During the final panel of MorrisonCon, the three-day comic book, music and magic celebration centered around writer Grant Morrison, the man of the hour and British musician (and official MorrisonCon DJ) Akira The Don spoke about conspiracy theories and the apocalypse culture that sprung up with the declaration that 2012 is the year of Armageddon.
"It's like anything, I guess," opined Akira. "Anything that happens will have a shitload of conspiracy theories about it, anything of any significance."
The two raised the conspiracy theories that sprang to life around the London Olympics as an example, such as the idea that the event's logo could be rearranged to say "Zion," or that Danny Boyle was part of the Illuminati and the opening ceremony would stage a fake alien invasion.
"The thing is, there's all this stuff about 2012. Apparently there's supposed to be some line-up of planets that happens this year that could cause a gravitational shift in the Earth's poles, and when the axis changes, we'll get a mass global consciousness change," Morrison said. "So it's kind of setting itself up for stuff the same way the Olympics was setting itself up for stuff it didn't fucking deliver."
Morrison explained that with such media scrutiny being paid to every single theory out there -- the London theories mainstream press reporting being one of them -- and the commercial embrace of magic and esotery as a way to sell products, it has become difficult to discern the real dangers through the "fog."
"They know we're the cool people and we're into all this stuff, so they're selling us this and filling it with imagery of stuff," Morrison said. "But it doesn't mean the Sons of Lucifer, it doesn't mean the illuminati -- it just means they're reading the same books we're reading, it's not esoteric knowledge."
The world is being set up for being unable to discern between "an actual apocalypse versus a media apocalypse," Morrison told the rapt crowd, making a point that fed into Morrison's ideas and his work on "The Invisibles," his acclaimed Vertigo series which followed a secret organization fighting a secret alien invasion, ending with the transformation of humanity on December 22, 2012 -- the year and date of the Apocalypse.
Asked how he envisioned the year 2012 when writing "The Invisibles," Morrison replied, "The horrible truth is that most visions of the future are based on where you are, and that's me in the middle of the '90s. There's some things I was writing, like giant TV screens with computer stuff on them, that was almost right, but other than that, my vision was a '90s future which has now become the '90s retro-future."
"You did predict the iPod mini, though," Akira pointed out as the audience laughed.
"Arthur C. Clarke gets remembered as the communications satellite as he wrote it into a story -- so does that mean I'm the guy who invented the fucking iPod?" Morrison joked as the crowd laughed again.
Wanting to have an open conversation with the audience about global consciousness changing and the ideas in Morrison's work, Morrison and Akira opened the floor to fan questions. The first audience member to approach the floor microphone asked if the writer thought the world was heading towards a time of "revelation."
"It has that look of that, but I'm, I think, a skeptic and like to present the opposite view; I always wondered if maybe all of that stuff is us projecting our own mortality onto the world," Morrison said with a laugh, "Because we're thinking, well, if we have to go, then every fucker is going with us!"
At this point, a mash-up meme pairing "Invisibles" quotes with the Wenlock and Mandevile London Olympic mascots popped up on the room's screen. Both the audience and panelists cracked up as they read through them. "Nobody likes those fucking things!" Morrison laughed again as the final shot faded from the screen.
Another audience member wanted to know what Morrison and Akira would be doing come December 21, the date of the apocalypse?
Answering the first audience member's question more seriously, Morrison told the crowd, "The scariest thing of all is if there is no apocalypse, and everyone's got to start making do and doing things and making a future."
"If it doesn't happen, we better do what we said we'd do and make this world into something futuristic," Morrison concluded to loud applause.
Talking about the possible 2012 consciousness shift led Akira to point out that each generation's perceptions of the world are different from their parents'. Morrison dubbed the current age as one where the "world of magic" had taken over.
"Stuff that was once esoteric knowledge and you had to find out it somewhere in a tome...it's become so ubiquitous we can hardly see it anymore," Morrison said. This concept was something he encouraged the audience to run with, to continue to get ideas and magic out there in their own way, like he had by putting it in his comics.
"Children are already becoming magicians, they've got technology that allows them to become magicians in ways none of us could have done before," Morrison added.
As for his December 21 plans, Morrison joked, "I'll be shifting the fuck out of my consciousness."
The next fan asked about the evolution of the relationships of the characters in "The Invisibles" as they moved from secret society to a much more human and flexible group of friends.
"The thing that makes 'The Invisibles' strong and real is that I was actually subjecting my own viewpoint to complete corrosive destruction. I went into that series thinking, 'It's good versus evil versus nasty, unpleasant controllers,' but the more I got to the end, the more I couldn't deny I could find all the same fascistic elements in myself...so I had to stretch my boundaries and think, why did they do that?" Morrison said. Because of this, he felt his antagonists and characters in "The Invisibles" couldn't remain the bad guys, leading him to shift them into becoming more three-dimensional characters.
Another fan asked about Morrison's childhood as the son of a militant anti-nuclear protestor. Morrison told his listeners that his father would often take him to protests and break-ins and was threatened by the government over his activities. His father's pictures of one of the nuclear bunkers he broke into, which showed mechanical pencil sharpeners in every room of an emergency fall-out shelter, struck Morrison as especially poignant.
"There is no chance the bomb could ever be stopped by anyone, and yet there were the pencil sharpeners lined up for the end of everything," Morrison said.
Adding that as a child his favorite movie was "2001: A Space Odyssey," Morrison said he forced his mother to take him to multiple screenings but would hold out his teddy bear in front of him as a shield for the parts he thought were scary. "The teddy bear that watched '2001' is the teddy bear that's in 'The Invisibles.'"
Another fan asked about the power behind "The Invisibles" and the meaning behind the series' last sentence, "Our sentence is up!"
"I just got to the end of 'The Invisibles' and it seemed to me that was the last thing I thought of...at the very end, Jack just kind of says, 'This is how I see things, what I've been through, now go and do your shit'...I wanted to end on the idea of, this is really just a story," Morrison explained. He encouraged the room to do whatever it is they do to the best of their abilities and to share their ideas with anyone who would listen, which was the point of MorrisonCon.
"It's not your responsibility to save the whole world; just save your little bit. If we all do that, then the world will be saved," Morrison told the crowd.
This led Morrison and Akira to talk about the idea of changing consciousness, telling a fan who wanted to know what they were doing to hasten the dawning of a new humanity and a new consciousness that was one of the loftier goals held for "The Invisibles."
"We're doing it right now!" a fan called out from the audience.
"That's it!" Morrison agreed as the audience cheered.
On a slightly lighter note, Morrison told the crowd that while he liked Philip K. Dick as an interesting person, he had never liked Dick's books. He then laughed about receiving the "Member of the Order of the British Empire," saying that his father actually got an MBE as well and used that opportunity to tell the Queen, "You better watch your dogs 'round here, because where I'm from we shoot those things."
"But the thing is, where he comes from they don't shoot corgis!" Morrison said as the room cracked up.
The panel -- and MorrisonCon -- ended with a final bit of audience interaction, from a man who simply wanted to thank Morrison for the convention and for providing a "real social network" for fans to attend over the weekend.