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March 08, 2007

Why I did not strangle Jean Baudrillard


Having declared so momentous an "event" as the Gulf War did not happen, Jean Baudrillard's death will inevitably be understood by his devotees as a "happening" rather than anything as tedious as a fact; yet an utter lack of popular interest in the news seems an anticlimactic exit for someone who managed to be so irritating in life. Not much ado about nothing.

Let us be clear, however: Baudrillard is dead. He is not pining. He has passed on. This postmodernist is no more! He has ceased to be! He has expired and gone to meet his maker! He is a stiff! Bereft of life, he rests in peace! If you had not nailed him to the perch he would be pushing up the daisies! His metabolic processes are now history! He is off the twig! He has kicked the bucket, he has shuffled off this mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleeding choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-POSTMODERNIST! (via The Civic Platform).

He gained notoriety for his 1991 book The Gulf War Did Not Take Place and again a decade later for describing the 9/11 attacks as a “dark fantasy”. Baudrillard focused his work on how our consciousness interacts with reality and fantasy, creating from them a copy world he called hyper-reality. He said that mass media led to hyper-reality becoming a dominant force in today’s world - an argument taken to a provocative extreme in his statement that the 1991 Gulf War primarily took place on a symbolic level.

I attended one of Baudrillard's appearances in his post-Gulf War lecture tour and found it as pointless and incomprehensible as he evidently found the defense of civilization. For one thing he kept going on about "cows and effect"; I could not see what cows had to do with the war as "spectacle" or otherwise. The day after his Toronto lecture, he went on to Hamilton for his next performance. It was there that a good friend of mine found himself alone an elevator with Baudrillard. He - my friend - was overwhelmed by the image of his hands wrapped around Baudrillard's neck and throttling the life out of him. "No one could have stopped me," he explained. The moment passed and the elevator doors opened; Baudrillard went on about his business, perhaps never appreciating an angel had been watching over him.

Which brings me to my critique of simulation. It was not the spectacular aspect of reality or whatever passes for ethics in postmodern thought which prevented me from strangling Jean Baudrillard that day. I could not not have strangled him; I was not on the elevator. And that is a fact.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at March 8, 2007 06:54 AM


And somewhere in Hell, Baudrillard is so totally getting his ass kicked by Thomas Hobbes.

Posted by: agent bedhead [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 8, 2007 10:45 AM

And Hegel. And Marx.

Posted by: Ghost of a flea [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 8, 2007 10:48 AM

hrmm.. I read the wiki and I can wrap my work addled brain around the concept he is trying to put forward, but it smacks of silliness and therefore I put forward that perhaps he never truly existed as to exist, one serves a purpose and a place in time and space and as I heve never seen or herd of him prior to reading this post on my computer, his existance is merely electronic and based on others observations of him and therefore moot enough for me to deny him, as I deny the existance of the platypus.

Posted by: Gorthos [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 8, 2007 02:32 PM

Isn't there something to be admired about someone who can weave a cloth of silly lies so well and make a living from it...well, I suppose as long as they are not leading an army of the tyrant's dogs through the freedom we all love at the same time.

Posted by: Alan McLeod [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 8, 2007 03:38 PM

John Searle once said (talking about Jacques Derrida) that writing like his gives bullshit a bad name. What he'd say about Baudrillaud can only be imagined.

Or maybe he did say something, but his remarks became a "non-event" through de-contextualization of their engendering social matrix. Or something like that.

Posted by: utron [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 9, 2007 12:11 PM


Posted by: Ghost of a flea [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 9, 2007 12:23 PM