Stars of The Atrocity Exhibition: Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan
The motion picture studies of Ronald Reagan Reagan’s hairstyle. Studies were conducted on the marked fascination exercised by the Presidential contender’s hairstyle. 65 percent of male subjects made positive connections between the hairstyle and their own pubic hair. A series of optimum hairstyles were constructed.

J.G Ballard-Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan-The Atrocity Exhibition 1968

At the 1980 Republican Convention in San Francisco a copy of my Reagan text, minus its title and the running sideheads, and furnished with the seal of the Republican Party, was distributed to delegates. I’m told it was accepted for what it resembled, a psychological position paper on the candidate’s subliminal appeal, commissioned from some maverick think-tank.

Annotations-The Atrocity Exhibition 1990

18 thoughts on “Stars of The Atrocity Exhibition: Ronald Reagan

    1. This is different versions of who distributed it. This is one of the more milder paragraphs, a lot of them are absolutely bizarre, all written in a pseudo-scientific vein. The real reason Reagan was elected is undoubtedly the hair.

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      1. Undoubtedly. That low hairline, too… I finished Loving on the plane. I cannot believe Raunce did not drop dead at the end of the story. And what an abrupt ending! So I immediately started Crash instead of moving on to another Henry tale and honestly I can hardly put it down. It’s rather addictive. I also bought Empire of the Sun.

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      2. A formal reading group usually has questions to discuss. We could just pick out part of the story and talk about it. Like ask each other questions and then discuss…

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      3. I guess psychological suspense, maybe? It’s not easy to classify actually. And that is a good part of it’s intrigue – it’s uniqueness and the shock value of it themes. I’m not sure how important ‘genre’ is in general. Except in the broadest sense.

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      4. Would you consider it pornographic? Science fiction in the sense that it deals with technology? Literary fiction is usually concerned with character, how realistic do you find the characters in Crash?

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      5. I am only four chapters in and although the sexual references are quite graphic and plentiful, and the aim seems to be to arouse, I can’t quite call it pornography. And this is definitely a character driven story. Realistic? I hope not! Yet there is a somewhat sympathetic quality to the narrator, at least thus far. Science fiction – Amazon classifies this novel as science fiction, literature and psychological – I just checked. The narrator seems quite taken with the natal cleft. Maybe the story will cover this at some point, and there was a brief mention of it but the constant crashing would leave one more and more traumatized – the brain concussion and spinal and joint damage. It’s a wonder either of them were able to carry on…

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      6. Ballard starting out as a SF writer and although he had pretty much left the genre (definitely by Empire of the Sun anyway) he was always pretty defender of the genre. He did object to the whole hi-jacking by Star Wars/Star Trek of SF. He did seriously write about the effects of science and technology on the modern world. What do you make of the style. Would this be one of the more extreme books you have read? Should I stop all the questions?

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      7. I can see why … science fiction pigeon holed in the far future and outer space. Gleaming surfaces and sleek space ships. Nothing wrong with a dirty, violent, dystopian future: Planet of the Apes, Farenheit 451, Brave New World, A Clockwork Orange. The style: it moves quickly, full of intense imagery and while I think you referred to it as a long trippy prose poem, I’d say it moves in and out of that. When he describes/imagines the lists of people and the fates they would meet in their inevitable crash, it does have the feel of a frenetic verse, but then it lapses back into narrative that, while also bizarre feels a little more ‘grounded’ if that makes sense. And yes I would say it’s one of the more extreme books I’ve read. Now take a minute and answer all those questions yourself that you just asked me.

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      8. OK, I think it is very hard to categorise… maybe transgressive fiction? It definitely qualifies as pornography because the only subject is the fetishised sex involving car and car crashes. I do think genre matters to an extant, because different genres have different rules and expectations. You cannot criticise pornography or fantasy (for instance) for unconvincing characters… the genre conventions do not allow it, just as you cannot critique a realist novel for not being a satire. As to most extreme, well it differently up there, and you know I am well versed in erotic/transgressive fiction.

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      9. Well it is certainly transgressive. I just came across a bit that I really like: He’s on the side of the road, near the site of his crash and he sees the debris from other crashes and he imagines it becoming a geological site where people of the future sift though the mess to find cigarette butts, used condoms and coins. That is the kind of thing I think about. Leaving evidence of ourselves behind in the form of blood, sweat, urine, feces… All that DNA shed with sloughed off skin cells and fallen out hair. Sorry, I digress. As for the pornography, I get your point; it’s just sort of … struggling for the right word… clinical? In places. Which I suppose doesn’t disqualify it….

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      10. Well Ballard often mentioned the similarities between science and pornography… the concentration on the area of interest to the exclusion of everything out, the amorality, the levelling effect. A few years ago I had an experience straight out of a Ballard book. I was working a medical conference for over 1500 delegates worldwide… the place was full of those pop up stands and we had catering stations all around… one was underneath a 6 ft triple stand that featured an extreme close up of a vagina of a seventh month pregnancy woman suffering from severe genital warts… it had an accompanying text detailing various symptoms etc… my colleagues and I were freaked out but the delegates took it in their stride. Bizarre

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