The totalitarian systems of the future will be obsequious and subservient, plying us with drinks and soft slippers like a hostess on an airliner, adjusting our TV screen for us so that we wont ask exactly where the plane is going or even whether there is a pilot on board.
—JG Ballard (via thatmaycomeinuseful)
During this period, as he sat in the rear seat of the Pontiac, Travis was preoccupied by his separation from the normal tokens of life he had accepted for so long. His wife, the patients at the hospital (resistance agents in the ‘world war’ he hoped to launch), his undecided affair with Catherine Austin - these became as fragmentary as the faces of Elizabeth Taylor and Sigmund Freud on the advertising billboards, as unreal as the war the film companies had restarted in Vietnam. As he moved deeper into his own psychosis, whose onset he had recognised during his year at the hospital, he welcomed this journey into a familiar land, zones of twilight. At dawn, after driving all night, they reached the suburbs of Hell. The pale flares from the petrochemical plants illuminated the wet cobbles. No one would meet them there. His two companions, the bomber pilot at the wheel in the faded flying suit and the beautiful young woman with radiation burns, never spoke to him. Now and then the young woman would look at him with a faint smiles on her deformed mouth. Deliberately, Travis made no response, hesitant to commit himself into her hands. Who were they, these strange twins - couriers from his own unconscious? For hours they drove through the endless suburbs of the city. The billboards multiplied around them, walling the streets with giant replicas of napalm bombings in Vietnam, the serial deaths of Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe terraced in the landscapes of Dien Bien Phu and the Mekong Delta.
—Serial Deaths, The Atrocity Exhibition, J.G. Ballard. (via empiregrotesk)
“Perhaps, when we remember wars, we should take off our clothes and paint ourselves blue and go on all fours all day long and grunt like pigs. That would surely be more appropriate than noble oratory and shows of flags and well-oiled guns.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle
Most of us agree that these are dark times, and stupid ones, but do we need fiction that does nothing but dramatize how dark and stupid everything is? In dark times, the definition of good art would seem to be art that locates and applies CPR to those elements of what’s human and magical that still live and glow despite the times’ darkness. Really good fiction could have as dark a worldview as it wished, but it’d find a way both to depict this world and to illuminate the possibilities for being alive and human in it.
—David Foster Wallace (via wordpainting)