Posts Tagged ‘jg ballard’
A familiarly detached Ballardian protoganist observes an even more obsessed individual: “Sustained by the personal myth he had created, he was now more or less unreachable.” Likewise, the set dressing is all here: Cape Canaveral, abandon astronauts, empty motels, vermillion sands. This is one of those Ballard stories that really needs to be considered as a single canvas hanging in a gallery of similar studies.
Bonus Ballard link:
This is Ballard’s first published story (1956, I believe, although it is listed as 1957 here) and, though I’ve read it before, it was still something of a shock since I am now more used to his later work. Although some of the tropes are already there – middle class professionals idling away time in hermetic resorts – the writing, particularly the dialogue, is much more slangy and snappy than we might expect, the vibe is the decadent boredom of Burroughs in Mexico. In essence this is Ballard before he became fixated on the Sixities and, unlike almost everything else he has written, it reads like the work of a young man.
As a bonus, here is a short film inspired by the story which I found on YouTube whilst looking for online criticism:
Somewhat predictably, this has Hartwell’s longest, most rambling and spurious introduction so far.
“His flashy car, the way he drives, his loneliness. All the women he’s fucked there. It must smell of semen…”
JG Ballard, Crash, 1973
“At dusk Starsky was still sitting in the cockpit of the Grand Torino like the pilot of an alien spacecraft.”
Holding the data-CD that it had removed from the high-pressure liquid chromatograph, the dismembered robot Ash lay before the three medical display monitors like the sacrificial victim of some digital Cargo Cult. Framing the AI like a triptych of its credo, the three video frames displaying dorsal, ventral and sagittal section of the arachnid-phase Alien called up an impossible geometry, a forbidden angle in which some non-Euclidian Angel could dance only in isolation on the head of a pin. Its injured hands proffered the data, the compositional analysis of the buccal mucus, like a wafer. “The organism, like a moss, has an alternation of generations,” Ash said. “Unlike a moss, both the gametozoon and the sporozoon stages require a living host. The last acts of humanity may be as surrogate mothers for this free-living phallus existing only to impregnate the weak. Darwin and Freud in one jewelled lizard. Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, they say. Where does that leave me?”
“History,” said Parker, raising the muzzle of the flamethrower.
In 1993 Lyle Hopwood imagined how the fabled JG Ballard novelisation of Alien might have looked. He has recently been the judge of a Ballardian competition: “Picture an alternate universe where Jim Ballard achieved his early goal of becoming a screenwriter, becoming so successful that he relocated from Shepperton to Hollywood. The task: write an imaginary 500-word extract from an imagined novelisation of Starsky and Hutch.”
Kafka is a mighty presence in ‘Bright Morning’. I was particularly amused by the opening section in which Jeffrey Ford talks of references to Kafka being foisted on his proxy’s work:
If there is one thing that distinguishes my work from others it is the fact that in the review blurbs that fill the back cover and the page that precedes the titel page inside, the name of “Kafka” appears no less than eight times. Kafka, Kafkaesque, Kafka-like, in the tradition of Kafka. Certainly more Kafka than one man deserves – a veritable embarassment of Kafka riches… At first glance, it would seem that any writer would be proud to have their work compared to that of one of the twentieth century’s greatest writers, but upon closer inspection it becomes evident that in today’s publishing world, when a novel does not fit a perscribed format, it is immediately labelled Kafkaesque. The hope is, of course, that this will be interpreted as meaning exotic, when, in fact, it translates to the book buying public as obscure. Kafka has become a place, a condition, a boundary to which it is perceived on the pretentious are drawn and only total lunatics will cross.
I was reminded of a similar tendency with respect to JG Ballard. I recently wrote a short piece about this with respect to James Miller and Will Ashon and the fact that critics and publishers seem keen to nail the term Ballardian anything that moves:
Ballard has now reached the point in his career – edgy elder statesman – where the shadow he casts is so long that if you are a young male British writer and your publisher doesn’t compare you to him you should probably be worried.