Alan Moore questions at Goodreads

Hi Alan. You've said (correctly, so far as I can see) that the advent of mass communication has led to the death of any discernible counterculture. Is this because a counterculture needs an element of insularity in order to thrive - the 'cult' aspect of it, I suppose - that the internet does not afford? Or is it the result of a larger, more depressing shift in society, priorities, ways of thinking etc? Or: other!

 

Alan Moore You may very well be right that a counter-culture needs a certain amount of insularity or distance that the internet doesn’t provide, and I think there are also other factors which abet this situation. I recently acquired a wonderful array of small-press poetry magazines from the 1960s and 1970s – poetry was always somehow at the heart of the counter-cultures that I remember – and what most struck me was the immediacy and authenticity of these stab-stapled physical artefacts. Obviously produced a home by people who were driven by a real passion, these were very definitely anti-corporate manifestations of a dissenting culture. I’m not sure how much real articulate dissent contemporary internet is capable of fostering. Still, it’s with us and clearly isn’t going away. It’s my hope that an alternative culture could emerge that is not so completely in thrall to the internet; that can use that technology for the things it is genuinely useful for, but that can also appreciate the need for a supplementary print and artefact culture, which is fulfilling different needs. This is a subject which I’m relatively optimistic about, and which will be the subject of a day-long seminar that I’m taking part in at Northampton’s Nene College on November the 28th, along with Robin Ince, Josie Long, Francesca Martinez, John Higgs, Grace Petrie, very possibly Melinda Gebbie and an outside chance of Scroobius Pip and some Syrian refugee poets. I think that the event will be streamed – a clearly positive use of the internet – and so I suppose we’ll have a chance to find out then how workable modern technology is in regard to a counter culture. And in the evening, we’ll be having an old-fashioned Art School Dance, which as any admirer of the poet Pete Brown would surely tell you, goes on forever.

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Out of all of the many, many things you've written, which is your most personal?

 

Alan Moore By definition, The Birth Caul must be the most personal piece of my writing that anyone has actually seen or listened to. However, next year I expect that to be superseded by Jerusalem, which is as close as I will ever be able to get to articulating my experience and my background in terms of a fiction.

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Do you believe knowing that you're living inside of a horror story makes it easier to live there?

 

Alan Moore It’s really only fictional people that live in horror stories. Real people, even if they’ve been the subject of special rendition and are currently receiving electric shocks to their genitals somewhere in Egypt, are not in a horror story: they are in the same ordinary reality as you and I, which we are all a part of and which we all, by our actions and inactions, help to create. I think it would be best if we agreed that we are living in the real world, and if at times it reads like a horror story – or worse – then we are the only authors, and we are the only authority that is in a position t fix or change that.

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If you could be killed in a horror film who would you want to be killed by and how would prefer to be killed?

 

Alan Moore I’m sorry, but I genuinely never give a moment’s thought to matters like this, and really can’t provide an answer for this question.

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What horror novel do you find the most terrifyingly realistic? I.E. the scariest thing is that this could actually happen.

 

Alan Moore Well, in order to fit the criteria of an event that could actually happen you would be very limited in your number of choices. It would have to be some nuclear war or environmental collapse scenario, I imagine, so perhaps a novel like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, or a television production like the English film Threads, which I can best describe as The Day After for grownups.

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Has your interest in the esoteric sciences (occultism) been a life-long venture or was there a particular event that got you interested in magic?

 

Alan Moore I suppose I had only an average person’s interest in occult matters for the greater part of my life, and while there were various factors that led to me becoming a magician back in 1993, one of the most compelling was writing a few lines of dialogue in From Hell to the effect that the one place gods and supernatural beings inarguably existed was within the human mind, where they were real in all their ‘grandeur and monstrosity’. Being incapable of finding an angle from which that wasn’t true, and realising its implications, I felt I had no real choice other than to become a magician.

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Hey, Alan, it's Mindy Newell. How the hell are ya? :-)

 

Alan Moore Hello, Mindy. Nice to hear from you. I’m fine, thanks, and hope you are, too.

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Solitude and isolation is often considered the scariest situation for people, but is it possible to transmute void and stasis into a compelling story?

 

Alan Moore With enough energy and ingenuity a writer can do almost anything. If you want to see a brilliant example of a drama involving a single individual isolated in a single room, then I strongly suggest you watch Robert Altman’s stunning film Secret Honor, starring the uncanny Phillip Baker Hall as disgraced former president Richard M. Nixon in his post-Watergate retreat at (I believe) San Clemente, sitting in a heavily-guarded room and speaking his awful truths obsessively into a tape-recorder. If you ever see a more accomplished or more disturbing Gothic drama, I’d be very surprised: at the end of the film the viewer is absolutely desperate to get out of this cramped little room full to bursting with evil history, and at the same time is aware that the central character never can. I can even imagine a good enough writer being able to craft a compelling narrative about an empty room with absolutely nobody in it...but probably best not to try this at home.

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Recently, I discovered your documentary on Northampton, 'Don't Let Me Die in Black and White' on the dark recesses of the internet, and as with much of your work, was struck by just how much you allow a sense and understanding of place to inform a story. How do you think that understanding of a place's history can be mined, exploited, or drawn upon to create a sense of horror and fear?

 

Alan Moore In my opinion (which is not at all humble, and which, indeed, often stridently insists that it be universally accepted as established fact) place is probably the single most important element of any work of fiction; arguably even more important than the characters and the plot, as it is always place that both character and plot emerge from, and exist in the context of. This is true whether we’re talking about a real, existing location, or about a landscape that the author has invented. While place is obviously massively important in successful horror fiction – Lovecraft’s fictitious Arkham or real Boston; M.R. James’ Aldeburgh; Ramsey Campbell’s Brichester or Liverpool – I would say that this was just as true of every other type of fiction. Certainly, an exhaustive investigation of a place that is very tiny when considered in three dimensions and immense and haunted when considered in four or more is what the entirety of Jerusalem is predicated on. And while there are certainly considerable horrors and tragedies bound up in that place, I feel that unless we excavate the whole of a place, including its humour, its triumphs, its history and its politics then we run the risk of not understanding it in its entirety. Of course, the slant that we put on a place will vary depending on what we want an individual story to achieve, but I would advise that you find out absolutely everything that you can about a place, trusting that fascinating or reveal details will be uncovered, or previously unnoticed poetic linkages. Nearly all of what I consider my most important works are predicated on place: Lost Girls in the Bodensee area; From Hell in London; Voice of the Fire and Jerusalem in Northamptonshire and the half-a-square-mile Boroughs district respectively; all of my magical performance pieces set and performed in Fleet Street, Highbury, Red Lion Square, or at a Victorian Crown Court in Newcastle; and of course Unearthing, which was an attempt to combine a deep study of a very unusual place with a deep study of an individual who had lived his entire life in that place – a necessary combination of psychogeography and psychobiography. Yeah, place: where would we be without it?

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Also, in case my previous question was boring. Here's one a bit more interesting. What would be the scariest way to die?

 

Alan Moore The scariest way to die, surely, would be after a life that was not sufficiently considered, understood or engaged with, wouldn’t it? As for your question on the re-reading and editing process, it depends on the author and on the work. With Jerusalem I’ve been very exacting and thorough. Other works, I’ll proofread them a couple of times and then leave it to the production people and editors. But that’s just me. Mike Moorcock tells me that he has to resist the temptation to go back and look at a work because he feels that if he did he’d never stop fiddling with it or revising. One of the benefits of coming from a background of pulp periodicals like Mike and I is that everything is at such a breakneck pace that you don’t really get the time to develop a habit for fussiness.

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As October 31st approaches, how do you celebrate Halloween?

 

Alan Moore You have to understand that I’m from an English, not to say a Northampton, working-class background, and that the way that we traditionally regarded Halloween over here before we had the America re-imagining of the phenomenon imported, was as a serious and ominous event that was part of the witches’ calendar. My grandmother, whom we lived with, was unwavering in her insistence that since this was a night in which malevolent and destructive supernatural forces were abroad and roaming freely, this was also a night when sensible people, particularly children, should stay indoors.
I feel, personally, that this was a properly respectful attitude to the ‘spirits of a place’ that accumulate, if only in that place’s legend and dream and imagination: these things are an important part of a place’s psychological reality, and I would actually prefer not to see them reduced to a fourteen year-old girl in a ‘sexy witch’ costume. Still, each to their own, and I’ve no doubt I shall spend this Halloween handing out money to, hopefully, some of the neighbourhood’s younger children accompanied by their parents, as these are always very respectful and point out to the children that they are actually talking to a real warlock. And of course, if they’re not with their parents I can ritually sacrifice a couple of them to my deformed 2nd century snake-god. Then everybody’s happy.

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Do you see a role in social evolution in the creating of grimoire-as-comic/graphic novel? Obviously, I'm thinking about works like From Hell and Promethea, but I wonder if you were deliberate in that intent, and if you see it as a valid or necessary exercise now?

 

Alan Moore To be honest I see at least a hoped-for socially evolutionary purpose in almost everything I do, although please don’t question me too closely about Astro Dick. That is certainly the deliberate intent behind any of my major works, and indeed I think of it as the only real function of art of any kind: what would be the point of writing a book, composing a symphony or constructing a painting if you didn’t intend it to alter the world to at least some small degree? I mean, other than making money?

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What is your favorite Edgar Allen Poe story, and what effect has it had on your writing and your personality towards the macabre?

 

Alan Moore My favourite Poe story, at least at this moment, would probably be The Telltale Heart, one of the first stories by ‘pauvre Eddie’ that I ever read. I wouldn’t say that his work has been a major influence on my own, save for indirectly through writers like Lovecraft, but I would say that Poe taught me to appreciate the unique register of feverish delirium and encroaching insanity that is curdling and creeping in all of his greatest and most memorable stories.

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Which serial killer, living or dead, would you love to have dinner with?

 

Alan Moore Well, fairly obviously, none of them. I think it’s a common misapprehension, often among horror movie fans, that serial murderers are in some way interesting – like that really clever music-and-food- appreciating one in The Silence of the Lambs – rather than the hopeless and damaged inadequates that, if you actually read a few serious books on the subject, they almost invariably turn out to be. In fact, the way that John Waters makes a fetish of (literally) clowns like John Wayne Gacey and his dopey paintings, makes me wish that someone I formerly considered to be an important voice in modern cinema couldn’t just, you know, grow up a bit.

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Hey Alan, maybe I am wrong but you don't seem like the kind of person who gets scared easily, have you ever read a book that horrified you? If yes, which one?

 

Alan Moore If I had to pick just one, then it would probably be The Blind Owl by (and I’m almost certain to mangle the spelling of this, not having the book to hand) Sedagh Heyat. Please don’t take my word for this, but instead read the book yourself and see if you agree. My guess is that it will make you feel almost ill with dread, and as worried for your own sanity as you would be by a long night of fitful sleep and terrible recurring dreams. Enjoy.

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What's the most spiritual experience you've ever had?

 

Alan Moore It’s difficult to say. I suppose it would be either my initial induction into magic, on the night of Friday January 7th, 1994 in the company of Steve Moore; or it would be my attainment of the solar sphere Tiphereth and an attendant vision of the crucifixion – quite stunning even (or especially) for someone who has no belief at all in Christianity – a couple of years later in the company of my musical partner Tim Perkins; or conceivably it would be the early 21st century occasion described in my short story/photo novel/ triple album box-set Unearthing, again with Steve Moore, where I encountered his personal lunar goddess Selene and shortly thereafter attained the magical grade/level of consciousness described by the term Magus. I’m pretty much incapable of listing my favourite films or books, as my answers to the rest of this series of questions demonstrate resoundingly, so asking me what I think was my most spiritual experience is pretty much doomed to elicit an answer that is even vaguer and more equivocal.

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Do you think that psychological horror or blood and guts horror has a greater effect on an audience? Why?

 

Alan Moore For my money, psychological horror beats physical gore hands down for its ability to actually disturb us and penetrate us to our very core. After all, teenage boys and young men, a group famously anxious and uncertain of its own masculinity, will not uncommonly attend a slasher film in raucous groups, and relieve their mutual tension by making a lot of noise and laughing rather too hard at the most violent scenes, as if to demonstrate that they’re much too manly to be scared by a mere film, while in fact demonstrating the exact opposite. My point is that you don’t get the same thing happening at a showing of Polanski’s Repulsion, do you? Also, it must be said that almost any halfwit can elicit a visceral reaction from their audience by having a character’s eye gouged out, while it takes considerable skill to get beneath an audience’s skin psychologically. I know which I’d see.

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What do you think makes a person or monster truly scary?

 

Alan Moore I think the most frightening quality in a monster – real or fictional, human or otherwise – is its distance from our world of common human understanding; the sense that we are confronted by some sort of awareness that is absolutely nothing like our own, with interior processes and perceptions and agendas that are utterly foreign to our own and which are therefore unreadable to us. In this sense, things like werewolves, vampires or H.R. Giger’s franchised aliens aren’t really any more disturbing than a runaway car that’s heading in your direction. If there’s something with fangs or teeth like a typewriter carriage that’s making its way towards you, then you probably don’t have that many questions about its motivations, or your own: it’s evidently trying to kill you, and you , just as evidently, would rather not be killed. Being killed, whether it be by a tumour, a drunk and masturbating truck driver or a reanimated mummy enacting a vengeful curse, is something that, as humans, we should probably be used to by now. Something wanting to kill us...often a really ugly and monstrous something...has been our constant companion since the Palaeolithic. Much more alarming, in my estimation, is the entity of which we haven’t the faintest idea what it wants; the dancing dwarf in Twin Peaks as opposed to the shuffling and brain-seeking cadavers of our zombie movies. This posited unknowable entity doesn’t even have to mean you any harm or be aware of your existence in order to terrify. The very fact of its irresolvable and unfathomable nature is enough to haunt and obsess us forever after, to the point where we might end up wishing that we’d encountered a nice, down-to-earth, uncomplicated rampaging sasquatch instead.

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Mr. Moore, What scares you the most: religion, politics or evil spirits? Why?

 

Alan Moore As somebody who believes that he has had a conversation with a biblical demon mentioned in the apocryphal book of Tobit – and the important thing there is that it is what I believed was happening – then I’d have to say that demons seem to be perfectly reasonable individuals who just happen to have a dirty job. If you like, they’re celestial sewer maintenance personnel. As a result of this, I don’t really think that there are any such things as evil spirits...unless we’re talking about the ordinary human variety that seem to inhabit a distressing number of our political and religious leaders. Regarding these, I wouldn’t say that I was scared of them, as I think that both institutions are going through cataclysmic changes that may turn out to be their death throes. Perhaps the word is ‘wary’, in that given the historical belligerence and self-interest of both politics and religion, I doubt that those death throes are going to be of the quiet, peaceful, brave and dignified variety. More likely they’ll involve a lot of noise and damage, and very probably more than a few people will be hurt. Just leave the evil spirits out of this. They’re blameless, and nowhere near as evil as we are., because they don’t have the same incentives.

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Do you think radical-left politics (particularly anarchism) in literature, has the capacity to engender an awareness which will help us reverse the catastrophic trajectory of our species?

 

Alan Moore That’s a very good question. I suppose if I didn’t believe that anarchistic ideas in literature could have a useful and positive effect upon, as you succinctly and accurately phrase it, “the catastrophic trajectory of our species” then I wouldn’t have any incentive to get out of bed and start writing (or breathing) in the mornings. I think we should all remember that it is supposed to be our culture that drives our politics, whether our politics like it or not, rather than the other way round. Ginsberg’s Howl and its subsequent obscenity trial established the defence of artistic merit for the first time, and had a massive liberating effect upon the arts and culture that continues to the present day. And while the literary and musical protest movements of the 1960s didn’t actually end the Vietnam War – I rather suspect that was down to the tenacity of the little guys in black pyjamas – these artistic movements certainly didn’t hurt in their efforts to make the war more untenable with those American people who didn’t want to be the first ones on their block to have their boy come home in a box. In fact, I’d say that that the historic success of artistic protest-movements is probably the reason why we haven’t seen a youth culture or a progressive movement in music, literature or the arts since around 1990: they were working, so we aren’t allowed to have them anymore. Frankly, Rafa, whether such efforts have any chance of succeeding at all, as ethical and developed human beings I don’t think we have any other conceivable choice but to behave as if they do.

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Do you, or any of your publishers, have any plans to publish more of your original comics scripts (plus earlier-stage documents such as notebook pages, thumbnails, outlines, and other jottings)? What has already been made available has been often fragmentary, and even the complete scripts published comprise a small fraction of your comics work. Your scripts always offer a fascinating, unmediated look at your thinking.

 

Alan Moore I’m flattered at the interest that there is in my scripts, although I’ve always felt very ambiguous about making the scripts public. For one thing, the script directions were nothing that I ever intended for the audience to see, since what I wanted was to give the audience the finished and perfected result of those directions: that was the experience I wanted the audience to have. Also, writing my scene descriptions is probably the only time when I can relax, literarily speaking, knowing that this is just a very functional stream of text for someone who is a co-worker, a friend, or very often both, and that I don’t need to be constantly, neurotically attempting to impress everybody with my immaculate prose style. If I thought that people would be reading the scripts as things in themselves, then that would increase my level of fussy self-consciousness and it would take me even longer to write them that it does as present. But, I understand what you’re saying, and can see that my scripts – or at least a few of them – might be useful for aspiring writers. I just don’t want to feel that I’m benefitting commercially from material that I personally didn’t believe to be for public consumption. Maybe I’ll see what I can arrange after I’m dead.

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Alan, During your run on the Swamp Thing, did you ever think that the Constantine character would end up being as popular as he is?

 

Alan Moore I honestly don’t think about the time that I wasted working for DC Comics anymore, and can only say that since I was never thinking about irrelevant concerns such as success and popularity while I was writing those books then, no, that would certainly never have occurred to me. And anyway, I’m a little uncertain about what you mean when you speak of the character’s popularity: are you referring to the American film and, I believe, television series featuring an American character that is nothing at all to do with the character that I created and simply has a name that is spelled the same, but which the makers of the show apparently don’t know how to pronounce properly? I’m sorry if this sounds negative. I loved the character just as much as you evidently do when I created him, but from my perspective most of the character’s existence since then has been embarrassing America rubbish that I obviously would want nothing to do with.

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As an aspiring author, I've started and stopped many stories I've wanted to write. How do you keep your focus on your work? Also what inspired The League Of Extraordinary Gentleman?

 

Alan Moore Well, The League was inspired by being about ten years into the work on Lost Girls with Melinda, a work bringing together three fictional characters for the purposes of pornography, and belatedly thinking “You know, I suppose you might be able to do the same thing with an adventure series.” Your other question is more difficult, and I can probably best answer in terms of kabbalah. In kabbalah’s circuit-board for the human personality, the Tree of Life, the sphere at the bottom of the central pillar, Malkuth, represents the whole of your material world and existence. The sphere immediately above that, the lunar sphere of Yesod, represents your faculty for imagination and dream. The sphere above that, the golden, solar sphere of Tiphereth, represents your highest self, and your will. Clearly, having an imagination isn’t enough: only when our trained and developed will is brought to bear upon our imagination will we have the ability to bring our immaterial ideas down and manifest them in this physical reality. My advice is to start with something small and well-defined, ideally a short story. Whether it is good or bad is unimportant: it represents you starting to do the mental exercise and building up your immaterial muscles until you have the ability to bring a bigger, better idea down into manifestation. This may sound like a simplistic answer, but I can assure you that some version of this simple process is responsible for bringing everything you’ve ever read, looked at or listened to into being.

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Why do you think people like to be scared?

 

Alan Moore There are, of course, a number of theories as to why people seem to enjoy being scared. My own personal favourite relates to the emergence of the Gothic movement from the writings of Northampton clergyman James Hervey and his stylish but morbid writings that so influenced the early Graveyard poets. These adopted Hervey’s theme that in cemeteries and from the signs of earthly decay we can learn that only God is eternal. Then came the later Graveyard poets who weren’t really much bothered about God but who really liked all the creepy, ghoulish stuff about skulls and bats and worms, and following them came Horace Walpole and the other Gothic writers who transplanted the same ghastly sensibilities to their novels – from which all supernatural, ghost and horror fiction proceed, and indeed all genre fiction in general. The point is that this craving for a mortal shudder started to emerge at the exact historical point where we were starting to clean up and sanitise the skull-littered graveyards that had once been so commonplace and which had provided Hervey’s original gloomy inspiration. While death and decay had previously been an admittedly putrid part of everyday life, when we got rid of death’s visible evidence from our streets and churchyards it’s as if we were compelled to find another, safer way of approaching the subject namely via the medium of a creepy fiction. I think that in philosophical terms, this is referred to as ‘the return of the repressed’.

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What have you experienced in real life that has spilled into your writing?

 

Alan Moore Just about everything I’ve ever experienced has spilled into my writing, but if you wanted a straightforward and obvious example, there was the death of my mother that formed the central inspiration for The Birth Caul. Less remarked upon but perhaps at least as interesting are those occasions where things from my fiction have seemed to spill into my life...the most innocuous example being the sinister clown figure who we had planned to have haunting Northampton in a spin-off from the Jimmy’s End/Showpieces films. I returned home from a week’s holiday a couple of years ago to find that a very similarly dressed sinister clown had become a minor internet phenomenon after first manifesting and being photographed by the post-box around thirty yards from my front door. Life and fiction do certainly have a relationship, but it’s as well to remember that this relationship is being conducted in a two-way street. Often my own, as it turns out.

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If you were given the chance to write a new story about a pre-existing comic character, from any publisher, without any restrictions, (and you are given full rights), which character would it be? And what would your take on that character be like?

 

Alan Moore I confess I don’t read many comics these days, chiefly those by my current Avatar stable-mates. So that would be Garth Ennis’s always-powerful War Stories along with anything else that the man happens to put out; Si Spurrier’s excellent and reinvigorated Crossed + 100 and his forthcoming Cry Havoc from Image; Kieron Gillen’s spectacular Mercury Heat, Phonogram, The Wicked + The Divine and, whenever he gets his lazy arse into gear, the next run of the exemplary Über; and, as mentioned earlier, the incredible Brian Vaughn’s concept-crammed Saga. As far as being given the chance to write any comic-book character, no matter what the inducements, can I say that I really wouldn’t want that in any circumstances? I genuinely have no further interest in any of the characters that the comic industry keeps in its massive police-auction horde of stolen property: for one thing, I’m sixty-two in a couple of weeks, and for another thing, how could I ever accept ‘full rights’ to a character that was created by some cheated creator of the past, and where those rights are not in the company’s gift from any ethical point of view? I have never had a real interest in Superman since I was around twelve years old, saving for when I was called upon to resurrect that interest for the Superman stories which I was offered. Even when offered the opportunity to write one of the only American comic characters that I retain affection for and interest in – this being Ogden Whitney and Richard Hughes’ sublime Herbie, the only comic character that is mentioned or discussed in Jerusalem, incidentally – I turned it down because I’m only interested in reading Hughes and Whitney’s Herbie, and have no interest at all in reading my own ‘take’, or ‘tribute’, or ‘homage’ to the character, which would add nothing new or interesting to already unique and fascinating work, and would at best amount to a fannish tribute which I’m sure that both of the original creators could have done without.

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If the justice system wasn't rigged on WB's favor, and the rights of Superman, Lois Lane and the Daily Star ever revert back to the Siegel and Shuster state, would you write a Superman story for them? What kind of story would that be?

 

Alan Moore I confess I don’t read many comics these days, chiefly those by my current Avatar stable-mates. So that would be Garth Ennis’s always-powerful War Stories along with anything else that the man happens to put out; Si Spurrier’s excellent and reinvigorated Crossed + 100 and his forthcoming Cry Havoc from Image; Kieron Gillen’s spectacular Mercury Heat, Phonogram, The Wicked + The Divine and, whenever he gets his lazy arse into gear, the next run of the exemplary Über; and, as mentioned earlier, the incredible Brian Vaughn’s concept-crammed Saga. As far as being given the chance to write any comic-book character, no matter what the inducements, can I say that I really wouldn’t want that in any circumstances? I genuinely have no further interest in any of the characters that the comic industry keeps in its massive police-auction horde of stolen property: for one thing, I’m sixty-two in a couple of weeks, and for another thing, how could I ever accept ‘full rights’ to a character that was created by some cheated creator of the past, and where those rights are not in the company’s gift from any ethical point of view? I have never had a real interest in Superman since I was around twelve years old, saving for when I was called upon to resurrect that interest for the Superman stories which I was offered. Even when offered the opportunity to write one of the only American comic characters that I retain affection for and interest in – this being Ogden Whitney and Richard Hughes’ sublime Herbie, the only comic character that is mentioned or discussed in Jerusalem, incidentally – I turned it down because I’m only interested in reading Hughes and Whitney’s Herbie, and have no interest at all in reading my own ‘take’, or ‘tribute’, or ‘homage’ to the character, which would add nothing new or interesting to already unique and fascinating work, and would at best amount to a fannish tribute which I’m sure that both of the original creators could have done without.

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What current comic series are you reading? And who are your favorite writer/s in today's comic industry?

 

Alan Moore I confess I don’t read many comics these days, chiefly those by my current Avatar stable-mates. So that would be Garth Ennis’s always-powerful War Stories along with anything else that the man happens to put out; Si Spurrier’s excellent and reinvigorated Crossed + 100 and his forthcoming Cry Havoc from Image; Kieron Gillen’s spectacular Mercury Heat, Phonogram, The Wicked + The Divine and, whenever he gets his lazy arse into gear, the next run of the exemplary Über; and, as mentioned earlier, the incredible Brian Vaughn’s concept-crammed Saga. As far as being given the chance to write any comic-book character, no matter what the inducements, can I say that I really wouldn’t want that in any circumstances? I genuinely have no further interest in any of the characters that the comic industry keeps in its massive police-auction horde of stolen property: for one thing, I’m sixty-two in a couple of weeks, and for another thing, how could I ever accept ‘full rights’ to a character that was created by some cheated creator of the past, and where those rights are not in the company’s gift from any ethical point of view? I have never had a real interest in Superman since I was around twelve years old, saving for when I was called upon to resurrect that interest for the Superman stories which I was offered. Even when offered the opportunity to write one of the only American comic characters that I retain affection for and interest in – this being Ogden Whitney and Richard Hughes’ sublime Herbie, the only comic character that is mentioned or discussed in Jerusalem, incidentally – I turned it down because I’m only interested in reading Hughes and Whitney’s Herbie, and have no interest at all in reading my own ‘take’, or ‘tribute’, or ‘homage’ to the character, which would add nothing new or interesting to already unique and fascinating work, and would at best amount to a fannish tribute which I’m sure that both of the original creators could have done without.

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What is your all-time favourite novel by another author? Do you like Dostoevsky?

 

Alan Moore Yes, I like Dostoevsky a great deal, although I’ve only read a very little of his work. I think he was a relatively fearless writer who was, for his day, exploring a raw and uncomfortable edge of the human condition and some of the chilly hinterlands of our psychological and emotional territory. As far as having an all-time favourite novel goes, I’ve explained elsewhere that I don’t really think in those terms, so any choice will be arbitrary and fleeting. That said, at this particular instant in time (10.50 PM, Wednesday 28th of October), I’m inclined to once more recommend Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman, which is stranger, funnier, and a lot less Russian than Dostoevsky but which, in its way, perhaps addresses some of the same concerns. On the other hand, if you were looking for something strange, funny and Russian, you could do a lot worse than Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita. The choice is yours; the probably questionable spelling is mine.

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Hi Alan! I've been looking forward to reading Jerusalem for years now and it always seems to be on the cusp of being completed. What stage is the book at now? Are you excited about it finally being finished? What can we expect when it's finally published? Many thanks and much love, Sonny

 

Alan Moore Well, I’m pleased to inform you that the actual writing of the first draft was completed around a year ago on September 7th, 2014. For the past year I’ve been working with Donna Bond, the very capable editor that I dragged in to oversee the enormous manuscript after the death of my original chosen editor, Steve Moore. Donna has been making suggested changes and edits over the thirty-five chapters...bless her, she even made some useful points about the frankly unreadable Lucia Joyce chapter...and I can report that I finished integrating the edits on the last chapter just six days ago on October 22nd. This almost-complete draft is with the publishers, and I believe some of the foreign editions have already begun the lengthy work of translation. It has also been passed over to my two trusted macro-managers (to see if there are any big structural or plot flaws in a work of this scale and with this number of characters), the author and prison writer Ali Fruish, and author and counter-cultural historian John Higgs. Meanwhile, I am shortly to recommence my drawing work on the front cover – which I began before I commenced work on writing the actual book, and then put away because it struck me as a stupid way to go about things – and I’m hoping that the whole thing will be out next year. Re-reading the book as I integrated Donna’s edits (seriously, the woman is brilliant: she even picked up on my serial misuse of the word ‘careen’), I can say that I am deliriously pleased with it and, at least from my own point of view, can say that this is the best thing that I have ever written, or in all likelihood will ever write. I thank everybody for their considerable patience over the ten years that I’ve been assembling this mechanism, and sincerely hope they’ll agree it was worth the wait.

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I loved Voice of the Fire. Does Jerusalem have a release date yet?

 

Alan Moore Well, I’m pleased to inform you that the actual writing of the first draft was completed around a year ago on September 7th, 2014. For the past year I’ve been working with Donna Bond, the very capable editor that I dragged in to oversee the enormous manuscript after the death of my original chosen editor, Steve Moore. Donna has been making suggested changes and edits over the thirty-five chapters...bless her, she even made some useful points about the frankly unreadable Lucia Joyce chapter...and I can report that I finished integrating the edits on the last chapter just six days ago on October 22nd. This almost-complete draft is with the publishers, and I believe some of the foreign editions have already begun the lengthy work of translation. It has also been passed over to my two trusted macro-managers (to see if there are any big structural or plot flaws in a work of this scale and with this number of characters), the author and prison writer Ali Fruish, and author and counter-cultural historian John Higgs. Meanwhile, I am shortly to recommence my drawing work on the front cover – which I began before I commenced work on writing the actual book, and then put away because it struck me as a stupid way to go about things – and I’m hoping that the whole thing will be out next year. Re-reading the book as I integrated Donna’s edits (seriously, the woman is brilliant: she even picked up on my serial misuse of the word ‘careen’), I can say that I am deliriously pleased with it and, at least from my own point of view, can say that this is the best thing that I have ever written, or in all likelihood will ever write. I thank everybody for their considerable patience over the ten years that I’ve been assembling this mechanism, and sincerely hope they’ll agree it was worth the wait.

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Everyone is crazy, but some people are Genius Crazy (writers, poets, artists etc) or Crazy Crazy (psychopaths, politicians, Marlon Brando while filming Apocalypse Now) Or at least this is what I believe. My question is do you believe this as well and if so, do you think being one or both makes helps in making a great writer or does it have nothing to do with that?

 

Alan Moore I think perhaps a more useful way of looking at it is that ‘craziness’ and ‘sanity’ are both social constructions that actually mean very little and depend upon each other for definition: a crazy person is someone who isn’t sane, and a sane person is someone who isn’t crazy. Given that these definitions are coming from a culture that, in several thousand years, has failed to come up with an adequate theory to describe or account for simple human consciousness, I don’t see that its purely social definition of whether a given person is in some way ‘abnormal’ or not can have any real basis or meaning. Basically, I’m not entirely certain that craziness and sanity actually exist or mean anything, and I am even less sure of the contemporary definition of genius. Genius used to be a word denoting the actual divine spark of inspiration that would enter and briefly animate a person, rather than a word bestowed upon the person themselves. I think it would probably better for human beings, with our delicate psychologies and ego-structures, to accept that if we were very lucky great art or genius may work through us, but that doesn’t mean that we ourselves are either great art, or a genius. As for whether you need to be some variety of crazy to be a great artist, I would say that what you need to be in order to achieve great art is completely and fiercely be yourself. This may, or may not, see you classified as crazy, but as remarked above, I think that it’s our largely meaningless classifications, regarding a subject of which we clearly understand nothing, that are a big part of the problem.

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Do you have any interest in revisiting Swamp Thing?

 

Alan Moore No, I’m afraid that Swamp Thing is amongst those books that I have disowned and can no longer afford to keep up any kind of emotional connection with. It’s probably safe to assume that none of my work in the future will involve franchised characters of any kind, and certainly not those of the mainstream comics industry.

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Who/what are your biggest literary influences?

 

Alan Moore Almost everybody I’ve ever read, if I’m honest, has influenced me either positively or negatively. Major influences would be William Burroughs, for the purposeful and shamanic energy that he had in his writing and his ideas; the non-musician Brian Eno simply for his eternally curious and adventurous approach to creativity itself; and more recently the extraordinary Iain Sinclair for the level of attack and crackling intensity that comes with his furious approach to language.

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Alan, your art has become legendary yet you are almost as well-known for often being dissatisfied with how those classic tales have been treated in print and film. How would you prefer to see an author's work handled by publishers and film makers?

 

Alan Moore As far as an author’s work appearing in print goes, I would say that what I personally am always looking for is simply not to be lied to and stolen from. This speaks to issues of common respect. With film adaptations of an author’s work, I would only ask that they only be made if the author in question wants them to be made. Beyond this, I think I’m fairly easygoing and accommodating about how my work is published. I only ask that creators and the work they produce should be treated by publishers with the respect that is their due.

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Is it harder to scare audiences these days? It seems like as a culture, we've gotten, if not more sophisticated, at least more jaded. Or is that just a facade, and underneath we're still the same superstitious, cowardly lot we've always been?

 

Alan Moore I don’t think it’s harder to scare audiences these days than it’s ever been. Wherever we happen to be in our cultural history, it’s a safe bet that the things that scared our parents no longer possess the same frisson when it comes to ourselves. What is required of horror writing, then, is that it relentlessly moves forward and discovers new ways of frightening or disturbing its contemporary audience. Look at the work of Thomas Ligotti for a superb example. In fact, I’d go so far as to suggest that with our modern audiences programmed to only expect horror within certain established parameters – a kind of almost comforting state in which the audience can always pretty much predict where the horror is going to come from – then it might even be easier these days to genuinely scare one’s readers. I know that in Providence, where we’ve gone out of our way to come at our horrors from unusual angles and to present them using novel storytelling techniques, we have a few scenes coming up which I believe the readers will find genuinely frightening. It’s really all just a matter of being prepared to put in the innovatory effort.

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And I hope of course thee hear us.. What are the three essential books you would recommend to us strong, Harpo-types?

 

Alan Moore Well, as long as you realise that this answer is completely arbitrary and just happens to include three or possibly eight books that happen to be passing through my mind at the moment, then I’d say that everyone should read B. Catling’s The Vorrh, just for its psychotic poetry. They should also read Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman for its unforgettable Irish eternity. They should read Angela Carter’s The Infernal Desire Machines of Dr. Hoffman, not because it’s her best book but just to remind them of when books like that were possible. They should read Michael Moorcock’s Mother London for its enormous bombsite heart, and Iain Sinclair’s White Chappell – Scarlet Tracings for its innovation and its frenetic lowlife energy. And that’s just the fiction. Otherwise, they should read Steve Aylett’s The Heart of the Original because we all need a good telling-off; they should read John Higgs’ history of the 20th century, Stranger Than We Can Imagine, if they want to stand any chance of understanding the 21st; and all women and men should be compelled to read Bridget Christie’s brilliantly insightful enquiry into the state of modern feminism, A Book for Her, which is all about periods or something, I don’t know, I was thinking about cars and football and wasn’t really paying that much attention.

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To the best of your knowledge, what monsters and/or gateways to dark and foreboding realms lie hidden within your beard?

 

Alan Moore This would have to have been the large, live moth that eventually found its way out of my beard during a visit to Steve Moore’s house a few years ago. While I understand that this doesn’t give a favourable impression of my grooming regimen, I have no idea how or when it got itself into its unenviable situation, and for all I know it may have hatched and grown to maturity knowing no other world than a maze of impenetrable grey tangles. Oh, and the other horrific thing or gateway to a dark realm to be found hidden in my beard, at least according The Onion’s Our Dumb World, is the Essex region.

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What's the most Lovecraftian or horrific thing you've ever found in your beard? Thank you!!

 

Alan Moore This would have to have been the large, live moth that eventually found its way out of my beard during a visit to Steve Moore’s house a few years ago. While I understand that this doesn’t give a favourable impression of my grooming regimen, I have no idea how or when it got itself into its unenviable situation, and for all I know it may have hatched and grown to maturity knowing no other world than a maze of impenetrable grey tangles. Oh, and the other horrific thing or gateway to a dark realm to be found hidden in my beard, at least according The Onion’s Our Dumb World, is the Essex region.

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How extensive was your research on Providence, Rhode Island? Did you find anything in its history of particular interest? Have you ever visited?

 

Alan Moore Actually, with Providence I found that given the considerable amount of Providence history contained both in Lovecraft’s work and letters, along with the fairly exhaustive studies of Providence in some of the Lovecraft scholarship and biography that I’ve been immersed in, it was the less-immediately-connected places like Athol and Manchester, New Hampshire that demanded the most research. Interestingly, 2015 being the 125th anniversary of Lovecraft’s birth, I was contacted by the Providence town authorities with an incredibly generous offer to sail me into Providence on a tramp steamer and let me look around the place without obligation of public appearances. Not having a passport and thus being relatively geostationary, I had to decline...although in some ways I think that, as with a lot of places, I prefer to keep my own private imaginary Providence intact. For me – and this is no doubt a purely personal quirk of no especial meaning – I’ve found that with historically based projects such as Providence or, for that matter, From Hell, the very best and most satisfying reference tool, after you’ve read all the necessary history and absorbed it, is a simple period map. In issue four, for our visit to the Wheatley/Whateley family, we were able to find a likely local site for their farm on the nearby Cass Meadow, which is encouragingly close to the hill with the Sentinel Elm (which becomes Sentinel Hill for the final scenes of ‘The Dunwich Horror’), and where we were also able to find a farm property without a current owner’s name attached to it, so that the Wheatleys might have lived there back in 1919. We...and when I say ‘we’ I’m mainly talking about me and my invaluable research-henchman Joe Brown...were able to do pretty much the same thing for the visit to Boston coming up in issues seven and eight. The thing is, with a map and an excursive imagination you can almost create a virtual walk-through of the place concerned, only with much better graphics and much better resolution. My extensive visits to Whitechapel during the writing of From Hell, while they gave me access to the atmosphere of the place as it is today, which I found useful in writing the ‘Dance of the Gull-Catchers’ appendix, I don’t think that any of those observations were relevant to the bulk of the story itself. I suppose what this comes down to is that in terms of research methods, I’m a big fan of remote viewing.

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What is your fantasy, sir?

 

Alan Moore The last time I had a fantasy, I was around fifteen and it became my subsequent life, pretty much down to the last detail. So you can bet I’m never doing that again.

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If Northampton were an eldritch beast, what would it look like (and what would it do to people)?

 

Alan Moore I’m afraid I don’t really understand this question. Northampton is an eldritch beast. It looks like a perfectly normal middle-English town, only with more Gothic churches, murders and spectral clowns. As for what it does, I suggest you refer to any of the photographs of me which I’m assured are available online: that’s what Northampton does. It also commences the Crusades, the industrial revolution and free-market capitalism. No, don’t mention it. You’re welcome.

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Out of all of your amazing characters, who do you think is the closest representation of yourself/who do you identify with the most?

 

Alan Moore To a considerable extent, it would be fair to say that every character I’ve written – male, female, human, alien, good, evil or otherwise – is to some degree a speculative extension of myself, because that, in my experience, is the only way to write truly convincing characters: you find some forgotten or suppressed facet of your own persona, and then you inflate that and carefully build it up into a credible character type. However, the character in all my fiction that is consciously the most closely based upon myself is Alma Warren, an unreasonable and post-menopausal female artist who is the elder sister of the main character in my forthcoming novel Jerusalem. That, as near as I can manage from the limited perspective of being inside myself, is pretty much me – although in real life I’m a lot more physically beautiful, obviously, and a lot less vain.

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Of all the current books and graphic novels today, do you have any personal favorites that you feel deserve more attention by the public? Any books or graphic novels from the past? Thank you for everything you have written and given to the world to enjoy!

 

Alan Moore I’m afraid that being a little out of touch with the contemporary comic scene, while there is some exemplary work out there I am probably not the best person to point it out, and a list of the writers that I’m currently reading most would look suspiciously partisan, in that it’s Garth Ennis, Si Spurrier, Kieron Gillen and the rest of my Avatar associates. I have only recently become belatedly acquainted with the remarkable work of Brian Vaughn, and I’m sure you don’t need me to recommend Saga, surely one of the most remarkable and inventive pieces of science-fantasy ever to emerge from the comic medium. As far as the ‘graphic novelists’ of the past go, one of the only people ever to produce work that was inarguably deserving of that term would be the unsurpassable Lynd Ward, author and artist of such sophisticated wordless narratives as God’s Man and Madman’s Drum amongst others. Anyone interested in the form should investigate Ward, a great American original whose work still has a great deal to teach us all these decades later.

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Your and Jacen Burrows' Providence is unbelievable, especially in terms of the depth of your layering of H. P. Lovecraft allusions. I was wondering which of Lovecraft's stories most petrifies your pubic hairs...why does this particular selection unsettle you and shake you to your horror-loving core? Not part of my question, but thanks to the whole team for this read so far; it is challenging and dense and wonderful

 

Alan Moore I’m glad that you’re enjoying Providence, which me and Jacen and everyone involved are insufferably proud of. As for the Lovecraft story which most frightened me initially, this would have to be the first such tale I read, which was ‘The Statement of Randolph Carter’ with its famously spine-tingling last five words. Returning to Lovecraft as an adult, though, and especially with an eye to working on Providence, I have found a much richer and more complex writer than I remembered. This is no doubt because my own understanding of Lovecraft has become richer and more complex as a result of all the fine Lovecraft scholarship that I’ve been assiduously absorbing over this last couple of years. These days I find it’s not an individual Lovecraft story that particularly inspires me, so much as his whole body of work and the radical approaches to writing that it contains. His disorienting technique of giving a list of things that Cthulhu doesn’t quite look like a combination of, for example, or his insistence that the Colour out of Space is only a colour “by analogy”. There is a kind of prescient alienation in the work of H.P. Lovecraft that I suspect will form a much larger part of his legacy than what Lovecraft himself termed his “Yog-Sothothery”.

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What was your favorite story to write and why? What is your favorite finished product and why?

 

Alan Moore While I’m aware that you won’t have seen this yet, the favourite story that I have ever written and almost certainly the favourite finished project is my second novel, Jerusalem. Prior to this my answer would have been my first novel, Voice of the Fire. In both cases, they are pieces of work that are absolutely central to my life, and to who I am. They’re expressing something that is much more important to me than all of the fantasies I have created, and they’re both pieces where what you are seeing is my work unmediated by a collaborator...I’m even hopefully drawing the cover of Jerusalem myself. With both books, what you are hearing is my voice, with me performing at the absolute top of my range, without any restraints at all. In Jerusalem, you also have a work written in later life after absorbing all of the varied lessons of my career, and speaking only for myself I believe it to be the best and most sophisticated piece of extended writing that I have ever committed to paper.

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In the Mindscape of Alan Moore documentary, you speak of a time when information will overflow and in your own words "all bets are off" at this point. The technological singularity (as explained by Vinge, Yudkowsky etc.) if it does happen predicts something similar. Do you think you were in fact talking about the singularity, and the overflow of information that will come along with it?

 

Alan Moore I’m afraid that I really don’t know enough about the supposed causes of the ‘Singularity’ to say much about it one way or another. What was talking about in the Mindscape documentary was a theory which I believe was first originated by an economist, possibly in the early 1970s, that pertained to the phenomenon of Period Information Doubling. This states that the length of time it takes for our species to double the amount of information that is in the world is itself becoming briefer and briefer. If the hundreds of thousands of years between the first hand-axe and, say, the year 1 AD is counted as one period of human information, it takes us about fifteen hundred years to double that amount. It then takes only a couple of hundred years to double that. Between 1960 and 1970, human information allegedly doubled, and the extrapolated graph curve of this doubling points to a time in (I think) 2017, where human information is doubling every fraction of a second, supposing of course that the graph curve holds up. This was the point at which I said “all bets were off”, and while I have heard people speak of this Singularity in similar terms, I don’t know enough about the thinking behind the Singularity to say whether I think it’s the same phenomenon we’re talking about. We can probably both agree that some sort of information crisis is looming, and are probably both necessarily sketchy about the details.

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What happens to you when you write?

 

Alan Moore I probably shouldn’t play favourites, but for my money this is perhaps the most interesting question I’ve been asked all year. I don’t know. I don’t know what happens to me when I write, because I’m not sure if we have adequate language to describe, even to ourselves, what it is to use language in a purposeful way. I know that my consciousness, if I am immersed in writing something demanding, is moved into a completely different state than the one which I inhabit during most of my waking life. Neither is it like dreaming, having much more focus and control. If I’m writing, as I often do, something which requires messing around with the structure or vocabulary of the English language, then I find myself entering some very unusual mental spaces indeed. Writing the Lucia Joyce chapter of Jerusalem, ‘Round the Bend’, I found myself in a kind of synaptic cascade-state that had a delirious, mind-expanding bliss to it. By contrast, writing the collapsed future-vernacular of Crossed +100, I found myself ending up slightly depressed just by the experience of having a limited language with a subsequently limited number of things that the characters could think, or feel, or conceive of. What I suspect is happening is that, as started earlier, our entire neurological reality can be seen as being made from words at its most immediate level. When you descend into this level of our reality, the code of our reality if you like, then whether consciously or not; whether deliberately or not, you are working magic. So, the answer to your question as to what happens to me when I write, is the most banal and useless answer you will ever get from an author: the magic happens. I hope that the fact that it’s me saying that and that I mean the above statement with absolute conviction, along with all of its potentially frightening implications, will be enough to make it sound a little less fatuous.

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Hi, First of all, let me just say that I am a huge fan of The Watchmen, The Killing Joke and From Hell. My question is about the Watchmen and the alternative historical narrative you exploited for the story. Do you think that if you or anyone was to make a story as such; meaning an alternative historical narrative would it be easier or more difficult according to you to write such story nowadays, than in 1985?

 

Alan Moore I really don’t think that it’s any more difficult – or any more easy – to craft an alternate world narrative than it was in 1985. Ignoring the perhaps contentious viewpoint that any fiction is in a sense an alternate world story, I’d say that my creation, with Jacen Burrows, of the alternate world of Neonomicon/Providence, with its Robert W. Chambers suicide gardens and its city-spanning anti-pollution domes is just as complex and involved as anything I’ve ever done, even if it’s not wearing its alternate world colours quite so brazenly, while something like Kieron Gillen’s excellent Über is a meticulous and carefully worked-out piece of extended parallel history that makes most other examples of the sub-genre seem frankly lazy. I think almost by definition, whatever the era or conditions of our own world, a story of a world that went a different way is always going to be equally as demanding and equally as possible.

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Dear Mr Moore. As I am only allowed to ask you one question I am afraid that I am going to have to make it a big one… Do you believe that given our seemingly unique position in this world, that mankind as a whole, essentially has a duty to accomplish something during our tenure as a species, and if so, do you think there is any hope that at some point in the future we will actually manage it? Many thanks, K

 

Alan Moore While I’m not personally sure that there is any external authority or force making it our duty as a sapient species to accomplish something, I think that it is imperative that we behave as if that is the case. As for whether I believe the species will ever actually reach this transcendent goal, whatever it might be, I’m probably a lot more optimistic than my largely-diagnostic fiction might have led you to believe: for all we know, we may be the only tiny speck of advanced life anywhere in the universe; the only part of the universe that is sentient; the only part of the universe that can look at itself and marvel. If that were the case...and we might value ourselves more and look after ourselves and our environment more if we acted like that were the case...then you’d have to say that we’re accomplishing quite a significant thing already. We might be the very beginnings of the universe’s nervous system and sensory apparatus. And even if we wipe ourselves out tomorrow, or in a hundred, or in a million years time, in my view of a solid and eternal spacetime continuum that accomplishment is not negated. Whatever we do or do not accomplish in the future, every conscious moment of our here and now is a stunning and miraculous unlikelihood that is very possibly nowhere replicated throughout the length and breadth of our cosmos. As far as I understand it, gold can only be created by a collision of supernovae. That’s why there is only enough of it on our planet to make a cube with a base area roughly the size of a tennis court, and why in any gold ring there is a tiny but measurable amount of gold from Mayan temples or from the teeth-fillings of holocaust victims. It’s a safe bet that gold is generally as rare throughout our universe at it is her on Earth. And yet we, examples of intelligent life, are much, much, much rarer than gold, and it would be a good thing if we thought a little more upon our scarcity, and hence our preciousness.

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League of Extraordinary Gentlemen must one of the most ambitious literary deconstructions in all fiction. As it evolved from the "Victorian Justice League" to all stories ever, with the Black Dossier's setting in the 1950s and then Century, it went from public domain characters to those such as a certain British spy and boy wizard... Did you face any legal obstacles or criticisms from the owners of those properties?

 

Alan Moore The short answer is that no, we never faced any legal obstacles or received any criticisms from the creators of any of the properties you mention, or their estates...hardly surprising, as we were careful not to use any trademarked names or likenesses, and in case I don’t think we ever did anything that didn’t fall under the broad rubric of satire, which is surely permissible. While working on The Black Dossier, however, we did receive a lot of interference from our apparently timid and easily-frightened American publishers, none of which turned out to have any relationship to anything that ever actually happened in the real world, as indeed any vertebrate with a mental age in excess of eleven might have predicted. Similarly, on Century, while we did have one of our flagging national daily papers trying to perk up its sales and its reporter’s profile by attempting to generate some controversy that would have enabled them to run lots of headlines with the words ‘Harry Potter’ in them, absolutely nothing happened, just as is always the case if someone in comics or media has told you that it definitely will, and that it will bring down the wrath of God on you personally and the industry in general. I often think that one of the main reasons the comic business likes to present its caped and masked visions of superhuman courage is because it is itself so markedly lacking in that commodity. But thanks for your remarks upon its deconstruction of fiction. Even if we don’t always please everybody, or even anybody, I don’t think we can be faulted for a want of ambition.

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my 14yr old has a darker side when it comes to life + occasional depression, a sweetheart/gentle soul hidden in a trenchcoat, very intelligent but he's the villain/orc/troll/demon god in games, the bully to the school bullies, sketching darkness & he devours books (yours, dune, g rr martin, pratchett, peter v brett)..we're americans in france any advice on being yourself in a world that says you don't fit in?

 

Alan Moore Without knowing your son, and without wishing to presume to understand the (at 14, largely chemical) complicated matters that are going through his mind, I’d take a guess that a desire to (probably fleetingly) adopt a dark or scary persona is probably born of completely understandable fear. I remember that from a fourteen year-old perspective the world was a place of looming dangers that, at that age, I had no idea how to deal with. Also, it’s around about this age that we are starting to realise that our sweet, natural, normal personalities that have got us through the first ten or so years of our life with no great existential difficulties are clearly not going to be adequate to dealing with the scary and alien territory of adolescence. Traits that your grandmother found adorable are neither going to ward off bullies nor attract a girlfriend or boyriend: probably, in fact, the exact reverse. This is the age at which we are frantically scrambling to put together a workable identity for ourselves, and we tend to do it by borrowing bits from people we know, or more often from completely fictional characters that we admire in some way. I dread to think of the number of otherwise potentially nice young men who have grow up with the impression that acting like James Bond will make them as irresistible to adult women as James Bond is to a twelve year-old boy. I imagine that with your son, he is probably trying on a ‘dark’ persona as a form of armour for the vulnerable person that most of us are underneath. Fortunately, at that age we are trying on identities like masks in a fancy dress shop, and we usually realise that they don’t really work, or certainly not for us. You say that he’s read my work, so I’m guessing that he’s perhaps read Watchmen and that maybe he found certain qualities of the character Rorschach to be admirable. Although I wrote that character to show what the internal and social life of a justice-obsessed masked vigilante would most probably actually be like, I have actually had a couple of grown adults tell me how much they identified with the character...which, again, is just the futile attempt to be the most scary thing in a world in a world that you personally find scary. These were adults, and in neither case did they end in what you’d call an enviable state. Luckily, your son is fourteen, when this behaviour is completely normal and understandable. He will realise, as I did, that nobody in their right mind wants to go out with Skeletor or Ernst Stavro Blofeld, and he will very probably adjust and moderate his balance until he reaches a point where he feels confident and happy in himself, when you will probably see the child he used to be becoming confident enough to re-emerge, albeit in a modified and more sophisticated form. As for how to be yourself in a world where you don’t feel you fit in, I can only advise that you grow a beard, speak in a deep and unintelligible English regional accent about things that normal, rational people have never considered for a second, and take to the worship of a creepy-looking human-headed serpent god. In my own experience, this course of action always works. And you can tell your son that if he really wants to frighten everybody away, it works pretty well for that, too.

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what's your opinión on the new generation? are we getting better or worse?

 

Alan Moore Oh, I think like all generations you’re probably getting better and worse at the same time, and I believe that over time, the better generally outweighs the worse. Given the massively increased complexity of the world that you have to deal with, I think you’re doing fine. My only concern...and this is certainly not specific to your generation...is that too many people may shy away from that complexity, in favour of a retreat into something simple, comforting and ultimately crippling like nostalgia or a longing for their uncomplicated and lost childhoods. Dealing with the present day has always been a thing that demands a great deal of fortitude and bravery. Trying to be sufficient to our times is all that any of us, of any generation, can really hope to do.

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Which is the most scarying comic book you've ever read?

 

Alan Moore For sheer impact, at the time when I was actually reading them, the most frightening comics I’ve ever read would still have to be the best of E.C.’s horror line, with the brilliant Archie Goodwin’s exemplary work on Warren’s Creepy and Eerie running a very close second.

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Have you considered doing any work based on Henry Darger's "In the Realm of the Unreal"? Are there elements of his universe in any of your own?

 

Alan Moore Although I find Darger’s work fascinating, I’m afraid I’m not familiar with enough of it to have really focussed on it in any serious way creatively. I remember that I’d suggested we could include a couple of Darger’s disturbingly hermaphroditic children in the 3D ‘Blazing World’ sequence of The Black Dossier, but unfortunately they were omitted for lack of space.

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How do you feel about the legacy of the Watchmen? Particularly its impact on authors who seemed to miss that the violence served a purpose and seemed to use it as a license to glorify violence with their own work.

 

Alan Moore As I’ve already harped on about for probably far too long, Watchmen is one of the many books that I can no longer take any interest in. As regards its legacy, if any, then I imagine it will be as you say, with people using the supposedly ‘serious’ and ‘adult’ nature of Watchmen as a justification for the fairly adolescent sex and violence in their own work. I certainly don’t see many people attempting to equal or better its storytelling innovations, which would have been the only part of any supposed legacy that I could have really cared about.

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First, thanks for all the marvelous works through the years. An esoteric question: you've mentioned provocatively the idea that space-time is shaped like a 4D football with big bang/crunch at the ends. Care to speculate about the geometry of idea space? what part of that geometry is reserved for lovecraftian horrors? is it just another football that ended already with the 11th season of ABC's show "The Bachelorette"?

 

Alan Moore About the most interesting semi-recent speculation on the subject of idea space and its geometry was in conversation with my late and much-missed friend, accomplice and guiding light Steve Moore. We were talking about possible theoretical explanations for divination systems such as the Tarot or the I-Ching, and were wondering whether it might be that divination systems allowed us access to our own minds, but at some point in the future. This led me to suggest that the matter presumably depended upon how many dimensions consciousness could be said to have. None? One? Two? Three? Four or more, in which case we’d be talking about time as a dimensional distance? As for what part of idea space is reserved for Lovecraftian horrors, you’ll find a fictional meditation on that very thing in the later episodes of Providence, while if my ideas of spacetime as a fourth dimensional solid are correct, then everything has ended already, just as its simultaneously just beginning. We and everyone we know are already dead for decades, and there are people right now in the 22nd century smirking at photographs that reveal our ridiculous hairstyles and primitive dress-sense.

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If you were to adapt one (and one only) of your books into a movie, which would it be?

 

Alan Moore As I’ve tried to explain for getting on this past decade, my problem with the film adaptations of my work is a problem with adaptations in general. The only point in transferring something to a medium for which it was not intended is to make more money, usually at the expense of the integrity of the work in question, and that really isn’t how I’m motivated, or how I work. We have already explained to eager film interests that there will never be a film adaptation of Jerusalem. Indeed, my only film work (other than always-delightful inclusions in the work of people like Andrew Kötting) is likely to be my work on Jimmy’s End/ The Show, something which has been written to be realised as a piece of cinema, exploiting those things that only cinema can do. And for what it’s worth, I’m as determined that The Show should not be adapted as a comic book or novelisation as I am about the attempts to adapt my written works to film. I’m at least consistent in my surly and unreasonable attitudes.

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I know that you did not like the movie adaptations of your books, but do you feel that Watchmen was closer to what you wanted or is it at the same level as L.O.E.G. and From Hell?

 

Alan Moore I not only did not approve of the attempts to adapt my work to a medium for which it was never intended, I have never seen any of these movies and hold them all in pretty much equal disregard. I would say that the Watchmen movie seemed to me particularly misguided, in that the only thing of any importance about Watchmen was its display of new storytelling techniques and potentials that were designed to be unique to the comic medium and almost impossible to any other. It certainly wasn’t an attempt to reinvigorate a tired superhero genre. Quite the reverse: as with the previous Marvelman it was a critique of superheroes, and a meditation upon how these figures would look if they were disastrously transplanted to a realistically-depicted and above all adult world for which they’d never been designed. The opening page of Watchmen, with its impossibly long pull-back from a detail in a gutter to a position high above the street, was an up-front agenda-setting demonstration of something that could not be replicated in either literature or film, which is why I made it the book’s opening scene, and why I imagine the movie version apparently elected to leave it out.

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Which mainstream horror movie do you find to be the most erotic?

 

Alan Moore This is a bit of a loaded question. If I were to say, for example, Godzilla, then people would be justifiably wondering about my sexuality for the rest of my literary life. In truth, I don’t really think of horror films as being particularly erotic, although I do think that many erotic films are horrific.

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Do you see the possibility of a meaningful shift to the left in the English speaking world with the emergence of popular support for Corbyn/Trudeau/Sanders? I don't mean to suggest that they are the same.

 

Alan Moore It’s certainly gratifying to hear some left wing voices in a world of voracious and unrelentingly right wing political agendas, and Trudeau’s win in Canada is obviously to be welcomed as a way of reversing some of that formerly exemplary country’s recent suicidal environmental policies. Sanders is an interesting case, emerging in a United States which seems to have enjoyed a previously phobic relationship with anything that vaguely smacked of socialism. I wish all of these people well, and it is certainly to be hoped that they prefigure some sort of resurgence in basic, decent human values, but I think that in the long term we should accept that the standard model of modern democratic government is no longer (a) working; (b) in the interests of ordinary people rather than an apparently amoral elite; or even (c) democratic. We have smarter and more egalitarian alternatives available to us now, and we should start planning to take advantage of that fact before our situation worsens even further. I, for one, would be interested in seeing modern science playing a greater role in government: evidence-based politics might be quite a novel and rewarding approach to governance. What I’m saying, I suppose, is that we should support such few rays of light as break through the toxic conservative cloud-cover, but that we should also be thinking about the future...which is here right now...and that we should very definitely have a Plan B embracing broader and more radical change.

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Two summers ago I was jacked up on melatonin & didn't know it caused hellish nightmares, circular thinking, & a dreamlike state while awake (w/ prolonged usage). I believed you had possesed a chair in my livingroom & talked to you. My questions are 1) did you hear me? & 2) will you play Yahweh in my modified live-action interpretation of the first 2 books of Neil Gaiman's "Sandman"? I'm a directing MFA student@UCLA

 

Alan Moore No, I’m sorry, but I can’t report having shared your melatonin-inspired vision. But then, even with magically conjured presences, there always remains a very strong possibility that these represent parts of ourselves which our subconscious has chosen to externalise in a particular form, which is still a interesting phenomenon, if not quite telepathy. As for your Spider Man petition, I’m afraid that as I’m not really interested in any superheroes these days and as I’m not online, then I shall have to decline.

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What is your favorite science-fiction novel of all-time?

 

Alan Moore I don't tend to think in terms of favourites, as that would make my otherwise enjoyable tastes in relaxation into something of a competition. A (very) brief and changeable list of recommendations, in no particular order, would be Mike Moorcock's Cornelius quartet, Walter Miller's Canticle for Leibowitz, John Sladek's Muller-Fokker Effect, Brian Aldiss' Hothouse (one of the first science fiction novels I ever read), Bester's The Stars My Destination, Mike Harrison's The Machine in Shaft Ten, Ballard's Unlimited Dream Company, Phillip Bedford Robinson's Masque of a Savage Mandarin, Samuel Delaney's Dhalgren, Ellison's short stories, Judith Merrill's anthologies, Disch's Camp Concentration, Spinrad's Iron Dream, anything by Steve Aylett, and so on, potentially, forever.

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This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

 

Alan Moore Well, in my research for that particular chapter of Voice of the Fire, ‘Limping to Jerusalem’, I’d come across the interesting fact that most of the Knights Templar, under torture mind you, confessed to worshiping ‘a head’ which they allegedly referred to as their ‘Baphomet’, a word which apparently has connections to the similar word ‘Mahomet’, meaning prophet or leader. There was also the interesting question of why that period’s Pope had given the obscure and tiny order such a lot of money, territory and support. It struck me that if their head were to be – or were believed to be – the mummified head of a mortal Jesus Christ, one never resurrected or physically ascended to Heaven, then this would at a stroke explain both the Knights’ reverence for the relic and the Pope’s willingness to pay for the continued concealment of an object which, if real, would destroy the whole basis upon which Christianity had been founded. I hadn’t heard the ‘John the Baptist’ story, but if anything it makes me suspect that my intuitions concerning the mysterious head were perhaps closer to the truth than I’d supposed, in that John the Baptist would be a good way of explaining the reverence without explaining the papal compliance, and may have made a decent makeshift cover-story.

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I have a copy of an original script for a V for Vendetta episode (Vicious Cabaret), which looks as if it was produced from a typed document with duplication sheets. This is one of the copies. Would you like it back?

 

Alan Moore No, that’s a very generous offer, but I don’t keep my old work around anymore, let alone the scripts it was based on. Please hang onto it, but thanks again for offering to return it. You’re a decent person.

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This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

 

Alan Moore As with all of the work which I do not own, I’m afraid that I have no interest in either the original book, or in the apparently forthcoming cartoon version which I heard about a week or two ago. I have asked for my name to be removed from it, and for any monies accruing from it to be sent to the artist, which is my standard position with all of this...material. Actually, with The Killing Joke, I have never really liked it much as a work – although I of course remember Brian Bolland’s art as being absolutely beautiful – simply because I thought it was far too violent and sexualised a treatment for a simplistic comic book character like Batman and a regrettable misstep on my part. So, Pradeep, I have no interest in Batman, and thus any influence I may have had upon current portrayals of the character is pretty much lost on me. And David, for the record, my intention at the end of that book was to have the two characters simply experiencing a brief moment of lucidity in their ongoing very weird and probably fatal relationship with each other, reaching a moment where they both perceive the hell that they are in, and can only laugh at their preposterous situation. A similar chuckle is shared by the doomed couple at the end of the remarkable Jim Thompson’s original novel, The Getaway.

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Hi Alan, How are you? To be totally honest this question has nothing to do with horror, maybe to some. What direction do you think the animated version of The Killing Joke will take? The depiction of the Joker and a certain scene will definitely be a factor in what DC does. Also a cheat question; how does it feel to have influenced so many Batman stories/games/movies with that particular story? Take Care Pradeep

 

Alan Moore As with all of the work which I do not own, I’m afraid that I have no interest in either the original book, or in the apparently forthcoming cartoon version which I heard about a week or two ago. I have asked for my name to be removed from it, and for any monies accruing from it to be sent to the artist, which is my standard position with all of this...material. Actually, with The Killing Joke, I have never really liked it much as a work – although I of course remember Brian Bolland’s art as being absolutely beautiful – simply because I thought it was far too violent and sexualised a treatment for a simplistic comic book character like Batman and a regrettable misstep on my part. So, Pradeep, I have no interest in Batman, and thus any influence I may have had upon current portrayals of the character is pretty much lost on me. And David, for the record, my intention at the end of that book was to have the two characters simply experiencing a brief moment of lucidity in their ongoing very weird and probably fatal relationship with each other, reaching a moment where they both perceive the hell that they are in, and can only laugh at their preposterous situation. A similar chuckle is shared by the doomed couple at the end of the remarkable Jim Thompson’s original novel, The Getaway.

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How do you feel about the 'Anonymous' and 'Occupy' movements use of the Guy Fawkes mask which you had a role in making so symbolic in 'V for Vendetta'? Do you draw any parallels with their movement and the text itself? And how about the 'V' and modern day politics, which seem to be ominously (and terrifyingly) similar?

 

Alan Moore For a number of years – and this has bearing upon a number of the questions that I’ve been asked, so perhaps best to mention it now – I have found it to be in my own emotional best interests to completely sever my association with all of those works which I do not own, and which thus I can only disown. The alternative is to remain simultaneously angry and depressed about these things, and I don’t see how that would serve anybody’s best interests. Therefore I don’t keep any of those books around; don’t wish to read, see, or sign them ever again; and although at the time they were heartfelt pieces of work that I was very proud of, all that they genuinely represent to me now is a lot of unpleasant memories and broken friendships. I know that for a lot of people, these works may be their very favourite pieces and may personally mean a lot to them, and I certainly appreciate that affection and apologise if my position is dispiriting. The readers have every right to enjoy these books, but I would just ask everyone to understand why I personally cannot enjoy them anymore. So, on the subject of V for Vendetta I have few thoughts at all, whereas I retain a great deal of admiration for much of the work done by Occupy and Anonymous. From my position, if I have had one of my ideas stolen from me and turned into yet another cash-generator for some abhuman corporation, then if it has at least escaped into the wild sufficiently to be of some symbolic use to today’s protest movements, that makes me feel a lot better about having written it in the first place. It makes me feel that the work may have had some use beyond its purely commercial agendas, a use more in keeping with my intentions back in 1981when I was first putting the ideas for that work together.

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Hi Alan, what do you think of the current Anonymous movement which has drawn inspiration from V For Vendetta?

 

Alan Moore For a number of years – and this has bearing upon a number of the questions that I’ve been asked, so perhaps best to mention it now – I have found it to be in my own emotional best interests to completely sever my association with all of those works which I do not own, and which thus I can only disown. The alternative is to remain simultaneously angry and depressed about these things, and I don’t see how that would serve anybody’s best interests. Therefore I don’t keep any of those books around; don’t wish to read, see, or sign them ever again; and although at the time they were heartfelt pieces of work that I was very proud of, all that they genuinely represent to me now is a lot of unpleasant memories and broken friendships. I know that for a lot of people, these works may be their very favourite pieces and may personally mean a lot to them, and I certainly appreciate that affection and apologise if my position is dispiriting. The readers have every right to enjoy these books, but I would just ask everyone to understand why I personally cannot enjoy them anymore. So, on the subject of V for Vendetta I have few thoughts at all, whereas I retain a great deal of admiration for much of the work done by Occupy and Anonymous. From my position, if I have had one of my ideas stolen from me and turned into yet another cash-generator for some abhuman corporation, then if it has at least escaped into the wild sufficiently to be of some symbolic use to today’s protest movements, that makes me feel a lot better about having written it in the first place. It makes me feel that the work may have had some use beyond its purely commercial agendas, a use more in keeping with my intentions back in 1981when I was first putting the ideas for that work together.

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I just love every single piece of work you've written. I want to ask about role of magic. How does magic help you with your writing? How much of a role does it play in your writing?

 

Alan Moore As regards how I use magic in my work, this has changed significantly in the twenty years or more since I took up the practice. Whereas in the beginning there was a great deal of ritual and serious magical experiment, both because this was the only recommended way to go about things and because it was a very exciting and pyrotechnical experience, these days I have internalised my ideas on magic to the point where anything creative that I do is perceived as a magical act. I will be bringing as great a weight of magical consciousness, perception and concentration to a chapter of Jerusalem or Providence as I would have done to the rituals that resulted in The Birth Caul or Angel Passage. Basically, I have understood that art and magic are precisely the same thing. This is not a way of saying that magic is a lesser thing, that it is ‘only’ art at the end of the day, but instead of saying that art is a far, far greater thing than its currently degraded state as a commodity or as simple time-filling commodity might lead us to suppose. If you happen to live within a worldview that supposes our entire neurological reality to be made up of words, and happen to believe that certain intense forms of language might therefore be capable of altering that neurological reality, then picking up a pen or sitting down at your keyboard feels like a very different proposition.

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What is the mechanism for using magic in your work? ie what is the process, or method you follow?

 

Alan Moore As regards how I use magic in my work, this has changed significantly in the twenty years or more since I took up the practice. Whereas in the beginning there was a great deal of ritual and serious magical experiment, both because this was the only recommended way to go about things and because it was a very exciting and pyrotechnical experience, these days I have internalised my ideas on magic to the point where anything creative that I do is perceived as a magical act. I will be bringing as great a weight of magical consciousness, perception and concentration to a chapter of Jerusalem or Providence as I would have done to the rituals that resulted in The Birth Caul or Angel Passage. Basically, I have understood that art and magic are precisely the same thing. This is not a way of saying that magic is a lesser thing, that it is ‘only’ art at the end of the day, but instead of saying that art is a far, far greater thing than its currently degraded state as a commodity or as simple time-filling commodity might lead us to suppose. If you happen to live within a worldview that supposes our entire neurological reality to be made up of words, and happen to believe that certain intense forms of language might therefore be capable of altering that neurological reality, then picking up a pen or sitting down at your keyboard feels like a very different proposition.

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What scares you?

 

Alan Moore You ask what personally frightens me, and without wishing to sound at all tough or hard-boiled, I’d have to say that I really can’t think of anything. From my perspective, both fear and desire are reactive constructs that are rarely helpful to our situation and in many cases get in the way. To some extent, they’re both different faces of the same thing – our desire for a partner perhaps being equivalent to our fear of loneliness, or our desire for wealth and success being equal to our fear of poverty and failure – and because we project both of them as so huge and looming on our internal screens, it’s possible for us to end up paralysed and unable to do the things we need to do to achieve of goals in life. Much as someone might have an all-consuming desire to be, say, a successful writer, if his or her converse fear of being rejected prevents them from ever sending any work to a publisher for consideration, then they will never be able to fulfil whatever potential they may have had as a human being, self-sabotaged by their own fears; their own longings. For my own part, I attempt to be someone who has no axe to grind: a person who is neither afraid of anything, nor particularly wants anything. I feel that this attitude has served me well in a world where the only two blunt and primitive tools that any authority appears to have the wits to use are threats and temptation; sticks and carrots. A few moments’ consideration makes it clear that sticks can very easily be set on fire, and that you’ve probably never liked carrots that much anyway.

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What, if anything, actually scares you?

 

Alan Moore You ask what personally frightens me, and without wishing to sound at all tough or hard-boiled, I’d have to say that I really can’t think of anything. From my perspective, both fear and desire are reactive constructs that are rarely helpful to our situation and in many cases get in the way. To some extent, they’re both different faces of the same thing – our desire for a partner perhaps being equivalent to our fear of loneliness, or our desire for wealth and success being equal to our fear of poverty and failure – and because we project both of them as so huge and looming on our internal screens, it’s possible for us to end up paralysed and unable to do the things we need to do to achieve of goals in life. Much as someone might have an all-consuming desire to be, say, a successful writer, if his or her converse fear of being rejected prevents them from ever sending any work to a publisher for consideration, then they will never be able to fulfil whatever potential they may have had as a human being, self-sabotaged by their own fears; their own longings. For my own part, I attempt to be someone who has no axe to grind: a person who is neither afraid of anything, nor particularly wants anything. I feel that this attitude has served me well in a world where the only two blunt and primitive tools that any authority appears to have the wits to use are threats and temptation; sticks and carrots. A few moments’ consideration makes it clear that sticks can very easily be set on fire, and that you’ve probably never liked carrots that much anyway.

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What gives you the heebie-jeebies?

 

Alan Moore You ask what personally frightens me, and without wishing to sound at all tough or hard-boiled, I’d have to say that I really can’t think of anything. From my perspective, both fear and desire are reactive constructs that are rarely helpful to our situation and in many cases get in the way. To some extent, they’re both different faces of the same thing – our desire for a partner perhaps being equivalent to our fear of loneliness, or our desire for wealth and success being equal to our fear of poverty and failure – and because we project both of them as so huge and looming on our internal screens, it’s possible for us to end up paralysed and unable to do the things we need to do to achieve of goals in life. Much as someone might have an all-consuming desire to be, say, a successful writer, if his or her converse fear of being rejected prevents them from ever sending any work to a publisher for consideration, then they will never be able to fulfil whatever potential they may have had as a human being, self-sabotaged by their own fears; their own longings. For my own part, I attempt to be someone who has no axe to grind: a person who is neither afraid of anything, nor particularly wants anything. I feel that this attitude has served me well in a world where the only two blunt and primitive tools that any authority appears to have the wits to use are threats and temptation; sticks and carrots. A few moments’ consideration makes it clear that sticks can very easily be set on fire, and that you’ve probably never liked carrots that much anyway.

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What are your biggest fears personally, and for the future?

 

Alan Moore You ask what personally frightens me, and without wishing to sound at all tough or hard-boiled, I’d have to say that I really can’t think of anything. From my perspective, both fear and desire are reactive constructs that are rarely helpful to our situation and in many cases get in the way. To some extent, they’re both different faces of the same thing – our desire for a partner perhaps being equivalent to our fear of loneliness, or our desire for wealth and success being equal to our fear of poverty and failure – and because we project both of them as so huge and looming on our internal screens, it’s possible for us to end up paralysed and unable to do the things we need to do to achieve of goals in life. Much as someone might have an all-consuming desire to be, say, a successful writer, if his or her converse fear of being rejected prevents them from ever sending any work to a publisher for consideration, then they will never be able to fulfil whatever potential they may have had as a human being, self-sabotaged by their own fears; their own longings. For my own part, I attempt to be someone who has no axe to grind: a person who is neither afraid of anything, nor particularly wants anything. I feel that this attitude has served me well in a world where the only two blunt and primitive tools that any authority appears to have the wits to use are threats and temptation; sticks and carrots. A few moments’ consideration makes it clear that sticks can very easily be set on fire, and that you’ve probably never liked carrots that much anyway.