Monday, November 5, 2012

Cars Crashes and Change

Well, this has been an interesting read so far... I'm not even sure with what aspect of this story I should begin conversation...
I guess a quote that really stuck out to me was "the deformed body of the crippled young woman, like the deformed bodies of the crashed automobiles, revealed the possibilites of an entirely new sexuality."
The idea of rebirth of self through a car crash is a constant theme throughout the novel, and I think this quote demonstrates the driving force that has enveloped most of the characters. I don't think the characters are turned on by the cars themselves, but rather it is the idea of a new self, a new sexuality, derived from having survived a close encounter with death that ignites a new flame in the characters. The involvement in a car crash acts as the ultimate pinnacle of adrenaline rush and physical awareness, and as a result the only way for the characters to become aroused is to keep experiencing the crash. In this way they are not the same people they were before the crash, and their sexualities have become dependent on the physical cars. The physical s(cars) of those who have been "changed" such as James, Helen, Vaughn, and the rest can be contrasted with the physical perfection of Catherine who has undergone no such change. The scars symbolize the extent of their sexual perversion (in terms of cars, obviously Catherine is a bit perverse otherwise) with Vaughn possessing the quintessential scar on his penis, symbolizing his complete transformation into the "nightmare angel of the highways."  I'd like to know what the rest of you think about the idea of rebirth physically, mentally, and sexually through the car crashes? I've also been thinking about the fact that Vaughn has experienced many crashes, but has he undergone many changes as well, or only continued down the path of this new identity? Catherine has not been involved in a crash...yet at least, but she is constantly described as having undergone her own changes. Why are they unique?


  1. I think that the idea of rebirth is interesting. The glimpse of death and then the realization that one has survived the crash would definitely change someone. It's also interesting that they derive sexual pleasure and a new lust for life after these changes rather than experience mental trauma. Instead of being more careful after their wrecks, they fling themselves into new ones. It's like their drug. They are addicted to the adrenaline and the ecstasy that comes from the crash, the pain, and the survival.

  2. Also, I don't know if you intended it or not, but I like the "driving force" pun and the s(cars). :)

  3. Your idea of rebirth is interesting to me and I think has a lot to do with what we talked about in class about the role of car crashes in this novel as good/bad. I was thinking about it and car crashes in this novel are presented as a way of salvation, as the way to freedom. You'd think that both Seagrave and Vaughan would be nervous or anxious about their upcoming suicide missions, but it isn't like that at all. They seemed relieved after having made the decision to follow through with their lethal car crashes. It seemed to me a lot like the practice of sati in India- a way to release oneself from the human body into something better. Furthermore, car crashes are presented as an inevitable part of life- one that we are all looking at incorrectly. The novel is critiquing this society's view of car crashes, saying that if they are going to happen anyway (and the last paragraph of the novel implies that there will be thousands more), why don't you use this interaction to create a human bond? The characters in Crash don't have it quite right, I would say, and I can't see myself interacting with cars the way they do... But why do car crashes have to be a bad thing? They free humans from this world and give them the possibility to get to something higher. They allow humans to make connections that they previously would have passed over. What's so terrible about that? It's all about perspective.


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