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Writer: JG Ballard

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The great JG Ballard

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Re: Writer: JG Ballard

Postby sparky on Wed Jul 06, 2011 9:18 am

This afternoon I've been thinking about Ballard's chapter titles and how strange and evocative they are, tantalising short stories or essays in themselves. I don't have any of his books to hand, so I'll cheat and electronically lift those for The Atrocity Exhibition:

The Atrocity Exhibition
The University of Death
The Assassination Weapon
You: Coma: Marilyn Monroe
Notes Towards a Mental Breakdown
The Great American Nude
The Summer Cannibals
Tolerances of the Human Face
You and Me and the Continuum
Plan for the Assassination of Jacqueline Kennedy
Love and Napalm
Crash!
The Generations of America
Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan
The Assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Considered as a Downhill Motor Race.

Appendix (added in 1990)
Princess Margaret's Facelift
Mae West's Reduction Mammoplasty
Queen Elizabeth's Rhinoplasty
The Secret History of World War 3


Quite different and equally super are those of Empire of the Sun, the fixation with aircraft and runways rumbling under it all.
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Re: Writer: JG Ballard

Postby enframed on Wed Jul 06, 2011 11:13 am

I'm withholding my vote until I read more than just Rushing to Paradise, but I didn't like that one much.
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Re: Writer: JG Ballard

Postby jurgis rudkus on Wed Jul 06, 2011 1:04 pm

tmidgett wrote:Ima hafta read Super-Cannes now.


Ok, a bit late, but if you've still not read it you can grab it over at the library branch by you on Lincoln. Was there as of last weekend.

It's a good, creepy book.
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Re: Writer: JG Ballard

Postby Mark Hansen on Wed Jul 06, 2011 8:21 pm

enframed wrote:I'm withholding my vote until I read more than just Rushing to Paradise, but I didn't like that one much.


Read High-Rise or Concrete Island.

High-Rise is great as a metaphor for class struggle and the way social stratification and animosity are always bubbling beneath the surface, and how easily it is embraced by all involved in the right circumstances.

Concrete Island is great because of the way it illustrates how social isolation from others, even when forced upon someone or entered into involuntarily, can be eventually seen by the social isolate as something that brings it's own form of freedom and self-satisfaction.
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Re: Writer: JG Ballard

Postby raygun on Fri Jul 08, 2011 7:26 pm

Mark Hansen wrote:
enframed wrote:I'm withholding my vote until I read more than just Rushing to Paradise, but I didn't like that one much.


Read High-Rise or Concrete Island.

High-Rise is great as a metaphor for class struggle and the way social stratification and animosity are always bubbling beneath the surface, and how easily it is embraced by all involved in the right circumstances.


Kingdom Come is about that, also.

My vote for a win-me-over read would be Atrocity Exhibition or The Complete Short Stories.

As a stylist, he was pretty plain. The short stories are interesting because he writes about worlds he'd be unable to sustain for the length of a novel - the furniture is a lot more striking than in the longer stuff.

In Atrocity Exhibition he foregoes the thinly-veiled cautionary/morality tale and explores the ideas rattling around in the head of everyone who was paying attention to the 20th Century - our emotional involvement in public figures, the splitting of the atom, loss of perspective, "the death of affect", persistence of identity, a fascination with mortality - the ideas, like the characters, repeat, are shuffled around and interchanged, occasionally forming collages which hint at a union slightly out of reach:

(1) Spectro-heliogram of the sun; (2) Front elevation of balcony units, Hilton Hotel, London; (3) Transverse section through a pre-Cambrian trilobite; (4) 'Chronograms,' by E. J. Marey; (5) Photograph taken at noon, August 7th, 1945, of the sand-sea, Qattara Depression, Egypt; (6) Reproduction of Max Ernst's 'Garden Airplane Traps'; (7) Fusing sequences for 'Little Boy' and 'Fat Boy', Hiroshima and Nagasaki A-Bombs
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Re: Writer: JG Ballard

Postby enframed on Sat Jul 09, 2011 6:48 pm

raygun wrote:
Mark Hansen wrote:
enframed wrote:I'm withholding my vote until I read more than just Rushing to Paradise, but I didn't like that one much.


Read High-Rise or Concrete Island.

High-Rise is great as a metaphor for class struggle and the way social stratification and animosity are always bubbling beneath the surface, and how easily it is embraced by all involved in the right circumstances.


Kingdom Come is about that, also.

My vote for a win-me-over read would be Atrocity Exhibition or The Complete Short Stories.

As a stylist, he was pretty plain. The short stories are interesting because he writes about worlds he'd be unable to sustain for the length of a novel - the furniture is a lot more striking than in the longer stuff.

In Atrocity Exhibition he foregoes the thinly-veiled cautionary/morality tale and explores the ideas rattling around in the head of everyone who was paying attention to the 20th Century - our emotional involvement in public figures, the splitting of the atom, loss of perspective, "the death of affect", persistence of identity, a fascination with mortality - the ideas, like the characters, repeat, are shuffled around and interchanged, occasionally forming collages which hint at a union slightly out of reach:


These sound much more interesting than Rushing to Paradise.
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Re: Writer: JG Ballard

Postby tmidgett on Mon Jul 25, 2011 7:04 pm

the Classical wrote:Obv not crap, so many great books, I really love Super-Cannes a sort of late period masterpiece.

I think about that book a lot.


Just read it in two days.

Excellent.

I miss him.
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Re: Writer: JG Ballard

Postby chuckles on Tue Jul 26, 2011 5:21 am

I read his autobiography a couple of months ago.

It was excellent. Concise, lucid and fascinating and it gives a lot of insight into what made him tick and how his life informed his writing.

Of course it made me sad he isn't around any more but he wasn't sad, even when facing his death.

Obviously not crap.
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Re: Writer: JG Ballard

Postby goatlord on Thu Aug 11, 2011 6:44 am

If you like Ballard, you have to see this video. Apparently, someone made a movie about my favourite Ballard book, The Atrocity Exhibition (!!!). This is the DVD commentary of that movie:

Part one (then you click part two on the related videos list and so on and so on...)

You won't get what the movie is about because they are allways talking over the dialogue, (As far as I know it follows the book themes pretty well) but it's great to listen to Ballard talking about his obssesions with that child-like glee he always had, and dissecting the themes and the narrative of this book and all his work. He was a really smart man that knew what he was doing.

I have to see this film without the commentary, it looks great.
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Re: Writer: JG Ballard

Postby tmidgett on Thu Aug 11, 2011 8:46 am

goatlord wrote:If you like Ballard, you have to see this video. Apparently, someone made a movie about my favourite Ballard book, The Atrocity Exhibition (!!!). This is the DVD commentary of that movie:

Part one (then you click part two on the related videos list and so on and so on...)

You won't get what the movie is about because they are allways talking over the dialogue, (As far as I know it follows the book themes pretty well) but it's great to listen to Ballard talking about his obssesions with that child-like glee he always had, and dissecting the themes and the narrative of this book and all his work. He was a really smart man that knew what he was doing.

I have to see this film without the commentary, it looks great.


I saw this movie (w/o the commentary). It was OK.

It suffered from the same problem as Cronenberg's take on Crash.

The tension in Ballard's books is between the humanity of his characters and their landscape, which is stark, brutal, impersonal, but engaging--overwhelming even. Certainly it tends to overwhelm the characters.

Both Crash and this film get lost in the landscape, at the expense of the characters. And both films have this glassy, featureless, postmodern interpretation of the landscape that tends toward blandness. A rote and even banal read of what is going on in the books.

I don't know how Ballard felt about 'em. Most fiction writers are just happy they get optioned.
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Re: Writer: JG Ballard

Postby goatlord on Thu Aug 11, 2011 9:35 am

tmidgett wrote:
I saw this movie (w/o the commentary). It was OK.

It suffered from the same problem as Cronenberg's take on Crash.

The tension in Ballard's books is between the humanity of his characters and their landscape, which is stark, brutal, impersonal, but engaging--overwhelming even. Certainly it tends to overwhelm the characters.

Both Crash and this film get lost in the landscape, at the expense of the characters. And both films have this glassy, featureless, postmodern interpretation of the landscape that tends toward blandness. A rote and even banal read of what is going on in the books.

I don't know how Ballard felt about 'em. Most fiction writers are just happy they get optioned.


Yeah, I can see how every Ballard adaptation is doomed to failure, but when you hear the director, you see that he made his homework and caught all the undercurrent themes of the book, but he was working on a impossible task.

According to the commentary, Ballard liked all the film adaptations of his work, but specially this one. I think that that's because of the almost permanent excitement that this man had, his passion for life. Every adaptation of his work opened new ways of seeing his "visions", wich made him revisit and re-think what he did, the huge ammount of phillosophy and thought put into every book he made. We are used to hear artists that they hate the adaptations of their art, so it's kind of weird and charming at the same time. Or maybe he is just being really polite.
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Re: Writer: JG Ballard

Postby tmidgett on Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:12 am

goatlord wrote:According to the commentary, Ballard liked all the film adaptations of his work, but specially this one. I think that that's because of the almost permanent excitement that this man had, his passion for life. Every adaptation of his work opened new ways of seeing his "visions", wich made him revisit and re-think what he did, the huge ammount of phillosophy and thought put into every book he made. We are used to hear artists that they hate the adaptations of their art, so it's kind of weird and charming at the same time. Or maybe he is just being really polite.


It sounds realistic and gracious of him.

It's possible I'm giving this one short shrift. I tend to discount any film of a great book.

It's just so hard to do properly, especially with a writer like Ballard. His stories are good, but the real genius of him is his specific use of language. It's kind of wed to the text.

L.A. Confidential was the last time I was really knocked out by a film based on a great book I had read. Naked Lunch before that (very surprised by how good it was).

Haven't read No Country for Old Men--maybe that is one. Anyway.
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Re: Writer: JG Ballard

Postby HOUSTON_M on Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:42 am

I really enjoyed Naked Lunch too but everyone I've spoken to about it thought it was terrible. Just loaned it to a colleague the other day and hopefully he'll get something out of it (he read and enjoyed the book).

It's not a direct adaptation of the book though.

Some of these supposedly "unfilmable" novels have lead to watchable films (Naked Lunch; Planet of the Apes; American Psycho).

Has anyone here seen Stay Clean (2002), an adaptation of James Ellroy's Killer on the Road/Silent Terror?

And NC on J.G. Ballard, one of the best novelists of the second half of 20th century/ early 21st century.
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Re: Writer: JG Ballard

Postby dabrasha on Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:51 am

tmidgett wrote:
the Classical wrote:Obv not crap, so many great books, I really love Super-Cannes a sort of late period masterpiece.

I think about that book a lot.


Just read it in two days.

Excellent.

I miss him.

Almost done with this. They should make SC a movie, set out here in Silicon Valley. Have the execs head out to Fremont to beat on Afghanis and other immigrants.

Weird uses of repetition/ennui throughout the book heightens the madness of being trapped in bright sunlight.

Good stuff.
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Re: Writer: JG Ballard

Postby Verge of Light on Thu Aug 11, 2011 12:06 pm

I've read many of his books, and not one of 'em Crap. Crash and High Rise are probably my favorites.

Not sure if anyone posted this video before. I could watch it all day.

I recall right around when he died I did a search for his books in my suburban Philadelphia public library system. They have several Ballard works and ZERO by many other "controversial" authors. No Bukowski, Iain Banks, Hunter S. Thompson, etc. Plus only two Burroughs books.

It could be just a coincidence or it could be a testament to how goddamn hell ass great a writer he was.
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Re: Writer: JG Ballard

Postby Cranius on Thu May 24, 2012 2:51 pm

JG Ballard's rather good review of Hitler's Meinkampf:

Alphabets Of Unreason

In this respect Hitler was one of the rightful inheritors of the 20th century - the epitome of the half-educated man. Wandering about the streets of Vienna shortly before the first World War, his head full of vague artistic yearnings and clap-trap picked up from popular magazines, whom does he most closely resemble? Above all, Leopold Bloom, his ostensible arch-enemy, wandering around Joyce's Dublin at about the same time, his head filled with the same clap-trap and the same yearnings. Both are the children of the reference library and the self-improvement manual, of mass newspapers creating a new vocabulary of violence and sensation. Hitler was the half-educated psychopath inheriting the lavish communications systems of the 20th century. Forty years after his first abortive seizure of power he was followed by another unhappy misfit, Lee Harvey Oswald, in whose Historic Diary we see the same attempt by the half-educated to grapple with the information overflow that threatened to drown him.
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Re: Writer: JG Ballard

Postby placeholder on Thu May 24, 2012 3:34 pm

Guy has been my favorite writer for many, many years, but I only recently heard his last name spoken out loud. I'll be damned if I haven't been pronouncing it wrong all this time!
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Re: Writer: JG Ballard

Postby jurgis rudkus on Thu May 24, 2012 3:54 pm

How is it correctly pronounced?
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Re: Writer: JG Ballard

Postby cjh on Thu May 24, 2012 4:35 pm

jurgis rudkus wrote:How is it correctly pronounced?


Ballard, (rhymes with Mallard).

His famously unprepossessing suburban lair, 36 Old Charlton Road, Shepperton, (yellow door and the only property in the road with the original Crittal windows, he famously didn't touch a spec of dust in almost fifty years of living there). The photo is a few years old, that's his ancient Ford Granada.
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Re: Writer: JG Ballard

Postby Eugenius on Thu May 24, 2012 4:46 pm

cjh wrote:His famously unprepossessing suburban lair, 36 Old Charlton Road, Shepperton, (yellow door and the only property in the road with the original Crittal windows, he famously didn't touch a spec of dust in almost fifty years of living there). The photo is a few years old, that's his ancient Ford Granada.


When I was a kid I went camping several times in Chertsey Meads less than two miles from that address. I had no idea, until this moment, that Ballard lived there.
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