Following my feature on Alan Moore’s Jerusalem, I’ve been posting edited highlights from the 30,000-word interview transcript. Over the last three days, Moore has solved the little problem of our broken democracy, made an argument for (quietly) toppling governments, and delivered a parable about wheelbarrows.
Now, an extraordinary few minutes. We were talking about the Northampton Arts Lab, which Alan Moore founded, and he gave me the full rendition of his performance as a totalitarian ape. As with so much of what he does, it’s a satire on leadership. But at the same time… you can’t help wanting to vote him in!
Alan Moore: “We did our first gig on the day after the Brexit referendum, and I closed the evening dressed as a mandrill. I was performing my Mandrillisfesto. That was good. We weren’t planning it for the day after the referendum, but it ended up eerily appropriate as this totalitarian mandrill delivering this kind of harsh and incomprehensible series of edicts, you know.
“I can give you the whole thing if you want!
“In times of national demise, speaking historically, the mulch of crumpled dream and culture is a laboratory that breeds outrageous saviours and monsters without warning – Cromwell, Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Jeremy Corbyn – emerging from the broken world to find a hole they can fill. Cometh the moment, cometh the Mandrill.
“This greed and gore emporium is not how life was meant to be, with franchises and fads reheated from a previous century and nothing new, a neutered future on the retro record deck that’s stuck and endlessly repeating in a firebombed discotheque. Your TV’s in a coma and you can’t get it to wake up. What you need is a dictatorial baboon in make-up.
“Overstated, aggravated and horrifically mutated, here to see that you’re berated – what’s the last thing you created? All those logos on your brand-name badges of enslavement, drip-fed passive entertainment, was this your intended statement?
“When you have nowhere left to stand then you must take one. If there’s no more culture in the land then you’ll have to make one. Psychopathic, charismatic, I could go on but don’t need to. As the higher primate it’s my long-awaited fate to lead you. You have no other choice but me so please do not suggest so. Hear now the poetry of my Mandrillifesto. The light of burning corporations will repaint the sky in grenadine, there’ll be billions of banners and art-nouveau butterfly bombers [this next bit sung] like this world has never seen before.
“We’ll march on ugliness and stupidity, we’ll make loveliness compulsory, and the roar of our orchestra engines will soar evermore in a glorious, annihilating symphony, for the tyranny of beauty is our god-given duty: every child at birth is to be issued with a ukulele, given their own flag and granted absolute and utter sovereignty, and as long as it’s coloured in nicely and has an old woman on, make their own currency. Turn every urban address into a dripping Rousseau wilderness. We’ll keep advancing until there’s nobody not dancing. We’ll put politics in the pillory, put the art back in artillery; we can weaponise wonder, and our voice shall be as thunder.
“From times of national demise arise new apes like me within our leopard-scaring eyes – manifest destiny. I’ll lead you to a fluorescent utopia if you’ll let me. Love me, worship me, obey me, but never pet me. If we can’t build a future then we’ll be its human landfill. Cometh the moment, cometh the Mandrill.
“And at the end I was sort of swaying to the crowd – this has all got music to it – and eventually I’ve got my followers on the stage behind me chanting, all wearing black, with armbands, ‘Cometh the moment, cometh the Mandrill!’ And then we sort of freeze, just when my arm is at a certain angle, and the lights go out. But it was strangely healing, on the night after Brexit.
“I think they thought that, ‘Yeah all right, the country and civilisation may have toppled irretrievably into an abyss… but Alan Moore is still prepared to dress up as a fascist mandrill, so everything’s gonna be all right.’”
Jerusalem is out now in hardback from Knockabout in the UK and Liveright in the US. For the full interview feature, click here.