Cosmopolitical Spiritualities of Deep Time: Reading J.G. Ballard’s Mystical Impulse

Article by Simone Kotva in  Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology.

This article considers J. G. Ballard’s account of deep time in The Drowned World (1962) from a religious perspective. I situate Ballard’s account of deep time in the context of Mircea Eliade’s influential work on the “Real Time” of ecstasy—a time in which humans recognize their indistinctness from the animal and undergo an experience of self-annihilation. But Eliade’s is not the only interpretation of ecstatic temporality that is relevant to Drowned World. I argue that Ballard also narrates a constructive response to deep time that issues not in self-annihilation but in communal action and group living. It is in order to parse this aspect of Ballard’s account of deep time that I turn, in the final part of the article, to consider Drowned World as an anticipation also of more recent, cosmopolitical approaches to ecstatic temporalities by theologians, anthropologists and philosophers.