Most blogs have noted by now the death of J. G. Ballard, the British writer best known for his novel, The Empire of the Sun. Coming across Ballard's writing in the early 70's was a revelation. His power to make visual images that were intensely real, his obsessed and enervated protagonists, and his vivisectionist's touch with our modern culture and relationships was and is unlike any other writer. Would that I had some excerpts from The Crystal World, Crash, Concrete Island, High Rise, or Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan handy. I owe him an unpayable debt.
I believe in the power of the imagination to remake the world, to release the truth within us, to hold back the night, to transcend death, to charm motorways, to ingratiate ourselves with birds, to enlist the confidences of madmen.
I believe in the next five minutes.
I believe in maps, diagrams, codes, chess-games, puzzles, airline timetables, airport indicator signs. I believe all excuses.
I believe all reasons.
I believe all hallucinations.
I believe all anger.
I believe all mythologies, memories, lies, fantasies, evasions.
I believe in the mystery and melancholy of a hand, in the kindness of trees, in the wisdom of light.
--Ballard, J.G. “What I Believe.” J.G. Ballard. Eds. V. Vale and Andrea Juno. San Francisco: RE/Search, 1984.
A complete discontinuity existed between Reagan's manner and body language, on the one hand, and his scarily simplistic far-right message on the other. Above all, it struck me that Reagan was the first politician to exploit the fact that his TV audience would not be listening too closely, if at all, to what he was saying, and indeed might well assume from his manner and presentation that he was saying the exact opposite of the words actually emerging from his mouth.
Annotation & Commentary by the author, J.G. Ballard, to "Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan", published in The Atrocity Exhibition, 1990