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Ballard is a genius
shit shit shit
can you watch the beeb online?
dissertation on ballard. due in in 12 days.
i can run and put a tape on if it'd be super helpful? it's got another 40 minutes left.
that's strange isn't it? offering to record tv programs for people off of the internet.
note to self- must get life.
its a sign of coolness. thanks but no thanks. i'll live. too late to fit anything new into the dissertation anyway. its at 25000 words and needs to be 20000.
probably be on uknova though.
Remember to include the comedy. His novels are very funny, and not in a macabre way.
not so much room for the comedy. well actually a tiny bit because i talk about the first few lines of high-rise: 'doctor laing finished thinking about the previous night and continued eating the dog.' (paraphrasing there). funny how often he starts in media res with little comedic bits like that.
anyway the whole thing is more on how his image of violence in high-rises fits into the history of british modernist architecture and 'sink estates', how that image is seen in other artistic media, stuff about thatcherism, linking modern architecture in britain to foucault's theories of the enlightenment as a source for discourses of enclosure.
Though I think Ballard chose a high rise apartment block becuase, at the time, they were the new fad of living. It is the differentiation within the high rise and the competition, envy and resultant revolution that is the main theme of the book in my opinion. The high rise is merely a choice of location that was current. Ballard has moved on the closed estates (Pangbourne). Then, it's ages since I read it, so perhaps I have forgotten some things.
he puts into his criticism of the design, the way he describes the concrete as bearing down upon the psyche of the inhabitants, how it splits them apart and is completely blank, thus destroying any sense of community that we find in the traditional street very much echoes contemporary studies of high-rises and the effects of modernist architecture. you're right in that he looks at differentiation, because by doing that he contrasts the reality of the situation with the utopian promises of the modernists, who without proper thought for the situation sought to create buildings that would fit human needs as if everybodys needs were completely equal. the high-rise is built to suit all, and yet in his novel its split into the upper classes on the high levels who recieve their services first, and the lower classes below. thus the building is used as a metaphor for the british class system (and again this shows the literal building up for the joke it is). the architect himself lives on the top floor (echoes of erno goldfinger in trellick tower) and is the archetypal arrogant upper class corbusian architect who imagines the inhabitants as the animals in his own private zoo. as you can tell there's lots and lots to talk about.
i do talk about how ballard's focus on imprisonment covers other fields (the modernist white cubes of the costa del sol in cocaine nights), but basically high-rise is such a perfect example to use to look at the topic because i can talk about the real life consequences of the attempts to enforce modernist planning on britain.
it reminds me of my childhood and is fucking terrible
duh du-du-du du-du-du-DU-du, du-duh
almost as depressing as the music for that farmers weather show on bbc2, sunday lunchtimes.
The famous theme music is an Andrew Lloyd Webber arrangement on the theme from Paganini's 24th Caprice.
Ballard's novel are stunning, unique and affecting. I read all of his early novels about twenty-five years ago and, as Will Self says in the programme, 'Empire Of The Sun' is a primary map for those novels.
'The Drowned World'
'The Atrocity Exhibition'
'The Disaster Area'
'The Crystal Worlds'
and 'Crash' of course.
I have never heard or read Ballard talk about his writing before and his explanations are probably obvious, particularly about the cautionary tale aspect of many of them. It has always bemused me that he has ever been considered a strange or, even, controversial novelist. The last time I read 'Crash' I laughed out loud, it's hilarious.
because he's admitted that much of it is false information so that he can fool people into thinking that his books all come from particular events in his life. so it is intentionally a map, but not intentionally truthful.
i would recommend the recent millennium people if you enjoyed all of those. my masters is mostly on high-rise with dashes of wg. sebald, foucault, mike leigh, pulp and marc auge. fun fun fun.
are novels that I haven't read for many, many years and I am now inclined to read them again soon. I don't have them myself because most of his novels I borrowed from the local library.
'High-Rise' is probably one of his easiest to understand novels. It's analogy of classes in society and attempts to overthrow them is clear.
He was astonishingly objective about his own work, no false modesty and, equally, no bravada of his standing as a novelist. His explanations of his writing showed how he has been able to analyse his own work which is a smart thing to be able to do. His raising of Science Fiction as a genre to the most important genre of fiction of the last century was made without a hint of irony. Clearly, and loudly, he has a truly independent outlook on life and people which is so refreshing.
you might also like this:
very very good.
it was the first of his novels that i ever read and was a lot... tamer than i expected. i wasn't expecting such a brilliant disassembly of the holidaying middle class, however.
Is it part of his (semi)-autobiography?
from some point in the 90s. shamefully, i only bought it because it was cheap, but it did become one of my favourite books.
of the semiauto is The Kindness Of Women. its very good indeeed.
and now, to bed.
favourite novel as it provides the real happenings and charaters that inspired 'Crash', 'Cocaine nights','Super Cannes'and 'the Unlimited Dream Company'.
He does tend to write the same novel over and over again (arguably many Authors do!)-doctor/psychologist protagonist uncovers then gets involved in moral subvertion via ego maniacial glamorous ultra male. They via for the heart of the same girl amidst under collapsing facade of civilisation.
It is just Empire of the Sun each time but updated backdrops.
I read the short story collection 'Terminal Beach' at school and 'Billennium' has remained my favorite short story, perfect as it is.
I have read all his work now and I like him, he is basically a force for good, questioning society with hyperbolic reversals and invertions with love being the only solid ground.
postdates many of his most well-known novels.
that his novels repeat the supposed real life events as eventually told to us in empire...
as Ballard explains in Kindness of Women, when he is watching the actaul filming of Empire of the Sun (starring a tiny Christian Bale as Jim Ballard)-those childhood memories of the concentration camp and the war took a while to feel 'dealwithable'. The novels before are almost mocks, as he approaches the harsh insights that he gleaned in childhood(notably a great deal of death, murder, his own near death experiences and the psychology of the camp)through the medium of distopic fantasy/sci-fi.
I think the non semi-autobiographical novels allowed him room to analyse the extremes of human behaviour that perhaps he had struggled to fully conceptualise in his youth.
Anyway, great Thesis idea-email me a copy as i would love to read it Jamie.
will email you a copy in a few days once its handed in!
luck-you read the new one yet?
but michael portillo doesn't like
it so its bound to be good.
compared to the early 70s works; atrocity, crash. still very good. along with the novels super cannes and millennium people it forms a sort of trilogy of detective stories set in modern gated communities (either physically gated or economically). he has such a fantastically intelligent eye that there's always about a million layers going on in every page.
but that makes me want to.
I was surprised how long it took the main protagonist to get the gun and finish what his predecessor had started.
i havent read that one for about 2 years so can't recall. 84joe you should definitely read millennium.
need to finish dumas' 'the black tulip' first. i just found out today that the whole thing is online! is that even allowed?
copyright has expired.
I've never read any Ballard, but I will do now.
Read it only after you have read all of his previously published novels. The reason I say that is 'Empire' explains, in a way, much of his earlier writing and I think it's better to read the earlier books without the explanation.
should I start with High Rise then? That sounds good from all the discussion on here.
I'll see what they have in the library...
'The Disaster Area' is short stories and is a good intoduction.
that thousands must have read empire without possibly being able to imagine what his other work is like.
if you're a bit squeamish, maybe try high-rise or the drowned world first.
Super Cannes and Cocaine Nights are good starting points actually. I don't particularly like Crash (I read it once and probably won't do so again for a while) though I'm glad it exists and stuff.
Drowned World also if you wanna start chronologically...
the wind from nowhere which came out a year before is rather average, drowned world is probably the best place to start.
i think millennium people is a better starter than cocaine nights because its more british in focus, easier to relate to.