METH on ALAN MOORE - pt 2
Meth: Who do you read now?
Moore: It’s becoming a problem, the amount of books I’ve started to read—almost the same phase that alcoholics go through (laughs). I’ve heard that this is a problem with other people. Do you know Harvey Pekar’s work?
Moore: Right, well Harvey Pekar is a bookaholic. He sort of smuggles books in and hides them around the house so that his wife doesn’t find them. Ian Sinclair who lives over here, I think that his wife’s probably threatened to leave him if he brings any more new books home. But, yeah—I read omnivorously. Anything that looks interesting to me. It’s probably a large part of my budget every week. At the moment, for the last four or five years, I still keep up on contemporary poetry and fiction as best as I can, and read older books that I’ve missed or overlooked. The main thrust of my reading at the moment, indeed the main thrust of most things with me at the moment, is largely related to the occult. It’s something which I became interested in probably about four years ago, after having been utterly repulsed by it previous to that, mainly because of the kind of people that I found in the occult (laughs). They were not really a very good advert for any kind of quiet consciousness of magical illumination. It’s difficult to escape the conclusion when you wander into most occult or New Age shops that you’re dealing with people who are perhaps a tad gullible (laughs). People who perhaps have emotional needs and are attempting to fulfill them through reading dubious New Age books about crystal healing and reincarnation. I reached a point four or five years ago where I started to look at some of the people who’ve been involved with the occult who it was just easy to dismiss as gullible or inane. I started to look at people like John Dee who was the unofficial court astrologer of Elizabeth the First. He was the man who invented the concept of the British Empire—he was the first one to use the phrase. He was very much at the heart of the Elizabethean Secret Service.
Meth: How about Alister Crowley?
Moore: Alister Crowley is somebody else who I have come to admire a great deal. In fact, I bought yet another book on Alister Crowley today and I was halfway through reading it when the phone rang. I think what originally kept me off Alister Crowley were the sort of people who like him—they usually have a bookcase of books about serial killers; people that get into something because it’s a bit dark and evil.
Meth: My first contact with his work was a result of being a Jimmy Page fan. Page bought Crowley’s home.
Moore: Oh yes. One of the catalogs that I get sent mail-order was offering for sale a letter denouncing Jimmy Page as somebody that thought all it took to be a magician was to buy a lot of old books. A lot of these people seem to be into Crowley for the wrong reason. They seem to be attracted to this spurious and theatrical cloud of darkness, which he quite gleefully seemed to weave around himself. That part’s his own fault—he obscured his own work with a lot of silly theatrics. But when you actually get down to meat of what the man was saying, there is some silliness in there and some stuff that looks like rabid delusion, but he also writes very sensibly and practically. I’ve come to regard Crowly in the occult sciences as kind of an Einstein of the 20th Century—certainly one of the two most interesting and powerful magical thinkers of the 20th Century.
John Dee, for example, was one of the leading scientific lights of his age. Without John Dee, there wouldn’t have been an Isaac Newton. The science of navigation was practically invented by John Dee. He was a classic Renaissance man, and yet he seemed to spend the latter half of his life working upon this incomprehensible series of squiggles that he referred to as being Enochian language, which he seemed to believe literally was a form of language with which you could communicate with angels. Now, you look at this table of tiny squares full of little symbols, numbers, letters, and it looks like complete lunacy—and, indeed, most people have dismissed it as such, but given Dee’s undisputed, original intellect, I found it more difficult to dismiss it.
I also started looking at people like Jack Whiteside Parsons. There’s a crater on the moon named after him—the Parsons Crater. That’s because Jack Parsons invented solid rocket fuel, without which it would have been impossible to reach the moon. He was a distinguished scientist. He was also a member of the Golden Dawn—the Caliphate OTO; the Ordo Templi Orientist (OTO). Crowley had been the head of the order at one point. The more I started to look at it, the more it seemed that… most of the leading scientists, artists, musicians—most of the key thinkers in human cultural history, seemed to be blatantly and overtly involved in magical thinking of some sort. I mean nearly every artist that you would care to name… You’d think there’d be nothing more formal and scientific than those sort of divided rectangles and squares of Mondrian’s, but no, that was all based upon theosophy. Even baseball was created by a theosophist.
Meth: What do you expect from a guy named Abner?
Moore: (laughs) Yeah! But it’s strange! You start to look at and…well, the more I look at it, it seems like magic must be one of the biggest open secrets in the world. Most of the politicians that I can think of have been members of either overtly occult—in the traditional sense—orders, or occult in the sense of hidden, behind-closed-doors. Bill Clinton is a member of the Vilderbergers who are a financial group that includes Margaret Thatcher. George Bush was a member of the Skull & Bones Society, which I believe was a Harvard fraternity.
Moore: Yale—right. It’s a Yale Fraternity that has Masonic connections. But during the Gulf War, when Bush was at his private retreat, the only two people allowed in to see him were fellow members of the Skull & Bones Society who had gone there to council him. Now I’m not suggesting any big occult conspiracy or anything like that, I’m just saying that officially, we all know that magic doesn’t exist, and unofficially it seems that most of our cultural is based on an innate excess of it. It fascinated me and I started to involve meself in it.
Meth: Have you read Joseph Campbell?
Moore: At this very moment I’m looking at
The Way of the Animal Powers.
Meth: Joe St. Pierre, a young artist who used to work for Valiant, gave me Campbell’s The Power of Myth as a gift. A fascinating book. Campbell agrees that while magic is an accepted illusion, the idea of mythology is extraordinarily important to our culture even now.
Moore: It seems to me that the more I look at it… When The Age of Reason, if you like, came about—when we basically submitted entirely to a particular form of logic and reason… Science defines what is real. That is the job of science, to tell us what’s real and what isn’t. It almost takes a missionary’s zeal in doing it. But the problem with science is it can only deal with the exterior universe. Although the only phenomenon that any of us directly experience is thought and perception—I mean none of us perceive anything other than our own perception—the only thing that science can’t actually look at is thought and perception! Science is bounded by Cartesian logic and by empirical testing. Things have to be repeatable within the laboratory. Therefore even the central phenomenon of thought itself is excluded from scientific observation or discussion. We cannot properly even allow that thought exists within a scientific framework, which is why you’ve got people like B.F. Skinner, the father of Behaviorism, attempting to prove that thought was an illusion caused by some bizarre vibrational byproduct of the vocal chords. It’s the ghost in the machine—it’s an annoying specter, consciousness. We cannot explain it within a mechanical and causal worldview—it cannot be repeated in a laboratory. We cannot even prove scientifically that any other human being is conscious in the same way that we are. So you’ve got the world of mind, which includes everything—dream, myth, memory—this huge territory is out of bounds! It’s probably the only important territory, but to even try and explore it, you have to step into increasingly mystical territory.
Part Three of this interview will be posted next week