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'Cult of enthusiasts'Author: Simon Sellars • Dec 15th, 2008 •
I’m somewhat flattered. Diane Johnson, novelist and co-writer of the script to Kubrick’s The Shining, references ballardian.com in a review of Miracles of Life:
“Ballard’s novels, especially the early ones, have been treated by a range of serious critics, most notably in France. The late Jean Baudrillard, for example, wrote: ‘After Borges, but in a totally different register, Crash is the first great novel of the universe of simulation, the world that we will be dealing with from now on: a non-symbolic universe but one which, by a kind of reversal of its mass-mediated substance (neon, concrete, cars, mechanical eroticism), seems truly saturated with an intense initiatory power’.
In fact this initiatory power was to wane along with the avant-garde itself, which, also like Ballard, simply got appropriated by the antiwar movement and eventually absorbed into an accepting, even welcoming mainstream. Though he, Burroughs, Thomas Pynchon, and others were striving for and finding a personal manner or experimental view, the Sixties mood of experiment seems to have had no legs. The experiments of the Sixties, like the experiments of the Thirties, were widely welcomed, and acceptance is after all a kind of abandonment, perhaps because if an experiment fails to generate a meaningful critical dialogue that can interest the writer himself, he has no context. He’s left alone with his manner, free to perfect it, refine it, parody, imitate, or discard it in relative isolation, and returns to find an audience that has conveniently broadened its views to include as readable and fashionable what was hard or odd at first. This is what seems to have happened to Ballard, now the center of a cult of enthusiasts who comment in the “Ballardosphere,” in books and articles, or via the Web site ballardian.com and elsewhere.”
Although I’m disinclined to agree with her later point that Ballard ‘has been embraced by the mainstream’. In England perhaps, but elsewhere?
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