3.11.2007

Thanks for All the Fish

Jean Baudrillard passed away. Again, the New York Times drops the ball by pulling the BS populist card:
Mr. Baudrillard, the first in his family to attend a university, became a member of a small caste of celebrated and influential French intellectuals who achieved international fame despite the density and difficulty of their work.

Whoever penned this hasn't actually read Baudrillard very deeply. Hyperreality is one of those thoeries that makes absolute sense if one looks at American history longitudinally. The Matrix got it wrong because the plot assumed that simulation happens in a computer. Simulation is pretty much how Americans have approached the world for 200 years. My cousins who farm get to know their own culture of bioengineered crops, engineered fertilizers and hog/dairy facilities, and their GPS-equipped tractors through the simulation media (broadly-defined) that enable the engineering in the first place. There is no non-simulated place left in America.

Thanks for not letting us off the hook.

4 comments:

Sport said...

I've assigned Baudrillard to freshpeople, and they did well with it. You could probably stop your sentence "hasn't read Baudrillard" and skip the modifier / qualifier. Another swipe by the anti-intellectual media.

Lance said...

I agree that Baudrillard makes perfect sense to anyone willing to look at U.S. culture in a certain way (throgh his eyes), and I agree that U.S. media tend to nurture anti-intellectualism (when it suits their needs). But Baudrillard, Lyotard, Derrida, Foucault, Deleuze, Guattari, Lacan, Barthes--their writings do require one to dwell in them a bit until one gets the feel for their mannerisms and cadences. Most people just won't do that.

How long till spring in ND?

Doc Mara said...

I think that Baudrillard is actually the easiest to read out of the list you gave. His ideas are hard to grasp not because of he's "abstruse" (something the NYT accused Derrida of being in his obit), but rather because his ideas are ones we actually inhabit. I regularly recommend my undergrads read his travelogue America. They don't know what to do with it, because it collapses the distance between theory and reader. It is not so much a lens as a travel book. That is how I like to think of most of Baudrillard's work. Funny thing is that when I tried translating his work from the French (for a grad school "ferin language" required class), I actually had more trouble with him in French than I do in English--which definitely is not the case of any of the other French theorists you mention.

We almost hit 50 yesterday (unspeakably warm for these parts at this time of year). I think Spring is knocking and is about to kick the door down.

Spring in BG yet?

Lance said...

Feels like spring (50-ish), but I'm not fooled. I know from living in Illinois that we're in for another 3-5 weeks of cold gray dampness.

Translating Baudrillard? Fancy!