Thursday, 15 December 2011

a field student of Ballardian epiphanies

Field Study's Man in E17 loves a good edge; in fact and fiction he and I virtually live on them. We're particularly fond of fried edge on toast - or toasht to indulge ourselves a little more. 'Edgelands' is a term we are becoming more familiar with having listened to Gareth Rees guided talk about the Hackney Marsh edgelands. We have found out we may be a character in the Marshman's chronicles of this liminal place - as one of the ritual riders making their way to work (or elsewhere) - on the good edge of the marshes. Gareth's talk can be found via 'Gareth Rees Scoop' on the


menu. Look for 'Mapping Your Manor'. Gareth shares his enjoyment of the rise of the Olympic Park at the edge of the marshes. This new city, capital of the Olympic ideal, is enriching Gareth's edge. The development is causing us some concern, the salient points of which we shall drift to rather than getting straight to.

J G Ballard is credited as being one of the seminal authors of the urban edge, and Will Self and John Gray can be found in virtual conversation about J G Ballard at the Watershed. Mr Self and Mr Gray share accounts of some of their Ballardian epiphanies while, we suspect, also subconsciously exchanging mineral water sipping techniques - essential to any sophisticated discussion of edgelands and emptiness.

At this time of the year Field Study's Man in E17's morning ride across the marsh edge sometimes takes in the spectacular sight of the winter sun hanging low on the south eastern horizon as an intense silvery and golden aura veiling the emerging city. Could he and I be on the verge of a Damascene moment; an epiphanic conversion to Pierre de Coubertin's vision? One day I may find my selves in the midst of a landscape as envisioned by Victorian painter of apocalypses, John Martin. Will we be flung into the abyss of Olympic doubters?
Will Self' makes a comment about the future starting to seem dated; 'a recasting of the past through an increasingly atomised landscape'. Will Self also mentions H G Wells in his appreciation of J G Ballard, concerning prescience. Wells called for the establishment of "Departments and Professors of Foresight". According to Wikipedia his call presaged the development of modern academic futures studies by approximately 40 years - study now more commonly coined as 'futurology'. 'Futurology' is a term frequently used by Iain Sinclair in his attempts to debunk the mythology of the modern Olympics. Is there prescience in Ballard's, Kingdom Come, given recent consumer riots and the second coming of the Westfields?

While the government and various other authorities are fretting about the possibility of explosions, calling on a huge military force to safeguard the games but also add to the likelihood of Olympic bankruptcy, what we may also want to fret about, according to Self and Gray's discussion, is community implosion. Would the Olympic site, as a gated world, be an exemplar of such virtuality becoming real again by breakdown?

Field Study's Man in E17 is deeply suspicious of Anish Kapoor's Olympic Tower. To us it is potentially a site of a sinister scientific experiment. During the Olympic Games the air will be so ideologically charged - 'electric', 'buzzing' - that there will be an opportunity to harness those forces and use them to power a Utopia fusion project. Not Utopian but Utopia. In this project all Utopias, past, present and future, will be sucked into the vacuous structure and fused - creating The Final Utopia. Key to the harnessing of the forces of Utopia fusion is the Higgs Boson particle. Why? Because one said so.

In a moment of foresight  (dare we say Ballardian epiphany and cosmic identification with thee Higgs Boson?) we saw an imploded future in which rightful denizens of The Final Utopia are carnivorous Buddleia davidii. The mutation to carnivorousness (carnivory?) is caused by a leak from the tower of the element, 'Implodium', carried to the shrub by butterflies. In a horrific nightmare of John Wyndham-ian (a term which came  out of the Self & Gray discussion)  character we witnessed goring by Buddleia on an Olympic stadium scale - every aspect of it reproduced in ultra high definition and 4D surround sound. The more Ballardian dimension of this epiphany is that no-one is actually gored by Buddleia - it's all a dream or nightmare that you, once you have been exposed to Implodium, cannot stop having. The most tangible emanation of the highly infectious nightmare is extreme mass insomnia and a terrible phobia about closing one's eyes - even for a blink. Reality becomes hazardously soporific for those people contaminated.

In the blink of an artificial eye Field Study's Man in E17 made our way to the Large Haddron Collider to warn the scientists of the consequences of Higgs Boson detection and harnessing. He and I banged and banged at the perimeter - the edge - of the site but our bangs were not big enough (boom! boom!) to be heard. We returned to the Olympic Park and pleaded with a security guard to call the games off - there's still time, it's not too late. They did not listen.
Sometime later, you might picture Field Study's Man in E17, in Charlton Heston-ian guise, floundering on the banks of the globally warmed tidal waters of the Lee - substitute horse for coconut shells and er, well one is not so deranged as to imagine eternity with that Girl Friday. Apes would not be one's nemesis but ferocious Buddleia. So here is that bit of futurology from Charlton Heston.    

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