Friday, June 20, 2008

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#).

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