[iDC] baudrillard's terror

Daniel A Perlin dap265 at nyu.edu
Sun Mar 11 14:52:15 EDT 2007

baudrillard’s terror
daniel perlin


I was exposed to Baudrillard when I was 20. I hated him. Which is to
say, I fought him again and again. How could he be so stubborn! Perhaps
it was because I learned more about why he wrote, or perhaps it was
because he changed, but his theories of simulation became increasingly
more difficult to difuse and began to become a powerful if not
overpowering, foil in my work.

There will be much written about his writings from the 70’s and early
80’s. Instead, I think that what I will choose to evoke is the
(anti-)Political Badrillard of 2001 and the cultural critic of 1998.
Both are writings on the USA as a hegemony, and I would say both speak
truth to power.

The following is a an excerpt from a translation from Le Monde from
September 11, 2001:

When the situation is thus monopolized by global power, when one deals
with this formidable condensation of all functions through technocratic
machinery and absolute ideological hegemony (pensee unique), what other
way is there, than a terrorist reversal of the situation?

It is the system itself that has created the objective
conditions for this brutal distortion. By taking all the cards to itself,
it forces the Other to change the rules of the game. And the new rules are
ferocious, because the stakes are ferocious. To a system whose excess of
power creates an unsolvable challenge, terrorists respond by a definitive
act that is also unanswerable. Terrorism is an act that reintroduces an
irreducible singularity in a generalized exchange system. Any
singularity (whetherspecies, individual or culture), which has paid with
its death for the setting up of a global circuit dominated by a single
power, is avenged
today by this terrorist situational transfer.

Terror against terror - there is no more ideology behind all that. We are
now far from ideology and politics. No ideology, no cause, not even an
Islamic cause, can account for the energy which feeds terror. It (energy)
does not aim anymore to change the world, it aims (as any heresy in its
time) to radicalize it through sacrifice, while the system aims to realize
(the world) through force.

And From Baudrillard’s "America":

Hence, the academic grappling with his computer, ceaselessly correcting,
reworking, and complexifying, turning the exercise into a kind of
interminable psychoanalysis, memorizing everything in an effort to
escape the final outcome, to delay the day of reckoning of death, and
that other — fatal — moment of reckoning that is writing, by forming an
endless feed-back loop with the machine. This is a marvellous instrument
of exoteric magic. In fact all these interactions come down in the end
to endless exchanges with a machine. Just look at the child sitting in
front of his computer at school; do you think he has been made
interactive, opened up to the world? Child and machine have merely been
joined together in an integrated circuit. As for the intellectual, he
has at last found the equivalent of what the teenager gets from his
stereo and his walkman: a spectacular desublimation of thought, his
concepts as images on a screen.


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