J. G. Ballard: 1930 - 2009Books, Words | roomybonce | April 21, 2009 at 7:02 pm
I am actually a huge fan of J. G. Ballard. For me, his work was the perfectly polarised companion to the Star Trek adventures of the early 80’s, novelisations around which I read widely, expanding my sci-fi universe to incorporate Dick, Clarke, Asimov, and the paralysing Michael Moorcock, a writer so psychologically convoluted and relentlessly dystopian I could just never finish him.
Ballard, though, had his lighter side. How can anyone not be a fan of a man who wrote a 60’s pamphlet entitled ‘Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan’, written as a proper scientific paper and documenting various bizarre experiments designed to measure the ‘psychosexual appeal’ of the then Governor of California.
Here’s a typical quote:
“Slow-motion film of Reagan’s speeches produced a marked erotic effect in an audience of spastic children”
and here’s another:
“Faces were seen as either circumcised (JFK, Khrushchev) or uncircumcised (LBJ, Adenauer). In assembly-kit tests Reagan’s face was uniformly perceived as a penile erection. Patients were encouraged to devise the optimum sex-death of Ronald Reagan.”
Fantastic. When the pamphlet was appended to the first American edition of his classic ‘The Atrocity Exhibition’ his publisher had to pulp the lot. But seriously, much as I’d like to believe our world will evolve according to the Star Trek model of global unity & purpose, I think the Ballardian alternative is far more likely. To quote Spock: “As a matter of cosmic history, it has always been easier to destroy than to create” and I think man’s appetite for destruction (to quote Axl Rose) will eventually overwhelm him far sooner than he can develop any selfless desire for exploration.
Happy days! But that’s what comes from reading Michael Moorcock at a formative age. I promise not to inflict him on my children, but I will encourage them to read J. G. Ballard, if only because I believe his books will be considered prophetic long after Gene Roddenberry’s name is dust.
See you on the other side Mr. B, and apologies for the cheap visual gag.