Bounce queen meets Southside legend. Revisit this classic interview here.
This piece was created as part of PERFORM/TRANSFORM: World’s Fair 2018 🌍
Jesse Moynihan is an artist, composer and director best known for being a writer and storyboarder on the animated television series Adventure Time as well as being the creator of the graphic novel FORMING. He also released the animated short Manly exclusively through Cartoon Hangover, made with his brother Justin. We caught up with Jesse to ask about the inspiration behind Dogon, a “perfect world” created in the most recent (and ongoing) volume of FORMING.
+: Is there anything you want people to know off the bat about FORMING as it relates to the themes of freedom and utopia?
Jesse Moynihan: It’s hard for me to step away from it and totally analyze what I’m trying to talk about. I don’t know if I’ll really fully know until it’s done. And then I can look at it in retrospect like, “Oh, this is probably what I was thinking about.” I know a lot of making it is following my instincts and things in the moment that interest me. It might be in the moment [that] I don’t know why something interests me fully, you know? I’m just like ‘Something in this is sparking something in me’ and so I write around it, address it and then see what happens. A lot of times I’ll write from someone’s point of view that I feel disconnected from then try to find a way to relate to it. Or maybe something in me that I think is like the worst part of me that I want to get rid of. A lot of time FORMING is an exploration of points of view. I think I gravitate towards writing from a lot of people’s very very aggressive points of view and trying to find sympathy for those types of people. I’m really trying to find these vital things that are like bright lights, things that stick out. Whether it be like vibrant levels of good or vibrant levels of evil, you know? Something that, when I think about it, I go: “Oh, that would be shocking” or “That makes me feel really strong emotions,” and I’ll try to incorporate that. Or “That image feels really meaty. It’s got a lot of juice in it.” And then I’ll do that.
So that utopia, that whole sequence where this guy finally achieved World Peace on this planet and there’s one guy on the planet who just hates it is based on this exchange I was having on 4Chan[.org] for a while where people were talking shit on me and me trying to engage with that. Which was a little social experiment I was doing for a while. I was seeing what my pain threshold was [laughs]. I got really fascinated with 4chan because it’s a place where you can anonymously say anything you want. So in some ways 4chan is… completely free. Almost. And because it’s completely free these really really cool, funny ideas come out of that and sometimes things that are horrible come out of that. It’s like a grab bag. You never know what you’re gonna get [laughs]. It’s like a pure, perfect example of chaos. It’s like a chaos demon. Sometimes a demon can reward you, sometimes it will curse you for life [laughs]. Yeah, and so I was really fascinated with 4chan for a while because of that. I was interacting with [the users] and having good interactions sometimes and then having the most toxic, volatile interactions. The thing I really found interesting was that different people will continue the same argument. So it’s almost like you’re talking to the same person because they’re all anonymous, right? But it’s like a person who has no consistency. They’ll flip on a dime or they’ll… you’ll reason with one person and you’ll get them on your side but then another person will pick up the thread as if that conversation never happened. So this character, this marblelike void, I tried to base him off… I have this obsidian ball in my room. I like to stare into it for a while to remind myself of something that happened during a ayahuasca trip. There was this black void I was afraid to look at or acknowledge. Afterwards I was like “I think this black void is… important.”
I bought this obsidian ball to remind me to look at this void, this dark enemy, whatever it was. So I based this character on that, this like endless, deep, deep darkness. That will always hate whatever you’re doing [laughs]. No matter how great it is or how great you think it is. So this guy built this world that was perfect but you can’t build a perfect world, I think, was what I was trying to say. In that sequence I was also trying to talk about art and why we make things. And who we’re making them for. Are we making art for ourselves or are we making it for other people? And when you make something is it done? Or is it done when you show it to somebody? It’s hard to say. And then when you show it to people, it’s not in your hands anymore. You’re weirdly held accountable for it yet you have no control over how it’s interpreted. A lot of people can take what you make and really find fault in you because of it. So that’s what I was trying to talk about in that section of the book, I think! It’s been a while since I worked on that. I still have to finish that scene. I cutaway from it go address some other stuff. I think he’s starting to realize that he’s dreaming. He never really created that world. There might be some carryover. I think my ideas might be that in some sense it is real. I generally don’t like dream sequences. Unless they have some carryover in having some weight to them, you know? If you just had a dream, like ‘Oh it was all just a dream,’ that’s sort of disappointing, narratively. So it’ll be real to some degree. He’s hibernating. His Earth body is hibernating, right now. The character Nommo.
+: What you’re saying about dreams having a purpose definitely makes sense in the context of FORMING. It also sounds like a metaphor for being an artist. I mean, the Utopia & [Nommo] being an artist. He’s the ruler of this world and he’s talking to kids and giving them artistic advice. It seems like you’re just engaging with creativity. How are you planning to… Do you feel like your personal growth is invested in whatever you’re going to do with FORMING in 2018?
JM: Yeah, I have to be making progress in myself while making it. The solutions I come up with in order to resolve all the storylines have to reflect things I’m learning about now. I have to ask all these questions while making the book at some point I have to try to answer at least some. In some way! Or, like, find some resolution. I started the book in 2009 now it’s 2018, hopefully I’ve figured something out. [laughs] Not everything but at least some of the stuff. At least grown a little bit. It’s like having a conversation with myself. Hopefully nine years pass and I’ve gotten a little wiser. That’s the big hope. If I’m just the same person I was nine years ago I guess I fucked up.
+: Unless that ends up being the point. I feel like there’s a lot of looping going on, recurring things… Yeah, I love it. I’m excited to see it keep growing because the threads going feel very lifelike and I can see the working through of all that.
JM: Yeah, hopefully people can see that. I don’t just want it to be a genre exercise. That’s why it’s hard for me to explain what it is when people don’t know about FORMING. Because well…it’s a sci-fi action book, sort of. But it’s sort of also about my life, you know? In a weird way. Also: I’m trying to be funny. So it’s also a joke-y book. I don’t know. I don’t know how to explain it to people. “Oh, it’s kind of funny. It has some philosophy in it. It’s science fiction. And it has a lot of spiritual stuff, too. So it could be a lot of things! When I describe it to people they could maybe imagine like a super serious 70s Heavy Metal graphic novel or something. Or they could imagine, like, a goofy webcomic. Hopefully it’s not either of those things. Even though I like those old serious Heavy Metal comics- but that’s not what I’m trying to do.
how wrinkled his brow is and smooths out his face. He goes back inside and finishes recording vocals for “4 PM in Calabasas.”Plus stares at the empty plastic bottle. There’s a whole hole in it, he’s trying to get it to smoke.
He stares at the notepad in his hand at the untitled poem.
The sun comes up again.
~wanna get you down on
a page put an explosion
in a bottle show my
friends merrily merrily
wanna be seen with
this shit is not a love poem
this a fuck a artist meet em
where they cum song
i do not know what the
fuck you thought this was poem
this a eating pussy
better just because song~
Drake smiles at her,
“I just wanna interview you”
she’s in the bed too,
she smiles back and says
“Interviews are like confessions”
The music is really loud, Meek Mill is trying to sleep,
shots ring out.
There’s a gun in Drake’s face.
Plus writes a poem in his notepad:
Drake finishes recording “4PM in Calabasas” and comes back
outside. He smiles writing in his notepad:
big ol breakfast!
Plus’s poem goes like this:
i hope drake
i hope drake is on vacation
right now, and loving it
i hope drake is happy
i hope drake doesn’t really
have people trying to kill him
and if he does i hope they stop
i hope everyone forgives
I hope someone new
comes into drake’s life
inspiring all kinds of
beautiful poetry and
I hope drake knows when to be quiet
Plus is quiet on the beach. His friends are all around him,
he looks over there’s Sasha. He’s smiling. She and Walker
lead him to the water. He’s being quiet.
Drake’s Pop Style, through an anarchist lens is easy: Drake is really only able
to live this life because of his money, but he wants absolute freedom. He wants
to turn his birthday to a lifestyle, he wants to be able to make art as much
as possible, and he wants his family to be okay. He can’t chill though, ever.
He can’t trust no fucking body. It’s hard being a nigga. I’m talking about me,
I’m anarchist. – +
Drake and Sol Patches meet. Drake realizes how much he inspires them.
Drake realizes how revolutionary his music is. Drake has a secret plan and it’s
a revolution. Drake is being all he can be, Drake forgives himself. Drake is acting
again, soon! Drake is proud of VIEWS despite the reviews.
Drake uses protection. Drake is still alive when we stop death! Drake is listening to
Prince right now or some Stevie and his mama. Drake’s mama understands what he’s
going through right now. She’s not really 70 & alone right now. She & the 6 live
forever. Drake doesn’t have to go through what Kanye went through.
In this reality, no one shoots Drake to death for being himself. Drake sings.
Drake likes Radiohead. Drake never falls off. Long live the 6 God long live
you! Drake likes LEMONADE. Beyonce and Drake never fall off or age or die.
Drake writes a note to his OVO employees:
“We’re the ones taking care
we’re the ones bringing people in
watching the spaces
protecting the culture
nourishing each other
and all our beams
‘Beauty has been stolen from the people’ – Kanye West”
Plus says something to her about his art like “My life is a crime scene.”
Drake writes the lyrics to “Trophies”:
‘If I was doing this for you then I’d have nothing left to prove,
nah, this for me though.
I’m just trying to stay alive and take care of my people.
And they don’t have no award for that.’
Drake breaks down and weeps. The news is heavy on his heart. Later,
he writes a love poem:
~I respect you so hard
I wish I wasn’t afraid of you
I love you so much
I wish I didn’t hate you
what does it mean if I
find weed in my bag
while I’m trying
to cut back but
it’s actually a dried
plant that was alive
with the weekend’s
start a startingly hot day
when all the insects came to play 2 lovers 2 lovers~
Let’s Build Garden City!‘s huge citywide workshop series How to Make A Million While Selling Your Crops in the Hood is the gift that keeps giving! Here’s our Q&A with LBGC! founder & rapper +! Stay tuned for more gem-filled interviews with farmers in your area! See you next Spring ^_^
Who are you?
+, aka Plus Sign.
What’s some advice you have for students starting out as a professional in the agriculture industry?
Hustle with the intensity of a famous rapper…and also relax & play with the intensity of one!
What are some local resources you think students should know about?
Of course everything in our resource library…and our community partners like Grow Op Chicago in Logan Square and the Breathing Room Space in the Back of the Yards neighborhood can show you a lot about organic collaboration. Advocates for Urban Agriculture has a huge community of people around it, too (AUA listserv). And Milan Anderson mentioned the Chicago Environmental Network. They seem really helpful!
Do you have any words of encouragement for someone just looking for a fun service learning project to do?
It’s really really exciting and beautiful to give life! And it doesn’t cost a lot but you can learn about any topic you want through it: from black history, to science, to health, to math. It saves lives and makes the world around you more healthy and connected in every way.
What’s the secret to students treating each other right?
Patience & active listening. Freedom from fear.
Anything else you want to talk about?
I’m excited to hit the streets and party on behalf of student gardens this year! Follow @letsbuildgardencity on IG to know when we’re gonna be out!
Can we share your social media?
Yes, please! I’m @nearfutureplus on IG & Twitter.
Submitted by +
Submitted by +
2. Freedom Transcends Money & Borders
3. Art Transcends Money & Borders
🔧What Does It Have? What Does It Need?:
🔧What Does It Have? What Does It Need?: Millions of people anticipated the climax to Reloaded to provide an answer and herald a new global awakening. And when the Keymaker opens the Door of Light and The One enters…the films engage us in a recursive loop to be replayed out until the moment is right. Each time, the film tells the viewer to choose to forge ahead even when it seems like the systems holding up money and borders are too much, the genocide too complete. The Architect’s sequence visually references the fact that Neo is being viewed in a sequel to The Matrix, searching (again) for what the Matrix is and thus also anticipates a sense of our social media life via peeling layers of digital reality. Day after day, year after year, we return to these films needing something more to complete the mission. The only reason The Matrix films have not changed the world to the point of eradicating inequality is because art, other than religion, has never had power over money and borders. UNTIL NOW.
#mtvXO is a utopian pop culture network & service learning platform. We partnered with Let’s Build Garden City! to bring you the 10 Laws of #nomoneynoborders and make it easy to share how something creates a free world! We focus on pop culture as the most powerful images, languages, and sounds expressed from all over the world and posit that its message is often literally censored from having the very impact we make it for. We are identifying our global human community’s TRUE demands, elevating them, and linking it all up to real life structures that build utopia.
These are the 10 Laws of #nomoneynoborders:
1. Life Does Not Transcend Money & Borders
2. Freedom Transcends Money & Borders
3. Art Transcends Money & Borders
4. Believing in Yourself Transcends Money & Borders
5. The Savior Transcends Money & Borders
6. Partying Transcends Money & Borders
7. Love Transcends Money & Borders
8. Utopia Transcends Money & Borders
9. Hip-Hop Transcends Money & Borders
10. Future Transcends Money & Borders
You can apply these laws (or your own!) at any time to anything.
🎞#NowPlaying: Clips, videos, or pictures illustrating the topic
🔎 #Factual: Objective descriptions related to how something fulfills a law (or three)
🔧 What Does It Have? What Does It Need?: Can be broad or specific, fantastic or realistic. Ex. What does the protagonist of a movie lack materially and how does that intersect with the plot and what they are looking for emotionally?
😎 Personal: Super subjective but all-important level of analysis, how the writer is indivudually experiencing a piece of art and applying it to their own life
🌏 #Actionable: Ties the subject back into #mtvXO/Let’s Build Garden City! and using art & creativity to actively make a new world.
Got it? Let’s play!