January 3rd, 2021

Ballardesque

I walk round the fields; even the better drained bits are sludgy. I pick up sticks and survey the damage that the winter months and four quadrupeds have done to the slapdash fence I threw together last summer. As Frost wrote, "Something there is that doesn't love a wall."

I'm reading a mystery novel set in Dubai- the Sand Men by Christopher Fowler- which reminds me of J.G. Ballard in its fascinated distaste for modernity. A futuristic paradise is being built out there- in the desert- at enormous cost- financial, human and ecological- by some cloudy multi-national corporation with a head office in China- and only the unobservant rich will be able to live in it- that is assuming the whole project doesn't succumb to hubris. The Indian workers who are doing the hard labour are kept (in squalor) at a distance from the western contractors in their ranch-style houses on their gated estate- and everyone is under constant surveillance- except, that is, when the authorities (whoever they are) want to do something nefarious- in which case nobody saw a thing. The Arabs, whose land it is, are even more invisible to the western elite than the Indian workmen, the Filipino maids and the quarter million trafficked women who staff the brothels that don't exist (this being a Muslim nation and all that.) Fowler's view is an outsider's view, of course- and I doubt he spent very long on the ground taking notes- still it rings true- so far as tunnel vision will allow.