Tag Archives: interview


Interview on Skeuomorphism with The Machine Starts

The Machine Starts
The Machine Starts – How We Started Calling Visual Metaphors “Skeuomorphs” and Why the Debate over Apple’s Interface Design is a Mess

Earlier this month I spoke several times with Chris Baraniuk about the febrile skeuomorphosis currently smearing itself across the internet. UI designers seem particularly immunodeficient as disease vectors in this regard, and present a clear viro-semantic danger to the 99.9% of language users who are not UI designers. Chris has now published the results of his research on The Machine Starts:

How We Started Calling Visual Metaphors ‘Skeuomorphs’ and Why the Debate over Apple’s Interface Design is a Mess


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.


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’.


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.


‘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!”.


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.


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.


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…


Ballard in Berlin

Newly out on Ballardian, an interview I did last year with Paul Plamper and Niklas Goldbach, who have adapted J. G. Ballard’s High Rise into a German radio play and film. Called Hochhaus, the adaptation is, for my money, the best adaptation of Ballard yet; more entertaining than Spielberg, more sensitive to Ballard’s subtleties than Cronenberg. Ballard’s 1975 novel is transplanted to Berlin in 2013, giving it an entirely different and very suggestive historical context. Especially perceptive about the politics of architecture, Plamper and Goldbach have their own unique take on Ballard’s modern relevance.


Article on Thomas Pynchon in the Sunday Times

The lead article in today’s Sunday Times Culture section is an overview of Pynchon’s novels and reluctant celebrity. Bryan Appleyard, the author of an eloquent and sober study of belief in the existence of aliens – Aliens: Why They Are Here – examines Pynchon’s life, writings, and literary reputation, discussing with me (among others) the likely longevity of Pynchon’s appeal. The article can be found here.