a lot of ritual work purely on our own.
There has always been a dance element in my mysticism. We just think ‘why not’. Music is imposing a state of consciousness by its very nature. If what this Tree of Life is is a hierarchy of different states of consciousness, would it be possible to simulate and stimulate those states of consciousness in the listener by producing the right sorts of music. Is it possible? We don’t know, but we’re working on it.
I thought if I can still be the central voice but without having an ‘I’ there, and by not having it there, it makes it easier for the reader to slip into the consciousness of the narrator. If you remove the letter ‘I’ it becomes a universal I. Everybody is the author walking down those streets while they are in the prose.
The reason I got into magic was that it seemed to be what was lying at the end of the path of writing. If I wanted to continue on that path, I was going to have to get into that territory because I had followed writing as far as I thought I could without taking a step over the edges of rationality. The path led out of rational confines. When you start thinking about art and creativity, rationality is not big enough to contain it all.
B. F. Skinner actually put forward – and this is a measure of scientific desperation over consciousness – the idea that consciousness was a weird vibrational by-product of the vocal cords. That we did not actually think. We thought we thought because of this weird vibration caused by the vocal cords. This shows the lengths that hard science will go to to banish the ghost from the machine.
If you take the idea of God in the Bible as a metaphor for any nascent, formative just-created intelligence, is that not how we all create the universe. We divide the firmament up from the waters of the abyss, and the key to how to do this is in the first line: in the beginning, there was the word. By giving sky one word, the ground into another, we break the universe down into manageable things that we can interact with through language.
In the beginning, there is just universe. There is no us. There is just God in His or Her universe. Then we separate God from the universe until we are trapped in it, in the universe we have created.
The traditional definition of magic – and I think this comes from Crowley who laid down a lot of the ground rules – he defined magic as bringing about change in accordance with the will. I’m not sure about that. It’s certainly part of it, but to bring about change in the universe in accordance with your will seems to me to be misunderstanding the relationship between the individual and the universe. In my relationship with the universe, I do tend to see myself as very much the Junior Partner. I don’t want to impose my will on the universe, I’d rather the universe imposed its will on me. I would rather that what I wanted was more in tune with what the universe wanted. So my definition of magic is a bit less invasive and intrusive. … It’s more exploratory with me. I see magic as a vantage point from which one can look down on the rest of consciousness. It’s a point outside normal consciousness from which you can look at normal consciousness, it’s a point outside beliefs from which you can look at beliefs. All beliefs are reality tunnels, to use Anton Wilson’s phrase. There is the Communist reality tunnel, the Feminist reality tunnel, all of which seem to be the whole of reality when you are in the middle of them. The whole universe is based on Marxist theory if you’re an intent Marxist. Magic is having a plan of all the tunnels, and seeing the overall condition in which they all work. Being aware of different possibilities.
By accepting the idea of endless pantheons of gods, I somehow accept these creatures as being distinct and separate from me, and not as being, to some degree, higher functions of me. Iain Sinclair was asking me about this: he asked me ‘do you think they are inside you, or outside you?’ The only answer I could come up with was, the more I think about it the inside is the outside. That the objective world and the non-objective world are the same thing, to some degree. Ideaspace and this space are the same space. Just different ends of the scale. That’s not a very good explanation, but the best I can come up with so far.
I might do a work to put me in contact with the god Mercury. If the information I get from that is valuable to me, and new enough, it doesn’t really matter whether the god Mercury is there at all, does it? There is a channel that I have called the god Mercury, some sort of information source I have named.
In my own experience – and this is where we get into the complete madness here – I have only met about four gods, a couple of other classes of entity as well. I’m quite prepared to admit this might have been a hallucination. On most of the instances I was on hallucinogenic drugs. That’s the logical explanation – that it was purely an hallucinatory experience. I can only talk about my subjective experience however, and the fact that having had some experience of hallucinations over the last twenty-five years or so, I’d have to say that it seemed to me to be a different class of hallucination. It seemed to me to be outside of me. It seemed to be real. It is a terrifying experience, and a wonderful one, all at once – it is everything you’d imagine it to be. As a result of this, there is one particular entity that I feel a particular affinity with. There is a late Roman snake god, called Glycon, he was an invention of the False Prophet Alexander. Which is a lousy name to go into business under. He had an image problem. He could have done with a spin doctor there.
A god is the idea of a god. The idea of a god is a god. The idea of Glycon is Glycon, if I can enhance that idea with an anaconda and a speaking tube, fair enough. I am unlikely to start believing that this glove puppet created the universe. It’s a fiction, all gods are fiction. It’s just that I happen to think that fiction’s real. Or that it has its own reality, that is just as valid as ours. I happen to believe that most of the important things in the material world start out as fiction. That everything around us was once fiction – before there was the table there was the idea of a table, and the idea of a table before tables was fiction. This is the most important world, the world of fictional things. That’s the world where all this starts.
I can deal with functionality on a practical level. And I still have this relationship with this imaginary snake. My imaginary pal. If I’m going to be dealing in totally imaginary territory, it struck me that it would be useful to have a native as a guide. So I can have my imaginary conversations with my imaginary snake, and maybe it gives me information I already knew in part of myself, and maybe I just needed to make up an imaginary snake to tell me it.
If I wanted a full-scale manifestation, one that was apparent to other people, then I would do a ritual. I have displayed the snake god to other people. Or I have consciously hypnotised them into accepting my psychotic belief system, given them drugs, and made them think they are having the experience I have. Whatever you want. I’m not fussed.
I can understand why magicians have such a high insanity rate. We don’t end well, most of us, it has to be said.Paul Daniels might escape the worst effects, but the rest of us are pretty obviously doomed. Once you step over that line, you are in danger from a lot of stuff. Delusion, obviously, being the main thing.
Madness and insanity are two terms that are so vague and relative that you can’t really apportion proper values to them. The only thing I can think of that has any use it functional and dysfunctional. Are you working as well? In which case, it doesn’t matter if you are mad.
If I realised the power of magic to worry and terrify people before, then I certainly would have used it before. Everyone freezes before it for different reasons – perhaps because it means madness to them, or because it means opening the door to a whole lot of stuff that the Age of Reason should have firmly bolted the door upon. A lot of concepts that we got rid of a long time ago that would be a bit creepy to have them back.
I think that we are approaching a kind of event field – fifteen years, twenty years up the road. There is a big event in the future and because time is not what we think it is, that event radiates in all directions. We are entering its field and have been for hundreds of years. We are starting to approach the core of it.
I’ve known a lot of people go mad over the years, and it is more distressing than people dying. People dying is quite natural, people going mad is the complete antithesis of that.
The schizophrenic has had their window kicked in, the magician has got a body of law – probably most of it bollocks, it doesn’t matter. The magician’s got a system into which the alien information that will be pouring into him or her will be fitted. They’ve got a filing cabinet, like the Qabalah, which is a filing cabinet for ideas. It divides the whole universe up into ten drawers. Any experience can be passed into one of the drawers. The schizophrenic is probably having exactly the same experience as the magician but has no context in which to understand it. … The schizophrenics I have known, the most evident thing about it is the interconnectedness of everything. That’s standard lunacy, it’s also standard magic. But with one of them, it is uncontrollable, you are lost in a world in which everything is obviously connected by symbolic threads. That is what the magician is seeking, to see these threads that connect things up. If you’ve got a system – even if it’s a completely made-up bogus system – then you’ve at least got a filing cabinet to sort this stuff into, you don’t have to get crushed under it.
The magician to some degree is trying to drive him or herself mad in a controlled setting, within controlled laws. You ask the protective spirits to look after you, or whatever. This provides a framework over an essentially amorphous experience. You are setting up your terms, your ritual, your channels – but you deliberately stepping over the edge into the madness. You are not falling over the edge, or tripping over the edge. When I was a kid, I used to go to the seaside and play in the waves. The thing you learn about waves, is that when you see a big one coming, you run towards it. You try and get out of its way and you’ll end up twenty yards up the beach covered in scratches. Dive into it, and then you can get behind it. You get on top it, you won’t be hurt. It is counter-intuitive, the impulse is to run away, but the right thing to do is to plunge into it deliberately, and be in control when you do it. Magic is a response to the madness of the twentieth century.
I don’t distinguish between magic and art. When I got into magic, I realised I had been doing it all along, ever since I wrote my first pathetic story or poem when I was twelve or whatever. This has all been my magic, my way of dealing with it.
There are books that have devastated continents, destroyed thousands. What war hasn’t been a war of fiction? All the religious wars certainly, or the fiction of communism versus the fiction of capitalism – ideas, fictions, shit that people make. They have made a vast impression on the real world. It is the real world. Are thoughts not real? I believe it was Wittgenstein who said a thought is a real event in space and time. I don’t quite agree about the space and time bit, Ludwig, but certainly a real event. It’s only science that cannot consider thought as a real event, and science is not reality. It’s a map of reality, and not a very good one. It’s good, it’s useful, but it has its limits. We have to realise that the map has its edges. One thing that is past the edge is any personal experience. That is why magic is a broader map to me, it includes science. It’s the kind of map we need if we are to survive psychologically in the age that is to come, whatever that is. We need a bigger map because the old one is based on an old universe where not many of us live anymore. We have to understand what we are dealing with here because it is dangerous. It kills people. Art kills.
In the bardic tradition, art was understood as magic, the guy who could paint on the cave wall, he was a magician. The idea of representation was a magical idea. Then something happened, and then we all started to believe we were entertainers, and it was just a job, an aesthetic Thatcherism was imposed and we all thought “oh shit, there isn’t an art union and we’re lucky to have a job. We better accept that we’re just the court jesters, and all we are here to do is keep the masses happy, write some more pot-boilers, we are magicians, we are not gods.” Which in fact we are. We just forget that. We forgot our searing power and lost it, as a result. This is not a searing power coming from an elite of artists that I’m talking about, this is an inherent human power that all of us have the possibility of contacting.
If you look at early shamanic texts and cultures, the magical powers that the shaman hopes the gods might give him, flying, turning into animals, invisibility, poetry – as if poetry was a magic power. As if it was the equivalent of turning into a dog or flying. As if. What does this tell us? Maybe there was a time when we could legitimately ask the gods for it as a gift. But we know there aren’t any gods, and that they can’t give those gifts, so the best thing we can do is go to church, listen to the lesson and hope we don’t burn. Have no direct contact with whatever form of god we choose to worship. It’s like the magical or spiritual equivalent of the big flaw in Marxism. Karl Marx, lovely geezer, very humane, a bit middle class but we’ll gloss over that, but his big flaw was that when he said “The reins of society will inevitably rest in the hands of those who control the means of production” didn’t take into account middle management. All the people who get between those with the means of production and the society. That translates onto a spiritual level as the shift from our earliest beliefs, which are all shamanic.
The shaman is not a priest, the shaman has no secret knowledge, he is equivalent to the hunter. He has a specific skill that is subjugated to the needs of the group. He is prepared to take drugs, go loopy, visit the underworld, bring back knowledge and tell everybody. He’s not keeping a secret knowledge. Originally priests were instructors, they passed out the mysteries and revelations to the masses. Increasingly, they say ‘you don’t need to have a religious experience, we are having that for you. That’s what we are here for.” Eventually, they start saying ‘you don’t need to have a religious experience, and neither do we. We’ve got this book about some people who – a thousand years ago – had a religious experience. And if you come in on Sunday, we’ll read you a bit of that and you’ll be sorted, don’t you worry.” Effectively a portcullis has slammed down between the individual and their godhead. ‘You can’t approach your godhead except through us now. We are the only path. Our church is the only path.’ But that is every human being’s birthright, to have ingress to their godhead.
Organised religion has corrupted one of the purest, most powerful and sustaining things in the human condition. It has imposed a middle management, not only in our politics and in our finances, but in our spirituality as well. The difference between religion and magic is the same as what we were talking about earlier – I think you could map that over those two poles of fascism and anarchism. Magic is closer to anarchism.
Reality, at first glance, is a simple thing: the television speaking to you now is real. Your body sunk into that chair in the approach to midnight, a clock ticking at the threshold of awareness. All the endless detail of a solid and material world surrounding you. These things exist. They can be measured with a yardstick, a voltammeter, a weighing scale. These things are real.
Consciousness is unquantifiable, a ghost in the machine, barely considered real at all, though in a sense this flickering mosaic of awareness is the only true reality that we can ever know.
The Here-and-Now demands attention, is more present to us. We dismiss the inner world of our ideas as less important, although most of our immediate physical reality originated only in the mind. The TV, sofa, clock and room, the whole civilisation that contains them once were nothing save ideas.
Material existence is entirely founded on a phantom realm of mind, whose nature and geography are unexplored.
Ancient cultures did not worship idols. Their god-statues represented ideal states which, when meditated constantly upon, one might aspire to.Science proves there never was a mermaid, blue-skinned Krishna or a virgin birth in physical reality. Yet thought is real, and the domain of thought is the one place where gods inarguably exist, wielding tremendous power. If Aphrodite were a myth and Love only a concept, then would that negate the crimes and kindnesses and songs done in Love's name? If Christ were only ever fiction, a divine Idea, would this invalidate the socialchange inspired by that idea, make holy wars less terrible, or human betterment less real, less sacred?
Ideas, unlike solid structures, do not perish. They remain immortal, immaterial and everywhere, like all Divine things. Ideas are a golden, savage landscape that we wander unaware, without a map. Be careful: in the last analysis, reality may be exactly what we think it is.
As I understand the theory of period information doubling, this states that if we take one period of human information as being the time between the invention of the first hand axe, say around 50,000 BC and 1 AD, then this is one period of human information and we can measure it by how many human inventions we came up during that time. Then we see how long it takes for us to have twice as many inventions. This means that human information has doubled. As it turns out, after the first 50,000-year period, the second period is about 1500 years, say around the time of the Renaissance. By then we have twice as much information. To double again, human information took a couple of hundred years. The period speeds up—between 1960 and 1970, human information doubled.
As I understand it, at the last count human information was doubling around every 18 months. Further to this, there is a point sometime around 2015 where human information is doubling every thousandth of a second. This means that in each thousandth of a second we will have accumulated more information than we have in the entire previous history of the world. At this point I believe that all bets are off. I cannot imagine the kind of culture that might exist after such a flashpoint of knowledge. I believe that our culture would probably move into a completely different state, would move past the boiling point, from a fluid culture to a culture of steam. ...
Most people find the word "Apocalypse" to be a terrifying concept. Checked in the dictionary, it means only revelation, although it obviously has also come to mean end of the world. As to what the end of the world means, I would say that probably depends on what we mean by world. I don't think this means the planet, or even the life forms upon the planet. I think the world is purely a construction of ideas, and not just the physical structures, but the mental structures, the ideologies that we've erected, THAT is what I would call the world. Our political structures, philosophical structures, ideological frameworks, economies. These are actually imaginary things, and yet that is the framework that we have built our entire world upon. It strikes me that a strong enough wave of information could completely overturn and destroy all of that. A sudden realization that would change our entire perspective upon who we are and how we exist. History is a heat, it is the heat of accumulated information and accumulated complexity. As our culture progresses, we find that we gather more and more information and that we slowly start to move almost from a fluid to a vaporous state, as we approach the ultimate complexity of a social boiling point. I believe that our culture is turning to steam.
Som-Som would later learn that the girl's name was Book. Ambiguous and suggestive sentences swirled out from the maroon bud of her nipple. Verses of elegant and cryptic passion followed the orbit of her left eye. Her fingers dripped with poetry.
I suppose I first got involved in radicalpolitics as a matter of course, during the late 1960s when it was a part of the culture. The counterculture, as we called it then, was very eclectic and all-embracing. It included fashions of dress, styles of music, philosophical positions, and, inevitably, political positions. And although there would be various political leanings coming to the fore from time to time, I suppose that the overall consensus political standpoint was probably an anarchist one. Although probably back in those days, when I was a very young teenager, I didn’t necessarily put it into those terms. I was probably not familiar enough with the concepts of anarchy to actually label myself as such. It was later, as I went into my twenties and started to think about things more seriously that I came to a conclusion that basically the only political standpoint that I could possibly adhere to would be an anarchist one.
It furthermore occurred to me that, basically, anarchy is in fact the only political position that is actually possible. I believe that all other political states are in fact variations or outgrowths of a basic state of anarchy; after all, when you mention the idea of anarchy to most people they will tell you what a bad idea it is because the biggest gang would just take over. Which is pretty much how I see contemporary society. We live in a badly developed anarchist situation in which the biggest gang has taken over and have declared that it is not an anarchist situation – that it is a capitalist or a communist situation. But I tend to think that anarchy is the most natural form of politics for a human being to actually practice. All it means, the word, is no leaders. An-archon. No leaders. And I think that if we actually look at nature without prejudice, we find that this is the state of affairs that usually pertains.
Unless you’re talking about some incredibly rigid Victorian family, there is nobody that could be said to be the leader of the family; everybody has their own function. And it seems to me that anarchy is the state that most naturally obtains when you’re talking about ordinary human beings living their lives in a natural way. It’s only when you get these fairly alien structures of order that are represented by our major political schools of thought, that you start to get these terrible problems arising—problems regarding our status within the hierarchy, the uncertainties and insecurities that are the result of that. You get these jealousies, these power struggles, which by and large, don’t really afflict the rest of the animal kingdom. It seems to me that the idea of leaders is an unnatural one that was probably thought up by a leader at some point in antiquity; leaders have been brutally enforcing that idea ever since, to the point where most people cannot conceive of an alternative.
If we were to take out all the leaders tomorrow, and put them up against a wall and shoot them — and it’s a lovely thought, so let me just dwell on that for a moment before I dismiss it — but if we were to do that, society would probably collapse, because the majority of people have had thousands of years of being conditioned to depend upon leadership from a source outside themselves. That has become a crutch to an awful lot of people, and if you were to simply kick it away, then those people would simply fall over and take society with them. In order for any workable and realistic state of anarchy to be achieved, you will obviously have to educate people — and educate them massively — towards a state where they could actually take responsibility for their own actions and simultaneously be aware that they are acting in a wider group: that they must allow other people within that group to take responsibility for their own actions. Which on a small scale, as it works in families or in groups of friends, doesn’t seem to be that implausible, but it would take an awful lot of education to get people to think about living their lives in that way. And obviously, no government, no state, is ever going to educate people to the point where the state itself would become irrelevant. So if people are going to be educated to the point where they can take responsibility for their own laws and their own actions and become, to my mind, fully actualized human beings, then it will have to come from some source other than the state or government.
I don’t believe that a violent revolution is ever going to work, simply on the grounds that it never has in the past. I mean, speaking as a resident of Northampton, during the English civil war we backed Cromwell — we provided all the boots for his army — and we were a center of antiroyalist sentiment. Incidentally, we provided all the boots to the Confederates as well, so obviously we know how to pick a winner. Cromwell’s revolution? I guess it succeeded. The king was beheaded, which was quite early in the day for beheading; amongst the European monarchy, I think we can claim to have kicked off that trend. But give it another ten years; as it turned out, Cromwell himself was a monster. He was every bit the monster that Charles I had been. In some ways he was worse.
Way back in the early 80s, when I was first kicking off writing V for Vendetta for the English magazine Warrior, the story was very much a result of me actually sitting down and thinking about what the real extreme poles of politics were. Because it struck me that simple capitalism and communism were not the two poles around which the whole of political thinking revolved. It struck me that two much more representative extremes were to be found in fascism and anarchy.
Fascism is a complete abdication of personal responsibility. You are surrendering all responsibility for your own actions to the state on the belief that in unity there is strength, which was the definition of fascism represented by the original roman symbol of the bundle of bound twigs. Yes, it is a very persuasive argument: “In unity there is strength.” But inevitably people tend to come to a conclusion that the bundle of bound twigs will be much stronger if all the twigs are of a uniform size and shape, that there aren’t any oddly shaped or bent twigs that are disturbing the bundle. So it goes from “in unity there is strength” to “in uniformity there is strength” and from there it proceeds to the excesses of fascism as we’ve seen them exercised throughout the 20th century and into the 21st. Now anarchy, on the other hand, is almost starting from the principle that “in diversity, there is strength,” which makes much more sense from the point of view of looking at the natural world. Nature, and the forces of evolution — if you happen to be living in a country where they still believe in the forces of evolution, of course — did not really see fit to follow that “in unity and in uniformity there is strength” idea. If you want to talk about successful species, then you’re talking about bats and beetles; there are thousands of different varieties of different bat and beetle.
The whole program of evolution seems to be to diversify, because in diversity there is strength.
And if you apply that on a social level, then you get something like anarchy. Everybody is recognized as having their own abilities, their own particular agendas, and everybody has their own need to work cooperatively with other people. So it’s conceivable that the same kind of circumstances that obtain in a small human grouping, like a family or like a collection of friends, could be made to obtain in a wider human grouping like a civilization.
Stories are at the absolute center of humanexistence. Sometimes to disastrous effect; if you think about how various ancient religious stories — that may have been intended at the time as no more than fables — have led to so many devastating wars up to and including the present day. Obviously there are some occasions when the fictions that we base our lives upon lead us into some terrifying territory.
As to how politics relate to the storytelling process, I’d say that it’s probably in the same way that politics relate to everything. I mean, as the old feminist maxim used to go, “the personal is the political.” We don’t really live in an existence where the different aspects of our society are compartmentalized in the way that they are in bookshops. In a bookshop, you’ll have a section that is about history, that is about politics, that is about the contemporary living, or the environment, or modern thinking, modern attitudes. All of these things are political. All of these things are not compartmentalized; they’re all mixed up together. And I think that inevitably there is going to be a political element in everything that we do or don’t do. In everything we believe, or do not believe.
I mean, in terms of politics I think that it’s important to remember what the word actually means. Politics sometimes sells itself as having an ethical dimension, as if there was good politics and bad politics. As far as I understand it, the word actually has the same root as the word polite. It is the art of conveying information in a politic way, in a way that will be discrete and diplomatic and will offend the least people. And basically we’re talking about spin. Rather than being purely a late 20th, early 21st century term, it’s obvious that politics have always been nothing but spin. But, that said, it is the system which is interwoven with our everyday lives, so every aspect our lives is bound to have a political element, including writing fiction.
I suppose any form of art can be said to be propaganda for a state of mind. Inevitably, if you are creating a painting, or writing a story, you are making propaganda, in a sense, for the way that you feel, the way that you think, the way that you see the world. You are trying to express your own view of reality and existence, and that is inevitably going to be a political action—especially if your view of existence is too far removed from the mainstream view of existence. Which is how an awful lot of writers have gotten into terrible trouble in the past.
I would like to think that some of my work has opened up people’s thinking about certain areas. On a very primitive level, it would be nice to think that people thought a little bit differently about the comics medium as a result of my work, and saw greater possibility in it. And realized what a useful tool for disseminating information it was. That would be an accomplishment. That would have added a very useful implement to the arsenal of people who are seeking social change, because comics can be an incredibly useful tool in that regard. I’d also like to think that perhaps, on a higher level, that some of my work has the potential to radically change enough people’s ideas upon a subject. To perhaps, eventually, decades after my own death, affect some kind of minor change in the way that people see and organize society. Some of my magical work that I’ve done is an attempt to get people to see reality and it’s possibilities in a different light. I’d like to think that that might have some kind of impact eventually.
I can remember one of the last conversations I had with my very dear and much missed friend, the writer Kathy Acker. This was very soon after I had just become interested and involved with magic. I was saying to her how the way I was then seeing things was that basically magic was about the last and best bastion of revolution. The political revolution, the sexual revolution, these things had their part and had their limits, whereas the idea of a magical revolution would revolve around actually changing people’s consciousnesses, which is to say, actually changing the nature of perceived reality. Kathy agreed with that completely — it sort of followed on some of her own experiences — and I still think that that is true. In some ways, magic is the most political of all of the areas that I’m involved with.
I was talking earlier — about anarchy and fascism being the two poles of politics. On one hand you’ve got fascism, with the bound bundle of twigs, the idea that in unity and uniformity there is strength; on the other you have anarchy, which is completely determined by the individual, and where the individual determines his or her own life. Now if you move that into the spiritual domain, then in religion, I find very much the spiritual equivalent of fascism. The word “religion” comes from the root word ligare, which is the same root word as ligature, and ligament, and basically means “bound together in one belief.” It’s basically the same as the idea behind fascism; there’s not even necessarily a spiritual component it. Everything from the Republican Party to the Girl Guides could be seen as a religion, in that they are bound together in one belief. So to me, like I said, religion becomes very much the spiritual equivalent of fascism. And by the same token, magic becomes the spiritual equivalent of anarchy, in that it is purely about self-determination, with the magician simply a human being writ large, and in more dramatic terms, standing at the center of his or her own universe. Which I think is a kind of a spiritual statement of the basic anarchist position. I find an awful lot in common between anarchist politics and the pursuit of magic, that there’s a great sympathy there.
What had originally been a straightforward battle of ideas between anarchy and fascism had been turned into a kind of ham-fisted parable of 9-11 and the war against terror, in which the words anarchy and fascism appear nowhere. … It struck me that for Hollywood to make V for Vendetta, it was a way for thwarted and impotent American liberals to feel that they were making some kind of statement about how pissed off they were with the current situation without really risking anything. It’s all set in England, which I think that probably, in most American eyes, is kind of a fairytale kingdom where we still perhaps still have giants. It doesn’t really exist; it might as well be in the Land of Oz for most Americans. So you can get set your political parable in this fantasy environment called England, and then you can vent your spleen against George Bush and the neo-conservatives. Those were my feelings, and I must admit those are completely based upon not having seen the film even once, but having read a certain amount of the screenplay. That was enough.
Chris Claremont once said of Alan Moore, "if he could plot, we'd all have to get together and kill him." Which utterly misses the most compelling part of Alan's writing, the way he develops and expresses ideas and character. Plot does not define story. Plot is the framework within which ideas are explored and personalities and relationships are unfolded. If all you want is plot, go and read a Tom Clancy novel.