The Grand Wizard of Northampton, Alan Moore, sat with RT's Sophie Shevardnadze for a half-hour interview about art, magic, heroism, and his 2016 novel Jerusalem. Moore recently released a fantasy noir film titled The Show, but that strangely doesn't come up in the interview.
Even more surprising is how delightful and optimistic Moore comes off in the interview. Moore's (frankly valid) disillusionment what the comic book industry has left him with a reputation as cantankerous curmudgeon. His daughter has tried to correct this image, and I think this interview does a strangely wonderful job of reminding you that there's a side of Alan Moore that revels in delight, and takes genuine joy in the magic of the world.
(The fact that he revealed this side of himself on Russia Today of all places is … also kind of fascinating.)
You can watch the whole thing above, but here are some quotes that stood out to me. First, this surprising bit about mortality:
I hope that [what my book Jerusalem] tells us that the world that we live in today is eternal and that everything in it matters eternally. Our lives matter. That the last busted table light or the last dog turd in the gutter is important, because it is a part of this eternity, that we all share that we all have our moment in. I wanted to remove the fear of death because I believe that that stops us from living. … I believe that death is a perspective illusion of the third dimension and that we shouldn't worry.
Moore revisited some of his earlier comments on superheroes as well, framing them more clearly in a section that leads to a complicated discussion of surveillance and internet anonymity (again, weird that this is RT):
I've been quoted, when I was in a bad mood about comics – and that could have been any time during the last sort of 40 years – but I was asked about the origins of capes and masks in the superhero genre. And I said, look, all you need to know about capes and masks in American superhero comics can be learned by a close viewing of D. W. Griffith's 'Birth of a Nation'. Because I genuinely believe that, that that is where it all comes from. We don't have a tradition of masked heroes really anywhere else in the world apart from America. I mean, Guy Fawkes, who the 'V for Vendetta' mask is based upon, that wasn't a mask, that was his face. It's like, Robin Hood. That was his name. He wasn't wearing a mask. But I think that there is something that possibly dates back to those… the Ku Klux Klan intervention in 'Birth of a Nation', the idea of dressing up in a mask, so that what you do doesn't get back to you. It's a form of evasion so that I can completely understand it in the context of the modern protest movements.
Still, Moore makes clear that he believes in heroism, in what he would hate to hear me call his most Morrisonian comment ever:
It is an everyday heroism to choose to do the right thing, rather than not to do the right thing. These are moments of heroism, and they're basically what hold the culture, the species together. Without them, we'd be nowhere. So they are vitally important.
Finally, Moore shared some uplifting thoughts on the power of art and magic:
When we discovered consciousness and language, then art and magic were part of the same equation; that art and magic are both concerned with taking something which does not exist and then bringing it into manifestation. This is not done by, I don't know, saying a few words and throwing some powders into a brazier and making gestures. No, it's done by working for a couple of years at something really, really hard. Say you've had an idea for a book. That doesn't exist anywhere except in your mind. It is less than a phantasm unless you bring all of your personality and your abilities to bear and are prepared to go through however long it takes through serious hard work. And then at the end of that, you will have 'Jerusalem', you will have brought something into materialisation that would not have existed otherwise. … If magic could bring about that kind of change in consciousness, or art could bring about that kind of change in consciousness in the readers, in the audience, then that would surely be its main purpose, its main justification, the main reason for doing it – just to try and spread propaganda for a state of mind. The useful ideas that people might find handy in getting through their lives that might make it a better society that surely is the only reason for doing any art – to try and if you think that you have ideas that might be useful to other people, then art is a wonderful, mystical, esoteric way of placing your thoughts into somebody else's mind. And I think that that at the basis is what those people dancing around the prehistoric fires were doing. And I think it's what any modern artist or writer, or musician is doing when they create.