Andrea's Reviews > Super-Cannes

Super-Cannes by J.G. Ballard
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really liked it

I heard Ballard had died recently and decided it was time to pick up this book which had been sitting on my shelf for a few years. I had previously read Concrete Island, and was concerned that Super-Cannes would be, like that one, an example a clever idea played out in a somewhat unsatisfying way.

But not to worry... Super-Cannes is magnificent. The real meat here is the theme explored by Ballard, that we are moving into uncharted land in the 21st century- suburbia. The setting is Eden-Olympia, the business park of the future. Residents are the brightest and best, live in spotless villas nestled among man-made lakes and protected by an endless network of security cameras. As put so brilliantly by Wilder Penrose, the park psychologist, "work is the new leisure." (Written before the Blackberry!)
Through a somewhat predictable plot and a slow protagonist (Paul), Ballard explores what happens when as humans, our every need is met. At first many residents of EO fall ill... the social clubs and sports complexes and movie channels provide no relief from 90 hour work weeks. But the "rugby" club discovers a much more satisfying and primal solution, and soon EO is soaring, propelled by darker activities which speak to our human lust for danger and dirt.

Living in a well-manicured place myself, Ballard's themes are on my mind daily. Humans, after all, need a bit of unpleasantness to feel alive, and Ballard rightly steers his gifted characters to the worst kind of unpleasantness when opportunities for minor rebellion- painting a house purple or letting a dog sh*t where it pleases- are taken away.

The concept is nothing new (see Stepford Wives, Edward Scissorhands, etc. etc.) but do read this book if the homogeneity and manufactured beauty of suburbia has begun to weigh on you.
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Quotes Andrea Liked

J.G. Ballard
“If their work is satisfying people don't need leisure in the old-fashioned sense. No one ever asks what Newton or Darwin did to relax, or how Bach spent his weekends. At Eden-Olympia work is the ultimate play, and play the ultimate work.”
J.G. Ballard, Super-Cannes

J.G. Ballard
“The twentieth century ended with its dreams in ruins. The notion of the community as a voluntary association of enlightened citizens has died forever. We realize how suffocatingly humane we've become, dedicated to moderation and the middle way. The suburbanization of the soul has overrun our planet like the plague.”
J.G. Ballard, Super-Cannes

J.G. Ballard
“Sooner or later, all games become serious.”
J.G. Ballard, Super-Cannes

Reading Progress

August 5, 2008 – Shelved
June 13, 2009 –
page 52
June 14, 2009 –
page 107
June 16, 2009 –
page 203
June 22, 2009 –
page 288
June 25, 2009 –
page 330
Started Reading
June 30, 2009 – Finished Reading

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