I was very sad to hear about J. G. Ballard's passing. He's my favourite modern writer by a long way, and I'm very sad that I didn't discover him earlier in life. I hadn't really thought that deeply about why I like his work so much and why I find his books so thought-provoking. But an article in The Spectator contained a potential clue:
Ballard was always, pace Hobbes, a little pessimistic about the human condition — the traditional disposition of the thinking conservative. I wonder if we will ever see a British writer with such a breadth of imagination again?[From J.G. Ballard was a man of the Right — not that the Right really wanted him | The Spectator]
I mentioned before that my personal confirmation of Ballard's greatness came when I got deja-vu visiting a place I'd never been to before purely as a result of his powers of description and imagination, but I can now see that something in the bleakness of his vision resonates with me.
Ballard's descriptions of the buildings, the executive cars lined up out side them, the trees partly hiding the landscape, are so perfect that my brain slipped out of gear for a moment as it tried to come to terms with the fact that I hadn't actually been there before.[From Citizen of the World (Well, Woking): May 2008]
Since I'm going to be spending a lot of time on planes over the next couple months, I'm going to be reading a lot of Ballard, so my tone may be somewhat bleak. But hey, we're living in his world now.
[posted with ecto]