BALLARD ON POWELL: “REALISM HAS FAILED US…”
I was a big J.G. Ballard fan in my late teens and 20s when I pretty much devoured works like Terminal Beach, The Atrocity Exhibition (made into an independent feature by Jonathan Weiss, linked to here), The Crystal World, and Myths of the Near Future. I’ve been interested then to see the dystopian science fiction writer pop up several times in The Guardian in just the past couple of weeks. I quoted him below in a blog entry on a new Helmut Newton book, and here he is again in The Guardian discussing the great director Michael Powell in a passage that is vintage Ballard:
“I think of Powell as a prophet whose films offer important lessons to both filmmakers and novelists, especially the latter, who are still preoccupied with character and individual moral choice. My guess is that the serious novel of the future will be serious in the way that Powell’s and Hitchcock’s films are serious, where the psychological drama has migrated from inside the characters’ heads to the world around them. This is true to everyday life, where we know little about the real nature of the people around us, and less about ourselves than we think, but are highly sensitive to the surrounding atmosphere.
Fancy and the creative spirit rule everything, Powell seems to say. Realism has failed us, and the imagination must take its place. Love may be an illusion, but it is all we have. It must be tested, not against our modest private lives, but in the fiercest fire. We are less important than we think, but our imaginations can transcend everything, even our own deaths.”