Thursday, July 3, 2008

Location #8

Chapter 7.

At Northolt police pound I showed my pass to the guard, custodian of this museum of wrecks. I hestitated there, like a husband collecting his wife from the depot of a strange and perverse dream. Some twenty or so crashed vehicles were parked in the sunlight against the rear wall of an abandoned cinema. At the far end of the asphalt yard was a truck whose entire driving cabinet had been crushed...
Unnerved by the deformations, I moved from one car to the next. The first vehicle, a blue taxi, had been struck at the at the point of its near-side headlamp...

The glamour and poetry of Northolt continues unabated... Is this the car pound?... it backs onto the police station and certainly from google maps, if it is merely a car park then some of the cars appear seriously hemmed in...

What a strange metaphor Ballard applies: "collecting his wife from the depot of a strange and perverse dream..." strange unless we think of Orpheus searching for a Eurydice in an industrial cathone . There is a curious Delvaux quality to the image Ballard conjures.... made all the more pointed by the fact that the police station and car pound? backs onto the railway line, invoking Delvaux's famous painting "Trains du Soir"...

Talking of car pounds, I see the as part of the Forensic Science course at Islington College the students are offered the opportunity to visit the Metropolitan Police Car Pound at Charlton

Location #7

Chapter 6

We reached the multi-storey car-park behind the air-freight buildings. I drove around the canted floors of this oblique and ambiguous building and parked in an empty bay among the cars on the sloping roof...

Twenty feet away across the empty parking bays a man with a camera sat on the bonnet of a carp parked against the concrete balcony. I recognized the tall man with the scarred forehead who had watched near the accident site near below the flyover, the doctor in white coat at the hospital....

Stanley meets Livingstone, Ballard meets Vaughan... later (need to find the reference) it also suggests that Vaughan witnessed the aftermath of Ballard's alerted to the scene from the police radio accident reports. More and more it suggests that the character Ballard somehow 'mentally dies' in the crash, that Vaughan is a psychopomp, the crash being a metaphor for a nervous breakdown, an Osirian disintegration. Remember in Atrocity Exhibition there is the chapter 'Eurydice in a used parking lot'

Eurydice was the wife of Orpheus. Orpheus loved her dearly; on their wedding day, Orpheus played songs filled with happiness as his bride danced through the meadow. One day, a satyr had seen her and pursued her. According to legend, Eurydice stepped on a snake and fell to the ground. The venomous snake had bitten her, leaving Eurydice dead. Distraught, Orpheus played and sang so mournfully that all the nymphs and gods wept. In their saddened states, they told him to travel to the Underworld and retrieve her. Orpheus did so, and by his music softened the hearts of Hades and Persephone, his singing so sweet that even the Erinyes wept.'

Recently I have seen Ballard describe 'Crash' as a Psychopathic Hymn... perhaps he is hinting that it relates to the songs of Orpheus as he searches for his dead wife.... Again emphasising that Crash is in fact a tragedy about the psychopathological possibilities at every intersection of our daily lives. What most people refuse to admit in their criticism of Crash is that the language rendered by Ballard's genius is perversely beautiful, matched only in terms of outrage perhaps by Mirbeau's botanically infused cruelties in "Torture Garden"

Indeed there is a definite Pauline echo in the sudden and meaningless chance meeting of Ballard and the dead husband of Dr. Remmington, in the myth of Eurydice's snake bite in the meadow...

"Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape" 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5

Is there not a road safety, clunk-clink, think once think bike (or bite!), Public Infomation Film like quality to Paul's apocalyptic advertisement copy...

and as the 1st world war poet William Hodgson wrote so prophetically two days before he died:

I, on that on my familiar hill

Saw with uncomprehending eyes

A hundred of Thy sunsets spill

Their fresh and sanguine sacrifice,

Ere the sun swings his noonday sword

Must say goodbye to all of this;

By all delights that I shall miss,Help me to die, O Lord.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Location #6

Chapter 5
Our own apartment at Drayton Park stood a mile to the north of the airport in a pleasant island of modern housing units, landscaped filling stations and supermarkets, shielded from thr distant bulk of London by an access spur of the Northern Circular motorway which flowed past us on its elegant concrete pillars...

I had been sitting in the same reclining chair on the veranda of our apartment, looking down through the anodized balcony units at the unfamiliar neighbourhood 10 storeys below.

This is puzzling... does such a place as Drayton Park exist a mile to the north of the airport? Certainly, West Drayton does... There is a Drayton Park in Islington. Is Ballard imagining a future upwardly mobile annex of West Drayton? Certainly the description of the balcony seems contemporary. I like the hint of bland Wordsworthian romance Ballard applies with subtle irony to the environs "pleasant islands of modern housing units" and the "northern circular motorway" with its "elegant concrete pillars"... in fact throughout the book I've always felt his great success was in creating a poetry of psychotic juxtaposition; the linguistic equivalent of the surrealist game "exquisite corpse".

Location #5

Chapter 2
During my first hours in Ashford Hospital all I could see in my mind was the image of us locked together face to face in these two cars.

Ashford Hospital Middlesex, close to Heathrow airport and Ballard's much loved resevoirs at Staines.

In the talk I gave on the Wyrd I compared Crash with Robert Graves' discussion on the love chase, realising that Crash is in fact a modern rendering of the myth. At the time I thought that they (Ballard and Vaughan) had met in the car park, but in actual fact though no explicit mention of a hospital meeting is made in the book, it does appear that Vaughan does makes his presence known at the hospital. Gladly this fits better with Graves' description of the apperance of wyrd as 'the shadow'.

from the talk:

Robert Graves makes the remarkable assertion that all true poetry celebrates some incident or scene from an antique story, the central chapters of which concern “the God's losing battle with the God of the waning Year for love of the capricious all powerful Threefold Goddess, their mother, bride and layer-out”1 - an obvious allusion to the Three Fates.

“The poet identifies himself with the God of the Waxing Year and his Muse with Goddess; the rival is his blood-brother, his other self, his weird.” Graves maintains that these characters are so woven into the fabric of our racial memory that “they not only assert themselves in poetry but recur in the form of dreams, paranoiac visions and delusions”. The weird, or rival, “often appears as the tall, lean, dark-faced bedside spectre, who tries to drag the dreamer out through the window, so that he looks back and sees his body still lying in bed”. Now, if we cast our minds to the extreme nightmare of J.G Ballard's Crash, we see the same image. The psychopath Vaughan's metaphorical appearance as the injured hero rises from his recovery bed; Vaughan with “pock-marked face [and] heavy dark hair”, a suitor for Ballard's wife Catherine, in probably the most subversive and weird rendering of Graves' “single poetic theme”, the love chase.

It's my feeling that the emergence of Vaughan in the consciousness of Ballard occurred after the death of his wife. Alot of Ballard's stories are ghost stories in which he is searching in the underworld for his dead wife, Mary. The 'Terminal Beach' is no coincidence in that his wife died on holiday in 1963. Much like Ernst Ballard set about constructing an incredibly powerful and painful mythic system starting with this story. The fragmentary condensed chapter approach mimicing the disintegration of reason resulting from the tragedy of her death. In these nekyias it is also no accident that his constant suitor is the psychopomp and psychopath.


Hospitals and music also have quite an interesting lineage: We have Bob Fosse's hallucinatory recovery from his near fatal heart attack which led to "All That Jazz". This was clearly then a massive influence on Dennis Potter's "Singing Detective". Current 93's early career highlight of "In Menstrual Night" was supposedly inspired by Steve Stapleton's hospital experience following an operation. Later on of course Tibet reconstructed his own near death experience on "Bright Yellow Moon". More recently still we have Fantomas' brilliant "Delirium Cordia". So what would the music be for Ballard's recuperation. Listening to the submarine motorik of Harmonia, something like this would be a good starting point to reconstruct such a soundtrack, overlooking the reservoirs, the western avenue and Heathrow airport. Perhaps though it would be overlaid by the recovering patient semi consciously channelling the staticised and schizophrenic radio gibber of the psychiatric tulpas that stalk the wards of nearby St. Bernard's (see previous location 1#).

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Location #4

Chapter 2
As I drove home from the film studios at Shepperton on a rain-swept June evening, my car skidded at the intersection below the entrance to the Western Avenue flyover.. Out of my control, the car crossed the reservation and turned up the high-speed exit ramp.

Having difficulty with this location... the entrance is presumably from Shepperton to where... later on Ballard (see note Location #6) is said to live at Drayton Park, so we need to trace his route home! Shepperton Film Studios via Western Avenue to Drayton... A psychopathic AA Route Finder is needed.

From Route Finder:

0.00 Start out at Shepperton,Surrey B376 0.00
0.02 At Shepperton, traffic signals continue forward onto Green Lane (signposted Sunbury, Walton,) B3366 0.02
0.62 At roundabout take the 1st exit onto the A244 (signposted Feltham, Kingston, Sunbury, Staines) A244 0.64
0.53 At roundabout take the 1st exit onto the A244 (signposted Feltham, Kingston, Staines, Sunbury, M3) A244 1.17
0.30 Warning: Speed Cameras along the A244 A244 1.47
0.87 At The Shears Junction turn right onto the A308 (signposted C London. Kingston, Sunbury) A308 2.34
0.43 At Sunbury Cross roundabout take the 2nd exit onto the A316 (signposted London Central, Richmond, Heathrow, A316, Feltham) A316 2.77
0.24 Continue forward, then merge onto the A316 A316 3.01
1.50 Warning: Speed Cameras along the A316 A316 4.51
1.22 At Hospital Bridge Roundabout take the 2nd exit onto the A316 (signposted Central London, Richmond) A316 5.72
1.45 At roundabout take the 2nd exit onto the A316 (signposted Central London, Richmond) A316 7.17
0.34 At roundabout take the 2nd exit onto the A316 (signposted Central London, Richmond) A316 7.51
0.36 At roundabout take the 2nd exit onto the A316 (signposted Central London, Richmond, Chiswick) A316 7.88
0.44 Twickenham Bridge A316 8.31
0.14 Continue forward to cross Twickenham Bridge A316 8.45
0.58 At Richmond Circus roundabout take the 1st exit onto the A307 (signposted Ealing, M4, N.Circular) A307 9.04
1.40 At Kew Green, traffic signals turn left onto the A205 A205 10.44
0.29 Kew Bridge A205 10.72
0.15 At Kew Green, traffic signals bear right onto the A205 A205 10.87
0.27 At roundabout take the 2nd exit onto the A406 (signposted N Circular, A406, A40, M1, Wembley) A406 11.14
0.34 Warning: Speed Cameras along the A406 A406 11.49
0.37 At Gunnersbury Park turn right onto the A4000 (signposted Shepherds Bush, Acton) A4000 11.86
0.66 At traffic signals turn right onto the A4020 (signposted Shepherds Bush) A4020 12.52
0.06 At traffic signals continue forward onto the A4020 A4020 12.58
0.01 Turn left onto the A4000 A4000 12.59
1.04 At Gpsy Corner turn right onto the A40 (signposted Central London) A40 13.63
0.14 At Gipsy Corner continue forward onto the A40 A40 13.78
0.72 Warning: Speed Cameras along the A40 A40 14.50
0.03 Finish on Western Avenue,Acton A40 14.52
- Section time 0:47, Total time 0:47 - - -
0.00 Start out on Western Avenue,Acton A40 14.52
0.01 Turn right onto Old Oak Common Lane Old Oak Common Lane 14.53

0.01 Turn left onto Old Oak Road Old Oak Road 14.54
0.07 Turn right onto East Acton Lane East Acton Lane 14.61
0.04 Turn right onto Old Oak Common Lane Old Oak Common Lane 14.65
0.07 Turn left onto the A40 A40 14.72
0.01 Warning: Speed Cameras along the A40 A40 14.73
0.72 At Gipsy Corner branch left, then merge onto the A4000 (signposted Acton, Harlesden, Willesden Green) A4000 15.45
0.12 At T-junction turn left onto the A4000 (signposted Acton) A4000 15.57
0.93 Turn right onto the A4020 A4020 16.50
0.07 At traffic signals turn left onto the A4000 A4000 16.58
0.65 At Gunnersbury Park turn left onto the A406 (signposted S. Circular, M4, Richmond) A406 17.23
0.38 Warning: Speed Cameras along the A406 A406 17.61
0.30 At Chiswick Roundabout take the 5th exit onto the A4 (signposted The West, Heathrow, Staines, Hounslow, M4) A4 17.90
0.29 Warning: Speed Cameras along the A4 A4 18.20
0.37 Branch left, then join the M4 motorway (signposted The West, Heathrow Airport) M4 18.57
4.46 Heston Service Area (MOTO) M4 23.03
2.44 Leave the M4 at junction 4, then at roundabout take the 3rd exit onto the M4 (signposted Uxbridge) M4 25.47
0.52 Branch left, then at roundabout take the 3rd exit onto Cherry Lane (signposted West Drayton) Cherry Lane 25.99
0.48 Bear right onto Sipson Road Sipson Road 26.47
0.31 At "The Fox and Pheasant" public house continue forward Unclassified 26.79
0.11 Turn right onto Porters Way Porters Way 26.89
0.01 Arrive at West Drayton,London Unclassified 26.90
- Section time 0:41, Total time 1:28

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Location #3

On the deserted roof of a Northolt multi-storey car-park, I waited by the balustrade. In the rear seat of the car Vaughan arranged her limbs posture of the dying cashier.

I can't find any evidence for a multi-storey car park from google earth, so maybe a poetic representation might be worthwhile... a collage approach possibly, find a derelict plot of land in Northolt and superimpose a suitable car-park... virtual town planning, after all as Ballard says the job of fiction is nowadays is to recreate reality!

Location #2

"Together we visited the Road Research Laboratory twenty miles to the west of London, and watched the calibrated vehicles crashing into the concrete target-blocks."
This is the transport research laboratories at Crowthorne.