Re: [-empyre-] Baudrillard's énoncé...

It was reading JB that convinced me that theory was a literary genre.
It has nothing to do with literary criticism. It *is* literature.
Perhaps what distinguishes it is that it describes possible worlds
that may or may not be this one. It is perhaps the inverse form of the
novel. It avoids character, scene, narrative, and concentrates instead
on the abstraction that holds all of the above together.

Of course these are just approximations. Theory is also concerned
quite obsessively with what theory is. Any theorist of note struggles
to reconceive and restate its principles as a form and its relation to
its precursors.

One should say something more about what theory isn't. It isn't what
gets taught in graduate school. It isn't "Baudrillard says X about A,
but Zizek says Z about A, while Agamben says Z about B." It isn't the
adminstration of thought.

For theory to have a future it perhaps needs to know something about
its past, but conceived tactically, rather than as a reading list --
or as gossip. Theory struggled free from Marxism and the Party, only
to find itself captured again by Scholarship and the School. Maybe its
time to discreetly look for the exits again.

Not the least of JB's charms is that while he so decisively broke with
the Marxological trap, he managed to avoid the School trap as well. He
was not one of those who swapped one for the other.

So: there's some passing thoughts on theory and our debt to JB. It's
not that we should imitate him or even agree with him. It's a question
of trying to imagine the other possibilities for theory that his
example indicates are possible.

___________________ McKenzie Wark

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