We're paid to fool you.
Books aren't the same as the Blues. You fake them in a completely different way.
Bu-u-u-ut: what I really wanted to talk about - what really rang a bell with me - was the phrase "surrender themselves to the historical substance of the age."
I remember stumbling on Ballard's short stories in my pre- / early teens, just as my reading was acclerating away from me - I was chewing on SF and Fantasy 'til it oozed out my ears - but Ballard's work revelled in its numb, almost indifferent differentness. I found pretty much all of his stories disturbing - I knew nothing about writing / literature back then - but there was this odd sense of dislocation - alienation - in his work; a sort of psychological 'remove'. A distance. (Later on, in my late teens I started twigging some of this stuff was maybe about externalisation - landscapes that refected the internal disquiet of his protagonists, blahblahblah. Thirty years later, I see the word "Psychogeography" and a bell goes off. But I digress...)
His characters were minimal, the plots often non-existent, but what really got me when I was a kid - beyond the strange, airless, hermetic atmosphere his fiction seemed to project - was the way he often dipped his work in a curious, semi-scattered layer of Science - references to pulsars, air-pressure, velocity, equations, paleotology, telecoms, surgical procedures and anatomical terms; the peripheral debris of real research, of living, breathing, super-modern 1960's Science n Engineering - stuff a twelve-yr old Grammar-school boy had kinda half-heard about, but which was still intellectually (and physically) out of my reach. No internet, no medical school library, no access to that info back then; but Ballard's writing made this stuff feel almost mythological to me; the expanding outer envelope of 60's Science came to life for me whilst simultaneously sounding mysterious and oddly poetic.
To me, that stuff positively, totally, utterly reeked of "the historical substance of the age." Only 60's Ballard could make words like "teletype" or "infrared" or the Latin name of an insect-species sound so exotic, yet also strangely dry. Later, he performed a similar trick with archetecture and transit-spaces, concrete and steel, ports and airports; transfigured utilitarian infrastructure into arid totemic vacuum. He created Ghostzones in the heart of the Everyday.
Fast forward twenty years or so and Bill Gibson performs a similar magic trick for me in his early stories: his use of dry phrasing tricks the world of late-70's / early-80's Ur-Geek mainframes and UNIX networks - of "hard-copy print-outs" - into revealing their own secret Present, a hidden SuperNow.
"The historical substance of the age."