Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Drought

Harper's Weekly noted that a "study found that the worldwide percentage of land stricken by drought has doubled within the last 30 years." Some of us continue to suffer the effects of global climate change and other forms of environmental degradation, while others of us are perhaps too slow to notice.

A global drought and the social barbarity that follows in its wake is wholly imagined in a novel by J. G. Ballard, appropriately titled, The Drought. (a.k.a., The Burning World in 1965.)

The main character in this novel refers to a painting, reproduced below. "Jour de Lenteur" or "Day of Slowness" by Yves Tanguy, a surrealist painter. During a drought, time seems excruciatingly slow and objects seem isolated and ruined. In this environment, people are reduced to mere survival, and those who do survive are reduced to mundane toil interrupted only by moments of terror when outsiders stage a bloody incursion for a pail of water. These kinds of things occur today in places we try not to think about. Ballard has the audacity to think about how it might occur in the major cities of civilization.

Jour de lenteur


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