Grant Morrison, the visionary intelligence responsible for revolutionizing the comic book art-form, is described as everything from an “idiot savant loon” to a “forward thinking auteur” in Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods, a documentary about this fascinating and hyper-creative man. The film covers his interest in comic books starting as a kid in Scotland, before following his first published works; the growth of his influence in the comics book field; and the emergence of a relentless and singular ideology which had the effect of changing the world as much as it changed the comic book art form.
He discusses becoming conscious of his image as a comics book creator and cultivating that image, as well as periods of “derangement of the senses” in which he sought out travel and foreign lands; immersion in the dark under-realms of existence; and exploration of mind-altering drugs. The suggestion of a certain brilliant madness starts to emerge in this section: “If I weren’t an artist, I’d probably be institutionalized” is a typical quote.
The mythic relevance that super-heroes hold for Mr. Morrison is a constant throughout the documentary. Early on, someone recalls a conversation with him, discussing Superman in terms of being a “proactive God” who loves every human being unconditionally. Mr. Morrison talks about the “timelessness” of super-heroes, calling them “one of the last great ideas that we have,” and remarking upon his fascination that Superman (who was “having adventures” before Morrison was born) will continue having adventures after Morrison’s death, and upon how reassuring it was is to imagine beings dedicated to stepping into disasters and calamities, and making things right.
As remarkable as it is to reflect upon Mr. Morrison’s discoveries about the importance of self-expression and following one’s visions; making connections with other people’s experiences and ideas; making permeable the “boundary between the real and the possible”; and how bringing one’s ideas into the world will influence other people in ways that seem magical: it is his discussions of magick and magickal experiment that grabbed my attention. The film opens with people talking about Mr. Morrison as a “magical person” who “changed their lives,” and feeling as if they were in the presence of a heroic or divine figure. Early on, Mr. Morrison is talking about his experiences with Chaos Magick and his impression that it produced results in the world. He relays how (at nineteen) he first tried magick “out of a Crowley book,” complete with “ritual banishings and all that stuff.” The results were so immediate and convincing that the young Morrison quickly formed the opinion that “magick was easy: if you ‘do this,’ then things follow,” a sureness of impression that seems never to have left him. He discusses how his belief developed, that magick was about enchanting, and expanding consciousness, and was life-changing, in that it enabled one “to be what one wanted to be.” Interestingly, as he tested it, magick came to appear natural and right to him.
Working with sigils became more and more significant to him, as he found that meditating upon his sigils brought the things that he wanted into his life; eventually, he came to form a belief about being in service to a sort of “hyper Sigil.” He talks about his life in terms of being a mystical process, going into Nature to commune and communicate with the Gods before coming back to work on comic books; having near-”shamanic” experiences with actors dressed as Superman; and finally his conviction that “everything is magick,” and that magick and reality are in fact one and the same.
In understanding a man who is able to change the world by exposing other people to the challenge of his ideas and the impressions of his images, Talking With Gods is a powerful film; in listening to a visionary discuss how magick and the evolution of magickal thinking contributed to this process, this documentary is remarkable. As is put early on in the narrative: Life + Significance = Magick.