J.G Ballard

Crash (1973)

3 pulses

Global warming or not, we are dumping poisonous gases into our atmosphere with reckless abandon. Automobiles rank highly on the list of culprits for such dumping. That being said, is it not interesting that, in the past decade, there has been a dramatic increase in the most gas-guzzling domestic choice of automobile: the SUV? And the reasons for this are apparent. Purchasers of SUVs have unabashedly told marketers that they want the larger vehicle because of one main aspect: sex appeal. After all, bigger is better. And what could be hotter than sitting six feet higher than the person next to you in traffic? You get to look down on them!

So, we may be strangling the life-giving forces of our planet with our car choice, but that’s cool, because, well, we gotta get some. This and a slew of other paradoxes surround our modern culture’s long-standing infatuation with the sexiness of cars, or, perhaps the car-iness of sex. How about that an automobile is perhaps the total antithesis of the human body? Not many worse places exist for someone to hang out than in between tons of metal and glass traveling at very high speeds.

Such thoughts are the inspiration of J.G Ballard’s 1973 novel, Crash. And, no, it has no relation to the movie that won the Oscar a few years back (although it was adapted into film in 1996). Ballard effectively takes these separate concepts (cars and sex) and drags their connection to its logical extreme in a highly post-modern fashion. The characters in the book become addicted to, not only sex in cars, but sex and sexual fantasies involving automobile accidents and accident victims. Graphic and extremely explicit, Crash catches one’s attention in many ways that one would not desire it be caught. It is such a powerful text, however, that it cannot be read without changing the way the reader thinks of both cars and sex, and especially the two combined.

Three out of five pulses because it is written with seventies-British language and over-the-top, abnormal eroticism. These two items make the text somewhat restrictive in terms of audience. Excellent use of the word smegma, though.


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The Murfreesboro Pulse: Middle Tennessee’s Source for Art, Entertainment and Culture News.

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