J.G. Ballard is one of those people who’s professional history oozes energy and enthusiasm for life, with a healthy interest and obsession with everything that is obscure and perverse about human nature. His work wasn’t ever predictable, it is entirely timeless and to top it, his sense of loyalties and humour have all the hallmarks of someone who values what can be. An optimistic realist.
It was his work with topical art, poetry and prose publication – Ambit, that hung on my mind. Testing the boundaries of social convention, Ballard ran a competition that was not only an interesting social experiment when drug use was rife in the 60s, it was also an example of marketing genius. He ran a competition for his readership to send in examples of writings constructed whilst under the influence of drugs. Which of course, like a lot of his works of the 60s – 70s, was met with public outrage. There was even a call for Parliament to discontinue the publication. “No publicity is bad publicity”, in this case it was the foundation to an important political gesture. The winner was an American woman who was ‘under the influence of the contraceptive pill’. And anyone who has used the pill in the past, knows that that can be a pretty crazy drug. I have not read the work, but the Editor’s signature is what has incredible merit.
I am not going to list his entire CV and biography instead I shall tag his post as ‘Big Thinker’, and encourage everyone to read his works.