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Hello America (1981)Author: Simon Sellars • Sep 16th, 2006 •
‘There’s gold, Wayne, gold dust everywhere! Wake up! The streets of America are paved with gold!’.
From the Carroll & Grad 1981 edition:
A century after America’s financial collapse and the climactic upheavals of the 1990s, Wayne stows away on SS Apollo, bound for the New World on a voyage of rediscovery. He and the crew encounter hazards at every turn and ghosts from the past as they travel West. In Las Vegas, roaming bands of Mexican teenagers welcome them to the citadel of late 20th century glitter. Their charismatic leader — a William Burroughs look-alike addressed reverently as President Charles Manson — invites Wayne into hs cybernetic stronghold. But suddenly the erratic president takes fright at Wayne’s alien presence and threatens to play deadly war games with an arsenal of leftover Titan warheads. Now it’s not just the Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe holograms that are at risk…
According to Ballardian contributor Umberto Rossi:
As we read Hello America we trek along a historical horizon, led by what we should call a historical-mythical imagery. The recession is not a retrogressive movement of evolutionary time, but a hallucinatory replica of American history. If The Drowned World celebrates the divorce of humans from their historical civilisation, Hello America offers a lucid and ironic anatomy of the American Myth (but we could call it the American Dream), a myth with a historical genesis and a historical unfolding. Every dead city visited by the research team led by Captain Steiner is the embodiment of a chapter of the American legend. At the same time, it is a transmutation of events and stages in US history.
Las Vegas is the ultimate telematic metropolis and Manson is its emblematic citizen until the end. It is no accident that his army is made up of teenagers. The model citizen of Videogame City is the eternal teenager, who can contact the world only through its image, through TV screens and computer networks. In the age of the information industry and data networks, the accomplishment of technical evolution, the process that Heidegger calls imposition [Gestell] of technics — the possibility of a total control, a total representability of the world — is the playability of the world. The world becomes a game. In this horizon of electronic simulation, any difference between true and false, between real and fictional, between presence and representation, becomes obsolete.”
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