Nick Cave on faith, grief, and music: The Newsnight Interview

The singer songwriter Nick Cave, best known for fronting his band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, talks to BBC Newsnight. 

The artist talks about the death of one of his fifteen-year-old twin sons, Arthur, seven years ago, and how he has addressed loss and grief through music, particularly his hugely lauded album Ghosteen. 

He talks about his new book, Faith Hope and Carnage, which is distilled from a series of telephone conversations during lockdown between Cave and journalist Sean O’Hagan, in which the musician talks about questions of belief, faith, grief, love and his music. 

In a rare TV interview, Kirsty Wark also hears about his project, The Red Hand Files, in which he solicits questions online and then responds to the ones which pique his interest with advice and musings which are often tender, and sometimes funny.

For the Zoroastrians, as for their Iranian descendants, the Shi’ite Sufis, or Gnostics, the imaginal world, Hurqalya, or “Earth of Resurrection,” is where resurrection takes place. It features what Corbin calls “a physics and physiology of Resurrection.” What Corbin does not bother to say seems to me to require greater emphasis, as we drift on towards Millennium: it is this imaginal or middle world, and not the suprasensible realm of God, that provides our intimations of immortality and that holds the promise of resurrection. So large a dislocation exists between this vision and our customary modes of expectation and faith as regards what we want to call an “afterlife” that this contrast needs consideration if I am to go further in this account of what could be termed the Gnosis of the world to come. As Corbin says, this mediating power of the imaginal is a cognitive force in its own right, though unrecognized by most modes of philosophy. We are in an intermediate realm between pure matter and pure spirit. Empiricists and supernaturalists alike may dismiss this middle sphere as a fiction, but imaginative men and women, whether literary in their orientation or not, will recognize that the imaginal world exists, and is not fantasy or wish fulfillment.

Harold BLOOM, “Omens of the Millenium: the Gnosis of Angels, Dreams, and Immortality” (1996)