New Interview with Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) in Parabola magazine!

I interviewed Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) for The-POV, the new interview site that Usha Akella and I have started. Parabola magazine has picked up this interview and published it in their Spring 2021 issue entitled “Wellness.” The interview is called “A Bridge Across the River.”

Please support Parabola magazine and pick up a copy of the Spring 2021 Issue!

Against Empire – Interview with Bill Laswell

I’ve posted a new interview with Bill Laswell about his album, Against Empire, and the role of music in political protest. You can read the interview, here at The-POV. It was conducted by phone on 9/11/20. I have an earlier interview from 2017 that I haven’t posted yet – watch for that in the next couple months…

“I’ve always seen music that way – there is a kind of rebel music and there is conservative pop music. I’ve always seen that you can express a certain sound that represents a sensibility, where you stand. At certain times it is more relevant than other times. In these times you need revolutionary music, you need rebel music, you need to make your statement with sound. I think it is totally necessary. I think people are out there, they are trying the best they can.” (Bill Laswell)

Dave: “You have these two related titles Against the Empire of Alternative Facts by Inaugural Sound Clash (for the Two Americas) with Hideo Yamaki, yourself, Raoul Björkenheim, Mike Sopko, and Dominic James. Then you also have your latest album Against Empire with Pharoah Sanders, Herbie Hancock, Peter Apfelbaum, Jerry Marotta, Chad Smith, Hideo Yamaki, Satoyasu Shomura, and Adam Rudolph.”


Bill: “Oh yeah, that Inaugural Sound Clash was with three guitars. I think it was the night of the inauguration (January 20, 2017) when we played at the Stone. That was all improv.”

Read the rest of the interview here, at The-POV

Interview with Gerald Arbuckle on Culture, Loneliness, and Fundamentalism @The_POV

This interview from September 13, 2017 with anthropologist and Marist priest, Gerald Arbuckle, is as timely and relevant as ever. This is just a small selection from our talk and focuses on culture, loneliness, and fundamentalism.

The full article can be found at The POV website.

Here are a few quotes from Gerry:

Father Gerald Arbuckle

“the American dream, comes through as a very positive dream, but the danger is that in mythology, amnesia takes place. Mythologies can hide history. What it has hidden is the racist elements in the founding story of the United States”

“The US president is a fragmenter and a polarizer. He aims to fragment by his behavior, alliances, at all levels, international and national. Then that leads to the second stage, polarizer, where not only are they fragmented, but they are polarized. So, this is the tragedy, it is going to be extremely difficult therefore to get a rational debate in that kind of atmosphere.”

“Well, anthropologically, it all makes sense. Once you disturb a culture, even a threat to disturb a culture, and even if intellectually you accept that the culture has to be disturbed, inevitably it leads to chaos levels of intensity. And chaos can only be appeased by returning to what I feel gives me order.”

“Nationalism is a way of giving me a sense of order because it has pre-existed, it is a residual mythology, so the residual mythology comes alive. It never dies, it comes alive so that the United States, with the white rage against African Americans, that is a residual mythology that comes alive, it never died. It just happens to be quietly put aside for the time being, but is there to be used again because it gives me the comfort and sense of security and permanence. And globalization and technology are moving at such speed that our affectivities are not able to catch up with it.”

“There is a real information overload. Put that on to a global scene and the pressure of technology and everything that goes with it increasingly intensifies the chaos, it intensifies the loneliness and the need for a sense of belonging which opens up the opportunity for nationalism, it just makes sense with the intensity that we have probably never experienced before internationally, globally.”

Gerry’s concept of refounding plays prominently in Becoming Medicine: Pathways of Initiation into a Living Spirituality. I also drew from his Humanizing Healthcare Reforms in my book, Re-humanizing Medicine. This 2017 chat I had with Gerry in Sydney, Australia was the basis for what we put in the book on refounding: how organizations and cultures go through the process of reconnecting to their founding visions, while navigating the risk of fundamentalism.

I hope to put out the rest of the interview transcript in the future…but for now you can read this segment:

@ The POV

Marianela Medrano, Ph.D. in Conversation with David Kopacz, MD & Anjana Deshpande, MBA, LCSW

It was a pleasure to have this conversation with Marianela Medrano and Anjana Deshpande. The conversation ranged across topics of post-traumatic growth, creativity, resilience, and vulnerability.

You can watch the video of the conversation here

For more information about the discussants:

Marianela Medrano, PhD: Palabra Counseling and Training Center

Marianela Medrano, PhD

Anjana Deshpande, MBA, LCSW: Write Thought

Anjana Deshpande, MBA, LCSW

Marianela said we might have a follow-up conversation, so stay tuned!

Announcing The-POV: Interviews & Conversations by Usha Akella & David Kopacz

I met Usha Akella when she was doing a keynote presentation at the Power of Words conference in 2019, put on by the Transformative Language Arts Network. We both were interested in writing, poetry, creativity, and the spiritual path. Usha has long had a dream of developing an interview site online and I have been doing various interviews for my work – so it seemed like a good fit and less than a year later The-POV was born and launched into the world!

Usha’s first new interview is with Ann Ciccolella, Artistic Director of Austin Shakespeare since 2007. One of the things Usha has been impressed with is the depth and breadth of cultural programming Ann has curated.

Usha Akella: I am delighted to finally have an opportunity to explore your creative visions, Ann. I’ve attended your plays for years in awe at your ability to cast any play in a contemporary light. Your cross-cultural productions and multi-ethnic casts contribute to dialogue and peace-making. Your productions are playful, pushing the edge yet never lacking conviction or losing a grip on the playwright’s script. You’ve managed to bring Bollywood and Texas boots, and a female Hamlet to your stage. So, let’s begin by exploring the audacity of Ann Ciccolella. Why are you compelled to rewrite/reimagine or re-vision and can we chat about some of your productions that you felt were successful and those that were not—in your opinion.

Ann Cicolella: My own playwriting is a top value for me. Writing my own adaptations is something that I have been doing in the past couple of years. I want to do more playwriting, but finding the time needed to create scripts from their inception is something that I haven’t been able to do since leading Austin Shakespeare!  So, I have been adapting classic stories. I used the plot of Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey and wrote a one-hour play version for middle and high school audiences. That experience was alternately challenging and delightful. During the rehearsal process, I try to inspire actors to create an imaginative performance, and with six actors we together created the many worlds of Homer’s The Odyssey. You see, adapting is a way to satisfy that thirst for my own playwriting.

My first interview for The-POV is with my friend and mentor, Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow). Joseph is of the Southern Ute tribe through his mother and of Picuris Pueblo through his father. Joseph is the author of a number of books and he and I have written two books together, Walking the Medicine Wheel: Healing Trauma & PTSD (2016) and Becoming Medicine: Pathways of Initiation into a Living Spirituality (2020).

David R. Kopacz: We’re going to have a section of Becoming Medicine reprinted in Parabola magazine – Jeff Zaleski wants the sections, “Initiation of the Circle” and “Moon Woman Vision.” You have statements in those sections that we are “circle people” and “what comes around goes around” and that “everything eventually becomes its opposite.” You also say, “Look at how we move in a circle, but then look at it from the side and it looks like we are moving forward and backward, back and forth. It depends on your perspective of seeing.”

Joseph Rael – Beautiful Painted Arrow (BPA): That’s apropos for this time. That’s how it is – we move back and forth and back and forth. We move forward and then we spoil it by invalidating it. In order to get in tune with it, we need to use our feet. That’s why we have these physical feet and they are made for traveling. When we go forward we add something. But then we go backward and we forget it. In this life, you have to be constantly correcting yourself. 


That’s what my dances are supposed to do. They check everything on the list. When you are dancing you move forward and backwards in balance. You dance to cover the winter; you dance to cover the spring; you dance to cover the summer; and you dance to cover the autumn. You also dance to cover the North, South, East, West – the directions. 


I’m just being a book from the universe and showing you what to do.

You can read the full interviews at The-POV.

Becoming A True Human: Podcast on Future Primitive

A Million Human Songs, Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow)

 It was a great pleasure and honor to be interviewed by Joanna Harcourt-Smith on the Future Primitive Podcast!

We talked about Joseph Rael’s and my new book, Becoming Medicine: Pathways of Initiation into A Living Spirituality and many other things as well…

Here is the intro text for the podcast and you can listen to Becoming A True Human, here.

We are happy to come back!

In this week’s episode David Kopacz speaks with Joanna about: encouraging children to plant green living things; dancing with the trees; the dormant seed inside oneself; walking the medicine wheel; becoming a true human being; we are medicine bags; being and vibration; the cycle of rejuvenation; separation is illness, healing is coming back together; the archetypal template of spiritual democracy; the Refounding Mothers of Democracy; coming home to peace.

Joanna had taken a break for a while and this was her first podcast interview, or gaialogue in a few months, so it was extra special. Thanks to Joanna Harcourt-Smith and co-producer, José Luis Gómez Soler. Here are Joanna’s and José’s bios, take a listen to my interview and check out the many other great podcasts, such as with Steven Herrmann, Charles Eisenstein, Frédérique Apffel-Marglin, Richard Katz, Neela Bhattacharya Saxena, Roshi Joan Halifax, Francoise Bourzat, Lyla June Johnston, and many, many others…

Joanna was born high up in the Swiss mountains on a snowy January evening. She grew up in Paris and speaks 5 languages. School was boring but her curiosity about life was not extinguished by the dullness of the education system. Nature was her teacher, trees, horses, dogs and the ocean gave her a sense of belonging that she did not feel within her birth family.

Joanna turned fourteen in 1960, she was in love with Marlon Brando and Rock and Roll. During her adolescence she was torn between a desire to die and an intense love of life. Because she felt lost between despair and passion she wrote poetry and continues to do so up to this day. During the early 1960s she lived in Spain and wrote “The Little Green Book” an answer to Mao Tse Tong’s “Little Red Book”. The Book was published in 4 languages and widely sold in France, the Netherlands, England and Germany.

In 1968 moved by the music of the times and the spirit of revolution sweeping through her generation she emigrated to the United States. Her exploration of mind liberating substances led her to find Dr. Timothy Leary who was a fugitive from prison in the US. They became in love and were kidnapped by American authorities in Afghanistan and returned to California where Timothy Leary went back to prison to serve a sentence of possession of 0.01 grams of marijuana. During TL’s three and a half years in prison Joanna worked tirelessly to secure his release, she lived in San Francisco where she collaborated, published and distributed the 6 books he wrote in prison. In addition, Joanna traveled to England, Italy and across the United states lecturing about the imprisonment of Dr. Leary.

In 1977 Timothy and Joanna’s love affair came to an end after he was released from prison. She then went down to the Caribbean and bough a magnificent wooden sailboat named Kentra. For several years she lived on her boat and sailed around the islands attempting to heal her broken heart. In 1983 she returned to the United States, surrendered herself into the path of life long sobriety and became a celebrated chef in Philadelphia and Santa Fe.

She practices Buddhism and the elusive way of loving kindness and compassion mainly for herself and for others around her. Joanna’s great question in life is “What is true Kindness?”

In October 2013 Joanna published a memoir about her adventures with Timothy Leary entitled Tripping the Bardo with Timothy Leary . Her book been has been optioned by the Oscar winner director Errol Morris. Filming began in December 2019.

She his currently writing another book entitled “Change your beliefs, change your life” Surviving Timothy Leary“.

She is also featured in Gay Dillingham’s movie “Dying to Know”, a documentary about Leary and Ram Dass’ lifelong exploration and friendship.

She is the author of several articles published in the online magazine “Reality Sandwich”.

The co-founder of the podcast is her partner, José Luis G. Soler.

Joanna has three amazing children.

She likes to remember that “if you don’t like the media, be the media”.

Life is short, but it’s wide!

José Luis Gómez Soler is the co-producer of Future Primitive. Since 2006 he has supported the podcast with research, recording, guest coordination and audio editing of these wonderful episodes.

José Luis studied Audiovisual Media Studies at the University of Sevilla, Spain. Since a young age, he has been deeply interested in mysticism and Nature.

The Call/The Invitation: Podcast (Part III) with Suzanne Richman, David Kopacz & Beth Turner

Part III of the Transformative Language Arts Network podcast

Sun Through Tree near Sol Duc River (D. Kopacz, 2020)

The Call/The Invitation Part III

David and Suzanne continue their moving discussion around ‘doing better than rushing to return to normal’ after things shift once again with COVID 19.

This episode dwells in the land of opportunity: What could things look like for us as a people, a world, an environment should we thoughtfully, purposefully move with the new things ushered in despite the chaos vs desperately trying to ‘get back’ to what was once upon a time—back then?

There is such beauty in their words!

I will borrow a saying from David: “Like  pinatas of wisdom…”

Listen to the podcast here

——————-

David Kopacz is an author, painter, TLA member and psychiatrist. He lives in Seattle, WA.

Twitter: @davidkopaczmd

Blog: https://beingfullyhuman.com/

Website: https://www.davidkopacz.com/

Instagram: davidkopaczmd

———————

Suzanne Richman is an education consultant, had founding roles within Goddard College in Vermont, she has expertise and passions within the realms of trauma, grief, social activism. She is a self-confessed recovering academic. You can contact Suzanne at :   Suzannehummingbird@gmail.com.

The Call/The Invitation: Podcast (Part II) with Suzanne Richman, David Kopacz & Beth Turner

This is part II of the Transformative Language Arts Network podcast.

Binding Sites of Coronavirus COVID-19 (D. Kopacz, 2020)

The Call/The Invitation, Part II

David and Suzanne do some wrestling for us in this episode: 

The push to ‘return to normal’ after a stretch of chaos. 

*What could we miss as a people, a nation, a world? 

*What questions could we be asking of ourselves right now, and one another? 

*What gems could be squandered if we skip past this pause before the return?

Their thoughts will cause you to slow your pace and move ahead with more intention and quite possibly in a different direction.

Listening to them share is very centering.  And probably something you will want to repeat!

Enjoy~

You can listen to Part II of the podcast here

————————————————–

David Kopacz is a psychiatrist, a painter and an author. He lives in Seattle where he does transformation work with veterans and their stories. He is a TLA member.

Twitter: @davidkopaczmd

Blog: https://beingfullyhuman.com/

Website: https://www.davidkopacz.com/

Instagram: davidkopaczmd

————————–

Suzanne Richman is a passionate teacher within such realms as: Ethnobotany, Social and Ecological Medicine, Community Health Systems, Trauma and Transformational Leadership. She lives in Vermont, and is a TLA member. Suzannehummingbird@gmail.com.

The Call/The Invitation: Podcast (Part I) with Suzanne Richman, David Kopacz & Beth Turner

Transformative Language Arts Network Podcast

Path through thicket, St Davids, Pembrokeshire, Wales (D. Kopacz, 2018)

The Call/The Invitation:

*What happens if we did something better?

 *Better than return to what was before COVID 19? 

*What if we slowed the rush to return?

Seattle psychiatrist David Kopacz and Vermont educator/community activist Suzanne Richman extend an invitation to us all. It is not a passive request. By its very essence, the word ‘invitation’ suggests action, a response. These powerful TLA thought leaders ask us to RSVP to the call to reflect before we return.

There are 3 parts to the core invitation. Each part is a meal-of-thought in itself.

Listen to the podcast here

You are invited to savor!

—————————————–

Twitter: @davidkopaczmd

Blog: https://beingfullyhuman.com/

Website: https://www.davidkopacz.com/

Instagram: davidkopaczmd

——————————————-

Suzanne Richman has her roots in education. She was the co-creator of the Earth Justice and Health Learning Alliance, and facilitated learning in fields such as grief and dying, trauma, social activism, and community health systems.  Suzannehummingbird@gmail.com.

Interview with J. G. Ballard, 1997

ballard

J G Ballard, (image from Alchetron)

In September of 1997, I had just started my first job out of psychiatric residency at Omaha VA and University of Nebraska. I was keen to continue my scholarly work on creativity, trauma, and healing that I had started with my studies of Jerzy Kosinski and Louis Ferdinand Céline – writers who had lived through war. I envisioned a book examining the lives and writing of a series of authors and I contacted J. G. Ballard for an interview via the post. Life happened and other things came up and I did not get much further on that book idea. (Some of my writing of this era can be found on my webpage in the Coniunctionis column I had written for the on-line journal Mental Contagion). Somewhere along the way, I lost the original handwritten letters of my correspondence with J. G. Ballard, but my sister, Karen, recently gave me back a stack of my writings that I had sent her over the years and these contained a photocopy of the transcribed manuscripts. (Thanks to Shelby Stuart for transcribing from hard copy).

I am belatedly publishing this interview with J. G. Ballard from 1997. My initial questions appear immediately below and following this Ballard’s reply.

9/25/97

Dear Mr. Ballard,

Thank you for your response to my letter concerning an interview on the topic of trauma, literature, and autobiography. I appreciate your suggestion of a postal interview.

In trying to draft a few preliminary questions, I have been struggling to avoid simplistic and potentially leading questions. Rather than an isolated question, I have embedded the question in a context including my own musings and various references. I hope this does not prove too distracting.

What has fascinated me in your writings is your past experience as a child of war and the reappearance of images like the empty swimming pool and the young, male protagonist enthusiastically exploring physical and psychological landscapes in transition. How do you see the relation of these childhood experiences to your later writing? I have also wondered the unanswerable question: would you have been a writer without those experiences during the Japanese occupation?

The later traumatic incident that stands out is the death of your wife as described in The Kindness of Women. I became interested in your works during my clinical years of medical school when I had just finished reading a number of William S. Burroughs’ novels. I was struck by the loss of your wives’ deaths preceding (if my memory serves me) both of your careers as writers. Burroughs commented,

“I am forced to the appalling conclusion that I would never have become a writer but for Joan’s death, and to a realization of the extent to which this event has motivated and formulated my writing. I live with the constant threat of possession, from Control. So the death of Joan brought me in contact with the invader, the Ugly Spirit and maneuvered me into a lifelong struggle, in which I have had no choice except to write my way out,” (Miles, William Burroughs: El Hombre Invisible, 1993, pg. 53).

 

Could you comment on the early loss of your wife and your career as a writer?

Could you comment on how close to objective reality your books Empire of the Sun and The Kindness of Women are? Stated another way, where do you consider these books on the spectrum of objective history-symbolic representation? Spence, a psychoanalyst, has used the distinction between ‘historical truth’ and ‘narrative truth.’ These two realms of truth describe external and internal realities which are equally valid, although not necessarily identical. I notice that both of my copies of these two books of yours are classified as ‘fiction.’ I spent quite a bit of time on this question in relation to my work on Kosinski. There are great discrepancies between Kosinki’s documented biography and his fictional portrayals of his life which he encouraged to be taken as autobiography. While expressing some form of symbolic truth in his ‘auto-fiction,’ as he called it, he both revealed, disguised, and concealed certain elements of his self.

An observation that has struck me is that many of your books seem quite hopeful in contrast to those of Konsinski and Céline’s which I have been studying. You generally do not portray the despair and disappointment in human nature that they do. Kosinski’s books are filled with existential aloneness, sadism, and brutality, ultimately, he committed suicide. His life and writing could be viewed as being tainted and continually influenced by the events of his childhood, a Nazi victory almost 50 years after the fact. In your books and stories you seem to draw on childhood experiences and images, yet there is more of a sense of hope. Other related questions I have relate to a clinical phenomenon observed in survivors of trauma which Freud called the “repetition compulsion.” His view was that traumatized individuals recreate traumatic interactions in their later relationships in an attempt to have a better outcome. I have not seen this to hold true in many of the individuals with whom I have worked, instead they just seem to add new trauma to old. However, in writing, it does seem possible that some form of reworking and mastering of past experiences could take place. Writing can also be a form of witnessing, which in many theories of recovery from trauma is a necessary step for the individual objectified and isolated by trauma to reconnect with the community. Could you comment on this possible relation between trauma, repetition, and writing as witnessing?

Do you have any thoughts or comments on these interactions in the lives and writings of any of the other authors I am in the process of examining: Céline, Kosinski, Burroughs, Beckett, Woolf?

atrocity-exhibition

I have been curious about your portrayals of sexuality in some of your earlier works, such as The Atrocity Exhibition and Crash. These books examine a mode of sexual interaction which is objectified rather than focusing on the subjective or shared emotional experience. These two works seem to explore the potentialities of interaction and to develop modes of relating based on architecture or mechanics (perversions of geometry). To what extent were these personal struggles for you in your life, compared to philosophical explorations? I guess this gets back to the question of historical and narrative truth.

Also of interest is your writing yourself into your own novel in your own automobile accident. (Did you know that Stephen Crane also wrote of fictional situations which he later experienced in his life, such as a boat accident?) Could you comment on this reversal of life imitating art, rather than art imitating life?

Back to the issue of sexuality. Much clinical work has focused on survivors of trauma who have been treated in an objectified manner and who then relate to others in an objectified way, again, a form of repetition or re-enactment of the past. Flipping through The Atrocity Exhibition, I find Dr. Nathan’s comment, “However, you must understand that for Traven science is the ultimate pornography, analytic activity whose aim is to isolate objects or events from their contexts in time and space,” (Re/Search publication, 1990, p. 36). Some of the more enlightened psychiatrists have realized this insight about objectivity and the scientific method, as Stoller has stated, the “false self of psychoanalysis is our jargonized theory,” (Stoller, Observing the Erotic Imagination, 1985, p. 175). The jargon thus become the fetish which is used to objectify the other. This reminds me, in what way did your medical studies influence your writing?

9780312156831

Could you comment on your commitment to Science Fiction? I just finished your book of essays, A User’s Guide to the Millennium, (which is a great title, by the way) and I was struck by the extent that you consider yourself a S-F writer. In the States, Burroughs, Vonnegut, and Ballard are found in the general fiction section. I think that here S-F tends to be looked down on by the “serious” writers. Although, amongst many of my friends, reading S-F was a kind of rite of passage which led up to the journey away from planet “home.”

One last question, what did you think of the film adaptation of Crash? The movie and the novel have been the topic of a number of conversations that I have had with friends.

Well, I guess I did end up asking a few questions. I would like to go through your books in an orderly fashion and perhaps formulate a few more questions if you are willing to tolerate them. I appreciate your willingness to review these pages.

Sincerely,

David Kopacz

Omaha, NE

J. G. Ballard’s Reply

ballard-jg-1

http://www.jgballard.ca/criticism/experimental_fiction.html 

 

2/10/97

 

Dear Mr. Kopacz,

Happy to answer your questions, and I hope you can read my handwriting [transcribed from original] – I ought to say first that there seems to be an underlying assumption by both you and the received wisdom of the day that all disturbing or violent experience is inherently damaging – that is that experiences such as the death of a spouse or child, death of a parent, the stress of being uprooted from one’s home, the hunger and privations of war, will all leave indelible fracture lines that run through the wounded psyche like a crack through a glass pane, and that even the lightest tap is capable of inflicting irreparable damage – I very much doubt this, although I seem to be opposed to the entire apparatus of 20th century psychotherapy – the fact is that throughout most of their evolution, human beings have been exposed to constant threats and ordeals, both physical and mental, of every kind, and the majority of people recuperate and in due course make a full recovery – when Empire of the Sun was published many people remarked on the appalling hardships I described, as if they were wholly untypical of the lives led by most people of the time – but as I always retort, the experiences I described in Empire of the Sun are far closer to the way in which most people on this planet have always lived, even today – it is we in the suburbanized, welfare-state western democracies who lead untypical lives – if the death of a spouse, child, parent, if hunger, disease, and privation were unusual and deeply damaging, human beings would never have survived. In fact they have enormous powers of recuperation, and when a devastating blow like a child’s loss of a mother, an utterly irreparable disaster according to psychologists such as Bowlby, can be recovered from if the wider family supports and loves the child, and sometimes, I suspect, if it doesn’t – this is not to say that genuinely horrific experiences of a sustained kind – like Nazi death camps and so on – do not inflict lasting damage – of course they do, just as some people will never recover from the wounds of a serious car crash.

empire-of-the-sun

I think this preamble probably answers many of your questions, but I will deal with them one at a time –

Childhood experiences and my later writing, and would I have become a writer but for WWII?

I think those experiences were a remarkable education, introducing me to an immensely wider contact with the real world than I would have had if my father had been running a textile company in Manchester – I also saw adults under pressure – an education in itself – in fact I didn’t write Empire of the Sun until I was in my mid-50’s and I think that I had long since come to terms with my experience of the war and risen above it.

imagination_intro

http://www.jgballard.ca/media/1974_imagination_on_trial.html

Would I have been a writer but for WWII?

               Probably, since I was a tremendous day-dreamer and fantasist from an early age (five or six) – however, I think the first-hand experience of the war made me very suspicious of the ‘solidarity’ of everyday life (house and home, the securities of bourgeois life, etc.) and pointed me toward the surrealists – I think I relished the surrealists’ dislocations of the war-time landscape as I experienced them, possibly because I realized that the abandoned hotels and drained swimming pools addressed a deeper truth about the nature of so-called civilized settled life – in part I probably turned to science fiction because it allowed me to inflict just those corrective dislocations on the suffocating docility of English life and all its gentrified ordinariness.

cifali_erithpool

http://www.ballardian.com/drained-london 

No, my wife’s death, in 1964, came ten years after I began writing, and by then I had published 2 novels, and 2/3 book of short stories.

Trauma, repetition and writing?

I’m not sure that I have ever suffered irreparable trauma – the experience of psychotherapists is not a reliable guide, since they are dealing with a small number of genuinely wounded patients, who perhaps lack the constitutional strengths that allow most people to recover.

Of course the death of my wife was a devastating blow, and to some extent I still mourn her over 30 years later – I think it’s “inexplicable” cruelty (in fact, sadly, mortality often unexpected, is the ocean we swim in) led me to embark on the Atrocity Exhibition, with its attempt to make sense of another inexplicable death, that of J.F.K. – “he wants to kill Kennedy again, but in a way that makes sense,” someone says of the Traven figure.

I’ve never claimed that Empire and Kindness of Women were straight or were largely autobiographical. They are my life as seen through the mirror of the fiction generated by my life – I hope that all my fiction is optimistic, since it is a fiction describing various journeys of psychological fulfillment – my characters, including Jim in Empire, devise strategies that allow them to remythologize themselves – though often their behavior seems superficially paradoxical and even self-defeating – (Kosinski, from what one of his then British publishers told me, was a deeply unhappy man, obsessed with pornography, of which he had a huge collection that he swapped with another wayward Pole, Polanski – but I suspect he would have been deeply unhappy even if WWII had never occurred – I doubt if his suicide was a victory for the Nazis, since he was never interned and the ordeals he witnessed were those of a child – the older concentration camp victims were the true sufferers.

thekindnessofwomen1sted

Céline, if I remember, was wounded in the first World War, and this may have acted as a facilitator, revealing a thread of vicious misanthropy that found its most concentrated form in anti-Semitism – a brilliant writer, but deeply nasty man probably from childhood – Burroughs, whom I knew on and off for over 30 years, seemed to me to have entirely created his own world from his imagination, from his homosexuality and the worldview generated by heavy drug use – I never had the sense that any events of his childhood had profoundly influenced him – Woolf, I assume was flawed from the word go, a depressive who might have survived but for the war.

The sexuality portrayed in Atrocity Exhibition and Crash has very little to do with my own. I own no pornography, soon become bored with the films on the “adult” channels in European hotels, and have been lucky enough to have had long and emotionally close relationships with a remarkably few women. On the other hand, I am interested in the ‘idea’ of pornography and how our sexual imaginations are influenced and shaped by the alienating effects of late C20 life – as I keep saying, Crash is a love story, describing how a man and his wife rediscover their love for each other, a fierce love that may be its own [warning? I was unsure of the original handwritten word]. Atrocity is one sustained attempt to make sense of the dislocations of the world.

A User’s Guide – the pieces go back to the 1960’s, when I was still writing s-f, and when I certainly considered myself in part an s-f writer and still had hopes that the genre could escape its juvenile origins and amount to something. But todays -s-f, largely dominated by cinema, is wholly different, a form I suppose of commercial space fantasy – but I’m still interested in science and its handmaiden, technology, and how these play into the hands of our own latent psychopathology. Indeed the normalizing of the psychopathic is the main enterprise on which late C20 mankind has embarked – Crash, the film? A superb and brave adaptation by Cronenberg – I think it will prove to be a landmark film, the Psycho of the 90’s – in the future all films will try to be like Crash —–

Best Wishes,

J.G. Ballard