02 July 2009

wax on, wax off

What, so it's been a month. whatever. June involved writing a lot in not-blog land, teaching a summer class that involved un-bee-lee-va-ble trips to museums where I got to see some really amazing stuff shown to me and my class by the top experts in the field, and well, not blogging.

I waxed off. waned, if you will. but now I have a killer karate upper arm block, so it was totally worth it.

I also just finished the Atrocity Exhibition, a book that is an avowed favorite of some of my dearest friends who are now confirmed as deeply disturbed and also completely awesome. I quite liked it, really. I read the annotated edition, which included Ballard's mid-1990s reflections on some of the sections of each chapter. It is about (if I can use that phrase) the fundamental intersection of violence, death, and pornography and how it is ultimately being distanced from us through media and other mechanisms largely beyond our control. The spatial mapping of highway overpasses-as-woman's body, the angles of an apartment room depicting the destruction of a car crash. the pseudo-science, pseudo-knowledge of the survey format that interrogates stay-at-home moms, the people who witnessed the Kennedy assassination in the plaza itself, and mentally ill children only to draw conclusions about the best therapy for the last group. It is, as you can see, a laugh riot (really, quite funny, esp. with Ballard's later reflections on it).

The book is simultaneously very much about the 1960s while also eerily speaking to us about the world we live in now. Its understanding of celebrity makes me wonder what Ballard would have said about the synchronic deaths of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. Or the televised, reality-show death of Jade Goody. Actually, we don't have to wonder. it's already in Atrocity Exhibition. Recommended.

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