Re: [-empyre-] A view from "Baudrillard and the Media"

The reluctance to read work like that of Jean
Baudrillard as 'serious' is one of the great mysteries
of literary consumption.  It seems that for reasons
which escape me, his work is the bullseye of a target
that includes Deleuze and Guattari's books, and in
general all that is or may be construed as

It is interesting that other engaging work, for
example, like that of Regis Debray, seems better
received, and yet, I would say is every bit as related
to the 'postmodern,' in terms of its style or
mise-en-scene, no?  Further, postmodern literature
(fiction) is well-received and sells quite well on
both sides of the Atlantic.  Regis is not well known
in the U.S.-- Random House would rather we warm up to
Bernard Henri-Levy; perhaps Aliette or William can
better inform us, as to Debray's relative reception in
France or Europe?

Who might deliver us with a reading of the academic
angst that delivers such a militant aggression toward
the work of particular theorists or genres of thought
and writing...?


--- Aliette <> wrote:

> >From William Merrin, author of:
>     "Baudrillard and the Media: A Critical
> Introduction"
> @ Polity Press, UK (Nov 2005)
> As abstract here an extract from the interactive
> review of the book at
> " Baudrillard is a much mis-represented figure in
> cultural theory. He's
> consistently misunderstood by otherwise intelligent
> people who are either a)
> annoyed by his Gallic provocations or b) have a
> vested interest in wishing
> to safeguard their much more conformist assessments
> of contemporary life.
> Merrin does a great job setting the record straight.
> The book is
> comprehensive and stimulating and points out the
> various ways in which
> Baudrillard's thought adds another dimension to the
> frequently uncritical
> and culturally populist field of Media Studies.
> If you want to understand in a much more
> sophisticated fashion than the
> media could ever explain, such issues as the
> inability of the West to
> understand properly the sensitivities of the Islamic
> world - this is the
> book for you. "
> ----------
> (with his direct allow to repost it from Idc list to
> Empyre)
> Facing Ken and Nich I think that may be they can
> have any interesting and
> different view,
> Aliette 
> /////////////////
> First post: 
> //////////////
> I joined this list because a friend had passed onto
> me the first two
> emails regarding Jean Baudrillard. I have to say
> that I'm disappointed
> by the level of knowledge they display. I would
> immediately fail
> undergraduates who demonstrated such a lack of
> knowledge of his work and
> filled the space instead with such poorly
> thought-through invective.
> The first commentator said:
> 'Thus beguiling, but ultimately fairly dubious,
> totalising and
> empirically unsupportable, or at least highly
> reductive notions about
> 'simulacra' and 'simulation' were not only taken far
> too seriously, but
> helped to produce and support cultural phenomena
> which were then taken
> as evidence of the rightness of Baudrillard's ideas'
> The simulacrum is actually a historical concept,
> found explicitly and
> implicitly in the theological, anthropological and
> philosophical
> literature. The western tradition repeatedly founds
> its primary
> theologies and philosophies on the attempt to reduce
> the efficacy of the
> image (whether the man-made image, the world as
> image of the divine, or
> the images that constitute our interior knowledge)
> and to demonise its
> power to assert itself as the full reality. This
> 'simulacrum', however,
> has always challenged every truth system built upon
> it, whether idealist
> or materialist. To give an example, empiricism
> serves as the basis for
> science and social science yet its primary
> philosophers were aware of
> how the images of subjective thought and sensation
> completely ungrounded
> their attempt to turn subjectivity into objectivity.
> Read Lucretius on
> simulacra, or Bacon on the 'idols of the mind'
> ('idol' = 'eidolon',
> which is also translated as 'simulacra'), or Hume's
> scepticism, which is
> better understood as a sensitivity to the ancient
> problem posed by the
> simulacrum for the possibility of knowledge... 
> Empiricism, therefore,
> may well 'work', but philosophically it's a
> simulation machine for
> producing our modern concept of 'objectivity' (and
> don't get me started
> on the ludicrousness of 'social science'...). So I'm
> afraid you're
> trying to shoot down an idea that's pretty well
> accepted throughout
> western history. Baudrillard, following Deleuze,
> Derrida, Klossowski and
> Perniola merely takes up and applies this
> problematic to a contemporary
> imagic world. If his idea of simulation should not
> have been taken so
> seriously we should also throw out Plato,
> Tertullian, Descartes, Hume
> etc. As for the simulacrum not being 'empirically
> supportable', you've
> got it the wrong way round. It's empiricism that
> isn't empirically
> supportable because of the simulacrum, not that
> you're likely to care
> about or follow these arguments because there's no
> evidence here of
> Baudrillard having been read let alone of any
> attempt to understand the
> concepts he uses and their cultural and historical
> significance. And
> then we just shoot the messenger ... Baudrillard is
> responsible for the
> simulacra we experience today? ... Sure, just like
> Marx was responsible
> for industrial capitalism I suppose? This entire
> discussion of
> Baudrillard overlooks the fact that he was a critic
> of simulacra and
> that he spent his entire career developing a radical
> Durkheimian
> critique based upon the concept of 'symbolic
> exchange'. Ultimately the
> only reductiveness here is the sub-standard reading
> of Baudrillard.
> That's because it takes time and thought to work
> through the 50 odd
> books he wrote and put them into any kind of
> context. It's far easier to
> watch UK Gold and talk about John Inman.
> And then we get a follow up comment that's worse. I
> thought this idea
> that Baudrillard denied the physical existence of
> the Gulf War had
> disappeared over a decade ago when his original
> essays appeared in
> translation  ... but no. Here it is again.
> To sum up this comment: Baudrillard apparently
> steamrollers 'over
> material reality, going so far as denying the
> reality of the Gulf War',
> whereas war 'has real consequences' and his ideas
> 'deny the dignity of
> war's victims'. Baudrillard has no critique of power
> and is apolitical
> and you can prove he's wrong because you can 'walk
> down actual streets
> filled with meaty reality'.
> OK, Baudrillard doesn't deny material reality
> exists. He repeatedly says
> in fact it's the excess of reality not its loss that
> is the problem
> today. He is not an idealist and doesn't think 'all
> is fiction' and that
> we're all floating around in nothingness. This is a
> moronic reading. He
> is concerned with the way in which our experience of
> that real is
> organised, programmed and produced as part of a
> concern with the
> semiotic processes of social control operating
> through our media and
> through everyday life (following Debord, Marcuse
> etc.) and he critiques
> this process from the point of view of symbolic
> exchange, an idea that
> in its radical Durkheimian derivation serves as his
> critical ground and
> functions as precisely that material, experiential
> and moral real that
> you accuse him of not believing in...
> As to the Gulf War, the simulation of war was not
> primarily 
=== message truncated ===

Dr. Nicholas Ruiz III
Editor, Kritikos

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