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The landscape, inner and outer, is now set and the action, and the threat of action, begins in earnest. Ballard's surreal images and juxtapositions achieve deep resonance here.
Ballard, the character, works at Shepperton Studios where Elizabeth Taylor is filming. He goes on set to find them prepping a car crash scene. There are two cars, the before and after. Taylor is made up in fake injuries. Meanwhile, Seagrave the damaged stunt driver sits a top the before-car in full drag, caked make up and fake breasts. Vaughan flanks him, camera in hand. Ballard tries to protest but is absorbed into the sinister entourage.
Almost as a punishment, Vaughan later drives recklessly around Ballard's wife Catherine on the highway. Ballard had been thinking over his mental image of Catherine, her purity, her impossible cleanliness. He entertains definite notions of post-crash superiority over her. But Vaughan's actions ignite her sexually and reveal to Ballard the impulses that are in all of us.
Continuing on from last post, I find this reading keeps bringing up memories. I'm sure this is a familiar story, although I'll avoid names or details. While I was at university, I casually knew a guy from another year. He was handsome and healthy, strong yet unimposing. He had an assured manner that made him instantly popular. He held the right amount of eye contact, was always friendly and yet none of it was forced or fake. He seemed supremely comfortable in society and an expert, natural player of its rules, as well as having many natural advantages. He exuded control but no one felt controlled. One summer we heard he'd crashed his car.
It had all the features of the serious crash. Friends or relatives had died in the crash. He had an extended stay in hospital. His legs were severely broken and he was on a morphine drip for pain. His spleen had been removed. What I expected when he returned was a kind of nobility in the face of sadness, like a distant stereotyped World War One veteran. But, from my casual point of view, it was quite different. He seemed dangerous, unpredictable and reckless in a way. You couldn't expect a certain reaction at a certain time. But I think, and I've personally seen four of these cases in my life, that he ceased to exist in the conventions of society described before. Not a conscious rejection, the rules and conventions simply didn't exist anymore, they had been dispelled.