Alan Moore re. KLF in “Jerusalem”

From Alan Moore’s “Jerusalem“, which I may actually one day finish:

All about will and flammability, so Alma says, and Roman thinks she’s right. Having the fire of will and spirit is a must, but useless if your fuel’s damp or goes up like tinder. What’s important is the way you burn. He can remember Alma telling him about how she has Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond from the KLF turn up one day at her house on East Park Parade to show the film of them torching a million quid up on the Isle of Jura, where George Orwell completes 1984. She says she likes a movie where you can see every penny of the budget up there on the screen but Roman’s not sure how he feels at first about all that potentially life-saving lucre going up the chimney. Still, as Alma points out, if the million had gone up their noses nobody would raise an eyebrow. In the end, Rome comes to the conclusion that it’s glorious, more than just a gesture. It’s the whole idea of money being burned, not just the actual loot. It’s saying that the golden dragon that enslaves us, that allows a tiny fraction of the global population to own nearly all the wealth, that ensures almost universal human poverty by its very existence, doesn’t actually exist at all, is made of worthless paper, can be taken care of with a half-box of Swan Vestas. Drummond is Northampton reared, a hulking Scot from Corby who goes to the art school here and works at the St. Crispin’s nuthouse for a while. Rome fancies you can see the town’s brand on the renegade rock-god: incendiary, justified and ancient.

Item twenty-seven, labelled Burning Gold by its green scribbled afterthought, was not a new idea – Mick thought he could remember Alma telling him of an American named Boggs that she admired who’d first done something very similar – although the details of its execution were markedly different. A ridiculously enlarged (or perhaps inflated) reproduction of a banknote, straddling the fine-to-non-existent line dividing art from forgery and rendered in authentic-looking pen and ink, it seemed to be accumulating more absurdist details as he studied it. It was a twenty, with a copyright line at the bottom stating this year, 2006, to be its date of issue. Details of typography and serial numbers were identical to standard currency, as was the colouration and the general composition of the counterfeit’s elaborate illustration. Certain elements of content, though, had been transposed or altered. To the note’s left, as on normal money, a vaguely amphibious-looking Adam Smith faced right in profile, wrought from mauve engraving with a face of gentian dust, a topcoat and peruke of thumbprint whorls. The capitalist visionary, however, now found himself in a staring contest with a matching profile over on the right, where a comparably meticulous lavender bust of Alma’s pop-terrorist K-Foundation mate Bill Drummond had been added. Simultaneously serious and satirical, the Corby-reared Scot’s resolute gaze drilled into the architect of boom and bust’s bland salamander stare of self-assurance. There was clearly no hope of negotiation. In the centre-ground between the men, the customary diagram detailing eighteenth-century pin manufacture had been skilfully replaced by a rendition of what Mick knew from his sister’s testimony to be Drummond’s celebrated burning of a million quid up on the remote Hebridean isle of Jura, where George Orwell went to finish 1984. Against a sphere of Spirograph complexity and finely hatched in tones that strayed from sepia to strawberry were four men in a ruined cottage. Three of them – Drummond himself, his K-Foundation partner Jimmy Cauty and their witness, the TV producer Jim Reid – shovelled crisp fifty-pound notes into a central conflagration, while the fourth, ex-army cinematic auteur Gimpo, captured the resultant cash-to-ashes alchemy on film. Superimposed in purple lettering above where it said “Bank of England” was the altered legend: “The division of opinion in slave manufacturing: (and the great decrease in the quantity of slaves that results).”

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