J.G. Ballard Conversations
360 Pages of interviews and conversations with
J. G. Ballard! In a pocket-size, commuter-friendly
paperback book. 5 x 7″ – Only $19.99
What they’re saying about J.G. Ballard Conversations “Rise of the Machines: The provocations and alienations of J.G. Ballard,”
by Jeremy Smith The Interviews collected in “J.G. Ballard Conversations” show us a Ballard
who continues to be horrified by the contemporary world. “People have
uncoupled their belief in a sane world that they can influence through
the political realm,” he says in a long interview with film composer Graeme
Revell. “That’s a very dangerous state of affairs. It turns Western Europe
and the States into a sort of unstable Weimar-like era where if reason
sleeps, monsters are born. One prays there isn’t another 9-11.”
Never has Ballard sounded so concerned, fatherly, or political. (In
an earlier, 1984 RE/Search interview, Ballard impishly exclaims, “I want
more nuclear weapons!”) The interviews [in the new RE/Search book] make
it abundantly clear that while Ballard has always proclaimed the death
of reason and the visceral origins of technology, he now sees these developments
as almost wholly negative. “What bothers me,” the author says of that
notorious techno-pornographic novel “Crash,” “is that something is happening
that you could almost call the ‘Normalizing of the Psychopathic’–the
greater and greater areas of what used to be regarded as the psychopathic
by, say, my parents.” It doesn’t seem to occur to Ballard that anyone
might have read his violently sexual stories literally.
For both Ballard and Revell, our salvation lies in science and technology.
“I think machines are going to save us,” Revell says at one point. “The
Age of Reason is probably petering out slowly,” Ballard replies. “Only
our machines will be reasonable, because they make sense. We can rely
on our computers to be moral beings. A machine, in a sense, is a moral
structure–like a thermostat. If the room is too hot it will bring the
temperature down . . . I think we are subcontracting our moral universe
to that of the machines. . . “
Ballard’s writing stripped the 20th century of its cultural illusions.
Most science fiction authors conceal their mysticism beneath what H.G.
Wells called “an ingenious use of scientific patter.” Ballard does the
opposite, smuggling the Enlightenment in under the cover of dreams. It
doesn’t matter how far or fast humanity travels, his stories say: even
in space, the most alien creatures we’ll confront are ourselves.”
For more than four decades Ballard has exerted a deep influence over
diverse writers like Angela Carter, Jean Baudrillard, Michel Houellebecq,
and Don DeLillo, in a career that climaxed with his Booker Prize-nominated
“Empire of the Sun” (filmed by Steven Spielberg–of all people—in 1987).
. . With the new volume of interviews from RE/Search, we can finally see
Ballard whole. He is revealed as a moralist, standing at the intersection
between Jonathan Swift and Salvador Dali.
–from the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Sept 2004 (Lit section)