Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Some Self

I have been reading a lot of Will Self's stories lately and I am going to have to reconsider my thesis that he is not a Ballardian writer, because he is. But where Ballard is always clinical and menacing, Self is funny and ironic. In a way he illuminates the same post-modern situations as Ballard, but the intended menace is somewhat subdued and the outcome always drole rather than Ballard's frequently harsh and cruel critiques.

His subject matter is also very different, though his characters are also very upper middle-class (artists, doctors, philosophers, psychiatrists, editors), but as opposed to the typical Ballard typology they are far less out of control, a kind of kindly perverted bourgeois. Where Ballard describes a world wherein psychosis has overruled neurosis, while still being called normal, Self describes the same loss of affect in a much more benign way. The conclusions are the same, but the consequences are never that far-reaching. A Ballard-light, quoi?

Of course the link between the inundated England of The Book of Dave and The Drowned World is self-evident, but I can hardly wait to discover the subtle differences in subject matter and characterisation (still waiting for the paperback). This is really a very stimulating writer. For the interested: try The Grey Area and The Quantum Theory of Insanity. As they are short-story collections, the Ballard parallel will be immediately made clear.

6 comments:

dejan said...

here it is not clear exactly how he is a ballardian writer, so maybe you'd care to explicate?

Fire in the Mind said...

do you knwo something about ballard?

dejan said...

i read CRASH and DROWNED WORLD and I saw Cronenberg's movies

Fire in the Mind said...

ah then you know something :-)

will get back on this later. busy now.

Fire in the Mind said...

to continue:

for me self is a ballardian writer because he singles out a seemingly normal or unimportant detail of postmodern society and takes it to its logical if rather awful - because psychologically totally destabilizing and dehumanizing - conclusion.

i'm talking post-crash ballard now. the link with the ballard of the drowned world is less strong. that book is important for other reasons and starts another thread in ballard's work, namely the loss of civilization when a climatic cataclysm destabilizes our given values.

dejan said...

'well sounds interesting already, although you didn't mention WHICH particular detail of the pomo society. i guess you're gently pushing me to read the book myself?
well today i can't, because reading zizek today i was thrown completely off-balance