Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ballard and birthdays...

"A group of workmen on a scaffolding truck were pasting up the last of the displays, a hundred-foot-long panel that appeared to represent a section of a sand-dune. Looking at it more closely, Dr. Nathan realized that in fact it was an immensely magnified portion of skin over the iliac crest. Glancing at the billboards, Dr. Nathan recognized other magnified fragments: a segment of lower lip, a right nostril, a portion of female perineum. Only an anatomist would have identified these fragments, each represented as a formal geometric pattern." -J.G. Ballard The Atrocity Exhibition.

Aren't we all sand-dunes anyway? Or geometric patterns, or parts easily divided into segments of a billboard? Each piece of flesh we believe our own can be magnified or reduced or divided or re-interpreted. I and you and he/she/it are photographs and blogs and carbon and bacteria and what we eat and what eats us. Identities are as constructed and artificial as Elizabeth Taylor on a billboard, and any part of what we conceive of as "us" or "me" can end up "plastered against the radiator grille of a parked car." Why haven't I read Ballard before now? What better way to spend a birthday?

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