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Chapter 5: Notes Toward a Mental Breakdown Excerpt

Back to The Atrocity Exhibition

Note: The commentary is by Ballard, and unique to the RE/Search edition
The Impact Zone The tragic failure of these isolation tests, reluctantly devised by Trabert before his resignation, were to have bizarre consequences upon the future of the Institute and the already uneasy relationships between the members of the research staff. Catherine Austin stood in the doorway of Trabert’s office, watching the reflection of the television screen flicker across the slides of exposed spinal levels. Missile and RocketThe magnified images of the newsreels from Cape Kennedy dappled the enamel walls and ceiling, transforming the darkened room into a huge cubicular screen. She stared at the transcriptions clipped to the memo board on Trabert’s desk, listening to the barely audible murmur of the soundtrack. The announcer’s voice became a commentary on the elusive sexuality of this strange man, on the false deaths of the three astronauts in the Apollo capsule, and on the eroded landscapes which the volunteers in the isolation tests had described so poignantly in their last transmissions. Commentary: Little information has been released about the psychological effects of space travel, both on the astronauts and the public at large. Over the years NASA spokesmen have even denied that the astronauts dream at all during their space flights. But it is clear that from the subsequently troubled careers of many of the astronauts (Armstrong, probably the only man for whom the 20th century will be remembered 50,000 years from now, refuses to discuss the moon-landing) that they suffered severe psychological damage. What did they dream about, how were their imaginations affected, their emotions and need for privacy, their perception of time and death?
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