The Drowned World
September 1, 2012 10:32 AM   Subscribe

J.G. Ballard and the alchemy of memory
posted by Artw (24 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

 
Mm. Good stuff.
posted by limeonaire at 10:40 AM on September 1, 2012


Yes, indeed. Excellent. Thank you.
posted by blucevalo at 11:12 AM on September 1, 2012


Thank you for introducing me to the writing of the author of this article, John Gray.
posted by infini at 11:22 AM on September 1, 2012


Thank you for introducing me to the writing of the author of this article, John Gray.

His Straw Dogs is powerful stuff.
posted by Egg Shen at 11:59 AM on September 1, 2012


I upvote anything to do with J.G. Ballard.

Wait... which site am I on again? Oh right. Not the one the President likes.
posted by Decani at 12:12 PM on September 1, 2012


Heh. I'd actually totally missed who this was by.
posted by Artw at 12:18 PM on September 1, 2012


I fell like Ballard himself has just informed me of Max Bygraves' death.
posted by tigrefacile at 1:13 PM on September 1, 2012


Superb Artw. Thanks so much for nabbing this out of the ether and posting it here.

(Ballard basically was the end all and be all for my 20's. I guess you could say my cult was that of one who speculated proto-modern day cult of industrial, informational, emotional, psychological decay...)

Seconding the introduction to John Gray.

More soon as I clear some time to read the whole article.
posted by Skygazer at 1:20 PM on September 1, 2012


Metafilter: I fell like Ballard himself
posted by Skygazer at 1:46 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fiery the Ballards fell; deep thunder rolled around their shores; burning with the fires of Orc.
posted by Artw at 2:23 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Excellent, although I was somewhat distracted by the "timeline" to the right of the article that suggests Ballard studied medicine at Cambridge at age 10...
posted by Jimbob at 2:33 PM on September 1, 2012


Great piece. Thanks, Artw.
posted by homunculus at 3:53 PM on September 1, 2012


BTW, Christian Bale is working on movie version of another Ballard story: Concrete Island.
posted by homunculus at 3:54 PM on September 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Lovely. Thanks for making my day.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 5:55 PM on September 1, 2012



BTW, Christian Bale is working on movie version of another Ballard story:


The Kindness of Women gets mentioned in the article. I read it as pretty much straight memoir.

There's a moment in it where Ballard is visiting the set of Empire of the Sun. It's one of the scenes that happens before the fall of Shanghai, a costume party -- all grandeur and opulence. Suddenly, a young boy bounds up in front of Ballard, looks him in the eye and says, "Hello, I'm you."

That was Ballard's introduction to eleven year old Christian Bale.
posted by philip-random at 8:24 PM on September 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm torn on this. It's a nice article, and I do enjoy the exegesis of The Garden of Time (admittedly, a minor story, which is maybe why it's so receptive to such a straight metaphoric reading). But there's something terribly reductive, even vulgar, in this sort of biographical criticism. A story like The Atrocity Exhibition is so much more interesting when it's about what it's about, rather than disguised memoir. I take it especially hard in this case because I feel like Ballard's own work never recovered from his act of memory---Empire of the Sun is a good book, but after he finished it, a certain visionary passion drained out of his fiction, never to return.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:02 PM on September 1, 2012


Empire of the Sun is a good book, but after he finished it, a certain visionary passion drained out of his fiction, never to return

I've quite enjoyed some of his later stuff (Rushing to Paradise, Super Cannes), mainly for it's straightforward enthusiastic pessimism -- the passion he has for presenting a utopia, then tearing it to shreds. And yet I never get the impression that he completely gave up on humanity.
posted by philip-random at 9:16 PM on September 1, 2012


And yet I never get the impression that he completely gave up on humanity.

The fundamental thing that makes Ballard Ballard is that he could see the march toward certain doom as being glorious. This was cemented for him when he returned from the chaos of Japan to the relatively bland tranquility of England. The vast sweeping destruction, the Kamikaze pilots, the sometimes senseless random death, the atomic bomb were things that seized the imagination; there was nothing comparable in his postwar life and many of his obsessions, such as his fascination with car wrecks and abandoned high tech, are obvious attempts to reconnect with that sense of glorious impending doom.

I think what happened after Empire was that he kept the fascination with impending doom but having gotten the glory thing worked out of his system a bit he was a little more on the page with normal expectation that it's more of a bad thing when your suicidal tendencies catch up with you.
posted by localroger at 7:34 AM on September 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


There's a piece that ran in Dodgem Logic, Alan Moores brief experiment with running a fanzine a few years back, by Michael Moorcock on growing up during the blitz, including a bit on the ringside seat he had for the Battle of Britain which just sounds insane. I think WWII had a very weird and profound effect on that generation of writers, Ballard more dramatically than most.
posted by Artw at 7:45 AM on September 2, 2012


Suddenly, a young boy bounds up in front of Ballard, looks him in the eye and says, "Hello, I'm you."

I imagine him saying it with a prepubescent Bat-voice.
posted by homunculus at 11:00 AM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey kid, would you like a Hershey bar?

I read Concrete Island when I was younger and some of it really stayed with me. Also, the leg-fucking scene in Crash.
posted by ostranenie at 5:55 AM on September 3, 2012


Extreme Metaphors: Interviews with J.G. Ballard 1967-2008
posted by homunculus at 1:29 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


SOLD
posted by Artw at 2:33 PM on September 25, 2012


I used to have RE/Search #8/9: J.G. Ballard on my bookshelf. No doubt, it got loaned to some asshole that didn't return it. Man, I learned a lot from those discussions ... about EVERYTHING. One Ballard line that's always stuck with me that serves me well when I'm bored sitting on a bus or whatever:

"We're all pursuing deep investigations."

Never fails to make everyday passersby seem more interesting.
posted by philip-random at 3:40 PM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


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