Burgess Memories: Fay Ballard
‘Religion is the oppressor. True, it has given us art, music, architecture of unsurpassable beauty, but that does not prevent it from being a roof over the heads of shivering people scared of engaging the huge windy blackness without. Man invented God because he knew no better – the great unpredictable father, indulgent or angry, loving or vengeful. But God had no real independent existence. Outside man there is nothing, nothing.’
These words are spoken by Sigmund Freud in Anthony Burgess’s novel The End of the World News and could have been written for my father, the novelist J.G. Ballard, who said that the invention of God was man’s greatest achievement. Ballard often referred to the ‘psychopathology of everyday life’ after Freud’s work of 1901 of the same title which explored slips of the tongue and parapraxes. He was a fan of other classics such as The Interpretation of Dreams and Civilization and its Discontents.
The Anthony Burgess Archive contains a cutting from the Guardian (28 October 1982) titled ‘Sense of an Ending’. It’s Ballard’s rave review of Burgess’s The End of the World News. We learn that ‘Burgess, an insomniac listener to the BBC Overseas Service, has often been struck by the phrase that concludes the hourly news bulletins – “That is the end of the World News” – and this led him to ponder on the three greatest events of the twentieth century: the discovery of the unconscious by Sigmund Freud, Trotsky’s doctrine of world socialism, and the invention of space travel.’ The novel’s three interwoven strands include a biography of Freud based on material Burgess had written for an unproduced television series. He also wrote a screenplay of the life of Daniel Schreber, one of Freud’s published cases, and owned several books by the great man.
My drawing of Freud’s eyes salutes Burgess and his remarkable imagination.
Fay Ballard is an artist and teacher. Her drawings were exhibited in ‘House Clearance’ at Eleven Spitalfields Gallery, London in 2014, at & Model Gallery Leeds in 2015 alongside new work. Recent drawings were shown at Caroline Wiseman Aldeburgh and at the Centre for Recent Drawing in London. The Drawing Center New York selected Fay for a Recognition Award for her drawing at the ‘Thinking Through Drawing’ symposium and show in 2015.