J.G. Ballard would have been 89 today. To celebrate, we’re republishing a conversation between the iconic science fiction and interviewers Andrea Juno and Vale, originally featured in the January, 1984 edition of High Times and excerpted from Re/Search #8/9, a special on J.G. Ballard.
J. G. Ballard has always been ahead of his time. In 1967 he predicted Ronald Reagan as president of the United States. Before appearing in an ignored edition put out by Grove Press, The Atrocity Exhibition was actually printed and then destroyed before publication by the prestigious Doubleday & Co., Inc., and given similar treatment by E.P. Dutton. His material was simply too strong for these corporations—run by literary lawyers, in effect—to handle.
Ballard’s main concern has always been the real myths underlying the modem society of the spectacle. From 1966 on, in books like The Drought, The Drowned World, The Disaster Area, Crash, High Rise, The Atrocity Exhibition, Hello America, Myths of the Near Future, etc., he has imaginatively investigated, in the tradition of the best forensic pathologists, the behavioral mechanisms at work in the real world of rampant, cleverly disguised psychoses… J.G. Ballard was interviewed at his home in Shepperton, England.
John G. Ballard: Do you smoke?
High Times: No, thanks; we come from “healthy California”—
Ballard: Oh, yes—everything is forbidden—it’s the New Puritanism that’s come in.
High Times: Although we don’t jog—we refuse to jog.
Ballard: I’d have problems if I jogged—if I did it once I’d be dead. That’s all part of the New Puritanism—all that nonsense about “leading a healthier life.” That’s the most dangerous sort of attitude you can adopt! Most people’s lives are far too healthy—that’s a problem in the West, …
Author: High Times / High Times