Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Links for the next meeting - High-Rise by JG Ballard

A quick summary of the novel on Wiipedia

An overview of JG Ballard's work

A review on Ballardian, the JBG fan site

An interview from 1976, the year after the novel came out:

“I'm trying to say something about the anonymity of say, such a huge high-rise building as the one I describe, which plays into the hands of barbarism, but also provides a new set of connections on the other side: what that new order is I leave to the reader to decide. Royal and Wilder are not tuned into the logic of the High Rise. A new type of person is emerging, a neutral, affectless, emotionless character who doesn't mind the intrusion into his life of data processing outfits, credit registers and so on, and in fact welcomes it because it provides a sense of togetherness -- maybe all the togetherness that people need. Laing is at one point in the book reflecting on this new kind of cool, unemotional type who just likes sitting in his room with the TV on but the sound turned down. But it's ironic that at the end of the book he turns into just such a person as he apparently feared. He enters into a rather complex relationship with his sister and this other woman; his whole role vis-a-vis the mad dentist who fools around with corpses; all the aspects of himself he finds himself moving through in the second half of the book: all this is to show the beginnings of a new order. He is a happy tenant of the High Rise. I leave it open to the reader to decide whether it's a good thing or bad; he is not a completely passive spectator of events. After all, according to some research I did, I found that one in ten people in this country live above the sixth floor.”

& one from 1980, talking more generally about his views of science fiction:

“It had been too concerned with the future, right from its origins. I wanted a science-fiction of the present day. I am interested in the technology of the present of this world. I am not interested in imaginary alien planets. I am certain you know that the only alien planet is Earth. It is this world that is the strange one. All the extra-terrestrials we need are walking around in these streets."

An article about a book that's just been published on poor architecture, that taps into 'the high rise' phenomenon of blocks of gated apartment blocks

& finally, a synopsis of a film adaptation, which suggests they've completely missed the point:

"n the midst of a vast ocean stands the Elysium Tower – a glistening vertical city – a sanctuary for challenging times.

Powered by sun and earth, designed by the greatest architectural visionary of the new millennium, Elysium is a self contained world. A world of commerce, cuisine and entertainment, featuring restaurants, swimming pools, libraries, cinemas, even a research hospital. It is not just the tallest and most technologically advanced work of modern architecture, but one that embodies the world's highest aspirations.

Dr. Robert Laing, a new arrival, settles in and adjusts to this hermetic life. But before long he becomes aware of something unsettling in the building. In an escalating atmosphere of unrest the residents break into tribal factions. Laing watches in horror as the myth of a utopian society is shattered."

We met at the Barbican Lounge

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