The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

April 4, 2017
by Dan
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The Last London

The London Review of Books has a brilliant, sprawling, melancholy essay by author and psychogeographer Iain Sinclair titled ‘The Last London’. It’s difficult to know what to quote from the essay as it touches on so many interesting, diverse things, but this … Continue reading

January 12, 2017
by Dan
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Brutalist Dreams

At the New York Review of Books, American architecture critic Martin Filler casts a critical eye over a slew of new books on Brutalist architecture:  In addition to its echoes of art brut—Jean Dubuffet’s name for outsider art—New Brutalism was … Continue reading

June 2, 2016
by Dan
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Working for the Building

In a long and fascinating interview with the Ballardian, Ben Wheatley talks about J.G. Ballard and his adaptation of High-Rise: Initially, I really enjoyed the cult appeal of [Ballard’s] work, or more specifically the counter-cultural aspect. His books, particularly Crash and … Continue reading

May 20, 2016
by Dan
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A Dirge for a New World

Andrew F. Sullivan, author of ultra-violent urban noir WASTE, reviews Ben Wheatley’s adaptation of High-Rise by J.G. Ballard for TIFF.Net: Wheatley and Ballard point to a pattern—a dissolution of social order that cannot be prevented by technology or progress. Even … Continue reading

March 18, 2016
by Dan
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Inside High-Rise

I’m a bit late to this, but the Creative Review talked to graphic artists Michael Eaton and Felicity Hickson about their fantastic looking work on Ben Wheatley’s film adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s High-Rise, which included designing book covers, record sleeves, cigarette … Continue reading

February 19, 2016
by Dan
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J.G. Ballard Series by Stanley Donwood

Some how I missed these when they were first published in 2014, but British publisher Fourth Estate has reissued 21 books by J.G. Ballard with covers designed Stanley Donwood. Donwood, who is perhaps best known for his artwork for Radiohead, talked about … Continue reading

December 15, 2015
by Dan
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Ever Wanted Something More?

Although the early reviews have not been especially kind to the Ben Wheatley film adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s High-Rise, the trailer looks amazing.  The Anthony Royal Architecture website is also a nice touch. I can’t wait.

October 4, 2015
by Dan
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The Inner-Space of J. G. Ballard’s High-Rise

With the release of the Ben Wheatley movie adaptation starring Tom Hiddleston imminent, Chris Hall looks at High-Rise and the ‘inner-space’ of J. G. Ballard’s science fiction for The Guardian: High-Rise is the final part of a quartet of novels … Continue reading

April 14, 2014
by Dan
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J. G. Ballard’s Books for Children

Not a success? I think he was just ahead of his time… Tom Gauld

February 7, 2014
by Dan
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Sounds from a Concrete Island

I’m sure there are some of you who’ve already heard of UK sound artist Janek Schaefer. He has, after all, been recording and creating sound installations for past 20 years, and he even won the British Composer of the Year … Continue reading

September 1, 2013
by Dan
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Will Self on J.G. Ballard’s The Drowned World

Will Self on J.G. Ballard’s The Drowned World at The Telegraph: To coincide with the 1962 publication of The Drowned World – his own post-apocalyptic novel in which men of the future also venture into a flooded London, intent on … Continue reading

May 24, 2013
by Dan
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A Ballardian Obsession with Materials

  In what is presumably an excerpt from his new book Stuff Matters, materials scientist and engineer Mark Miodownik describes how his obsession with materials began with being attacked on the London Underground: I was right about one thing: he didn’t have … Continue reading

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