Re: [-empyre-] Baudrillard and the future of theory

Dear Christina, dear Nicholas, dear ken, dear Empyreans,

So sad to evocate Jean Baudrillard at the moment his funeral is not yet
celebrated... We'll not go to the cemetery before next Tuesday.

In the homepage of criticalsecret I have written a quotation extracted from
his last book published in October 2005, just before his brilliant
conference at New School of which may be Ken McKenzie Wark can testimony --
because he was there. Jean was still very sick.

Suddenly it appears to me that this book, not yet translated in English,
Jean Baudrillard's conversation with Enrique Valiente Noailles, a young
philosopher from Buenos Aires crossing Paris any years ago, "Les exilés du
dialogue", plagiarizing Brecht's "Dialogues d'exilés", that Jean Baudrillard
just young intellectual had translated from German into French for the
publisher Gallimard, it was a self initiation in matter of leaving the self
body on earth... Probably death as martial art of get out of his body, he
said (he has written) and yet now following to say:

" Well, I am outside me, in all the meanings of the term! "

So he stays with us not so far but invisible above... His spirit (he would
not appreciate that I use the term spirit) it is to say his mind as energy
is still present...

He said that the theory must be a perfect crime or cannot exist -- realizing
the symbolic exchange by killing what is not it. By the same way Hakim Bey
says that Art must be a crime: having to make disappear its tools and
references, and the outside objects. It was properly the provocation to
academism that they would not recover their proper tracks by reading
Baudrillard: neverless, not so many have so much read than he, master as
much as him the language of continental philosophy, without abandoning the
analytical philosophy, and so much literature and poetry of the world.

Transversal circle where never repeating but becoming such as hybrid till
the exceeding from : does it regard the eternal return? Baudrillard's mirror
to FR is coming from the foreign countries, specially USA.

I suggest two opposite quotations which appear for each one a part of him so
diverse but without divide ; the first one from my observation of the UE
Press edition on his death, an English text from the Guardian actualizing
the media dimension of Baudrillard, the second suggestion from the part of
Christina and Nicholas is the hommage from Kroker in Ctheory notoriously
evocating Nietzsche -- may be the question of the reconciliation with the
tradition of knowledge.

Hope these two texts will open the indivisible multiplicity of the realities
Baudrillard's thought, the philosopher being our friend - the friend of each
one having listen to him -- as large as possible paradoxist - as he said.
You can here his voice before, just opening the home page of criticalsecret the question from the journalist being: "which
utility as intellectual?" And JB answers : "none but more... As the world is
unintelligible we have to make it much more unintelligible..

It is the answer to the question of existentialism that becoming as much
powerful as god as very solution:- because only men pretend to rule the
world, not God;-)

And now let us beginning the debate... Corresponding the sensibility of each
one of us:



The Spirit of Jean Baudrillard

In Memoriam: 1929-2007

Arthur Kroker

Like his intellectual predecessors -- Nietzsche, Artaud, and Bataille --
Jean Baudrillard was that rarity of a cultural philosopher, a thinker whose
reflections, refusing to be simply culturally mimetic, actually became a
complex sign of the social reality of the postmodern century. In his thought
there was always something simultaneously futuristic and ancient: futuristic
because his theorization of the culture of simulation ran parallel to the
great scientific discoveries of our time, specifically the radical
transformation of culture and society under the impact of the speed of
light-time and light-space; and ancient because Baudrillard was haunted by
the enigma of pataphysics, namely the magical ascent of the
reality-principle itself into the language of artifice, seduction and

Not since Nietzsche's The Gay Science has the secret of reality itself been
so fully exposed. Neither referent nor signifier, social reality from
Baudrillard's perspective always had about it the hint of a "referential
illusion," a "fatal strategy," a "mirror of production," a "spirit of
terrorism," a "desert of the real." Refusing the political closures of
political economy as much as the social strictures of sociology, Baudrillard
made of his thought a theatre of the medieval artistic practice of
anamorphosis. Here, the desert of the real would be spun all the more wildly
in order to draw out in reverse image the trace of its always hidden
qualities of seduction and terror.

Neither a skeptic nor an apologist, Baudrillard the theorist, Baudrillard
the artist, approached the delirium of contemporary reality with the
delirious methods of art, with the always topological language of
perspectival illusion. Which is why Baudrillard's thought was always fated
to tease out the furies of Nietzsche's "last man." To read his thought was
to enter directly into the complexity and indeterminacy of reality as a game
of anamorphic perspective. While the last man would always prefer to take
his comforts in the solidity of the reality-principle, Baudrillard actually
completed Nietzsche by so clearly demonstrating in a life of the mind that
thought as a "dancing star" was still possible, that in his practice of
Arendt's "life of the mind" thought could once again rise to a greater
fealty, namely to make of the referential illusion at the disappearing
centre of everything -- sex, consciousness, culture, economy, bodies, terror
-- a sure and certain sign of the indeterminacy that haunts life itself.

If we now mourn the death of Jean Baudrillard, it is also with the knowledge
that his intellectual presence in the world always was in the way of an
early announcement that the twenty-first century will surely unwind
precisely in the way he envisioned -- a political conflagration of mutually
antagonistic, equally fascinating, reality-principles. When reality is
exposed as simulation, theory as artifice, the sign as terror, and bodies as
only apparent perspectives, then we can finally know that Baudrillard's
thought had about it that certain pataphysical quality of always descending
to the heights of the void, always, as Virilio would say, "falling upwards"
into the desert of the real.

In thought as in life, it is only the slow passage of great historical
events which permits the spectacle of fiction which is social reality to be
fully experienced. Our likely fate is to live out the premises of
Baudrillard's Seduction and Symbolic Exchange and Death with all their
abiding melancholy and brilliant fascination less as literature than as the
theoretical storm-centers of twenty-first century politics, society, and

An intellectual friend, a pathway, a theorist who made of thought itself a
faithful illusion of the sorcery of hyperreality, I mourn his death on this
sad day by honoring the spirit of Jean Baudrillard.


There is some irony in the fact that many of those quickest to dismiss
Baudrillard don't actually have any knowledge of his philosophy at all, but
only secondhand representations of it. Perhaps the oft-derided Baudrillard
got the last laugh, after all. "


The shadow of his former self

Jean Baudrillard, the French philosopher who told us that everything is mere
simulacrum, is dead. But his ideas have a life of their own.

Julian Baggini

March 7, 2007 4:00 PM

News of the death of Jean Baudrillard provokes mischievous and possibly
disrespectful thoughts about how he would have reported his own passing. "It
never happened" would be the obvious choice. For those of us who didn't know
him personally, the "death of Baudrillard" is an entirely media event, one
which we only observe through the filter of news, the internet and
television. To believe otherwise is to fail to recognise the nature of our
"hyperreal" society, in which we are no longer able to distinguish between
reality itself and its simulation.

Some readers who have learned to dismiss anything that has the vague whiff
of postmodernism about it will probably be snorting at the absurdity of all
this. But it actually makes quite a bit of sense to me. Not complete sense,
but then that's probably because, like almost everyone whose training in
philosophy took place in a British university, I've never seriously studied
Baudrillard. That sort of stuff isn't considered bona fide by most of our
team, which is why a group of Cambridge academics tried to stop their
university awarding Jacques Derrida an honorary degree in 1992.

It's certainly true that France is a philosophically foreign country: they
do things differently there. You could say they adopt a different style, but
that would be to imply that Anglo-American philosophy has any style at all,
when most of its arid writing is actually the literary equivalent to Alan
Partridge's sports-causal fashion collection. What our breed of philosophy
has is a method, and with it supposed rigour.

The French, in contrast, have, if anything, too much style. The grand
rhetorical sweep of many of Baudrillard's pronouncements - the Gulf war
never happened; history has become its own dustbin; the west, in a sense,
wanted 9/11 - sound to our commonsensical ears like absurd exaggerations.

Yet, if you get past the hyperbolic flourishes, thinkers like Baudrillard
are actually saying things that have more resonance and relevance to
contemporary society than the majority of what is written by more sober
Brits and Americans. That's why, although shunned by philosophers, the likes
of Baudrillard have been taken up by other social sciences and humanities.

The recurring theme of Baudrillard's work is that we live in a world in
which representation and simulation have come to dominate over what was once
thought of as reality, to the extent that our reality now often is our
simulation of it. That's why it is now not only possible to be "famous for
being famous", but it's what many young people actively have as an ambition.
Because of thinkers like Baudrillard, we have come to think better and
deeper about such issues, which is why we should be more prepared to forgive
him for his many excesses.

There is some irony in the fact that many of those quickest to dismiss
Baudrillard don't actually have any knowledge of his philosophy at all, but
only secondhand representations of it. Perhaps the oft-derided Baudrillard
got the last laugh, after all.

Enjoy by thinking of him!


On 9/03/07 2:20, "Christina McPhee" <> probably

> Dear -empyreans--
> The passing of the great French philosopher and theorist, Jean
> Baudrillard, on Tuesday, brings us into a moment of memorial and
> reflection.
> énoncer  (FR):  to convey 'in a particular manner of speaking or
> presentation,' quite similar to English  'enuciation,' perhaps with
> more subtle depth..
> With the passing of Baudrillard, it seems  timely and important to
> reflect on how philosophy matters,  how it is énoncé,  in our lives.
> Two -empyre- avid readers and writers have asked to take up a
> discussion in this space, this month -- Nicholas Ruiz will be helping
> me with
> moderating the conversation,  and Aliette Certhoux will bring her
> unique perspective from the world of Paris and critical theory,
> mostly in French, as she
> explains, in hommage to Baudrillard.  Aliette has also invited her
> friend, author McKenzie Wark, whose Hacker Manifesto she has just
> published in French with Éditions Critical Secret.
> Posts in French and English are especially welcome.
> my best to all, and I look forward to reading.
> -Christina
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>  From the Associated Press.....
> French philosopher Jean Baudrillard dies
> The Associated Press
> March 6, 2007
> PARIS: Jean Baudrillard, a French philosopher and social theorist
> known for
> his provocative commentaries on consumerism, excess and what he said
> was the
> disappearance of reality, died Tuesday, his publishing house said. He
> was
> 77.
> Baudrillard died at his home in Paris after a long illness, said Michel
> Delorme, of the Galilee publishing house.
> The two men had worked together since 1977, when "Oublier
> Foucault" (Forget
> Foucault) was published, one of about 30 books by Baudrillard,
> Delorme said
> by telephone.
> Among his last published books was "Cool Memories V," in 2005.
> Baudrillard, a sociologist by training, is perhaps best known for his
> concepts of "hyperreality" and "simulation."
> Baudrillard advocated the idea that spectacle is crucial in creating our
> view of events ? what he termed "hyperreality." Things do not happen
> if they
> are not seen to happen.
> He gained fame, and notoriety, in the English-speaking world for his
> 1991
> book "The Gulf War Did Not Take Place." In the first Gulf War, he
> claimed,
> nothing was as it appeared.
> The public's ? and even the military's ? view of the conflict came
> largely
> through television images; Saddam Hussein was not defeated; the U.S.-led
> coalition scarcely battled the Iraqi military and did not really win,
> since
> little was changed politically in Iraq after all the carnage. All the
> sound
> and fury signified little, he argued.
> The Sept. 11 attacks, in contrast, were the hyper-real event par
> excellence
> ? a fusion of history, symbolism and dark fantasy, "the mother of all
> events."
> His views on the attacks sparked controversy. While terrorists had
> committed
> the atrocity, he wrote, "It is we who have wanted it. . . . Terrorism is
> immoral, and it responds to a globalization that is itself immoral."
> Although many Americans were puzzled by his views, Baudrillard was a
> tireless enthusiast for the United States ? though he once called it
> "the
> only remaining primitive society."
> "Santa Barbara is a paradise; Disneyland is a paradise; the U.S. is a
> paradise," he wrote. "Paradise is just paradise. Mournful,
> monotonous, and
> superficial though it may be, it is paradise. There is no other."
> French Education Minister Gilles de Robien said "We lose a great
> creator."
> "Jean Baudrillard was one of the great figures of French sociological
> thought."
> Born west of Paris in Reims on June 20, 1929, Baudrillard, the son of
> civil
> servants, began a long teaching career instructing high school
> students in
> German. After receiving a doctorate in sociology, he taught at the
> University of Paris in Nanterre.
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum

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