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Alan Moore: why I turned my back on Hollywood

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Author Topic: Alan Moore: why I turned my back on Hollywood  (Read 91 times)
Rachel Dearth
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« on: December 20, 2012, 05:23:42 pm »

Moore has disavowed the lot – at a personal cost, he has guessed, of more than £1m. He hates being coerced, whatever the financial incentive, and it may well be something in the blood. His great-grandfather Ginger, the hard-drinking cartoonist, was at the turn of the 20th century offered the chance to become the director of a glass company in town, Moore claims. He was told: "You'll make millions! The only condition is that you stay out the pub for two weeks." The answer, inevitably, was no; and Vernon spent the rest of his life walking past the mansion of the man who took the job.

"But I'm immensely proud of that. Turning something down because it wasn't what you wanted to do. This stuff… it's probably in the genes."

Imagination, says Moore, is like a muscle. "If you work on it, it gets bigger." After four decades, though, it might be possible to have overworked it. Moore hardly knows where to put his ideas anymore.

Not content to have made Jimmy's End and its prologue Act of Faith, he has thought up all sorts of surplus fantasies that might flavour future episodes set in the same world. He has taken the time to write a fictional radio show that could feature at some stage, and with his daughter Amber has invented a computer game that might get a mention. He's come up with a line of energy drinks. Also a social network.

"I overreach. It could be something to do with being the cleverest boy in the world at the age of 10. But what I want to do is blur the lines between what's real and what's made up."

There has been, surely, a blurring in what's real and what's made up about Moore himself: that he's a recluse, that he's a magician. You alight the train in Northampton expecting to seek out a Salinger-like sourpuss, or else to find an Aleister Crowley figure chalking pentangles on the platform. Instead you meet a man who is warm and obliging and wears a purple hoodie. Moore is patently eager to show off Northampton, and to explain what it means to him, and is unembarrassed about grooming his vast mane in front of an audience – an extraordinary production, by the way, the whole thing brought down in a canopy over his face for combing before a middle parting is found and the hair is eased apart like heavy drapes.

He chats continuously, about homeopathy and Lemsip, CSI: Miami and the burning car murderer Alfie Rouse ("a local favourite"). "I think I'm quite gregarious," he says, approximately 100 minutes into conversation, bashful about it and pulling in his chin so that his beard folds up on to his chest. He wears a long, heavy ring on his finger that looks, at a glance, as if it might be related to the magic stuff; in fact it is his wedding band, self-designed and inset with a pair of teardrop opals.

This business of being a practising magician, which he first announced in the 1990s (about the time his beard started to grey, and he got the snake-shaped stick). Is it for real, or is he playing? "It's a major part of how I see the world. Looking like I do, halfway to Gandalf before I've put a foot out the door, you've got to diffuse… " And for once, Moore fails to find an eloquent end to his sentence. He tries again: "There is an element of playing. But what's behind it is very serious."

Pick a card, any card? No, says Moore, it's not about tricks. To him it's about consciousness – and quickly he gets away on a tangent about the limits of the mind, flitting through Freud, Alan Turing, Paracelsus and Twelfth Night before arriving at an explanation that makes reasonable sense. Moore sees magic as a form of meditation, an outlet for his seriously vivid imagination.

"Do I believe, for example, that by using magic I could fly? No. How would you get around gravity? Impossible. Do I believe that I might be able to project my consciousness into a very, very vivid simulation of flying? Yeah. Yes, I've done that. Yes, that works."

Does it require that you take… "Sometimes you have to take drugs, yes. Sometimes you can do it with dreaming. Sometimes you can do it with a creative act. Writing is a very focused form of meditation. Just as good as sitting in a lotus position."

When another of Moore's old computer keyboards was put up for auction on eBay, last year, the seller hazarded that it "may contain otherworldy powers". It went for £461, despite having a faulty Z key. Walking in Northampton, Moore explains that his old keyboards have ended up on eBay, or in that museum in Charleroi, because he has had to decommission so many of them. He currently writes on an industrial-strength keyboard made of metal, properly meant for use in foundries and conflict zones. The plastic sort used to last him a few months before melting under the constant spray of cigarette ash, or otherwise breaking from overuse.

He has been bashing away on a novel, he says, a book that like his film shorts is set in Northampton. Almost finished, it is called Jerusalem and rings in at about 600,000 words – longer than the Bible, he says, delighted if not a little concerned that having typed it all with single digits he has worn away the tips of his index fingers. As Moore strolls on he lets his imagination stroll too – thinking aloud about the crimes someone in his position might now commit without fear of detection. There could be a murder involving two stiff fingers to the victim's temple, for example…
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