Tuesday, March 06, 2007

La Mort de Jean Baudrillard


Aside from a short, superficial interview in the New York Times Magazine a few months ago, I hadn't read anything by Jean Baudrillard for several years. His post-911 pamphlet published on Verso, I suppose, which was dwarfed, for me, by Zizek's Welcome to the Desert of the Real. Last night, though, something compelled me to pull Cool Memories IV: 1995-2000 off the shelf. I thoroughly enjoyed reading his Zarathurstrian obervations on postmodernity, and found myself laughing aloud, quite loudly.

I need to return to Baudrillard, I thought. My favorite writers, mostly novelists and philosophers, are those who provoke this mad laughter, and I'd forgotten how deadpan hillarious Baudrillard can be. When I first read him in my early 20s, I took him too seriously, despite knowing that I shouldn't. Over the years I sort of lost track of Baudrillard. Perhaps unconsciously, I'd paid too much heed to those who decare Baudrillard's writing to be passe (and in making thinking into a fashion contribute to the implosion of meaning about which Baudrillard wrote so brilliantly...). Anyone who can't appreciate Baudrillard's aphorhisms from the abyss must be tone deaf.

Today, I recevied an e-mail informing me of "Le Mort de Jean Baudrillard." Dead at age 77.

Foucault, Lacan, Guattari, Deleuze, Lyotard, Derrida, now Baudrillard...

I'm still holding onto a small hope that Baudrillard's death will be revealed to be a simulation, the ultimate hoax by this brilliant sophist...

But, until that time, in Baudrillard's memory, a toast, and a few choice words. The first quote is exactly the right reply to the sense and thoughts of the uncanny news of Baudrillard's death provoked:

Thought is nothing but happy coincidence.

In the past, bad literature was made with high-flown sentiment; today, it is made with the unconscious.

Exess of information kills information; excess of meaning kills meaning, etc. But it seems that too much stupidity does not kill stupidity. Stupidity may be said, t hen, to be the only exponential phenomenon - one which even escapes the laws of physics. This is a miracle to rival perpetual motion.

The social order teaches you to keep quiet, it does not teach you silence.

Freedom is not as free as is generally thought: it produces antibodies which rebel against it. Truth, too, is threatened from within, like a state battling with its own police force. If values enjoyed total immunity, they would be as lethal as a scientific truth.

Current events are an incurable illness.