Alan Moore on Science, Imagination, Language and Spirits of Place



Alan Moore on Science, Imagination, Language and Spirits of Place

Daily Grail Publishing recently released a new anthology, Spirits of Place, featuring a stellar line-up of writers including Alan Moore, Gazelle Amber Valentine, Warren Ellis, Maria J Pérez Cuervo and Iain Sinclair (among many others). We grabbed the opportunity to ask Alan some questions about the fascinating topics discussed in the book, as well as various other subjects ranging from populism to the eternal nature of time. Hey, it's an Alan Moore interview, what did you expect?!
The Daily Grail: Hi Alan, thanks very much for taking time to have a quick chat with us. To begin, I thought it might be worthwhile delving into the topic of the new anthology Spirits of Place, which you are a contributor to. The idea that locations have a 'soul', or in-dwelling 'spirit', is an ancient one, but in modern times it's largely been forgotten. Do you think this is something we, in the 21st century, need to reconnect with?

Alan Moore: We live in a world that is mostly predicated on a rational and scientific worldview, which effectively means that any phenomenon beyond the physically measureable is automatically deemed non-existent, including souls, gods, ghosts and human consciousness. While I would agree that we need to recover the psychological connection that once existed between ourselves and our environment – because to do otherwise is to render us all pointless automata in a material world which, by its own admission, has no direction or purpose – I would say that the problem could be more sharply defined if we put aside contentious terms like ‘soul’ or ‘spirit’, and instead opted for the less vague but just as scientifically problematic term ‘meaning’. If by coming to know more about the historical or mythological aspects of the places in which we live we make those places more meaningful, to us at least, then I suggest that this will lead to experiencing ourselves as more meaningful in our new, illuminated context.

The big difference between ‘meaning’ and ‘a spirit’ is that where meaning is concerned, we have to do all the necessary hard work in order to invest that place or that person or that object with meaning, whereas spirits just sort of turn up, don’t they? I believe that our world is gloriously haunted with meaning; that it’s we ourselves that are doing the haunting; and that we should be doing more of it, or doing it more strenuously.

In an era where supposedly hard material reality seems to shift more like vapour with every passing day, I think it becomes more evident that timeless and unchanging mythology is the actual solid bedrock on which our flimsy and temporary human realities are briefly erected. Whether you call it soul or spirit or meaning, it is the Real, as opposed to this spasming neo-conservative monetarist/materialist dream that we’re all required to share, and if we care about having a meaningful world in which to lead meaningful lives then we should all try harder to reinvest our environments with the meaning that belligerent materialism has sucked out of them.