inkwell.vue.70 : Nick Bantock - "The Museum at Purgatory"
permalink #26 of 85: Nick Bantock (purgatory) Sat 1 Apr 00 08:09
Oh you hard of heart.
Don't you know that cynics are failed romantics.
I on the other hand, having failed as a cynic, have become a romanic.
PS. But I still hate sentimentality!

When you say animation--that covers a large spectrum. Do you mean
flat? 3 D? Half and half actor-toon? Or do you see something quite
I'm not trying to turn the interview round, I promise. I'm just
curious how other people project images. 
The treatment of art within films has so often been trivialized, or
watered down to fit fairly low expectations, it makes me a little
nervous of letting others near my work, and yet I believe there has to
be a way of integrating the artist and his/her vision. 

How old are Griffin and Sabine? In the books there's a way of pinning
their ages to around 27 or 28. Of course films aren't restricted by a
book's chronology. But I don't see an older guy and younger woman, or
the reverse. G and S are two sides of one coin and the spin would be
unbalanced by a major difference of generation.
inkwell.vue.70 : Nick Bantock - "The Museum at Purgatory"
permalink #27 of 85: Linda Castellani (castle) Sat 1 Apr 00 10:02

Well, I adore animation of all kinds - you didn't mention Claymation or
other stop-action animation! - so I could see all kinds of ways that
animation could play a role in a film.  At the moment, what I'm seeing is
live actors playing Griffin and Sabine, and it's the correspondence itself
that's animated, sort of a bridge between scenes:  the springboard would 
have to be the first postcard that arrives - perhaps we see the bird
shake his little tail as Griffin takes the postcard out of the postbox - 
he's not sure he sees it, or perhaps the characters in the film are
entirely oblivious to the animation and only the audience gets to enjoy
it.  We get a glimpse of their lives between correspondence and see the
effect it has on their lives; by animating it, the audience gets to fully
participate in the art of it, and the correspondence remains the focal
point.  The humans would just react to it.  I think that would work better
than someone holding up a postcard and reading what is says.  And, of
course, voiceovers for the content.

But!  I should mention at this point that some of Griffin and Sabine has
already been animated!  You were involved in a very, very exciting project
that resulted in a CD-ROM called "Ceremony of Innocence"  What was it like
to create this CD-ROM, how did you bring your work to life in this way,
and who did you work with on it?

I had hoped that my copy would have arrived before the interview started,
but I guess since it's coming from England, it takes a while.  A demo of
the animation, found at: is what whetted my
appetite to see the rest of it.  On this site, you can see the bird shake
his tail, and also run a demo of a letter.  I should add that the letter
is interactive, and it does more than interesting interaction with your
cursor.  Hint:  run your cursor over the stamp a few times...
inkwell.vue.70 : Nick Bantock - "The Museum at Purgatory"
permalink #28 of 85: hey-jannie (hey-jannie) Sun 2 Apr 00 08:12
For the G&S movie, let's not show the actors' faces--just their hands,
and perhaps their feet. With face views of the live actors (or even
animated characters), conventional beauty could get in the way of the
imaginative, spiritual connection that's such a delight to feel growing
in our minds as readers.
inkwell.vue.70 : Nick Bantock - "The Museum at Purgatory"
permalink #29 of 85: Nick Bantock (purgatory) Sun 2 Apr 00 09:11
Ceremony of Innocence--the title for the C D Rom came from the W B
Yeats poem The Second coming that runs as a theme through the book
trilogy. As for the Rom, that was built by Real World, Peter Gabriel's
company. Each of the cards and letters are alive and interactive,
there's a straight path through the story, but every postcard has to be
solved in order to release the text on the reverse. It takes many
hours to get right though and unlike the mouse jabbing that most C D
Rom's require, Ceremony encourages more empathy and less franeticism.
It took us three years to make (with all the visuals, music and sound
effects), cost a small fortune, and won most of the major elecronic
awards around the world. And then...found no foothold in the market
place. Even a full page glowing review in the New York Times couldn't
launch it into wider public awareness. By the time it was released the
independent bookstores had already retracted into their shells after
finding that C D Rom's weren't a good fit with the bookbuying public.
While the C D Rom outlets were principally inhabited by games players
(usually male and teen) or by people looking for program softwear.
Hence the audience that might well have bought Cerenony in quantity
either didn't know of its existence or had no iddea where to get it,
because the 'shootem-up' stores weren't interested in carrying it. In
some ways it was rather sad. However it's something I'm proud of having
been involved with.
Ceremony took over a hundred people to make, and the work everyone put
in was of an extraordinarily high standard. The voices for the
charectors were performed by Isabella Rossellini, Paul McGann and Ben
Kingsley. (And recording those three was a fascinating experience in
itself). The two people at the pointy end were Alex Mayhew and Gerrie
Villon, the creative director and the producer. But if any of the folks
who participated in Ceremony are listening in, "You deserve a lot more
credit than you ever received." Thanks again. 
inkwell.vue.70 : Nick Bantock - "The Museum at Purgatory"
permalink #30 of 85: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (peoples) Sun 2 Apr 00 09:34
(sorry for the backtrack, but I feel compelled to add this sidebar...)

I once gave my then-boss the pop-up There Was An Old Woman Who Swallowed a
Fly book. It was her 50th birthday, and other employees gave her candy and
bleak "joke" cards about hitting the half-century mark. She was on a diet
and couldn't eat the candy; the joke cards went over with a weak "heh
heh" from her. But she was soooooo pleased with the pop-up book. So thanks,
Nick, for creating it. You made my boss very happy. 
inkwell.vue.70 : Nick Bantock - "The Museum at Purgatory"
permalink #31 of 85: No, I thought. I'm not crazy. I'm an adventurer. (fom) Sun 2 Apr 00 12:43
I was not even aware of the existence of that CD-ROM. It can be ordered,
inkwell.vue.70 : Nick Bantock - "The Museum at Purgatory"
permalink #32 of 85: Casey Ellis (caseyell) Sun 2 Apr 00 14:52
This is fascinating to read. 
inkwell.vue.70 : Nick Bantock - "The Museum at Purgatory"
permalink #33 of 85: Nick Bantock (purgatory) Sun 2 Apr 00 15:24
The above is the N.American distributor of The Ceremony of Innocence.

Pleased to hear your boss could handle something so...tongue in cheek.
inkwell.vue.70 : Nick Bantock - "The Museum at Purgatory"
permalink #34 of 85: Linda Castellani (castle) Sun 2 Apr 00 21:23

Sometimes I simply do not understand "the market."  Personally, I can't
wait until my copy arrives. 

Since you've mentioned the theme of Yeat's _The Second Coming_ that runs
throughout the book trilogy, I should tell you that I went to
and read some of the reviews that readers have posted.  I was struck in
particular by one titled "Evil Disguised as the Ultimate Love Story."  I
asked the person who posted it for permission to quote it here, but
received no reply, so I'm afraid that our readers will have to go to and read the reviews for themselves at

Have you read this particular review, and if so, how do you respond
to it?
inkwell.vue.70 : Nick Bantock - "The Museum at Purgatory"
permalink #35 of 85: Scott Underwood (esau) Mon 3 Apr 00 05:54
I found another Bantock pop-up book in my collection: Jabberwocky! It's much
smaller, but my kids still remember me reading (well, reciting) it to them.
inkwell.vue.70 : Nick Bantock - "The Museum at Purgatory"
permalink #36 of 85: Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 3 Apr 00 14:16

Nick's having some connectivity problems with his ISP, and that combined
with the WELL's extreme sluggishness is delaying his reponse.  He will be
by soon, though!

Also, I should take this opportunity to post a question from one of Nick's
fans that arrived even before the interview started - thanks for your
patience, satu!

 From Thu Mar 23 20:05:39 2000
 Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2000 17:42:00 -0500
 From: satu papanek <>
 Subject: Bantock exhibit?

     [ The following text is in the "iso-8859-1" character set. ]
     [ Your display is set for the "US-ASCII" character set.  ]
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 Satu asks:

 Will there be in the future, a museum or gallery exhibit of some of
 Nick's original pieces of art?

 The original artwork must be amazing.  I'd be interested to see how these
 works compare to the final versions we see photographed/created for his

 Keep up the beautiful work, Mr. Bantock!
inkwell.vue.70 : Nick Bantock - "The Museum at Purgatory"
permalink #37 of 85: Nick Bantock (purgatory) Mon 3 Apr 00 16:14
Sorry for the days gap, but I had trouble logging on.

Yes I read that review on Amazon. And while I maintain the view that
everyone has the right to their own interpritation--his perspective is
not mine. I couldn't quite be sure if he was being mischievous and
provocative, or whether Sabine pressed some of his buttons. The writers
fairly dogmatic, "This is the way it is." observations are for me as
uneven as anyone who clutches at the romantic love part of the story.
Neither wish to acknowledge that ambivelance is a blessing, not a
Yes there is darkness both in the story and the poem, but how else can
awareness exist? Without darkness light is meaningless. Nothing exists
without its opposite. When the rough beast comes at the poems end, can
we expect doom and destruction or are we facing rebirth.
Think of the 'death' card in the tarot--it represents 'change' not
Is Sabine, Griffin's dark angel? Only if he (and the reader) choose
her to be.

My background is one of painting, and I haven't exhibited for close on
twenty years. I had my taste of private galleries back then and I
can't say it excited me. However if a major city museum offered me a
retrospective I'd certainly consider the idea.
It would be fun to do a show without the pressure of selling. 
inkwell.vue.70 : Nick Bantock - "The Museum at Purgatory"
permalink #38 of 85: Nick Bantock (purgatory) Mon 3 Apr 00 16:25
Here I am, spouting off about all this stuff. If anyone disagrees or
has a different angle please feel free to express yourself. 
inkwell.vue.70 : Nick Bantock - "The Museum at Purgatory"
permalink #39 of 85: Linda Castellani (castle) Tue 4 Apr 00 12:48
Evidently, no one disagrees!

I suppose I have been beating around the bush long enough.  Let's talk
about _The Museum at Purgatory_.  First, I have to say that the book
is simply beautiful, and it's an unusual size.  The cover is navy blue
with gold-embossed lettering, and an intriguing nearly
three-dimensional collage and there is this very subtle screen-back
design in the background.  

My first question for you is about that "e."  The lettering of the
title, subtitle, and byline are all serif caps - with larger initial
caps at the start of all the words in the title.  But smack in the
middle of the word "museum" is this e that's lower case, sans serif,
and italic.  I've been trying to decide if that's a sly "e" or a shy

I'd love to know about the design process that led up to it.          
inkwell.vue.70 : Nick Bantock - "The Museum at Purgatory"
permalink #40 of 85: Nick Bantock (purgatory) Tue 4 Apr 00 16:43
How did I arrive at a lower case e?
I wanted something within the title to step out of the norm. At first
I considered putting non-english language marks over or under some
letters. But they all felt too contrived. So we started playing with
each letter, one at a time, to see which one wanted to be different.
And I confess, I can't say I was surprised when it turned out to be the
 independently minded e. It made both an internal and external sense
to me.
I should elaborate on that last, throw away, remark. 
I put my life into my art, so when that art signposts a course of
action (whether it be leading to the next pencil mark, or which friend
to phone), I try to take notice. 
Don't get me wrong, this isn't some big metaphysical secret, it's more
of a quiet listening and watching to find out what I'm telling myrself
to do.
That's the nature of creativity as far as I'm concered. Duende isn't
alway loud and dramatic, sometimes it's a mere half-whisper.  
inkwell.vue.70 : Nick Bantock - "The Museum at Purgatory"
permalink #41 of 85: Linda Castellani (castle) Tue 4 Apr 00 23:27
What a lovely word.  I confess that I had to look it up:

"The ability to attract others through personal magnetism and charm.
[Spanish dialectal charm, from Spanish ghost.]"

I'm torn between

-asking the next question I was planning to ask before I saw your

-wondering how a word meaning "ghost" could come to mean what it does

-asking you about those signposts and if you could give an example of
something in one of your books that evolved that way; 

-commenting that some people never even know that there is a quiet
little voice inside, and therefore miss what comes from listening to
it; and 

-wondering what time your muse shows up?

That last might seem like an odd question, but I ask because I noticed
that my muse tends to show up right at 11PM and she sticks around
until 3AM.  I'm guessing yours shows up at 7AM?  Does she stay all day?

Perhaps they are all odd questions.  Make of them what you will;
answer all or none, as you choose.  And don't worry - we will get back
to "Museum" - it's far too intriguing a subject to let it go too long.
inkwell.vue.70 : Nick Bantock - "The Museum at Purgatory"
permalink #42 of 85: Nick Bantock (purgatory) Wed 5 Apr 00 15:23
The definition of Duende that you came accross is close but too
literal to give true meaning. In 'The Forgetting Room' I made duende
the heart of the story.
Here's too quotes from the book:
The duende is a power.
The duende is of the earth...the dark sounds,
a struggle not a concept.
The duende is not in the throat, it surges up
from the soles of the feet.
It is of blood, of ancient culture, of creative action.
It calls one out.
Garcia Lorca

The second quote comes from a poet I invented for the purpose:
Duende is silent, near-by, a pregnant, and overwhelming is
death, life, and fate...the consummation of risk and knowledge. Made
visible it is huge, potent, patient, but less tolerant than anything
the human will can grasp. Duende ia a sweet bliss that will infiltrate
the bloodstream like toxin.

And to answer the other half of your question, here a simple example
of a signposts from the same book.
The main character's name is Armon Hurt. His grandfather's name was
Hurtago, but Armon's father shortened the name to Hurt as a statement
of disillusionment. At the end of the story Armon chooses to revert to
his grandfathers name. Only when I wrote the name down for the final
time did I see that it bacame 'hurt ago'. Armon lets go his fears and I
(through him) am telling myself to do the same.

I think the 'little voice' is there all the time (read Hillman's, The
Soul's Code) there's just too much internal and external static to hear
it properly unless we go out of our way to listen. And a lot of the
time we'd rather wallow than take up the challenge. 
inkwell.vue.70 : Nick Bantock - "The Museum at Purgatory"
permalink #43 of 85: Linda Castellani (castle) Wed 5 Apr 00 19:05

I think I like your use of the word better than the definition I found.
_The Forgetting Room_ is next on my list, after I finish _The Venetian's
Wife_, and I don't want to get off on a tangent about it, right now, so
it's back to _The Museum at Purgatory_ for the moment.

This book makes me reluctant to turn the page until I have examined 
each page in depth, afraid I will miss some delicious bit of whimsey. 
That was true even of the copyright page!  Will you please explain the
dedication, "To the anarchists, the angels, and everyone who has ever
encouraged me?"
inkwell.vue.70 : Nick Bantock - "The Museum at Purgatory"
permalink #44 of 85: Nick Bantock (purgatory) Thu 6 Apr 00 17:04
I dedicated my earlier books to my family and in the case of The
Golden Mean, my editor Annie Barrows (it's amazing how little credit
editors get). When it came to The Museum at Purgatory, I wanted to
thank everyone who had inspired me, either directly or indirectly. The
anarchists are of the gentle variety, the eccentric and the true
individuals. The angels applys to anyone who commits random acts of
It's nothing complicated, simply a way of acknowledging my good
inkwell.vue.70 : Nick Bantock - "The Museum at Purgatory"
permalink #45 of 85: 'Got To! (freeform) Thu 6 Apr 00 19:35
I'm hesitant to jump into this conversation.  After reading the exchanges
between Nick and Linda, I feel rather inarticulate.  But I'll just have to
work through that.  As a result of this interview, I sat down last night and
read the Griffin & Sabine trilogy.  I'm very impressed by the whole concept,
the combination of the artwork and the prose.  Next on my list is The Museum
at Purgatory.  I'm becomming a fan...

My question for Nick:  Are Griffin and Sabine characters you made up, or are
they some part of you?  Do you see yourself as one or the other, or both???
inkwell.vue.70 : Nick Bantock - "The Museum at Purgatory"
permalink #46 of 85: Nick Bantock (purgatory) Fri 7 Apr 00 08:45
Please don't feel shy. You're clearly not remotely inarticulate.
Griffin and Sabine are part of me, yes. But they don't tell my life
story in any direct way. They are two of many (mythical?) characters
within me who I felt a certan compulsion to give voice. G and S are in
some senses both diametric opposites and the same. Male and female--two
halves of an equasion on an internal stage.
This is a bit enigmatic, I know, but I can only say so much without
making it vapid by explanation. And...much of this will emerge in part
one of the new trilogy, which will be published in Fall of 2001.  
inkwell.vue.70 : Nick Bantock - "The Museum at Purgatory"
permalink #47 of 85: Linda Castellani (castle) Fri 7 Apr 00 13:13
Ah, a date for the new trilogy!  We've waited this long, I guess
another year won't kill us.

While we are waiting, let's get back to "Museum" - there's a lot to
talk about!

I have to quote from the introduction at this point, just to give our
readers a sense of the book.  Here's the first paragraph:  "I met
Marie Louise Gornier the other day, she'd only been dead for a week or
so.  Considering the things I'd done to her while she was alive, she
looked remarkably fit and healthy."  

And so the introduction starts; here how the introduction ends: 
"While studying the words and images within this volume, the reader
should be reminded that the Museum houses objects whose history is
authentic, but whose actuality fails to reside in the regular precepts
of normality"  

What comes between those two statements is equally as tantalizing, and
it's only the beginning of the story.  Would you tell us what the
story is about, and also tell us about the physical construct of the
museum itself?
inkwell.vue.70 : Nick Bantock - "The Museum at Purgatory"
permalink #48 of 85: Nick Bantock (purgatory) Fri 7 Apr 00 23:02
The story tells of a dubious gentleman called Non who arrives in
Purgatory to find that, unlike the rest of the dead folk around him, he
doesn't have a memory.
He's given the job as curator to the museum and begins the search to
discover his passed life. 
Each of the rooms in the museum contain the work of one of Purgatory's
more artistic visitors (I was of course obliged to make the various
artworks), and through these artifacts Non learns that his fellow
citizens hold the key to his self-assessment. To understand them, Non
narrates the stories of their lives, explaining how they deal with the
sole searching required of them before they can move on to a Utopia or
a Dystopia. In the last part of the tale Non's amnesia fades and he
tells us about the dark deed that had cost him so dearly.  
inkwell.vue.70 : Nick Bantock - "The Museum at Purgatory"
permalink #49 of 85: Linda Castellani (castle) Sat 8 Apr 00 08:48

Do tell us about the museum itself and how it is possible for it to
contain what it contains.
inkwell.vue.70 : Nick Bantock - "The Museum at Purgatory"
permalink #50 of 85: Nick Bantock (purgatory) Sat 8 Apr 00 20:19
"The museum utilizes an architectural system of moblius expansion, the
infinite cubic capacity allows an unrestricted exhibition space within
a structure of minimal exterior dimensions."
Put another way, it's bigger on the inside than the outside (like the
Tardis in Dr.Who from the eary British TV Science Fiction series).
The Museum's multiplicity of rooms contain the lifeanddeath works of
those passing though. It strikes me how much like cyberspace this is,
and more than once I've considered opening the doors to an electronic
At the begining of this interview Linda mentioned my web site at
if you want to see some of the artifacts from the Museum you'll find
them there, under 'gallery'.


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