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Untitled (White Library) by Wilfredo Prieto at MoNA

JG Ballard's Invisible Library

"I have always been a voracious reader of what I call invisible literatures - scientific journals, technical manuals, pharmaceutical company brochures, think-tank internal documents, PR company position papers - part of that universe of published material to which most literate people have scarcely any access but which provides the most potent compost for the imagination."
JG Ballard - The Pleasure of Reading - Antonia Fraser (ed.), 1992
"In fact, Eduardo [Paolozzi] and I in our different ways are already gathering this kind of information, but we are using the clumsiest possible tool to do it: our own hands and eyes. The technology of the information-retrieval system that we employ is incredibly primitive. We fumble around in bookshops, we buy magazines or subscribe to them. But I regard myself as starved of information. I am getting a throughput of information in my imaginative life of one-hundredth of what I could use. I think there's an information starvation at present and technology will create the possibility of knowing everything about everything."
JG Ballard - Eduardo Paolozzi in conversation with J. G. Ballard and Frank Whitford - Studio International, Oct 1971

These quotations demonstrate that Ballard craved access to an endless stream of information, yet we know he also protected himself from being drowned in a sea of distractions by never owning a computer. Similarly, Ballard was always generous with his attributions and often referred to other texts in his writing and interviews, but unlike his friend and collaborator Paolozzi, he didn't leave behind an equivalent 'image horde'.

Partly in reaction to these contradictions, this site is an attempt to create a collaborative online catalogue of this 'Invisible Library' that fed Ballard's uniquely fertile imagination. This includes the books and other written materials that Ballard talked about reading, the items in his home library and the many books he reviewed.

So far, we have found over 600 items to add to our online catalogue.

We are hoping to grow this catalogue with your help.

Please feel free to add items Ballard had access to by filling in this form:

This project is a collaboration between Liz Stainforth and Mike Bonsall, with thanks to David Pringle who found most of the original items -
August 2014

Catalogue of JG Ballard's Invisible Library

(Scroll down table to see all entries) You can also see the table on the web here: