I was raised in an amorphous outer-London suburb which, it has always seemed to me, could wrap a world in its condescension. This non-place, which J G Ballard explores in works such as Vermillion Sands, the Atrocity Exhibition and Crash, was more familiar than anything real. It formed the grammar of feeling and, for a time, a solitude beyond rage.
In Ballard’s work, of course, these limit zones also articulate the time of atrocity in a world that increasingly resembles ours. Here, all the indices increment to the “time-music of the quasars” – a pulse that only hastens the disaster because it seduces us with the glamour of its aftermath: bodies lathered in glass, their injuries kissed against instrument panels. Burning chrome.
So, on the 86th anniversary of Ballard’s birth, I will strive for this calm dereliction and hopefully fail.
Here’s Stephen Craig Hickman on Simon Sellars‘ strange work of parodic excess, Applied Ballardianism. Happy Ballarday
How many people remember the great parodies of late modernism? I’m thinking of both Hermann Hesse’s Das Glasperlienspiel (or, Magister Ludi: The Glass-Bead Game), Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus, or work from Italo Calvino, Stanislaw Lem, or even Jorge-Luis Borges. I remember both Hesse’s and Mann’s pseudo-biographies of fictional figures of their times were written and […]