Super-Cannes: A Novel by J.G. Ballard

Dark and violent, focused on hate, intolerance, and madness, Super-Cannes reveals the other face of corporate psychosis – once in a while you see a newsreel about a man with a shotgun or an assault rifle on a killing spree in a cosy air-conditioned 24 hour-lit paradise of an office building, and you think, whoa, another asshole in town – but in Ballard's world, oh boy, that man doesn't seem an asshole at all.

Sheer madness is the new cure – the trendy senior exec way of letting go of work and career stress by hurting and even killing people in a rogue vigilante style, picking on immigrants and the poor, all in a well organized project management way, with meticulous planning, coordination, role play, video documenting and all – practiced by the top brass of a huge business part on the French Riviera.

The novel has its twists, so I'll avoid spoilers – but somehow, the subject is quite close to J.G.'s High-Rise, as recently reviewed here. Two books by Ballard in a row was a way for this to become too obvious – still, it was quite a read.

'The dream of a leisure society was the great twentieth-century delusion. Work is the new leisure. Talented and ambitious people work harder than they have ever done, and for longer hours. They find their only fulfillment through work. The men and women running successful companies need to focus their energies on the task in front of them, and for every minute of the day. The last thing they want is recreation.'

'God?' Halder smiled into his elegant hands. 'The people here have gone beyond God. Way beyond. God had to rest on the seventh day.'

'So how do they keep sane?'

'Not so easy. The have one thing to fall back on.'

'And that is?'

'Haven't you guessed, Mr. Sinclair?' Halder spoke softly, but with genuine concern, as if all our time together, the extended seminar he had been conducting with full visual aids, had been wasted on this obtuse Englishman. 'Madness – that's all they have, after working sixteen hours a week, seven days a week. Going mad is their only way of staying sane.'

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