JG Ballard was in the news in 1973 for his novel Crash and I had no idea of the controversy the book created. Many considered it to be utterly pornographic. Then I saw the 1996 Cronenberg movie. After which I read the book. But why did I ever read the book? I suppose it’s because I presumed the movie was more extreme than the book. I was horrified even though I classified the movie as urban science fiction. But it was more Alien than Barbarella. Before seeing the movie, I didn’t know there was a word for a car-crash sex fetish. I was intrigued that symphorophiliacs existed at all. Sometimes reality offers things even more strange than a vampire. And since I lived under the flight path to Heathrow at the time, I briefly wondered if there was a word for plane-crash fetishists.
I’m only thinking about Crash because of Chrome. And Chrome is often on my mind because it’s the name of the browser in which I’m typing this journal. For example, I can dictate thoughts about chrome from Crash to WordPress in Chrome: ‘the cheeks of handsome youths torn on the chromium latches of quarter lights’.
I thought chrome was a strange choice for the name of the browser. Then I learned that Chromium is the open source product and Chrome is the private Google browser developed from it. Yes, sure, perhaps, maybe, who knows what to believe. Yet still there is the connotation of chrome that is brash and superficial. Chrome plating was once so modern, so chic. Art Deco. How chrome has fallen from grace.
We very specifically chose to visit the re-creation of the Mies van der Rohe pavillion in Barcelona. Originally built as the German Pavilion for the Barcelona International Exhibition, held on Montjuïc in 1929, it was removed in 1930. And restored in 1986. I was in my element (sic) and loved the space, the light, the glass, the steel, the marble and the chrome highlights. But chrome has a cold hint of blue despite the lustre and bluster. Chrome holds onto our finger prints so no matter how luxurious, it demands a cleaning strategy.
Chrome is electroplated onto the objects it glorifies. There’s no depth to it. The plating process became cheap and chrome commonplace as the lustrous edges of cars. Bumpers and exhausts, trims and badges were all chrome plated. Cars cost. Cars rust. Cars are transient and chrome was the superficial hint of luxury that glorified them. Chrome is those things even now.
And on I could go until a non-sequitur stops the flow. I’m increasingly using Brave these days. Yes, I imagine there’s another tale to be told from the browser wars.