60 second interview with Alan Moore (October 2011)

Spotted this in the local newspaper, maybe of interest to Moore fans. I've always had a certain fascination with the man - still not entirely sure what to make of him, but I certainly enjoy a pronounced eccentricity and Alan Moore ticks that particular box with aplomb.

Whether he will ever be able to repeat the genius of the Watchmen series is the question, as this was most definitely the magnum opus to many of his followers, who subsequently felt somewhat discombobulated when his occult and magical interests came to the fore through remarkable, yet to some, abstract works, like the Promethea series.

Anyway... enough of my inconsequential babble.

The Buddha is a fat lovely bastard...

"If you see the Buddha on the road, you probably need psychiatric assistance"
- written by Penelope Clarice 

Look, it's the truth OK! Life, when you look at it plainly, isn't actually going anywhere particularly glorious.

The more layers we peel away, the more absurd life seems. Essentially this is a deeply futile experiment in projecting our genetic material by whatever means into an uncertain, and most likely, brutal, and pointless future, where the known universe collapses back in upon itself, thus annihilating all we have come to know & love.

Depressing? Maybe.

Even if there were a god orchestrating this theater of the absurd, the acknowledgment of deity wouldn't remove the fact that we are eating & shitting machines, in a finite system of resources. That's just the way it is and the glamor we choose to drape over reality, is simply window dressing. The emperor 'really' has no clothes.

But anyway - that aside.

Once we have acknowledged that this 'life' is frankly ludicrous and we are mostly self-deluding dullards, we could collectively down tools and come up with a plan that works a little better than the current dog-eat-dog formula (dream on Penelope).

I love the tale of the Buddha - he set off from his palace of riches, impoverished himself, nearly starved to death, came face to face with disease and misery, realized that striving after riches was an empty pursuit, and then ultimately became 'enlightened' (or at least, woke up to the fact that life is essentially drudgery, delusion, and death) - but he made a slight error, as he inspired many followers to simply sit on their bottoms meditating in retreats, thinking this practice is an end within itself.

Believe me, I know the joys of quiet meditation (I practiced daily for many years) but surely this Buddha character didn't mean for devout followers to face walls or sit under trees for several hours each day when they could be working towards meeting the needs of the entire community?

Yes, the Buddha is just a story and he may not have existed at all, and the metaphysics attached to Buddhism, is most probably bullshit, but the kernel of the story is correct - that life is one great festival of suffering and we ought to view this suffering as chief priority, and do something about it.

One has to first acknowledge, preferably through direct experience, that the very foundation of life, is built upon that suffering!

When we rise in the morning we move towards suffering, and if we don't look after our essential needs, then brothers & sisters - we will begin to suffer big time.

No man is an island, so think about your family and their constant demands for food, clothing, shelter etc.

Then look outside, look at the neighbours, look across the ocean, look at the world - needs, needs, needs - and when these remain unfulfilled, SUFFERING!!

Of course we don't like to think about this too much so we flick on the TV, go for a walk, sing a silly song, drink a bottle of wine, perform sexual Olympics, watch grown men hoof a ball into a net... those sorts of things. But alas, it doesn't matter which version of the iPad we own, eventually we suffer and die, regardless.

Yep - we suffer - SUFFERING!! (have I mentioned suffering yet?)

We must acknowledge, as Buddhists teach - we do not exist in isolation, and that being the case, our puny little existence means something, we impact, we have a tangible effect. So, once recognized, we have to take responsibility as we are a 'cause & an effect' ... I'm sorry people, but that's the truth. We might deceive ourselves and think we can do exactly what we want to, but we can't, as we are a collective and each time we shit on a brother or sister, eventually we shit on ourselves. The "Buddha-fly" effect (pun intended).

So - to wrap this up.

1. You (and I) suffer to live.
2. We minimize suffering through meeting basic needs (food being primary).
3. We must recognize that our actions have tangible consequences.
4. We must recognize that we do not exist in isolation.
5. We must work towards playing the game of life fairly, as life hurts!

Five is meant to be sacred, so I'll end my list there.

So, don't sit on your ass meditating for hours (although quiet reflection is necessary me thinks) - educate yourself, empower yourself through accurate knowledge, spread that knowledge, spread some love and understanding. Do unto others & all that Jazz.

Did I mention suffering? I can't quite remember.

The decaying man in us all...

Another day, another dollar, so they say, whoever 'they' are - probably greedy capitalists fucking it up for the rest of us - 'we' who simply want a quiet & simple life, reasonably stress free, with the occasional peak experience that makes existence a little bit more than eat/sleep/shit...

Anyhow, an hour or two spent in the café, seated next to the decaying man.

My crude and quick rendering of said man - obviously a caricature after the event and bares little actual resemblance, other than a certain degree of sloppiness and crudity of form:

When I initially sat down I was aware of this character shuffling around behind me, he was pressed into his chair and occasionally stooped forward; rummaging around on the table, re-arranging cigarette papers and a pair of wrap around black shades and twists of what looked like tissue paper - he appeared to have compulsive urges and clearly his nervous system was askew.

I wanted to talk to him, but part of me was repulsed at this dishevelled and faintly pungent man. I managed through peripheral vision to analyse his flesh - it was yellowish in hue and deeply scarred and cracked and pitted with small black heads and grime. He had sunken dark eyes, like raisins pressed into dough and his hair was dark grey, matted and greasy looking. He had a tatty old cap pressed on to his head and I didn't really focus on his general apparel, as I was keenly fixed on his features. It was hard to pin down the age of this vagrant fellow, but I would place him late fifties or even early sixties and the city and his decadence had seared its mark upon his flesh; clearly he had sponged alcohol deep within his viscera, which invariably disfigures the flesh and wrecks the nervous system through abuse.

Every ten minutes or so he would rise from the seat and shuffle off to the side door; taking a fresh roll-up with him to smoke. As he shuffled away (and I do mean shuffled) his head rolled to the side and he starred through the other people in the store, paying particular attention to an Asian couple seated opposite, who starred back with reserved horror.

He performed this ritual continually and around his seat lay tobacco shreds, and twists of paper littered the table top. The pungent odour as noted earlier consisted mainly of that acrid bitter stench that accompanies an habitual smoker - quite vile. Although upon inspection there was a repugnant potpourri that pulled at my stomach ever so slightly and conjured visions of soiled under-pants.

Anyway, a little time past by and he asked to borrow my ink pen. Asked, as in, slurred and spluttered out (almost) indecipherable sounds that were tenuously strung together, but coherent enough for the attentive ear to decipher. So I passed him my pen and watched him scrawl god only knows what on a fragment of paper plucked from an ancient leather wallet.

He passed it back - "cheers mate," said he.

We had a disjointed conversation for fifteen minutes or so, that consisted of... well, I'm not quite sure, as I could only work out perhaps 40% of the sounds my fellow human was projecting at me, through streams of drool and flecks of spittle. But I dutifully played it cool and felt as though I were doing this specimen of broken down humanity a favour (yes, that repulsive ego of mine reared its ugliness) and inside I looked for the exit - a verbal opportunity to leave, to move on, to go - lest I be consumed by this decay before me and sink into oblivion.

So, I contrived an excuse to leave and stood to go, but felt I should reach out and into this horror with my hand and shake the paw, replete with soiled claws, and prove my worth somehow. After all, I recall, Jesus hung out with the wretched and the poor... so I followed suit, and reached in and gripped this pulsing gristle and excrement.

But dear reader, please bare with me, as there is a heart that beats in this chest of mine and compassion that cuts me to the core, yet at times it is buried deep within a fear that grips me, that I should become the other, become my brother - this broken down man, this isolated fool, this neurotic bag of nothing, this fart, this... this was somebodies baby, this is a life lost, this was potential for something glorious and who am I not to be moved in genuine sympathy, who the fuck am I?

Even so, I popped into the toilet on the way out of the store and washed my hands clean, as I felt physically ill, yet when I did so, the life drained out of my heart.

0 to 1 to 2 to 3 ...

An image constructed today - hopefully you'll relate if you found it here.


"Magic concerns itself in the main with that self-same world as does modern psychology. That is to say, it deals with that sphere of the psyche of which normally we are not conscious but which exerts an enormous influence upon our lives. Magic is a series of psychological techniques so devised as to enable us to probe more deeply into ourselves. To what end? First, that we shall understand ourselves more completely. Apart from the fact that such self-knowledge in itself is desirable, an understanding of the inner nature releases us from unconscious compulsions and motivations and confers a mastery over life. Second, that we may the more fully express that inner self in everyday activities. It is only when mankind as a whole has reached, or perhaps when the more advanced men and women in the world have evolved, some degree of inner realisation that we may ever hope for that ideal utopian condition of things - a wide tolerance, peace, and universal brotherhood. It is to ends such as these that Magic owes its raison d'etre."

"How, nowadays, do we deal with the psycho-neuroses in the attempt to cure them - to eliminate them from the sphere of the patient's thinking and feeling? Principally by the analytical method. We encourage the patient to narrate freely his life history, to delineate in detail his early experiences in connection with his father and mother, his reactions to brothers and sisters, to school and playmates and the entire environment. He is asked to dwell particularly on his emotional reaction to these earlier  experiences, to relive them in his imagination, to recount and analyse his feelings towards them. Moreover, his dreams at the time of analysis are subjected to a careful scrutiny. This is necessary because the dream is a spontaneous psychic activity uninterfered with by the waking consciousness. Such activity reveals present day unconscious reactions to the stimuli of life - reactions which modify, even form his conscious outlook. In this way the patient is enabled to realise objectively the nature of this complex. He must detach himself from it for a short space of time. And this critical objective examination of it, this understanding of its nature and the means whereby it came into being, enables him, not once and for all, but gradually and with the passage of time, to oust it from his ways of thinking."

~ Israel Regardie: The Art & Meaning of Magic

Experiencing the mytho-poetic conscious state...

The following is an excerpt taken from a rather cool book I was inspired to return to today, the title being - The Shaman's Doorway by Stephen Larson (ISBN: 0-89281-672-4)...

~ intriguing excerpt?

My observation has been that monotheistic and heavily orthodox belief systems exert a very powerful stabilizing and organizing effect upon the psyche. There is a polarization within the psyche between the central God-authority archetype and all the other parts. The monotheistic pattern seems more likely to produce powerful ethical and legalistic systems, intense confrontations between conscious and unconscious, and a stronger ego.

The polytheistic orthodoxies on the other hand, seem to allow the psyche more of its own innate polymorphous perversity. Sharp distinctions between good and evil are much harder to make. And though the deities of the polytheistic pantheon are prone to squabble, there are never enmities of the scope of that conlict between the Lord of Light and the Prince of Darkness. The pre-Christian Romans never attacked the indigenous mythologies of the people they conquered the way they did after Christianization. Polytheism seems much more open, both in culture and in psyche, to fostering a live and let-live atmosphere. Perhaps this is one reason why in our times of the reopening and unfolding of human capacity for pleasure, we may let a few of those myths - the banished gods and most especially goddesses - back in the door. After all, what's wrong with a "graven image" as long as you don't mistake the symbol for what it hints at, the finger for what it points to? Religious persecution, as well as religious evangelism, is the disease of the literal-minded.

Most of us have been trained by our literal Judeo-Christian heritage to think of our myths as either literally true or not true at all. The paranoid schizophrenic then, who projects his inner mythic drama on the outside world, is conforming to our cultural pattern. He has no training in turning the attention within to the living landscape and there allowing his energies to enact their symbolic play, the meaning of which is psychological, not literal. Hence, too, the plight of our callow shamans, who having ingested a few milligrams of freeze-dried mythology and feeling that they can fly, walk out of windows.

But can we really, as do the press and anguished parents, blame this tragedy on the drug? Are these people not equally the victims of a culture which has never been able to distinguish the diference between the mythic and the real? Experiencing and perceiving mythically for the first time, these neophyte shamans have never had a chance to learn how to deal intelligently or creatively with the mythopoetic consciousness. Like Dorothy and Levy-Bruhl's primitives, they have been living in "participation mystique," never learning to differentiate between the objectively real and the "glosses" that arise from the mythic and personal levels within. Surely this is another sign of the incredible deficiencies in our approach to education. Would even a very small child among the Senoi make a similar mistake?

~ a few thoughts of mine (the usual babble)

This particular excerpt proved rather poignant today, as I had just been reading the chapter and entered into an impromptu discussion with a fellow in the coffee shop that ultimately lead into a similar area of thought, in that, our contemporary society in it's current state of existential angst and crisis of identity, would do well to summon the psychonauts! We have become so externalised in our quest for material domination and material wealth, that I fear an important factor has been pushed to one side and that is the psychological landscape with its glorious theatrics and insights. This inner world of our being is crucial; helping us understand those things that blight us as an individual and by extension, as a collective. Yet we pay little attention to this fundamental state of being, instead, intoxicating and sedating our minds with distraction after distraction.

Whilst it is true that the predominant monotheistic church served to institutionally shackle mankind to dogma, it is also apparent that the erosion of this foundational structure has made society sway too and fro in a rudderless state; replacing holy idols with vacuous celebrities and corrupt politicians whose dubious motives are plainly discerned.

I am not suggesting that we abandon all reason and flock to the local church, or begin consuming heroic quantities of hallucinogens - far from it, as the excerpt suggests - society, generally speaking, has so little introspective sensitivity and insight, that the demons lurking in the abyss would no doubt consume and drive us to the brink of madness if we were to do so (or make us jump off tall buildings). Such is the infantile state of the average person. We are now psychonauts in nappies!

Let's face it, most drug users for instance, are simply getting stoned, and would do well to stay away from these substances if the sole purpose is merely to forget oneself, as these experiences are incredibly powerful and can be instructive if used wisely, otherwise, and is often the case, there is a price to pay - in terms of the eventual degradation of one's life. I find it depressing to see habitual users decaying, but they were incorrectly primed for the experience.

Likewise, people who gravitate towards religious institutions - do they do so after investigating a variety of alternatives, or is the lure a tick-list of black and white "does and don'ts" and the attendant appeal to external authority, potentially inducing a state of arrested development and childlike dependency through educational and emotional neglect?

The transcending and broadening of the nebulous state begins with that which ought to be a common sense and customary action; the initiatory step being quietly and soberly turning the attention inwards, for this is the gateway to the mysteries and through here we develop the wise man in our hearts.

After we see the substance of our being as clearly as we are able, then we can dance with others on life's stage and move towards greater external harmony. We can project the mystery of self outwards and engage in the yin and yang interchange of life's great theatrical presentation. But we have to know ourselves first, this is essential and the heroes quest - for we have been given the sword of enquiry, and the dragon lurks on the threshold of our own consciousness. Adventure awaits!

And so on and so forth...

Blood From The Shoulder of Pallas written by Alan Moore...

I felt inspired to post this essay. I have owned the book Watchmen for many years and this article appears between chapters and is absolutely magical. Written by the British author 'Alan Moore' and captured using OCR software by me... I hope you enjoy his thoughts.

Is it possible, I wonder, to study a bird so closely, to observe and catalogue its peculiarities in such minute detail, that it becomes invisible? Is it possible that while fastidiously calibrating the span of its wings or the length of its tarsus, we somehow lose sight of its poetry? That in our pedestrian descriptions of a marbled or vermiculated plumage we forfeit a glimpse of living canvases, cascades of carefully toned browns and golds that would shame Kandinsky, misty explosions of color to rival Monet? I believe that we do. I believe that in approaching our subject with the sensibilities of statisticians and dissectionists, we distance ourselves increasingly from the marvelous and spell binding planet of imagination whose gravity drew us to our studies in the first place.

This is not to say that we should cease to establish facts and to verify our information, but merely to suggest that unless those facts can be imbued with the flash of poetic insight then they remain dull gems; semi-precious stones scarcely worth the collecting. When we stare into the catatonic black bead of a Parakeet's eye we must teach ourselves to glimpse the cold, alien madness that Max Ernst perceived when he chose to robe his naked brides in confections of scarlet feather and the transplanted monstrous heads of exotic birds.

When some ocean-going Kite or Tern is captured in the sharp blue gaze of our Zeiss lenses, we must be able to see the stop motion flight of sepia gulls through the early kinetic photographs of Muybridge, beating white wings tracing a slow oscilloscope line through space and time. Looking at a hawk, we see the minute differences in width of the shaft lines on the underfeathers where the Egyptians once saw Horus and the burning eye of holy vengeance incarnate. Until we transform our mere sightings into genuine visions; until our ear is mature enough to order a symphony from the shrill pandemonium of the aviary; until then we may have a hobby, but we shall not have a passion.

When I was a boy, my passion was for owls. During the long summers of the early fifties, while the rest of the country was apparently watching the skies for incoming flying saucers or Soviet missiles, I would hare across the New England fields in the heart of the night, sneakers munching through the dried grass and bracken towards my watch, where I would sit peering upwards in hope of a different sort of spectacle, ears straining for the weird scream that meant an old bird was out combing the dark for sustenance, a mad hermit screech, glaringly distinct from the snoring hiss of a younger owl.

Somewhere over the years; sometime during the yawning expanse between those snug years in the afterglow of a war well won and these current times, huddled in the looming shadow of a war un-winnable; some-place along the line my passion got lost, unwittingly refined from the original gleaming ore down to a banal and lustreless filing system. This gradual tarnishing had gone unnoticed, unchecked, finally calcifying into unthinking habit. It was not until comparatively recently that I managed to catch a dazzling glimpse of the mother-lode through the accumulated dust of methodical study and academia: visiting a sick acquaintance at a hospital in Maine on behalf of a mutual friend, walking back across the shadowy parking lot with my mind reduced to blankness by the various concerns of the day, I suddenly and unexpectedly heard the cry of a hunting owl.

It was a bird advanced in years, its shriek that of a deranged old man, wheeling madly through the dark and freezing sky against the ragged night clouds, and the sound halted me in my footsteps. It is a fallacy to suppose that owls screech to startle their prey from hiding, as some have suggested; the cry of the hunting owl is a voice from Hell, and it turns the scrabbling voles to statues, roots the weasel to the soil. In my instant of paralysis there on the glistening macadam, between the sleeping auto-mobiles, I understood the purpose behind the cry with a biting clarity, the way I'd understood it as a boy, belly flat against the warm summer earth. In that extended and timeless moment, I felt the kinship of simple animal fear along with all those other creatures much smaller and more vulnerable than I who had heard the scream as I had heard it, were struck motionless as I was. The owl was not attempting to frighten his food into revealing itself. Perched with disconcerting stillness upon its branch for hours, drinking in the darkness through dilated and thirsty pupils, the owl had already spotted its dinner. The screech served merely to transfix the chosen morsel, pinning it to the ground with a shrill nail of blind, helpless terror. Not knowing which of us had been selected, I stood frozen along with the rodents of the field, my heart hammering as it waited for the sudden clutch of sharpened steel fingers that would provide my first and only indication that I was the predetermined victim.

The feathers of owls are soft and downy; they make no sound at all as they drop through the dark stratas of the sky. The silence before an owl swoops is a V-Bomb silence, and you never hear the one that hits you.

Somewhere away in the crepuscular gloom beyond the yellow-lit hospital grounds I thought I heard something small emit its ultimate squeal. The moment had passed. I could move again, along with all the relieved, invisible denizens of the tall gass.We were safe.It wasn't screaming for us, not this time.

We could continue with our nocturnal business, with our lives, searching for a meal or a mate. We were not twitching nervelessly in stifling, stinking darkness, head first down the gullet of the swooping horror, our tails dangling pathetically from that vicious scimitar beak for hours before finally our hind legs and pelvic girdle are disgorged, our empty, matted skin curiously inverted by the process.

Although I had recovered my motor abilities in the aftermath of the owl's shriek, I found that my equilibrium was not so easily regained. Some facet of the experience had struck a chord in me, forged a connection between my dulled and jaded adult self and the child who sprawled in faint starlight while the great night hunters staged dramas full of hunger and death in the opaque jet air above me. An urge to experience rather than merely record had been rekindled within me, prompting the thought processes, the self-evaluation that has led to this current article.

As I remarked earlier, this is not to suggest that I immediately foreswore all academic endeavor and research pertaining to the field in order to run away and eke out some naked and primordial existence in the woods. Quite the contrary: I hurled myself into the study of my subject with renewed fervor, able to see the dry facts and arid descriptions in the same transforming magical light that had favoured them when I was younger. A scientific understanding of the beautifully synchronized and articulated motion of an owl's individual feathers during flight does not impede a poetic appreciation of the same phenomenon. Rather, the two enhance each other, a more lyrical eye lending the cold data a romance from which it has long been divorced.

Immersing myself avidly in dusty and long untouched reference books I came across forgotten passages that would make mc almost breathless, dreary-looking tomes that would reveal themselves to be treasure houses of iridescent wonder, I rediscovered many long-lost gems amongst the cobwebs, antique and functional stretches of descriptive prose which nonetheless conveyed the violent and terrible essence of their subject matter effortlessly.

I stumbled once more across T.A. Coward's engrossing account on an encounter with an Eagle Owl: "In Norway I saw a bird that had been taken when in down from the nest, but it not only assumed the typical terrifying attitude, but made frequent dashes at the wire, striking with its feet. It puffed its feathers out, framed its head in its wings, and fired off a volley of loud cracks from its snapping beak, but what struck me most was the scintillating flash of its great orange eyes." Then of course there is Hudson's account of the Magellanic Eagle-Owl which he wounded in Patagonia: "The irides were of a bright orange color, but every time I attempted to approach the bird they kindled into great globes of quivering yellow flame, the black pupils being surrounded by a scintillating crimson light which threw out minute yellow sparks into the air." In long-buried words such as the foregoing I caught some of the searing, apocalyptic intensity that I had felt in that wet hospital parking lot in Maine.

Nowadays, when I observe some specimen of Caine noctua, I try to look past the fine grey down on the toes, to see beyond the white spots arranged in neat lines, like a firework display across its brow. Instead, I try to see the bird whose image the Greeks carved into their coins, sitting patiently at the ear of the Goddess Pallas Athene, silently sharing her immortal wisdom. Perhaps, instead of measuring the feathered tufts surmounting its ears, we should speculate on what those ears may have heard. Perhaps when considering the manner in which it grips its branch, with two toes in front and the reversible outer toe clutching from behind, we should allow ourselves to pause for a moment, and acknowledge that these same claws must once have drawn blood from the shoulder of Pallas.