[ Read Reading ] High-RiseAuthor J.G. Ballard – Autowiringdiagram.co

From The Author Of Crash And Cocaine Nights Comes An Unnerving Tale Of Life In A Modern Tower Block Running Out Of ControlWithin The Concealing Walls Of An Elegant Forty Storey Tower Block, The Affluent Tenants Are Hell Bent On An Orgy Of Destruction Cocktail Parties Degenerate Into Marauding Attacks On Enemy Floors And The Once Luxurious Amenities Become An Arena For Riots And Technological MayhemIn This Visionary Tale Of Urban Disillusionment Society Slips Into A Violent Reverse As The Isolated Inhabitants Of The High Rise, Driven By Primal Urges, Create A Dystopian World Ruled By The Laws Of The JungleThis Edition Is Part Of A New Commemorative Series Of Ballard S Works, Featuring Introductions From A Number Of His Admirers Including Iain Sinclair, Ali Smith, Neil Gaiman And Martin Amis And Brand New Cover Designs

10 thoughts on “High-Rise

  1. says:

    A low crime rate doctor, she told him amiably, is a sure sign of social deprivation Anthony Royal built the Titanic of skyscrapers A state of the art, megalithic structure suitable for 2,000 tenants It is a self contained environment with everything a tenant would need such as shopping or exercise or even schools for their kids The people the building attracts are white collar, well educated, professionals The apartments sell out quickly and as everyone start to settle into their new lives glitches start to occur Despite the developing problems entire floor parties are standard weekend entertainment A bottle drops from a higher floor and shatters on Dr Robert Laing s balcony and it is equivalent to the first canon fired on Fort Sumter As the week continues bottles are dropped and other assorted trash begins to fall from the sky A rich jeweler plummets from his upper level apartment onto the roof of a car Resentment is building between levels The perceived richest people, where Anthony Royal resides, are on the upper levels The middle level people, where Dr Robert Laing reside, are resentful of the upper levels, but also becoming disdainful of the lower levels Richard Wilder, a man working on a documentary about human behavior, lives in the lower levels The trash is accumulating on the ground floor, the trash chutes become jammed and and trash is being hoisted over the side of the building creating an intolerable situation for the lower tenants Electricity winks out leaving entire floors without power for days at a time Five floors were without electricity At night the dark bands stretched across the face of the high rise like dead strata in a fading brain The air condition goes out and when it does come back on it only trickles out for a few minutes before failing again The lower levels bear the worst of the malfunctions with the upper levels remaining relatively unaffected Resentments build and as tenants become and irritated the civilized structure of the building starts to erode This is the point of the novel when J.G Ballard asks the reader to suspend belief Yes, he is creepy and yes, he has a pink beach ball and yes, he wants to play with your mind The three levels of the building go to war with each other People are beaten Women are raped Graffiti is sprayed on the walls The building breaks down into tribal units with lower levels trying to conquer and take over higher levels of the building Not for the fist time Laing reflected that he and his neighbors were eager for trouble as the most effective means of enlarging their sex lives.The problem I have is that the outside world is perfectly normal Civilization is existing just fine There is no cataclysmic event that has ruptured the natural order of things To return to the world of order is as simple as leaving the building These are highly educated people who have benefited greatly from living in a society that allows them to make money using their brains I found it hard to believe that these people would so easily transition to a tribal warfare society They discussed the latest ruses for obtaining food and women, for defending the upper floors against marauders, their plans for alliance and betrayal Now the new order had emerged, in which all life within the high rise revolved around three obsessions security, food and sex This is the adults gone wild version of Lord of the Flies I didn t like Lord of the Flies so maybe I just don t like books about mob culture Ballard didn t sell me on this concept, not that I don t believe that intelligent, well educated people are incapable of marinating in the swamp juices of the lizard brain, but I didn t feel it would happen under the circumstances that Ballard presented I am still curious to explore in Ballard s world and I look forward to reading of his work I ll leave you with some parting thoughts from Doctor Laing Would he soon be the last person alive in the high rise He thought of himself in this enormous building, free to roam its floors and concrete galleries, to climb its silent elevator shafts, to sit by himself in turn on every one of its thousand balconies This dream, longed for since his arrival at the high rise, suddenly unnerved him, almost as if, at last alone here, he had heard footsteps in the next room and come face to face with himself If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit also have a Facebook blogger page at

  2. says:

    WELCOME TO BALLARD APARTMENTS Luxury Living To Die For Our extra ordinary apartment complex is a full service microcosm and so offers all the comforting amenities and thrilling excitements of the modern world in one lavish locale Imagine never having to step foot outside again Whether your interests include swimming, shopping, the education of youngsters, simply lounging about without a care or even outr amusements such as rape, murder, incest, cannibalism, and the creating of small bands of like minded individuals to hunt and gather it is all waiting for you here at Ballard Apartments Your every secret desire shall come true Management at Ballard Apartments fully understands the importance of class, and class consciousness To better serve our varied tenants and to truly impart that feeling of living in the world while living at home, we maintain a carefully considered system of economic segregation Our wealthier tenants are welcome within our spacious penthouse apartments where they may indulge in all the varied delights typically enjoyed by society s creme de la creme Our middle class tenants will find themselves completely at home within our perfectly unremarkable mid level apartments ideally situated to allow residents to gaze longingly at their social betters above and scornfully upon their social inferiors below Our , shall we say, blue collar tenants have free range of the lower floors where the faulty plumbing, cramped living situations, and generally inadequate facilities will no doubt ring a comfortingly familiar bell to many A bell that tolls for bloody revolution Our amenities include High speed elevators and lavish swimming pools to commandeer You will find these to be ideal opportunities for territorialism and murder A dog friendly environment including a strict hands off policy in regards to feasting upon our furry friends Fresh Organic never tasted so good Bright supermarket lighting all the better to see your enemy s beady, hypocritical eyes Stark open spaces all the better to indulge in classic Lord of the Flies role playing games Sinister shadowy spaces all the better to lurk in, and then spring from to wreak sudden havoc An array of balconies and a welcoming rooftop all the better to fling yourself from Our heart stoppingly hedonistic high rise is perfectly appointed in the classic Ballard style it features terse brilliance evilly deadpan humor a cold, clinical style a complete disinterest in creating empathetic connections between characters and readers a detached desire to anger, agitate, and antagonize Enjoy your lofty, God s eye view of repellently savage and slaughter happy human insects, all predictably engaged in typically clownish mayhem, gruesome atrocity, repulsive class warfare, and other depressing standards of the human condition Join Us Or not, it makes no real difference YOU ALREADY LIVE HERE

  3. says:

    As I was walking along the aisles of the bookstore, I suddenly heard a little raspy voice, coming from one of the shelves Psst, four eyes Over here Huh It was J.G Ballard s novel, High Rise , talking to me Don t you look like a jolly chap All happy and stuff Not a worry in the world And so decent Why are you so goddamn decent all the time Huh Are you supposed to be talking I do whatever I damn well please Tell me, you look like the kind of goody two shoes who actually LIKES people So, you have faith in humanity, do you You believe that people are decent That you are member of an evolved species capable of the best Huh Sure Be that way But let s put that faith of yours to the test, shall we Let s start by having you read a little story Get your filthy hands on me, take me to the counter and then home to bed and read the fuck out of me Your world will never be the same How could I resist As I started doing what the book told me, the first thing that struck me was the beginning That may seem a little tautological or whatever the term for that is but when I say struck I mean STRUCK me to a crisp like a lightning bolt of impressions hitting me square in the head I m used to having one first impression, you know, just the one, but not so many at the same time packed in such a small space The first lines in this novel burst with energy and intrigue, with the absurd and the dangerous, with comedy and tragedy In short, this book has one of the strongest openings I ever encountered Later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous three months Now that everything had returned to normal, he was surprised there had been no obvious beginning, no point beyond which their lives had moved into a clearly sinister dimension This story is about civilized people living in a high rise of 40 floors Everything seems fine and dandy at the beginning The place has two swimming pools, a supermarket, a hair salon and even a little school to educate the kids All the comfort in the world.What could go wrong in a building like that What sinister dimension could possibly be given to a nice environment like this You ll find out The the buildings services go haywire, the its inhabitants follow suit The civilized become savages, and J.G Ballard depicts the stages both the building and its people go through in entertaining detail, with very tough and dry prose I for one liked the dissonance between the calm evoked by the employed prose and the barbarity which it described, though it can lead to a reader feeling like an observer rather than part of the experience.The central thesis of this story can be summarized with the following quote taken from the book In a sense life in the high rise had begun to resemble the world outside there were the same ruthlessness and aggression concealed within a set of polite conventions This book doesn t have faith in humanity, it seems to feel that all we ve reached so far in terms of morality will be thrown away with little to no hesitation Doctors, architects, lawyers, pilots and hairdressers alike we re all savages right underneath our flimsy masks of good manners J.G Ballard has spent some years during his youth in a Japanese prison camp, seeing people being dehumanized by their captors and their circumstances He was an impressionable youngster when he saw what war did to people and what people brought to war His cynicism, his narrative bordering on misanthropy, definitely finds some of its roots in those experiences.I haven t really experienced war, and I hope I never will But this dystopia felt very real and too close for comfort even without experiences in prison camps I usually like reading dystopias in part because their comfort lies in the fact they take place in far and distant futures, sometimes on other planets even, making use of technologies that haven t been invented yet What they describe is very rarely my problem But this People raping, pillaging, vandalizing, murdering Somehow that didn t seem too far out there It s one of the reasons I stopped watching the news The early pages in the book were eerily familiar in fact, and from the familiar it dragged me into a nightmare of which I felt it had become inescapable, even in reality.I myself don t live in a high rise, but in an apartment building with five floors, along with about 15 households My neighbors are quite nice, though those living upstairs from me can be loud when arguing or hosting mid week parties And there you have it already tension Chance encounters in elevators feel like interrogations Are you that guy from the 4th floor , Aren t you the one who put their garbage out already on Saturday , Do you know that family living on the first floor They ve got five kids and they never leave their quarters , Do you own a dog Luckily, everything remains civil But the tension is undeniable We aren t a group of neighborly friends We barely tolerate each other And sadly tolerance has its borders In fact, if Tolerance were a country, it would be a tiny one, with a population seemingly eager to emigrate to Eyeforaneye with The Last Drop travel services A couple of months ago this message was put on the elevator mirror in my building I had taken a picture of it because I thought it was funny at the time In a way, this shows decency It shows civility, not only by having a rather polite written communication but also through the assumption that it was in fact a dog who did the urinating.But look at those red, bold, capitalized letters The lack of specification whether the it refers to the dog or the elevator That exclamation mark put there with so much emphasis it almost pierced the paper The frustration that shouts from the page The hatred for whichever dog that decided to make the elevator part of its territory, the loathing for the owner who did not clean up this demarcation How many uncivilized pees would it take the note s author to lose it completely While I was reading this book, I thought not many J.G Ballard had made me look at society in a very skeptical manner Polite conventions It s all a show and there s plenty of people out there who can t wait to drop the act.This book is dark And I actually had to catch myself to not make its conclusions my own And then I decided, No, I don t agree with my first interpretation of this book I took it too far It IS a nightmare, it IS a dystopia, but it will not turn into reality in my apartment Never People, much like myself, enjoy being civil It makes life pleasant I d be very hard pressed to let that go And I am convinced, I have to believe rather, that I d hold on to that civility even in hardship and war My faith in humanity took a beating here, but it only got bruised My faith in humanity wasn t broken, because I have faith in myself And I realized that expecting the worst of others never brings out the best in yourself, so I m trusting my neighbors to stick to writing their notes and start cleaning up after their dogs as well This book doesn t have to be read as if its scenario is inevitable It s a warning rather, to keep ourselves in check, for our own sake and of those around us Dogs included I enjoyed this book, as well as the thoughts and nightmares it provoked I d definitely recommend reading it, but don t forget to close the door of that high rise behind you It s easily a 4 star complex, but you re better off not living there.

  4. says:

    In many ways, JG Ballard s High Rise reminded me of his earlier dystopian novel, The Drowned World Conditions in the apartment block at the epicenter of this novel constantly degrade Like The Drowned World in which creatures adapt to a suddenly changed and very wet Earth, there is continuous adaptation from the apartment dwellers to the pressures of living in what has increasingly become a hostile environment In this case, the adaptation is something chosen as a way to deal with the new reality As it relates to what might be referred to as the rules of civilization, this adaptation is absurd Residents take pride in their disregard for etiquette, food taboos and hygiene The squalor of the building increasingly comes to signify the degraded lives of those living within its walls Amid the squalor, there is a continuous change of expectations Indeed, what is most astonishing is that residents grasp on to these changed circumstances as normal or getting back to normal Unlike The Drowned World, there is not really a discernible reason for the change to either the building or its residents While still connected to an unchanged outside world this part seems a little dubious , the inhabitants of this high rise descend into tribalism, class warfare and brutality High Rise, however, is an interesting social commentary, with clearly identifiable characters and a strong narrative drive that make it a quick and engaging read 3.5 stars rounded up.

  5. says:

    331 High Rise, J.G Ballard James Graham Ballard High Rise is a 1975 novel by British writer J G Ballard The story describes the disintegration of a luxury high rise building as its affluent residents gradually descend into violent chaos As with Ballard s previous novels Crash 1973 and Concrete Island 1974 , High Rise explores the ways in which modern social and technological landscapes could alter the human psyche in provocative and hitherto unexplored ways It was adapted into a film of the same name in 2015 by director Ben Wheatley 2002 1380 284 9789643620172 1388 20 1975

  6. says:

    Posted at Heradas ReviewA disturbing enthralling allegory class struggle, self deception, and the animalistic brutality concealed just below the surface of human civilization I knew of Ballard from the new wave SF of the late 60s early 70s, particularly Harlan Ellison s Dangerous Visions compilations, wherein he s described by Ellison in his story introduction as one of the few mainstream lit crossovers coming from the world of speculative fiction He is an eloquently gifted writer, straightforward but poetically descriptive at the same time.High Rise is one of those few short novels that could be the topic of a very concise thesis, that ultimately clocks a longer page count than its source material There is a simple story of ascent descent at play, but quite a bit of expressive analogy hiding between the lines There are three main characters, each representing a differing class lower, middle and upper This isn t immediately apparent, but becomes clear through their differing motivations and desires as society in the High Rise begins to break down Each of their stories play out to their logical, disturbing conclusions.

  7. says:

    Social Sci FiFor a few years in the 1980 s I had a flat in Lauderdale Tower at the Barbican in London All of the Barbican development is brutalist cast concrete with exposed cast marks etc but Lauderdale and it s sister towers are particularly extreme examples, sporting pebble dashed balconies and bare internal walls that reject even the most technologically advanced wallpaper adhesives I take it from Ballard s descriptions that English architectural aesthetics hadn t advanced very far when it came to the Docklands development which was several decades newer.To call such architecture anti human might be an exaggeration but not by much One can only tell oneself that it is post modernist chic for so long The fact is that it is depressing as hell Even recollecting the lift lobbies provokes the phantasm of concrete dust in my throat Concrete is as concrete does I suppose And what it does primarily is drive people mad As Ballard says, it is an architecture designed for war And a kind of peace time shell shock is not uncommon.The problem is its unrelenting uniformity Placed in proximity to another architectural style, brutalism may look merely bad But when it is the only game for acres and acres, it presents a complete absence of any aesthetic whatsoever It s the equivalent of living in a sensory deprivation chamber There s nothing to react to Everything people, furniture, social interactions, art is mediated by a grey blandness which doesn t highlight any contents but reduces them to an uninteresting drabness I found that when I wasn t unaccountably aggressive toward my neighbours, I was becoming incipiently suicidal.So I can identify with at least one of Ballard s protagonists, Dr Laing High rise stress is something that creeps up on you The unconscious reacts slowly to the uniformity of life in identical concrete enclosures by attempting to differentiate itself It constantly prods the conscious self to demonstrate its individuality While such psychology is probably active to some degree in every human grouping, it reaches a peak of intensity in an enclosed habitation that provokes it without mercy.Laing s mistake was to believe he could escape the demands of intimate relationships in the supposed anonymity of a large residential building This is like joining a monastery to avoid family problems In a high rise, as in a monastery, relationships may be limited in scope but they are far intense in their allowable aspects And both high rise residents and monks have similar techniques for expressing fierce disapproval in complete silence Social nuance is proportionately heightened to the degree it is expressively repressed This creates a pervasive field of energetic tension which needs only the social equivalent of the Higgs boson to create the matter of real violence And there are many of these particles to do the job faulty lifts, interrupted utilities, children, pets, and parties will do the trick.Ballard puts his finger on the precise mechanism which unleashed a potentially lethal game of tit for tat among the residents By its very efficiency, the high rise took over the task of maintaining the social structure that supported them all For the first time it removed the need to repress every kind of anti social behaviour, and left them free to explore any deviant or wayward impulses Talk about sick building syndrome But of course the structure Ballard refers to could equally be the internet, which didn t come into being until twenty years after High Rise was published The problem, then, isn t the building but something in the physiology of human beings Laing is coincidentally a physiologist which responds badly when certain, apparently trivial, social interactions are replaced by any rigid, that is to say, efficient technology In other words, people act badly not when social norms are relaxed or abandoned, but when they are no longer apparently needed, when we believe they are enforced without our participation But social physics is as sensitive to minor changes in structural constants as cosmological physics Every new technology is a kind of unplanned experiment with variations in sociological constants equivalent to variations in scientific laws like gravity or the weak nuclear force The main difference of course is that fictions of technology move toward reality rather less predictably.My flat in the Barbican, by the way, was owned by the Corporation of London I was therefore a Council tenant Thanks to Margaret Thatcher, Council tenants were entitled to buy their properties at a price about 50% below market value But about nine months before the scheduled sale date I decided that the certain financial gain was not worth the required mental strain, and moved out Just an example I suppose of human unpredictability when inhabiting alternative worlds.

  8. says:

    In the near future High Rise buildings tower in the sky with thousands of humans living together uneasily , in cramp modern quarters the unknown dangers will reveal their inadequacies soon enough, the setting London in a former slum, the Thames River flows in a leisurely way a short distance from the five edifices separated hundreds of yards from each The affluent inhabitants living in this forty stories structure will deteriorate, class warfare hidden just under the surface but always ready to show its ugly sidedoes Robert Laing, doctor to us, young already divorced was encouraged to move there by older sister Alice, his work close by, a very convenient place Seeing Charlotte Melville a better reason to stay, as three different societies evolve, the lower section, middle and upper corresponding to their financial status, yes people join clans for protection from roaming murderous bands seeking food , women and enjoying even better, destroying other people s apartments Anthony Royal one of the architect who built this tenement an appropriate word now, lives in a penthouse above all the chaos below but for how long Another man Richard Wilder, his name tells everything, big, strong likes violence as nightly drunken parties degenerates civilization, dominates the culture, flying bottles fall hitting the surface of the parking lot underneath and smashing luxury automobile windshields, nobody cares even the owners Wilder becomes a leader of the marauders he enters rooms abandoned or not vandalizes them and leaving little, just their signs that says they have been here, this is the custom now Elevators are jammed , done by the crazed , lights go out they prefer the gloom , darkness prevails, rubbish piles up, pools turn a different, odorous color, filth grows, pets disappear as hunger spreads these inhabitants can t leave their squalid homes The atmosphere becomes primitive the strong prey on the weak, putrid smelling trash in the corridors and stairs trying to keep the intruders from getting pass the floors and the outside world strangely doesn t notice, that is today s climate Mr.Royal feels safe on the top floor feeding his seagulls who visit him daily, the only creatures he loves, like the lord of the manor he lives, still the 40th story will not prevent the turmoil from reaching here yet the building doesn t concern him, however the noise is heard This is not a happy read, murder, cannibalism, debauchery , women being attacked it becomes the norm, a prophecy of the near future or an entertaining novel, which one becomes truethat is for the humans to decide.

  9. says:

    Later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous three months This is one instance where I m painfully aware of the inadequacy of a star rating system for books To give Ballard s High Rise three stars does very little to capture its strengths, but importantly, its ultimate failure as a novel I m going to try and do that in my review here, but just in case my rambling goes right off the rails, check out Jeffrey s spot on assessment here.What brought me to this book is an endless fascination with group in peril stories that look at how quickly our civilized veneer can be stripped down to our lizard brain impulses Great writers have shown us that human beings as a species seem to be hard wired to regress to a primitive state when confronted with the total absence of social rules and obligations In Blindness, Saramago s characters revert to their most primal and baser urges when forced to confront the fallout of a plague of blindness William Golding manages to show this very same regression to a primitive state in Lord of the Flies when there is a profound absence of law and order and other recognizable earmarks of civilization in place Using the example of a bunch of British school boys stranded on a deserted island, Golding shows us it doesn t take long for humans to throw off the shackles of civilized conduct and resort to a brutal survival of the fittest approach Blindness and Lord of the Flies are two great novels that ruthlessly give us a nightmare portrait of human regression that is frightening because of its very realism and believability And this is where Ballard fails in his attempt because there is no realism or believability in his tale It is strictly an exercise in description Create a sprawling high rise edifice, make it a contained society with all the luxuries of a modern city, populate it with 2,000 tenants, and then, with no tangible reason whatsoever have these people begin to transmogrify into a bunch of cannibalistic savages within the course of a few months As Jeffrey points out in his review the outside world is perfectly normal Civilization is existing just fine There is no cataclysmic event that has ruptured the natural order of things To return to the world of order is as simple as leaving the building So yes, the zombies haven t risen up, the aliens have not landed There is no pandemic flu or super volcano eruption Beyond the concrete walls of the high rise, people are going to work, shopping for groceries, putting their kids to bed Yet within the concrete walls, what you have is a total post apocalyptic decline into delusion and depravity and for what This is just too cheap and easy for me to respect If you re going to make humans go there, I want a reason Show me how it could really happen Alright, no question the novel fails that litmus test Do I give Ballard the benefit of the doubt here anyway So he doesn t trouble himself with a realistic scenario, but maybe that was never the point Published in 1976, maybe Ballard was going for an allegorical vibe on the dehumanization of modern city living Maybe this novel is his statement on the rise of urban disconnect as we cram and people into their self contained units, living elbow to chin, something fundamental to our higher brain humanity is being eroded away This is a book that also has characters who start out very class conscious When the breakdown begins, fractures open and tribes form along class lines Yet, strip civilization away, and we all go feral in the same way no matter how much money is in our bank account Succumbing to our lizard brain seems to be the true great equalizer If you so choose as a reader, you could go all LIT 101 on this sucker, but at the end of the day, I can t really be bothered I m reminded of the frustrated actor who cries out but where s my motivation Yes, where is the motivation in this story What exactly is motivating the characters to behave in such a depraved way Without that motivation, the other elements of the story that may or may not be there are lost on me I do not care to engage So why three stars Ballard s writing is very good The execution of this novel may have failed for me, but I still recognized his prose as effective He put me in that high rise where I could smell the stink of putrid garbage and human waste I felt a little on edge at all times, like the fillings in my teeth were vibrating There are several well described scenes that chilled me to the bone view spoiler especially the last one of the abandoned wives on the roof as they circle around Wilder to make a meal out of him as the children play with a pile of bones hide spoiler

  10. says:

    After reading Concrete Island, I was confident that even if I read everything Ballard ever wrote, nothing could top it Then I read High Rise Like Concrete Island, High Rise depicts the psychological dangers inherent in modern life But unlike Concrete Island, it has a large cast of characters This difference is necessitated by the settings of each novel The traffic island of Concrete Island is a place that is normally uninhabited, so when Maitland crashes there he becomes its sole occupant at least for the first half of the novel A high rise condominium is a place that is normally densely populated As much as I like a novel that explores the psyche of a single character, I think High Rise rises slightly above Concrete Island in narrative power and scope.Both novels also feature the themes of isolation and alienation and both use metaphors that present the outer world as a manifestation of the inner world traits these novels share with The Drowned World the other of the three Ballard books I ve read so far But unlike Concrete Island, High Rise begins almost as a farce, which serves to highlight the deadly serious events that will unfold later in the novel As the absurdity grows, the comic touches become and unsettling There are also structural similarities between Concrete Island and High Rise In Concrete Island, two characters are introduced in the second half of the novel and the resulting trio represents the three different responses the characters have to the island, and symbolically, to modern society High Rise has many characters, yet the drama is focused on three the main character, Robert Laing, and two other symbolically named characters, Richard Wilder and Anthony Royal Together they represent the three social classes Wilder representing the lower class, Laing the middle class, and Royal the upper class While the movement of the story parallels the upward movement of Wilder, a literal social climber who spends half the novel climbing from his second floor apartment to Royal s penthouse at the top of the building, the central character is Laing who, Royal observes, was probably the high rise s most true tenant 91 The story begins and ends with Laing When he is introduced to us, we are told that everything had returned to normal 13 , but a few sentences later Ballard casually mentions that Laing is roasting dog meat over a fire of telephone directories The story that follows tells of the events of the past three months that led to this distinctly abnormal scene Laing came to the high rise to avoid relationships Newly divorced, he seeks isolation Like Maitland, he has issues with his mother and his wife and would rather have superficial dealings with other people than become emotionally involved The high rise is highly suited to this lifestyle And this is ironic The high rise houses hundreds of families It includes a supermarket, a children s school, swimming pools, and other amenities On the surface, it would seem to be a place that fosters community, yet it does just the opposite The residents drink heavily, suffer insomnia, and watch their televisions with the sound turned down Thus the high rise represents Laing s inner state as well as the state of modern society Ballard s metaphors forge the link between the physiologist and his surroundings Professionally, Laing studies the workings of the body He teaches his medical students to dissect bodies Symbolically, the high rise represents his mind and the world around it is the body When he views the landscape from his balcony, he sees the disturbed encephalograph of an unresolved mental crisis 16 The building itself is the unconscious diagram of a mysterious psychic event 34 The curved sides of the empty artificial lake are as menacing as the contours of some deep reductive psychosis 126 Ballard s Dr Laing must surely be named after R D Laing, the existential psychologist who analyzed the schizoid mind in The Divided Self As conditions in the high rise break down, the mental state of the residents breaks down too The changes that occur in Laing and the others are symptomatic of mental illness At first, when the building services begin to break down, they complain to the management, but as time passes they just give in to the gradual decline in functioning They lose interest in the outside world They neglect their hygiene And they live in a perpetual fog which is a literal fog composed of the effluvium of the decaying garbage that litters the building It is a surrender to a logic powerful than reason 75.As Ballard analyzes the inner state of the residents he also makes a statement about the outer world life in the high rise had begun to resemble the world outside 176 This analysis of life in the microcosm of the high rise calls to mind another psychological analysis of modern society Freud s Civilization and its Discontents The residents rebel against the artificial restraints imposed by modern life As civilization breaks down, they increasingly give in to their repressed impulses By the end, their priorities have reverted to the most fundamental urges food, sex, and violence Royal, who perches at the top of the building and the hierarchical structure that the building represents, is relieved to see this rebellion taking place He relishes the destruction of the artificial social order to which the residents too easily conformed As usual with a Ballard novel, the descriptive imagery is vivid and powerful and the narrative style befits the story In the beginning, the contrast between the wealthy professionals and their deteriorating environment is comical Garbage lay heaped around the jammed disposal chutes The stairways were littered with broken glass, splintered kitchen chairs and sections of handrail 107 Fire safety doors leaned off their hinges, quartz inspection windows punched out Few corridor and staircase lights still worked, and no effort had been made to replace the broken bulbs By eight o clock little light reached the corridors, which became dim tunnels strewn with garbage sacks 107 the swimming pool, now barely half full The yellow water was filled with debris, the floor at the shallow end emerging like a beach in a garbage lagoon A mattress floated among the bottles, surrounded by a swill of cardboard cartons and newspapers 108.Residents are typically referred to by their profession and floor number The building takes on the appearance and atmosphere of a crime ridden inner city Residents patrol the corridors like gang members protecting their territory Garbage piles up as services break down Graffiti defaces the walls Women are unsafe Vigilantes dispense justice Vagrants roam the secret recesses of the building Vandalism is rampant And all of this becomes increasingly normalized as evidenced by the characterization of appalling acts of violence as trivial During the previous hour a few trivial incidents had occurred the middle aged wife of a 28th floor account executive had been knocked unconscious into the half empty swimming pool, and a radiologist from the 7th floor had been beaten up among the driers in the hairdressing salon but in general everything within the high rise was normal 112.The residents organize themselves into clans and tribal units and it soon becomes apparent that a confrontation between Wilder and Royal is inevitable Royal is the architect who designed the building and he identifies himself with the building While he waits in his penthouse, literally looking down on all the other denizens of the high rise, Wilder fights his way upwards What has he got to lose As an occupant of the lowest level of the hierarchy, there is only one way to go By the same logic, the occupant at the top likewise has only one way to go And this is why the battle will be between the lower and the upper levels Wilder is a television producer Early in the story he is working on a documentary on prison unrest For him, the high rise becomes increasingly oppressive He sees his apartment as a prison cell, specifically, a cell in the psychiatric wing of the prison 57 The other high rise buildings that are still under construction are likened to Alcatraz 65 It s no wonder he develops a phobia about the high rise 61.But a regression is taking place and it doesn t end with clans and tribes Eventually even this structure breaks down The era of clubs and spears 153 gives way to an even primitive way of life Solitary hunters replace tribal units It is the era of the caveman, of Neanderthal grunts 169 The lapse in personal hygiene characteristic of mental illness is now a point of pride Laing likes being dirty He stinks and he relishes the odor emitted by his unwashed body The sweat on Laing s body, like the plaque that coated his teeth, surrounded him in an envelope of dirt and body odour, but the stench gave him confidence, the feeling that he had dominated the terrain with the products of his own body 130.As in Concrete Island, dominating the terrain is dominating himself Laing is becoming himself as he sheds the last vestiges of civilization The discontent that was a necessary consequence of civilization is fading as Laing gives in to his primitive instincts As his false self gives way, he no longer suffers from a divided self Royal, on the other hand, can only wait to be dethroned as Wilder urinates, defecates, and rapes his way to the top By the end, a complete social restructuring has occurred No longer are deviant impulses repressed Human nature, in all its primitive brutality, flourishes What happens next, what the new normal will look like, is uncertain Perhaps it will be wildly beautiful like a flock of predatory birds rising from their nest on the roof of the high rise Perhaps it will be as depraved as a freed harem of cannibalistic mothers roving the building unchecked But whatever it is, it will not be false It will not be artificial It will not be meaningless.