I’ve finally finished Alan Moore’s JERUSALEM. Twice. Read the book. Listened to the audiobook. One echoing the other. Sometimes the audiobook brought out the nuances of previously digested text. Sometimes the book highlighted the beauty of the written word on the page.
I started JERUSALEM in November of 2017. I finished off the audiobook of Book 1 on my journey down to London for Burn The Shard Pt 1.
I’ve got no intention of reviewing or attempting to précis the book. The fact that I’ve lived with this book, aged with this book is recommendation alone. But I will offer this. JERUSALEM is one of the most impressive outcomes of the human experience + time. Behind every great piece of art, there are decades of process and experience. Behind every magical second of The Beatles are 10000 hours of playing in Hamburg. Behind every faint and shimmy of Maradona’s second goal against England are centuries of genetics and dedication to perfection. I’ve got not idea about the inception of JERUSALEM, but it is clear to me that Alan Moore set out to write something wonderful, something that would stretch his talents into previously uncharted territories of literature.
To discuss any of the plot or structure of JERUSALEM would be to deny new readers the treats waiting to be unearthed, but something did begin to bubble to the surface to over the last year or so. I think it’s possible* that Alan Moore wrote another book while he was finishing JERUSALEM.
From the inside cover onwards, it is made clear that Alma Warren, one of JERUSALEM’s main protagonists, takes the place of the author in some of the more autobiographical sections of the book. Alma Warren isn’t a strict anagram but it’s close enough to Alan Moore to get our attention. Another major character, Roman Thompson acts as a front for Alan Moore’s political leanings.
Anagrams are important.
Gender swaps are useful.
JERUSALEM mixes real and fictional characters throughout including several mentions for Messrs Drummond and Cauty and even Gimpo. Northampton plays a significant role in The JAMs’ timeline. Bill got his first jobs there, at the morgue and St Crispin’s Asylum, and they screened ‘Watch The K Foundation Burn A Million Quid’, in Alan Moore’s sitting room. Alan’s comment at the time was:
‘I think we’re moving towards some sort of paradigm shift, or massive collective mental breakdown some huge step of some kind; a basic change in our thinking. In politics, religions and the various structures we have built up, the world not the planet but the idea of the world we’ve created is likely, at least conceptually, to go up in flames the end of the world figuratively, but not apocalyptically not like a traditional notion of Armageddon. Maybe we’ve always imagined it’s going to collapse I’m not trying to be millennial about this I don’t see ‘the destruction and end of the world’, that chimera that we always seem to dangle over ourselves. Rather around this juncture of history when all of our systems are unstable and teetering towards this point of climax and collapse, we should consider the speed at which our culture is learning.’
SOME MINOR SPOILERS BELOW
Money burning forms part of the chapter ‘Burning Gold’ in Book 3.
‘Alma’ is friends with ‘Bill Drummond’. Michael Warren’s childhood barber is Albert ‘Bill’ Badger.
At ’23 past midnight’ in ‘The Jolly Smokers’ chapter, something ‘old was happening again’ and Des is prompted to exclaim ‘what the fuck is going on?’ in a broad ‘Burroughs’ accent.
At Alma’s exhibition, a miniature city scape plots the course of an ambulance.
Exhibit 23, is a large painting of tall furnace resembling a ‘witches hat’ called The Destructor.
Exhibit 27 is a carefully rendered facsimile of a £20 note, except Adam Smith is not being stared out by a Mr.B.Drummond.
In Book Two, Michael Warren meets Phyllis and Bill Painter.
One of ‘Alma’s’ closest friends is the actor Robert Goodman, who has mostly played villainous roles including Hamburglar, the arch-nemesis of Ronald McDonald.
One of JERUSALEM’s co-editors was author and KLF biographer, John Higgs.
The title of JERUSALEM, references many different sources including the William Blake 1804 poem and prophetic book.
Only one original recording by The KLF was aired at their comeback ‘Welcome To The Dark Ages’ event:
‘Jerusalem On The Moors’, the B-side to ‘It’s Grim Up North’, which soundtracked the funeral(?) procession that proceeded Jarvis Cocker in The Rites Of MuMufication.
Another prophetic book was 1984, written by George Orwell on Jura.
Another prophetic book, 2023, was written by Roberta Anton Wilson as George Orwell on the Isle of Jura
In 2023, Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty are in a group called Extreme Noise Terror along with Alan Moore.
Throughout JERUSALEM, Moore writes in the styles of many of his favourite authors including James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and Enid Blyton. Another of his favourite writers is Robert Anton Wilson and Moore played the computer FUCKUP in Daisy Eris Campbell’s adaptation of Cosmic Trigger.
What if Alan Moore wrote a parody of/tribute to RAW and Orwell to help launch the new business venture of his old associates, The K Foundation?
The plot of 2023 centres on a cataclysmic disaster in a world ran by The Big Five that results in a temporary return to The Dark Ages.
Alan Moore has caused controversy throughout his career with the inclusion of rape and sexual violence and JERUSALEM is no exception to this.
His response when asked was:
“Why should sexual violence be ring-fenced when forms of violence every bit as devastating are treated as entertainment? If I may venture an answer to my own question, might it be because the term ‘sexual violence’ contains the word ‘sexual’, a word relating to matters traditionally not discussed in polite society?”
**JERUSALEM = ‘E RULE JAMS
Photograph: Alistair Fruish
Photograph: Amber Moore