Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Modernism is the Gothic of the information age

That’s according to J G Ballard. To be precise, the full quotation (from the last chapter of The Kindness of Women) is:
On our final day in Los Angeles, a week after the film premiere, Cleo and I decided on a last visit to the ocean. Waiting for our car, we stood in the entrance of the hotel, looking up at the black skyscrapers of Century City a few hundred yards away. This cluster of sightless towers emerged through the low-rise sprawl of the city like a harsh, obsidian Manhattan.

Cleo stared at the razor cornices, and gave a shiver. ‘Is it all going to look like this when we come back? Please God … what sort of heaven circles those spires?’

‘None I want to wake into. But face it, Cleo—modernism is the gothic of the information age. Dreams sharp enough to bleed, and no doubts about man’s lowly place in the scheme of things. Let’s head for the beach…’ [344]
’Face it’, as if it is something we’d rather not face? These dreams are precisely the apprehension of the metaphoricity of our sfnal modern age. This beach, I suppose, is Ballard's retrieval of Wells's terminal beach from the end of time to the present day; or his recalculation of the proximity of the end of time.

No comments: