Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Chilling societal predictions by J.G. Ballard


That J.G. Ballard knew something about society.

He was a writer. A rather prolific one at that. Numerous novels and short stories that could be termed "genre fiction," though his Empire of the Sun defies such classifications. Ballard's also being "rediscovered" as his novel The High Rise about "a brutalist block of flats in alternate-universe version of 1970s Britain" has been given a film adaptation. For me, Day of Creation is the goods, a story that combines environmental warnings with mind-bending considerations of reality.

In keeping with this resurgence of all things Ballard, Flavorwire published this list of 20 quotes from J.G. Ballard that should, if you have any sense of what's going on, strike a bit close to home. You can see them all at the link, but naturally I've plucked out a few of my favorites:

“Everything is becoming science fiction. From the margins of an almost invisible literature has sprung the intact reality of the 20th century.”

“Bourgeois life is crushing the imagination from this planet. In due course this will provoke a backlash, since the imagination can never be wholly repressed. A new surrealism will probably be born.”

“Everything’s designed to be bland, homogenised, user-friendly. As someone says in the book (and I’ve used it before, I know, but it’s a slogan I’m going to keep pushing) the totalitarian regimes of the future will be ingratiating, subservient. No longer will it be Orwell’s vision of a boot stamping on a human face. We’ll have something highly subservient and ingratiating, where the tyranny is imposed for our own good. We see it all the time.”

“The future is probably going to be something like Las Vegas.”

I have no doubt taken this blog perilously close to the edge of turning readers away with my incessant bemoaning of our gormless society. We don't like smart people. Many among us don't like to base decisions on scientific fact. Thinking is just too hard.

None of this was news to Ballard. He saw the end coming and as several of his novels suggest, we'd actually welcome it when it happened.


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