[iDC] Some thoughts on Jean Baudrillard

A. G-C guibertc at criticalsecret.com
Tue Mar 13 11:50:11 EDT 2007

I guess than it is not an injure to credit punks in such a thread - I hope

from http://k-punk.abstractdynamics.org/

 March 09, 2007
'My death is everywhere, my death dreams'

Baudrillard's contribution can be most easily appreciated when you consider
who condemned him and why. He was denounced by Brit-American empiricists as
an incomprehensible obscurantist at the same time as he was dismissed by the
overlords of Continental Philosophy for being a pop philosopher, flimsy and
insubstantial. Behind these denunciations, you gain a glimpse of a theorist
who was playful yet solemn, an opaquely lucid stylist who was in love with
jargon and in touch with media.

Baudrillard was never quite laborious or detached enough to qualify as a
Continentalist, nor even as a philosopher (he was based, improbably, in a
Sociology department). Always an outsider, projected out of the peasantry
into the elite academic class, he ensured his marginalization with the
marvellously provocative Forget Foucault, which wittily targeted Deleuze and
Guattari's micropolitics as much as it insouciantly announced the redundancy
of Focault's vast edifice.

In Baudrillard, theory escaped the 60s. Baudrillard's texts, in their
disappointed tone as much as anything else, belong to our world, our era.
The various revolutions of the sixties were petering out as Baudrillard
began to produce his work. The system proved to be voracious, protean; it
absorbed the attacks of its would-be enemies and sold them back as
advertising. Critique was useless; new - fatal - strategies needed to be
developed, which involved the theorist homeopathically introjecting elements
of the system, the code, in the hope of setting the system against itself,
overbalancing it.

It is a commonplace that science fiction reveals more about the time it was
written than it tells us about the future. But Baudrillard's self-styled
science-fiction-theory - which drew upon the theoretical fictions of Ballard
and Dick - actually did foretell the future, which is our present. Already,
in the 1970s, Baudrillard was basing theoretical riffs on reality TV and the
media logic of terrorism. His texts, which dispensed with the academic
machinery of footnotes and references around the time of Symbolic Exchange
and Death in 1977, became increasingly incantatory and aberrantly lyrical
until they resembled a glacial cybernetic poetry, which, especially in the
later works, you could easily believe was the work of some dejected AI,
endlessly remixing its own concepts and linguistic formulas.

Baudrillard is condemned, sometimes lionised, as the melancholic observer of
a departed reality. He was certainly melancholic, but what he mourned was
not a lost reality but what he variously termed the illusory, symbolic
exchange, the seductive. Reality disappeared at the same moment that art and
artifice were eliminated. Deprived of its heightened reflection, extension
and hyperbolization in myth, art and ritual, reality cannot sustain itself.
It is the very quest to access reality in itself, without illusion, that
generates the hyperreal implosion. Here, as Baudrillard long ago realised,
reality TV is exemplary. Film an unscripted scene and you might not have
art, but you do not have reality either. You have reality's uncanny double,
its excrescence: simulation, precisely.

Baudrillard: the prophet in our desert, the prophet of our desert.

'The irreversibility of biological death, its objective fact and character,
is a modern fact of science. Every other culture says that death begins
before death, and that life continues after life, and that it is impossible
to distinguish life from death. Against the representation which sees in one
the term of the other, we must see try to see the indeterminacy of life and
death, and the impossibility of their autonomy in the symbolic order.'
- Symbolic Exchange and Death

See also: Antigram 
and Sit down man...

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