Liveblogging Ballard's Crash Chapter Three

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Now James Ballard is recovering in a hospital ward next to the airport. In a wonderful turn of detail, it is a special ward kept open for the survivors of airplane crashes and he is the only resident. 

Every detail is filtered through the juxtaposition of sexuality and death, violence ... the crash. We also meet his wife Catherine and learn about their complex sexual and emotional relationship. In another satisfying Ballardian turn, we discover that James works in television commercials. This is also how he comes across Elizabeth Taylor.

Ballard is mesmerized by the new landscape of his body. His injuries map out both the physical interior of the car, the action of the crash and the symbolic meaning of the event. Even what he thought of as the complex, perverse and dark games he played with his wife pale before his new reality. After musing on dreams where her breasts shoot out faecal matter, he finds all other matters to be trivial and annoying.

I stared pointedly at the clock over the door, hoping that she would soon leave. This bogus commiseration over the dead man irritated me, merely an excuse for an exercise in moral gymnastics. The brusqueness of the young nurses was part of the same pantomime of regret. I had thought for hours about the dead man, visualising the effects of his death on his wife and family. I had thought of his last moments alive, frantic milliseconds of pain and violence in which he had been catapulted from a pleasant domestic interlude into a concertina of metalized death. These feeling existed within my relationship with the dead man, within the reality of the wounds on my chest and legs, and within the unforgettable collision between my own body and the interior of my car. By comparison, Catherine's mock grief was a mere stylization of a gesture - I waited for her to break into song, tap her forehead, touch every second temperature chart around the ward, switch on every fourth set of radio headphones.
Finally, he is spurred into recovery and motivation by the rumbling of his first erection since the accident.

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This page contains a single entry by Andy Best published on August 17, 2012 1:54 PM.

Picture: Villa on Columbia Road was the previous entry in this blog.

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