Reading this excellent collection of J.G. Ballard’s interviews I was constantly reminded how off-message he is politically from my own radical left wing albeit libertarian views and how different his class background is from my own, even though he lived very nearby in Shepperton. But oddly (or not) his vision and style resonates so strongly that not only is he my favourite fiction writer but I consider him a major thinker too.
If I approach him as someone purely concerned with the psychological world of his introverted obsessed characters and their response to collapse and catastrophe or the stultifying boredom of modern society, ignoring political solutions or movements, it helps to iron out the deep discrepancies. I believe we are entering an era of crisis, collapse and catastrophe and the bubble of consumerism and affluence we used to live in the West has finally burst. (One predication that J.G. Ballard makes constantly in these interviews, that we would be living in a society of leisure and wealth in the West has proven to be wrong.) How do we grasp psychologically the strange landscapes thrown up by a disintegrating world and what personal satisfactions can we gain from it-if only in an aesthetic sense? These are the disturbing questions JGB asks in his fiction but is it possible to combine ‘inner space’ with the collective political and social project of human emancipation and hope? I really don’t know.
A very interesting review here from the philosopher John Grey (New Statesman.)