Grant Morrison, Magic and Creativity

Grant Morrison recently performed a song that he says he received while channeling the spirit of John Lennon.  Now, if you read Grant’s thoughts on magic, its hard to know quite how to take that.  Morrison certainly seems to think this stuff works, but seems to be a bit coy about how he thinks it works, so whether or not he thinks he actually talked with the ghost of John Lennon is kind of up for debate.  But I’ll be damned if this doesn’t sound like early solo Lennon.

“Keep walking the dog,” is exactly the kind of mundane thing a John Lennon song would make a big deal out of, and following up on it with “keep taking the drug” plays into a couple of John’s preoccupations: silly wordplay, demystifying his Beatle past (also in “one and one and one make two”), and, oh yeah, drug use.

So whatever Grant did, it worked.  And I think there’s something to be learned from that even if you don’t do magic.  Communicating with spirits is called “channeling.”  And we use that phrase all the time.  A singer might be “channeling Freddy Mercury” if they’ve got great stage presence, say.  Most of the time, this kind of channeling is unconscious, I think.  I once wrote an essay on Beowulf and found that my prose was starting to fall into a fair imitation of Anglo-Saxon meter.  The book that made me fall in love with books and made me want to write was Good Omens and it’s still very hard for me to write prose fiction without aping Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett just a little bit.  Those are some unintentional works of channeling, but I think what Morrison wants to tell us is that we can open our minds up to these things, and get a little bit of the great ones in us.  If we can’t avoid influence we may as well try to be conscious about it and make the most of it.

Should we be worried, though, about sounding too much like our predecessors?  Well, Kurt Cobain listened to the Beatles nonstop for a day and wrote this:
which is still definitely a Kurt Cobain song.  (although there are some definite Beatles-esque touches).

So, I think that’s what the creative process is all about is getting a handle on your influences.  We summon up these spirits whether we like it or not, and then its our job to try and make them do our will.  How do you get better at that?  Crowley’s advice to new magician’s was “invoke often.”  If you read last Friday’s post, the analogy should be clear.

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Published in: on August 16, 2011 at 2:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

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