B for Beelzebub (from A-Z of Horror)

The hardest topic to sum up in a header. What's it all about? At the end of the day, spirituality is the way you live your life and the way you interact with others. No preaching here. Only a search for insight...

"I find the whole thing very disturbing and distressing. Not personally, but the fact that there are people out there who take the Book of Revelations so literally, they really think they can wish fire and brimstone down on my head. I don't think you can do anything about that."

To Hell And Back

By Dick Hansom, Speakeasy, No 102, September 1989

"Although I'm not a member of any church, I am religious. I believe that the afterlife is a whole other journey. But I think humans are innately religious as a species, so you don't need a specific excuse for examining the perversely unholy."

It's Alive

By John Hind, Blitz, No 80, August 1989

"I think that what is so divisive in the spiritual life of our species is that people have constantly wanted one simple answer, and wars are fought over the difference between answers. What is much more important is not to find but to seek, to continue to open your mind to a great diversity of possibilities. All things are possible. All things may even be likely. There are valid elements in every spiritual practice that I know. For some people, Catholicism works. For some people, Hinduism works. For some people, sitting alone watching the flowers grow works. For some people, writing works. What is important to say: there are higher selves in us and lower selves, and if we continue to feed the lower self and preen the lower self and value it over the higher self, then we all end as mud.It would be deeply hypocritical of me to critique the way religious practices and religion divide people up and then go on to say that my particular practice is better than yours. I would like to be spiritual twenty-four hours a day, waking or sleeping. I would like to feel that - I haven't achieved this, very far from it, but I would like to think that this is a plausible thing - that by living in the moment and opening my imagination and opening my heart and my mind to the possibilities which confront me moment by moment, person by person, experience by experience, that I can eventually come to the place where breathing is a religious act. And this must include the past and the future. One of the things living in the moment demands is that you are aware of time as a continuum. A misapprehension about this notion about living in the moment is that, somehow, it just means that all there is is 'now'. Well of course all there is is 'now'. 'Now' just became 'then'. Inorder to write a cogent sentence I have to be aware of the word that went before it and the word I intend to lay after it. That isn't to say that I shouldn't be completely alive to the word I'm actually writing at that moment. It's a universal spiritual concept. There isn't a spiritual discipline in the world that doesn't say that in God's eye all time is one. By 'God', I don't mean Jehovah, I mean in the eye of the divine. The linear notion of time is a redundant one."

The Magic Show

By Nick Vince, Clive Barker's Hellbreed, Vol 1, May 1995

"The truth is, I write religious fiction, though the phrase causes people to pale around the gills. Clearly fantasy and horror are often about the fundamental problems of existence. Horror itself is very often religious in its roots.
"Where else can you credibly deal with the absolutes of good and evil or probe life beyond the grave? Where else can characters converse with the dead? Those are the same tools of the metaphysician...
"But we live in a highly secular culture. At age 15 we cease to ask certain metaphysical questions, but we don't cease to think about them. We're shamed into silence, or we have to let them erupt at the death of a friend or the birth of a baby or see them subsumed by triviality, rendered crude and coarse by the vocabulary of the television evangelist. He takes the honest vocabulary of the metaphysician and turns it into dishonesty...
But what's maddening about the modern evangelist is that he assumes he's the only one who has God whispering in his ear. God also whispers in my ear."

Horror's Roots - Writer Clive Barker On Good And Evil In The Modern World

By Sid Smith, Chicago Tribune, 23 May 1993

"[If marooned on a desert island] I'd take a crate of videos and one book. I'd take the Bible. Because it's this massive, layered, rich, wise, dark, dangerous, ambiguous masterpiece. It seems to me to be a wonderful ragbag of drug dreams and poetry, history, violence and beauty. It's the single most important source of insight and storytelling I've ever encountered. There isn't a collection of videos, however big the crate, which could offer me compensation for that. In my fiction I am critical of the organisational elements of the Church, yes. I have contempt for many of the corruptions of the Church, and I think that when you value the Bible or the Christian message, it's easy to feel contempt for those who judge themselves worthy of carrying that message, whether it be the Swaggarts of this world or the inhumanities of the Vatican and the way its teachings seem to cause universal pain in the name of love. It's difficult to feel benign towards these populist, very often arrogant, self-centred and corrupt individuals who take upon themselves the duty of controlling the message.The distinction I make between the message-carriers and the message itself is very strong. Priests don't come out very well in my books, but the underlying mythologies - the idea of redemption, the idea of having someone to die in order to save, the idea of non-judgmental love and so on - are themes that come up over and over again in my work. But I don't write cynically about the message. I write cynically about the agents.The vocabulary of the fantastique generally is shot through with religious underpinnings of various kinds. You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to realise that, encoded in a lot of fantasy, science fiction and horror are the large problems which once would have vexed theologians. But the anxieties we feel are not addressed from the pulpit any longer. Well, they are addressed from the pulpit, it's just that there's nobody in the pews. So we look elsewhere. The worst thing you can do to children is thrust one particular religious view down their throats. There are only two ways they'll go as a consequence of that: either become indoctrinated and not think for themselves, or respond so negatively to what they've been taught they become perverse and tainted by the guilt that they're turning their backs on this thing, whatever this thing is. Catholicism is obviously the prime villain; you know, the 'once a Catholic' line. I was allowed to think for myself. I'm a believer in the sense that Blake was a believer. I'm a believer in the sense that I take the Bible as something which is available for very private interpretation, and that interpretation may not sit well with conventional interpretations. The material is there for investigation and investigation on an intimate level. Its lessons, its wisdom, its serenity, its good sense, its absurdities and malice - it's very malicious at times - are all part of what makes it remarkable. So I suppose my reading of it means I've ended up as a strange kind of believer."

A Strange Kind Of Believer

By Stan Nicholls, Million, No 13, January - February 1993

"I think what I write about very often are very commonplace people living ordinary lives, but who have always had at the back of their heads the possibility that the world might be different to the way that they live... We are a religious species; we make gods even if we haven't got them. I don't think it's true that we live in a godless society, I think we've just made rather trivial gods. The idols that we've raised are soap-opera stars rather than real deities. But that doesn't mean that we don't have the urge as a species towards deifying things that are in our imagination, and I think that we are more prepared for the fantastical in our heart of hearts than we sometimes accept. Or admit."

Clive Barker In The Flesh

By Dave Hughes, Skeleton Crew, III/IV, 1988

"[a character's comprehension of what he is confronting is more important than whether they live or die] In essence, I think that is a very religious point of view. There are mysteries and if you confront these mysteries you take whatever consequences there are."

Clive Barker: Anarchic Prince Of Horror

By Stephen Jones, Knave magazine, Vol 19, No 5 1987

"I don't believe in Divinities as they manifest themselves in Steven Spielberg pictures... I think what most people mean by 'Divinity' is something in the Cloud of Unknowing - the Veil Which Cannot Be Pierced. It's a confrontation with something which is beyond comprehension, beyond analysis. That doesn't interest me at all. Anything which creeps up behind me and says, 'I am wonderful and supreme and extraordinary, however you cannot see me!' is a liar... a confrontation with the unknowable seems to be to me a contradiction in terms. True confrontation has to have an analytical quality. So in my fiction... those confrontations always have an element of analysis in them... my heroes and heroines don't stand slack-jawed in the face of these things... they have to find solutions which are not in the conventional terms... Now confrontations with the very dark or the very bright should be about what you do tomorrow, what that does to your life thereafter. I don't believe these people who've had their paranormal experience and do nothing with this information except to go on the Phil Donahue show and say that they've seen them... these people aren't transformed."

Transcript of talk at UCLA 25 February 1987

Clive Barker's Shadows in Eden

"I go to church for other people's weddings, baptisms and the occasional funeral, and that really is it. [my religious belief is] in system: I believe in life after death. I absolutely assume the continuity, in some form or another, of mind after bodily corruption. I certainly don't believe in any patriarchal god... but I don't think we live in a universe in which anything's ever lost. Transformed, maybe, but never lost. I think that may be the bottom line of my religious belief. And that's probably as far as I'm able to go. But it gets me through the night."

Give Me B-Movies Or Give Me Death !

By Douglas E. Winter, Faces of Fear, 1985

"This one-God hassle also means one viewpoint and one morality. It's this preoccupation with a singularity which is so fucking dangerous, because if you've only got one God you've only got one truth and everything else is therefore lies. That means there are a lot of lies out there and a lot of books to be burnt... and a lot of people too."

Terror Tactics

By John Brosnan, Time Out, 16-28 March 1988

"When [Harry d'Amour] goes to sleep at night, he puts down the crucifix, a statue of Shiva, and a few pagan gods all beside the bed to make sure that he really covers the bases... And I like that. I think it's an interesting and in these sort of atheistic times, a perfect and legitimate response to the world, that you say, 'Well, I'm not sure which god I believe in but I'm not going to bed without believing in at least one.' And, in Harry's case, half a dozen."

Lord Of Illusions - Filming The Books Of Blood

By Michael Beeler, Cinefantastique, Vol 26 No 2, February 1995

"I don't believe there are any true solutions to the world's various ills without spiritual solutions, which for me means imaginative solutions, means reaching what I think is the divine part of us - our imagination. One of the things the imagination does is allow you access to other people's lives; in imagining another person's thoughts and feelings you better understand them. It's the only way to fight the phobias that are in everybody the only way to fight the animal impulse, to view the world tribally, making everybody unlike us the enemy."

Lord Of Illusion

By Charles Isherwood, The Advocate, 21 February 1995 (note : online at the Lost Souls site)

"The fiction of the fantastic, I think, has always preoccupied itself with certain key movements. I think those movements are essentially religious, when I say movements I don't mean in the sociological sense but in the spiritual sense. The figure of the shaman who appears, named as such, for the first time in 'The Great and Secret Show,' but whose earlier manifestations have actually been in other books, is almost representative of that journey-taker. The shaman's position within the tribe is to be a sort of go-between, between the ghost-world, the worlds of the dead and the ancestors arid the minor divinities, of the haunting spirits on the one hand, and the tribe and common-life on the other. And the shaman goes off, takes his or her dream-trip, ventures into these places and comes back with, hopefully, insights, sometimes healing insights, spiritual insights, news from the gods, news from the ancestors. I think in a weird sort of way the writer of the fantastique is doing the same sort of thing, on a much simpler level, obviously, on a much less intimate level, because you don't get to meet the tribe you're serving. But the trip into the sub-conscious which the writer takes, particularly the writer of the fantastique, and then comes back, if he or she is reporting at all truthfully, is interestingly paralleled by the shammanistic journey."

The Edge Interview

By David Alexander, The Edge, 1991(note : online at www.users.globalnet.co.uk/houghtong/barker.htm)

"I do believe that after death we take journeys', and I do think that the life that we are living now in the flesh with this particular name attached is just one part of a much larger experience. So to that extent I completely believe, in the sense that I've written about life after death, I certainly believe that that's part of what this being business is all about and that there are journeys' to take, after we've left the body, which will be startling and extraordinary and revelatory. I think we have hints of that, I think in our lives before death we have hints of the great panorama's which await us. I think in moments of epiphany, we sense our spirits seem to open up. They seem to unfurl like the sails of some wonderful sailing ship. Suddenly we have possibilities in our grasp that we didn't have a moment before. All kinds of things can do that to us, the sight of a certain kind of sky, a certain kind of smell in the air, the presence of a certain animal, the presence of a certain person, the wind, gulls; any number of things can be triggers for this opening of our perception. What we see when we enter those brief moments of epiphany, what we feel, is possibility. What we feel is fearlessness. What we feel is that all the anxieties and apprehensions which cluster around us because we live in a fearful world are actually things that we will have to work through but they're finally redundant. There will come a time in our lives, maybe at the very end of our lives, when those fears will no longer be important. When they will drop off like the dead skin off a snake and something new and beautiful and bright will emerge.
"I think that the God that we have created and allowed to shape our culture through, essentially Christian theology, is a pretty villainous creature. I think that one of the things that the male patriarchal figure has done is, allowed under it's, his church, his wing, all kinds of corruptions and villanies to grow and fester. In the name of that God terrible wars have been waged, in the name of that God terrible sexism has been allowed to spread. There are children being born all across this world that don't have enough food to eat because that God, at least his church, tells the mothers and fathers that they must procreate at all costs, and to prevent procreation with a condom is in contravention with his laws. Now, I don't believe that God exists. I think that God is creation of men, by men, and for men. What has happened over the many centuries now, the better part of two thousand years in fact, is that that God has been slowly and steadily accruing power. His church has been accruing power, and the men who run that church, and they are all men, are not about to give it up. If they give it up, they give up luxury, they give up comfort. I'm not saying that it's true of all of them, some of them are working leper colonies and doing extraordinary works in the name of that God. That's a parodox which we probably shouldn't be discussing now, but I'm aware of that. But I'm also aware that there are a lot of very powerful, corrupt men enjoying the power that this tradition, patriarchal tradition, has confered upon them. That's one that Hapexamendios, the villian of Imajica, is the personification of that God. He is the personification of the joyless, loveless, corrupt thing which has over eons created his own city of his own flesh.
"As far as what God in the world is... I see divinity working, I see spirit working, and extraordinary capabilities and richness of life, spiritual life, moving in people all the time. I believe that is a sign of something which is moving in the planet, and I think probably moving in all matter. The great desire to evolve into something new and better. The movement towards something revelatory is apart of who we are at our best. The devil, the forces of evil, are best represented as forces of limitation. Forces that say no, forces that say close your eyes, turn away, limit yourself, live only in the moment and not in the grander scheme of things, live in your desires, live in your pleasures, live only in what you can get by whatever means that you can get it, and never think of something that lies outside yourself. That always seems to me to be a working definition of evil. That's the yin and the yang in a way. The image of the good and the divine in us are the reverse effect. It's about caring for other people, and realising you have a part in a huge system and that you owe it to the larger system to be aware of what influence you have upon it. That you try and service what is best in you, and what is worst in you that you try and look constantly about the effect your having on other people to see weather your actually doing them injustice. All of those things and of course countless others are working definitions of what's best in us, and therefore what is potentially divine in us. "


By [ ],Lost Souls, Issue 1, [June] 1995 (online at clivebarker.com)

"As a religious person I believe the world is charged full of wonderful, miraculous things and that part of our duty as creative persons is to talk about that magic and wonder. What I'm trying to do in my work is to make the readers suspend all their prejudices about the world; I want to be able to say to my readers: Everything you thought you knew, everything you thought was certain and fixed and immutable, for the time you read this book, isn't. For the time you read this book, miraculous things are possible; sometimes horrible things are going to happen, sometimes wonderful things will take place and sometimes the terrible things will turn out to have wonderful results. So don't judge anything for the time you read this book."

Addicted To Creativity (Part 2)

By Bill Babouris, Samhain, No 71, January 1999

"There is a sense to me that something similar has happened in an area that is my primary area of reading interest, which is the general area of metaphysics. Which will range for the purposes of this conversation from sort of the driest German philosophical tome to the moistest Catholicism. And my sense is there is more open discussion and volumes being written about this material in the sort of sense that the mystery of religion... the veil has been lifted in a way. In some ways, and I'll go after this one moment longer if I may, may be analogous to this. You're not going to be able to turn a corner and discover a voice from a rock any longer. The details of every religious order and sub-order and practice and ritual seems to be ... to being laid out. We're finding revisionist versions of voodoo being written right now. Revisionist histories, for instance, giving us all kinds of details in something that particularly interests me right now. And I'm looking at this stuff and saying, "Boy, the mystery is gone." And now how do we put the mystery back? It seems to me now the mystery is in the personal choice. By which I mean, maybe now it becomes the rich lady's problem not to be able to buy things, but to choose the things she really wants. So maybe now the mystery becomes the mystery of personal decision. If I know all religious possibilities, let's say, that seems in some senses to be rather a reductionist place to be. It's all laid out like a deli counter, you know? But then what becomes important, significant, which one really speaks to me. Where my heart really is. And so instead of the mystery becoming finding, the mystery becomes choosing."

Burning Chrome Live

Clive Barker interviews William Gibson, 13 December 1997

"Is it not possible that our experience of the flesh - the tingle in our nerve endings, the profound feelings that sexual excitement arouses in us - should not be mostly connected with our spiritual selves? Whatever divinity made us - and I believe we were made for a great and perhaps unknowable purpose - that divinity gave us the potential for physical and sensual bliss, which, when we are moved most deeply, leads us on to profound spiritual feelings. In other words... when I am at my most physical I am reaching for the divine. "

AOL Appearance

Transcript of on-line appearance, 18 August 1997

"The world is stranger than we knew and our present intellectual structures do not allow us to comprehend readily the paradoxes which seem to underlie being. The question is: 'Is it the structure of consciousness or the structure of cultured consciousness,' if you see what I mean, 'that makes it difficult to understand these paradoxes? Is Einstein difficult for mere mortals like you and I to comprehend or, is relativity difficult because consciousness, primate consciousness, has difficulty with it or is it because we've been brought up with a certain way of looking at the world that is about serial time?' I'm fascinated by that. I feel as though the interdisciplinary concerns I've always had are about seeing where the connections lie, believing that the map we have of consciousness is like a map where the ley lines are in place but we just can't see them - like all ley lines, assuming ley lines exist - and that the connections between places of power are invisible to us.
"I think one of the things that fantastic writing does is that it joins up the places of power. It actually says to the reader: 'This thing that you remember from your childhood, this moment of epiphany you know from your childhood, is actually connected up with this piece of physics, and this piece of physics is actually connected with the theory of magic, and the theory of magic is actually connected to your ideas about sex and your ideas about sex are actually connected to your ideas about love, which, in turn, are connected to your ideas about death which are, in turn, connected with higher physics'.
"When Kaprov in the Tao of Physics wrote, "When Shiva dances she is describing the shape of the universe and now 2,500 years later science has caught up with Shiva," it was like a lightning bolt, I couldn't understand the whole book but I understood he'd made a connection for me which I really needed. I'd always been interested in physics, in theory, and I was always interested in dance, and I'd been interested in theology, and, whoa, here he was saying 'Of course, you're interested, they're all connected.' We live in such strictly decompartmentalised times, when it's all about specialisation. I mean, I've just been in a bookstore and there all the fucking books are divided up from each other. I know why that is, but I would also love a bookstore where they deliberately confused you and they made you move and browse and search from one scene to another. You know what I mean? Wouldn't that be kind of cool?
"I think a book should be like a great conversation, and the great conversations are the mellow ones, the ones when you really come away thinking, 'That was amazing. I had a time there'. Very seldom are they like debates, they're not debates, they're feelings out of each other's complexities, yeah? You think stuff through and instead of coming at him or her like a speeding bullet, you let that particular idea advance in your own head and it's a very complex moment - intellectual, emotional, philosophical, many-levelled, historical. If you're having a conversation with friends it often refers to earlier conversations, earlier feelings. A Hollywood movie relates to that kind of conversation by employing a slap in the face. That's the Hollywood experience. Pow! Pick yourself up, go have a pizza.
"Here we are using Jaws as a wheel to break a butterfly on when it's just a piece of popular movie-making but nevertheless my point is that in its desire to tell a story very simply and do it very well, the movie is vicious at a level I don't think it even understands it's being vicious at. It doesn't have any other way of looking at the world except in a simple dynamic, the dynamic being that the thing with the teeth, even though it's in its own environment, going about its own business, being an eating machine, which is essentially what it is, means you - us - harm, that the natural world means us harm, whereas the natural world couldn't give a fuck about us. That's what's so wonderful about it, and so natural. I care about the lies the world has told us about the natural world."

World Weaver

By John M Farrell, Hot Press, No 13951, 1995

"One side of the family was Catholic, the other was Protestant, so it cancelled itself out! I think that was good for me in the long run because, when I discovered religion, I discovered it on my own terms. I wasn't given a strict religious upbringing of any kind. I was taken to church two or three times as a child only. So when I came to the Bible, when I came to the stories within it, I came to them because I wanted to, not because they were forced upon me. And these stories are very important to me now in my fiction, because very often there are biblical, religious roots to the stories I'm telling - images of Eden, images of the Apocalypse, images of seduction, and temptation and damnation and redemption. When I discovered the poet William Blake, that was revelation to me because he was a man who was essentially self-taught, who had discovered the Christ story on his own terms. He once said about one of his great enemies, "We both read the Bible day and night, but he reads black where I read white", which is wonderful, you know, this whole idea that the religious stories in the Bible are personal, that they belong to each person who reads them.
"I would find it hard to subscribe to any of the major religions now. It's almost as if no-one needs to. God is everywhere, holiness is everywhere. It's possible to get up early in the morning and brush your teeth and be thinking about God."

Addicted To Creativity (Part 1)

By Bill Babouris, Samhain, No 70, November 1998

"I consider myself a man of faith but the conventional Christian structures of belief - which value a male and judgmental god above a more protean vision of the divine, is for me, too simple, too crude, and frankly, too suspiciously like a notion whipped up by a male priest-class obsessed with keeping itself in power. So...I critique the God of Israel at the same time as conceding His extraordinary power over our imaginations."

AOL Appearance

Transcript of on-line appearance 16 July 1996, (online at the Midian site)

"It's very important to me that the spiritual content of the book finds its way into people's hearts. In practical terms, I have a very strict working routine which keeps me at my desk writing or in my studio painting seven days a week. I consider myself just about the luckiest man in the world. I get to express my deepest feelings about life, death and everything that happens in between (and indeed afterwards!) and then I'm allowed to pass the stories and images which I've created to other people."

People Online

By Laura Kay Smith, [27] July 1998

"Even though we may never know the number of the people there are in the Amazon, we were, in my belief, made stewards of the planet. We have a responsibility as sentient conscious beings to do what we can to be good gardeners. And, being good gardeners means that we let every variety of things grow as possible. And, if we fail to do that, not only are we bad gardeners, and maybe you don't have that metaphysical perspective and that's fine, but we're also probably doing ourselves, as a species, a terrible terrible damage in the long-term. If you want to look at it completely selfishly, we're screwing up the only place that we can know as home. And, I think that, despite the fact that there may have been three forms on algae on Mars, there is no certainty that there is anything out there. All we know is there's this beautiful blue place where we were made... which may be the only place we will ever have. And we screw it up, big time, daily. We screwed-up political difference. We screwed it up, and this is my biggest bug, mainly because of corporate stupidity and corporate monstrousness. The system that is much more concerned with its management structure than it is with the richness of the planet on which we live. And that, in form, is what I write. It's actually, in some sense... is always a book that I wrote. I've always had agendas. But, this time the agenda is more visible."


By Amber Black and Tim Trautmann, Review(?), 1996

"Jung called this pool of common images and ideas 'archetypes', or a collective unconscious which transcends all human cultures and unites us. I am not a strict Jungian, but I believe these 'archetypes' exist and that they exist because they meet basic human needs.As a writer, I feel that I'm constantly accessing this shared pool of images and ideas. I may not even comprehend it as I do this. It very well may be subconscious."

Pinhead And The Human Condition

By Dan Clarke,Inklings, Vol 3 No 4, Winter 1997-98

"In America they go for quick-fix answers. American culture encourages cultism; either that or the touchy - feely Shirley Maclaine approach, which I don't find very persuasive. In Britain it's just as bad: the answers are set in stone. The priest class have had the answers in the pulpit too long. British people don't see religion as religion any more, they see boring old farts in dresses.
[re. God disapproving of his work] "Good God! Why would He have put imagination there in the first place if He was going to disapprove of what it produces? I believe that the imagination is inexorably linked to the religious impulse. Wherever imagination is involved, there's something spiritual, something outside ourselves, coming into being.[re. God disapproving of his lifestyle] Who would put my sexuality into me and then disapprove? I was born that way. David and I have exchanged rings but we didn't go through with an actual marriage ceremony. I find these ceremonies a little kitsch. The marriage has not been formally blessed except by the two of us, and God.
"Tolkein once said to C.S.Lewis that Santa Claus couldn't be in Narnia because he's pagan: 'How can Santa be in a Christian heaven?' Lewis' reply was that Santa brought joy to kids: how could he not be the compatriot of Christ? I guess Tolkein wasn't having any part of the big fat man.
"This Bible [given to him by his grandmother when he was eight] has been loved and pored over to within an inch of its life... I was brought up with nothing apart from the Jesus-take-care-of-me doggerel: 'Gentle Jesus, meek and mild'. But I think that was good; I came to religion through study and need. As far as I'm concerned, the Christian Right is shot through with hypocrisy: we love our fellow man - but we still send him to jail. I saw Billy Graham on the TV the other day: 'If you come to Jesus you will live in Paradise for ever; if you don't, you will burn in Hell for ever.'
The divine means me no harm. Love is at the root of the divine, isn't it? [and if it doesn't always seem so... ] I blame the men in skirts!"

Horror Stories With A Walk-On Part For Jesus

By Frances Welch,Sunday Telegraph, 13 December 1998

"Actually the older I get, the more attractive the idea of a Sunday ritual like that becomes. And I'm serious about that. I actually wish I had more belief in the Church. There's a wonderful book by John Betjeman, who did Summoned by Bells. The first poem is about Sunday morning in England, expressing a kind of passion for a very English, and very safe vision of the world. Summoned by Bells expresses the passion for getting up on a Sunday morning and being summoned by that most reassuring of sounds to go and worship. I have a little portion of my perverse soul that has found that profoundly attractive. Doug Winter and I have spoken a lot on this and it has been almost a theme of this convention, a sort of middle-age. I was talking also to Doug Bradley about it and one of the things that I think has happened as I get older, some of the images that I found kind of repulsive as a child or a young man are coming back to me with a fresh power to seduce me. Out of England, where I haven't been in two years, those images come with particular power because I haven't been there for awhile. In Los Angeles if someone were to burn leaves, which is very unusual because it just doesn't happen, if you were to smell that sort of bitter sweet smell of burning dry vegetation I am suddenly a child again in that time of autumn and I feel a sense of longing for that again. When I was a kid, Sunday morning was a very religious time. The sound of church bells on Sunday was always very reassuring. The fact that I only ever went to church a few times in my childhood, and one of them was for a baptism of which I didn't have any choice, it doesn't mean that there wasn't an incredible power with the association. I know that even the Christmas carols and the hymns that I sang as a child, when I think about the very repugnant sentiment of them, had an extraordinary power to move me. It's an association with a feeling of childhood and feelings of security. As I get older I feel them falling away from me. I feel less and less certain of the world and I think I go back to the things that I did feel certain about as a child. Curiously some of the things are things that I believe if I had actually answered the Summons of the Bells and sat and listened to the sermons, I wouldn't be sitting here rhapsodizing about it because I would be bored witless by the experience. But the fact is that I didn't answer. So the answer is; give me another five years and I probably wouldn't be here, I would be at Mass or maybe even serving it, who knows...?
"The more that I try to express, the more I feel that the essential things that I try to express are inexpressible. Which means that the deeper into my life that I get, the more I feel that the things that really move me are the word, painting and music even can only come some tiny way to express what they are trying. It's the heroic nature of failure that I find so moving and so inspiring. It's not achievement and it's not success. When you say successful and all the kind things that you say, a little part of me flips because I don't think that is true nor want to believe it's true. I've written for a character in the book that I am writing now, 'If I die a success, that's because I didn't aim high enough.' That's a recipe for self-contentment if there ever was one. It sets out that the idea that failure is the most that you can aim for because that means you've aimed just beyond the limits of your capabilities. I realized what a disastrously, self-destructive philosophy that is, and yet I couldn't help but believe the character when he spoke that to me. And I believed him! I think you push yourself a bit harder when you're reaching a little bit further than you think you can.
"I tend to believe that Jesus was running some kind of mushroom cult with masturbation as a side issue, and I'm not entirely kidding. There's a book called something like 'Jesus and the Mushroom Cult' or something like that. It claimed that Jesus was a pan-sexual, mushroom chewing shaman. I remember reading this around the time that I was really getting into Blake. Blake had said about Joshua Reynolds, who was his enemy, 'we both read the bible day and night, but he reads black where I read white.' Basically it claimed that the bible's open to an infinite number of interpretations. And I read this along with the 'mushroom cult' and began to think that maybe it might also be a legitimate interpretation. Maybe in our sentimental eyes of what the Christ figure was up to, he has been desexualized and deliriously diminished. Maybe it's kind of healthy to put back that Jesus is a sexualized or eroticized figure. When you go to Europe, particularly in Spain and Portugal, you see Christ as a very eroticized figure and very often a sadomasochistically eroticized figure. I think it's also true in some other places, South America, where Catholicism took a very lush, sexualized interpretation to the path that allowed Christ to be rendered very realistically. Very often the wounds were realistically rendered, and very beautifully. So my answer is, to take the question far more seriously than you probably thought I might, the eroticized Christ is a hugely forbidden subject in our culture, but I think a very interesting one and one worthy of serious study."

Confessions - An Artistic Escape

By Stephen Dressler, transcript of a interview by Douglas E. Winter at DragonCon, Atlanta, 29 June 1997, Lost Souls, Issue 8, July 1997

"I was not raised Roman Catholic, I was not raised in any religious tradition really, except that the Church of England was there and I was baptised in the Church of England but my religious interest is entirely self-generated. You know it comes out of actually not having those questions answered for me as a child and that sort of awareness that you have as a child or as you grow up that actually the language of those fundamental questions disappear from any discourse, in fact they're an embarrassment almost. Now I used to think that was because they were childish; I don't think it is at all, I just think we don't know how to answer them and I think one of the things that our culture is going through is a reassessment of what the shamanic tradition can actually be for our culture: priests are not doing it, I personally don't have any faith in the Catholic Church because The Vatican has made so many terrible anti-human decisions, you know, about homosexuality, certainly about birth control, those things make me mad. But that doesn't mean I'm not still passionately interested in whatever anyone has to say about Christ, about God and in fact about any matter metaphysical and, if that person is a Roman Catholic, it doesn't invalidate their opinion, I'll get right into it; I love discussion about what let's loosely call metaphysics."

A Spiritual Retreat

By Phil and Sarah Stokes, 26 March 2007 (note - full text here)

...other comments

"Barker's editor at HarperCollins, John Silbersack, believes Barker uses the horror genre to celebrate what is really good about the human spirit 'He's driven to write about what is godlike in man,' says Silbersack, 'and he dissects that problem by looking at what is satanic in man as well.'"

Lord Of Illusion

By Charles Isherwood, The Advocate, 21 February 1995

home search contact Opinion