Why You Want to Fuck Christopher Hitchens – Celebrity, Consumerism and the Search for Online Identity

 

I’d like to open with a kind of history. This history takes many forms and surfaces in many different places with the names of the actors sometimes replaced. Occasionally, the role of the nation-state is assumed by religion and at other times it is the gods of classical antiquity who take the lead. Regardless of which iteration of this history you have heard, its narrative will be familiar to you for it is a narrative of loss.

Once upon a time, people lived in tribes. These tribes were small social entities made up of a number of different family groups that pooled their resources. Members of tribes lived together, worked together and died together and this permanent state of communion with others made their lives meaningful. Of course, human nature being what it is, tribes could not peacefully co-exist and the tribes soon began conquering each other until their dominion extended over millions of people and thousands of miles of territory. Because these abstract tribal groupings were a lot harder to manage than a couple of families that had been living and working together for generations, tribal elders began reinventing themselves as governments who began to rule over abstract political entities known as kingdoms and principalities then as nations and states. Of course, nation states were never anything more than a way of referring to the territory under the control of one particular government but they stuck around for long enough that people began to forget their tribal loyalties and began to see their nationality as a fundamental fact about themselves, a fact no different to their sex, their gender, their sexuality or their race, a fact that took the form of a noun.

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A Benign Psychopathology – The Films of J. G. Ballard

Back in July of 2009, I put up an article about some of the attempts to adapt J. G. Ballard’s work for the screen and, in particular, Harley Cokliss’ take on “Crash!”, one of the sections from Ballard’s experimental novel/short-story collection The Atrocity Exhibition (1969).  That article was written in order to help me work out a few ideas for a much longer piece I was writing for Vector – The Critical journal of the British Science Fiction Association.  That longer piece turned out quite nicely and, as it has been a bit slow around here recently, I have obtained permission to republish it online – at least until the BSFA sorts out their mooted online archive.

So, many thanks to Niall Harrison for giving me permission to republish this online and I suggest that all those not already members join the BSFA immediately, if only to get the chance to read Vector.

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