I started reading JG Ballard's "Crash" today, after recently finishing his fine autobiography "Miracles of Life". But Jesus, what a disagreeable book "Crash" seems to be.Am I getting old? Conservative? Is it just the passing mood of a man coming out of sleep, waking himself up with black coffee, a discussion about terrorism on the radio, a lone fly repeatedly colliding with my window, trying to get out into the garden?
Or maybe I feel too close to my own demise these days to want to read a novel about somebody seeing, in death, something sexual.
I have an image in my head (unwelcome, but disinclined to leave) of the cctv footage of Ben Kinsella walking down the middle of that empty street, dazed, lost (like me just before a seizure), stabbed 11 times only moments before, his shirt stained with blood; in seconds he would collapse and die. Anybody who sees anything in that other than its horror is a sick man indeed. That, of course, was Ballard's point; he was no more of a fan of what society has become than I am. But even so.
I probably am getting more conservative in some ways. I don't really care what made those killers the people they are, although I think I know; I certainly don't have any sympathy for them. Fuck them; they showed no sympathy for their victim.And there may be no way of reversing the cultural decline that created a whole sub-stratum of illiterate, amoral, violent human beings who can relate to nothing except their own infantile cravings. You have made this consumer society and we all have to live or die with the consequences.
But, and I'm aware that this is the stereotypical cry of old curmudgeons everywhere, it will make some of these thugs, who infest every street like a plague of rats in search of a rubbish tip, think twice before they plunge their knife into someone's heart if they know that once caught they will spend the rest of their lives rotting in jail.
At the moment even a twenty year sentence can be cut with a "sorry guv" and a less than credible conversion to the cause of youth counselling; and that's a deterrent to nobody when they lack the imagination or intelligence to see past the tip of their own nose in the first place.
adapted from the author's journal