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Empire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard
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Sep 20, 09

Read in September, 2009

I have always liked J.G. Ballard - not sure why I postponed this one, but perhaps the Stephen Spielberg movie association had something to do with it - now I want to see the film to see how they changed it because I bet they did.
More than the triumph of the human spirit over adversity and all that, what's fascinating is how quickly situational morality and ethics takes over. Even more, early adolescent kids in extremis (c.f. "Lord of the Flies" and Richard Hughes "High Wind in Jamaica") have not yet developed an adult set of values. Though they are more adaptable than adults hence more likely to survive (clearly indicated in this book), they are also quicker to abandon values they've scarcely absorbed, or develop complex alternative theories of the world and history while trying to make sense of the inexplicable circumstances in which they find themselves.
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Mason Jones The movie is strange, but it's actually one of the very few Spielberg films that I can tolerate. You're right that the situational morality is a big part of this, and I think it can be seen directly affecting most of his future work. Books like "The Drowned World" are all about how dire situations change the ways in which characters are willing to act.


F.R. I've also delayed reading it, but I think because it sold so many copies.

After all, how could it be typical Ballard if millions of people were able to connect with it?

I will rectify shortly though.


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