Crash: A Novel
J. G. Ballard
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In this hallucinatory novel, an automobile provides the hellish tableau in which Vaughan, a "TV scientist" turned "nightmare angel of the highways," experiments with erotic atrocities among auto crash victims, each more sinister than the last. James Ballard, his friend and fellow obsessive, tells the story of this twisted visionary as he careens rapidly toward his own demise in an internationally orchestrated car crash with Elizabeth Taylor.
A classic work of cutting-edge fiction, Crash explores both the disturbing implications and horrific possibilities of contemporary society's increasing dependence on technology as intermediary in human relations.
Vaughan thought of nothing else but her death, a coronation of wounds he had staged with the devotion of an Earl Marshal. The walls of his apartment near the film studios at Shepperton were covered with the photographs he had taken through his zoom lens each morning as she left her hotel in London, from the pedestrian bridges above the westbound motorways, and from the roof of the multi-storey car-park at the studios. The magnified details of her knees and hands, of the inner surface of her
the chromium pillar of the quarter window. I pressed my lips against the bared and unmarked dentine of her upper teeth, fascinated by the movement of her fingers across the smooth chrome of the window pillar. Its surface was marked along its forward edge by a smear of blue paint left by some disaffected production-line worker. The nail of her forefinger scratched at this fretline, which rose diagonally from the window-sill at the same angle as the concrete ledge of the irrigation ditch ten feet
passive stance was deceptive; from long practice I knew that this was the prelude to an erotic fantasy, a slow and circular inspection of some fresh sexual quarry. 'Am I under his thumb? No. But it's difficult to know where the centre of his personality is.' 'You don't resent him taking all those photographs? It sounds as if he's using you.' I began to play with Catherine's right nipple. Not yet ready for this, she took my hand and placed it around her breast. 'Vaughan annexes people to him.
distorted streamlining of the two cars. The rectangular bonnet of my car had been wrenched off its seating below the windshield, and the narrow angle between the bonnet and fenders seemed to my exhausted mind to be repeated in everything around me - the expressions and postures of the spectators, the ascending ramp of the flyover, the flight paths of the airliners lifting from the distant runways of the airport. The young woman was carefully steered from her car by an olive-skinned man in the
his apartment. I looked down for the last time at his huge groin, engorged with blood. Twenty yards away, illuminated by the revolving lamps, the actress hovered on the arm of her chauffeur. Vaughan had dreamed of dying at the moment of her orgasm. Before his death Vaughan had taken part in many crashes. As I think of Vaughan I see him in the stolen cars he drove and damaged, the surfaces of deformed metal and plastic that for ever embraced him. Two months earlier I found him on the lower deck