All Watched Over By Adam Curtis

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Sitting in front of All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, it is easy to let the brilliance of the style wash over you. Illustrated with dazzling imagery, one big idea morphs seamlessly into another, while Curtis’s hypnotic narration smoothes away any cognitive bumps. Like attending a lecture by firebrand philosopher Slavoj Zizek, one comes away feeling overwhelmed and inspired by the relentless pace and mesmerising variety of idea. But there remains a niggling feeling you may have been bamboozled, a feeling that if you stopped and thought about the big themes, they would collapse into a pile of … Continue reading

Ballard predicted the rise of the selfie

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Upon the release of High-Rise in cinemas, Tom Hiddleston read out chunks of an interview with JG Ballard to highlight the man’s prescience. Here are the excerpts from Jon Savage’s interview with Ballard from 1978. Note Ballard more or less predicts the coming age of social media, digital news and selfies: “I think the biggest developments over the next twenty, thirty years are going to be through the introduction of VHS systems, and I don’t just mean the cassette thing, playback gadgets – that in itself would be quite revolutionary – but when, say, every room in everybody’s house or flat … Continue reading

Ballard: Our need for catastrophes

The cultural revolution of the 1960s had an undeniably profound impact on the people who lived amidst its birth pangs. In 1986 a film crew came to make a short documentary about the writer JG Ballard. In the interview, Ballard pointed out that the world which we inhabit requires a certain amount of oil to make the cogs go around and keep the wheels turning. For Ballard it was sex which played such a role in the 1960s, but now sex is no longer a new frontier and increasingly violence has become the oil which keeps the wheels turning. The … Continue reading