Feeds

JG Ballard: Warrior for Gaia?

Library finds a moral message

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

The British Library yesterday announced it had acquired the archives of the late JG Ballard, the great English novelist who died last year.

Ballard hated establishment approval, turning down a CBE from Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2003, and would have found his incorporation into the Heritage Industry quite ironic. He told an interviewer in 1982 that "There are no Ballard archives. I never keep letters, reviews, research materials. Every page is a fresh start."

Also, as reader Shaun Rolph reminds us: "Much of his contempt for literary England was provoked by its archival reverence, its love of the rear-view mirror. He dug a hole in his back garden and tried to burn all his old SF mags from the 'fifties."

A press release from the BL touting the news contained something that caught my eye. Listing Ballard's achievements, the Library tells us he "predicted the rise of terrorism against tourists, the alienation of a society obsessed by new technology and ecological disasters such as the melting of the ice caps".

It was echoed in a tweet, from the Library's Head of Media Relations, Strategic Marketing and Communications Miki Lentin.

Sort of like Mystic Meg, then.

But is this really true? While disasters recur in Ballard's fiction, the reason they are so vivid, Shaun again reminds us, is "because it's what we really wanted all along". They weren't ecological predictions, or warnings. They explored our desire for apocalypse. If they predicted anything, it was the media's desire for eco-porn, and our thirst for the End Times.

One Ballard novel in particular, Rushing to Paradise, was directly inspired by Greenpeace. In it, an environmentalist cult takes over a Pacific Island, turning to euthanasia to weed out the politically-incorrect. As Ballard told an interviewer at the time:

"Enlightened legislation or enlightened social activity of whatever kind, does play into the hands of people with agendas of their own, with secret agendas. And, of course, if you legalize euthanasia, you provide a field day for people who like killing other people."

Since the dark side of the environmental agenda has always been its creepy obsession with population control, this still rings true.

Strangely, when Will Self (correctly, I think) described JG Ballard's later novels as exploring the origins of fascism, he omitted this one. Funny, that.

This is not promising material for someone wishing to enrol Ballard posthumously as a Warrior For Gaia. But it's 2010, it's a state-funded institution, so every trumpet must give a little toot.

Miki told us via email:

"JG Ballard’s writing encompassed topics as diverse as ecological crisis, technological fetishism, urban ruination and suburban mob culture. Therefore, many topics. We were trying to demonstrate the breadth of his literature in 140 characters – not that easy!"

Further comment would be superfluous, really. Although I am tempted to offer a T-shirt for the best Tweet-length summary of any novelists' career, written in the style of a British Library press release. Metamorphosis? Pest control. Moby Dick? Save the Whale! Submissions here please. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Spies, avert eyes! Tim Berners-Lee demands a UK digital bill of rights
Lobbies tetchy MPs 'to end indiscriminate online surveillance'
How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?
Can you hear the difference? Can anyone?
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.