Observation and Power Relation in Control Societies: Reading J. G. Ballard's Crash

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In this essay, J. G. Ballard`s 1973 novel Crash is discussed to define `desire to be seen` in Deleuzian control societies where `to be seen` provides modern human beings with more power than `to see.` In discipline societies, visibility was a trap, but in control societies, to be forgotten is what modern human beings are most afraid of. In control societies, the more a person is seen, the more power s/he has. In Crash, Ballard describes modern human beings` desperate desire to be seen through the heroes` designing for their own death and recording crash sites. Vaughan`s desire to be seen in the most famous crash is related to modern control societies for two reasons. First, in control societies where every social factor is controlled, the only way human beings enjoy freedom is ironically to submit to the social control in order to become famous revealing more personal information, because this makes them more visible, therefore, more powerful. Second, after the development of media technology such as TV, films or the Internet, modern human beings are likely to consider reality as cinematic images and see themselves as part of films, thus, they try to provide dramatic images to the public and get the public gaze instead. Thus, modern people inevitably become slaves of the optic. Ballard shows, through Vaughan`s failure to die with Elizabeth Taylor, that the dream to be famous in control societies is hard to achieve and even meaningless. However, the author contrasts ordinary people, who gather to see the crash site, with Vaughan, who causes the crash. These contrasting images suggest some hope in Vaughan who enjoys the maximum freedom, while majority of modern human beings in control societies passively desire to see his crash.
Translated title of the contributionObservation and Power Relation in Control Societies: Reading J. G. Ballard's Crash
Original languageKorean
Pages (from-to)293-313
Number of pages21
JournalThe Journal of East-West Comparative Literature
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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