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Thread: J.G.Ballard influence on Manson?

  1. #1

    Join Date: 04.22.12
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    Default J.G.Ballard influence on Manson?

    (sorry for my bad English, guys)

    I have recently re-read James Graham Ballard masterpiece "Atrocity Exhibition", and it seems like there is influence of this book on Manson's Tryptich.

    First of all, both MM and JG Ballard have roots in Surralism, esp. Dali. They art deals with analysis of modern interconnections between religion, sexuality and media-landscape. In Atrocity Exhibition we have protagonist (named Traven, Travis, Tallis, etc.), in his different incarnations, who tries to make sense of 20-century's horrors (Hiroshima, Kennedy and Monroe deaths, Apollo disaster, Vietnam, etc.) and to integrate in his life - like Adam/Omega/Antichrist of Tryptich.

    More, in one of his different roles, the Atrocity Exhibition protagonist is a Christ-like astronaut, fallen on Earth and suffering from strange form of amnesia or mental disoder. In order to return to space he arranges surrealistic psycho-dramas - this is very similar to Omega story in Mechanical Animals.

    All of this may be just a speculation. But, I can see direct textual links from MA to Atr.Exh.

    In several chapters of the book we have the strange girl called Coma, in white dress with a faint elusive smile. This Coma girl is kind of Marilyn Monroe-like hallucination in the mind of protagonist, and she has a face of dead film actress (Mechanical Animals: "mannequeen of depression with the face of dead star"). She walk along concrete overpasses and highways while main character tries to recreate Kennedy assassination. Direct link to "Coma White" lyrics and video? ("Something cold and blank behind her smile, she standing on the overpass in her miracle mile")?

    Am I just speculating? Or MM was influenced by this book, esp. while creating MA? At least, I'm pretty sure that he has read this book. Or this is just strange coincindance?

  2. #2
    SEGLASS NI TONDAY Hazekiah's Avatar
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    Damn, that all sounds great and fairly spot-on...thanks for sharing!

    I've been a BIG fan of Ballard's for a long while now even though I've only read a handful of his books and stories, which unfortunately haven't included The Atrocity Exhibition just yet even though it's been on my list since I was a kid and noticed it was referenced directly in the original comic book version of The Crow.

    And I'm struggling to recall where or when, but I'm almost 100% positive Manson's cited Ballard as an influence in an interview somewhere before, I'll be sure to keep an eye out for that and let you know if I ever track it down.

    Definitely bumping up reading The Atrocity Exhibition to a higher priority now!

    Thanks for the heads-up, this seems very promising.


  3. #3
    The Wax Gentleman's Avatar
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    So the character Coma existed before Mechanical Animals?

  4. #4
    Reprobare marcam. brian219's Avatar
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    Neat find.

    From Wikipedia:
    "Inner and outer landscapes seem to merge (a Ballardian specialty), as the ultimate goal of the protagonist is to start World War III, "though not in any conventional sense" - a war that will be fought entirely within his own mind."

    That's very similar to Donald Tyson's concept of the Enochian Apocalypse, which Manson has cited on several ocassions. Not to mention that wacky Helter Skelter race war that Charles Manson tried to incite.

  5. #5

    Join Date: 04.22.12
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    Quote Originally Posted by thisusernameisnowinuse View Post
    So the character Coma existed before Mechanical Animals?
    Seems like that. "Atrocity Exhibition" written in 1964-1969, and slightly revised in 1990.
    I've searched through the Net for any mentions of Ballard/Manson connections (interviews, articles, etc.), and found nothing, to my surprise.
    Maybe Hazekiah can help us, if he track that interview, where MM supposedly mentions JGB...

    Here is another piece of "puzzle": both MM and Ballard share Marshall McLuhan influence in their work. Actually, one can see "Atrocity Exhibition" as surrealistic and "right-hemispherical" take of McLuhans "Understanding Media", with all that conceptions of transformations of perception and behavior by technology of communications. And Manson directly cites Marshall McLuhan in his lyrics - "Mechanical Bride" is McLuhan famous book (this title was taken by McLuhan, in turn, from Marcel Duchamp's "Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even" - another connection with Surrealists and Ballard), and "Narcissus Narcosis" is McLuhanian term he used in "Understanding Media" for describing the humanity's blindness of technology effect on perception.

  6. #6
    YoureAlreadyHere's Avatar
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    The Lost Symmetry of the Blastophere.

    I need to put Understanding Media on my to-read list- good find.

  7. #7
    Gloominatus's Avatar
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    MM: If it helps people to visualise it - because I don't want to talk too much about it now - the people that I've taken a lot of my inspiration from would be Kenneth Anger, Philip K. Dick, JG Ballard: people who took very powerful symbolic ideas and took the time to really see what makes the world go round.

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