The Atrocity Exhibition

The Atrocity Exhibition The Irrational Violence Of The Modern World Is The Subject Of This Strange And Disturbing Book The Central Character Is A Doctor Who Is Suffering From A Nervous Breakdown His Dreams Are Haunted By The Figures Of John F Kennedy And Marilyn Monroe, Dead Astronauts And Auto Disaster VictimsTrying To Find His Sanity, He Casts Himself In A Number Of Different Roles H Bomber Pilot, Presidential Assassin, Car Crash Victim, Psychopath He Is Obsessed With The Deaths, Among Others, Of Kennedy And Oswald, Seeing Them As Models Of His Own Self Destruction Escaping From The Hospital Where He Works, He Sets Out To Restage Their Deaths In A Way That Will Make Sense, Using Whatever Materials Come To Hand The Body Of An Enigmatic And Beautiful Young Woman Who Gives Him A Lift Along A Freeway An Abandoned Weapons Testing Ground The Immoral Inhabitants Of A Decadent Beach Resort Everything Around Him Seems Sterile And Perverted, But With The Magic Of Violence He At Last Finds The Key To A New SexualityFor The Hero, Nightmare And Reality Overlap, And The Story Is Seen Through A Number Of Lenses, Sometimes With The Harshness Of A Documentary Filmed In A Mental Slaughterhouse, At Other Times With The Calm And Clinical Detachment Of A Scientific Report Together They Show A World Controlled By Advertising And Pseudo Events, Science And Pornography The Atrocity Exhibitionis A Unique And Disturbing Newsreel Of Our Unconscious Minds

James Graham J G Ballard 15 November 1930 19 April 2009 was an English novelist, short story writer, and essayist Ballard came to be associated with the New Wave of science fiction early in his career with apocalyptic or post apocalyptic novels such as The Drowned World 1962 , The Burning World 1964 , and The Crystal World 1966 In the late 1960s and early 1970s Ballard focused on an

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  • Hardcover
  • 157 pages
  • The Atrocity Exhibition
  • J.G. Ballard
  • English
  • 02 February 2019
  • 9780224618380

10 thoughts on “The Atrocity Exhibition

  1. says:

    JG Ballard s The Atrocity Exhibition is, to put it mildly, an interesting reading experience Ballard s early and repeated section Notes Toward a Mental Breakdown offers something of a roadmap for the internal landscape presented in this book novel A barrage of images and twisted versions of reality are thrown at the reader along with casual references to WW3, apocalypse and the erotic Don t look for a narrative thread here Instead, think about The Atrocity Exhibit as both an assault and fetishization of American icons Ballard returns again and again to JFK and his assassination as well as figures such as Marilyn Monroe and Ronald Reagan the book attempts both to simulate events around these figures and tear them down You ll see the genesis of other Ballard works here, most notably Crash Going back to the same icons got a little old, though Also Ballard s use of the word geometry as in the geometry of aggression, murder, the human body, specific situationsthe list goes on lost a bit of impact because of overuse Still, The Atrocity Exhibit was both bizarre and sometimes funny, and, despite a lack of narrative, inventive and usually engaging 3.75 stars.

  2. says:

    Impossible to rate or even classify this weird and disturbing book from the late 60s it s not a novel, it s not a collection of mini novels, it s not even a psychological treatise, though it has aspects of all three It explores the links between death danger and sexuality his own wife had died suddenly a few years earlier Parts of it will be thought obscene by many It reflects Ballard s interests in psychoanalysis and surrealism the very structure of the book is surreal All of this makes sense after reading his far accessible autobiography, Miracles of Life Shanghai to Shepperton is a non linear narrative, divided into chapters , of which each paragraph is a self contained nugget, with its own title In an introduction written than 30 years after first publication, Ballard suggests readers scan a chapter for headings that catch their eye, and if they find them interesting, to move on to nearby ones, so maybe one approach is to list a selection of paragraph titles, out of sequence departurejourneys to an interiorsome bloody accidentthe realization of dreamscontours of desirean existential yesthe conceptual deathquestions, always questionshung among the corridors of sleepsoft geometrythe impossible roomthe geometry of her facetransliterated pudendaimaginary perversionsinterlocked bodiesfractured smilethe lost symmetry of the blastosphereMy edition includes Ballard s extensive notes, without which much of it would be impenetrable and not just the pop culture references though perhaps it would be less disturbing without them.There s little point trying to describe the story or characters, but it does involve one who monitors how subjects react to scenes of car crashes as a proxy for well, in addition to his own life and experiences the eucharist of the simulated auto disaster Many other characters explore predilections on the boundaries.There are many mentions of celebrities and events that were significant at the time Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, assassination of JFK, the space race , surrealist and pop art artists especially Dali , Freud, and overall it shows that although Ballard decided not to pursue a career as a psychiatrist, he was still very interested in the field Some elements are weirdly prescient, whether in a societal sense the banalization of celebrity an instant, ready to mix fame as nutritious as packet soup , and that the Vietnam war becoming a rich vein for cinema , or in his own life and works this was written in 67, published in 69, and in 70, Ballard did actually put on an exhibition of crashed cars in London, and in 73, he published Crash , which is a conventional novel, exploring the same themes The real exhibition provoked strong, violent and sometimes strange reactions in ways that the same vehicles on the street outside would not Most bizarrely, a model hired to interview visitors whilst she was naked, said, after seeing the exhibits, that she would only do it topless Much of this is challenging and controversial For example, saying in the notes that Pornography is a powerful catalyst for social change, and its periods of greatest availability have frequently coincided with times of greatest economic and scientific advance , but fearing a new puritanism in the 1990s Personally, I think it s complicated our society is simultaneously very sexualised e.g sexy underwear for pre schoolers and also paranoid about child abuse to the point that the damaging effects of that exaggerated fear may outweigh the risks In the end, Ballard sometimes it goes too far for me and I actually stopped reading just over half way through Sexual tastes that I don t share are one thing, but rape is referred to several times, often with an apologist slant, Her strong stride carried within its rhythm a calculated invitation to her own sexuality and although I know there are valid debates about the nature of paedophilia and whether there are grey areas, it s not something I choose to explore in any detail.

  3. says:

    Disjointed Yes Psychotic Yes.Titillating Occasionally.Interesting Of far less interest than could have been expected.A lot of ramblings about car crashes, sex, Kennedy, all kinds of trauma

  4. says:

    The Atrocity Exhibition is something like a shock therapy it is painstakingly unpleasant but it makes one react Now that sex is becoming and a conceptual act, an intellectualization divorced from affect and physiology alike, one has to bear in mind the positive merits of the sexual perversions The Atrocity Exhibition is a series of dreamscapes or, to be precise, madscapes born in the sick mind of the protagonist the psychiatrist with the split and fragmented identity His visions are fatalistic and gloomily surreal and they are modeled on the paintings by Max Ernst and other surrealists and on Locus Solus, the surrealistic novel by Raymond Roussel Entering the exhibition, Travis sees the atrocities of Vietnam and the Congo mimetized in the alternate death of Elizabeth Taylor he tends the dying film star, eroticizing her punctured bronchus in the over ventilated verandas of the London Hilton he dreams of Max Ernst, superior of the birds Europe after the Rain the human race Caliban asleep across a mirror smeared with vomit Sex, violence, death and mass culture become protagonist s obsessions He dreams of the World War III and envisions an atomic bomb explosion as the ultimate ejaculation Has a festival of atrocity films ever been held Every year at the Oscars ceremony, some might say Violence, sex and kitsch are the stuff our madness is made of.

  5. says:

    I have mixed feelings about this book, as I do about all of Ballard s fictions Ballard is brilliant, no doubt about that he possesses one of the clearest prose styles of any writer, a style not just clear but unexpectedly ecstatic in a glacial sort of way Some of his short stories are among the finest ever written His collection Vermilion Sands in particular is absolutely one of the highest points of the form As for his novels, they can be astoundingly original but also too obsessive The Atrocity Exhibition is an experimental novel, but it reads like a collection of very strange and bewildering though certainly powerful and affecting linked stories except that the stories aren t really linked in a normal sense they are like echoes, amplified feedback, psychotic recursions of each other This book certainly improves near the end The last quarter is the best the satire becomes easy to comprehend, despite its excessive savagery.The main problem I have with The Atrocity Exhibition is that I simply don t agree with many of Ballard s beliefs that inform the book Or rather he makes some truly excellent and pertinent points but often overstates them I just don t accept the death of affect for instance, nor that science has become the ultimate pornography, nor that pornography is necessarily a powerful catalyst for social change, etc And Ballard s obsessions can become too intrusive in a way that isn t good Ballard claims to be an early warning system for the breakdown of normality but he often acts like its salesman.Having said that, he s a genius, one of the best living writers in the world, and I m delighted that I ve finally read his difficult cult book, the one that inspired so many of his best later works including the novel Crash

  6. says:

    The Atrocity Exhibition is a really a long poem, like The Waste Land or Four Quartets This is why it s very easy to reconfigure the text as poetry.The lost gills of the dying film actressThe pilot watches him from the roof of a lion houseThe familiar geometry of the transfigured pudendaOn the way to a terminal zoneA fading harmonic fractured smile spread across the windscreenThe wig amongst the beer bottlesAnd you, coma marilyn MonroeYou coma Marilyn MonroeO technique of decalcomania, O subvocal rosary, The persistence of the beach, the assumption of the sand duneArabesques, planes of yantra Do you lip read she asked, in the yes or no of the borderzone The act of intercourse is always a model for something else Don t you think I am the Five Hundred Foot Christ of Salvador Dali In the darkness the halffilled reservoirs reflect the starlight.In the night air, concrete towers, blockhouses, half buried in rubble of disasters, giant conduits, filled with tyresHelicopters like air spiders

  7. says:

    Not exactly a novel, Ballard may have written involving narratives than this 1970 present dystopia of modernity in meltdown, but it s unlikely that he has ever surpassed its severe and unsettling perfection of form and function, diamond hard, brilliant, and single mindedly focused While each unit could function as a story and they were originally published as such in the late 60s there s also a total cohesion here that makes it than a collection, into some kind of shambling and unique hybrid form.In content, The Atrocity Exhibition is a series of iterative interlocked reconfigurations of certain inescapable elements of the modern experience Sex and death celebrity, thermonuclear war, and auto accidents architecture, advertising, mass media, traumas physical and psychological Depersonalized, fragmented and utterly haunting I ve heard it said somewhere on GR that Ballard was a great writer without being a good writer, which may have been true in places, but not here the writing is perfectly true to its subject, immaculately shaped into a precision instrument of dissection.Scientific reports on the psychosexual resonance of then Governor Reagan s media presence, superpositions of dead celebrities over motorways and vacant airstrips, war footage collaged in abandoned theaters, conceptually enacted murders seeking closure to various national scale ruptures And not to mention that the personal can not help but invade these large scale concerns it was also Ballard s attempt to work through the untimely death of his first wife.I ve got this in the amazing 1990 RE Search edition, an unsettling large format juxtaposition of a newly ballard annotated text against deftly detourned medical illustration and photographs of modern architecture Likely the perfect form of an edifice of deconstructed experience of the 20th century.

  8. says:

    Reading this was like being trapped in a doctor s waiting room and repeatedly bashed in the back of the head with a cast iron frying pan Not plot driven, not character driven, just a series of graphic montages that just get weirder as the book goes on At no time during this read could I have explained what was going on, and I was bored silly throughout, with a lot of WTF did I just read moments I think the author might have been intended the book to be funny Perhaps you are not supposed to think about plot, but just let the nasty imagery float across your brain Given that the author was a survivor of the Japanese invasion of Shanghai, and was writing this book at the end of the sixties after its decade of tragic celebrity deaths, political assassinations, collapsing Apollo program, unsavoury sexual revolution and the Vietnam War on the TV every daythen perhaps the cramped, dark nature of this horribly dated book is understandable, if not palatable.

  9. says:

    Although The Atrocity Exhibition is indeed innovative in its nonlinear, associative structure, and ambitious in its sweeping satire of popular culture, it s difficult for me to interpret the novel as anything other than a prototype for Crash , which is surely the mature and complete realisation of the ideas and themes which Ballard first presents here Most notably absent in these impulsive, impressionistic sketches are the cohesiveness of the later novel s vision, it s immediacy, the earnest poetry of its prose, and its relentless focus, all of which serve to underline the patent absurdity of its depictions of violent sexuality, and in turn that of the culture it seeks to ridicule By contrast, The Atrocity Exhibition s intuitive, scattershot approach hits broadly, though with far less force Its obscenity fails to be shocking or powerful it is merely obscene.

  10. says:

    The 60s according to Ballard a world of mayhem and violence in all their possible shapes and manifestations, from deranged science to the pornographic use of catastrophes by tabloids and TV, in a surreal atmosphere of stillness and extreme acceleration at the same time This is not a novel it s a scrapbook made of pictures from weekly magazines and anatomy manuals, mathematic equations and visual art cryptic references The text is a series of short paragraphs with apparently unrelated titles, snapshots that can also be read at random like Burroughs cut ups no plot nor chronological order, since it s up to the reader to decide whether to read it normally or just leaf through the pages This literary anomaly is far from being a wanton, meaningless collection of vignettes though The Atrocity Exhibition is a profound book in which a man s fragmented self explores the post modern era of Hollywood stars, art icons, Pop celebs and Congo massacres, WW3 yes bomber pilots, pornography the ultimate form of scientific exploration of the human body.The main character s several identities set off in search of a meaning a journey through the chaotic orgy of madness and violence taking place all around him and us at any given moment All we vaguely know is that our man is a doctor, possibly a psychiatrist or a neurologist Then his psyche, haunted by the daily atrocity exhibition of our era and struggling to make sense of it all, degenerates into a shapeshifting conundrum of identities he becomes a crashed bomber pilot, a psychopath, a sex maniac, an insane scientist roaming the streets of post atomic landscapes scattered with wrecked vehicles, deserted shooting ranges, ambiguous medical labs, suburban crash test areas not to mention the obsessive, literally hovering images of celebrities Marilyn Monroe disfigured by radioactivity bruises , Albert Camus, Harvey Lee Oswald, Brigitte Bardot, Jacqueline Kennedy, Ralph Nadar are all actors in the same atrocity newsreel atrocious exhibits in the frightening museum of our time.Ballard s world is a geography of rusty crashed cars, half burned helicopters, beaches lost in space and time like a no man s land of hominous silence and stillness The great icons of Surrealism provide the writer with a huge amount of visual inspiration in fact he explicitly refers to the art of Dal , Dominguez, Tanguy, Erst, Matta all throughout the book This is indeed a very graphic but also extremely cryptic work, to say the least One is often required to stop reading and check out some of the numberless references to art, science or current political affairs Ballard started to write this in the late 60s but it s definitely worth the effort The Atrocity Exhibition is an enigma to be deciphered A medieval mystery of the atomic era Although being one of his first books, this unclassifiable anti novel is nonetheless the fulfilment of Ballard s recurrent themes The physical mental connection between traumatic experiences and eroticism, the inhuman attitude of the Modern Scientist, the perverse fascination with violent death war newsreels are compared to porn movies by Ballard s psychiatrists such controversial issues will be further analysed in a long series of novels to come, e.g Crash , High Rise , Rushing to Paradise I therefore recommend those readers who are still unaquainted with Ballard to start with this absolute masterpiece, without being afraid of its reputation It is neither incomprehensible nor meaningless just let yourself go and delve into it Believe me, you ll feel at home.

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