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J. G. Ballard (1930 – 2009)


British novelist and short story writer who was a prominent member of the New Wave in science fiction.
J. G. Ballard
Referring to the death, 20 years ago, of his close friend, the psychologist Chris Evans, his voice drops to a whisper. This may seem like a contradiction in a man who has written some of the most apocalyptic visions of human demise. As a writer, he has often said, he has followed Conrad's dictum — immersed himself in destruction and swum.
Ballard quotes
Given that external reality is a fiction, the writer's role is almost superfluous. He does not need to invent the fiction because it is already there.
Ballard
I think the new science fiction, which other people apart from myself are now beginning to write, is introverted, possibly pessimistic rather than optimistic, much less certain of its own territory. There's a tremendous confidence that radiates through all modern American science fiction of the period 1930 to 1960; the certainty that science and technology can solve all problems. This is not the dominant form of science fiction now. I think science fiction is becoming something much more speculative, much less convinced about the magic of science and the moral authority of science. There's far more caution on the part of the new writers than there was.




Ballard J. G. quotes
In wartime Shanghai I saw so many horrors... Civilised life is based on a huge number of illusions in which we all collaborate willingly. The trouble is, we forget after a while that they are illusions and we are deeply shocked when reality is torn down around us.
Ballard J. G.
For me the intentions of background music are openly political, and an example of how political power is constantly shifting from the ballot box into areas where the voter has nowhere to mark his ballot paper. The most important political choices in the future will probably never be consciously exercised. I'm intrigued by the way some background music is surprisingly aggressive, especially that played on consumer complaint phone lines and banks, airplanes and phone companies themselves, with strident non-rhythmic and arms-length sequences that are definitely not user-friendly.
J. G. Ballard quotes
By the time I came to England at the age of sixteen I'd seen a great variety of landscapes. I think the English landscape was the only landscape I'd come across which didn't mean anything, particularly the urban landscape. England seemed to be very dull, because I'd been brought up at a much lower latitude — the same latitude as the places which are my real spiritual home as I sometimes think: Los Angeles and Casablanca. I'm sure this is something one perceives — I mean the angle of light, density of light. I'm always much happier in the south — Spain, Greece — than I am anywhere else. The English one, oddly enough, didn't mean anything. I didn't like it, it seemed odd. England was a place that was totally exhausted.
J. G. Ballard
I define Inner Space as an imaginary realm in which on the one hand the outer world of reality, and on the other the inner world of the mind meet and merge. Now, in the landscapes of the surrealist painters, for example, one sees the regions of Inner Space; and increasingly I believe that we will encounter in film and literature scenes which are neither solely realistic nor fantastic. In a sense, it will be a movement in the interzone between both spheres.
Ballard J. G. quotes
In a totally sane society, madness is the only freedom.
Ballard
My brief stay at the hospital had already convinced me that the medical profession was an open door to anyone nursing a grudge against the human race.
Ballard J. G.
The uneasy marriage of reason and nightmare which has dominated the 20th century has given birth to an increasingly surreal world. More and more, we see that the events of our own times make sense in terms of surrealism rather than any other view — whether the grim facts of the death-camps, Hiroshima and Viet Nam, or our far more ambiguous unease at organ transplant surgery and the extra-uterine foetus, the confusions of the media landscape with its emphasis on the glossy, lurid and bizarre, its hunger for the irrational and sensational. The art of Salvador Dalí, an extreme metaphor at a time when only the extreme will do, constitutes a body of prophecy about ourselves unequaled in accuracy since Freud's "Civilization And Its Discontents". Voyeurism, self-disgust, the infantile basis of our fears and longings, and our need to pursue our own psychopathologies as a game — these diseases of the psyche Dali has diagnosed with dismaying accuracy. His paintings not only anticipate the psychic crisis which produced our glaucous paradise, but document the uncertain pleasures of living within it. The great twin leitmotifs of the 20th century — sex and paranoia — preside over his life, as over ours.
J. G. Ballard
A widespread taste for pornography means that nature is alerting us to some threat of extinction.




J. G. Ballard quotes
The history of psychiatry rewrites itself so often that it almost resembles the self-serving chronicles of a totalitarian and slightly paranoid regime.
J. G. Ballard
Everywhere you look — Britain, the States, western Europe — people are sealing themselves into crime-free enclaves. That's a mistake — a certain level of crime is part of the necessary roughage of life. Total security is a disease of deprivation.
Ballard quotes
The residents had eliminated both past and future, and for all their activity, they existed in a civilized and eventless world.
Ballard J. G.
God was a clever idea ... The human race came up with a winner there.
Ballard J. G. quotes
We live in a world ruled by fictions of every kind — mass merchandising, advertising, politics conducted as a branch of advertising, the instant translation of science and technology into popular imagery, the increasing blurring and intermingling of identities within the realm of consumer goods, the preempting of any free or original imaginative response to experience by the television screen. We live inside an enormous novel. For the writer in particular it is less and less necessary for him to invent the fictional content of his novel. The fiction is already there. The writer's task is to invent the reality.
J. G. Ballard
Art is the principal way in which the human mind has tried to remake the world in a way that makes sense. The carefully edited, slow-motion, action replay of a rugby tackle, a car crash or a sex act has more significance than the original event. Thanks to virtual reality, we will soon be moving into a world where a heightened super-reality will consist entirely of action replays, and reality will therefore be all the more rich and meaningful.
J. G. Ballard quotes
Twenty years ago no one could have imagined the effects the Internet would have: entire relationships flourish, friendships prosper…there’s a vast new intimacy and accidental poetry, not to mention the weirdest porn. The entire human experience seems to unveil itself like the surface of a new planet.
J. G. Ballard
I began to become an adult when I was 24 and got married and had children. That matures you, but I wouldn't say I was fully an adult until I was in my forties. The trouble with the whole adult debate is that if you're asking 18-year-olds to go out and fight wars for you then you can't deny them adult rights even though in sorts of other ways they wouldn't qualify until they were about 25. These days adolescence stretches much further into adulthood than it used to. There's no longer any encouragement to be mature.
Ballard J. G.
People, particularly over-moralistic Americans, have often seen me as a pessimist and humourless to boot, yet I think I have an almost maniacal sense of humour. The problem is that it's rather deadpan.


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