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October 01, 1991 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1991-10-01

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Tuesday, October 1, 1991

The Michigan Daily

Page 5



Come on down to Imajica
Pen of prolific fantasy author Clive Barker weaves magical worlds


by Joseph Schreiber
*Clive Barker and I are in the lobby
of the Ritz-Carlton in Dearborn,
talking about sex, death and
Inajica. It's after ten o'clock and
Barker's had a long day of travel and
book-signing, but as the coffee
arrives and the conversation pro-
gresses, he begins to speak emphati-
cally about his new novel.
The enthusiasm is well-war-
ranted. Imajica is the biggest, most
*mbitious fantasy novel yet from
Barker, whose previous work in-
cludes the multi-volume Books of
Blood, the novels Weaveworld and .
The Great and Secret Show, and the
films Hellraiser and Nightbreed. A
personal best by Barker's own es-
timation, Imajica juggles half a
dozen main characters and as many
different worlds, alternating be-
tween sweeping imaginary vistas
mnd the subtle workings of individ-
ual souls.
In other words, you've come a
long way from splatterpunk, baby.
But Barker's revolutionary in-
stinct was never completely satis-
fied with traditional horror fiction.
"I'm not leaving the paraphernalia
(of horror) behind," he says, "I've
just simply added hugely to the
amount of paraphernalia that I will
play with... In my little box of
demons and malignancies I had five
percent of the props I wanted to
play with. And now, in floating off
into new dimensions, new cultures,
new philosophies, new dramas, new
sexualities, I feel like I've gained
another forty-five percent of them."
Barker says that the final 50 per-
cent of his "props" have yet to be
assembled. Most likely, they'll
*emerge from some of his diverse
works-in-progress - the second and
third Books of the Art, which fol-
low Great and Secret Show, or the
children's book he's just finished.
More movies, television and comic
books are in the works as well, and
Barker is unashamedly thrilled with
the proliferation' of the Clive
Barker industry. Earlier, at a signing
at the Little Professor Bookstore,
fans showed up with Barker's
Tapping the Vein comic, Weave-
world posters, Great and Secret
Show T-shirts (reading "It's about
sex, Hollywood and Armageddon,
not necessarily in that order") and
record albums. It's all part of a mis-
sion for Barker, a mission to revolu-
tionize fantasy literature and to re-
mythologize our thoughts about
According to Barker, he is regen-
erating this genre because we can't
rely on the old myths anymore. For
example, he says, even J.R.R.
Tolkein's Lord of the Rings, "argu-
ably the greatest fantasy mas-
terpiece of the century," borrows
its structure from Norse myth, "the
structures of a culture that no
longer believes in those structures
"So, what you're saying is, 'OK,
my underlying myth structure is
one which I, the writer, probably
don't believe in anyway,"' he
continues. "It's -a conveniently
romantic notion of the world. It's a
world, for instance, which is
untroubled by the problem of the
female. It is a world which is
untouched by sexuality. How con-
venient all of this is!"
What Barker offers instead, is a
symphony of confused voices, char-
acters whose own souls don't fit so

easily into traditional categories of
good or evil, masculine or feminine,
sane or mad. "I think (that
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confusion) is me," he says. "That's
the voice of the author saying, 'I'm
fucking confused, I don't know.' It's
real difficult to make up your mind
from moment to moment in the
book, and I love that ambiguity, I
love that paradox. I love uncer-
tainty, because it's there anyway,

begins to question his notion of the
real world. He confesses that his
work is real to him. At the signings
people asked curiously if he believes
what he writes, and his answer, im-
mediately, was yes. "I feel as
though what I'm doing a lot of the
time is almost journalistic," he

Talking about a work-in-progress
has exactly the opposite effect.
"I don't like to start talking
about something that isn't done," he
says. "After sixteen months on
Imajica all my publishers knew
was a two-minute verbal summary
that I gave them at a convention
which describes probably the first
thirty pages of the book. 'It's about
a forger, and he's in love with this
woman, and the woman left him,
and the husband calls him up and
says, I've set a murderer on her trail,
and the murderer is quite a strange
guy.' And that was it. I said, 'It'll
be a very long book, it'll be a fan-
tasy, it will be very sexual, and
that's what it will be, guys. And af-
ter sixteen months and fourteen
hundred pages, here it is, hope you
like it. It's the baby, let's hope it
hasn't got two heads."'
But doesn't he ever long for feed-
back before the book is done?
"It's part of the creative process
for me, that you don't use up cre-
ative energy talking about the pro-
ject," Barker explains. "There's a
saying among poets, that there's
two kinds of poems. One is the kind
that poets talk about in bars, the
other is the kind that poets write.
And I can believe that - there's
something poets boast about, and
then there's the kind that you sit
down on a Monday morning in front
of a blank piece of paper and you ac-
tually produce." His voice becomes
very serious, almost reverent. "I
don't talk about the poem in the bar.
I don't talk about it at all."
A few minutes in his company,
however, convinces me that he's not
shy about his identity as a public
figure. At one point in the book-
signing, he spotted a Stephen King
bookmark, and suggested a Clive
Barker bookmark to the Harper-
Collins publishing representative
hovering over his shoulder. "We
could just have a picture of my
erection," he grins. "Of course we'd
have to enlarge it quite a bit."
The Little Professor people
smiled nervously. There were chil-
dren present. "How would they
know it was yours?"
"Oh, I'm known around the
world," Barker said, then laughed
The paradox of this man who
loves paradoxes is a contradiction
between Clive Barker the secretive,
almost monastic writer, and Barker
the compulsive communicator, agi-
tating, interacting, smiling, shaking
hands and signing everything put in
front of him.
See BARKER, Page 7

Political prisoner Zahran Musa suffers in the desert heat in Ansar,
performed by the East Jerusalum based troupe, Al-Masrah.
who what where when

Al-Masrah, a Palestinian cul-
tural center and theater troupe
based in East Jerusalem, will pre-
sent Ansar tonight at 7:30 in the
Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre. The
play follows the life of political
prisoner Zahran Musa during his
imprisonment in a detention camp
in the stifling heat of the Negev
desert. Al-Masrah hopes that the
play will touch on the "uni-
versality of the Palestinian Hu-
manity" and that they will
"reach that secret place where we
find the true meaning of the
struggle for life and not for mere
survival." For more info call 998-
1344 or 764-4942. Tickets are $12,
$8, $5 for students.
The Partridge Family comes to
Pontiac. That's right, David Cas-
sidy, that talented performer who

opened Pine Knob Music Theater
in Clarkston all those years ago,
returns to the Detroit area to per-
form at Industry tonight. Tagging
along is drug-plagued, red-headed
TV bro Danny Bonaduce, who
now apparently thinks he's a
stand-up comic. Tickets are $15.50
in advance from TicketMaster
(p.e.s.c.) and $18 at the door.
Doors open at 7 p.m., and only
those 18 and over will be admit-
ted (like anyone under 18 cares).
The Mighty Lemon Drops,
Britain's answer to dull pop, ap-
pear at St. Andrew's tonight with
a slightly more exciting band,
Sister Double Happiness. Go
and see Cassidy instead - at least
he's funny for a reason. Tix at
TicketMaster for $10.50, plus
$2.50 service charge.


Clive Barker, a wizard of sci-fi, fantasy and self-promotion, goes up
against the Master this week, as Stephen King's latest book, Needful
Things, engages in direct competition with Barker's Imajica.

and if you don't love it it'll just
bite you in the ass. So, you may as
well celebrate the fact that the
world is in flux, and your feelings
are in flux and you as an individual
are constantly changing and trans-
"I want to make books that al-
low the reader to celebrate that in
All the real important
details of my life are
actually in the novels.
Every single obses-
sion, all my taboo
stuff, all the private
preoccupations, all
the fears, all the
hopes, are there
themselves by showing the heroic
and powerful and magical potential
of those qualities. So that the reader
says, 'I see characters going through
their lives and changing and con-
fronting these ambiguities and actu-
ally being stronger for it, rather
than being stronger because they re-
alize what evil was,' which doesn't
pertain to the real world."
Listening to Barker, though, one

says. "I feel as though I'm making
an account of something which is
going on anyway, at least in my
head, but possibly elsewhere. I abso-
lutely believe what I write. It is the
truth of my life, and everything else
seems wan, more like gossamer, by
comparison with these things."
He admits that the act of writing
something of Imajica's scope drains
him completely. "Everything else
in my life is irrelevant," he says.
But another life opens within the
realm of the work itself. "I invari-
ably sit at my desk with tears pour-
ing down my face when a character
dies," he admits. "When a character
makes a joke, I think it's hysteri-
cally funny. And I won't tell you
about the physical response to the
sex scenes. But it's all happening in
front of me."
What Barker really sees in front
of him when he sits down to write,,
however, is for his eyes only.
Nobody - publishers, lovers or
friends - have more than the
vaguest of ideas until the day the
novel is complete. Barker writes ev-
erything out longhand, a sort of
merger of writing and drawing
which he says is vital to a complete
rendering of his imagined worlds.

*Dri C Johnson
with Tommy Taylor
and Kyle Brock
Thursdajj October 3. 8pm
Tickets available at all r Za---wi .' outlets including Hudson's,
Great Stuff, Harmony House and the Michigan Theater box offic;
or charge by phone 645-6666

There is a University sponsored fund that has been designed to promote innovative
and experimentaf, inter- or intra-cultural programs which meet the goals of the
Michigan Mandate for creating a multi-cultural university.
Funding is granted directly from the
Office of the President.


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