Dreams of fantastic technologies of the future usually border on an incredible catastrophe that threatened humanity with extinction. Typically, such ideas are beautifully depicted in dystopian novels. The problem of the post-apocalyptic planet is often reflected in the works of fiction writers, which is typical for the work of The Drowned World, written by British writer James Ballard. However, in his work, Ballard refers not to technology but to the return to the evolutionary roots of humanity. The purpose of this essay is to critically examine Ballard’s work and how the apocalypse he created changes human consciousness.
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Even though The Drowned World was released a long time ago, it remains relevant today. Modern man tends to worry about the environment and environmental issues, and Ballard’s novel describes global climate change. The author deliberately chose a natural rather than a human-made disaster as the cause of the cataclysm. The storyline of The Drowned World is built around a catastrophe as a result of which the increased activity of the Sun is the cause of the intense melting of the polar caps and sharp climate change, which leads to global flooding (Ballard 1).
In addition, climate zones are changing: northern regions are turning into lush tropical jungles, while southern areas are turning into hot, deadly deserts. In all likelihood, James Ballard chose this very reason to further show the insignificance of man before the forces of nature.
In the scenery data center, the reader is presented with the main character, biologist Kerans. James Ballard creates a truly bizarre theatrical form: at first glance, it seems that his book is dedicated to the further development of the earth after the apocalypse. It is as if Ballard is fantasizing about what incredible monsters can populate the ground after most people have disappeared (Ballard 2). In fact, however, the primary function of the image of a planetary catastrophe in The Drowned World is not biological but rather philosophical.
The author puts a strong emphasis on how such a dramatic change in life will affect humans. In his opinion, people, when they are much smaller than now, will become more apathetic, closed, and they will awaken the ancient genetic memory (Ballard 16). The instinct that makes humanity move to the suicidal south can be understood as a predisposition to self-abuse and a lack of critical analysis.
In The Drowned World, Ballard demonstrates enviable erudition, which allows him to create the scenery surrounding Kerans, with the utmost precision, in the smallest detail so that the unfolding action seems realistic. At the same time, the author is well oriented in human psychology, very convincingly building up lines of the behavior of critical characters and finding their actions quite logical. One of the characters, Alan Bodkin, notes, “how often most of us have had the feeling of deja vu” (Ballard 16).
With this phrase, the author shows the reader that all biological knowledge is hidden in humans on a deep level and can potentially be discovered again. Thus, Ballard shows that one of the main questions he is interested in is determining the impact of such critical changes in the world around him on the inner state of man.
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James Ballard has also done a tremendous amount of work in terms of style: it is gradually changing, from chapter to chapter. It happens slowly at first glance, but the style of narration develops in the same way as the surviving people in the post-apocalyptic world change. This creates a stunning immersion in history. The reader is so connected to the story that he can perceive The Drowned World as a new, existing reality. All these methods used by the author, together, make the book one of the most significant works of art of the XX century. Such a complex plexus of patterns, stylistics, and events are rare, and only because of, this The Drowned World becomes a book that can not be missed.
Ballard, James. The Drowned World. 1962. Web.