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Interviews with Grant MorrisonBarbelith Interviews » Interview with an Umpire
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BY: I was going to ask you about the whole concept of writing and magic and its influence on the environment. Could it be said that magic is interacting with the smallest building blocks we can comprehend? That somehow it influences the microscopic, whether its white bloodcells befriending cancer or rearranging coal to get diamond. How can fiction, storytelling and literal persuasion allow us to control the nanosphere? They'd need to work on this, the smallest of scales - how could fiction possibly have an influence on that realm?
GM: I'm not sure - All I know is that it does - I have some ideas but somebody needs to do some more work I found that it seems to do it - it's the same as voodoo or any kind of sympathetic magic - like I say - there seems to be something in making a representation of reality, causing changes in the representation and then watching the changes occur in the larger scale reality - which makes me think there's a holographic element to the entire universe. Again everything is connected. If you want to use a purely biological idea, based on the biota, the one living organism, then a number of apparently extra normal events could be explained: one little human tendril of the biota thinks of something and the notion is so interesting it zaps through the system and hits another tendril and basically you think telepathy is taking place. That might be why ideas emerge in different heads at the same time. If we are parts of a huge body, that's easily explained. Or you think for a moment you are Mickey Mantle stepping up to bat because you've suddenly felt all the way back down your body in time, connections back to the moment where Mickey Mantle is stepping up to bat and will always be stepping up to bat and you think you're re-incarnated from Mickey Mantle. (laughs)
BY: Yeah...I can see the image that you're building there.
GM: So yeah, it's still the same thing. One involves our understanding of ourselves as elements, like nanomachines. Again what I'll say is something else I've been thinking about: I was reading that if you take a group of humans, and I'm sure you'll understand if you've been watching, 'The Celebrities'. If you take a bunch of humans and throw them down in any situation they immediately form into distinct personality types so one becomes a leader, one becomes a joker, one becomes a bully and then 6 or 7 or however many personality types. If you take all the leaders and throw them down, they form into leader, bully...If you take all the bullies and throw them down....
BY: Yeah - they organise themselves.
GM: That's an assembling system, and if you just strip away all the romantic notions of yourself as a human being.....so you take any amount of these things, fling them down , they organise and start creating civilisation. That's what they do. (laughs) To me, that's like nanomachines, that's like clear emergent systems, which leads me to think we are just elements of something much larger, and we live out processes which we give meaning and function, which to me was once the viewpoint of the evil outer church in The Invisibles, but now I'm beginning to think it's the model that appeals to me most for what's going on.
BY: Could The Filth be described as The Invisibles shot through the Outer Church lens?
GM: In a certain way, I don't want people to think its too similar in case they start saying, 'That's not like this bit in The Invisibles where it said...', '...and here in this particular corner it should look like...'
A member of staff approaches our table with large framed photographs of Belly Dancers and says: 'More bellies!'
RY: Awww, leave that one at the front!'
GM: It's as if they're dancing! (laughs) In a way, it's the shell of The Invisibles, The Qlippoth of The Invisibles, the kinda worm trail, so everything glamorous in The Invisibles was just ejected in The Filth and turned ugly and everything meaningful is not meaningful (laughs), so it is the opposite trip. I don't want people to think it's absolutely about the world of The Invisibles but just to take it as it's own thing.
BY: I think it's immediately set up its own aesthetic.
GM: Well all the hand divisions are based on different groups of cells within the body, it's all quite meticulous, it's an immune system, so, it's pretty well worked out. But it is the negative of The Invisibles, the remains, The shite of The Invisibles (laughs)
BY: I liked the fast forward through the whole Mason Storyline, I dunno if that was the case...
GM: All the big scale stuff, this huge Authority stuff, I was just taking the piss out of those sort of comics, those huge, really brilliant kinda Authority style conflicts that would just appear then fade away meaninglessly, because the real story is just about Slade, or Greg Feely and what's going on in his head...and his cat. So yeah, it was fun just doing that. Throwing away stuff. They're some great throwaway things that just come in and you think; 'Fuck, you could have done something with that you bastard, but its just gone!
BY: So far, when I've read I've found it incredibly funny but also, depending on whether I've been smoking a joint or what state of mind I'm in, it can actually leave a bad taste-
GM: No. It should. I wanted that kinda seedy - y'know that rotten way you feel when you see someone vomiting and the light's all wrong and you know you're on bad drugs. (laughs)
BY: It's working.
GM: I really wanted to - There was a terrible...It was Brasseye (British satirical show devised and presented by Chris Morris), this one that made me feel so bad. Do you remember the one, where they're sitting in an office and they're all using drugs. The lights were really shocking.
BY: Was that Jam? The one he (Chris Morris) did after Brasseye? The really twisted dark stuff that wasn't even funny?
GM: No. I'm sure it was in Brasseye. The Crime one in Brasseye and everyone was just shooting up and this woman was sick into a pale and the light was so unforgiving and the sick was so perfectly focused and I always thought, 'I've got to capture this feeling'; the feeling of bad porn.
BY: As directed by Paul Verhoeven. In a way it reminds me of that awful Batman film, Batman Forever I think. The one with horrible colour.
GM: And strange undertones! (laughs)
BY: The cheap psychedelic glamour-
GM: Alfred with nippled uniforms for everyone!, 'I just took the liberty!'
BY: It's absolutely superb. I'm enjoying it. I'm totally clueless as to where it's going too, which is quite exciting. Issue 3 there, was a bit of a shock actually- GM: The next one is totally different and the next one after that, issue 5 is the most obscene comic ever printed.
BY: I'm looking forward to it.
GM: I can't believe that Karen Berger is going to allow us to do it. They say nothing. Nothing at all.
BY: I'm expecting it to get worse. There's a certain debate about Feely's sexual persuasion, on Barbelith anyway, and it seems likely that you're wanting the reader to identify with an extremely- or a despicable human being and feel strong emotions for this person and then be really let down.
GM: I already did that in The Mystery Play.
BY: I haven't actually read The Mystery Play.
GM: So that's that story.
BY: Oh. You've spoilt it now.
GM: (laughs)
BY: So that's not what we've to expect then?
GM: You can expect...things.
BY: We're not going to be sodomised and left spent hanging over a radiator?
GM: It's quite different. Quite strange. It goes off at lot of tangents.

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