I belong to the generation for whom JG Ballard was always present. A sort of conscience for the strangeness of post-war, post-scarcity, post black-and-white Britain. But one that took an evident dark joy in it all. The BBC, being staffed in the main by the generations he influenced most intensely, is full of Ballard. Search the web site and you'll find dozens of references to the man and his work, going back years. I've picked two interviews with the author, both revealing and surprisingly light in tone. He was no doom-monger, although he seemed to know all about doom. First, with Mariella Frostrup on Open Book in 2003:
and, second (and a bit more intense), with Philip Dodd on Radio 3's Night Waves last year
Here's an item from this morning's Today Programme, in which we hear part of an interview Ballard gave to Jim Naughtie and a tribute from kindred spirit Iain Sinclair
Ben Hoyle in The Times has further quotes from Sinclair: "Where other people were terrified by the consumerist culture he saw it as exciting, something he could manipulate, shredding it and making his own world out of it." I'm sure he'd have enjoyed this post on the NME blog which concentrates on his influence on music and features a Joy Division video: "...it is difficult to think of a literary figure whose descriptive powers have extended and enriched the lyrical palette of popular music quite so deeply, and for so long."
The Guardian has a slideshow of pictures of the author and the Architects Journal has a slideshow of the buildings that inspired him, including (here's my contribution to this tribute) this car park in Watford. I've written to Watford Borough Council to suggest that they rename the car park 'The JG Ballard'.
Update: I found another fascinating interview with Ballard, this one from the 3 February 2002 edition of Bookcklub:
- Picture by Paul Murphy, used with permission.
- The JG Ballard collection and archive by a fan in Canada.
- JG Ballard's Wikipedia entry.
- Go to programme web pages for RealMedia versions of the interviews: Open Book and Night Waves.
- Thanks to John Boundy, Executive Editor for arts programmes, for permission to use the interviews here