Moebius is a spaced out artist, a psychonaut high on a lucid and visionary trip with strip cartoons, within which steps the future opens itself. Since his experiments in the cult magazine Métal Hurlant, which he co-founded in the 1970s, to the Blueberry albums or the mythical The Incal series - which he created with Alejandro Jodorowsky - Jean Giraud, aka Moebius, connects his readers to mystical, futuristic and utopian worlds.
Your work predicts a future alliance between fantasy and technology. What part do you attribute to these two notions in a project for constituting an ideal society ?
I have fluctuated quite often over the years. I’ve really been very attracted intellectually by all this reflection. At the same time, I have dealt with these themes with flashes of intuition, but I did not always give myself the means to follow these sensations to their end. Because I am not an intellectual, I am not even a writer. I have never tried to put my thoughts into written form. I am far from that reflex that would lead me to build up a body of ideas, which would eventually give birth to a conjunction, to a concept capable of generating an ideology. Even if I know that my work contains all the right ingredients. On the other hand - without taking myself for a genius - I believe I have some sort of genius, but I think it’s a kind of ordinary genius. And if I possess that kind of genius, I am deeply convinced that others have it as well, and that I am just the receptacle for a body of ideas that circulates more or less in another dimension, that travels from one mind to another, that feeds off the thoughts and the cognitive system of other people. My thoughts do not belong to me, they pass through me. As for my relationship with onirism, I was awakened by my encounter with Jodorowsky. Part of my foundation comes from my contact with him. He practices - in a very personal manner - the principle, familiar to the entire surrealist school, of the waking dream. The most spectacular western demonstration of the waking dream is what was called automatic writing, the conjunction between the act of rapid, flashing artistic creation and the theory of the Freudian slip. In my opinion, this theory is very important because it directly links the non-calculated gesture and the unconscious.
The bug - or the error - is also important in your work...
The bug is another occurrence of this famous Freudian slip, and an artist must imperatively seek out accidents. And not just seek them out, but justify them on two levels. First of all, in opening up channels between the accident-generating system and himself, and secondly by inwardly building up a belief, a sort of religion of the unconscious. The unconscious is linked to the divine itself, whether it is of its luminous side, or of its dark side.
What are these error-generating systems ?
It’s a fairly delicate random selection technique that superimposes and coordinates itself with harder techniques, like the learning of lines, of perspective, of the laws of drawing in general and of efficiency. The big problem is that of transposing the notion of efficiency from its socio-economic level to an artistico-mystic level.
Could the techniques that you use be compared to trance techniques ? I am thinking of subconscious drawing as well...
Of course, it’s essentially connected to that in a very clear way. In our society, we quite often have an extraordinary misunderstanding of what a trance is. We often associate it with slightly dangerous phenomena, which are on the verge of individual or social pathology. The most caricatured manifestation of trance is voodoo. But at the same time, if you study voodoo and if you practice it, you realize that it’s not that simple. In voodoo ceremonies, the participants are in a profound state of trance, but they are capable of handling sharp swords, or fire, in the middle of an audience without ever hurting anyone and without ever hurting themselves ! That makes me think of Jim Morrison on stage, I saw him, he staggered as if he were in a state of drunkenness or degeneracy. But remarkably, he never caught his feet in the microphone cord. You never saw him sprawling out after a wrong move, it was extraordinary. Trance is not the enemy of consciousness ; in any case it is certainly not its opposite. It’s a form of supra-conscience. When drawing, you never get into such a deep trance-like state. I think of writing as well, or of all activities that require attention. An electrician who starts working on a circuit goes into a slight trance-like state, which puts him in contact with an entire body of acquired knowledge, while at the same time he is conscious of his environment. He is in contact with a part of himself ; it’s a kind of internal channeling with everything that concerns electricity. It’s the same thing with all professional and emotional activities. As soon as you are in an amorous situation, you put yourself in a slight trance-like state. I had a friend who was doing incredible experiments with hypnotism as an amateur. One day he hypnotized my wife and made her think that her arm was an iron bar. Three of us tried to fold her arm without success. This friend said that the state of language, the state of civilization, and the state of a social being are all trance-like states. In the end, we’re all in a trance ! To say that you enter a trance is absurd. In fact you go from one trance to another. There is an alteration of the collective trance. Then, when I read Castaneda’s books, I was extremely struck because he was saying the same thing. The world of dreams - as Castaneda defined it - is a metamorphosis of the trance generated by humans in general, which allows them to collectively develop systems of beliefs, which will allow them to build on their humanity. Then I read a book by Rupert Sheldrake on psychomorphic fields. Sheldrake was mostly concerned with biology and with the stability of biological forms. He came up with some nice theories on the existence of a force field in a dimension to which we do not completely have access - not through our consciousness in any case. In this dimension, the characteristics acquired by a form get fixed in an almost physical manner. But in a “quantum” system - more than in one connected to our simple system of perception - those fields are more like inter-dimensional gravitational systems. It’s as if the apple tree had its furrow, the oak and the reed as well, and each one benefits from this furrow in order to maintain its coherence, even through mutations, even through the differentiation that characterizes each being. Because each being is unique. Snowflakes all have six branches but not two are alike. We are almost in a notion of infinity, in a metaphysical delirium, but each time with a relatively well-ordered coherence. The diversity of chaos is contained in an implacable order. The consciousness of being itself is defined and finds its solidity in this type of structure. As soon as there are two or three persons who think of something a little differently, a furrow appears in this abstract, inaccessible gravitational field. And if a thought is absurd, non-viable, it will be lost in the flow of time. But if it represents a mutation carried by several other beings or if it resonates with a situation that has matured, we will witness the creation of a furrow, and therefore of an idea. This idea will start resonating with all those who are ready and we will see it appear everywhere. That is why, if I have ideas, I am not so preoccupied with communicating them because they are in the process of being born anyway. They are not even useful right now. But the day when they become operational and useful, they will appear.
It’s a very singular role that you attribute to mankind in the cosmos...
I believe that man is an essential dynamic element in the cosmos. And man is not limited to local expression. Man is everything that includes consciousness and consciousness is everywhere. Going back to Sheldrake, from the moment when a form creates a field in a dimension, this dimension does not exclude consciousness. When we observe a community of ants, it has a strategy, a model that is absolutely comparable to everything we find in collective forms of expressions, whether they are languages, businesses, religions. We have a group of beings driven by a certain program, where each one runs in every direction in an anarchic manner. But in fact all of these beings obey a single word of command, which is the survival of the structure that gives them their coherence, their collective identity. From the moment when a group is established for enough time and with enough coherence to create a psychomorphic field, consciousness appears. The system of consciousness gathers as a whole somewhere in a dimension, in a universal and global consciousness. The perception of shamans, according to Castaneda for instance, or according to The Cosmic Serpent by Jeremy Narby, that’s the point of contact between us, as consciousness, and those fierce encodings that systems have come up with in order to maintain themselves, through the living and even through semi-living structures.
Could you also use these principles to explain the auto-destruction of societies ?
Yes indeed. There is a very nice parable about that. Egyptian priests used to build linen factories next to their temples. Plants were left to rot in tubs full of water, which gave off a dreadful smell. As soon as the pulp got to an advanced state of rot, they emptied the tanks and retrieved the fibres that were used to weave the priestly clothing ; linen was a sacred material. And why was this material sacred and why was it made next to the temples ? Because the initiated thought that the rotting process was a metaphor for society. The famous structures that we talked about, beliefs, civilizations in a more general way, served as sacred clothing to human expression. For it to exist, everything that must decay, decays. That atrocious and extremely unpleasant smell of rot is what makes us pull a wry face when we see the situation the world is in, or when we see our own body deteriorating. But this degradation, this permanent entropy is the essential condition for the fabrication and completion of the sacred virginal linen cloth. If the linen factories were close to the priests, it was to prevent them from forgetting that the world is a wonderful garden, in which decay and the creative act are related in an indissociable way.
But that doesn’t prevent man from trying to stop or limit some of these annoyances...
The driving force of the evolution of mankind is the desperate and endless search for the eradication of death and decay. Each success takes the principle to another level. It’s endless and inevitable, unless creating unchanging societies. The response has been to attempt to create stable societies - based on the hereditary transmission of power - by keeping in the dark inventiveness, technology and infringement. All traditional societies have tried to put this more or less conscious collective project into place, which is to create an eternal society, while just barely scratching the surface of the planet and without putting the ecological system or their demography in danger. Evidently, these systems are very cruel ; they repress a part of the human potential, causing it to take off in a direction that will determine strong civilization characteristics. Systems of identification only aim at perpetuating themselves. In the West, we put rapid systems into place ; we have instituted speed, including the speed of rotation of the systems of decay as well, often while trying to fight against them. The freedom that ensued has allowed us to escape evils and problems, while always creating new ones. It’s an endless race. The great thinkers of traditional societies, the initiated, are alarmed. They wonder how to stop this madness that is western thinking. The West is perhaps driven by a slightly blind optimism. We are destroying our planet but nobody cares. We continue, remaining certain that the response to entropy will always be positive. I can’t imagine us ever renouncing what makes our civilization work, simply because of a territorial and purely geographical problem. That seems completely absurd to me.
Have you tried, through your work, to offer a solution, an alternative ?
I don’t know. With Le Monde d’Edena (Edena’s world), I tried to create a saga with a dreamlike scenario of a world dominated by technology. The electronic machine, in its attempt to fold space and time, allows us to conquer new fields. The world being now too small, our only recourse is to create interstitial spaces in which we can continue to expand without danger. I imagined that there would be an apparent conflict and a happy solution. This solution would be wonderful in the sense that the technological solution would lead at one go to the realization of the existence of a completely spontaneous and eternal power inside the human being, which would allow him to create that interstitial space of development. The real environment would remain stable and the virtual environment would become infinite, not thanks to prosthesis, but through the development of an internal space, through imagination and dream, and that’s my utopia. It’s rather stupid...
What are you working on right now ?
I’m working on the next Blueberry album, which should be released at the end of this year. Since the last episode ended a bit abruptly, I decided I ought not to leave the reader waiting too long. In the end, I have a passion for Blueberry. I sign the Blueberry drawings under the name of Gir, and for this coming album, I took Moebius as scriptwriter. The beneficiaries were very angry, they don’t like that. I understand them, I would never have recommended such a thing, but that’s the way it had to be done
What about your work under the name Moebius ?
Yeah, I’ve done some things, but I don’t even know if it’s going to be released. We have a small publishing company called Stardom, but we encounter so many problems that we don’t even have time to publish anything. The best thing we’ve made was 40 Days in Desert B. That was my swan song, a real fantasy work.
How did you create it ?
I made it the year during which I also made the preceding Blueberry episode, I mean Geronimo l’Apache. I had this notebook, which was exactly the size of the book, and as soon as I had some time, I made drawings. I made one of them, two, three, and I decided that I would fill the entire notebook with drawings. I became completely crazy. This frenzy took hold of me for a year. I took my pen everywhere I went and as soon as I had a second, I opened my book. I sat in a corner and I filled in the space, until getting mad.
For something that took so long to make, there is an incredible coherence...
I am really driven by an extraordinary faith. I am a laborer of the unconscious. What’s more, the unconscious is something incredible because nobody knows what it is. No one has been able to define its centre, not any more than that of consciousness, neither in the brain nor in the ant community. It’s a mystery.
The day when we will localize that on a fractal level, or let’s say on a “quantum” level, that will be the end of everything. There will be attempts to manipulate what represents the heart of the world. I don’t know if that’s within the reach of human beings. Perhaps it is for others...
You spoke of a global mutation of the material towards energy, of a luminous apocalypse. Do you think we are going to reach these very dangerous but also sublime states ?
One day I had a flash of inspiration. It seemed to me that the Christian adventure, in its mystical and metaphorical foundations, is a great myth for all of humanity. It’s the one that triggered the irreversible process of acceleration on this planet and allowed the end of attempts at creating eternal systems. The program we set ourselves is quite clearly what is described in science fiction, which is in fact the bible of humanity. Namely, the aim is to construct physical systems that are going to allow us to go beyond the speed of light, or to short-circuit it in order to invest real galactic and intergalactic space. Thus, we will make contact with existing systems. If there aren’t any, we will create them, by sending colonies to all of the terraformable or terraformed planets. A system of time and space management will be created across the galaxy. The human race will impose itself and will meet man wherever he exists, that is to say wherever there is consciousness. And all that up to the point of enlightenment, that is to say up to our physical, material disappearance into another level. All of that is the Christian model, because this spatial expansion is nothing less than the crucifixion, which is based on the notion of dimensional space. When you look at Christ on the cross, you see the four directions that are indicated by the cross. The only thing that you cannot see is the invisible transversal created by our gaze, which passes through the heart of Christ. That forms a star with six branches, that’s the symbol’s importance.
We know the importance of symbols in your work, in which the crystal is recurrent. What does it represent ?
There was a time when I often used the crystal as a support for clairvoyance. The crystal is an example of a solid material of which the thought is so slow that it represents a good intermediary between our system of thought - of a rapid biological order - and the systems of thought of a planetary order that have very long evolution periods. The crystal is a being that grows like all beings, but on a very long period and with a system of consciousness extremely different from ours. Still there are major correlations, which are transparency and the reflection of light, in other words the truth.
Crystal is one of the basic structures in the human body...
What’s more, our blood, our bones and our DNA are based on a crystalline pattern. Once we’ve understood all that, we can put metaphysics aside and return to pay our taxes... The problem is to manage to come and go, to be able to weave ourselves a reality that would not be too far from these truths.
It’s an act of resistance...
Yes, that’s for sure. We are in a physical gravitational system, but this system is also psychic and spiritual. Our physical situation is a metaphor of the whole. If we don’t resist this gravitational attraction, we’ll have to stretch out on the ground, we’ll have to crawl. But not just physically : we’ll grovel politically, spiritually and morally.