RE/SEARCH, 20 Romolo #B, San Francisco CA 94133 | Call 415.362.1465 |

The Atrocity Exhibition – The Blastosphere

Back to RE/Search #8/9: J.G. Ballard

‘This reluctance to accept the fact of his own consciousness,’ Dr Nathan wrote, ‘may reflect certain positional difficulties in the immediate context of time and space. The right-angle spiral of a stairwell may remind him of similar biases within the chemistry of the biological kingdom. This can be carried to remarkable lengths—for example, the jutting balconies of the Hilton Hotel had become identified with the lost gill-slits of the dying film actress, Elizabeth Taylor. Much of Travis’s thought concerns what he terms ‘the lost symmetry of the blastosphere’—the primitive precursor of the embryo that is the last structure to preserve perfect symmetry in all planes. It occurred to Travis that our own bodies may conceal the rudiments of a symmetry not only about the vertical axis but also the horizontal. One recalls Goethe’s notion that the skull is formed of modified vertebrae—similarly, the bones of the pelvis may constitute the remains of a lost sacral skull. The resemblance between histologies of lung and kidney has long been noted. Other correspondences of respiratory and urinogenital function come to mind, enshrined both in popular mythology (the supposed equivalence in size of nose and penis) and in psychoanalytic symbolism (the ‘eyes’ are a common code for the testicles). In conclusion, it seems that Travis’s extreme sensitivity to the volumes and geometry of the world around him, and their immediate translation into psychological terms, may reflect a belated attempt to return to a symmetrical world, one that will recapture the perfect symmetry of the blastosphere, and the acceptance of the ‘Mythology of the Amniotic Return.’ In his mind World War III represents the final self-destruction and imbalance of an asymmetric world, the last suicidal spasm of the dextrorotatory helix, DNA. The human organism is an atrocity exhibition at which he is an unwilling spectator . . .’

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply