March 7, 2007
Jean Baudrillard (1929-2007)
Might write on Baudrillard again later (esp. if an editor so requests) but for now will indulge in the vice of quoting myself. From a piece that ran six years ago:
No one ages less gracefully than a hipster past his prime -- unless it's a prophet of technological revolution, once his vision reaches the sell-by date. Roll them into one and it's a miserable spectacle all around. The books Jean Baudrillard started publishing in France about thirty years ago ran selected concepts from Marx and Freud on an operating system cobbled together from Marshall McLuhan and Alvin Toffler. The result: a dense yet scintillating philosophical prose-poetry, evoking a cosmos of endless mass-media feedback loops, where all human interaction had been perfectly digitized, and reality itself was a by-product of cybernetic simulation. Heady stuff, daring and improbable. And rendered all the more alluring by such literary efforts as America, which projected an image of the theorist as hard-eyed psychic outlaw, adrift in a post-apocalyptic landscape (a.k.a. Southern California). Baudrillard's latest book in English, The Vital Illusion, has the quiet desperation of a comeback tour. But it also presents a new line for Baudrillard. The smirking futurist of yesteryear now assumes the posture of sage for the new millennium.
Thanks to his status as exemplary postmodernist intellectual -- his ideas explored in numerous monographs, plus a couple of comic books -- there is a sort of Baudrillard-for-dummies familiar even to people who have never read him. In short, he's the thinker for whom "reality TV" is a redundant expression. Baudrillard himself does little to discourage this kind of oversimplification. (As the title of his book The Gulf War Did Not Take Place inadvertently suggests, being talked about is a high priority in itself.) Yet there is more to Baudrillardisme than the notion that reality has imploded, destroyed by information technologies that have taken over the universe. The flipside of his metaphysics is, if anything, far creepier.
Posted by smclemee at March 7, 2007 6:25 AM
Jean Baudrillard's 'death' is merely the ineluctable techno-mediated metaconstruct (hyperfigment?) of the neuro-totalitarian hyperhegemonic ultra-militarized anglo-saxon (nihil-American?) media-hyperreality complex, the purpose (hypergoal?) of which is the configuring in hyperreal-time of viral pixel-chimeras designed to legitimate gigacapitalist cognitive metadoxical hypertravesties. My condolences.
Posted by: Ted Maul at March 7, 2007 9:42 AM
Have you seen the NY Times? They quote Sokal in the obituary!
Posted by: abstruse theorist at March 7, 2007 10:04 AM
Still expecting a "reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated" moment....
Posted by: The Constructivist at March 8, 2007 11:12 AM