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Not a comfortable nor a cathartic experience - but not meant to be.
on 24 July 2013
I had avoided reading this book as I must have had some lingering memory of the surrounding controversy. It was definitely not a comfortable or cathartic experience but then it was not meant to be. ‘Clinical’ was one word used positively and negatively by critics of Crash and with a little background reading I discovered how appropriate it was. J.G Ballard spent a portion of his childhood in a Japanese prisoner of war camp (chronicled in the novel and film, Empire of the Sun) and later trained as a doctor. In the light of this, perhaps his detached, unfaltering attitude to bodily functions, disease, damage, obsession and general human mess is understandable. I found it an adult book addressing difficult social issues. The essential idea seemed to be that we live in a society that morbidly adores the car and is undeterred or even excited by the destruction it causes both to the human body and the environment. Ballard offers an unsettling and alienating interpretation of this adoration as a physical longing to join flesh with metal, forcing the audience to confront what this perverse and ultimately fatal attraction might look like and to consider its consequences.