Alan Moore's Space-Time Gods

William Blake, Jerusalem (1804-1820; Plate 100). Image Source: Jechidah.

In the latest issue of The Believer*, Alan Moore was interviewed about his forthcoming novel, Jerusalem, which will be around 600,000 words long when completed. It will likely be finished by the end of this year. Part social realism, part fantasy, Moore described his book not in terms of genre, but in terms of time and its relation to godhood and art. In Moore's terms, time is magic, and magic is art. Therefore, time is art, and both are semi-divine. This may explain why we regard the greatest artworks as 'timeless'; and why a god can be defined as an entity that exists beyond time. Here is an excerpt from the Believer's interview, wherein Moore talks about these ideas and unsurprisingly turns the commandment against graven images on its head when he ties these ideas to art:

AM: Pretty much all of the book is predicated upon the assumption, which seems to be implicit in the work of most modern physicists since Einstein, that we inhabit a universe that has at least four spatial dimensions. There are three dimensions that we are conventionally aware of, and there is a fourth dimension, which is also a spatial dimension, but we don't perceive it as that. We perceive the distances of the fourth dimension as the passage of time. If I understand it correctly, I believe our entire continuum is at least a four-dimensional solid in which time is not passing, where every moment that ever existed or will exist is suspended, forever unchanging, from within this immense solid of space-time. And therefore the passage of time is an illusion that is only apparent to us as we move through this huge solid along what we perceive as the time axis.

BELIEVER: Where do you think human consciousness fits into that? Is it somehow separate from it?

AM: If time is an illusion, then all movement and change are also illusions. So the only thing that gives us the illusion of movement and change and events and time is the fact that our consciousness is moving through this mass along the time axis. If you imagine it as a strip of celluloid, each of those individual cells is motionless. If they each represent a moment, they're unchanging. They're not going anywhere, but as the projector beam of our consciousness passes across them, it provides the illusion of movement, and narrative and cause and effect and circumstances.

BELIEVER: You also believe that we can change the aperture of that projector through various processes like magic or other ways of shaping consciousness.

AM: Yeah, our view of reality, the one we conventionally take, is one among many. It's pretty much a fact that our entire universe is a mental construct. We don't actually deal with reality directly. We simply compose a picture of reality from what's going on in our retinas, in the timpani of our ears, and in our nerve endings. We perceive our own perception, and that perception is to us the entirety of the universe. I believe magic is, on one level, the willful attempt to alter those perceptions. Using your metaphor of an aperture, you would be widening that window or changing the angle consciously, and seeing what new vistas it affords you.

BELIEVER: Is magic's most authentic expression through the creative imagination?

AM: Actually, art and magic are pretty much synonymous. ... The central art of enchantment is the creation of gods and the creation of mythology, or the kind in the practice of magic, what I believe one is essentially doing is creating metafictions. It's creating fictions that are so complex and so self-referential that for all practical intents and purposes they almost seem to be alive. That would be one of my definitions of what a god might be. It is a concept that has become so complex, sophisticated, and so self-referential that it appears to be aware of itself. We can't say that it definitely is aware of itself, but then again we can't really say that about even our fellow human beings.

BELIEVER: But we can tell stories about the god being aware of itself.

AM: Yes, and to some degree, ontologically, the creation of a metaphysical being actually is that metaphysical being. If gods and entities are conceptual creatures, which I believe they are self-evidently, then the concept of a god is a god. An image of a god is the god - a little closer at hand.

*Alan Moore Interview: "Hey, You Can Just Make Stuff Up," The Believer #99 (13 June 2013): pp. 46-53.

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