Pornography and Resurrection


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.

7 thoughts on “Pornography and Resurrection

  1. It’s almost like Burroughs/Gysin + uhhh…”raw genetic material” 😀 [very reminiscent of Jodorowsky’s psychomagic].

    Funny that I heard the Kama Sutra referred to as applied geometry recently, with a view to seeing it simultaneously as a memory technology a la the oral tradition of mythological-storytelling…

  2. In one of his interview he says this:

    “Death takes many forms, of course. A loss of self-consciousness, of the awareness of self, could be regarded as death, but at the same time it’s almost an ideal towards which human beings aspire. It’s not just the womb. Some of my characters are obsessed with the notion of getting back to the source of their own being, using the systems of biology as a metaphor … light plays a large part in my fiction. In the recent novellas I’ve written [long short stories, technically speaking], ‘Myths of the Near Future’, ‘News from the Sun’, ‘Memories of the Space Age’ – three long stories all about the same theme, really – light plays an enormously important part. Light and time. The characters are trying to build structures through which they can escape from the limitations of self. You could say the sense of ourselves, of our physical bodies, that we all have is in itself a sort of small death – because of its enormous limitations. We find it very difficult to break through that small death to a larger world … I don’t accept the criticism that there is a negative streak running through my work. Many people have accused me of being defeatist, pessimistic, entropic, and all the rest of it. Death as the end of self, yes! Self-destruction is one of the worst sins you can commit, but of course the destruction of self is necessary to achieve nirvana – freedom from self and identification with whatever you like to call them, the unseen powers of the universe.”

    Ballard, J.G; Sellars, Simon; O’Hara, Dan. Extreme Metaphors (Kindle Locations 3620-3630). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

  3. Hi JH, Craig,
    This is another fragment from my essay on Crash in the Iain Grant/Jane Arthurs edited collection, Crash Cultures. Just seemed to work on its own and I’m more proud of passages in that piece than the whole, which is a bit rickety tbh. Still, glad you liked it, JH, and Craig, thanks for that incredibly apt quote – further confirmation of the coincidence between Ballard and Bataille, I suspect. D

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