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Hawkwind and J G Ballard

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  • Research: Hawkwind and J G Ballard

    I am writing a piece on The Unlimited Dream Company (1979) by J G Ballard. The central character in the novel, Blake, though in part autobiographical, also seems to represent many aspects of the counter-culture that Hawkwind (and Robert Calvert in particular) spearheaded. I wondered if anyone knew whether Ballard had any interest in Hawkwind. I know he was thought 'tone deaf', and his superficial social conservatism would have distanced him from the more flamboyant elements of the Ladbroke Grove scene, but he must have been aware of Hawkwind - I just wondered if he had ever said anything or even met Calvert, Brock and co. This may be something very well-documented of which I am simply ignorant - if so, sorry. Thanks very much.

  • #2
    He met various members of the band if he was at my place when they were there. He responded a bit uncomfortably, but politely. And he was tone deaf. I'm not sure he ever met Calvert. Like many people of the day, Robert pinched Ballard (and others') titles but that was pretty much the extent of his influence. High Rise by Robert has nothing much to do with the book. By 1979, Ballard saw little of the band, though he insisted on introducing me as a 'rock star' to acquaintances. He enjoyed a sort of frisson, I think, but he, no more than most of his generation and older, was never really involved with the music scene. In fact few writers are to this day. I know the children recall coming round to my place in Ladbroke Grove and meeting members of Hawkwind. Ballard knew Bill Butler, who died in 78, pretty well but most of his experience of 'the underground' came from what he assumed I was up to. In the 60s he wanted to try acid so I got him a tab, telling him how best to try it and so on. He ignored me, went home drunk and was up for hours with all kinds of psychotic visions, convinced lizards were crawling all over him and so on. For a while he generalised about the bad things drugs did to people but he didn't pursue the theme, at least to me.
    Last edited by Michael Moorcock; 07-16-2010, 06:09 AM.

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    • #3
      Thanks

      It is fantastically generous of you to respond so quickly and fully. Would you object if I were to quote you in my piece (it is a book chapter in a collection of essays of J G Ballard to be published by Palgrave)?

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      • #4
        So Mike, I guess the acid trip you refer to of Jim's was the one he wrote of in The Kindness of Women? Thanks for this bit. Didn't sound like he had much fun on it.
        Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it.

        ~Henry David Thoreau

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        • #5
          Mike I was going to start a separate thread about something music-related but thought I'd stick it in here and hopefully not take the thread too far off-topic...

          In one of your Jazz Fan editorials in the 50s you were defending jazz against rock and roll. Basically it sounded like you didn't like the new music that was coming out at all (you mentioned Elvis and Tommy Steele in passing) and that you were in favour of proper musicians who could 'play'.

          Obviously, something happened to change your mind and I wondered if it was a gradual change or some specific event. It's quite a long way from disliking rock music to getting actively involved in it, with Hawkwind, Deep Fix, Blue Oyster Cult etc. Just curious.
          'You know, I can't keep up with you. If I hadn't met you in person, I quite honestly would NOT believe you really existed. I just COULDN'T. You do so MUCH... if half of what goes into your zines is to be believed, you've read more at the age of 17 than I have at the age of 32 - LOTS more'

          Archie Mercer to Mike (Burroughsania letters page, 1957)

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          • #6
            That was my brief snotty jazz fan phase, under the influence of the bloke who used to run Collectors Corner across from St Leonard's Church, Streatham... I was soon out of it but I have to say I was never a Steele or Presley fan. I've mellowed slightly since then.

            Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
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            Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


            Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
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            Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Michael Moorcock View Post
              I've mellowed slightly since then.
              I still waiting to mellow at bit myself... at what age does it come?
              forum

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              2. a medium for open discussion, such as a magazine
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              • #8
                Originally posted by Michael Moorcock View Post
                ( snip ) In the 60s he wanted to try acid so I got him a tab, telling him how best to try it and so on. He ignored me, went home drunk and was up for hours with all kinds of psychotic visions, convinced lizards were crawling all over him and so on. For a while he generalised about the bad things drugs did to people but he didn't pursue the theme, at least to me.
                That explains the imagery in at least one of his short stories, the one about the delirious explorer babbling about lizards on a lake shore, while his wife and workmate wait for him to die while they continue their affair behind his oblivious back - I can't recall the story's name, unfortunately, but it's from the same or slightly earlier era as his Crystal World novel, iirc ...
                sigpic Myself as Mephistopheles (Karen Koed's painting of me, 9 Nov 2008, U of Canterbury, CHCH, NZ)

                Gold is the power of a man with a man
                And incense the power of man with God
                But myrrh is the bitter taste of death
                And the sour-sweet smell of the upturned sod,

                Nativity,
                by Peter Cape

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