Tag Archives: Ballard

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Research January to June 2014

Fifty Shades of CHI
Fifty Shades of CHI video still

The biggest global conference on Human-Computer Interaction, CHI 2014, took place in Toronto in May. Last year at CHI I collaborated with the Lincoln Social Computing Research Centre on a paper called ‘The Future Robot Enslavement of Mankind’, which looked back from an imaginary future to congratulate Homo Sapiens on its contribution to its own near-obsolesence.

This year we collaborated once again to contribute a paper called ‘Fifty Shades Of CHI’, which “uses the form and language of erotic BDSM romance fiction to present a critical lens on the nature of power in the relationship between people and contemporary technology”. The official download is here, as is the video; or you can download the e-print from the Lincoln repository. I’m wondering where we can go next year in terms of genre. With scifi and porn done and dusted, the options are limited.

Shortly before that, I finally published “Deleuze, diagramas, e arte esquizofrênica”, the talk I gave at  Colóquio Deleuze & Guattari: Filosofia Prática in Rio de Janeiro in 2011. (It’s in Portuguese, but you might want to download it just for the pictures: e-print here).

My reason for not being in Toronto in May was that I was speaking about J. G. Ballard at the very splendid Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery at the University of Leeds. The occasion was a wonderful, intense conference called Landcapes of Tomorrow: J. G. Ballard in Space and Time. Apparently one of the highlights of the conference was my description of the ur-accelerationist Mr Toad having an orgasm as he crashes an imaginary car in The Wind and the Willows. Audio of the talk is allegedly available somewhere on the internet.

In the middle of all this, in late May I managed to fail to speak at the University of Lincoln conference As Above, So Below: A Colloquium on Drone Culture: a huge disappointment to me, both because it turned out to be a fabulous conference and as I’d been looking forward to returning to Lincoln so much. My intention is to polish the paper I wished to give into at least open-access format and make it available here on my site and/or on academia.edu.

And in June I spoke at the British Association for Modernist Studies conference Modernism Now! at Senate House, the University of London, about ‘Beckett, Acceleration, and the Ruin of Language’. This I took as an opportunity to fill some of the literary lacunae in the reading lists of the accelerationists du jour; there’s a lot more work to be done on that front.

It’s been a busy few months – and this is without even mentioning a couple of very productive trips to Poland, a fascinating private view courtesy of the Ballard estate, a very strange interview with the New Scientist, and a new post in London.  But news of all that can wait.

 

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Extreme Metaphors

My new book is out.

JG Ballard: Extreme Metaphors
JG Ballard: Extreme Metaphors. Front cover of the hardback edition.

Extreme Metaphors: Interviews with JG Ballard, 1967-2008. Available in the UK and Germany via Amazon (and, of course, in all good bookshops etc., etc.)

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J. G. Ballard, 1930 – 2009

Obituaries and tributes at Ballardian.

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Le monde ballardien

Another translation-article from Magazine Littéraire on Ballardian. This one was first published in 1985, after the publication of the French edition of Empire of the Sun. Lots of interesting details here, especially in Ballard’s comments on the role mediatized perception plays in the novel, often regarded as his most im-mediate, Realist work: ‘Le passé composé de J. G. Ballard’: JGB on Empire of the Sun.

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New series of French Ballard interviews

A new series of articles starts today on Ballardian; I’ve been back-translating the various French interviews to have appeared over the past 40 or so years. The first up is a brief but intriguing interview from Magazine Littéraire in 1975, when Ballard was writing High Rise: ‘Content in their little prisons’: J.G. Ballard on ‘The Towers’.

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Violence without end

One further back-translation of an interview with J. G. Ballard at Ballardian, this one from the German broadsheet Die Zeit in 2005: ‘Violence without end.’. Here, Ballard reiterates his concern that meaningless violence may become a consquence of modern middle-class ennui, and discusses the aftermath of hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

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‘Why I Want To Fuck George W. Bush’

…or not quite the last of the German J. G. Ballard interviews. Published today on Ballardian, another of my re-translations, this one of an interview from 2007. Ballard’s in a wonderfully mischievous mood, and the title of the interview, derived from a joke at the end, echoes his story ‘Why I Want To Fuck Ronald Reagan’: “I really would not want to fuck George W. Bush!”.

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Third interview with J. G. Ballard

At Ballardian, the third and last of my re-translations of interviews with Ballard. ‘Der Visionär des Phantastischen’ comes from a German collection of essays on Ballard published in 1985, which makes that collection the first (and still the only) scholarly collection on Ballard’s work. It’s curious how quickly the Germans fastened onto Ballard’s importance: the Munich Round Up interview, a transcript of a TV interview, was very possibly only Ballard’s second interview ever given.

This interview seems either to be exceptionally well-edited or to be the result of a fortunate patience on the part of the interviewers, who are happy to let Ballard talk without interruption. Though the themes are well-worn – pornography, punk, LSD – the conversation still detours into more intriguing areas, particularly where Ballard disavows any influence of William Burroughs, and describes the difference between their approaches to ontology and the novel.

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Second interview with J. G. Ballard

The second of my re-translations of interviews with J. G. Ballard is now up on Ballardian. Entitled “It would be a mistake to write about the future”, this one was originally conducted in 1976 in Shepperton.

It’s packed with unusual comments: Ballard describes the way he incorporates cinematic techniques into his fiction in more detail than elsewhere, and it’s fascinating to see how his conception of the way the close-up works anticipates Deleuze’s ideas in his Cinema I & II of 1983 and 1985.

The most intriguing aspect of this interview, though, is the stress which Ballard places upon the moral imperative to take not only one’s subjects from the present, but also one’s methods. Elsewhere he’s dismissed any suggestion that he’s a moralist, but this comment might explain why critics have mistaken him for such.

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Interview with J. G. Ballard

Up today on Ballardian, a transcript of a 1968 interview with J. G. Ballard. This is the first of three interviews, all originally published in German, which I’ve re-translated into English. None of them has been available in English before, and whilst they certainly contain plenty of familiar material, there’s also a decent amount of material not covered elsewhere, from biographical details to observations about film, Russian literature, and his own narrative technique.

This first interview is a peculiar one: seemingly assembled from the sub-titles of a long-lost interview which Ballard gave to Bavarian TV in 1968, the questions are missing. Reading it now, one has to guess what questions Ballard might be answering. But then this method is exactly the one Ballard employs in his 1985 short story, ‘Answers to a Questionnaire’, in which one is given the answers, but not the questions…