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BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access October 30, 2019

The Art of Un-Making: Nagasaki, Eniwetok, Mururoa, and J.G. Ballard

  • Dominika Oramus EMAIL logo
From the journal Open Cultural Studies


This paper analyzes one kind of Ballardian landscape, wastelands created by nuclear explosions, and aims at interpreting them as a study of the un-making of the human-made world. Cityscapes of ruins, crumbling concrete concourses and parking lots, abandoned barracks and military stations, radiation and mutations make Nagasaki, Eniwetok and Mururoa wasteland snap-shots of the future. In the minds of the protagonists, the un-made landscape is strangely soothing; they are attracted by the post-nuclear imagery and gladly embrace the upcoming catastrophe. Nagasaki, Eniwetok and Mururoa are the harbingers of a future where one can experience the nirvana of non-being. In this paper, I discuss the Ballardian un-making of the world and, hopefully, point to the subliminal meaning of atomic explosions in his works. To do this, I first discuss the references to the atomic bomb in Ballard's non-fiction (A User's Guide to the Millennium, J.G.Ballard Conversations). Then, I isolate and describe the subsequent stages of the un-making of the world using his depictions of Nagasaki (Empire of the Sun, The Atrocity Exhibition); Eniwetok (The Atrocity Exhibition, The Terminal Beach), and Mururoa (Rushing to Paradise). Finally, I suggest a hypothesis explaining the subliminal meaning of nuclear bombs with reference to Freud's theories.

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Received: 2019-05-13
Accepted: 2019-09-25
Published Online: 2019-10-30
Published in Print: 2019-01-01

© 2019 Dominika Oramus, published by De Gruyter

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Public License.

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