Owing to Gregory Stephenson’s misconception of the abnormal union between man and machine in J. G. Ballard’s Crash, this paper aims to tease out—by virtue of Freudian psychoanalysis—the psychic levels that interact in Crash, to account for the difference between will and compulsion. This difference is necessarily related to how scientific utopianism has overstressed the perfect and beneficial union between man and machine but presumably failed as a result of a disregard for the human psychic infrastructure. This paper questions, to a great extent, the stance of scientists like Manfred E. Clynes and Nathan S. Kline, who, as initiators of “cyborg” for the sake of solving problems in space travel, believe that astronauts can be ultimately made “free to explore, to create, to think, and to feel” (31). The freedom to pursue knowledge is nonetheless turned into a pursuit of knowledge in a disfigured as well as satanic form in Crash. Moreover, as the two scientists show unknowingly, knowledge is presented as a mediated product very possibly at the expense of psychic infrastructure. Hence, to clarify the difference between will and compulsion not only elucidates the nature of pleasure-pursuit in the novel but also inspects the site of knowledge long held by positivist scientists to be expressive of human subjectivity.
臺灣英美文學期刊, 3, 79-96 Taiwan journal of English literature