Monday, April 20, 2009

RIP J.G. Ballard (1930-2009)

It was kinda strange that on the day I met V. Vale, publisher of RESEARCH Books at USC's SHELF LIFE: Big Day For Small Press last Saturday, it was the same day that J.G. Ballard passed away. The 78 year old author, who has been the subject of a lot of RESEARCH books and interviews by Mr. Vale, wrote a lot about disaster and experimentation. He first started writing short stories that were considered science fiction but not in the "spaceships and space explorations" kind of way. Instead he focused on the way communication affected the evolving present and of the "vast conformist suburbs" that was being dominated by mass media culture. Later on his reputation as an anti-establishment avant-garde writer kept growing and growing with novels such as "Atrocity Exhibition" and "Crash", which all became cult favorites. He also gained a new level of mainstream popularity in 1984 when he wrote "Empire Of The Sun", an account of his experience growing up in a civilian camp in Shanghai during World War II, which was later made into a movie by Steven Spielberg. Ballard, as a writer likes to challenge his readers. His writing, next to Phillip K. Dick is what I would call a "cerebral mindfuck". Many artists and musicians refer to him and his work and has made it possible for a much younger generation, like myself,to know about him and appreciate his work. And publications like V. Vale's RESEARCH makes sure that information about the author and his ideas are available especially since, the world we live in today is pretty much becoming what he has already seen in his visions - foretold in many of his stories' themes and subjects. As one writer put it: "Its a Ballardian world and we are just living in it.."

So long, Ballard.