J G Ballard and the phenomenology of the absence of law

James Gray*

*Corresponding author for this work

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The British writer J G Ballard is known for his distinctive treatments of the familiar and the everyday in organized society as vulnerable to rupture and descent into violence and chaos. Never straightforwardly dystopian, Ballard was capable of insightful analysis that revealed the strangeness of particular qualities of lived experience, challenging his audience to question their place in the order of things. Raised in Shanghai, Ballard’s wartime experiences exposed him to the extremes of human behaviour and to the stripping away of the veneers of conventional civilized norms. More than mere biographical markers, this article argues that through a range of works, Ballard offers us a phenomenological account of the worst of the conditions under which he lived, particularly at the close of the Japanese war in Shanghai, one that captures the lived experience of the absence of law.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-176
Number of pages30
JournalLaw and Humanities
Issue number2
Early online date22 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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