Deuce of Clubs Book Club: Books of the Weak

I'm a Lebowski, You're a Lebowski

Guy Debord: Revolutionary

No Place to Hide

Command of Office

The Christ-Myth Theory And Its Problems

The Christian Delusion

Lincoln's Wrath

How to Do Nothing with Nobody All Alone by Yourself

The Sexy Book of Sexy Sex

Bossypants

Zombie Spaceship Wasteland

Catching the Big Fish

Dig Infinity

The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones

Crazy for God

Basin and Range

Anarchy Evolution

The File

John Ringo

The Supremes

End the Fed

Burning Book

The Hohokam Millenium

God's Middle Finger

Narcocorrido

In Heaven Everything Is Fine

The Shunning

Wisdom Sits in Places

The Marvelous Country

Hamilton's Curse

The Secret Life of Houdini

The Trouble with Being Born

Schulz and Peanuts

First Into Nagasaki

Joe Miller's Jests

Human Smoke

Dirty Tricks Cops Use

A Futile and Stupid Gesture

All For A Few Perfect Waves

Systemantics

Death in the Desert

American Signs

Secret Proceedings and Debates of the Constitutional Convention

Secrets Of A Stingy Scoundrel

The Self-Made Tapestry

A Constitutional History of Secession

The Neurotic's Notebook

Interrogation Machine

Monster Midway

The Harlot by the Side of the Road

Forced Into Glory

Imperial Life in the Emerald City

J. G. Ballard: Quotes

The Compleat Practical Joker

Laugh with Hugh Troy

Pranks!

A Liar's Autobiography

Cobb

Chasing Rainbows

Letters from Tucson, 1925-1927

The Five Fosters

The Giant Cactus Forest and Its World

How to Cheat Your Friends at Poker

World Famous Cults & Fanatics

That's Not All, Folks!

God's Problem

Will Christ Return By 1988?

Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology

The Whiskey Rebellion

FDR's Folly

Wilson's War

Bully Boy

[If] I Did It

The Dark Side

Secret Origins of the Bible

Godless

The End of Faith

Why I Became An Atheist

"Life's Calendar for 1922"

Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War

The Negro Cowboys

EXPECT RESISTANCE

Monty Python Speaks

Baseball Between the Numbers

The Psychopath's Bible

Satisfaction

J. G. Ballard: Conversations

Days of War, Nights of Love

Gospel Fictions and Who Wrote the Gospels?

The Real Deadwood

Deadwood

The Revolution: A Manifesto

45

The Secret Man

Stormin' Mormon

From Psyche to Soma

I'll Gather My Geese

The Osama bin Laden I Know

Alias "Paine"

A Man Without Words

The Wild Trees

The World Without Us

Arizona's Changing Rivers

The Phoenix Indian School

Realm of the Long Eyes

John Dillinger: The Life and Death of America's First Celebrity Criminal

Buckey O'Neill: The Story of a Rough Rider

Thanks For Tuning In

Adventures in the Apache Country

Waylon: An Autobiography

My Life: Sunrise to Sunset

Mimes and Miners: A Historical Study of the Theater in Tombstone

The First 100 Years: A History of Arizona Blacks

Enter Without Knocking

City in the Sun: The Japanese Concentration Camp at Poston, Arizona

House by the Buckeye Road

Vanished Arizona

The Big Con

The Astronomy Cafe and Back to the Astronomy Cafe

A Handbook on Hanging

The Sinner's Guide to the Evangelical Right

A Mind Restored

Mr. Show: What Happened?!

Reclaiming the American Revolution

Stumbling On Happiness

Treasure Maps of the Superstitions

Sunny Slope

Did Genesis Man Conquer Space?

Look Homeward, America

Radicals for Capitalism

Kayaker's Little Book of Wisdom

God Is Not Great

The Echoing Green

The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll

K Foundation Burn a Million Quid

The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes and The Tao of Willie

Just Six Numbers and Our Cosmic Habitat

Wild Goose Chronicles

Behind Bars: Surviving Prison

Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce

The Gang They Couldn't Catch

Manhunt

A History of the End of the World

Al Sieber: Chief of Scouts

Apaches & Longhorns

Deep Survival

Captured

DINO

Sock

Bo: Pitching & Wooing

You Are Worthless

You And Your Hand

Access All Areas

Field Guide to the Apocalypse

The War on Terrorism

Those Idiots From Earth

September 11: An Oral History

Mortal Questions

The Heresy of Self-Love

The White Flag Principle

Medieval Panorama

An Honest President

Those Words

À rebours

Peterson's Incident Report Book

Boo! Culture, Experience, and the Startle Reflex

Victory Denied

Nothing, Arizona

A Porcine History of Philosophy and Religion

O Holy Cow!: The Selected Verse of Phil Rizzuto

DOME COMPENDIUM OF TOPICAL TREATMENT IN PROCTOLOGY

¿Hablas conmigo

Thirty-three Candles

Black Monk Time

Men of Distinction

Alexander the Corrector

Space Viking

Mark These Men

Hallucinogenic Plants

Prohibition: An Adventure in Freedom

JESUS! He's Our President

LOVE

How to Watch Football on Television

Merrill Markoe's Guide to Love

Lincoln: The Man and The Car

Whatever Men Know About Women

Biographies of Italian War Heroes

ABC of Espionage

Art Colony Perverts

Devil-ution

Starting Right with Bees

Planet Earth is a Cult

Baseball Letters

Fetish

Dopey Doings

Democracy: The God That Failed

Handgrenade Talk

Hi, How Are You?

het zingen van het ijs

The Museum of Jurassic Technology Jubilee Catalogue

The Rector and the Rogue

Colorful Cacti of the American Deserts

Odd Jobs: The World of Deviant Work

The Hungry Man's Outdoor Grill Cookbook

How to Get Invited to the White House

How to Work for a Jerk

Never Work for a Jerk!

The Mentality of Apes

Your Vigor for Life Appalls Me

Dr. Strange: Sorceror Supreme

Nautical Notions for Nibbling

A Short Introduction to the History of Human Stupidity

The Fake Revolt

Coup D'Etat

History of the Town of Felicity

Hood of Death

Dolls' House Bathrooms: Lots of Little Loos

Border Security / Anti-Infiltration Operations

Living on Light

God is for Real, Man

Did the Apostle Paul Visit Britain?

Twin Peaks

2001

Power Phrases

The Truth About Wagner

The Life of the Bee

Tombstone

Science Looks at Smoking

The Chiricahuas

The New Dark Ages Conspiracy

The Big Question

Everybody's Book of Epitaphs

The Death of the Fuhrer

Mindfuckers

Gorbachev! Has the Real Antichrist Come?

The World's Worst Poet

Alyssa Milano: She's the Boss

Home is the Desert

Nine Lives: From Stripper to Schoolteacher

How to Start Your Own Country

How to Found Your Own Religion

Sex Objects in the Sky

Indian Oratory

Bastard Without Portfolio

The Bedside Book of Bastards

Hopeless -- Yet There Is Hope

Bible in Pocket, Gun in Hand

Margie Asks WHY

Death of a Hippie

Wake Up or Blow Up

Feeling and Form

Guilt

A Mile in His Moccasins

Mojave Desert Ramblings

Passing of the Outhouse

This Way to Happiness

The Happy Life

Young Only Once

The Monkey Gland Affair

Bert Bacharach's Book for Men

The Two Babylons

For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes...

Why Christians Crack Up!

Why Do Christians Break Down?

Hava Nagila!

Beethoven or Bust

How to Abandon Ship

Livin' in Joe's World

The Last Democrat

Salvation Mountain

The Varmint and Crow Hunter's Bible

Love in the Western World

Jack the Ripper: Light-Hearted Friend

Little Men of the NFL

No One May Ever Have The Same Knowledge Again

The Secret Museum of Mankind

James Bond's World of Values

We Did Not Plummet Into Space

The Boy Who Didn't Believe IN CHRISTMAS

The Great Escape From Your Dead-End Job

All About Tipping

My Loser Godfrey

A Haircut in Horse Town

Mucusless Diet Healing System

Jefferson Returns

Lincoln Returns

Churchill Returns

Corporation Freak

Null Bock auf DDR

So You're Going on a Mission?

Nudes in My Camera

Why I Hate the Nazis

Flesh, Metal & Glass

The James Beard Cookbook

Mortal Refrains

Deadbolt

Amy Grant: A Biography

The X Cars

We Were Five

Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder

Hello ... Wrong Number

I'll Kill You Next!

Murder in Vegas

Did MAN Just Happen?

Terror at the Atlanta Olympics

Criswell Predicts

Your Next Ten Years

They Pay Me to Catch Footballs

The Phantom Menace

Just For Fellows

The Lopsided Gal

Astrology and Horse Racing

The Cokesbury Stunt Book

The Origin of Things

Remarks on the History of Things

U.S. Government Sewing Book

Funeral Tributes II

Blinky, the Friendly Hen

The Serbs Choose War

My Mystery Castle

Iggy

Funeral Customs the World Over

The Right to be Let Alone

Mormonism and the Negro

The Church and the Negro

Preacher with a Billy Club

Fighting Parson of the Old West

Invisibility: Mastering the Art of Vanishing

How to Disappear Completely

The Gentle Art of Making Enemies

How to Catch a Man, How to Keep a Man, How to Get Rid of a Man

Langenscheidts Konversationsbuch

Marlene Dietrich's ABC

The Bible in the Hands of Its Creators


J. G. Ballard: Conversations

J. G. Ballard, ed. V. Vale (2005)

 

Vale: Bush has said that he talks directly to "God," and that he starts every morning in the White House with a prayer circle with men holding hands—
Ballard: I regard that as an example of what I would call "socialized sociopathy." It's sort of "normalized sociopathy," and it's called "religious belief." That's what's scary: when madness can be recruited—in fact, NEEDS to be recruited—in order to justify one's deepest emotional needs. Because there's no answer to that particular Train of Unreason. It bypasses . . . you're back to "God Told Me To," which is presumably what Mohammed Atta thought as he was crashing his plane into one of the Twin Towers. (18)

I said in one of my books . . . "I see the future as a sort of Darwinian struggle between competing psychopathologies." This is not something that lies in the future; it already began in the 1920s and 1930s. But perhaps it re-emerged, to some extent, with both the attack on the World Trade Center, and then the unrelated (I don't know what the justification was, even to this day) attack by the British and America on Iraq. (20)

Ballard: I don't have a PC actually, but my girlfriend is a keen PC user, a great surfer of the Internet. It's very important to her; it's a social tool, because she has made friends and found people with similar interests. Amazingly, when she meets these people, there's none of that, "Ohmigod, how did I ever get into meeting him?" that you used to get—
Vale: With the old Lonely Hearts Clubs—
Ballard: Right. And some of these sites she's dug up contain accidental poetry that is quite moving. I remember when she first got a PC about six or seven years ago, there were these "telephone booths in the Mojave desert" sites. I can't remember the theory of it, but there was some strangely poetic business about this telephone booth which was still functioning. I can't remember what the exact point of it was, but it became a kind of talismanic object. (41)

Most (how should one put it?) reflective people—readers of broadsheet rather than tabloid newspapers—realize that we were taken to war on a false perspective. And yet it seems to make no difference. It's as if people have unconsciously written off the political process as belonging to a world which they can't influence in any way. That's worrying, because it leaves people sort of falling back on a very different set of resources. (52)

There's almost a deliberate program, especially in America, to keep the people under-educated. (52)

[See John Taylor Gatto)

This "New Religiosity" is a retreat from reason. People are not putting their faith in reason but in a huge irrational system built around various supernatural beliefs. And this retreat from reason is taking place at the same time that the United States has developed these super-technologies that are really changing our lives. It's an extraordinary development that someone working on the forefront of advanced science and technology should on Sunday put on a different hat, go off and listen to fable spun about a Palestinian resurrection cult 2000 years ago. It's bizarre, in a way. (55)

But what is interesting is: when she started meeting these people face-to-face . . . she got on well with people whom she had only known as glorified pen-pals. That's very unusual. Usually you go, "Ohmigod—how did I ever share so many letters with this strange person?" That hasn't happened. It's almost as if there's something about the Internet which is filtering out people who are not going to get along with you. It's most peculiar.
Actually, I'm wondering if it isn't so much that, as the fact that given a sort of "distributed personality" across the whole range of Internet contacts, when you meet the actual person, you are only bringing to bear a small portion of your actual personality, and you're quite satisfied. Whereas in the old days when you met a pen-pal and you were pulled up short and thought, "Oh god, how are we going to get through this strange meal together?" because you were expecting a complete meeting of minds, now you only meet that small portion of the mind that's being offered across the Internet bridge.
I observe the Internet over my girlfriend's shoulder; I don't want to get too close because it might suck me in. (63)

If you go to a website like the Encyclopedia Britannica, the information on the whole is fairly reliable. If you want to know the population of Venice, you can rely on the Britannica to give you a fairly (or approximately) accurate answer. But you can't rely on the Net . . . at least, that's my experience. (79)

[Actually: "According to a study by the journal Nature, Wikipedia . . . is almost as accurate as the online Encyclopaedia Britannica, at least when it comes to science. Nature took stories from Wikipedia and Britannica on 42 science-related topics and submitted them to experts for review. The experts were not told which encyclopedia the stories were from. "The exercise revealed numerous errors in both encyclopedias, but among 42 entries tested, the difference in accuracy was not great: the average science entry in Wikipedia contained around four inaccuracies; Britannica, around three," according to Nature."]

The paradox is that NASA is now a huge obstacle in the way of space exploration. It originally got off to a tremendous start landing men on the moon, but now it's become a kind of public-relations-driven corporation that needs manned space flights in order to justify its huge funds. But as long as we have manned space flight dominating the show, we're not going to get any real advances in space exploration, because the job of leaving this planet is prohibitively expensive. If they dissolved NASA and replaced it with some successor organization committed to unmanned space flight, there'd be an enormous expansion of interplanetary activity of all kinds. Dozens of probes would be going off to the planets; the Space Age would really begin. But it won't happen, of course, because NASA is deliberately, willingly, and willfully trapped in this Buck Rogers dream that it's constructed around itself. (93-4)

The reasons for Japan's attack on America have been rather obscured over the years. In fact, the Japanese were faced with an oil boycott by the United States and were desperate to do something about it. (96)

You do become sensitive to random noise as you get older. You want nothing to change. It's a way of slowing down time! (111)

Vale: There's another way to thwart those surveillance cameras: start a fashion movement in which everyone wears ski masks that completely cover their faces, and big hats that shade people's faces from recognition. . . .
Ballard: That might be the key to our survival: clownish behavior! To survive, people will dress up in the most outlandish outfits; everyone will become a quick-change artist. . . .
Vale: . . . Yes, that's our future: we'll all become pranksters, clowns, and camouflage artists.
Ballard: That may be necessary. I can see it happening.
Vale: Multiple identities.
Ballard: Eccentric behavior, highly imaginative eccentric behavior, may become a survival imperative. The opposite of conformism. (125)

Ballard: Does that mean there's been an exodus of gays from San Francisco?
Mark Pauline: So many people are dying that someone who works for a funeral home brought a dead AIDS patient over to our shop to show us. We looked at this dead man and were like, "Hmmm . . . " (132)

Punk was rather like taking up bull-fighting in Spain. It was something for a working-class kid with no hope and nothing but his own sort of courage. . . . It's his one way to make it to the big time. If you're a working-class kid from a rough council estate in the North, you just buy a guitar and you're ready to go! Whereas writing a novel requires a framework of literacy and a whole knowledge of fiction and literary culture in general. You can't just sit down and write a novel. Plus, there are the circumstances of getting published and all the rest of it. So all the creative vitality of today, I think, goes into popular music. (143)

I have absolutely no feeling for the "psy" phenomena—the supernatural, telepathy. Completely skeptical about it all. It's all bunk, that stuff, you know. I'm constantly surprised by the degree to which extremely intelligent people have actually shown more than just a passing interest in these topics. It constantly astounds me. (147)

Mark Pauline: What sort of control do you retain in your [Empire of the Sun film] contract?
Ballard: None, nothing, nothing.
Pauline: Is there even a clause for them presenting the finished script to you for approval?
Ballard: No. The Warners' contract is longer than my book—it's a huge document, which I had to get notarized by a vice-consul at the American Embassy. (151)

I keep thinking about how to do something different with my life— make a radical change . . . but it gets more and more difficult as you get older. At least it does for me. When my kids moved out, they left a huge vacuum behind. But one tends to fill that vacuum in small ways. When I was bringing them up I kept looking at the English rain sledding down, thinking, "Well, when they're all grown up and happily settled, I'll be able to take off for San Francisco or Tahiti or wherever." But when the opportunity came, television and a nice whiskey and soda in the evenings seemed to be what one's destined for. (154)

You work out of your own obsessions . . . that little universe inside of you. This is probably a bad thing. One no longer has the kind of instinctive need to move around the world and have new experiences, that you had in your twenties and thirties. It's a problem, that, and god knows how to solve it. (154, 156)

[William S. Burroughs] seemed to have—I don't know if it had something to do with the gay world—this sort of transience, this relentless traveling: Tangier for two years, Paris for two years, London for two years, and then somewhere else, always shifting. As these people don't breed children, they don't have to put down roots anywhere—whether it's part of that, I don't know. I envy him that, actually. Just being realistic, I couldn't imagine myself going to live in Mexico City for two years for no particular reason. (157)

When somebody tells you that half the archers at the Battle of Agincourt were suffering from dysentery, as I believe is true, and weren't even wearing their trousers as the French knights charged towards them into a hail of arrows, it gives a different impression of this battle and what's involved. And the same is true of almost anything. The inside story is always much more interesting than the story we are first given. (180)

I look back on my life's work. I reached my 60th birthday in November [1990]. A very significant turning point. Curiously, I didn't feel 50 at all [when it happened]. Forty I didn't even notice, possibly because there were youngish children around. I was waiting for 50 to hit me between the eyes because it's such a famous date. But 60 came up and absolutely floored me. I still haven't recovered.
I look back and think, "What have I done? Written all these books." It's not the books, but this imagination churning away. Wouldn't it have been more sensible to build a bridge or something? One starts taking it for granted—all these castles in the air. Maybe that's why I'm starting to turn back to more naturalistic sorts of fiction. [But] old habits die hard. (188)

Lynne Fox: Somehow in your novels, whatever the setting, it is always desert light and an emptiness where each thing is significant.
Ballard: Yes. I don't know why that is, because I've hardly ever seen the desert in reality. On the way back from China we stopped in Egypt for a while, going through the Suez Canal. I think there are landscapes of the mind that tap something deep in your central nervous system.
We obviously inherited through our genes a whole visual apparatus—grids and patterns are laid down in the brain. A human baby takes a long time to cope with its world, though recent research seems to suggest that babies of even a few hours are beginning to activate these pattern-recognition systems in their brains which are triggered off by everything—the mother's presence, a smell, a smile. They are beginning to assemble all the basic building-blocks of perception
But I assume that the interest that deserts hold for a lot of people, is in some way connected with this inherited perceptual apparatus that assigns a certain special value to flat landscapes with isolated objects. Purely on the level of the nervous system—I'm not thinking of anything mystical. The brain, presumably as part of its pattern of recognition systems that are passed on through the genes, is waiting. It gives the baby a clear field of view, and it is instructed, as it were, through the wiring diagrams to notice especially some isolated object that comes into view. It's probably going to be your mother.
I imagine that the appeal of certain landscapes like deserts is in some way connected with the basic perception of objects in our primary recognition of the world around us. Something of that is being tapped when we respond strongly to certain kinds of landscape. We recognize that this is a moment of primary recognition. (190-1)

There are a lot of errors that crept into all the printed text of these stories and book reviews—particularly in the Guardian newspaper, which is famous for typo's [sic]. (256)

How is Pranks! doing? It's a wonderful, marvelous book. It's much more than a book about practical jokes—it's profoundly subversive, because it's a whole new way of looking at reality. It's amazing. (284-5)

After signing dozens of books at a book signing, you start having to work hard at remembering who you are. Just try, experimentally, writing a word—any word—over and over and over. Deterioration sets in. (290)

In New York City, Channel 23 seems to put on what is very close to hardcore movies in a Blue Velvet type of set—in a sort of sleazy, tenth-rate hotel. By habit I watch TV with the sound off. And this woman was talking to the camera while slowly opening her legs; I thought: "What's going on here? This is amazing!" And then an ad for a dating service came on. (305)

(See also J. G. Ballard: Quotes)


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