happy birthday JG Ballard

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J G Ballard would have been 86 today. He’s been dead for several years but you could be forgiven for thinking he’d been taken on as a scriptwriter by the producers of the cosmic farce – more and more his curious and curiously perceptive visions of the world we build for ourselves and how we act within it are echoed all around us. Last week’s election of Trump is only the most garishly loud and obvious example. No such deus ex machina called the shots in his fiction though, his characters building and destroying their worlds out of their own psychological quirks and obsessions. So I think he would have turned their offer down, perhaps to haunt the abandoned malls and swim in the drained pools or lie beneath the flyover. This week a national newspaper took to task a national sporting hero and beloved tv presenter over his use of the word dystopian in a tweet. The same publication cropped photographs of a political figure walking in order to create the false impression he was dancing, all to serve it’s own political narrarive. Meanwhile the clearest evidence yet that the planet is set to become a Ballardian drowned world/heat-scorched waste littered with abandoned, useless planes, trains and automobiles was ignored in favour of analysing the troubling psychopathology of the man who is to become, effectively, our new king. I’m reading ‘Kindness of Women’ at the moment but it feels as if ‘Hello America’ is coming to the boarded up multiplex soon.

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My impression is that the original punk groups were reacting in a very direct way against the establishment music scene – someone like Mick Jagger is as much a part of the show business entertainment scene as Frank Sinatra or Bing Crosby . . . he’s a completely socially accepted and integrated performer. What is interesting now is the time span between the ‘rebel’ – the ‘revolution’ – and total social acceptance is getting shorter and shorter . . . in the future you’ll get some radical new idea but within 3 minutes it’s totally accepted, and it’s coming out in your local supermarket . . .

JGB in interview with Jon Savage 1978

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