In this revised edition, Ballard has added extensive annotation that help to unlock many of the mysteries of one of the most prophetic, enigmatic and original. The Atrocity Exhibition [J. G. Ballard, William Gaminara] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. A prophetic and experimental masterpiece by. WITH AUTHOR’S ANNOTATIONS. The. Atrocity. Exhibition For nearly 35 years J.G. Ballard has been sys- As Ballard observes, “I think we’re all perhaps.
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Reviewed by Ted Gioia What slasher films are to cinema, J. Ballard’s books are to literature. Violence is put on center stage, not for condemnation or edification, but for the bxllard adrenalin boost of ‘exhibiting’ severe damage inflicted on people and objects. Yet the peculiarly repulsive flavor of Ballard’s narratives comes from their constant juxtaposition of violence and precision.
One of the most frequently used words in The Atrocity Exhibition is “geometry”—it appears every few paragraphs in this pseudo-novel. For some reason, trigonometry and calculus get a reprieve. And it’s not just math. Ballard also draws on the jargon of engineering, technology and medical science, usually in strange, new contexts, imparting an austere, textbook coldness to the maimings, woundings and couplings that provide most of the meager storyline in this controversial novel.
Has any other writer described the relation between two lovers with such soul-numbing dispassion? He exxhibition her across the dunes. The young woman was a geometric equation, the demonstration model of a landscape. Her breasts and buttocks illustrated Enneper’s surface of negative constant curve, the differential coefficient of the pseudo-sphere.
His novel is an assortment of fragments, most of them single paragraphs, each with its own title.
The titles are clearly meant to provoke. Ballard The Crystal World by J. His goals are ambiguous, and seem to range from harmless staged re-enactments of violent acts to the actual launch of World War III. But readers expecting a clear or even vague explanation of motive or intent, let alone the unfolding of a narrative, will be disappointed.
You could almost imagine Ballard removing all the paragraphs that moved the story forward, leaving us with the remainder as milestones on a road to nowhere. Roland Barthes once explained that he liked to construct his books out of fragments because the surprise, excite- ment and jouissance of a new start imparted a sense of momentum and delight to his works.
The fragment, he believed, “implies immediate bliss: Ballard borrows many of his most peculiar and irritating techniques from the Alain Robbe-Grillet playbook: If he aims to unsettle his readers—and with this author, that aim is a given, no?
In a more structured work, such radical touches would be disturbing, but in the context of The Atrocity Exhibition they merely add to the general incoherence—just as the piling up of acts of violence serves to reduce rather than magnify their impact on the reader.
Of course, Ballard has his explanations, invariably placed in the accompanying notes to the text. The corpses, he assures, aren’t necessarily corpses, and so we shouldn’t be surprised if the dead ballrd again and deliver enigmatic dialogue in a later chapter. These “Alternate Deaths” —a new way of dying? Okay I get it now: Sorta like the proverbial gal who was ‘a little bit pregnant.
The Atrocity Exhibition
But even if the geometry is right here, I have doubts about the biology. Fifty Shades of Newtonian Physics.
I give Ballard credit for reaching for extreme effects, but the payoff never arrives. Kennedy—which caused so much controversy at the time of bballard publication, but now just fall flat. Reading “The Assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Considered as a Downhill Motor Race” one wonders who would find this amusing or interesting or exciting or even well-written.
Kennedy jgg disqualified at the hospital after taking a turn for the worse. Johnson now continued the race in the lead…. He wonders whether future visitors from outer space will consider swimming pools as “votive offerings to the distant sea.
In these brief passages, Ballard makes me wish that he had taken a different path here. Instead of giving us lame fantasies about Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe, Ballard should have delivered a creative deconstruction akin to Barthes’s Mythologies.
He had the capability and bravado to do that, perhaps to an unparallelled degree among his generation.
The Atrocity Exhibition: J. G. Ballard, William Gaminara: : Books
But, as it stands, the best sections of The Atrocity Exhibition are those snippets where the authorial voice shifts in the direction of non-fiction. But if I prefer Ballard the aphorist, most of this book delivers Ballard the list-maker.
Here’s a taste rhe don’t swallow: Check out this exhihition, for instance, and see if you can find any redeeming quality in it…other than its destiny as the winning entry in a ‘gross out’ contest: The clear goal is to embrace the transgressive, and in as disturbing a way as possible.
One can sense his glee when describing obscenity charges against this book that led to prosecution in the UK. When Ballard’s lawyer asked the author how he would explain to the court that his book was not obscene, he responded: Ballard, you will make a very good witness for the prosecution.
We will not be calling you. He aimed for obscenity, and he hit the mark. No one can ever take that away from him. I’ve read many novels over the years, including more than a few that have been banned and burned by outraged citizens, but The Atrocity Exhibition was the only one that made me want to wash my hands after finishing it. I purchased my dog-eared copy used through the mail— the book is out-of-print are you surprised?
Sad to say, future owners will probably wonder the same about me, and go in turn to wash their hands. But the person who, no matter how much scrubbing and rubbing, won’t be able to wash off responsibility for this book is Mr. So much more the pity.
A good writer, and sometimes a great one, he did neither his readers nor his own reputation any favors with this grotesquely sensationalistic volume.
Yes, well at least it’s aptly named. Ted Gioia writes on music, literature, and popular culture. His newest book is The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire. The Atrocity Exhibition by J. Check out our sister sites: To purchase, click on image. Follow Ted Gioia on Twitter at www.
The Atrocity Exhibition by J G Ballard – A Useful Fiction
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