The Network Imaginary in J. G. Ballard's 'Crash'

Calder Gillie

Abstract


This paper focuses on the representation of the network in J. G. Ballard’s Crash. I investigate the relationship between the car crash and the road network: specifically the political potential of the crash to provide access the exterior of the capitalist road network's regime of 'auto-mobility' (the combination of discourses of autonomy and mobility). My theoretical focus is on Jean Baudrillard’s proposition that ‘there is no exterior’ to postmodern subjectivity. Baudrillard reads Crash as a literary manifestation of surface without exterior. In opposition to this, I explore the possibility that the car crash is an attempt to reach a terrain outside of late capitalism. My conclusion presents an amendment to Baudrillard’s argument. I suggest that if Baudrillard’s analysis is applied to the network it actually describes the  impossible promise of the network: absolute connection, a system without exterior. As opposed to something that is already present, I suggest that this is what the crash is trying to reach: crashing is the attempt to go anywhere precluded by the impossible combination of autonomy and mobility.

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