Thursday, 18 November 2010

JG Ballard

JG (James Graham) Ballard (1930-2009) remains one of the most prominent and transgressive authors of the 20th century. He wrote primarily in the genre of science fiction, but almost always with an eye for the psycho-sexual foibles of individuals and how they might be formed by, or inform, society - and he didn't shrink at dealing with matters considered too bizarre or too controversial for others to write about. The most cited, though by no means the only, example is his 'Crash' (1973) which deals with the sexual fetishism of car crashes. It was later made into a film - which is still banned in a number of places, including the Borough of Westminster in London, apparently. His later book, 'The Atrocity Exhibition', was at one point prosecuted as obscene in the UK.

He is the source of a number of quotable quotes about sex, fetish, and pornography, including those below:

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

"Science is the ultimate pornography, analytic activity whose main aim is to isolate objects from their contexts in time and space. This obsession with the specific activity of quantified functions is what science shares with pornography."

"All over the world major museums have bowed to the influence of Disney and become theme parks in their own right. The past, whether Renaissance Italy or Ancient Egypt, is re-assimilated and homogenized into its most digestible form. Desperate for the new, but disappointed with anything but the familiar, we recolonize past and future. The same trend can be seen in personal relationships, in the way people are expected to package themselves, their emotions and sexuality, in attractive and instantly appealing forms." (The Atrocity Exhibition)

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

“Do we see, in the car-crash, the portents of a nightmare marriage between technology, and our own sexuality? … Is there some deviant logic unfolding here, more powerful than that provided by reason?”

"Fiction is a branch of neurology: the scenarios of nerve and blood vessels are the written mythologies of memory and desire."

"The endless newsreel clips of nuclear explosions that we saw on TV in the 1960s (were) a powerful incitement to the psychotic imagination, sanctioning everything." (The Atrocity Exhibition)

"At the logic of fashion, such once-popular perversions as pedophilia and sodomy will become derided cliches, as amusing as pottery ducks on suburban walls." (The Atrocity Exhibition)

"Their violence (the jungle wars of the '70s), and all violence for that matter, reflects the neutral exploration of sensation that is taking place, within sex as elsewhere and the sense that the perversions are valuable precisely because they provide a readily accessible anthology of exploratory techniques." (The Atrocity Exhibition)

"Sex is now a conceptual act, it's probably only in terms of the perversions that we can make contact with each other at all." (The Atrocity Exhibition)

"The marriage of reason and nightmare that dominated the 20th century has given birth to an ever more ambiguous world. Across the communications landscape move the spectres of sinister technologies and the dreams that money can buy. Thermo-nuclear weapons systems and soft-drink commercials coexist in an overlit realm ruled by advertising and pseudo-events, science and pornography. Over our lives preside the great twin leitmotifs of the 20th century – sex and paranoia…In a sense, pornography is the most political form of fiction, dealing with how we use and exploit each other, in the most urgent and ruthless way."

"I love the smell of male urine and the reek of his groin on my bath towels after he’d had a shower" (character in th enovel Super-Cannes)

"She had originally agreed to appear naked, but on seeing the cars informed me that she would only appear topless—an interesting logic was at work there." (think this comes from Crash)

"Trying to exhaust himself, Vaughan devised an endless almanac of terrifying wounds and insane collisions: The lungs of elderly men punctured by door-handles; the chests of young women impaled on steering-columns; the cheek of handsome youths torn on the chromium latches of quarter-lights. To Vaughan, these wounds formed the key to a new sexuality, born from a perverse technology. The images of these wounds hung in the gallery of his mind, like exhibits in the museum of a slaughterhouse." (Crash)

"One looks forward to the day when the General Theory of Relativity and the Principia will outsell the Kama Sutra in back-street bookshops."

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