What would Alan Moore's worst job be?
interview : "We wanted to recapture pornography"
Mr. Moore, the philosopher Pascal used to say that all the unhappiness of people stems from the fact that they are unable to remain quietly in a room. If what people hear about you is true, you should be a very happy person.
In fact, I sit quite a lot alone in my room. But that's just the only way I can work. Of course, I also go outside and wander through the city when it's a nice day. However, loneliness is very beneficial for concentration when you want to work in peace.
They avoid comic fairs, conventions and public appearances. You might think that social life is uncomfortable for you.
Not generally. Comic fairs, however, are too loud and too crowded for me. I am also often disappointed in the industry. Much is so conservative and cowardly, and since 9/11. have all become even more hysterical. When I hear that Frank Miller is working on a comic called "Batman vs. Al-Qaida," I am ashamed to be in the same industry. That's one of the reasons why I avoid the hustle and bustle.
But do you understand that fans would like to get to know you?
Yes, but I don't think that's really necessary. When people meet and talk to me at a trade fair, it rarely goes beyond a few minutes of nice chat. In such a setting, it's almost impossible to have a meaningful conversation. I often think that when people look at my work, they actually have a more rewarding meeting with me.
But they don't really work against the image of a shy loner either, do they? When we wanted to talk to you two years ago on the occasion of the publication of the American edition of “Lost Girls”, they said: Sorry, no more interviews. Now when the acceptance came, we offered to visit you in Northampton. You refused.
When the American edition came out, the schedule was extremely hectic. At some point there were so many interviews that I couldn't find time to work. In the meantime I'm fresh again. Even so, phone interviews are the only thing I can handle right now. I can only have personal conversations when I'm not working. But right now I'm sitting at a book. And even if your visit had only lasted a few hours, it would have meant for me that it would have taken me days to get back into my work rhythm.
So withdrawal out of practical necessity, not because of Weltekel.
Yes. If you look at my bio, you can see that I've done an incredible variety of things in my career. That was only possible because I spent a lot of my time on it and not at parties. It's not that I don't like people. But when I go to trade fairs or such events, I don't meet people, just a crowd. That means nothing to me.
Being the center of attention isn't something I ever really wanted to be. In fact, my celebrity stands in the way of my work. Here in my home town of Northampton, I am treated like someone you occasionally meet on the street. People don't make a big fuss about me. That's one of the reasons I live here.
And rarely leave the city, right?
I don't travel much, and certainly not outside of the country. Occasionally I go to London to meet friends. But I'm definitely not a globetrotter. I love Northampton, I feel at home here. I've lived here all my life, and this is where my family has had their roots for a few generations. Northampton is in my blood. I can't imagine moving away from here.
Can you describe Northampton a little? One of her fans once described it in a blog as the “suburb of hell”.
There are many who really don't like it here. Alan Carr, a comedian, once said the only good thing here is the M1 - the freeway that leads out of town. But there are still parts that are very charming and mysterious that have survived. A lot of British history has taken place here. And if not scenic, the city is architecturally one of the most interesting in the country. There is also a basic honesty among people here. There's something rock solid about Northampton. If you are out on Friday nights, you would probably rather speak of a suburb of hell.
Binge drinking, a strong culture of violence ... Northampton is not just geographically the center of England. The city is a snapshot of everything that's going wrong in England right now. Something indefinable is missing in the spirit of the city that was still there in the days of my parents. There are also promising approaches, for example I work with a hip-hop group from the neighborhood who made a video about the history of the neighborhood, but nobody talks about it. The knife fights land in the news. This creates the image that all of our teenagers are drunk sociopaths slashing one another. The situation is bad, without question. But none of this is anything that could not be eradicated if we only had a sensible government.
You don't have it?
Not just us. This is a problem that exists all over the world. For authors, for example, there are rules according to which one separates the good from the bad. It's the same with journalists like you. If you want to keep your job and be recognized, then you would do well to stick to these rules. There is no such thing in politics. There don't seem to be any rules at all. Nonetheless, incompetent politicians are paid incredibly well and even resigned when they have done crap. The only visible sign of their work is the degeneration of our culture.
What do you conclude from this? Politics doesn't work, or are the wrong people always in power?
I tend to believe that the whole system doesn't work. I recently attended a lecture at the London School of Economics. The lecturer said our politicians wouldn't really do anything for us. The only reason we allowed them to rule us, which means nothing more than to push us around and increase government revenues, is because they control the currency. But a lot is changing there. Alternative currencies on the Internet, for example. These portals where people get points for work and can exchange them for other work.
That’s also available in this country. Politicians have already castigated this as public tax evasion.
Yes of course. But ultimately all currencies are illusory. It's like mass hypnosis. Printed paper would be worthless if people didn't believe in it. In the future, the lecturer said, we will no longer have any official money or a government. All we need are administrators. It's not like all of our leaders are brilliant geniuses who make our lives happier. Maybe at some point we will see that politicians are a very expensive luxury that doesn't really serve us.
Are you still going to vote?
No. I am an anarchist. I only voted once in my life, Labor. I must have been 18 of 19 years old at the time. Friends said I had to prevent the Torries fascist candidate. The Labor man won and immediately deployed American missiles in our country, introduced tougher immigration policies, and all on my behalf. So I decided that the only way I can get politically active is direct. We don't have a real democracy anyway. When there were the big anti-war demonstrations and one to two million people took to the streets against an invasion of Iraq, nobody in the government cared about it. I can't respect that.
What do you mean by direct influence? What tools do you have?
I am lucky that my books are read quite properly. It's always difficult to quantify the influence one has, but it is there. I recently saw pictures on television of a demonstration in front of a Scientology headquarters, and many of the demonstrators were wearing the mask of my character from "V for Vendetta". In America a group called itself "A for Anarchy". "Swamp Thing" was a very ecologically committed work 25 years ago, and then nature conservation was not as much an issue as it is today. I am not saying that I alone started the environmental awareness that is so widespread today, but I would like to believe that I contributed a small part to it.
The main character from "V for Vendetta" uses violence as a means to achieve political goals. Do you think that is legitimate?
Indeed, that is one of the moral questions in the book. From an ideational point of view, I think violence is wrong. Even if people should have the right to defend themselves. Otherwise the people who don't believe in non-violence would win permanently. However, if the protesters in the masks were to kill conservative politicians in their beds like the figure in my book, then that would definitely be going too far. I could not represent that.
Is it actually allowed in England to mask yourself during demonstrations?
I think so. With the huge number of surveillance cameras we have here, that makes sense.
More surveillance is currently being hotly debated in Germany.
It doesn't help at all. Recently, even our police admitted that they had no way of looking at all of the material that was being piled up. Nevertheless, they continue to work on this huge parody of George Orwell's 1984. Large screens are to be set up in the city center during the Olympic Games. All over. And here in Northampton the cameras do occasionally talk to you.
Is there a tape playing?
No, an inspector will then tell you over the loudspeaker to pick up your rubbish. It's so ridiculous. It doesn't make anyone safer, it doesn't prevent crimes. However, everyone feels a little more monitored, harassed, and angry.
Isn't there anyone who is for it?
The middle class, maybe. If they think their expensive cars are in danger, then at least they want the chance to catch someone. There's a section of the middle class who thinks it's okay to give up privacy rights when the jaguar is safe.
How strongly are you feeling the return of conservatism in England? Labor are no longer given a great chance in the upcoming election.
True, even if it makes no difference whether Labor or the Torries win. The Labor Party no longer has anything that distinguished it in the 1970s. I believe, however, that there have always been thrusts of conservatism in history that have later encouraged progressives again. So every time it goes a little further. Three steps forward, two backward. So I have hope that it will get better. After all, it cannot be denied that we are living today in a much more beautiful world than it was 40 years ago. But there is still a long way to go.
When they talk about politics, I feel like I'm talking to someone who is very rooted in this world. How does that relate to your interest in the occult?
That fits very good. Magic is a way of life for me, a way of thinking. And the magic I practice has a lot to do with the world we live in. Magic is to some extent synonymous with creativity. It is something that changes people's spirits.
Can you define that more precisely?
Magic is thinking about thinking. Some people have defined it as the act of change in harmony with the will. I have a problem with that. I'm not trying to change the physical universe. I don't want to turn lead into gold, I don't want to summon evil spirits, I don't want to generate rain, and I don't want to fly with the help of magic. If I want to fly, I buy a plane ticket. That is much more sensible and sensible. I use magic to understand and reach levels of perception and reality that I would otherwise not be able to enter. For me, magic is a way to connect with our mind, which gives consciousness a greater scope of action.
And how does it work? Are we talking about meditation here? About rituals?
Both. A ritual is just a way of programming the mind. What exactly is done and what words are spoken is not that important. The main thing is that they have an echo in the mind. Much magic is actually meditation, by the way. Meditation guided by a ritual. If you have shifted your perception a little, you notice that there are actually two worlds. That of material things that we can measure and the world of our thoughts that we cannot touch. If you didn't think of a chair, there wouldn't be a physical chair either. Magic speaks of this immaterial world. The world on which everything physical stands.
The current neurobiological research shouldn't appeal to you very much, should it?
Right. She says consciousness doesn't really exist, it's just a by-product of our biology. I see it differently, but I can understand why science has to say that. Otherwise it couldn't be explained in the traditional context. But if we accept this scientific explanation, we limit ourselves. Right and wrong would be irrelevant, because chemical processes know no morals. And if we create a great work of art, it would more or less just happen by chance. I don't accept that. That's one of the reasons I'm currently working with friends on a book about magic. It should be thoroughly researched, but also fun. There is a treatise on the history of magic, a theoretical part and a series of exercises to do yourself. We want to release magic from this sinister aura that it doesn't even need to have. What was felt to be so groundbreaking by Siegmund Freud was common practice in occult lodges in the 19th century. Only that magicians would have spoken of the underworld and not of the subconscious and of demons instead of complexes or obsessions. But actually it's the same field. Psychology is just occultism with a lab coat.
You have often worked with friends in the past. Melinda Gebbie, with whom they wrote "Lost Girls", eventually even became her wife. Did this familiarity enrich or hinder the working relationship?
If Melinda and I hadn't worked together, we would never have become a couple. I also cannot imagine that the book would have this warmth that it does now. Working together has given us some incredible advantages and strengths. From the beginning, we had to be absolutely sincere about our sexual fantasies. There are couples who come to the end of their relationship and have never experienced anything so honest and intimate.
You yourself described "Lost Girls" as pornographic. Art theorists find it very difficult to come up with a definition that could differentiate art from pornography.
In any case, an erotic component is not a reason why something shouldn't be art. If we look at the incredible number of classical paintings or sculptures, we find a lot of eroticism. The Venus von Willendorf, for example, or the frescoes in ancient Greek baths. There was no concept of pornography at all. Those were just scenes from life. So why should we even bother separating there? But that doesn't mean that every pornography that wants to be art is that too. I just think most of us know art when we see it. There is no objective definition. But if it is completely absent, then we notice it. Most porn films today, however, do not want to be anything more than halfway reliable masturbation templates.
Today porn is mainstream. Porn starlets appear in videos of rock bands, former actresses appear on TV shows, and young women openly admit that they are interested in porn. How do you see this development?
I've seen that too. Half of the people who wait for the Lost Girls signing sessions are women. They don't seem particularly embarrassed to buy the book. The stigma is gone. But maybe there is also something good about that. If people stand by what they like about pornography, then maybe that brings with it a set of standards. This is important. Every other genre has developed certain quality standards. It seems strange that pornography should be excluded from this.
Why is that important in your eyes?
There is obviously a human need to talk about our sexuality, to express our fantasies. What are the big issues in literature? Sex and death. So the question is not, are we going to have pornography or not? The answer is yes. The question that arises is: will it be good or bad?
And how do the "Lost Girls" fit in there?
We wanted to recapture pornography.
The difference is a matter of style. One goal we had was to make the book accessible to a female audience. Melinda said it was important for women to be sensual. Classic pornography is illuminated like an operating room during an operation. Our book should be warm and beautiful - nice clothes, nice light. The emotional aspect should also play a major role. All the characters in the book have a story, are characters that are related to each other. This is very different from many conventional pornographic works.
Was the comic medium suitable for this approach?
Of course, we were able to create our own world without much effort. The interaction of text and image is generally something very good. This stimulates both halves of the brain at the same time. The language is the rational, the picture the emotional information. It also helps you remember what you've read better. The Pentagon investigated that.
Did you learn anything about women at work that surprised you?
I do not think so. I was already over 40 when we started working. And I consider myself a very good observer.
Alan Moore was born on November 18, 1953 in Northampton, England, the son of a laborer and a bookbinder. He began his career as a cartoonist for newspapers, but by his own admission he did not draw well or fast enough and therefore switched to writing comics. Today he is considered one of the medium's pioneering authors. Many of his works were made into films, but Moore vehemently distances himself from all adaptations. “300” director Zack Synder is currently working on a theatrical version of Moore's comic “Watchmen”, which Time Magazine named one of the best 100 novels of the 20th century. Most recently, Alan Moore published the three-volume pornographic work "Lost Girls", which he wrote together with his second wife Melinda Gebbie. Alan Moore has two grown daughters from his first marriage. He now lives in Northampton with Melinda Gebbie.
Bibliography (selection) V for Vendetta (1982-1989) Swamp Thing (1983-1987) Watchmen (1986-1987) Batman: The Killing Joke (1988) From Hell (1989-1998) The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (1999-2003)
"Lost Girls" by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie-Moore has been published by Cross Cult and is already in the second edition (3 albums in a slipcase, hardcover, four-color, 336 pages, 75 euros, ISBN: 978-3-936480- 00-9). Reading sample here.
The interview first appeared in the magazine Galore (www.galore.de) and can be found there under this link.
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