Ballard’s novella Myths of the Near Future [formulates] a deranged ‘metametaphorics’ for which pornography and a kind of autistic bricolage function as the privileged figures of knowledge. Myths relates the epidemiology of a mysterious schizoid condition that appears to emenate from the abandoned Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. When its protaganist, the Orphic architect Roger Sheppard, constructs a notional ‘time machine’ from pornographic videos of his dead ex-wife and reproductions of Ernst and Delvaux, he cites one of the empty swimming pools of Cocoa beach as its ‘power source’: ‘It is’, he remarks to an indulgent clinical psychologist, ‘a metaphor to bring my wife back to life’ (Ballard 1985: 32). In calling this assemblage a ‘metaphor’, the metaphor ‘a machine’, illness ‘an extreme metaphor with which to construct a space vehicle’ (Ballard 1985: 14) Ballard pragmatically circumvents semantic criteria of metaphorical aptness. Sheppard’s pornography is an ‘effective’ vehicle of resurrection because, like space itself, it is ‘a model for an advanced condition of time…’ (Ballard 1985: 14). This is not because the genre’s formal qualities are (or held to be) analogous to a spatialised time, but because the text equates pornography with modern dislocations of the continuum: ‘Space exploration is a branch of applied geometry, with many affinities to pornography’ (Ballard 1985: 30). Sheppard’s time machine is a ‘good’ metaphor because it is a work of pornography, and pornography (in Myths) is a paradigm of hermetic technology by dint of its metaphoricity.
Ballard, J.G (1985), Myths of the Near Future, London: Triad/Panther.