Monday, March 8

landscape

Alan Moore, interviewed at ADD:

And that kind of analysis, I thought, by looking at a murder, an extreme human event, with that kind of eye, it struck me that we might be able to say something general about the wider human situation. And the same thing goes for Voice Of The Fire in a slightly different way. With Voice Of The Fire, as I say, it's not an attempt so much to prove that Northampton is the epicenter of the universe, although I fervently believe that to be true, it's more a case of putting the point that anywhere, where we are located, that the landscape around us, wherever that might be, is much richer and bigger and stranger and more wonderful than we've previously believed it to be. With From Hell, I was trying to cast a perceptive eye of murder as a human situation, and what that meant about human beings and society and English culture and, with Voice Of The Fire, I think that I was looking at place, at landscape, at where we are standing now, but, again, with a kind of an eye very much influenced by some of my recent magical thinking. I think that perhaps is what links the two books together.

The idea that "anywhere, where we are located, that the landscape around us, wherever that might be, is much richer and bigger and stranger and more wonderful than we've previously believed it to be". I dig that. It seems true when I can muster the attention.

Even in Nebraska?

Well, maybe. The layers here are different. Less human history has beaten itself into the landscape than in a place like Northampton. I'm not knocking, say, Otoe or Ponca or Pawnee history for value, I'm just talking about sheer density and duration — you've got to figure there's more human history by sheer volume in a day's worth of New York City than in most Nebraskan years. But there's still a landscape with all kinds of homo sapiens sapiens imposed shape to it, and under that there are other things. I always thought that my high school science teacher was wrong when he said again and again that nothing is boring, but what he was halfway getting at (while dismissing our complaints about mindless work) is basically true:

I see now that keen interest can illuminate anything, and that anything, moreover, has something worth illuminating in it, and that without that interest gates carved by Benvenuto Cellini from two diamonds would merely look chilly.

— Lord Dunsany (via PNH)

The landscape is worth looking at.