we who were living are now dying; with a little patience

“Perhaps the recent incidents represented a last attempt by Wilder and the airline pilots to rebel against this unfolding logic?  Sadly, they had little chance of success, precisely because their opponents were people who were content with their lives in the high-rise, who felt no particular objection to an impersonal steel and concrete landscape, no qualms about the invasion of their privacy by government agencies and data-processing organizations, and if anything welcomed these invisible intrusions, using them for their own purposes.  These people were the first to master a new kind of late twentieth-century life.  They thrived on the rapid turnover of acquaintances, the lack of involvement with others, and the total self-sufficiency of lives which, needing nothing, were never disappointed.”  JG Ballard, High Rise, 1975.

“Above all, he looked down on them for their good taste.  The building was a monument to good taste, to the well-designed kitchen, to sophisticated utensils and fabrics, to elegant and never ostentatious furnishings – in short, to that whole aesthetic sensibility which these well-educated professional people had inherited from all the schools of industrial design, all the award-winning schemes of interior decoration institutionalized by the last quarter of the twentieth century.  Royal detested this orthodoxy of the intelligent.  Visiting his neighbours’ apartments, he would find himself physically repelled by the contours of an award-winning coffee pot, by the well-modulated colour schemes, by the good taste and intelligence that, Midas-like, had transformed everything in these apartments into an ideal marriage of function and design.  In a sense, these people were the vanguard of a well-to-do and well-educated proletariat of the future, boxed up in these expensive apartments with their elegant furniture and intelligent sensibilities, and no possibility of escape.  Royal would have given anything for one vulgar mantelpiece ornament, one less than snow-white lavatory bowl, one hint of hope.  Thank God that they were at last breaking out of this fur-lined prison.”  JG Ballard, High Rise, 1975.

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