grandeur and monstrosity
February 22, 2016 6:27 AM   Subscribe

 
Phew,

I’m afraid I have no interest in Grant Morrison or his work and do not consider him to be either a writer or a magician.
posted by codacorolla at 6:40 AM on February 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Not surprised at that comment; Moore resisted Morrison's baiting over a number of years, and when he finally gave in a few years ago, the glee in Morrison's response was palpable.

As for Moore himself, I'm a bit (or more) less enthused about his current work since he did some stuff for the Crossed franchise, but I am immeasurably delighted to read that The Moon and Serpent Bumper Book of Magic will see the light of day, despite the death of Steve "No Relation" Moore. Promethea has basically been my bible for some years now.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:58 AM on February 22, 2016 [6 favorites]


Power Quote:
Remember that when I say that magic and art are equivalent, you should not construe that I am saying that magic is only art; that I’m in some way attempting to downplay magic by conflating it with something everyone believes is commonplace and possible.

What I am actually saying is that art is only ever magic, that all of the spectacular rewards said to be achievable by magic are attainable through art, and all of the nightmarish horrors and dangers reputed to be implicit in magic are similarly attendant upon the artist or the writer.

Approach your work with as much awe, compassion, intelligence and practical caution as you would bring to an encounter with a supposed angel, god or demon. Art can kill you or can drive you mad as certainly as any of the six dozen performers in the Goetia of Solomon and if you doubt me then consider all the crushed or suicided artists, poets and performers, easily as long a list as that containing Edward Kelly or Jack Whiteside Parsons.

Art and magic are perhaps the greatest human works and are an interface with the eternal. Take them seriously; take yourself seriously and remember that your art and magic are as big, as powerful, as dangerous and beautiful as you yourself are able to conceive of them as being.
posted by divabat at 6:58 AM on February 22, 2016 [32 favorites]


Grant Morrison

I call them Baldemort and Dumblemoore.
posted by Artw at 7:03 AM on February 22, 2016 [13 favorites]


At this point, given how well-known Moore's opinions are on Morrison, any interviewer bring him up is just trolling Moore. It's guaranteed to get a rise out of Moore but I wish they would stop because it's just a distraction from the fascinating main subject.

As for Moore himself, I'm a bit (or more) less enthused about his current work since he did some stuff for the Crossed franchise

Providence is pretty good if you haven't seen it yet.
posted by Sangermaine at 7:12 AM on February 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


Tell us about the workings you have performed as part of the Moon and Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels. Having spent most of your career at the keyboard, how important is that kind of live performance to you?

At the time of the performances, it felt like that what was what we were being instructed to do.


Has anybody seen any of these? Or have a link to an impartial review?
posted by bukvich at 7:14 AM on February 22, 2016


By, obviously magical, co-incidence I started watching From Hell last night for a thing... pretty sure it's the first time I've seen it since I saw it at the cinema... Surprised to find it's not as bad as I remembered - but then again it's a long time since I read the comic. *Feels ominous rumbling coming from the direction of Northampton*
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:25 AM on February 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


And I could do with reading Promethea again because that was just nuts.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:26 AM on February 22, 2016


Archive.today link in case the site gets flakier.
posted by Nelson at 7:47 AM on February 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I love Promethea because Alan Moore just stopped trying to make the story he wanted to tell hit the superhero genre like halfway through and became something incredible. I haven't yet taken the poster issue apart but I think about it.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 7:49 AM on February 22, 2016


I will always feel indebted to Alan Moore for giving the world Promethea. And introducing me to JHWIII's art.
posted by pjsky at 7:59 AM on February 22, 2016


Amazing load of bollocks.

Favourited.
posted by Segundus at 8:07 AM on February 22, 2016 [6 favorites]


Has anybody seen any of these? Or have a link to an impartial review?

I have CD recordings of both The Highbury Working and Angel Passage -- both are pretty interesting (if impenetrably dense because Moore) spoken-word pieces with Tim Perkins' gothic mood music playing underneath. It's been a while since I listened to them, but IIRC Moore's vocal performance on Highbury suggests a kind of a world-weary John Constantine mystic-gumshoe type, whereas Angel Passage is more like the "real" Alan Moore waxing fanboy-poetical about William Blake. No idea what the visual components of these performances were like, but the audio bits are pretty choice if you're into that kind of thing.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:17 AM on February 22, 2016


Alan Moore is a 19th-Century mystic a la Sir Arthur Conan Doyle?? I had no idea, I love his work even more now!
posted by Mooseli at 8:26 AM on February 22, 2016


Jerusalem should be out sometime this year shouldn't it? Oh boy.
posted by Artw at 8:28 AM on February 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


Amazing load of bollocks.

bollocks with a 'k' is the Crowley people
posted by thelonius at 8:28 AM on February 22, 2016 [14 favorites]


None of that Chaos Bollocs around here.
posted by Artw at 8:29 AM on February 22, 2016 [9 favorites]


Yeah, not only are the mentions of Grant Morrison very ill-advised while interviewing Alan Moore, so I would think are most mentions of his past work, given that he's disowned any connection to the material that he doesn't legally own.

It appears, though, that most people given the opportunity to interview him aren't able to forego these subjects. I suspect this is because it's been years and years since anybody saw work from him that added up to much. This not to suggest that the quality of his work has gone downhill...rather, I'm outright asserting that the material that's seen the light of day recently isn't nearly as good as one would hope. "Lost Girls" was a failed experiment, it seems to me. The magazine he ran for a while was tedious. His Lovecraft material manages to avoid including many female characters, a problem he acknowledges in the interview by blaming it on Lovecraft himself, while failing to address the fact that a high percentage of the female characters who do make an appearance end up the targets of sexual violence, not something you find much of in HPL.

In the meantime there's the giant million-word novel that he's been working on forever because a million words is a lot, and the Bumper Book of Magic, which also seems to be taking way too long. I think I first heard about it like eight years ago?

I know the guy feels like the comics publishing industry is irredeemably corrupt, so his options for getting work in front of the public and thereby receiving feedback from anybody other than cultish fans such as myself , are limited. But it doesn't look as though navigating by his own lights is actually serving him very well artistically.
posted by Ipsifendus at 8:33 AM on February 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


Hmm. Not a lot there that isn't implied by HPL to be honest. But certainly where Lovecraft is all dot dot dot Moore is all here is everything, right here on the page, for better or worse.
posted by Artw at 8:46 AM on February 22, 2016


Alan Moore is a 19th-Century mystic a la Sir Arthur Conan Doyle?? I had no idea, I love his work even more now!

Well, he's never been fooled by little girls with paper fairy cutouts a la Doyle, but Moore does claim to worship a self-admittedly fake Roman snake puppet, on the grounds that it's only right for a fiction writer to revere a fictional deity.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:47 AM on February 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm a bit (or more) less enthused about his current work since he did some stuff for the Crossed franchise

All I know about that franchise is the Crossed+100 series Moore wrote, and while it's not my favourite thing he's written, I did like the idea of a story telling what life is like a century after the Zombie apocalypse. At least I assume that's what was going on, as I didn't read Crossed+0 as it were. Riddley Walker fun, anyway.
posted by Grangousier at 8:54 AM on February 22, 2016


I have read Providence and mostly enjoyed it, although I wonder what the endgame really is for it.

WRT some of his performance art, I've always liked the bit that Warren Ellis wrote once: his daughter asked him what the deep rumbling sound was coming from the speakers, and Ellis replied, "That's Alan Moore singing."

I know the guy feels like the comics publishing industry is irredeemably corrupt, so his options for getting work in front of the public and thereby receiving feedback from anybody other than cultish fans such as myself , are limited. But it doesn't look as though navigating by his own lights is actually serving him very well artistically.

Well, that's just, like, your opinion, man. I don't think that his recent stuff wasn't a failure artistically so much as it wasn't commercially successful because it wasn't stuff that comics fans or the general pop culture axis that most comics fans fall into would like. (Using the last installment of LoEG proper to take the Harry Potter franchise to task was a great demonstration of that.) I didn't find Dodgem Logic "tedious" at all, but I'm not surprised that it wasn't a success, as a) it had a very fanzine feel to it, and the internet seems to have largely killed the 'zine scene, and b) it wasn't published in America. Ditto for the performace art stuff and some of his other ventures, like the crowdfunded film. My assumption regarding his doing work for Crossed is that it may be as much about reminding people that he's still alive and working as it is for the money, which is hopefully good.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:57 AM on February 22, 2016


Makes me want to make art again, I must be a little short on magic just now.
posted by Oyéah at 9:00 AM on February 22, 2016


What Is Magic? (part 2) - Spoken by Alan Moore (Video)

(Part 1 is Terence Mckenna which is also great but not really part of the same thing)
posted by bukvich at 9:08 AM on February 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


I've saw one of Alan Moore's Moon & Serpent performances a few years ago (I think it was The Birth Caul). The visual elements added nothing of any interest, from which I conclude that his spoken word performances are probably better experienced on the official CDs. As someone said upthread, The Highbury Working and Angel Passage are particularly good.
posted by Paul Slade at 9:08 AM on February 22, 2016


I really hope he can get his tv series going about weird and evil stage performers in Northampton (and weird and evil religious cults and weird and evil clowns) because I really want a Midlands version of Twin Peaks. But given our current government is basically satan's minions and there's sod all money in the arts I feel there's faint hope of that... on the other hand - magic.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:47 AM on February 22, 2016


For no other reason than availability I've read more of Moore's essays than graphic works. I find this man endlessly fascinating. There's never a wasted word in his writing. I recommend Fossil Angels for further reading into his view of magic and art. This essay had me tripping all over wikipedia from John Dee to Shamanism to Esoteric Cosmology. I read it just before that new Missy Elliot track dropped with Pharell's reference to Hermes Trismegistus, I couldn't help but think it was a message from the arcane mysteries Moore describes.

And another interview.
posted by GrapeApiary at 11:17 AM on February 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


Okay, so my problem with latter-day Moore is that so much of it is spot-the-arcane-reference, and not, like, giving us people to care about -- something I would argue is one of Moore's greatest strengths as a writer. The worldbuilding and impossibly precise detail in Watchmen is neat, but what sticks with me about it most is Rorschach looking at the scared little kids whose mom he's threatening and seeing himself in them and coming to his senses. Rorschach could not be further removed from Moore's politics, but Moore clearly empathizes with him so completely that it just doesn't matter. This Moore is still Alan Moore now, but never as consistently as in the Miracleman/Swamp Thing/Watchmen/From Hell era. From Hell is probably the best example: fantastically, obsessively researched, but the reader could walk into it without knowing that the Whitechapel murders were real events and it would barely matter at all. The reader connects to the characters. This isn't to say that the research isn't important, or that it doesn't fascinate. It is. It does. But it's all in service to the story, and the story is the people.

Then...well, then there's the bulk of the '90s, in which Moore mostly wrote Image comics that were unrecognizable as Moore comics (with the exception of the 1963 comics, which are pretty great and feel a little like a prelude to America's Best). I have no doubt they were fun to write. But Moore doesn't seem to talk about them and neither does anyone else, so I guess let's move on.

Okay, so then there's stuff like Tomorrow Stories and Top Ten -- series I love, and represent a lighthearted side to Moore's work you don't usually see much of. These are not difficult comics to read, but it's clear a lot of work went into making them. Top Ten in particular has a world at least as rich as Watchmen's, but to such a different effect! Watchmen compels you to study it, to make sense of it; Top Ten the reader gets immediately, its world an immersive environment that dazzles but sets you at ease. It's a safe place. Mostly. Our heroes are properly heroic, people who charm us and whose problems -- cosmic and mundane -- we care about and want to see them solve. It's you know. It's nice. It's a happy comic. Not Pollyannaish, but fun and smart and...it's nice. Why should that be bad, you know?

And at roughly the same time: Promethea and LoEG. Both books that start in a similar vein as the two mentioned above...but then. LoEG gets much darker in its second volume, but it remains a character-driven story where all the Victoriana is basically window dressing that's fun or people who like to spot references and fully engaging for people who could give a damn about a book written in 1895. Promethea is a sweet, breezy story about a cool teen who becomes an awesome superheroine and her BFF, much enriched (but not overpowered) by the mythology Moore has created for it. But then.

Promethea (the heroine) descends Innana-like into the underworld, and Promethea (the comic) becomes a 22-page pamphlet that takes ninety minutes of intense concentration to read. Reader: I love the occult and stuff. I do. But this feels like math homework. It's beautiful! And there's still fun dialogue exchanges between Promethea and her mentor to keep it lively, but it's hard. I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders when this part of the series came to an end, and to be honest I was a little shocked that this was the volume everyone praised.

LoEG, though...to me, it becomes impenetrable. So much of it is about referring to books that (I'm sorry) I feel like maybe three people have read, people whose lives I can't even imagine. And the characters get lost in the sauce. I'm happy for someone who gets a boner when Wooster and Jeeves meet Hester Prynne or whatever, but like...who the fuck are these people? Where are the people in their lives who love them, and why aren't they helping?!

But I like Neonomicon and Crossed +100 because they put characters first again. My battery is dying. The e
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:29 PM on February 22, 2016 [9 favorites]


What I am actually saying is that art is only ever magic, that all of the spectacular rewards said to be achievable by magic are attainable through art, and all of the nightmarish horrors and dangers reputed to be implicit in magic are similarly attendant upon the artist or the writer.

GIVEN

Donald Trump is an artist as viz. "Art of the Deal" and his subsequent televisual performance art

RESOLVED

we are fucked
posted by mwhybark at 7:01 PM on February 22, 2016


What's remarkable is that Trump's art is really bad. But so was Reagan's. I guess they're selling to an audience with patently bad taste, though.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:18 PM on February 22, 2016


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