Ballard interview

JG Ballard talks art and politics in characteristically thought-provoking style:

JB: Your latest cluster of novels tests the controversial theory that transgression and murder are legitimate correctives to social inertia. If we are at once disquieted yet invigorated by acts of violence and resistance, then what implications does this lack of moral unity have for the reader?

JGB: The notions about the benefits of transgression in my last three novels are not ones I want to see fulfilled. Rather, they are extreme possibilities that may be forced into reality by the suffocating pressures of the conformist world we inhabit. Boredom and a deadening sense of total pointlessness seem to drive a lot of meaningless crimes, from the Hungerford and Columbine shootings to the Dando murder, and there have been dozens of similar crimes in the US and elsewhere over the past 30 years.

These meaningless crimes are much more difficult to explain than the 9/11 attacks, and say far more about the troubled state of the western psyche. My novels offer an extreme hypothesis which future events may disprove – or confirm. They’re in the nature of long-range weather forecasts. As I’ve often said, someone who puts up a road sign saying “dangerous bends ahead” is not inciting drivers to speed up, though I hope that my fiction is sufficiently ambiguous to make the accelerator seem strangely attractive. Human beings have an extraordinary instinct for self-destruction, and this ought to be out in the open where we can see it. We are not moral creatures, except for reasons of mutual advantage, sad to say…


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