The Middle Class, Boredom and Violence: Reading J. G. Ballard’s Suburban Disaster Quartet of Cocaine Night, Super-Cannes, Millennium People and Kingdom Come

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Abstract

This article deals with the last four novels written by a British SF novelist J. G. Ballard: Cocaine Nights, Super-Cannes, Millennium People and Kingdom Come, or shortly, The Suburban Disaster Quartet. Unlike the common expectation, Ballard describes life of the people from the middle class who have become the new proletariat group and revolt against modern society which makes them tamed. Through the violence against modernity itself, Ballard`s characters (re)gain animal-like instinct, therefore, violence becomes new energy. The four novels commonly find the cause of violence in the middle class: boredom. This article finds causes of boredom in the middle class in three reasons: the life without stimuli, fun culture and the dearth of human relationships. Firstly, residences in luxurious gated communities are described in Ballard`s novels as "Eden without a snake." Life in gated communities is convenient but at a cost; the characters have lost all the energy and instinct, thus they try to retrieve what they have lost in the modern technological life through violence. Secondly, modern culture is represented by "fun," and as Bertrand Russell articulates human beings have great fear of boredom. In Ballard`s novels, violence plays a role of antidote of boredom. Thirdly, lack of human relationship due to high competition in capitalist societies causes boredom in the middle class. Ballard paradoxically shows affirmativeness of violence, making it inevitable in modernity. This article reads Ballard`s Suburban Disaster Quartet as a paradox, which shows affirmativeness of violence but at the same time it is an inevitable result of modernity. By closely looking at the problems in the middle class, this article highlights problems of modernity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-424
Number of pages20
JournalStudies of English Language and Literature
Volume53
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Keywords

  • J. G. 발라드
  • 폭력성
  • 권태
  • 교외 지역
  • 중산층
  • 모더니티
  • J. G. Ballard
  • violence
  • boredom
  • suburbia
  • the middle class
  • modernity

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