12.7.11

David B. Livingstone on J. G. Ballard

An updated interview with the British writer
J. G. Ballard
David B. Livingstone remembers interviewing J. G. Ballard just over ten years ago, and reflects on the writer's insightful perspectives on Western culture (link via Spike Magazine):
“This author is beyond psychiatric help. Do not publish!”

It was with these ironic words that an editor at J.G. Ballard’s publisher futilely urged the suppression of Crash over a quarter-century ago, a book which many have since come to see as a visionary masterpiece. Though perhaps the first, this unnamed editor was by no means the last person to be discomfited by Ballard’s nightmarish, frequently grotesque tale of a small cadre of car-crash fetishists prone to getting their sexual kicks by staging smashups which resulted in very-real injuries and deaths. And given the impending release of horror director David Cronenberg’s film adaptation, it seems a certainty that the moral outrage is due for an exponential increase; media mogul Ted Turner and British cabinet minister Virginia Bottomley have already registered their howls of righteous indignation.

Considering his being “beyond psychiatric help,” the amiable, articulate, and consummately-logical James Graham Ballard has managed pretty well: His output to date consists of fifteen novels, seventeen collections of stories and essays, and substantial critical work for esteemed British newspapers such as the Guardian, London Times, and The Independent. Moreover, Ballard has come to be seen as one of science fiction’s principal intellectual luminaries, and his work as perhaps the best argument for the genre’s consideration as “serious” literature. The prophetic Crash, with its prescient foreshadowing of western culture’s latter-day fixation upon violence as entertainment, attests to the author’s acuity as a social critic.[Read More]

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