Moore on Lovecraft

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From The Quietus, Nick Talbot , August 31st, 2014:

Towards the end of a recent interview with Alan Moore on his relationship with the writer Iain Sinclair our conversation drifted towards another topic: Moore’s upcoming Lovecraftian work Providence. A huge number of writers, including Ramsey Campbell, Colin Wilson, Steven King and Robert Bloch have contributed to the ‘Cthulhu Mythos’, the shared fictional world created by H.P. Lovecraft, in a tradition Lovecraft himself encouraged via voluminous correspondence with younger acolytes. As a result of his creative generosity, Lovecraft occupies a rare status as a writer whose vision has taken on a life of its own. While much written work suffers a reductive blow when undergoing adaptation, by respectfully borrowing elements from Lovecraft’s world, new comics, games and films contribute to its expansion, and the Cthulhu Mythos creeps further into popular culture every year.

Yet Lovecraft has rarely been judged a good writer, and many decades of critical derision – often objecting to his tendency for baroque adjectives – relegated him to the status of an eccentric hack in an already ghettoised genre. But as the Cthulhu cult became too popular to ignore, the last decade has seen a growing stream of Zeitgeist-wary cultural theorists publishing analytical works focusing on various aspects of his vast imagination, and Lovecraft is now finally taken seriously as a writer of ideas.

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The Aylett Project: Rachel Kendall Interviews Bill Ectric

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Rachel Kendall of Sein und Werden interviewed me about the new collection of essays on the work of Steve Aylett, edited by me and D. Harlan Wilson. Here’ an excerpt:

Rachel Kendall: A number of writers in the anthology refer to Aylett as a writers’ writer. What does that mean to you, and do you think it is significant?
Bill Ectric: Serious writers do a lot of reading. We pay attention to style, theme, and plot. We’ve seen just about every variation of theme and plot imaginable. We’ve seen detailed flowery prose and terse compact sentences; romanticism, realism, modernism, postmodernism, and all manner of genres and sub-genres. Steve Aylett, apparently bored with what’s gone before, moves past it all, often in a humorous way. Other writers get it. It’s not that he disdains what has come before him, he just doesn’t want to read what seems to him as the same books over and over again. Here’s one example: A few years ago I got interested in astronomer/alchemist John Dee and his working relationship with spirit medium/occultist Edward Kelley. I read books, articles, and essays on these men. Much later, in the Appendix to Aylett’s Shamanspace, I found a single sentence that cracked me up with laughter, because it summarized everything I’d read about Dee and Kelley with, “Elizabethan alchemist John Dee witnessed the scarab star of god blooming with a creak from the wooden table at Clerkenwell – a vision immediately waylaid by the arrival of unwitting holy man Edward Kelley who wasted years of Dee’s time with useless signs and wonders.” It was like, that’s all you need to know! You know?  If I call someone a “guitarist’s guitarist” it means that because I play the guitar, I can see just what they are doing, even though I can’t do it myself. Maybe I can learn to do it, but I would have never thought of it.

Adventure Time

Adventure Time collage

Adventure Time might be the hippest cartoon on television. The art and animation are the stuff of dreams, the writing is witty (sometimes hilarious), but those two givens are only the beginning.

Amid the zany adventures are moments of adolescent angst and parental regret, and sublimely understated songs that display a talent for lyrics, melody, and musicianship. The duet between Marceline and Ice King in season five’s “I Remember You,” is more stunningly poignant than any Disney movie song I can think of. And check out where Marceline could have been strumming the guitar, but someone made the unusual decision to make it a subtle jazz bass riff.

The people behind Adventure Time also know a thing or two about the literary experiments of counterculture movements like The Beats,  the jazz poets, and Hip Hop. In “Thanks for the Crabapples, Giuseppe” (the thirteenth episode of the sixth season), Ice King and a band of misfit wizards take a road trip in a bus with the goal of creating their own secret society. The bus driver asserts that this trip will be “a destiny will guide us kind of thing.” That, and the wacky assortment of characters on the bus, made me think of the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour (1967), which, in turn, was inspired by Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters, whose mission in the mid-sixties was to drive across the United States in a multi-color, hand-painted bus, spreading peace, love, music, and psychedelic shenanigans wherever they went. Check out the three Nymphs, whose bodies seem to be made of flowing water. It is a beautifully trippy effect.

At one point, the bus stops and all the passengers engage in writing poetry on rolls of toilet paper, which I take as a reference the continuous scroll of paper that Jack Kerouac used to write On the Road so his words could flow like improvisational jazz.  The character known as Abracadaniel says, “Let’s all write down arcane, cryptic words in unexpected new combinations and patterns.” Kerouac’s friend, William S. Burroughs, was known for recombining words with the “cut up” technique invented by Brion Gysin.

Notice that these wizard activities involve writing. Writer Alan Moore  has said, “In all of magic, there is an incredibly large linguistic component.” When Peter Bebergal  interviewed Moore for The Believer magazine, Moore said, “I don’t think there’s really any difference between art—or writing, or music—and magic. I particularly draw the link between magic and writing. I think that they are profoundly connected” and “The central art of enchantment is weaving a web of words around somebody.”

Several episodes on Adventure Time feature characters rapping, beatboxing, and dancing. Finn does a beatbox rhythm to keep the beat for a song sung by Marceline in It Cames From the Nightosphere (Season 2, Episode 1). In “Billy’s Bucket List” (from the fifth season) Finn and Rap Bear compete in an onstage “rap battle.” Even the shows that don’t include rap and beatboxing are informed by a kind of Hip Hop vibe. Characters say “That’s how we roll” and “let’s bust it” and various other slang terms like “I’ma,” meaning “I’m going to,” as when the Ice King is angry about not being invited to a party. He says, “They’re gonna do me like that? So I’ma do them like this!” (From “Princess Potluck,” the eighteenth episode in the fifth season).

I’m sure Adventure Time isn’t the only animated series that meets my description of “hip,” with its postmodern approach and heartfelt enthusiasm, but to me, its the best one.

Moore Movie News

From The Guardian, Alan Moore tells Tom Lamont  why he turned his back on Hollywood. Lamont says, “The short film Moore scripted, premiered online last month, is called Jimmy’s End, an unsettling and richly realised story about the underworld that’s directed by fellow Northamptonian Mitch Jenkins. It was shot in a working men’s club in town, and features Moore in a brief cameo.”

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AylettVison Goes Online

My edit of Steve Aylett’s LINT THE MOVIE can now be seen in its entirety HERE.

Starring Alan Moore, Stewart Lee, Josie Long, Steve Aylett, Robin Ince, Jeff Vandermeer, D Harlan Wilson, Andrew O’Neill, Vessel (Mister Solo/David Devant), Bill Ectric, Mitzi Szereto, Spencer Pate, Mo Ali and others, LINT THE MOVIE documents the life and work of cult SF author and philosopher Jeff Lint, creator of some of the strangest and most inconvenient works of the 20th century.

Featuring clips from Lint’s books, cartoons, music, comics and films, the movie follows the writer’s life from the days of vintage pulp, psychedelia, dangerous theater, and his disastrous scripts for Star Trek and Patton. Commentary by those who knew and read him create a compelling portrait of the creator of Clowns and Insects, Jelly Result, The Stupid Conversation, the Caterer comic, and Catty and the Major, the scariest kids’ cartoon ever aired. Based on Steve Aylett’s books ‘LINT’ and ‘And Your Point Is?’

http://www.steveaylett.com