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Ballard is the prophet of progress in its proper sense, the onward march of history in all its forms, and explores this stance in all the interviews down the years. This stance is utterly consistent amidst what one might see as contradictory attitudes in the interviews. His united thread is a contempt for nostalgia, for the hidebound England of old to which he always felt alienated, Shanghai born semi-foreigner that he was. His fascination was not so much for the future, but the limitless possibilities of the present.

But on the whole, he holds the view that humanity is progressing towards greater affluence, greater leisure, greater comfort homo consumericus. As ever, Ballard does not see this necessarily as a bad thing.

J G Ballard Millennium People

Burroughs is perhaps the writer to which Ballard has been compared most often, and the subject comes up again and again in the interviews. He believes everything he writes. He lives in a paranoid micro-climate of his own….

Extreme Metaphors: ‘A Launchpad for Other Explorations’ - Simon Sellars Simon Sellars

Interestingly, he also has Burroughs down as an arch snob-satirist in the mould of Swift, again differentiating himself from the didactic outlook on the world. And amusingly, he confesses that while they were always on friendly terms, Ballard always found a gulf of understanding between the fast-living upper-class American homosexual heroin addict and the fundamentally straight and straight-laced Brit who rarely imbibed anything stronger than whisky. Ballard talks freely about the traumatic events which have so profoundly yet obliquely influenced his worldview, his childhood in the brutality of Japanese-occupied Hong Kong, and the death of his wife Mary at the young age of 33 in Both detractors and admirers have termed his approach amoral, it is not something he denies.

In that ways as in others, the great futurist is in his own strange way old fashioned, the stiff upper lip of the colonial gent. This is after all a man who always said he preferred whiskey to dope, and who never listened to pop music — despite discussing with great length here with Jon Savage the many musicians influenced by his work. The great overseer of the interconnectedness of humanity, who envisaged something very like the internet in a short story, never quite got round to using it himself. Jovial English gent he may be, but the interviews here are never less than the fascinating — free play of a truly original mind.

In story and interview alike, Ballard seemed unusually attuned to the mutations in the human psyche caused by the era of the car, the computer, globalisation and multimedia. Infinitely more important than literature, which is an old religion — poetry — waiting to die. Any Cop? Future generations will see Ballard as one of the defining authors of the late 20 th and early 21 st centuries, capturing and defining the psychic shifts of the era. And this book will be an enormously rewarding companion piece to his writing. You are commenting using your WordPress.

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Homage to the Sage of Shepperton

Notify me of new comments via email. Ballard died in , given the measurable impact and length of his career, two years shy of spanning a half century, it should have left a sizeable genius-shaped hole, if not in the global literary landscape, at least in the UK. And, yet, Ballard - and the majority of his novels and short story collections, save perhaps Crash which will be known to a great many by name only - remain an undiscovered country to the vast majority whom know little of the man other than what they were told in Empire of the Sun.

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And many of those will likely be oblivious that Spielberg was selling them anything more than fiction. Whilst they remain - and are unlikely now to ever move away from being - fringe, or for want of a better word "cult", works Ballard's novels do not exist in a vacuum: they have simultaneously affected and predicted the future, both of literature and of the society which that literature moves to represent. Ballard - a collection that burns so brightly with Ballard's inquisitive, philosophical mind as much as a sense of the author's own personal warmth that it makes not just a fitting tribute, but a blazing effigy.

Other than that, the book originated with me. These appear in the book as English translations for the first time, a major coup. Extreme Metaphors is Ballard as philosopher.

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  4. Extreme Metaphors: Interviews with JG Ballard;
  5. He does discuss his novels and short stories and the biographical details that everyone knows — most obviously his childhood in Shanghai and his adult life in Shepperton. But the conversations are also reports on what he sees as the dominant forces shaping an increasingly globalised, interconnected planet — and how these feed into his fiction. He was a great conversationalist and in interviews would explore at length the subjects that interested him, especially the media landscape, in very accessible, jargon-free language. So, beyond those biographical and bibliographical details, what is it that fascinates you most about Ballard?

    SS: What I still find incredible after having read and re-read these interviews so many times is how prescient he was.

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    Often when compiling the book, it seemed I could pick any number of current trends in popular culture and find forewarning of them there — sometimes in interviews from as long ago as the 60s. He was uncannily accurate about new media, anticipating the rise of personalised, mobile technologies and the concurrent collapse in top-down media broadcasting — the conditions of social media, by any other name.

    The force of his predictions still blow me away and as a philosopher of technology and media landscapes he goes beyond McLuhan and Baudrillard, even though he shares commonalities with both. This amused Ballard because, needless to say, he was no mystic. He simply knew where to look and had the intelligence to process the findings.

    Even a novel like Crash fits in with this: it takes place almost wholly within a tightly bordered milieu of motorway overpasses and service roads. The book has interviews with fairly prominent names — Will Self, John Gray, Iain Sinclair and David Cronenberg to name a few — but also some that are considerably less recognisable; how did you go about selecting which interviews would make it in to the finished product?

    The status of the interviewer was never really an issue, although we did, to some extent, aim to convey the esteem in which Ballard is held by including the interviewers you mention. We wanted also to show how Ballard was as much a part of the underground as the mainstream by including obscure interviews from long-defunct zines alongside newspaper interviews and conversations from commercial publications like Penthouse.

    For people that aren't already Ballard junkies — those who have only read one novel, who have tried and failed to get on with his work and those who are thinking of reading Ballard for the first time, for example — will Extreme Metaphors pique their interest on any measurable scale, or make Ballard's novels more accessible or enjoyable when they do get around to it?

    SS: I believe so. Probably my favourite interview in the book is one from where he runs rings around the interviewer, Carol Orr, dazzling her with all manner of near-future situations as he works through the themes of his then-unpublished novel, Concrete Island.