A World Of Fictions

Via Nilanjana S Roy’s obituary of JG Ballard, I come across this splendid quote by Ballard:

We live in a world ruled by fictions of every kind — mass-merchandizing, advertising, politics conducted as a branch of advertising, the instant translation of science and technology into popular imagery, the increasing blurring and intermingling of identities within the realm of consumer goods, the pre-empting of any original imaginative response to experience by the television screen. We live inside an enormous novel. For the writer in particular it is less and less necessary for him to invent the fictional content of his novel. The fiction is already there. The writer’s task is to invent the reality.

Actually, we lived in a world of fictions even before all the things Ballard mentions came about—for how we see the world and ourselves, and the narratives we construct to make sense of everything, are also fictions of a kind. But yes, many more subplots are formed and crystallized by the media around us—not that it helps us make better sense of things.

It’s all such a mess that if God existed and was a writer, and sent Her work to a publisher, She’d get a rejection straight away. Or Her publisher would send Her a note: “Manuscript accepted. Much editing needed. Editor on way.”

And then a man in a black hat and overcoat would step up and say, “Hey, we meet again. Remember me? Lucifer. We dated once. I’m your editor for this book. Let’s cut your work down to size, shall we? To begin with, we need to get rid of those 100 million blogs you’ve put in there. Major excess, Girl, pure self indulgence.”