You and me and the Continuum

typed for your pleasure on 19 April 2009, at 4.24 pm

Sdtrk: ‘NCR’ by Ike Yard

James Graham Ballard, one of my favourite authors, has passed away today at the age of 78.

Cult author JG Ballard dies at 78
BBC News | Published Sunday, 19 April 2009

The author JG Ballard, famed for novels such as Crash and Empire of the Sun, has died aged 78 after a long illness.

His agent Margaret Hanbury said the author had been ill “for several years” and had died on Sunday morning.

Despite being referred to as a science fiction writer, Jim Ballard said his books were instead “picturing the psychology of the future”.
the rest of the article is here

My first encounter with Ballard was back in the Nineties: my best friend Sean and I were getting into Industrial music — the proper stuff, such as Throbbing gristle, SPK, and the like — and I’d picked up an issue of a counter-culture magazine with a very sporadic release schedule called RE/Search. The issue I’d bought was number 4/5, and dealt exclusively with Throbbing gristle, William S. Burroughs (another author I admire), and Brion Gysin. As there was no other publication out there that we knew of that covered the subjects and topics we liked, we figured RE/Search would be worth keeping an eye on. Issue 6/7 was the highly-influential Industrial Culture Handbook, whose interviews with luminaries of the scene such as Genesis P-Orridge, Boyd Rice, Monte Cazazza, and others, make it entirely invaluable. Now, there had been mentions of J.G Ballard in both of those aforementioned issues, as his erotic-yet-clinical style of writing was an inspiration to many in those circles, so our interest in him was piqued. So when we managed to find issue 8/9, which consisted entirely of interviews and articles concerning Ballard, it was a must-buy.

The thing I liked most about him is that he wasn’t a science fiction writer; he trafficked in speculative fiction. His earlier works were arguably more straightforward scifi, to which I admit I haven’t read them, but the works he’d written that really resonated with me were stories like Concrete island (a businessman is stranded on an abandoned section of land beneath a motorway overpass), High-rise (the micro-society within a penthouse apartment rapidly degenerates into chaos and warfare), The Atrocity exhibition (a series of experimental short stories that dealt with deviant medical professionals and pop culture icons), and one of his most infamous, Crash, which, in a nutshell, dealt with the sexualisation of automobile accidents, and was made into a reasonably-good film adaptation by David Cronenberg in 1996. The speculative fiction label comes from the fact that the events in aforementioned stories are something I could readily see happening if people in society were given that little extra push, the push that strips away all semblance of civility in a person and reverts them to an instinct-driven being that either has morals that are purely self-serving, or who no longer has any morals at all.

Apart from doing things such as writing fictional stories in the style of medical reports or biographical appendices, his stories were populated by characters who were extremely sexual, yet simultaneously incredibly detached. There’s a starkness to Ballard’s stories that appeals to me — Sean had once mentioned that after reading High-rise, he felt as if he’d been beaten with a baseball bat — and his style will always remain unique and undisputably original

Random similar posts, for more timewasting:

18 May 1980 on May 18th, 2005

Forever unbound on May 10th, 2014

One has spoken to “You and me and the Continuum”

  1. Veach writes:

    I’d seen his obit in passing, and failed to make the connection to what he wrote. I’ve read a few of his works, will – now – check up on a few more.

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