W is for Window (portrait of Poe from A-Z of Horror)

From Blake to Fellini by way of Borges... well, this is an eclectic selection, for sure - and includes some views that don't sit particularly well with the Barker ethos: 'The highest order of the imaginative intellect is always pre-eminently mathematical; and the converse,' (Poe). Nevertheless, there do seem to be those who have truly shaped Clive's thoughts - for better or worse...

"The fact is that, when you talk about the things that affected you, and start to trace the experiences which made you the person you are, you make choices. Whether you're making legitimate choices or simply shaping your history so it becomes a series of information bites is a moot point. All I will say is that the Psycho episode was something I will remember along with thousands of other things. Sitting at scout camp around the fire and generating stories for the other boys was also an important moment. It was perhaps more important. I was surrounded by a bunch of people who were better sportsmen, better knot-tiers, better cooks, better tent-erectors than I but, although I couldn't tie the knots and I couldn't erect the tents, I could tell a ghost story.
"It seems to me that, as I go through life, events from my past come into focus or go out of focus depending on what is occurring at a given time. When I was writing horror fiction, the stuff relating to that - seeing Psycho, ghost stories around the campfire, meeting Ramsey Campbell, the murder that happened in the next road - all seemed relevant. I no longer write horror fiction, so a whole series of other things come into focus which are no more or less important than the things I was talking about when I wrote The Books of Blood.
"I devoured books but my reading didn't centre wholly on horror fiction. It was centred on fantastical fiction generally. It was science fiction, fantasy, comicbooks, anything. It was children's fiction. I held onto my children's fiction rather longer maybe than other kids did. In fact I'm still holding on. My reading was related not so much to anti-reality, or even escapism, because sometimes that kind of material can be very confrontational and exploratory, but to stories which took flight from the real world into new worlds. So I've been in a high fever about all this stuff since I was fourteen. I went through a cool period in university because they attempted to apply the cold compresses of academe to my brow. For three years that did lower my temperature somewhat, but it was back again and furious by the mid-20's, and it's just burned up ever since.
"My inspirations for starting-places in Imajica were William Blake and John Bunyan. They were both great fantasy writers. And let's not forget David Lindsay - a wonderful writer! A Voyage to Arcturus is a masterpiece! It's an extraordinary work, if deeply, deeply flawed.... And I have to say, even though I don't necessarily agree with the way the metaphysic is interpreted, that the science fiction novels of C.S. Lewis are also an inspiration. Particularly Out Of The Silent Planet."

A Strange Kind Of Believer

By Stan Nicholls, Million, No.13, January/February 1993

"Tolkein is completely uninspirational to me, which isn't to say that I don't enjoy his books. I didn't pick up 'Lord of the Rings' and say, well I'd like to do a fantasy."

Clive Barker In The Flesh

By Dave Hughes, Skeleton Crew, III/IV, 1988

"Like all great visionaries, Giger has no truck with superfice; he plunges his hands into the raw stuff of our subconscious."

H.R.Giger Calendar

By Morpheus International, 1995

"Looking back, I'm certain a good deal of [Tales of Mystery and Imagination] must have been virtually incomprehensible to me. Poe is a difficult anchor for a young reader - his style often turgid, his language elaborate - and had it not been that there were drops of tainted liquor to be squeezed from this troublesome prose I might well have given up on it. But I revelled in the perversity he paraded: the discovery of the corpses in 'The Murders in the Rue Morgue', the return of Madeline in 'The Fall of the House of Usher', the unmasking of the Red Death. If the sexual sub-text of much of his fiction passed me by, much else did not.
"Poe proved to me early in my imaginative life the power of fictions that are unabashedly committed to the business of taboo. He taught me that if the vision was strong enough it didn't matter if the story occurred yesterday on your own street corner or on some dateless day in an unamed place. After Poe, the thrust of fantastique fiction would never for me be a matter of conventional folks setting their Christian values against dome fretful, haunted darkness, but a celebration, however perverse, of that darkness; a call to enter a territory where no image or act is so damnable it cannot be explored, turned over in the mind's eye, kissed and courted; finally - why whisper it? - embraced."

Edgar Allan Poe

By Clive Barker, The Independent Magazine, 30th November 1991

"[I have been] a pretty eclectic reader. I was never obsessed by any particular genre. As far as the fantastique is concerned, I read Poe and Bradbury and fairly standard people. The only people who I sort of discovered for myself were Arthur Machen and David Lindsay. I suppose Eddison and Dunsany also. There were negative influences too, trudging through 'The Well At The World's End'. Fritz Lieber I like a lot. He's approachable and witty. His Fafhrd and Grey Mouser stories please me in a way that the Conan stuff never did. It always seemed witless to me. I like to hear the author. You can hear Lieber's voice very strongly. There were other influences which were every bit as strong as the fantasy influences. Stevenson for instance. I go back and back to Stevenson.
"I adore Biblical epics. Horror movies... Later on, 'Fantasia'. If I had to choose one movie it would be that just as a pure sensation... Cartoons are a huge influence. It's pure cinema. You get a kind of visual control which can make for stunning stuff. And film noir for the humanity, for the story. I love notions of discovery, the psychoanalytic subtext of noir.
"And Donne, Webster, Shakespeare, Marlowe, those guys. They were populists who were shamelessly interested in weighty material. Now that's what I'm up to. I want to make popular fiction which carries significance of some kind."

Clive Barker

By Kim Newman, Interzone, No.14, Winter 1985/86

"Four years ago, I was unemployed, writing plays and painting canvases, with Jean Cocteau as my hero. When I was a kid I saw his film 'Testament of Orphee', and it encapsulated Cocteau's vision; then I caught 'Beauty and the Beast', which was even greater - Garbo purportedly exclaimed, when the beast, played by Jean Marais, who was Cocteau's best friend, turns into a prince, 'Oh, give me back my beautiful beast!' Frankly, I don't lay claim to understanding Cocteau's work, but it haunts you. I was 8 or 9 when I saw his films, and I guess I had an unusual childhood in that I hated toys, all I wanted was whatever had to do with painting. So I write, illustrate, make movies like 'Hellraiser' - oddly that's more French than English. The English don't like polymaths, they prefer you to do one thing well."

The Great Life

By George Christie, The Hollywood Reporter, 17th November 1987

"[re. inspiration for Books Of Blood] It was reading 'Dark Forces'... It was the most extraordinary cross-section that one could imagine of kinds of talent, writing stories that could scarcely be more different from each other. I thought it was a really exciting notion - that one could actually put so many kinds of stories into a collection and call it a horror anthology for want of a better word - and I thought I should have a go at that.
"A visit to Pentonville Prison influenced both my novel, The Damnation Game and a story called In The Flesh... Last time I was in the Big Apple... there was somebody hacking up people on the subway and having a fine old time of it, so that gave me the idea for The Midnight Meat Train.[greatest influence] it has to be Poe... though there's still a lot of Poe I'm not sympathetic with. There are still those half-dozen central stories - [Usher, Red Death, Amontillado, Rue Morgue etc] that continue to fascinate.
"I'll never forget the first time I saw 'Psycho'. I went into the cinema early, before the previous show had ended. It was immaculately timed: just as she was going into the cellar and saying, 'Mrs Bates, Mrs Bates,' and the light began swinging. This was the first horror scene I had ever seen in the movies, and I thought, 'My God, are they all like this?'"

Meet Clive Barker

By Philip Nutman & Stefan Jaworzyn, Fangoria, No.51, January 1986 & L'Ecran Fantastique, No.69, June 1986

"'Peter Pan' was the real start of everything... The thing I wanted to be when I was small was Peter Pan - I wanted to be able to fly; I wanted access to a Never-Never Land. My friends read ... Narnia Chronicles or Robert Louis Stevenson, but for me it was always Captain Hook.I don't ever remember a time that I wasn't genuinely interested in horror in some form or another. It was always the grisly bits of fairy tales that I was interested in. I've always liked fantastical literature of some kind and I've always liked the darker aspects of that. I remember buying my first edition of 'Tales of Mystery and Imagination'... and I thought 'My God! There are adults out there who have the same kind of dreams that I have. This is marvelous!'"

Clive Barker: Anarchic Prince Of Horror

By Stephen Jones, Knave magazine, Vol 19, No 5 1987

"'In The Hills, The Cities'. That was inspired by a picture called 'Panic' by Goya, in which a vast giant is disappearing into the mist with tiny people running away in it's shadow, and another print called 'Colossus' in which a giant is sitting on the edge of the world. Fabulous, fabulous pictures. The same kind of clarity one finds in Borges and Marquez, the same kind of unapologetic embrace of the extraordinary."

Clive Barker: Renaissance Hellraiser

Barker at 1986 World Fantasy Convention, by Leanne C. Harper, The Bloomsbury Review, September/October 1987

"Certainly my two earliest memories of cinema are Harryhausen and Disney. And they did what the cinema does so well: make stuff concrete that cannot be made concrete in any other form; it makes this stuff real."

Raising Hell With Clive Barker

By Douglas E. Winter, Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone Magazine, Vol 7, No 5, December 1987

"I think the extraordinary thing I was taught by Melville was the fact that a book could occupy - that a fiction could occupy - metaphorical and realistic states simultaneously."

Beneath The Blanket Of Banality

By Lionel Gracy-Whitman & Don Melia, Heartbreak Hotel, No 4, July/August 1988

"There was one English teacher in particular, who basically said to me, 'You have to be a student, but there will come a time when you are not a student and if you just play the game for a while it's going to be wonderful for you.' He gave me faith in myself, which was important because, as loving as my mother and father were, they didn't come from a world that really comprehended what I was trying to go after."

Horror Visionary

By Michael Beeler, Cinefantastique, Vol 26 No 3, April 1995

"The major influences are, I think, also personal influences rather than cinematic or literary influences... Yes, Bradbury and Poe and certain movies - maybe Disney movies when I was a little kid, and later on Hammer movies and Universal pictures - influenced me in no inconsiderable fashion. Equally, I think it's important to say that I probably wouldn't have been drawn to those things as strongly had I not had other influences upon me. An English teacher of mine, called Norman Russell, was enormously influential in the sense that he celebrated my imagination in a way that other teachers didn't. He sort of said, 'You have a very special sort of imagination and you should learn to nurture it,' which is something I had never really thought of doing - the nurturing, that is. That was a significant influence.My schooldays, generally, were influential in the sense that there were many things I kicked very hard against, and those are as influential as the things that push you from behind onwards. And certainly some major authoritarians in my school - ... that was very influential in a negative way, as well, because it gave me a sense of things that I hated and still do hate. And if there's an anti-authoritarian streak in my fiction, which there clearly is - policemen, judges, the upper echelons are very often discovered to have feet of clay - it's because I discovered quite early on in my life that they did. So, that's an influence, certainly.My parents, inevitably; in part because their imaginations were pretty much stylised by the world into which they were born, the time into which they were born, and their decision to actually raise children as opposed to go out ad make pictures; as my father was a very fine artist. Or in my mother's case, writer, because she has great imaginative skill. Neither of them saw these ambitions through to fulfilment and I think that was also part of the influential texture of my childhood. All of those things... influenced very strongly my sense that imaginative fiction, or imaginative movies, or imaginative paintings were things, even though they might be denigrated, and still are hugely denigrated,were, somehow or other, the field in which I was going to work. That, quite early on, at age 11 or 12, shaped the kind of fiction that I was really trying to make in my school compositions, or the kind of drawings I was trying to make in my art class, and it shaped, very much, my own internal strengths."

Babel's Child

By Mark Salisbury, Fear, No 2, Sept/Oct 1988

"If I had to name one great hero, it's William Blake. That whole area of English letters, which includes Shelley and Coleridge and, actually, Wordsworth - although, because, he's viewed much more as a realistic poet most of the tine, the visionary elements of his work are often overlooked, I think - but "The Prelude" is full of extraordinary visionary passages, you know, the scene in Snowdon and so on. Of course, an opium fix doesn't hurt once in a while, fuelling these imaginings!
"My favourite book, probably to my dying day, is 'Peter Pan,' because it's the first invented-world book I ever read, and it impressed me with a very simple idea; that one day the windows would open and you'd be gone, you'd be out of this fuck-up. And, in a way, that's never gone away; the simple stuff always touches you."

The Edge Interview

By David Alexander, The Edge, 1991(note : online at [G Houghton's] The Edge site)

"Well, to start, I don't feel my work is limited to simply the genre. I call my style of writing Fantastique, and it can be anything from Alice in Wonderland to Moby Dick. And I enjoy all sorts of people, most especially William Blake. Midsummer Night's Dream, all kinds of poetry, folklores, and fairy tales. There are hundreds of authors.In movies, the list is also huge, from the conventional names like Psycho, The Exorcist, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. But it'simportant to be aware of films from other cultures as well. There are some wonderful movies out there. The Japanese have some great films, like Kwaidan, a ghost story. It was very influential in my teens. It's not all just men in rubber dinosaur suits smashing models. Another favourite is Eyes Without a Face by George Franju. It's a very disturbing film. It's just so important to be aware of what other cultures have to offer us."

The Clive Barker Interview

By Mike Lackey, Marvel Age, No 107, December 1991

"Poe, Melville, John Dunne, TS Elliot, Shakespeare, Machen, Wilde, Genet. The list goes on forever. Nor would I neglect painters and filmmakers. Other people's work is endlessly inspiring. James Ensor, a Belgian painter. George Franju, a filmmaker. William Blake, Redon, whose pastels are amazing of the fantastical. Max Ernst. Cronenberg, Fellini, Murnau, his Faust was amazing and stunning. The list goes on.

The Dominion

Transcript of an on-line session at The Dominion, website of the Sci-Fi Channel, 8 March 1999

[Re. Terrance McKenna] "The Archaic Revival is extraordinary. The Food Of The Gods was okay but it didn't contain anything you couldn't read elsewhere. But The Archaic Revival contained ideas I found extraordinary. I've never met him, I've encountered many of his friends and have read everything by him in article form and so on, he even has these lectures on tape. He's one of those people I sense are hugely illuminating but then I step back and I'm not sure what I've just been told. There's something quite frustrating about that. He's a firework going off and some of those sparks are gong to be illuminating and some of them are just going to leave you struggling and shaking your head and I'm comfortable about that because there are clearly amazing ideas in there, but the thing I could never figure with him though is at what point he is no longer sure that he believes what he's saying. He's talking about drugs and plant mind and shamanism and that's okay, he's one of those people pressing to an extreme position and it's really interesting to read that. But when he gets to alien invasion by plants I think, 'How much of this does he genuinely believe?'."

World Weaver

By John M Farrell, Hot Press, No 13951, 1995

"American culture influenced me the most when I was a kid - the movies, Edgar Allen Poe, Melville. Moby Dick is my favourite novel, bar none. It works on so many levels. It taught me that you can have a top layer of narrative - like the seafaring story - and then below that all those wonderful, rich, symbolic things going on."

L A Gore

By Paul Mungo, GQ, December 1992

"Well, as a gay author, I have many gay men in the field who inspired me to continue with my work. The writers include Genet, William Burroughs, Ginsburg, and Cocteau. My painting influences include Goya, Blake, and Max Ernst. For filmmaking, again, I would have to include Cocteau. As far as the films themselves, I have always loved the epics, extravagant movies of biblical proportions. Ben Hur is one of my favorites for reasons of personal mythology. Interestingly enough, when I was asked to pick a film for 'Outfest', a gay and lesbian festival in Los Angeles, I chose Cleopatra. I think they were surprised by this. Most of the participants don't even remember Cleopatra. The film cost forty-three million dollars to make in 1962. Today, that figure would be around three hundred million. That's astonishing! And, even though I'm known more for my books and movies, I'm a playwright, too. Theatre is actually my first love. I enjoy musicals the most. I'm a big fan of Rogers & Hammerstein. It's interesting to see how two of my favorite musicals, Carousel and South Pacific, have stood up so well cinematically."

Pinhead And The Human Condition

By Dan Clarke,Inklings, Vol 3 No 4, Winter 1997-98

[re. Blake] "He described the world in which he lived: a world that co-existed with the metaphysical forces. The prophetic books contain references to angels dictating stuff to him in his room or sitting on a tree on Peckham Rye."

Horror Stories With A Walk-On Part For Jesus

By Frances Welch,Sunday Telegraph, 13 December 1998

"My great models are William Blake - poet, illustrator - and Jean Cocteau - playwright, poet, novelist. These guys didn't make a distinction between what they did. There's a certain artificiality - and it's a pretty modern phenomenon - about the way we divide our endeavours up. If you, a writer, are also expressing yourself as a painter, you're still the same person. The manifestations of my interest in the world will be many and multifarious. So my attitude always is that I don't look too closely at myself and my processes. Most times, I just get the heck on with it. I want to have a crack at that, so it's: 'Let's see what we can achieve'."

Renaissance Man

By [ ],The Scotsman, 21 September 1999

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