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Religion and the Second Ether

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  • Religion and the Second Ether

    Mr. Moorcock,
    A questions I've been wondering about for a while. I was curious about what appears to be a shift in opinion on the subject of religion in your work. While your earlier work has always struck me as being very much of in a sort hardcore, athiest, anarchist, secular humanist vien, in which religions and gods are seen primairly as drains upon mankind and their struggle for freeedom, your recent work, and I'm thinking most strongly of your Second Ether trilogy, has had in it a surprisingly theological streak to it. The dominant philosophy of those books seemed to me a quite vigorous theistic humanism, with a strong visionairy bent, especially in the quite delightfull Lunching with the Antichrist story, which to be honest surprised me in its affectionate picture of the old priest. Is this change simply because of desire to write sympathetic religious figures, or from a genuine softening towards religious instincts as a whole? Or did I entirely misread your earlier stance and you've always been this affectionate towards mysticism? Feel free to ignore this question if you feel I'm prying into your personal beliefs (which I suppose I unarguably am. hmmm) and thank you for your time.

  • #2
    SORRY!!!

    Sorry, Ignatz! I have just this moment posted a thing on religion myself, however, I had not read this post until after. My sincerest apologies, If you would like me to remove my post, in light of the discovery of yours, I will acquiesce as soon as I find out how to delete them! Sorry!!!

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    • #3
      Excellent Question

      Ignatz and Red-Arrow:

      I hope Mr. Moorcok does not mind me commenting here before he responds, but I find it difficult to resist. I've devoted a lot of time to these questions. From my perspective, Mr. Moorcock's theology in The Second Ether Trilogy closely parallels William Blake's, particularly what you find in Blake's epic poems Milton and Jerusalem. Blake himself (150 years later) is responding to Milton and the radical developments in Protestant theology that percolated in England during the 1640s. Indeed, the theological discussions of the 1640s also profoundly influenced Locke, Swift, Jefferson, Shelly, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, and Browning. Chritopher Hill's Milton and the English Revolution is a remarkable study of the cultural and political dynamics of radical Protestant theology during this period. You might look up the terms "antinomian," "gnosticism" and "Areminian." Also, you might pursuse a reading of Blake's Marriage of Heaven and Hell. The brief epic The Book of Urizen will also give you some perspective. I view Blake and Mr. Moorcock as diverging somewhat from Milton, who is a radical Presbyterian with characteristic modernist and Greek habits of thought. Blake and Mr. Moorcock are rather "post-modern," and I think of them as radical Methodists, whose radicalism is rather more a matter of medium than message. The key distinction is that Blake and Mr. Moorcock seek reconciliation with the universe, and to them poetry represents an avenue towards this reconciliation. Milton, however, is after other game.

      Sorry to be somewhat cryptic, but I don't want to say too much before Mr. Moorcock responds here. And I am wondering, too, if he also sees himself as having a closer affinity with Blake than with Milton?

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      • #4
        Flattered to be in the company of Milton and Blake, I must say, pard.
        Oddly my paternal ancestors were Methodists who came down from
        Yorkshire relatively late in the 18th century to settle around Wokingham, in those days something of a hotbed of Methodism. For many years our local church was the one where John Wesley preached his first sermon.
        Pilgrim's Progress, of course, was a strong influence on me as a lad.
        I've had a lot of visions in my time, as I've mentioned elsewhere, and if I weren't quite so much of a modern, I might have been tempted to make more of them than I did. As it is I tend to think most of them came when I was overtired.... :)

        Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
        The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
        Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


        Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
        The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
        Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

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        • #5
          Sorry, Ignatz -- I think it's perceptive of you to note the changes,
          although I haven't radically changed my attitudes, probably just my language. I continue to think of organised religion as politics and not a lot to do with spirituality. I'm sympathetic to those who search for faith,
          as I was towards Karl Glogauer in Behold the Man. I've also said elsewhere that I am almost bound to have certain attitudes associated with Christianity, since I was raised in a Christian culture. It's possible that my thinking on the nature of the multiverse has become a bit more liberal, in that I suspect I'm definitely not as adamant about anything much as I was when I was younger. While I wouldn't ever want to hurt the feelings of those who need conventional religion I must admit that I think of it as a crutch, certainly not much else. However, I also believe in all possible worlds... My own visions have tended to be somewhat conventional in form, as it happens -- I used to get very strong visual
          hallucinations of classic Christian images -- Jesus, choirs of angels and so on. Maybe it's my old Methodist heritage.
          By the way, Ignatz. Leave that poor little Krazy alone, okay ?

          Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
          The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
          Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


          Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
          The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
          Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

          Comment


          • #6
            Gods, Avatars, Champtions, etc.

            I think the reason why I fell in love with Mike's work so swiftly is because I've taken what he's written and twisted it just a bit to fit my own perspective. I'm sure Mike doesn't mind, so long as it is a positive effect.

            For a while now I've been a firm advocate of a very simple philosophy. It sounds arrogant and, to more than a few people, sacrilegious. But it is "Make yourself a God." I had thought the same thing prior to hearing that phrase in a song but I found it's way of putting it to be very fitting.

            So you see, from my perspective there has really been no real change in Mike's writing. I won't spoil Blood for anyone because that is my favorite series. But to me, Blood was not the acknowledgement of religion in a subservient since... but more a liberation of it. I like to think that Jack didn't worship Anubis (I presume the Jackal headed god was in reference to Anubis) so much but rather acknowledged the "Anubis" within himself. And arguably he was in fact Anubis (or aspect there of, whathave you).

            Now that I think about it, it all makes a lot of since to me. I'm also an anarchist. In a perfect world (which we don't have... but should at least make the attempt to obtain) there is no room for government or control of any sort other than self. So if you look at that from a religious standpoint you could call me a Theological Anarchist. In that in my belief system the self is the godhead.

            I should stop here. I could easily upset more than a few people by saying these things. No point in rocking the boat, not now anyway. Although I am looking forward to responses, if there are any.

            Peace,

            Thanos Shadowsage

            EDIT: Yeah… I’m American and probably labeled a terrorist!!! ;p

            Comment


            • #7
              Alright, trying hard to surpress giddy fanboy babbling at being replied to by Michael Moorcock. My early adolescence was irreparably warped by Mr. Moorcock's work and much of my grade seven year was spent (no doubt unhealthily) scribbling out Elric pastiche stories and dreaming of sending them to the Great Man himself (I'm sure most of you have read One Life Furnished in Early Moorcock by Neil Gaiman which, minus the English private school, is a fairly accurate description of my internal world) So the thirteen year old in me is swooning.
              I certainly felt the Blake parellels in the Second Ether trilogy, though I'd argue the issue as to whether Blake or Moorcock are gnostic in thinking, at least from a doctrinal sense, as neither have the intrinsic rejection of the physical world which characterizes what is usually considered standard Gnostic thought. They certainly both share the idea of mapping of one's spiritual reality through the creation of elaborate, personalized mythologies with the Gnostics, and the love and connection to gaudy pulp culture (Blake adored the Gothic plays which were a major feature of 19th century pop culture, and was influenced by them in his metaphorical dramas) which the two writers share certainly makes a paralell between the two figures valid on that level.
              I'm really interested in these visions you mention, Mr. Moorcock. Do you still have them? Is the image you paint of yourself in War Amongst the Angels as a half-mad pulp writer chasing angels in the uninhabitable wastes of Texas not so far off from reality? What sort of influences have they had on your work, if any? Obviously, the visionairy traditions of the Moorcock family in War has been affected by these, but how much of the cosmology of your fiction has its roots in visions? The rose motif you seem to have adopted in your recent romances is classic visionairy material. Is this in any way a product of your mystical leanings? Sorry, I sound like I'm grilling you. I'll back off. Answer at your leisure.
              And if "Krazy Kat" wished to refrain from a romantic rendezvous with an "brick", she wouldn't sing so gayly nor would "Kolin Kelly" bake them so fine.

              Comment


              • #8
                Ignatz:

                I don't mean to claim that Moorcock and Blake are Gnostics, but the beliefs of the Gnostics (which go beyond your otherwise excellent characterization) have interesting confluences with what Blake and Moorcock are playing around with--themes, problems faced by characters, and so on.

                I discuss Blake and Moorcock (especailly the Second Ether) together in my book Critical Synoptics. It's in the last chapter. I'd be interested in your impressions, as I am still writing on this topic in connection with Milton.

                If you click the link to my www you'll be find a description of the book.

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