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

McKenzie Wark wrote:

That review of mine of the Gulf War Did Not Take Place was written
before I read Symbolic Exchange and Death, and hence i did not really
understand the writerly strategy JB employed, there and elsewhere, the
return of the gift of the world unreality to itself, measure for
measure. Hence I was quite wrong to call this strategy 'critical' in
so uncritical a way.

Personally I found the endless repetition of that strategy really infuriating, not because I didn't understand the idea of giving the world's unreality back to it, not because I didn't have an inkling of all the collective projects on the radical left whose failure such sublime irony had to make at once palpable, bearable and yet virulent still - but instead because the very salable repetition of the same gesture just fed the whole complacent 80s moment and created cascades of mediocre imitators who made intellectual and cultural life in the "postmodern" USA into something very stifling and small and narcissistic, even on into the mid and late 90s when there were really a lot of things happening in the wide world that were worth paying attention to.

What later surprised me and made me, not really forgive, but rather just forget Baudrillard's role in all that, was that immediately after September 11 he abandoned that single strategy and started talking about life again: first what was behind the attack on the Twin Towers, then a strong insight into the struggle of the intermittents du spectacle, as well as other short but very thoughtful texts, published in the newspaper Liberation. I frankly think he wasted most of his time and a lot of everyone else's for many years, but the way he was able to give that up in the end, after a crucial turning point, was nice, something encouraging.

all the best, Brian

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