“The peculiar thing about England,” J.G. Ballard tells Simon Sellars of Ballardian.com, in a long, casually humorous, and interesting new interview, “is that we’re so densely populated. When I say there’s nothing to do except go shopping, that’s almost the truth. You know, you can’t climb into your car and drive off into the wilderness. Shopping is all we have.”
[Image: J.G. Ballard, photographed by Paul Murphy; via Ballardian.com].
In a discussion of Ballard’s most recent novel, Kingdom Come – which Ballard himself describes as “a full-frontal attack on England today” – we read how “the gap between rich and poor is widening to such an extent that, particularly in London, it’s begun to shift the whole demographic. The middle class, the people who sustain modern society – the nurses, junior doctors, teachers, civil servants and so on – are being forced out because vast sums of money are pouring into the housing market and distorting it. Gated communities are springing up everywhere, and the moment they can, people are opting for private medicine, private teaching, private hospitals – cutting themselves off from the rest of society, and that’s not a healthy development.”
Landscape urbanism, car crashes, Harvard psychiatric publications, Playboy magazine, human autopsies, and the quiet fascism of British shopping malls: it’s an interview worth the read.
(For more of J.G. Ballard here on BLDGBLOG, see Concrete Island, Bunker Archaeology, and Silt, in particular).