Poetry of Perversion in “Crash” by J.G. Ballard

If I could compare this book to the specific sound, I’d say it’s something like avant-garde punk; it’s bizarre and mesmerizing, but does everyone like Velvet Underground? Nope.

J.G. Ballard rose to fame in 1960s as an author of science fiction, but controversy around his two bizarre novels “Crash” (1973) and “High-rise” (1975) , both of which then became Hollywood films, seem to me as the main reason that Collins English Dictionary defines the adjective “Ballardian” as
“resembling or suggestive of the conditions described in J. G. Ballard’s novels and stories, especially dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes and the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developments”.

It’s hard to summarize “Crash” in few words, as a story line is somewhat dreamlike. We have protagonists who experience car-crash sexual fetishism and we follow them to the journey through the darkest of their desires, including destroying themselves.

Sexual perversion has never been a subject I avoid in literature. In contrary, it can become an effective instrument to provide an illustration, social commentary, a metaphor or in case of George Bataille e.g. , an instrument to perform a philosophical act. But in Ballard’s “Crash”, perversion doesn’t work for a greater meta-text, it works on its own, it’s just a filthy ode to the dark human nature. The car crash becomes a trigger for the protagonists, activates their fetishism and they can no longer function as before, only way out of this lifestyle is self-destruction.

Reading “Crash” felt like an experiment but to be honest, it was a struggle.

3 / 5 ⭐️

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