The 1960s at Brunel

Many thanks to Philip Tew and Nick Hubble at the Brunel Centre for Contemporary Writing for setting up the symposium The 1960s: A Decade of Post War Writing. It was good to be involved and to be speaking at the Artaud building. Amongst great papers on New Worlds, B.S. Johnson, Ann Quin and Margaret Drabble by Christopher Daley, Philip Tew, Melanie Seddon and Joseph Darlington, I presented a talk as part of the ongoing Bad Trip series called 'Terminal Data: Moorcock, Ballard and the Fiction of the Decade's End'. The idea was to look at The Final Programme (1968), Crash (1973) and The Atrocity Exhibition (1970) as texts that have been appropriated as catastrophic icons. My starting point was Iain Sinclair's opening statement from his 1999 BFI book on Cronenberg's Crash (1996):

Crash, the novel by J.G. Ballard, appeared in 1973, one of the cultural markers that signalled the end of the 60s. All the elements in the book – characters, landscape and psychopathology – had been drilled and rehearsed through a series of earlier texts, notably The Atrocity Exhibition (1970), where the feral Vaughan first appears.

The argument discussed the signification of "the end of the 60s" and suggested how Moorcock and Ballard's fictions, both essentially mid-decade texts (The Final Programme being written largely in January 1965), deviate from the basic narrative suggested by this trope. This, despite their obvious suggestiveness and symbolic synchronicity with the likes of Altamont and Manson. Some reference was made to Jodorowsky in order to posit the type of metaphorical economy one might wish to apply to Ballard's focus on "hidden logic". 

No comments:

Post a Comment