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Interviews with Grant MorrisonBarbelith Interviews » Interview with an Umpire
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GM: Maybe the techniques I use can be disorientating but I'm surprised I'm sure you understand The Invisibles, it's pretty easy to understand- the structure's pretty obvious, it's a spiral, it goes down, things re-iterate-
BY: It's all in Book One. (The first volume)
GM: Yeah - everything's described quite regularly in it, the shape of The Invisibles cosmology is described right throughout. People still say they have difficulty with it - I like the idea that there are people who just comprehend it, who find it interesting enough to talk about it or to illuminate other things in the same way I read Robert Anton Wilson or listen to The Streets or whatever's turning me on right now and that inspires me - that's all you want to do - just pass on the flame.
BY: It was an extremely powerful work - to be honest I could talk about The Invisibles all night -
GM: I was living it - I think that's why it's does - it's somebody's life - there's a lot going on it - a lot of experimentation, a lot of different levels.
BY: Perhaps what we could talk about, taking an architectural or urban perspective would be to look at issue one of The Invisibles and how do you see the world expanding - could you flesh that out a little bit, architecturally, socially or maybe, not necessarily apply it to Glasgow but to contemporary living - what forms, what trends and what beliefs are making that world that we see in Invisibles No. 1?
GM: The Final number 1, the countdown?
BY: Aye.
GM: It was just a bunch of things I was interested in; space, obviously I thought would be colonised by more advertising and television, I think computer technology will advance, probably not as much as we see in The Invisibles where someone comes up with the idea for liquid processors - that was just an idea - I still think it would work and I'll get the chance to talk to some scientists next month and I'll ask them. I heard once there was a guy doing experiments to record data onto water molecules and then he just kind of disappeared - this was in the eighties - he said he believed water had a memory and I thought this linked up with homeopathic ideas that water remembers information - it would be a recording media - which led into the idea of making computers which record data on to water.
BY: Drinkable information?
GM: Whether it would work like that I don't know, but it seemed like such a beautiful, poetic idea.
BY: Yeah, I remember you talking about liquid information and I suddenly thought - Sperm! - Yeah, of course!
GM: Well yeah, I mean, there is a biological basis for it, of course. So it's things like that, the whole idea about the space, if you want to talk about architectural space: The space in The Invisibles, the idea of reclaiming space is based on Situationist ideas - I'm interested in the idea of re-empowering the imaginative city and making detournements through the architectural spaces; that was a thing my friends and I used to do a lot. And cameras; because obviously they're the real colonisers of space just now, social space, they're keeping the homeless out of the multiplex shopping centres, they prevent 'bad things' from happening to it, there are more and more of them all the time.
BY: But most Britons feel comfortable with it, I think we're the most surveyed country in the world!
GM: That was the point I was thinking about in The Invisibles - we are the most surveyed country in the world, we're watching everything we do, so what I'd hoped and I think it may still happen, especially as reality TV makes more outlandish behaviour popular, because the more camera you put on people, the more chaos you create because people start to play up to cameras. Because in actual fact we all want to be seen on Police Camera Action 999; we all want to be on Survivor or Big Brother - so those were the ideas I had about space in the future in The Invisibles. People will actually act out dramas in front of the constant camera eye so the superiors and those who imagine themselves to be superior will be deluded by the multiple identities people will assume. I think it's the best response to the urban environment right now; to assume different identities based on different spaces and different situations you might find yourself in (which can be quite radically different), in the course of a given day in a city. So those were the ideas I was thinking about specifically to do with the urban environment and how to inhabit those environments. Mad predictions were little robot helicopters which would chase around looking for criminals and whatever else? - You probably remember it better than me!
BY: I'm thinking that -
GM: Everybody will be like Spiderman! (laughs)
BY: Aye - I was really disappointed by Spiderman by the way.
GM: Oh - it was terrible - I liked the effect - the effect was good.
BY: Aye.
GM: But that Gwen Stacey or whoever she was - Mary Jane was terrible!
BY: Aye she was.
GM: Totally weak - and the Green Goblin was ridiculous! He made no sense as a character.
BY: Aye it was so flat, and you'd seen it all before, y'know the floating balloons and all that kind stuff - I just thought, 'God, why are they wheeling this out?'
GM: Doctor Octopus would have been good!
BY: Aye - a disturbing man - but one of the things I was thinking about in The Invisibles final issue was - Reynard say's 'UNDO' and I like this idea of a virtual command basically coming into the real world and y'know - Does it have an effect? - You do something you didn't want to do and all you say is UNDO and that changes it! There was a time when I was working on the computer for a long stretch - I was locked into do some dull AutoCAD drawing and I snapped out briefly to take a file off the shelf and I've taken the wrong one and I said, 'UNDO'.
GM: Yeah?
BY: And I felt really sick for a second, I thought, 'I can't believe I said that!' There's this kind of encroachment of virtual into real. Could this actually be a practical application? With the advent of nanotech and the plastic pliable environment, will we be able to UNDO events?
GM: Yeah - I think we take our metaphors from technology all the time.
GM: Is it going? (referring to the tape)
BY: Nup
The tape is flipped over
GM: What was I saying? Yeah - we take our metaphors from technology all the time - the romantics with electro-magnetism and balloons (laughs) - those kind of experiments, so that's all it is. So yeah, the virtual world will encroach, especially as simulations get more and more effective and the methods of enjoying simulations get more and more effective, there will be increased crossover. I'm interested to see how it will impact the 'real' world.
BY: I'm interested in the pliability of the world and how it might turn 'soft' basically-
GM: It responds to language, it seems to respond to language which is what magic seems to do - there's some kind of holographic effect between representation and reality for want of a better word.
BY: Aye - I'm trying to, within the architectural field, develop some sort of grounding philosophy which says 'Form Follows Fiction' - y'know it's no longer function, its more to do with individual whims. When you're going to be able to control the immediate group of atoms around you, you'll be able to story tell in 3D.
GM: Yeah, yeah....We're working towards it, everything seems to be compressing down to a single point; we're trying to get to places quicker and we're trying to do things in less time so both of these are infinitely compressed activities - it gets easier and easier to reach London or Tokyo, so we're compressing down to a point - that's part of it as well. They're already developing houses where you can walk in and everything's wired up with Bang and Olufsen, you can have images on the wall, you can change the environmental lighting, you can change all kind of conditions so the extension would be to compress that as infinitly as we have compressed travel and speed of communication.
BY: If the environment is going to be carved up into smaller and smaller pieces, because it will become pliable to your everyday punter, and your everyday punter is becoming Joe Schizophrenic as opposed to Joe Bloggs, what with the adoption of rotating personalities and this fracturing vision are we not in danger of developing a landscape similar to the one you portrayed in your Future Shock tale, The Invisible etchings of Salvador Dali - is this not a possible route to complete chaos this rapid advancement of technology - obviously we've got the Matrix metaphor to work with but-
GM: These kinds of processes rarely lead to chaos. My own viewpoint of it is this thing is one huge operating process, that life on earth, or the Biota, as I've learned it's called-
BY: Biota?
GM: It's a new word for the entirety of life on earth, which I believe is one organism so - what was I saying?
BY: Um...............I'll need to think of a decent question!
GM: No, what was that question?
BY: I can't remember. (laughs)
GM: It was the long one!
BY: It was about fracturing personalities and fracturing landscapes.
GM: Yeah - we were talking about could it lead to an infinitely morphing endlessly pliable meta reality - possibly it could, if that's what the large scale structure of the thing-
BY: Is that not the Supercontext you describe?
GM: The Supercontext to me is what you get born into when you 'die' - remember at the end that these are just my personal metaphors for something that may be quite different . These are the words; I'm straining it down through The Invisibles, that's the shape I'm straining it down through. The Supercontext to me is a fifth-dimensional, informational continuum where things that we don't quite understand go on - higher processes, adult processes. What I felt, when I was undergoing what I call the Alien Abduction Experience in Kathmandhu (which I don't think was anything to do with Aliens or Abduction but we'll call it that for ease of understanding) was that by sheer - nothing to do with mysticism, or abstraction - sheer fact of physical life on Earth and how we exist as processes through time rather than as these segments in time which we are interacting with just now basically; in the most hard headed way, running backwards through the processes, where you come in through that doorway, we both disappear out through the door - you go out after me - as you saw in The Invisibles, a huge worm of activity - you go back into your mother, she goes back into her mother. I mean the whole thing is one structure - it's one thing. What I felt, was that I was looking at a larval form and what I was told, was that I was looking at a larval form of an entity that was adult in the fifth dimension and that these things were growing planets like the Earth as patches, like cabbage patches. So you stick it on a planet, the planet feeds it - it eats the planet to power its growth into adulthood at which point it becomes a full scale living fully formed - like the way a fly is fully formed from larvae - entity of the fifth dimension. So you're dealing with someone whose got this as their belief structure behind all of it. This is why I assume that most processes that occur on earth are working properly.
BY: That it's a self-perfecting system.
GM: Yeah. I think this thing is growing up and it understands how to grow up. The same as a baby in the womb goes through all the stages of evolution, so to is this entity going through all kinds of growth stages which to us are seen as evolutionary processes. It's just like a tree growth and we're the branches that come off, the literal branches of the living organism - it's very tip. Y'know we're it's tip; probing, communicating, sending signals and sparks across. And I do also believe that the more sparks we send across and the more little fronds that connect and the more it starts to recognise itself for what it is - which is as one living organism, which includes every other organism - again, this is not abstraction, it's not some Buddhist 'make me one with everything' sandwich, it's the actual fuckin' bottom line of physical existence if you run it through time. So I think we should be taking this into account, which is why I can sound a little over-evangelical about this: that we are quite literally a single organism which could well be on its way to maturity.
BY: What I'd say to that is; Maybe about 100 years ago, in fact several times throughout history, people have said, 'y'know, we've invented all there is to invent, we're at the most important stage in human evolution' Alan Moore's mentioned similar things to yourself, he's talking about phase transitions and boiling points. We're all building toward 2012; does every generation of creatives' not think that they're at the cutting edge of experience, at the cusp? Basically, is it not the human condition to live in a perpetual state of Armageddon? The whole idea of millenarian angst as an essential human condition?
GM: And why would that be?
BY: Er - - (laughs)
GM: (laughs). So it's an essential drive?
BY: The fear of dying basically - the personal individual apocalypse-
GM: But that's a recent thing, the individual idea of death; if you killed an Islamic Hashisheen he wouldn't believe he was going to die, he was going to wake up instantly in a paradise.
BY: Mohammed Atta?
GM: (laughs) The Viking literally believed he was going to wake up in Valhalla, so even the fear of death is just something instilled within the individual sovereign conscious which we're taught to protect , like your treasure horde - but in actual fact, what survives is the soul or what we mistakenly call soul, its DNA and bacterial mitochondria which keep on dividing even after you die - The next issue of The Filth (4) has this great piece of information - that the human body has 10 billion cells in it - that's what comprises a basic human body and on top of that we have 10 times that amount of bacteria.
GM: (laughs) - even more so - probably fifty times the amount (laughs). So who's really doing the talking, who's doing the steering, what is the immortal life form that is doing all the work? And who are these things that just chatter and freak out and worry about getting old and worry about this and that, they're actually irrelevant except as the use of vehicles - they're just tendrils of a thing that is not dead, it's never died, the first bacteria kept on dividing and it's still dividing.

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