Why I Want To Fuck Ronald Reagan. J. G. BALLARD.
Why I Want To Fuck Ronald Reagan.

4.

Why I Want To Fuck Ronald Reagan.

Brighton, Sussex: Unicorn Bookshop, 1968. First edition. 4to. Silkscreened wrps., stapled. Limited edition of 250 copies (of which 50 were signed and numbered by the author). The text was reprinted in International Times #26 (February 16th, 1968), and again a few months later in the first issue (of two) of Pamela Zoline and John Sladek's magazine, Ronald Reagan: the magazine of poetry.

Unicorn Books' publisher Bill Butler was busted for obscenity following a police raid in January 1968, during which more than 3000 items were removed from his Brighton bookshop, notable among them three copies of Ballard's slim booklet (other items that featured in the subsequent trial included Evergreen Review, Kulchur, Cuddon’s Cosmopolitan Review, and books of poetry by Herbert Huncke and John Giorno). Ballard's piece was later collected in "The Atrocity Exhibition" (Cape, 1970), though Doubleday's American edition was pulped before publication.

The text, divided into seven sections and presented in the style of a scientific paper measuring the psychosexual appeal of Ronald Reagan, followed on from his pieces on Marilyn Monroe, JFK, and Jackie Kennedy from 1966, and continued his dissection of the death drive in America's increasingly media-saturated celebrity culture (Ballard, like Guy Debord, became aware early on of the increasing mediatisation of news and culture).

Both whimsical and prescient, it was written in 1967, not long after Reagan became Governor of California, but thirteen years before his nomination as his party's candidate for president at the 1980 Republican National Convention in Detroit. It was here, in an attempted spectacle-busting prank, that copies stamped with the seal of the Republican National Committee and with the seemingly-innocuous title, "Official Republican 1980 Presidential Survey", were distributed by former situationists. Ballard was later told "that it was accepted for what it resembled, a psychological position paper on the candidate’s subliminal appeal, commissioned from some maverick think tank".

Very short tear to top edge of upper wrapper; light handling wear to wrappers; overall, a Very Good plus copy of a scarce item.

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