Sunday, December 1, 2013

Alan Moore and Me


I just yesterday finished Lance Parkin's biography of Alan Moore Magic Words. Its not my usual sort of book. I complained on twitter about quite how much comics industry history and politics was in the first 200 pages. You may well argue, that given Alan Moore is a comic's legend, I should have expected this. You'd have a fair point.

Anyway, I'm very glad I read it.

As far as comics go, I'm ignorant. The last comic I bought was Whizzer and Chips about 40 years ago. So until I did this post, An idiot's Guide to Money - 3. Burning Money Alan Moore was unknown to me. I'd been searching the internet for commentary on the K-Foundation's burning of a million quid (detailed in John Higgs' awesome book The KLF: Chaos, Magic and the Band who Burned a Million Pounds - an ideal Christmas present for anybody interested in being alive) when I came across a paragraph by Alan Moore who was described as a Writer & Occultist. I liked that he mentioned Newton, Blake and Charity in relation to the burning (although it wasn't Newton pictured on the £50 notes - he was on £1 notes) but stupidly I didn't bother to find out any more about Moore.

This is a shame because I feel certain that had I caught sight of Lost Girls his sexually explicit graphic novel the little Alan Moore ball-bearings rolling around the puzzle game of my mind would have slotted straight into the appropriate holes. All that sex, money and pornography stuff has been a bit of a thing for me

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I wanted to share this with you. According to the biography Alan Moore had prepared himself well for dealing with any negative reaction Lost Girls might elicit. As it turns out it was received very positively. But the line of defence he presents in this comment is unbreakable.
'Even porn's most uncompromising and vociferous feminist critic, Andrea Dworkin, has conceded that benign pornography might be conceivable, even if she considered such a thing highly unlikely. Given that we don't want "bad pornography" and can't have "no pornography", it's in this mere suggestion of the possibility of "good pornography" that the one ray of light in an intractable debate resides.'
Alan Moore quoted in Lance Parkin Magic Words - the Extraordinary Life of Alan Moore (2013) p. 345

I'll write more about that sex/money nexus in the future. I'm not ready for it yet. It's my wedding anniversary today and eight months since Sally and I separated. When I feel able to say something meaningful about sex and money, and I can bear the pain of doing so honestly, I'll put pen to paper. For the moment, here very briefly are the two keys things that reading about Alan Moore's Lost Girls experience triggered in me.

Firstly, there is something of an untold story about naturalsex. Our intention was to create 'good pornography' like Alan Moore says, but I intended to drive a proliferation of this 'good pornography' model by creating a 'digital sex currency' - which I called x. I did a business plan and even got an offer of funding - in fact, I managed to get a piece in a venture capital magazine. But it all came to naught, in the end. There were a lot of very appealing distractions.

And secondly, I felt some affinity with Alan Moore and his experience of making Lost Girls public. The first big thing for us was doing the Observer piece with Simon Garfield. We rehearsed our justifications and our 'moral' position. But like Alan Moore, we needn't have worried. Friends and family were amazing about it. It was acknowledged, then ignored. Which was pretty much a perfect reaction. I do remember hearing about one LSE classmate (who was religious) annoyed that I was 'wasting' my life, presumably after getting a proper education. But that was about it for negative reaction. People seem to like 'good pornography'.

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Enough with the sex thing, already.

There was another theme to the book. It's in the title Magic Words but its not something that is hugely emphasised within the book. However, its clear that Alan Moore thinks there is some very special connection between words and Value (substitute your own word for value if you like - God, Magic, Cosmos, Universal Consciousness, etc).  

I think that too. But I've found it impossible to write about. More tricky than sex. I was actually intending to approach it in part three of this essay Insane Prices, Crazy Money but only part one ever saw the light of day and I subsequently abandoned the attempt.

I do keep coming back there though. There's a lot of work I've not read on semiotics and the like. And clearly my hero Marc Shell (with his Money, Language and Thought) inhabits this sort of universe. I remember John Higgs in his Horse Hospital talk saying that the links between language, consciousness and reality are very important in Robert Anton Wilson's work. I have a limited knowledge of RAW's work, but I do know that he was a fan of Alfred Korzybski; author of the dictum 'the map is not the territory' (a quick wiki reveals that this phrase links to Robert Pirsig too).

But I still have this feeling that you can't really write about words and Value. Words about words, are a map of the map. They actually you further away from the territory you want to know.

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Another thing that the book has prompted in me is a desire to finish off a little project I started in the summer. Alan Moore has a fancy stick and I want one too.

This is my stick. Its been around for ages since (I think) Sally picked it up from a welsh beach. I started sanding it down in the long evenings with the idea of making it into a walking stick. 

I came up with a few ideas about design. I found out that with a soldering iron I can easily inscribe it. So I thought it would be nice to create a little motif using the phrase 'Money is the and between the One and the Many' (link)

I also thought it would be really neat to inlay a coin into the handle. You can't really see it in the picture but there is a nice round flat surface at the top which fits nicely in the palm of your hand. 

And I have the perfect coin !

This is my lucky coin. I've had it since I was a child (about 7 if I remember correctly) and it was always my favourite in my coin collection. 


I could tell you a story about the lead-shot marks.

I even took the stick back with me to Wales this summer to ensure it was full to the brim with magical energy. I revisited a few of the places where my grandfather had painted pictures in and around the coastal village of New Quay. I was staying just a few hundred yards from where he painted this one that's currently hanging on the wall above my head.

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I also retraced his steps to where he painted the picture below - the bridge at Llanina.


This is what it looked like in summer 2013.


Anyway, I've skewed off my Alan Moore theme, and slipped into writing a post I meant to do just after returning from holiday, but never got round to. 

If I had got round to it, I would have played up the Dylan Thomas connection. There's a few people who now think that Under Milk Wood was mostly about New Quay and its residents (you can read about the theory of David Thomas [LSE alumni so he must be correct] here). My Grandfather used to drink with Dylan (as did every drunk in the village) although I never got to hear the stories first hand as he died before I was born.

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So yes. Alan Moore. Magic Words. Dylan Thomas. I guess it ends neatly after all.


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