Clive Barker in 1987

Interviewed by Steve Dillon in 1987, these extracts were published in Clive Barker’s ‘Shadows in Eden’, edited by Stephen Jones – The interview was conducted on 27 October 1987 at the launch of Weaveworld in the Albert Dock, Liverpool. It was intended for publication in Steve’s role-playing games magazine, Adventurer #13, but to date remains unpublished in full anywhere.

On Genre:

“The problem is, in a genre which is full of phallic swords and that kind of thing, it’s important to establish female power and female potency, and the eroticism which comes with that. And it needn’t all be ‘goody-goody’ stuff, I mean Immacolata particularly; she ‘s kind of sexy, yet dangerous at the same time. And yet a virgin, which makes her all the more sexier of course.”

On Fantasy (The Phantastique):

“The word ‘fantasy’ has now become pejorative… In fact, fantasy fiction has repeatedly through the ages addressed very serious subjects; Moby Dick is a fantasy, Midsummer Night’s Dream is a fantasy, The Tempest, Paradise Lost, and they contain great moral complexity and depth. So fantasy should not be maligned. Fantasy as a form can contain great depth. Not claiming that ‘Weaveworld’ is the definitive – it isn’t, but it’s certainly an attempt on my part to address the possibilities of fantasy, rather than simply its superfice. It can be about life and death, it can be about eroticism transformed to magic, it can be about mystery ‘held onto’… it’s important to address these subjects. And I think fantasy can do it better, because finally, we live a quarter of our lives, a third of our lives, perhaps… in dreamland. And in our dreams, we explore and deal with our lives in metaphorical terms… which are parallels to, analogous to the conditions and the fears and the hopes that we have in our waking lives… I would say that in the same way, fantasy is a confrontation with our waking lives, at its best. One of my favourite scenes in ‘Weaveworld’ is when Jerichau makes love with Suzanna, in which his words become poems, which is a kind of image of eroticism which is potent I hope in part because it is anti-chauvinist. Because here is a man who is very vulnerable and very much in love. And of course Cal is very much in love with Suzanna, but it’s a non-sexual love, under those circumstances… She has so much power in the book. She’s the one who makes the plot turn 90 degrees in places… I love the Venus Mountain sequences because they are very sexual, and yet they are very erotic in a curious kind of way. But also they’re absolutely such strange sequences.”

On Meaning, Mystery, Memory:

“We live, it seems to me, in a society in which meaning is being drained away, in which metaphysical significance is under siege… 150 years ago, our sense that the world was a watch and God was the watchmaker would have been very strong. Now, we are both of us born into a world in which the atom bomb exists….in which AIDS is rampant. We live in a world in which fear and anxiety are commonplace. On one curious level, one of the ways that people have responded to this high level anxiety is not to search. I don’t see a massive explosion of genuine metaphysical enquiry, I see Jonestown kind of things; I see cults and eruptions of California-ese… Relating that to the fears that I have and the hope that I have, my fears are finely related to the death of meaning… One of the things that ‘Weaveworld’ is about is meaning being frail in the world, a frail thing subject to forgetfulness. The major theme of Weaveworld above all is memory. It’s about how you hold on to something that you had when you were a child, the knowledge you had as a child, how we as a species hold on to a kind of optimism which we remember. How we have a memory of Eden, a ‘race’ memory, a subconscious memory of Eden.”