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Passions For The Real: Ballard, Deleuze, Lacan

Davies, JN; (2015) Passions For The Real: Ballard, Deleuze, Lacan. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

The ‘passion for the real’ is a concept that appears in Alain Badiou’s 2005 book The Century, a broad synoptic account of the central problems that defined the twentieth century in the realms of politics, art, science, and sexuality. For Badiou, this is the defining passion of the century, its abstract logics identifiable across various disciplines and historical contexts. It has two particular modes: ‘purification’ and ‘subtraction’. In this thesis, I adopt this typology to explore what might be called a ‘Ballardian century’. While Badiou focuses predominantly on the ideological conflicts of the early twentieth century and the high drama of the European avant-garde, I use J.G. Ballard’s work to survey the passion for the real within a distinctly post-war British context. I trace the purificatory logic expressed in the countercultural politics of figures such as R.D. Laing, in the aesthetics of Brutalism, and in philosophies of science. The thesis examines the use of the word ‘real’ in Ballard’s oeuvre in dialogue with its deployment in these contemporaneous discourses. The philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and the psychoanalysis of Jacques Lacan are introduced so as to provide two comprehensive theories of ‘subtraction’. I examine the complex interrelations between these theorists and compare their respective claims pertaining to the basic nature of reality. I go on to explore how their theoretical production and Ballard’s literary production is often framed by similar problems, notably the task of providing a psychoanalytically-inflected account of the relationship between intra- and inter-subjective dynamics, or libidinal and political economy. I show how Ballard’s writing is expressly concerned with investigating the themes of purification and subtraction in ways that are often remarkably consistent with Deleuzean and Lacanian models. The thesis uses Ballard’s fiction to dramatise and scrutinise their concepts, and to provide the basis for a broader political analysis.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Passions For The Real: Ballard, Deleuze, Lacan
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
Keywords: J.G. Ballard, Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Lacan, Alain Badiou
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1471277
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