Alan Moore & Youth In Conversation
Today marks the first anniversary of our Super Weird Happening that took over the Dingle’s Florrie for 14 hours of magick, music and mayhem. It’s taken almost a year to fully take it all in and the effects are still resonating today. It was a real coming together – a meeting of the tribes – and it showed what we can achieve when we all work towards the same aim. Everyone involved went well beyond what was expected which meant that the event grew into the behemoth we’re remembering today.
An obvious highlight was the in depth conversation between ‘the greatest living Englishman’ Alan Moore and music producer Youth (who’s post-punk band Killing Joke gifted Moore the title of one of his comics). They spoke in front of the packed out main hall, and the conversation was deeply inspiring. In just under an hour the two of them explored the depths of mythology, creativity, fear, desire and the counterculture.
The energy of the Super Weird Happening fed into the formation of the Liverpool Arts Lab at The Florrie later in the year and they’ve been busy creating and subverting since. To celebrate the anniversary of the Happening, the Arts Lab’s Jah Jussa has put together an incredible video of the talk, which you can check out here…
We’ve also made a transcript of the conversation available to read below…
YOUTH: THANK YOU AND A VERY WARM WELCOME TO THE SUPER WEIRD HAPPENING ’17. I”M SO HONOURED AND PROUD TO BE ON THIS STAGE WITH ALAN MOORE: TALKING ALL THINGS MAGIC.
ALAN MOORE: It’s completely mutual Youth, completely mutual. And it’s great to be here with all of you. This is a great event.
SO EVERYONE HERE’S INTO MYSTERIES AND ALL THINGS WEIRD… I WANTED TO START OFF WITH ALAN AND TALK ABOUT MAGIC AND MYTHOLOGY AND ARCHETYPES.
Yeah, well, I’m kind of coming to a conclusion at this late stage in my life, that actually, mythology is probably more real than all of this stuff. I mean, look at it, y’know, I mean this reality can be changed into something nightmarish – overnight apparently. That doesn’t really strike me as ‘reality’ or not even one that I’d particularly wanna live in.
But mythology, that never changes; that is constant; that is emotionally and psychologically true forever. And I think that mythology is kind of the bedrock on which all of these transient and probably faintly absurd human institutions are temporarily erected. When they’re all gone, the mythology will still be here.
WHO HERE HAS PRACTISED MAGIC? – PUT YOUR HANDS UP. WHO’S INTERESTED IN IT? OKAY SO; MYTHOLOGY, MAGIC, THE ARCHETYPES – THEY’RE FIXED RIGHT?
Yeah, and it’s like magic – as far as I can see – it’s like the human default position. I think that about 7,000 years ago, when we had the cognitive revolution, I think that must have been strange; to start having things like memories and associations and ideas.
Creativity – If you hadn’t got a theory of mind; that would be really spooky. Because where could those images, dreams. Where could those images, those voices be coming from? – if not from some supernatural source? So I reckon that magic is our response to consciousness and I think that magic is practically synonymous with art and I think it’s practically synonymous with language and I think that all of these four phenomena are language, magic and consciousness. I think that they’re four parts of the same thing, four aspects of the same thing.
The problem is with magic; it’s all this occult shit. Not to be disparaging but it’s like, magic used to be science, before what, the renaissance? Then medicine, science; these were subsumed in magic. And then with the renaissance, science, although it was a child of magic – as many of us, when we get older, we get embarrassed about our parents. So there’s science in its lab coat, y’know, with its ball point pens in the pocket and corrosive stains on it, and it’s really embarrassed about its mum, who is sitting in the corner: she’s got a third nipple and she’s drawing signs in the air and muttering. So science would really like magic to be nutted-off at the earliest opportunity.
However, yeah we’re all embarrassed by our parents, and then we end up becoming them… So you’ll note that science at the moment is full of – I mean I read New Scientist every week and that is full of much, much madder shit than you are ever gonna read in the collective works of Aleister Crowley. I love it – I love science! But all this stuff about, let’s say, the many universes theory, which is, I mean, it’s a patch upon a patch. We started out with Einstein’s theory of relativity, the idea that the big bang, or something like it, would distribute all of the stars and then we found out that the distribution of the stars was too even, so we thought, “alright, we’ve got to fix this”. So we came up with the idea of expansion: maybe the universe expanded really rapidly and that’s what smoothed all the stars out.
And then people said, “Well, why did that happen just once?” And people thought, “Yeah, that is a good question – maybe it didn’t happen just once, maybe it happened like millions of times, and each of them ballooned into a complete universe.” Now, this is something, which is unprovable, is completely useless, except in the science fiction of Michael Moorcock. It’s like; it’s not proper science, is it? It’s a fix upon a fix upon a theory. So that is not unlike all those medieval magicians and theologians arguing about what sex angels were, or something like that.
Yeah, science ends up becoming indistinguishable from magic. You know, I think that at the end of the day, you’re going to need some kind of reconciliation.
YEAH, ESPECIALLY WITH QUANTUM MECHANICS AND ALL THAT; IT’S ALL COMPLETELY MAGIC. GETTING BACK TO ARCHETYPES AND THE MYTHOLOGY OF ARCHETYPES, CAN WE TALK ABOUT THE FOOL AND WHY THE FOOL IS SUCH AN IMPORTANT ARCHETYPE, AND SO POWERFUL FOR ARTISTS PARTICULARLY.
Well, The Fool is the first card in the Major Arcana of the Tarot, I’m calling them Major Arcana because I really can’t bring myself to call them trumps at the moment, y’know. The Fool is card 0 and it’s the first one. It shows this idiot, really. He’s about to step off a cliff, he doesn’t haven’t appear to have a care in the world, and yeah, that looks like its inviting ruin. But the thing about The Fool is that he just, or she – it’s always depicted as a male but gender isn’t an important thing in the Tarot, it’s all symbolic – so he or she is just trusting the winds to carry him or her wheresoever they will.
So he’s not just stepping off a cliff to destruction – and I think a lot of us; we probably find similar moments in our own lives. I mean, I can remember back when I was what, 23/24 and we’d got a baby, we were living on a sink estate and it seemed suicidal to actually give up the boring but comfortable job that I had, with a baby on the way, it didn’t seem like a good idea, especially for something as precarious as a career in any sort of art. And yet, you have to make that jump, you have to actually do it blind, and there is the temptation not to jump.
I mean, I remember one of the things that I did: immediately after quitting my day job, I started this ridiculous science fiction epic that I was going to write and draw and letter myself – it would have gone on for several volumes, for years – it was this immense, universe-spanning story. And after about 6 months I’d got one page with the inking sort of complete and I’d got a page of pencils and I’d got some notes. And I thought, “this really isn’t working is it?” And I thought, “Why are you doing this? You’re never going to finish this are you? You’ve haven’t got the talent, you haven’t got the skill to finish this. Why are you doing this?” And I thought, “Of course, you’re doing this so that you don’t have to finish it, so that you don’t have to send it in, so that you don’t have to face the fear of rejection.”
And I think a lot of people do that, because what I was thinking – and this is idiotic – I was thinking, “Well, if I don’t actually finish this thing, don’t send it in, then I’ll still have the dream, won’t I? I’ll still have the dream that I could have been a contender, y’know.” And then I thought, “That is ridiculous; sacrificing any possible career, because, what you’re a bit nervous about being rejected? “
Don’t be frightened about rejection. Don’t be frightened of failure. Fear and desire – they tend to get in the way – just do it! Just take that step off of the cliff and you will find that you can fly like a bird.
SO MANY ARTISTS I’VE WORKED WITH AS A PRODUCER HAVE THIS POINT WHERE THEY HAVE TO LEAP INTO THE ABYSS AND THEY NEED TO FIND THEIR FEARLESS WINGS. ESPECIALLY THE MORE ESTABLISHED ARTISTS BECAUSE MAYBE THEY’VE GOT FURTHER WHERE THEY’RE LOOKING DOWN, BUT THAT CAN BE REALLY TERRIFYING.
I FOUND THAT WHAT I CAN DO TO HELP ARTISTS FIND THEIR COURAGE IS TO GIVE THEM CONFIDENCE. WHAT WOULD YOU ADVISE THE ARTISTS? THERE’S A LOT OF ARTISTS HERE, HOW WOULD YOU COUNSEL THEM IN ADDRESSING THEIR FEARS AND FINDING THEIR COURAGE?
Well, I suppose it doesn’t hurt if you’ve got a frighteningly vast ego – that will take you some of the way. No actually, I don’t know how big an ego I’ve actually got. I don’t worry about it, y’know. I think that… That’s a difficult question to answer. Confidence; it’ll come from simply doing something right. Something that is at least maybe a tenth of what you wanted from that picture, that piece of music. And once you’ve got that, no you’re not there yet, but you’ve got an indication that, with a little bit more work, you could maybe be 2/10s of the way to the level that you want to be at.
Keep working at it, don’t bother yourself with fears or with self-consciousness – that’s a bit of an indulgence, that’s not actual work, is it? That is work avoidance. We’re all lazy bastards – we are. We would rather do anything rather than the thing we’ve spent all of our lives wanting to do. We will try to avoid that – that’s fine, just know what you’re doing.
I mean, when you’re about to start a project – I remember reading, was it Syd Field? He wrote a brilliant book about writing screenplays and he said, “When you start writing your screenplay, you’re gonna notice that you’re studio, it really could use a bit of a clean out.” That’ll take you ‘til, maybe four in the afternoon – it’s not really worth starting then, y’know, so tomorrow, that’ll be a good time to start. Well actually you’ve got that thing tomorrow, well perhaps the day after.
And yeah, then you’ll think, “My pencils are blunt, I’ve got to sharpen them all.” This is all avoidance; just get it out your system. Don’t even feel guilty about it – everybody does it. Just wait ‘til you’ve stopped avoiding it. Wait ‘til you are so sick of yourself, you’re so guilty, you are so wracked with self-loathing that you simply cannot avoid that work anymore. And then sit down and you’ll find, ten minutes later, “Oh actually this is fun isn’t it? I’m really enjoying this – this is great – this is what I live for.” Just do it; just do it! You don’t need to make a big song and dance about it, just do it!
FANTASTIC! STAYING ON THIS SUBJECT, LIVING CREATIVELY, CREATING A CREATIVE LIFE; IT’S AN ACHIEVEMENT. YOU’VE ACHIEVED IT – CUP OR SWORD, OR BOTH? PUSH OR PULL?
The cup and the sword is a return to Tarot. All of the four suits in Tarot, they represent the four elements; fire, water, air and earth, which also represent four human qualities which are; will, which are compassion, which are intellect and which are the material world and how well you deal with it. So the sword and the cup – yeah of course you need intellect but if you’ve got intellect and no compassion, you’ll be, what an intellectual monster at best – there’ll be nothing of the human in your work, there’ll be no of the love, no feeling; there’ll be nothing that other people recognise.
However, if you’re using the cup and no sword, then you’ll just be wallowing, won’t you? You’ll be wallowing in your emotions and you will not be using them for anything particularly useful. You won’t be putting them to any good use. You won’t say, be putting any of your passion behind a project, or all of your anger behind a project – you’ll just be expending those emotions fairly uselessly, unless they are directed by an intellect.
So, use every part of yourself in what you do. These are your materials, earth, water, fire and air. And if you’re going to be a writer, or a magician – because I don’t really think there’s much difference between the terms – then you are gonna be standing there amongst falling rocks and gouts of fire and water spouts and crashing waves and enormous cyclones of wind, and you will somehow have to combine all of those elements to make a character, a story.
If you’re creating a vivid, breathing human being. Yeah, give them a body, give them a material existence but give them emotions and give them an intellect, and give them their own individual will, y’know, you’ve got to use everything – use all of the weapons at your disposal.
AMAZING. GOING BACK TO WHAT YOU SAID EARLIER, I READ SOMETHING THAT FEAR AND DESIRE ARE TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN. CHAOS, ORDER, HOPE AND GAIN – HOW DO YOU BALANCE? WHERE DO YOU FIND THE WISDOM TO BALANCE THESE DIAMETRIC OPPOSITES?
Well I think the best way is to understand that fear and desire are both projections – they’re not real. They are only projections that you are making and they’re pretty much equivalent to each other. You say your desire for a peaceful world is probably exactly equivalent to your fear of a warlike world. Your fear and your desire – actually, the world isn’t paying any attention to them. It hasn’t noticed, so fear and desire will not accomplish anything. What they will do is to create two huge spectres that are pretty well constantly warring with each other, thus expending all of your energy so that you will never escape that thing that you fear, and you will never get that thing that you desire.
The best thing to do is to let those two qualities somehow annihilate each other, somehow cancel each other out. Aleister Crowley said a lot of really, really silly things, but he said some very beautiful and true things as well. One of the things he said was that our best actions are those that we make without lust of result, and I think that that is very true. The very best things we do; we’re not frightened of them failing, we’re not desirous of them succeeding – we’re just doing them.
I know that I’m starting to sound like a kind of a Nike advert, aren’t I? I didn’t mean to do that. But, yeah, you don’t need fear and desire. Worrying about things will not prevent them from happening. They probably weren’t going to happen anyway, and you just wasted a lot of time worrying about them. And if they did happen you still wasted a lot of time worrying about them. You might as well have been having a good time until the piano fell on your head, for example.
FANTASTIC. YEAH, LET’S GIVE IT UP – ALAN MOORE!
OK, SO FEAR AND DESIRE… A TIBETAN TANTRIC BUDDHIST PHRASE COMES TO MIND: ANNIHILATION OF THE FALSE EGO. AS ARTISTS, CREATIVES, WE HAVE TO ADDRESS THESE ISSUES. A BIG ISSUE FOR ARTISTS IS THIS BALANCE BETWEEN AUTHENTICITY AND ORIGINALITY. COMING BACK TO THE EARLIER PART OF THE CONVERSATION OF MYTHOLOGY AND ARCHETYPES – WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON THAT? HOW CAN AN ARTIST BECOME MORE AUTHENTIC?
Yeah. If you’re going to be more authentic, you have to be more original. Like, I’m looking at the art movements of the early twentieth century; Symbolism, Surrealism, Cubism.
Now, what they were trying to do was to actually present something that was more real than reality. The Cubists were absorbing all of this stuff about forth dimensional mathematics. They were thinking, “If this is a 4D universe, if time is an illusion, then you should be able to see the front of someone’s face, if they’re looking at you. And if they turn their head in profile you should be able to see them both at the same time.” The Surrealists were trying to look at the unconscious substrate of our reality. The dreams and impulses that underlie all of this real stuff – the Symbolists were doing a very similar thing.
These were all trying to be more authentic, not more fantastic. By being more original they were being more authentic. If you want an authentic voice these days it will probably require quite a lot of artifice. Its very difficult to just say, “Right I’m just going to write what I want and that will be me. That will be me being authentic.” No it wont, it’ll probably just be sloppy rubbish, y’know?
To be authentic you have to push yourself in the way that the Cubists, the Surrealists and Symbolists were doing. You have to find a new way to authentically articulate what reality feels like at the moment. And it feels pretty strange at the moment… One would hope that this situation would throw up a lot of artists and writers and musicians and film-makers who were sufficient to their times. Because these are extraordinary times and an awful lot of art seems to be paralysed; it seems to be marking time.
It seems as if we sped through the 20th century and we were very eager to get to a kind of a promised Jetsons, science-fiction future where we’d all have rocket packs and flying cars and all the rest of it. So we hurried through the 1950s with all of those kind of Buck Rogers tails fins on the cars. We hurried through the ’60s with the moon landing and all of that space-age kind of stuff on television. And we thought We can’t wait for the future. The future’s going to be dead exciting. And then round about 1990, 1995? we thought “Oh hang on, this, this is the future isn’t it? Erm, and there aren’t any rocket packs, and this is a lot more complicated than we were imagining.”
It’s as if we froze on the spot and decided to culturally mark time. I mean, not everybody; there’s always going to be artists who are doing the real work of artists. But a lot of culture… Around about the mid-1990s we got Britpop which was – with the honourable exception of Jarvis Cocker – largely just recycling the English guitar bands of the ’60s and ’70s. And this is not just music – you see it in a lot of our culture. I mean how many of the most watched films at the moment are franchises that were made up to entertain the 12 year old boys of 50 years ago? – thats like most of them. We need stuff that is sufficient to the present day. We need stuff that is authentic, but we need new ways of actually framing that authentic voice. Authenticity is a lot more work than it looks.
YEAH, IT’S LIKE WITH MUSIC; SOMETIMES WHEN ARTISTS TRY AND BE ORIGINAL THEY SOUND LIKE A CLICHÉ, AND WHEN THEY TRY AND SOUND LIKE SOMETHING THEY REALLY LOVE, THEY SOUND REALLY UNIQUE – THERE’S A KIND OF PARADOX TO IT. BUT I THINK THAT WORKS CULTURALLY, IN THAT, YOU KNOW, LISTENING TO JAMIE REID TALK ABOUT HIS INSPIRATIONS WITH THE SUBURBAN PRESS, WHERE HE AND MALCOLM McCLAREN HAD BEEN INSPIRED BY THE SITUATIONISTS, PARIS 20S, TO THE DRUIDS, TO OUR MYTHOLOGICAL ARCHETYPES, AND FIND A LOT OF INSPIRATION THERE THAT CAN INFORM YOUR WORK. IT’S A MERRY DANCE BEING CREATIVE, I THINK AND IT’S CUP AND SWORD AGAIN; YOU HAVE TO LEARN HOW TO YIELD AND WHEN TO PUSH.
I mean, like I’d say; one of the things about being creative is that you suddenly realise that you are… When you’re sitting there and you’re trying to write your story and it’s just not coming right, or you’re trying to draw your picture and, I don’t know, it’s a picture of a horse and you think, “Hang on, how do their legs… do their knees go backwards or what is that? And whatever your problem is, one of the great things about creativity is that you know that there was probably someone in the Palaeolithic era who was having exactly that same problem. And probably every great artist who has ever lived has probably had exactly that problem that you are having right now. The same is true of writing. The same is true of music.
And you suddenly become aware of the glorious continuum that you are a part of – whatever level you are doing art on. Because that is largely bullshit, there isn’t really any differentiation between a published writer and an unpublished writer, except that one of them is published and is probably living quite comfortably and the other isn’t. There’s no difference in the work.
Y’know, Emily Dickison’s poems, they weren’t discovered until long after she was dead. William Blake went to the grave with only one review in a newspaper, and that said he was ‘an unfortunate lunatic’. So however bad you’re feeling about how your art is going, remember William Blake was ignored and discounted in his life and he didn’t give a fuck, because as he said, “Thee angels in thee before time are great admirers of my work and the angels in thee after time are also great admirers of my work, so why should I be worried that in the here and now time I am completely ignored?” Now that is courage. That is immense bravery and strength. And if William Blake could go to his grave, he was singing. He was making up songs while he was dying, “Here I am, I’m William Blake, I’m dying…” ….or something like that! He was a man who was creative right up until the very last, so if he could do that, what is your excuse?
THAT’S SO RELEVANT TODAY IN THE SOCIAL MEDIA SOCIETY WHERE EVERYBODY’S SEEKING APPROVAL FOR WHAT THEY’RE DOING – SO THAT’S GREAT. NOW; ART, CULTURE COMMUNITIES, PSYCHEDELICS, RARELY DOES AN ART MOVEMENT HAPPEN WITHOUT A COMMUNITY OR SCENE BESIDE IT. WHAT COMES FIRST?
Good question. I think what happens first is that everything – at least in one aspect – turns to shit. In alchemy, there’s a stage called the Nigredo, which is also known as the putrefaction, and it’s also known as the Black Crow, and this is the stage before gold is produced (and no, they couldn’t really produce gold, it was all metaphorical); this is the stage before the metaphorical gold is produced where everything in the alembic, in the crucible, everything becomes black, foul and depressing, and you know that its not going to work, you know that the whole thing is doomed, it’s a failure – that’s when it works.
You probably need that socially. You know, the late ‘70s and early ’80s – when things were about as miserable as they could possibly get – these are the things that incite great art. Great art is always at its greatest in opposition, and what I’m seeing right now; this is starting to look like a counter culture to me.
And I think that when things get as bad as they possibly can, that is when art and culture kick in. Now, I don’t think there is any one thing that happens first. I think there is this sense of unbearable artistic and social temperament, this sense of oppression and that will inevitably lead to people forging communication with each other, organising into new networks. We don’t have to decide just yet how we’re all going to dress. We don’t have to decide what our favourite drug is yet, we don’t have to decide between Blur and Oasis just yet. We can wait and see how this thing evolves. We can let it evolve naturally. It seems to be doing quite a good job on its own so far, just don’t stand in the way of any of this – just let it happen. I’m sure it will evolve its own music, its own poetry, its own wonderful sexy hairstyles. It will look after itself. Once its got the impetus behind it, a counterculture looks after itself.
FANTASTIC! I THINK THAT MEANS THAT EVERYBODY HERE SHOULD THROW A PARTY. GET EVERYONE INVOLVED.
WHAT SETS YOU FREE?
What sets me free..? Actually, making the decision that I really didn’t want to be in prison. What set me free was deciding at the age of roughly 25 that yeah, actually, no-one’s going to help you, are they? And at the same time, no-one is particularly trying to hinder you. So you haven’t got anybody else to blame, y’know…? You’re not going to be able to say “If only I hadn’t come from a poor background, or if I hadn’t have had this happen or that happen”, y’know? Those are just excuses. It’s when you realise that it’s just you in the Universe, and that its not necessarily hostile or benign, it’s neutral to you.
And when you realise that it is all up to you… Perhaps it will take a lot of work, but that’s down to you. If you want this thing badly enough, you will be prepared to do the work. That is incredibly liberating, when you suddenly realise that for better or for worse, it is going to be you that saves your life or ruins it. I think that’s very liberating. Stop blaming other people. Stop blaming institutions, saying its society’s fault. It probably is society’s fault, but it won’t benefit you to think like that.
WE CAN WORRY ABOUT WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK OF US, BUT THE REALITY IS THEY’RE NOT THINKING OF US AT ALL, SO YOU MIGHT AS WELL GET ON AND DO IT ANYWAY.
WHAT KEEPS YOU GOING, AND WHERE DO YOU FIND YOUR INSPIRATION TODAY? WHAT ARE YOU READING? WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO?
Well, I’m a bit culturally….you know those sensory deprivation tanks? Where you kind of float in them and you can’t feel anything or hear anything? I’m a bit like that with culture, in that I don’t have any connection with any online activity, I don’t even possess a mobile phone. Also, because I’m a bit deaf, I don’t listen to a lot of music….
DO YOU CORRESPOND AND WRITE LETTERS?
No, I feel guilty at the number of letters that are still waiting for replies. But there is still some fantastic stuff out there. The fact that I’m not particularly seeing it…we heard the other day… me and Melinda were listening to the Sleaford Mods and I was very, very impressed. That is fierce, powerful music. In terms of books, I’ve become completely infatuated with David Foster Wallace, who died in 2008, took his own life, but I am in love, completely besotted.
In fact, let’s talk about David Foster Wallace for the rest of the evening. He’s like….people like Thomas Pynchon, and the way they excited me back in the ‘80s – earlier than that, the ‘70s – he’s a writer who found a modern voice, a modern voice, a modern way to use language, and he talks about things that are very unique…uniquely modern, psychological states, and he’s very, very funny. And also he has really really irritating footnotes in his novels: every, say, ten lines, he’ll have a number, and you have to go to the back of the book, and this book’s about a thousand pages long. I only read it because I felt a bit guilty about having written Jerusalem and I thought I’ve got to show I can take it, as well as dish it out.
So I was going through all of these footnotes, and I thought ‘this is really aggravating’, especially as if you didn’t read the footnotes you won’t understand the novel. And when I got to one footnote, he had an unusual turn of phrase from a character, and then it had got 653 or something – it’s a very long book – and I looked at the back, and under 653 it just said “not a clue….” And I thought, “He’s deliberately doing this to annoy me”. I really, really respect that. Since then, I’ve been his willing slave.
But yeah, there are some great films being made, there is some great music being made, there are some great books, it’s just that we need to resist this attempt to enforce a monoculture upon us. We need to stand up for things that aren’t the most popular choice in the nation, y’know. Things that are popular are usually rubbish.
GIVE IT UP!
The S*n, I believe, is still our most popular newspaper. So let’s forget about popularity, let’s forget about how many people like us. Let’s forget about what our ratings are. That stuff’s not important, y’know. We just have to sort of buckle down and ignore all of that stuff.
I DON’T KNOW IF YOU’VE READ JOHN HIGGS’ BOOK ON THE BURNING OF A MILLION QUID BY THE KLF? WHEN I WAS 21 I EXPERIENCED AN INTENSE LSD MELTDOWN, ENDING UP ON THE KINGS ROAD IN A KIMONO BURNING MONEY. WHY IS THAT SUCH A POWERFUL ACT? – BURNING MONEY TODAY. WHY HAS IT BECOME A THEME OF THESE EVENTS?
Well, I mean when Bill and Jimmy brought their film of the KLF burning a million quid, as was noted in John’s book about the KLF, they’d got a list of the venues; and there were universities; I think there were prisons, public schools, anarchist groups, and about two thirds of the way down the list it said ‘Alan Moore’s living room’. So yeah, I had Bill and Jimmy and a bunch of other people turn up at my house, set up the projector, then show me the film of them burning a million pounds in a ruined cottage on the Isle of Jura. And I thought it was great. I like to see a movie where you can see every penny of the budget right up there on the screen, y’know?
And also, I could see what they were doing. What they were saying was this is just paper. They were choosing a very expensive way of saying that. They were saying look, this is the stuff enslaving all of you. If you don’t have enough of it, you’ll die. If you have too much of it, you will become somebody who can control the destinies of millions. So what we’re doing is, we’re burning it. That is so liberating. Money is code for everything, everything in the world apparently has its price. So money represents the world, the material world. That’s why discs or coins are that particular suit of the Tarot.
So to actually say that money has no power, that money has no worth, that is really socially blasphemous. I mean, where would we be if we all thought like that? It devalues the all powerful image of money. It reminds you that….hell, the notes we had when I was a kid, which didn’t have any animal fats in them to the best of my knowledge, they all said that they promised to pay the bearer goods to the equivalent of one pound. Originally they were supposed to pay you that amount in gold. I mean, Gordon Brown sold off the gold reserves in about 2007, but we never had enough gold to pay off all of those notes, it’s imaginary. Particularly today, where physical money isn’t real, it’s largely electric impulses passing through the ether. So I thought that money burning, I mean right there, you’ve got the blazing death of capitalist civilisation, haven’t you?
YEAH! RIGHT, I THINK WE’VE GOT TO FINISH SOON, BUT BEFORE WE DO, WHAT I LOVED ABOUT JOHN’S BOOK AND YOUR BOOKS, IS YOU CREATE THIS NEW MYTHOLOGY OUT OF YOUR SOURCES, AND IT REMINDS ME OF WILLIAM BLAKE’S IDEA THAT YOU HAVE TO CREATE YOUR OWN SYSTEM OR BE ENSLAVED BY ANOTHER’S, AND I THINK THAT’S FANTASTIC. I THINK BURNING MONEY IS A WAY OF FREEING YOURSELF OF THOSE TIES, BUT CREATING YOUR OWN MYTHOLOGY TODAY – EVERYBODY HERE IS CREATING THEIR OWN MYTHOLOGY IN A WAY…
Well, I think that stuff’s going to take care of itself. Again, I was talking the other night to Melinda, and saying I can feel a kind of future mythology settling over a lot of the connected events the artistic cultural events that are happening at this very interesting time. I can see the same kind of mythology which surrounded say the Beat Movement, with Burroughs, Kerouac and Ginsberg, the same mythology which surrounded the early psychedelic movement, with Kesey and the Pranksters, things like that. I can feel that kind of mythology settling into place, particularly with events like this one today. This will be like the Human Be-Ins of 50 years time. Let’s all get back here in say 2067 and see how this has all worked out.
Photo credits: Karin Albisson, Nick Mizen, Jane MacNeil / ‘The Mandrill’ Tarot card by Dom Mandrell