PRINT March 1997


“The deviant technology of the car-crash provided the sanction for any perverse act.”
—J.G. Ballard

SO CONCLUDES JAMES BALLARD, the conveniently named narrator of J.G. Ballard’s novel Crash, while contemplating a tryst with the story’s already damaged homme fatal, Vaughan, a brutal and charismatic ex-scientist whose current “project” documents grisly collisions between human flesh and Detroit dashboards. Just as Ballard found a green light for his darkest imaginings in the peculiar resonance of the car crash, David Cronenberg discovered in this “deviant technology” a new way “to show the unshowable,” resulting in his most disturbing film to date. For those intimate with Cronenberg’s imagery—exploding heads, vaginal stomach wounds, gynecological tools for “mutant women,” giant roaches with talking anuses—the already elastic definition of “disturbing” has been stretched to the point of meaninglessness. Yet with Crash, Cronenberg has moved—as one typically tight-sphinctered British critic

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