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Interviews with Grant MorrisonBarbelith Interviews » Interview with an Umpire
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BY: You mentioned in a previous interview - I wasn't sure if this was a bullshit or not, it would be the perfect bullshit, in that you said you were descended from a long line of Irish Storytellers.
GM: It's true. I honestly don't bullshit, believe it or not -
BY: Well, I know but-
GM: No but people do think that I'm making this up, but its true. That's what my mum tells us and what my granny tells us, so they might be bullshitters (laughs) - that's as long a line as you need! (laughs)
BY: I think it's difficult, I mean maybe some people say, "Oh Grant Morrison's talking bullshit again', I don't know if you're taking it in the right spirit because, y'know, you're a writer first of all, you do play about with reality and fiction - the whole King Mob thing, so...
GM: It's mostly, it's usually by living, if I'm playing with fiction it's because I'm living the fiction usually. So if I tend to say something it's because I've just tried it - Naw - I just want to talk to people who think like me. The Invisibles was a sigil to get people to talk-
BY: It worked!
GM: Of course it worked! I've got friends all over the world because of it and I can actually avoid people who tell me I'm -
BY: I've got friends all over the world because of it, y'know what I mean?!
GM: Yeah - so when you think of that - to me it was just sending out the signal to talk to people - I'm not interested in talking to people who don't get what we are all talking about (laughs) - people who are constantly argumentative - so there's that aspect of it.
BY: Your relationship with Barbelith (cultural discussion forum inspired by The Invisibles) - it's quite a strange entity - it's not your typical kind of creator community or whatever. I mean I'm not really familiar with 'creator forums', - and Barbelith certainly isn't that - I've limited experience of the Warren Ellis Forum, I'll occasionally lurk on Millar World - it's just too scary for me.
GM: (laughs)
BY: I feel sorry for Mark Millar for being lumbered with this audience (laughs) -
GM: (laughs) - I think it's just desserts - everyone gets the audience they deserve.
BY: I wondered how you actually view it (Barbelith) and to what extent is your involvement and interaction with it because I don't think very many people know?
Cakes arrive. Turkish Delight for Kristan and Baklava for the interviewer.
BY: God - it looks too filling now!
GM: You have to eat it all in one go - its tonight's Bushtucker Challenge. So - my relationship with Barbelith? Yeah - good on them. Sometimes I get infuriated by it - I usually go and look every so often, quite often. So I'm interested in what people think. I'm interested in the way things are developed - I wish it would develop a little bit more sometimes - I wish questions which had long ago been answered were got over - things like that.
BY: To me that's seems obvious that someone with your personality would have a look - to see what was going on. It'd be difficult not to; people are continually discussing your work and are like-minded. I remember, I said something on Barbelith, I'm a reasonably regular contributor to the comics threads.
GM: Mm-hmm
BY: And I said something fairly kinda vicious about your work and it was really just to stir things up a bit. And I got a reply from somebody - and it said Grant Morrison -
GM: That was me. (laughs) Who d'you think it was? (laughs)
BY: I wasn't sure -
Kristan: - sometimes you just get pissed off.
BY: Hey - absolutely, totally-
GM: It wasn't so much what you were - I don't mind criticism - it's when people make up crap about my life, it's the most infuriating thing.
BY: Of course.
GM: People project the strangest things and then give you a hard time for not living up to it.
BY: But do you not have to expect this?
GM: You have to expect it but its never...comfortable, I'm sure anyone who's ever been in the minor elements of the public eye and I'm in the minor, minor elements of the public eye but its weird as fuck.Y'know - I play around with things but sometimes y'know some of them seem to consume you.
BY: I think I'd have probably done the same y'know - I was quite surprised and I was also quite chuffed in a way - I remember what you said; it was, 'Shite.....you talk it' and it was just when The Filth was coming out. At work I'd been given this job - y'know I'm not really getting on with my bosses at work - they gave the worst job in the office which is refurbishing the toilets in Glasgow Central Station!
GM: Your Initiation. (laughs)
BY: Yeah...and it arrived at the same time as my favourite writer telling me I talk shite! I thought, this is it - I'm actually getting into The Filth!
GM: It all ties in. (laughs)
BY: - the spells working!
GM: Everything works. I liked the idea when Barbelith started, I was going to get involved but I just don't have the fuckin' time, I'd be fightin' with everybody. There'd be some people I'd talk to a lot, people I think I could exchange ideas with but the rest of the time you'd be defending yourself against charges of fascism or homophobia or whatever the latest fuckin' bugbear is that day and it'd be just too exhausting so I thought it'd be better to just let people form their own thing. I believe there shouldn't be gurus; Warren was almost eaten by his forum, thank God he came back to being a writer again. He was spending too much time getting involved in it. Writing's what he should be doing - that's his job.
BY: I think he's better at that kind of shit than writing-
GM: I think you may have a case for that but he should be writing - that's the bottom line - and that was consuming him and people's idea of him was consuming him so to be there - to be fed by those people, I didn't want to get involved in that, it could have been easy to encourage that - y'know I can make up religions with the best of them - I could've been L. R. Hubbard if I wanted - I could easily do it - but I don't. I think it's pernicious. I wanted people to develop along their own lines, which I guess includes criticising the absent dad! (laughs)
BY: Yeah! (laughs) There's a few people on Barbelith who are extremely intelligent , with absolutely massive brains which are quite intimidating at times and there's somebody -
GM: Can they dance the Fandango! (laughs) That's what I want to know!
BY: Dunno - never met em! This is it!
GM: That's what we need to know! (laughs)
BY: And for a long time, there was one person in particular who was basically articulating all your ideas in the most lucid manner-
GM: Lucid is the word I would have used.
BY: It was frightening - I thought it was you. I thought-
Kristan: Runt?
BY: Yeah - that's the one!
GM: No, no. I was very impressed.
BY: So you're not Runt then? (laughs)
GM: No, no - he's...he's (laughs) scary.
BY: Yeah, very scary cos he's actually got several personalities on the board, he's glassonion and, well they just keep on popping up!
Kristan: glassonion writes quite often to the website. I think he was the one I went for in the past when he said something. I went on and jumped on him-
BY: Was it not Ganesh? About -
Both Kristan and Grant: Glassin' the cats! (laughs)
BY: Yeah. I've actually met Ganesh. Me and Ganesh are quite good pals, well we've been out a couple of times and he's another superb guy - I'm sure you'd like him if you met him - yeah, we have a laugh about that, that was quite amusing but these are the, I suppose, offshoots of-
GM: But like I said, I think it's good because everybody did communicate. I liked that aspect of it. If everybody just listened to Runt and the smarter guys talking and realised where the series fits in the overall importance of life and some of these contentions can be dealt with it would solve a lot of problems. It's when I talk about the green meme y'know, when whatsisname... baldie... Wilber, Ken Wilber and his colour scales...He's got this fantastic scale of different colours which identify different developmental levels and the green meme is basically people like Tony Blair and it's the kind of forward thinking liberal ('but y'know we have to cowtow to big business sometime'. The problem with the green meme is that everything is debated to destruction until you forget why you were debating and why there was any energy there in the first place. I began to think that the internet as a whole, and message boards and Barbelith in particular, were falling victim to this. I felt it was the Abyss to me. It was that disintegration - someone would come up with some beautiful elegant idea and somebody else would just trash it; and who knows it may be some 12 year old in Wisconsin going, ' You fuckin'' suck! Your ideas are crap!' and annihilate somebody's beautiful construction. Somebody got stoned out there and thought that! So I felt there was a sense of destruction, of annihilation on the fringes of these ideas and a lot of it could be lost or destroyed by endless deconstruction too.
BY: Its gone through phases without a doubt - I'm not a regular enough contributor just now to get an idea of what shape it's in but it was certainly most vibrant during I'd say, the final book (volume 3) of The Invisibles and the intensity was at its strongest then and I don't think its reached-
GM: I remember the posts being much longer! (laughs)
BY: Runt used to be somebody called !LookNickWaddam!
GM: That's right - I remember that.
BY: And he basically got the whole debate moving in a very intellectual manner.
GM: He understood it perfectly - the debate over 'understanding' it was so preposterous but it always comes up. I still get comments from people saying, 'We've no idea what The Filth's about - this makes no sense!' It's a guy fuckin' feedin' his cat and he goes in this car and he goes to this place and then he goes to this place and then he comes back and-
BY: (laughs)
GM: How much more linear can it possibly be! Everything's seen as concealable - things that people feel they're not equipped to understand and so they find it difficult to understand the most linear-
BY: I've been familiar with your work for a long time but people I've passed it to people who have understood it and got something out of it.
GM: If you've read any fiction, watched any drama-
BY: If you've seen any David Lynch-
GM: If you've seen David Lynch or watched a Nicholas Roeg movie - even those bizarre cut ups I've done, Kid Eternity or some sections of The Invisibles, its Nicolas Roeg - things to me which were common currency but maybe aren't any more and are therefore surprising to people.
BY: I think that's maybe a fair point in that something like Walkabout, if you see it now, it is actually quite intense, intimidating, weird-
GM: That's what a comic book should be! (laughs) Really - is that not what a comic book should be?
BY: (laughs) Absolutely.

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