The Voices of Time by J.G. Ballard


As a prelude to my review of THE VOICES OF TIME by JG Ballard (a new work for me today, turning out seminal to my interests), here are two relevant quotes from THE GLASTONBURY ROMANCE By John Cowper Powys –

“His mind seemed at that second absolutely balanced on a taut and twanging wire between two terrible eternities, an eternity of wilful horror, and an eternity of bleached, arid futility, devoid of all life-sap. He could feel the path to the horror, shivering with deadly phosphorescent sweetness. He could feel the path to the renunciation filling his nostrils with acrid dust, parching his naked feet, withering every human sensation till it was hollow as the shard of a dead beetle! The nature of his temptation was such that it had nothing to redeem it. Such abominable wickedness came straight out of the evil in the heart of the First Cause, travelled through the interlunar spaces, and entered the particular nerve in the erotic organism of Mr. Evans which was predestined to respond to it.”

“He was killed instantaneously, the front of his skull being bashed in so completely, that bits of bone covered with bloody hair surrounded the deep dent which the iron made. His consciousness, the ‘I am I’ of Tom Barter, shot up into the ether above them like a released fountain-jet and quivering there pulsed forth a spasm of feeling, in which outrage, ecstasy, indignation, recognition, pride, touched a dimension of Being more quick with cosmic life than Tom had ever reached before in his thirty-seven years of conscious existence. This heightened — nay! this quadrupled — awareness dissolved in a few seconds, after its escape from the broken cranium, but whether it passed, with its personal identity intact, into that invisible envelope of rarefied matter which surrounds our astronomic sphere or whether it perished irrecoverably, the present chronicler knows not.”

There are many other relevant quotes I once made from this book here:


Extract from my real-time review of THE VOICES OF TIME by JG Ballard from Ann and Jeff VanderMeer’s massive BIG BOOK OF SCIENCE FICTION here:

THE VOICES OF TIME (1960) by JG Ballard

An opening to die for…

“Later Powers often thought of Whitby, and the strange grooves the biologist had cut, apparently at random, all over the floor of the empty swimming pool.”

This is a mighty scientific-spiritual portrait of characters involved in Toynbeean ‘challenge and response’ against and with the cosmos, the existential cries of number-coded eschatology, amidst close-encounters-type building of obsessive concrete walls instead of mountains in situations of what can now since be called ‘Ballard-like’ abandoned places on earth, experimental sleep deprivation extrapolations, an Area X in proto-utero. Silent genes in latent literary suspension. We SEE time itself. Alarm clocks slept through, and ‘alarms’ in organisms themselves. All in a felt ambiance couched by optimum prose for such pessimums. Synaesthesia born from mere human words expressing the inexpressible. Astonishing.

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