J. G. Ballard

A car crash harnesses elements of eroticism, aggression, desire, speed, drama, kinaesthetic factors, the stylizing of motion, consumer goods, status--all these in one event. I myself see the car crash as a tremenduous sexual event really: a liberation of human and machine libido (if there is such a thing).

Pop artists deal with the lowly trivia of possessions and equipment that the present generation is lugging along with it on its safari into the future.

What our children have to fear is not the cars on the highways of tomorrow but our own pleasure in calculating the most elegant parameters of their deaths.

The car as we know it is on the way out. To a large extent, I deplore its passing, for as a basically old-fashioned machine, it enshrines a basically old-fashioned idea: freedom. In terms of pollution, noise and human life, the price of that freedom may be high, but perhaps the car, by the very muddle and confusion it causes, may be holding back the remorseless spread of the regimented, electronic society.

Electronic aids, particularly domestic computers, will help the inner migration, the opting out of reality. Reality is no longer going to be the stuff out there, but the stuff inside your head. Itís going to be commercial and nasty at the same time.

We live in a world ruled by fictions of every kind--mass merchandising, advertising, politics conducted as a branch of advertising, the instant translation of science and technology into popular imagery, the increasing blurring and intermingling of identities within the realm of consumer goods, the preempting of any free or original imaginative response to experience by the television screen. We live inside an enormous novel. For the writer in particular it is less and less necessary for him to invent the fictional content of his novel. The fiction is already there. The writerís task is to invent the reality.

I would sum up my fear about the future in one word: boring. And thatís my one fear: that everything has happened; nothing exciting or new or interesting is ever going to happen again . . . the future is just going to be a vast, conforming suburb of the soul.

In a completely sane world, madness is the only freedom!

A widespread taste for pornography means that nature is alerting us to some threat of extinction.

Given that external reality is a fiction, the writerís role is almost superfluous. He does not need to invent the fiction because it is already there.

People will begin to explore all the sidestreets of sexual experience, but they will do it intellectually. . . . Sex wonít take place in the bed, necessarily--itíll take place in the head!

People nowadays like to be together not in the old-fashioned way of, say, mingling on the piazza of an Italian Renaissance city, but, instead, huddled together in traffic jams, bus queues, on escalators and so on. Itís a new kind of togetherness which may seem totally alien, but itís the togetherness of modern technology.

Everywhere--all over Africa and South America . . . you see these suburbs springing up. They represent the optimum of what people want. Thereís a certain sort of logic leading towards these immaculate suburbs. And theyíre terrifying, because they are the death of the soul. . . . This is the prison this planet is being turned into.

Science and technology multiply around us. To an increasing extent they dictate the languages in which we speak and think. Either we use those languages, or we remain mute.

Perhaps violence, like pornography, is some kind of an evolutionary standby system, a last-resort device for throwing a wild joker into the game?


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