This is a day of paying tribute to the great J. G. Ballard, who died yesterday at the age of 78.
To many, Ballard was a trusted seer and beloved guide through the landscapes of advanced capitalism, decadent consumerism, and attendant social and psychological monstrosities. Like all truth-tellers he was a visionary, and his vision was often described as dark, bleak, dystopian. But that’s simply because Ballard was so acutely perceptive and morally scrupulous in his depiction of the mad fantasy of modern life. Reading him one feels all of one’s comforting illusions bursting like bubbles.
The occasion of Ballard’s death has brought to my attention the fascinating site ballardian.com, which I had never visited before. The accompanying image here is a partial screenshot of the site’s tag cloud, which speaks volumes.
Even if you’ve never read Ballard it’s worth a visit today to see the kind of tributes being paid upon the loss of a creative giant. Better yet, it’s a good day to read some Ballard.
Excerpts from “What I Believe“, J. G. Ballard 1984.
“I believe in the power of the imagination to remake the world, to release the truth within us, to hold back the night, to transcend death, to charm motorways, to ingratiate ourselves with birds, to enlist the confidences of madmen. . .
I believe in Max Ernst, Delvaux, Dali, Titian, Goya, Leonardo, Vermeer, Chirico, Magritte, Redon, Duerer, Tanguy, the Facteur Cheval, the Watts Towers, Boecklin, Francis Bacon, and all the invisible artists within the psychiatric institutions of the planet.
I believe in the impossibility of existence, in the humour of mountains, in the absurdity of electromagnetism, in the farce of geometry, in the cruelty of arithmetic, in the murderous intent of logic. . .
I believe all excuses.
I believe all reasons.
I believe all hallucinations.
I believe all anger.
I believe all mythologies, memories, lies, fantasies, evasions.
I believe in the mystery and melancholy of a hand, in the kindness of trees, in the wisdom of light.”