Highway of Death

O L Society Limited
Overland (vol 182), 2006, pp. 52 - 57
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Highway of Death is a chapter from my novel-in-progress, Great Western Highway, and deals with representations of war in media and urban contexts. It presents a case study of the first Gulf War (1990-1991), and explores the levels of representations that go from theatre-of-war image production (footage of pilot screens as they conduct precision bombing), to the redeployment of these images in the media field (use of this footage in televison news broadcasts). This investigation of image circulation in digital warfare is underpinned by the work of Jean Baudrillard and Paul Virilio, particularly their theories of simulacrum and the rhetoric of the image.The central theme of Great Western Highway is the penetration of market forces into the social fabric of contemporary Western societies such as Australia. The novel also provides a model of structural innovation that revives experimentation within narrative form in contemporary Australian writing, which has traditionally been e ntrenched in realist modes. The research methodology of the project was highly interdisciplinary, involving engagements with Thatcherism; corporeal narratology (Punday); theories of the culture industry (Horkheimer & Adorno); the French nouveau roman (Simon); Modernism (Joyce, Celine); and aspects of Postmodernism that deal with popular culture and self-reflexivity in the literary and media fields (Jameson, Warhol). The novel was written with the assistance of three New Work grants from the Literature Board of the Australia Council, and highly commended in the NSW Writers' Fellowship 2000.
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