Dystopia IS utopia

Flicking through the Ballard entry on Wikipedia just now, and I was interested to see that they describe him as a dystopian writer. On the surface, a not unreasonable judgement, but for me there’s something a little more complex going on there.

Ballard’s always explored – in a very engaged and fertile way – the destructive forces that make us who we are; our reckless engagements with technology, our roots in profoundly irrational drives that consistently overwhelm and make obsolete our more considered selves.

For Ballard, rationality is a convenient fiction, easily discarded. We love destruction, chaos, mayhem; otherwise we wouldn’t produce so much of them. Ultimately, our most creative response to partial, rationally driven structures – like, for example, classic utopias – can only be to break them. Being human means that dystopia IS utopia.

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