charity shop finds this weekend, two for £1:50. How could I refuse? Ballard is everywhere again, as well he might be – there’s a dramatisation of Concrete Island on Radio 4 Extra in a couple of hours. A couple of his short stories on Radio 3 last night. A restaging of his ICA exhibit of crashed cars in Peckham earlier in the summer and High Rise the movie of course…
In High Rise, thirty-five years before the iPad, J.G. Ballard – the only writer capable of really understanding the 21st century – saw the tide of progress carrying us into a “landscape beyond technology.” Surrounded by broken washing machines and clogged-up air vents, the productive apparatuses of society transformed into a set of symbols, his hero Robert Laing senses a “future that had already taken place, and was now exhausted.”
also coming up this week J.G.Ballard Day at Birmingham City University UK on 29th October 2016 which will feature a talk by RE/Search founder V. Vale who will also be making available a limited edition zine ‘In Celebration of J.G. Ballard’ featuring Vale’s final interview with him and other material.
I used to have a nice hardback copy of The Kindness Of Women, but I’d never read it and I lent it to someone. This is a pretty ugly little paperback but perhaps I’ll read it this time. I’ve not read anything since ‘Miracles Of Life’ and it would be a good idea to go back and read the things I’ve missed. I discovered Ballard in the 80’s through a charity shop purchase of an ex-library copy of ‘Atrocity Exhibition’. Something of a baptism of fire for my tender and not particularly literary brain. Much as I loved his writing I suppose I just thought I’d found a writer I liked, only much later coming to appreciate how widely he’s regarded as a singular and important voice. I had heard of him but I think it’s almost a dead certainty that Joy Division are the reason I picked up and bought that book. Indirectly then, it’s probably John Peel’s fault.
The Cavanagh book appears an outstandingly nerdy, trainspottery undertaking and I would possibly have only given it a second glance and not a third. But 75p in ‘as new’ condition, who am I to say no to that? A quick flick through it reveals it’s not a tediously detailed inventory of every broadcast but a random sample of Peel shows, the music they contained and the news of the day. The sort of cross pollinated index of material Ballard included in Atrocity Exhibition but diluted with somewhat mundane commentary. Still, he seems happy to take Peel to task for hypocrisy over dismissing LL Cool J as misogynist while celebrating The Beastie Boys ‘License To ill’ at the same time, so there’s hope for it. This time of year is when John Peel day happens although it seems to have fallen off from a specific date, and is no longer ‘officially’ put forward by the BBC. Which is just as well to my mind, kill yr idols and so on, nothing worse than a bunch of middle aged old men lecturing youth about how rock ‘n’ roll was done back in the good old days. Although he often engaged in a bit of it, nostalgia is antithetical to the spirit of discovery Peel is revered for. Keep It Peel type events should be a bunch of bands not even formed when he passed away surely? Here’s the posters for a couple this week featuring a raft of Peel show veterans. Apparently The Nightingales are reborn and still an intriguing proposition, I don’t know about that. The Band Of Holy Joy are keeping their end up, having popped up in today’s earlier post about 23 as well. The revivified Wolfhounds is something I’d really like to see, they’re playing with The Membranes and Folk Devils somewhere for another one. I believe the Sisters of Transisitors are playing the Preston one now and Christ. are involved in it in some way. It all sounds rather good, so maybe I’m wrong. There are still plenty of vital and interesting musicians around who’ve been doing it long enough to have been played on his show. Keeping alive that flame of the search for the new is no bad thing is it?