Title page for etd-0505118-164222


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URN etd-0505118-164222
Author Yen-tzu Hsu
Author's Email Address No Public.
Statistics This thesis had been viewed 5350 times. Download 1 times.
Department Foreign Language and Literature
Year 2017
Semester 2
Degree Master
Type of Document
Language English
Title Flesh Meets Metal: Destruction and Possibility in J. G. Ballard's Crash
Date of Defense 2018-07-02
Page Count 83
Keyword
  • J. G. Ballard
  • Herbert Marcuse
  • Jean Baudrillard
  • Technology
  • Body
  • Destruction
  • Possibility
  • Abstract This thesis discusses J. G. Ballard’s controversial novel Crash (1973) as a work of science fiction in which new social possibilities are shown to emerge through the violent combination of technology and human bodies. The novel presents physical mutilations, but those destructions are given a new definition: the gateway to the new. Against the background of the social stagnation of 1970s advanced industrial society, people encounter the predicament of a fossilized reality that restricts them in a set of given social values from which no escape seems possible. The power of new technology only consolidates people’s powerlessness in the face of such social control. However, in Crash, collisions of technology and the human body enable the fetish group members to break through the social predicaments that imprisoned them. Thus, the fatal destructions caused by the protagonists produce possibilities and rebirths both mentally and physically. I intend to explore protagonists Vaughan and Ballard’s sexual obsession with automobiles and crashes, and to further analyze their behaviors with the help of French philosopher Jean Baudrillard’s simulacrum theory in order to challenge the viewpoint of the inescapability of given reality. In Chapter I, I will apply Herbert Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society (1964) to survey the background and settings of Crash. Marcuse indicates that the technology has become a tool that forces people to unconsciously follow a common social standard. The predicaments in Crash correspond with the conditions of “advanced industrial society” as Marcuse defines them. Next, I adopt Katherine Hayles’s definition of the posthuman to elaborate the re-shaping and re-modeling of the physical body in concert with the development of technology. In Chapter II, I argue that Baudrillard’s notions toward reality allow us to make sense of the at first sight irrational spectacle of planned crashes in the novel: they can be regarded as possibilities to escape the predicaments that Marcuse outlined. Baudrillard’s theory emphasizes the disappearance of the boundary between the simulation and the real, and as such it also nicely explains the intriguing change over the course of the novel of the relationship between Vaughan and Ballard. In Chapter III, I focus on the combinations that the novel introduces of technology and human bodies, most spectacularly through sexual intercourse between humans and automobiles. Scars, wounds and implantations connect human and non-human bodies; bodily transformations realize the ideal integration of the two. Via willful mutilation of human bodies and with the help of technology the destructive impulse turns into a form of recovery: the physical body not only satisfies needs but also leads people to the edge of limitation and further encourages them to break through it.
    Advisory Committee
  • Tsui-yu Lee - chair
  • Min-hsiou Hung - co-chair
  • Rudolphus Teeuwen - advisor
  • Files
  • etd-0505118-164222.pdf
  • Indicate in-campus at 1 year and off-campus access at 1 year.
    Date of Submission 2018-07-19

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