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Interviews with Grant MorrisonBarbelith Interviews » Interview with an Umpire
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BY: What do you think about the pop cultural scene in Glasgow, where you've got shed loads of Goths hanging about outside the Gallery of Modern Art.
GM: I don't really count them as Goths. They're like American Skate kids
BY: Aye the Linkin Park nonsense, Whatever - I don't know what the word is
Kristan: Nu Metal.
GM: I like the way they all got together. Nu Metal. Nu X-Men.
Kristan: That's the word we use.
GM: Neu Metal!
BY: Did you ever-
GM: I thought it was interesting the way they spontaneously-
BY: Neu X-Men!
GM: (laughs)
Kristan: You could put: N U X-Men -
GM: And backwards: Un X-Men!
BY: Or you could do krautrock X-Men.
GM: That was the whole thing when I was talking about the 11 year cycles which again is someone else's idea: the Sehkmet Hypothesis
BY: Sleazenation... (an article about the Sekhmet Hypothesis appeared in this British style mag in 1999)...
GM: It was before that, in a magazine called Towards 2012.
BY: Oh Aye.
GM: 1997.
BY: Yeah. It's very interesting (the Sehkmet Hypothesis)
GM: I remember thinking, 'This really ties in'
BY: Weak Friendly, Strong Hostile, all that kinda stuff...
GM: The weird thing was, 1999 came along and everybody who had the vibe, I felt it in 97, when I wrote that Gideon Stargrave story which is kinda the last word on The Invisibles, where he just dissolves into the flashbulbs and that's Gideon's entry into the Supercontext, his death experience: I wrote that just before the death of Diana - I was trying to figure our what the next zeitgeist would be, what would be coming and I think I was pretty accurate but then I discovered the Sehkmet Hypothesis and it really refined what I'd been thinking about.
BY: But the Sehkmet Hypothesis proposed that Stormers would come into being in 1999.
GM: But what you got in 1999 was - You got The Matrix, which was the entire Stormer ideal as a movie - but the actual kids blew the energy - I don't know what happened, they kinda let it dissipate. There was no new drug, there was really new music, there was linkin biskit music but it wasn't strong enough and the energy went into Primal Scream's album Xtrmntr or into The Authority or into Marvel Boy. People who were alert were picking up on it and putting it into art but the actual Kids, those fabled Kids, for the first time didn't turn it into anything huge. So I'm looking forward to the next one. The next vibe is the psychedelic underground which is emerging and which is obviously going to come up in 2005 when the really cool people will be into it and by 2010 it will be mainstream. That's the next one. That's the time when The Invisibles will be rediscovered as a nineties artefact; so I'm more interested in 'then'. I feel as if the energy was lost.
BY: Why do you think that would be? Just the sheer power of our expectation of the new millennium?
GM: Clothes should have gone tight - hair should have gone short. But all the kids are too obese.
BY: I can see your point.
GM: They should have been skinny rebel Stormer imperial youth! We used to play Tomorrow Belongs to Me, at the end of every Beastocracy night because of the Stormer vibe. The last time we did it we got pulled up, 'You can't play this music in here!' What the fuck is going on here? ' You can't play this music, It's fascist music!'
BY: Was that in Groucho's? (a trendy media bar in Glasgow)
GM: No that was in the CCA (Glasgow's Centre for Contemporary Arts - a left field, usually open-minded venue)
BY: The CCA!?
GM: Groucho's was terrible. At the CCA you could set things on fire. Again, there's no energy...
BY: I think Glasgow's actually lost its way, if I'm going to be honest, as I've said Billy Connolly style, I love Glasgow I think it's an incredible city but I feel it's lost its direction. This whole idea of it turning into a Shopping capital - There are just no leaders in the city to hate or look up to...
GM: The council's really corrupt.
BY: It always was though.
GM: It's always been corrupt, but now particularly so.
BY: Because its particularly poor now.
GM: There's a lot of things going on that we don't want to talk about; there's racism building, there's all kinds of stresses, so much importance is placed on shopping spaces, policed shopping spaces. Y'know I worked for one of these things, Glasgow Futures; a talk with a bunch of people; architects, planners and all kinds of media people.
BY: Architects are very slow to pick up on ideas. Y'know, we're right at the bottom of the pop cultural movement in that things move so slowly in the building industry, it takes so long to integrate any new ideas.
GM: There talking - saying, 'We've got to build on brownfield and greenfield sites.' I said, 'No you don't, you actually need areas of public mystery, distress and chaos; people need that in an urban environment - you need the bombed out building site - you need the odd patch of grass where cats have their kittens'; and they just didn't get what I was talking about. They didn't understand about moving through space and feeling that certain spaces are sacred and that boundary spaces are important to city living.
BY: A Situationist approach to the city.
GM: There's no feng shui about it, again its not abstract, it's about how we move through space and how the mind reacts to certain things in the environment. They're dangerous. I said, 'So where are the public spaces going to be?' - 'Oh we'll have the public spaces inside these closed over shopping precincts.' And I said, 'Well can the homeless get in?' 'Oh no, no, we'll keep them out!' How can it possibly be a public space? Where is the space of dissent in the shopping precinct? And they didn't get what I was talking about. If you don't have space for dissent its going to erupt outside. It's the return of the repressed you're going to have to deal with.
BY: I think there is a body of people involved in trying to explore these ideas architecturally but architectural practice, because it has to prostitute itself to survive; y'know, there's no need for architects in the building industry, I mean, we just say: 'Using slate will be better than using.......Bakelite' -
GM: Flesh!
BY: Well maybe not! That's a good idea. There is no thinking like that at all in practice. Nothing like that is going to happen.
GM: Genetically engineered buildings.
BY: Aye! Grow it out of bone! Why isn't practice exploring these kinds of possibilities? I think its because it's such a big fuckin' business- you're dealing with the biggest players in the industry and they're happy with the status quo, ultimately.
GM: They always are. But every little node on the expanding biota does its bit.
BY: Aye - this is what I was going to say; don't you think that architecture, cities create the mystery themselves? Even if you're given The Forge in Parkhead (a dire shopping centre in the east end of Glasgow) to play with, people are still going to fall in love at the checkout, still going to kick fuck out each other at the bin stores...
GM: That's what will happen, in spite of the efforts of people who colonise those spaces, they'll still exist. There will always be the building which gets pulled down and the site lies empty for a few years and becomes strangely haunted. Which is what keeps me going! (laughs)
BY: Yeah.
GM: There are people whose task in life is to make it more difficult to make all the more ugly. They just turn me off! I wish they would just get with the programme!

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