Taggrant morrison

Review: The Invisibles: Say You Want a Revolution

the invisibles evocation of john lennon

The Invisibles: Say You Want a Revolution.

(Disclosure: this review was commissioned by the R/evolutionary Culture Shop)

The Invisibles is a psychedelic sci-fi series about a team of anarchist freedom fighters who employ time travel, magic, martial arts, and drugs in their battle against the tyrannous Outer Church. King Mob, the group’s leader, explains: “We want to show people how to make their own exits, even if they have to use dynamite… We’re trying to pull off a track that’ll result in everyone getting exactly the kind of world they want. Everyone including the enemy.”

Grant Morrison, a Scottish comic book writer, is fond of explaining that he wrote the Invisibles in response to his alien abduction experience in Kathmandu in the 1994. He also calls it a “hypersigil,” a form of magical fiction. Morrison says that he strongly identified with the King Mob character and found that the by incorporating real aspects of his life in the series, he could make fictional aspects of the series bleed into his own life. When the series was almost canceled, he encouraged readers to use a chaos magic technique to save the series. Apparently, it worked and he was able to finish the series as planned.

The first volume begins in modern times, with the Invisibles recruiting Jack Frost – a teenage delinquent from Liverpoor who may be the next Buddha. Frost’s first mission involves accompanying the team back in time to rescue the Marquis de Sade from prison during the French revolution. Later volumes continue to sprawl backwards and forwards in time, with characters’ actions from different time periods reverberating throughout history.

Although the Invisibles begins as a romantic “good guys vs. bad guys” story, the lines begin to blur as Morrison deconstructs issues such as conformity, activism, and violence. Brilliantly complex and inherently mind altering, the Invisibles is a countercultural “must read.”

Buy The Invisibles: Say You Want a Revolution from the R/evolutionary Culture Shop.

What values can occultists call their own?

I’d love to get some feedback from Klint’s wonderful community and readership here, especially those who happen to have experience in design, marketing, and business. After some discussions with fellow designer, Coe, who himself has an esoteric streak, I’ve been considering some issues that might be keeping the contemporary spiritual movement that is the occult subculture (and its legion of niche cultures and interests) from reaching its potential in North America (and possibly Europe).

First to address is whether being different is something that the members of the occult community thrives on, in and of itself. Personally, I’ve noticed differences between the persons I know involved in the esoteric arts. I’ll call them the Few for brevity’s sake. There are the goth shops that stock the books on magic that I’ll visit if I’m too eager to wait for an Amazon shipment. While the books and knowledge are the factors that draw me to their locale, the people and artefacts that are sold there are of no interest to me and, in fact, sell a stereotype that I find repugnant. (Sadly, the books in my section are the cultural accessories to the majority of wares they huck: clothing, hair dye, witchcraft gobbledygook, incense, shoddy pewter jewellery, and punky goth paraphernalia.)

There’s also the New Age shops that huck their own brand, though with a more aligned focus to the ultimate goal of spiritual exploration: crystals, incense, oils, lame calendars with ooh-ahh paintings on them, CDs, cheesy T-shirts, et cetera.

So all this material would be the halo effect, as it’s referred to in marketing. Unfortunately, goth and witch cultures seem to have let the accessories take the focus away from the core cultural values that spawned them in the first place. Which leads me to wonder what state does the North American occult community find itself.

Now, keep in mind that I’ve worked in design for a number of years and now currently work as a brand consultant. What most people don’t understand about brands is that they are what the people say they are, not what the companies wish to define them as.

This is an interesting point to get across because persons that decide to hate a particular brand are projecting their own form of identity by hating on the brands that rub them the wrong way. The little mental boxes in your mind that you used to define that brand is neurologically linked to other elements that you associate with in your life that you use to define what you’re not. Sadly, by choosing one’s enemies, like I see in these books and posts about “occult warfare,” fans of this thinking do themselves the disservice of filling in all the boxes they dislike. The mental boxes (or mental white space) that remains moulds personal self-identification with the cultural or experiential leftovers that haven’t been already commandeered by others.

Rarely do I see popular subculture movements hijack and infiltrate the mainstream in order to spread their art among the masses. The Few that become self-inflicted prisoners, bound by the things they refuse, begin to wrap these leftover ideas into its own mishmash subculture. Then they get mad when the mainstream adopts and makes it their own. Think of punk culture adopting military garb as their own, or the Barbie girls out there that seem to be standardised with a back-ass tattoo and pierced bellybutton and tongue.

This brings up the universal archetype known as the Elixir. In Joseph Campbell’s monomyth one of the necessary traits of a Hero is to enter the underworld and return to the masses with a so-called Elixir. The Elixir is wisdom. And I define wisdom as knowledge + experience.

“It is important that art is produced, but it also has to be consumed. The dynamics of producers and consumers is the motor of art.” Turkish caricaturist Ercan Akyol said that, and it remains true in all elements of life (unless you’re pursuing a Zen-like knowledge of the self, in some cave somewhere, by choice.) But think of art in this case as a the Elixir of wisdom, this knowledge and experience that is being hoarded by one group or the next, but rarely shared across borders. Borders who’re really only being defined by these little, semantic boxes we build in our heads: aka brands.

One of my favourite things that Grant Morrison says during his well-known Disinfo talk has nothing to do with sigils or his writing. It’s that he’s wearing a Donna Karan suit. Then he spills his drink on it and cheerfully laughs, “Fuck it!” The suit is a beautiful piece, and it serves its purpose. It’s Morrison’s mask magic at work. He doesn’t avoid fashion as a vice of contemporary life, but embraces it and uses it as a magical tool in his everyday life-experiencing what a fine garment can elicit in others, and how that attention can be embraced.

Rollo May says, in Man’s Search for Himself, “The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice… it is conformity.” Whom among us have conformed to our particular set of friends? Their expectations of us, our subcultures’, or our families’? Why? Like Morrison, laugh out loud, “Fuck ’em!” I want everyone reading this right now to say to themselves, three times, Fuck occultism, fuck conspiracies, fuck the little boxes in my head that keep me from exploring the things I simply believe I hate.

And on that, as I digress from my initial hope to encourage some feedback to better a conversation I am having with Coe and sometimes with Rev Max, I leave you with two quotes to encourage some thought on this matter. But remember, they apply when you embrace the lifestyle of a Hero yourself. The archetypal Underworld in many a case might just be the very mainstream that so many so-called “occultists” tend to avoid and dismay. It is that very nightmare I encourage you to embrace! Learn to flirt, learn to dress up as much as you might desire to dress down, and truly put Robert Anton Wilson’s and Ramsey Duke’s ideas to work:

“It’s amazing how much panic one honest man can spread among a multitude of hypocrites.”
-Thomas Sowell

“A few harmless flakes working together can unleash an avalanche of destruction.”

Grant Morrison talks about Batman

I haven’t read a Grant Morrison interview in a while… here he is talking about his work on Batman, including a good dig on Frank Miller:

Well, I still intend to do ‘Miller’-style first person narrative captions which give some insight into Batman’s thought processes but it seems more ‘realistic’ to imagine Batman as a hardcore fightin’ man who wouldn’t even notice his injuries until long after the fight was over, so no more of that ‘MY BACK SPLINTERS INTO A THOUSAND SHARDS OF AGONIZED BONE. HE’S GOOD. HE’S YOUNG. HE’S TOUGHER AND YOUNGER THAN ME. AND TOUGHER. DID I MENTION TOUGHER ? MUSN’T BLACK OUT…’ In Batman #657 we see some of the pulp noir narration and non sequitur imagery that goes through Batman’s mind during a fight and keeps him from being distracted by his aches and pains.

There’s some preview images as well (though the issue being previewed’s actually out already).


Two New Grant Morrison Interviews

Pop Thought interview Morrison on the craft of writing:

I wrote The Invisibles Vol 1 issue 23 on my living room couch, hallucinating, and dying of MRSA-related septicaemia, (those cranky descriptions of demons and the crystal crown biting into Mister Six’s head and the Gnostic Christ saying ‘I am not the God of your fathers…’ were scrawled notes from the delirious no-man’s land between life and giving up) and the following issue was written from a hospital ward, waiting to hear if the near-fatal staph aureus infection I’d contracted had spread to my heart. I was there for two weeks, working as often as I could between tests and treatment, with the intention of writing myself out of trouble (as a mad sidebar, after beating off the infection with the aid of antibiotics, I became inexplicably obsessed with eating raw carrots for the remainder of my stay in hospital – only to find out last week that staph aureus – ‘golden’ staphylococcus – gets its distinctive color from carotene. I must have been so stuffed to the fucking guts with carotene-pigmented bastards when the bacteria was swarming through me that I went into withdrawal for the stuff when the bugs were finally wiped out!).

And Silver Bullet interviews him about his current and future DC projects:

I’m armpit-deep in the “52” project which I’m plotting and writing along with Geoff Johns, Mark Waid, Greg Rucka and Keith Giffen with JG Jones on covers, I see this project as the first ‘album’ from DCs first creative ‘super group’ and it’s been the most fun I’ve had in this business to date. I just got back from a series of incredible creative summits in New York and couldn’t believe the energy, imagination and refreshing lack of prima donna ego bullshit on show. “52” is being planned meticulously and written like a TV drama. Based on the material we’ve got so far, I think this project will break new ground for mainstream comics and I can’t imagine any other company being capable of anything like it right now, so it’s going to be very unique and absorbing read, squeezing down four years of continuity into one. It’s the first real, full-length ‘graphic novel’ about superheroes and is likely to change the way we think of what can be done with them.

Preview of Grant Morrison’s All Star Superman

All Star Superman preview.

Interesting sketches by Frank Quietly and quotes by Grant Morrison.

(both links via plasticbag.org where you’ll also find a discussion about the “S” design).

A Grant Morrison Q&A I’m not sure I’ve read.

Update: The book is out now.

There’s only one generation

Thinking about generational issues made me dig up this old Grant Morrison quote from the online Filth letters pages. In response to someone talking about “the next generation” of magicians, Morrison says “THERE’S ONLY ONE GENERATION. I’M GLAD TO SEE THAT IT NEVER DIES.”

Crack! Comics letter page

An Idiot’s Guide to Dreaming: the Invisibles

Nice review:

For one thing it’s sort of about Everything and Nothing, only Everything isn’t as far reaching as you thought and Nothing seems like a crowd. It’s also weird because the main characters aren’t really the point; often they’re annoying stereotypical, sometimes spectacularly dated – one of the ‘heroes’, King Mob, mostly looks like the planks who used to Socialist Work and then spend hundreds of $$$ on fetish wear and urban-primitive chin-spiking chic.

No, The Invisibles works because of the bits inbetween and the characters that circle the main fray; the gaps between the stories are where Grant Morrison really opens up. One segment humanises the nameless baddy hordes with a slice of life from one of the Conspiracy foot soldiers… imagine seeing a Stormtrooper coming home for tea, wifely kisses and grief over his autistic children.

Full Story: An Idiot’s Guide to Dreaming: the Invisibles

Grant Morrison Discusses Forthcoming Superman Project

Grant Morrison will be doing a new monthly Superman comic called All Star Superman this June. Wow, with David Lapham on Detective Comics and Peter Milligan on X-Men, that means I’ll be buying Superman, Batman and X-Men comics every month. Weird. Now they need to get Alan Moore or Neil Gaiman on Green Lantern…

Full Story: Newsarama

Grant Morrison Stuff on Pop Image

I was just going to add this as a comment to the earlier Grant Morrison interview, but I think there’s enough going on here to warrant its own post. Grant Morrison interview:

‘Sigil’ as a word is out of date. All this magic stuff needs new terminology because it’s not what people are being told it is at all. It’s not all this wearying symbolic misdirection that’s being dragged up from the Victorian Age, when no-one was allowed to talk plainly and everything was in coy poetic code. The world’s at a crisis point and it’s time to stop bullshitting around with Qabalah and Thelema and Chaos and Information and all the rest of the metaphoric smoke and mirrors designed to make the rubes think magicians are ‘special’ people with special powers. It’s not like that. Everyone does magic all the time in different ways. ‘Life’ plus ‘significance’ = magic. See Pop Mag!c for more.

Perhaps “Hyperstition“?

There’s also an interview with Human Traffic writer Craig McGill who is working on a biography of Morrison.

Grant comes from Govan – which is a hellhole in Glasgow. It’s truly one of the most deprived parts of the city and also the country – terrible housing, squalor. I mean politicians have written off a lot of these people – something for which I think some of them should be brought up on charges of dereliction of duty for. Not many go to
University, many more end up with drug habits, poor health. For many, social aspirations is getting their next benefit cheque or being a drug dealer. Basically, there’s not much hope and what there is can be snuffed out by day-to-day life. That’s not to say there’s not a lot of good people there – there are, but the environment they are in stacks the odds against them.

Grant came from that and more or less off his own back, is now mingling with celebrities and is relatively comfortable. Don’t get me wrong, he probably couldn’t afford to stop working tomorrow and never type again, but he owns a quality house and is certainly doing a lot better than many from his generation. In his own way he’s a role model. He shows that there’s a way out. You can live your dreams, even if you can’t go down the traditional route of being a sportsman. We should be shouting about people like Grant from the rooftops. He’s the boy who done good. Now I know he’s not unique by any stretch of the imagination in that regard, but it never hurts to highlight another success tale.

And there’s also an interview with the Filth artist Chris Weston and a review of Anarchy for the Masses

Somewhat Recent Grant Morrison Interview

Good stuff:

We countercultural luminaries all tend to hang out together at seminars and summits all round the world so I’ve known Doug for years (he was a fan of The Invisibles and I loved his Cyberia book, so we hit it off fairly quickly) and met Gen at the Disinfo Convention in 2000, when we were both speakers and felt like I’d known him all my life. The book we talked about doing together wasn’t Pop Mag!ck (that’s the name of the book I’m currently writing about the new magical system I’ve developed over the last twenty five years of occult practice) but the brief idea was for us all to get high on Ketamine and talk about the universe until a book of discussions popped out. I’ll be seeing Doug again soon at the Omega Institute workshops in August so we’ll probably get moving on this again in some form.

Open Buddha: Grant Morrison Interview

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